When you tell people you’re going to a World Domination Summit, you get some pretty strange looks. I told my day job that I was going to a writing/blogging conference (although I guess the cat’s out of the bag now). I left Friday morning, early, to head to a 2-day conference in Portland with 500 of some of the most talented, interesting, creative people in the world.  People flew from New Zealand, Poland, Germany, Japan, and multiple other countries to participate in a mingling of minds that has left me without a voice and with so many ideas I’m almost not sure where to get started.

Here are the moments I’ve scribbled in my notebooks. This is only to get you started; I’m not sure if I can possibly capture the entirety of the conference. Notes from Day 1…

  • First, a word from our President. “Damn it Feels Good to Be A Gansta.” The genius behind the entire event – the modest, underwhelming, quick-to-deflect-attention powerhouse that is Chris Guillebeau – could have topped the event with some quick freestyle moves and I wouldn’t have been surprised. (Oh wait, he did: check out the Bollywood Video, here). An incredible amount of congratulations to Chris (and his wife, Jolie) for coordinating such an amazing group of people, pulling off the event without a hitch, and stopping to smile and greet every single person in attendance. If I were him, I’d be completely wiped out and ready to go into hermit mode by now, and yet he continued to rally, stay out late, and say hello to everyone. His ability to lead quietly – and bring together such spirited, energetic people and create teams that flow – shows the sheer genius of his leadership ability.
  • The Team. Chris pulled together a team of outstanding, energetic people who hustled for an entire year to put together what was arguably one of the best-executed events I’ve ever attended. Leadership isn’t about doing everything yourself, it’s about creating teams that matter, and systems that work. From the graphic design by Reese (I’m in love with the notebooks and the t-shirts), to the energy of Sean Ogle, Adam Baker, Tyler Tervooren, Robert Bruce, Jolie Guillebeau, Tsilli Pines, J.D. Roth, Logan Smith, Tammy Strobel, Nicky Hajal, all of the media/photography people, all of the WDS volunteers, and everyone else who worked, volunteered, and shared — the team behind WDS was a team I’d want in any business, project, or strategy. Stunning.
  • The feeling you get when you enter the room. It felt like walking into a room with 500 of your new best friends. The energy – captured on the left, by the media team at the conference (photos here) – was nearly indescribable.
  • The freedom from things. In perhaps a stroke of brilliance, Chris’ location, the Portland Art Museum, had terrible wifi service. I found that it didn’t matter – and in fact I preferred it. The last thing I wanted to do was be on my phone or computer in the middle of the conference – I was there. We were present. To be in such joy to listen, captivated, to the thoughts and ideas (and bollywood dances and pushups and movements) of so many incredible people — I forgot what it meant to spend time with a computer for two days. Instead, I was. We were. It was the world, and all of the people you used to know only via the screen were IRL, 3-dimensional, and far more brilliant than tinny LED lights on a computer could ever project. It reminds me without a doubt that all of our social networks exist to bring people together in real space in real time: the beauty of social networks is not in replacing real life, but in augmenting and allowing it.
  • The People. It’s not about who’s internet famous or not – although there were some pretty famous people there, speaking, lending their thoughts, sharing their ideas.  The conference was about bringing together a few hundred people for an -in person summit, “because there’s something special about being in the same place together.” (From the conference schedule).  It’s about all of the people and the brilliant, creative minds in the room. From the twitter stream, #WDS was described as a giant melting pot of great minds; like walking into a room with a guaranteed badge of friendship; like a high that you never want to let go of.

So what was it? #WDS was, in short, another way to answer the questions posed to all of us as we live our lives around the world:

What do you have to offer the world that no one else can?
How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?

In addition to the keynote speakers, the breakout sessions, and exploring downtown Portland, each night had a plethora of events to choose from – including skydiving and karaoke on Day 1! The offerings included bike tours of Portland, beer tours and cocktail tours, walking along the river, going to the Farmer’s Market, checking out the food carts, unofficial events and meetups, a final after party on Sunday night, and mountain climbing on Monday. In each event, presentation, meet up, and movement, we all asked ourselves these questions about the Great Work we aim to do, how to be Unconventional, and what and why Non-Conformity is such a gift to the universe.

It was certainly not to be missed. See you all next year, #WDS 2012.

(To learn more about the summit, check out the World Domination Summit Website. Or take a peek at Chris’ website, The Art of NonConformity. To get everything you want, as the title suggests, just follow this blog or sign up for updates….okay, fine, you’ll have to do some of the work yourself. But it’s a start.)