Paula and I just spent an unforgettable five days in Portland Oregon attending The World Domination Summit with what turned out to be 2,998 of our new best friends; and I have to say not only was it a wickedly good time, but also one that I believe has had a profound effect on all of us who attended this epic and awesome annual event.
What’s that? You weren’t there with us, and are wondering what this “World Domination Summit” is all about? That’s a good question! But rather than have me try and explain something that’s way too epic for my lizard brain to put into words, let’s hear it from the man himself – WDS founder and creator Chris Guillebeau – or at least the flyer he gave me last October at the book signing in Vancouver.
“In an era of hashtags and virtual vacations, why bring thousands of people together together for an in-person summit? Because there’s something special about being in the same place with so many dynamic minds. Our group comprises artists (of all kinds), students (of all ages), entrepreneurs, travellers, and non-profit leaders. Everywhere you look, there are new people to share with and learn from. Our weekend of community, adventure and service explores this key question: HOW DO WE LIVE A REMARKABLE LIFE IN A CONVENTIONAL WORLD?” (See? I told you there’s no way I could have said it better than that!)
So there it is: WDS is about community, adventure and service; three things that when combined together create incredible connections and amazing friendships at unprecedented levels. And for Paula and me, these past five days have been all this and more – we’ve been inspired by so many people, which in turn has allowed us to both reflect on our own lives, and look for ways to up our own games in the trifecta categories of community, adventure and service. I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that no-one could have such a mind-blowing multi-day experience as WDS without singling out a few favourite things right? So with this in mind, out of the possible one thousand and twenty nine awesome reasons I LOVED WDS, here are my top ten personal favourites!
Insanely Great Speakers: While all the speakers were great, I have to say, some of them were INSANELY great, sharing inspirational and often humorous stories about how they came to do what they do. Honourable mentions to Jon Acuff for his “spot on” discussions about parenting, and being a “Netflix Adulterer”; Brad Montague and Robbie (Kid President) Novak for their sweet story about how they make the world a better place through acts of kindness; Jeremy Cowart for the most incredible 22 minutes of visuals and storytelling about Haiti and Rwanda I’ve ever experienced; Lewis Howes for his enthusiasm, pragmatism, vulnerability and honesty discussing a difficult subject; and finally, Derek “C.D. Baby” Sivers for liking his “follow your heart” business decision-making style to that of Forrest Gump – “Okay”… was a classic speech that really spoke to me as I build my new platform – Thanks Derek!
All Participants and Staff Were All Uber-Friendly: Out of 3,000 people and countless of encounters with strangers, (for me at least) there wasn’t a single incident with anyone so unpleasant that spoiled whatever it was we were doing at the time. 99.9% of the people were constantly upbeat, friendly, helpful, open-minded and supportive of each other. We were all there to help one another out, and support each other in our individual quests, both at WDS and beyond. Honourable mention goes out to all the volunteer ambassadors (over 100 of them!) who made everything so effortless and easy for the rest of us. I give it all 110%, as did everyone else – put simply, it couldn’t have been any better.
It’s a Supportive and Safe Environment: Tolerance for everyone – including middle aged bald guys – is paramount at WDS… Period. To quote Kid President:“If life is a game, aren’t we all on the same team?” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Portland Is The Bomb: The city of Portland strikes me as a bit of a hybrid between downtown Victoria B.C. and YaleTown (Vancouver B.C.); I mean, even with a 30% mark up (due to our battered loonies) we still couldn’t help but fall hard for Portland’s charm, beauty and quirkiness. It’s a gorgeous city packed with cool restaurants, shops and brew pubs, and is a most fitting place for a bunch of frenetic rule-breakers to gather to plot on how to take over the world – one cupcake at a time. Best of all, it’s home to WDS which means we get to visit it next year; and the year after that; and the year after that; and so on, and so on…
Food Trucks: Speaking of Portland, I have to mention how incredible the food trucks are (apparently there’s over 500) and how their food is so good, so tasty, and above all so affordable! Heck, we ate at them every single day and never got bored of our meals once! They added a great vibe to every single event we attended, and were a welcome part of any event we attended, as part of the permenant Portlandia backdrop; in fact, I’d say that Food Trucks and Portland are pretty synonymous – and that’s a very good thing. Honourable mention to Grilled Cheese Grill for making us fall in love with grilled cheese sandwiches all over again, because “This ain’t your mom’s grilled cheese!”
