World Domination Summit: I Was Wrong

by Melea on July 11, 2012

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The World Domination Summit (WDS) is a provocative conference with a provocative title put on by Chris Guillebeau, an understated provocateur who runs the website, The Art of Nonconformity. The first WDS happened last June. The second WDS happened this weekend. Both were excellent.  And yet I felt conflicted about being there for two reasons.

  1. I’m an interloper; I don’t join anything. I participate, I engage, I play. I lead; people join me all the time.  But when I’m not leading, I sit on the sidelines and I watch. Because I am cool scared shitless.   Thank you, Brene Brown.
  2. I hate that word domination. It sounds like oppression, colonialism, misogyny. I thought, ‘here we are a bunch of white people going to Portland, Oregon to dominate the world’. How familiar. How quaint and fucked up.

Having said that, I love Chris Guillebeau’s work. The man is visiting all 196 (or 193, depending on who you ask) countries in the world before he turns 35. He is the gentleman of the internet. His output is terrifically motivating and makes me feel bad about myself in a way that feels good. I also enjoy the hell out of the inspiring and amazing projects people from Chris’ network are working on. I told myself, I would just go watch. I would interlope, like I do.

But I’ve been walking around gobsmacked and changed since the conference this weekend. Chris wrote a book called the $100 Startup. In 2008, I started my business with $40.00. And I have been gainfully self-employed ever since.  Many of the people at WDS are self-employed also. But they are also doing amazing non-business social stuff.

The last fifteen minutes of the conference, Chris announced a surprise. He had a surplus of $100,000 and rather than bank it, he gave everyone at the conference — all 1000 attendees, a crisp $100 bill. Talk about reframing social capital. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.

On my way out of the conference I took an envelope with $100, a simple missive, and a metaphorical mirror. I opened the envelope and I thought, Go start something. My inner conflict about domination, what I outline above, unfounded. I was wrong. 

While I still hate war metaphors, Chris’ small army and this revolution aren’t really about dominating people. The World Domination Summit is about dominating a system that doesn’t serve us.

How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?

  • You create more signal than you do noise.
  • You give people possibility.
  • You lead by example.
  • You start something without waiting for permission.
  • And you join in.

Well, I’m all in.

When I first started my business, rather than spend money on business cards, I gave everyone I met a dollar bill with my name on it–The first forty were done with a typewriter. After that, I bought a rubber stamp. I’m still without business cards and in need of a new rubber stamp.

I just moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon. I moved in favor of more time and more space and less busyness so I can get down to business. I’m writing a book called The Age of Accountability. And I’m working on giving Board of Us away because connection and inspiration should be like water: Free and available to all.

I have so much more to say and I will. In the meantime, for recaps on #WDS2012, go here for photos, here for quotes and more, and here for heart. 2013′s World Domination Summit will sell out fast, Go. Get on Chris’ list. I’d love to host you in Portland. I have a guest room.

  • Alyson Earl

     My heart just broke open wider than before. Thank you for this especially: “Because connection and inspiration should be like water: Free and available to all.” Amen!

  • Lauren, Ephemerratic

    I’m still laughing that we both used the word “gobsmacked” to describe our reaction to the $100 investment. No other word captures the feeling as well. I look forward to hearing how you’ll put your $100 to good us. I’ve already announced my plan:

  • Melea Seward

    That is gobsmackingly cool. Jonathan Fields took a photo from the stage and I am second row, gobsmacked. There is no other way to describe it. Thanks, Alyson. And Lauren, Todd’s The City of Awesome project should become the world of awesome. For real. That’s great.   

  • Melea Seward

    The guest room has been claimed by Susie Wyshak who is coming into town from San Francisco. 

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