Last June, I helped nine friends do something crazy. With the help of a few dozen volunteers, we staged a conference at the Portland Art Museum. We called this conference the World Domination Summit. After a year of planning and tons of work and worry, five hundred people came together and…well, the experience was truly awesome. This year, we repeated the experiment but on a larger scale. Last weekend, this same group of ten people (along with another few dozen volunteers) brought one thousand people (1007 people, to be exact) to Portland's gorgeous Newmark Theater for another weekend of networking, sharing, and inspiration.
We had some great speakers in 2011 for our first World Domination Summit. I feel like this year, our speakers took it to another level. (And wait until you see who we have slated for next year!) This year, our first speaker was Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston. Brown specializes in vulnerability and shame. About seven million people have watched her TEDx talk about vulnerability:
She also made two profound points that are important for me and where I am in life: First, who you are will always trump who you think people want you to be. This is something I've learned over the past few years. Embracing it has changed my life. Next, Brown pointed out that you can't control if someone loves you back. She says you should love them anyway. Amen.At the end of her talk, Brown draft Chris Guillebeau and the entire first row of the theater to come on stage to help her sing Journey's “Don't Stop Believin'”. (Though to make it more uncool, she used the Glee version.) It was great fun to be in a room with 1000 people singing this song. Charity: Water. (Harrison and Guillebeau met while volunteering in Africa.) I didn't get to hear much of Harrison's talk, but all weekend were telling me how it moved them to tears. At the end, he asked each person in the audience to give up their next birthday in order to raise money for wells in developing nations. Almost everyone agreed to do so. It was awesome. Other speakers on the first day included Susan Cain, who spoke about the power of introverts, and Scott Belsky, who talked about making ideas happen. Day two started with Chris Brogan giving a geeky super-hero themed talk about being brave. He talked about untangling your life from other people's scripts. Other people's scripts weren't written for you, anyhow. He urged attendees not to settle, to not finish crappy books, to leave a restaurant if they don't like the menu, and so on. He also pointed out that it's not who you say you are that matters. It's what you do that matters. (This was a key theme in my talk, as well.)
Adam Baker briefly shared about making his film, “I'm Fine, Thanks“
- The power of yes. Yes is an open mind. Yes is a willingness to try new things. Yes is allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
- The power of focus. The ability to focus only on those things that are most important.
- The power of action. The strength to work hard, to get things done.
I spoke about personal transformation (I'll publish the talk on Monday)
(Photo by Tera Wages)
There were other great speakers too, of course, including eighty different workshop sessions in the afternoons. There's no way I could attend everything. But based on the response of the conference attendees, World Domination Summit 2012 was a smashing success. People loved it.
My favorite part of the weekend was seeing the skeptics won over. I know a lot of GRS readers think WDS sounds like a bunch of New Age hippie feel-good bullshit. Or that it's a haven for internet marketers. Neither of things is true. This conference is about making lasting change - in yourself and in others. Chris Brogan, one of our speakers, was wary of the conference, but at the speaker dinner he confided, “J.D., if I'd known what this was about I would have been here the entire weekend. I want to come back as an attendee next year.” (Read Brogan's conference summary for more of his thoughts on WDS.) At The Huffington Post, Ken Solin wrote:
I don't recall any speakers talking about making money beyond following your dreams and hopefully making a few bucks. The speakers preached being doers, not talkers. These young men and women already know something I only discovered in my sixties: Life isn't just about stuff. They could teach their parents something about that. For the first time in a very long while, I felt hopeful about America's future. With men and women like those attending the WDS Conference, perhaps there's hope after all.And here's a text that one of our team members received after the conference was over: But my favorite endorsement? I invited a woman I've been dating to sit in on part of the conference. It was completely outside her experience, and she didn't know what to expect. In the end she wrote to me: “Thank you. I really enjoyed this weekend. Thoroughly impressed, J.D.” It feels good when something you work hard to build is well received by the important people in your life. The $100 Investment
That last section sounds a little defensive. And maybe I am. It's just that every time I try to share about WDS at Get Rich Slowly, some readers have a knee-jerk negative reaction. They're unwilling to accept that this might be a positive force in the world. And ultimately, that's what we want World Domination Summit to be: a positive force in the world. We're constantly brainstorming ways we can make a difference, not just in the lives of our attendees, but in the world at large. One of our three core values is Service, after all.
This year, this theme could be seen in Scott Harrison's talk about his Charity: Water project, which has raised millions of dollars to build wells in Africa. It could be seen in my own talk about personal change (which I'll post here on Monday), which I ended by arguing that after attendees change themselves, they should change the world. And it was seen in the attendee stories session, where folks shared the projects they've started to change the world.But most of all, this desire to be a positive force in the world was felt at the very end of the conference, as Chris Guillebeau sent everyone on their way. He took the stage to tell a story. And to do something radical.
Here's what's going to happen. In a moment, you're going to exit…As you leave, if you're a paid attendee, we're going to ask that you pick up one of these envelopes…In this envelope, you're going to find $100. And you're also going to find some very basic instructions.
The instructions really are quite basic. We're calling this the $100 Investment. We want to encourage you to make an investment. We want to encourage you to start a project. We want to encourage you to invest in someone else. All in support of the theme of Community, Adventure, and Service. But it really is quite broad: The money is yours. What you do with it is up to you. I hope that you'll tell the world what you do with it.