Chris and Jolie: Our hosts Chris and Jolie Guillebeau are wonderful, wonderful people of a calibre that I’ve never seen before; not only have they created and executed this event every year for five years, but they do so for the love of community, service and travel – not as a money making venture. Anyone with a sense of business can see that WDS is a massive labor of love for them both; and never will you find a pair of kinder, most selfless and humble people.
Despite their ruthless schedules over the weekend, they always take time to show up at off site events, are always saying “hello” to participants and thanking them for coming, will stop to pose for photos and answer questions, etc. They are fine people who – and I hope my saying this doesn’t embarrass them too much – set the bar high, for many of us to strive for… especially me. My heartfelt thanks to you both for all you do for the rest of us.
Speaking in Front of 3,000 people: While TEDx Stanley Park took my my speaking to a whole new level, I have to say that a crowd of 3,000 hollering and clapping after a quick (minute and a half) speech on the WDS stage left me giddy! Extra bonus was working with the wonderful Marsha Shandur who helped me make my 90 seconds count by coming up with my opening line – “I never knew that my nemesis would be a set of ancient stairs…” How brilliant! Thanks Marsha!
Best. Parties. EVER!: From the opening party with it’s parades, smoked duck canapés, wild band and carnival games, to the “balls-to-the-walls” closing party which included our images projected on ten stories of the adjacent building (awesome!!) to mad dancing to pulsating d.j. spun tunes, to multi-coloured bouncy balls flying over our heads, this is one event that KNOWS HOW TO PARTY!! Woo Hoo!
World Record(s) Breaking: We were erroneously lead to believe we’d be breaking a single world record… when in fact we broke four or five! We had over 600 people eat breakfast in bed, and then did “Continuous-High-Fiving”, “Cupcake Eating”, “Simultaneous Lipstick Application” and one other zany thing in an attempt to be #1… either way, the good people of WDS 2015 ARE definitely going to be in the pages of Guinness next year, at least once if not many times!
Our New Friends & The Impromptu Pub Crawls: There were too many awesome folks having too much fun and engaging us in too many incredible conversations to mention here; but special thanks to Erin K. who impromptly acted as our (a) guide, (b) hostess and (c) “ditcher-of-sunset-yoga” by showing us all around Portland, and of course, only took us to the classy joints in town…! Special shout-outs to Karl, Erin M, Kevin L and Kevin H, Kelsey, Sarah, Virginia, Chris, Ross… and about 2,984 other folks! You guys are the best!
So there you have it – 5 days of awesomeness all summed up in one post, and a few pictures. Best of all are the great friends we made, and will not only see next year because like us, they too have already bought tickets (Yep Karl and Kevins, I’m looking at you guys!) but I know we will all be in touch and supporting each other in between, and seriously, how great is that? Oh, and to get a taste of just HOW awesome some of these things I’ve written about truly are, please click on the links provided, then prepare to be AMAZED.
And me? All I can say now is that (a) my WDS cup runneth over; and (b) I have a lot of work to do between now and then… And I LOVE it!
*If you are also ready for a massive life change, then why not join us at WDS next year? Tickets are extremely limited, so Click here to find out more. Of if that’s a bit much for now, head on over and read Chris Guillebeau’s amazing blog – the one that convinced me last year to stop working and start living. Whichever you choose, I can promise one thing: A remarkable life awaits you! xo Fish!