It’s been a few days since I returned from the World Domination Summit and it’s hard to put the whole experience into words. Even before I arrived for the conference, I had been eagerly anticipating it for months. I was so excited that I started to get worried that maybe I overhyped the whole thing in my head and I would be in for a big let down. I started the week visiting friends in San Francisco and doing a road trip to Crater Lake, OR and then on to Portland. The whole time I was paranoid that we would get into a car accident or the car would break down or some unforeseen event would occur that would prevent me from making it to the event.
However, I managed to make it to Portland unscathed and quickly checked into my hotel, showered and headed to the opening party. I was so excited to go that I turned down invitations from other friends in Portland and even cut a phone conversation short so I could head there ASAP (I know…I’m crazy!)
On arriving at the party, I was a bit nervous and worried that I would be around a bunch of hippies singing kumbayah. My fears were not put to rest when I got in the very long line for food at a truck and the people in front of me were wearing tunics and nutty crunchy sandals and had hair braided and no makeup (complete opposite of what you will find in nyc). However, they were super friendly and included me in their conversation. After getting my food I started to meet more people. Everyone was really cool and I started to relax a bit. After a point, I found myself wandering around and exhausted from meeting new people. I was considering heading back to the hotel but also wanted to use every second to meet new people. While I was watching the WDS photo booth, two very friendly people dragged me into taking a picture with them. It was totally fun and I ended up chatting with them both for a bit. They were from Maryland and had stories that echoed my own in some way.
Near the end of the party, I once again found myself running out of energy, when I heard that some folks were going out to a bar afterwards. Though I was exhausted from the five hour drive to Portland and from meeting so many people, I decided to go. To my pleasant surprise, I met some great people on the way to bar from Denver and then more cool people from nyc at the bar. Again, more stories that echoed mine. I was happy I came.
The next morning started with some opening words by Chris Gillebeau and incredible speeches by Brene Brown and Scott Harrison from Charity: Water. Chris must have known that people have a hard time describing this conference to people. I was embarrassed to tell people the name of the conference because I thought it made me sound nuts and to try to explain it was even more difficult. Chris summarized the principles of this group into three words: adventure, service and community. And the part that struck me the most and has stayed with me since is the question he posed to us: How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world? I realized it’s a question I have been asking myself for a while now. And the past year has been the beginning of that journey for me.
In the evening, I was completely exhausted and just explored the Blues Fest by the river. I got a taste of Portland with all it’s weirdness, hippies and chilled out personality.
The next morning kicked off with a speech by Chris Brogan about super powers. The afternoon had some great breakout sessions, which were very useful for me. But the final moment that really encapsulated the community and the reason for the conference was when Chris Gillebeau made his closing statements. He started off by telling us that they lost money on last year’s conference and learned some lessons that allowed them to make a small profit this year. They turned down corporate sponsorships because they didn’t want to change the nature of the conference. But they got an anonymous donation and the money combined with the small profit came out to almost exactly $100 per attendee. He opened a small envelope on stage and announced that he was giving the money back to each attendee to do something remarkable.
I was trying so hard to hold back my tears almost the entire weekend and did not do a great job of it in the final moments of the conference. I was so moved by the act and so touched that he could build such a huge tribe and trust us to do something important with this money. It was such a powerful moment that really topped off the weekend for me. Evidently others felt the same way because he got a big standing ovation from all 1,000 attendees.
During my time at WDS, I finally started to feel that I had found my tribe. I followed many of the famous bloggers who attended this conference for a couple years online because they were a small community who were writing the words and living the life that I wanted to live. They were the ones keeping me going in my darkest hours at my consulting job and the ones who ultimately inspired me to take the leap to do something remarkable. The whole room was full of people who shared my story in some way and understood the burning need to do something remarkable and live life on your own terms. Not following anyone else’s rules or version of success.
I am not sure yet what I will do with my $100, but I am thinking long and hard about it. I want it to be impactful, but also live on, potentially in the form of an organization I start or a Kiva loan type of situation or a person I invest in for a better education.
The conference left me energized and happy and confident knowing that I am on the right path and have a great support network of incredible people from all over the world doing something similar and amazing. WDS left me with that feeling you get on last day of summer camp when your face hurts from smiling so much but you feel like crying because you are leaving behind some amazing people and experiences. I will be back next year to reunite with my tribe…
All photos in this post by Armosa Studios