#WDS: Sunday Recap (Day 3)


It’s late Tuesday night, and I’m lying on the floor of my apartment, two new friends (from #WDS) crashing in my place – having just met them a few days ago. Yes, it’s like that. We traveled to Portland and then, less than 48 hours later, I’ve opened my doors in San Francisco to some of the most amazing people, brilliant minds, and interesting folks doing great things around the world.

We are geeking out over the nerdy stuff – the technicalities of blogging, the massive spam attack on several word press sites late in the evening, bantering about some of the stories we heard (or lived), … and … this, THIS is the spirit of #WDS. This is the intangible. This is why we do what we do. This is what IRL means.

I leave #WDS with notes and thoughts and ideas; but more importantly, I leave #WDS knowing that each of the people in attendance is going to do something to change the world and that somehow, our lives will continue to cross paths in the future. I leave in excited anticipation of watching the energy and potential of each person unfold into remarkable, stunning work throughout the world. The world needs more builders and do-ers. These are those people.

What it Was.

It’s hard to capture that ‘special’ feeling of #WDS, the way that the event brought talented people together in a physical space for something truly exceptional – without sounding somewhat ‘woo-woo crazy,’ as Natalie Sisson describes it.  In a brilliant post, Dave Ursillo writes about the “indefinable, indistinguishable, impossible-to-totally-describe sensation” of being with a group of 500 ambitious, talented, like-minded individuals:

“[It was a] crowd of complete strangers brought together for something beyond our differences. […] There’s a sensation of unabashed unity, a common denominator among us, a shared foundation of support and learning that makes us each a complete equal to those sitting around you. you share a passion, an interest, a hobby, an “appreciation of,” and upon that humble basis you are suddenly interwoven with hundreds and thousands of amazing and unique people, in a very special way.”

Natalie Sisson, aka the Suitcase Entrepreneur, says: “When you put that much energy, love, compassion, intellect, humour and openness into one room, you’re bound to come away enlightened.” Read her recap – it’s amazing. And in case you’re not convinced, check out Caleb Wojcik’s summary on Pocket Changed, called “Why You Need To Go To The World Domination Summit Next Year” – it’s also brilliant.

For a few more gems, check out Bindu Wiles photographs or Gregory Berg’s photographs, Matt Langdon’s Hero Handbook recap, Devon Mill’s recap (LOVE her quote of Nate Damm: “If you feel called to do something and don’t do it, it’ll haunt you for the rest of your life.” <– so true!), or the eloquent, beautiful words of Crystal Street.

Each person is writing, documenting, seeking, trying to capture the essence of what it was. It was definitely Something. Something involving hugging, dancing, bollywood, laughing, talking, connecting, exploring, sharing, being. Something that was awesome. Something amazing.

Notes from the Talks.

Sunday I woke up overwhelmed, in the best sense of the word, brimming with thoughts and ideas and possibilities and potential. I had to leave – I had to go “be” again, and so – forgive me to all of the wonderful morning speakers – I went running.  My mind was buzzing with potential and I had to let each of the ideas sink in before returning to drink from the water-hose of awesome again. Here’s a list of just some of the opinions, insights, talks, and events from Sunday: a jam-packed weekend full of amazing, non-conforming, genius-laden, insanely talented individuals.

  • John T. Unger, Sculptural Firebowls: What can you do that no one else can? And: make the best of the worst, because the worst makes you better.

  • Laura Roeder, Social Media Marketing: Don’t even think about doing everything yourself. Build great teams, build great companies.

  • Pam Slim, Escape From Cubicle Nation: How to Build a Powerful Content Map – figure out what your topic is, figure out who your person (or persons) is/are, and build a set of ideas that match what your people need to what you talk about.
  • Michael Bungay Stanier, Box of Crayons: Do More Great Work – Stop the busywork. Start doing work that matters. From his book: “Life is too short, even for good work.”
  • Jonathan Fields, Work, Play, Entrepreneurship & Life: Step confidently in the face of uncertainty and leap boldly into action.  The only way you can know everything is you or someone you know has already done it. Do something different. Uncertainty means you know it’s different and daring – do it anyways.

But the biggest lesson of all: where it all started.

Perhaps the biggest lesson of all is in the simple power of small actions, as evidenced and led by Chris Guillebeau. A year ago, there was no Summit; there was no conference; there was no internet explosion of people lavishing praise and oozing inspiration tangentially through each other.

Two years before that, there was no book; there was no book tour. AND dipping back a bit further, looking through the archives of the Art of NonConformity (the blog), we can see where Chris was in February 2008: there wasn’t an army; there wasn’t a following; there wasn’t a book; there wasn’t a best-selling conference. If you look back into his archives, you can begin to see the start of something great. From his post on February 25, 2008:

“At the time I’m writing this, only about 10 people will be reading. The ChrisGuillebeau.com site has been live for a couple of days, but I haven’t announced it anywhere or done any kind of promotion.

It’s good to test things out before you take over the world.

A couple of months from now, I’ll go live with a more public launch, but until then I’ll be adding content, tweaking the design, and getting the site together.

Right from the beginning, I thought it would be good to state for the record what I hope to accomplish here. A goal is good, a measurable goal is better, and a publicly measurable goal is best of all.

This project is about unconventional ideas and how to put them into practice. I’ll be writing mainly about the subjects of international travel, personal development, and entrepreneurship. The theme that links these different topics together is nonconformity, or ways of thinking about life, work, and travel that are vastly different—and usually vastly superior—to what is offered by the status quo of conventional thinking.”

Just a few years ago, none of this existed (except perhaps in Chris’ mind). There was just Chris – well, Chris and Jolie – and an idea. A man set to travel to every country in the world, to write about it, and to slowly take over the world – one idea, one person, one project, one army at a time.

Congratulations, Chris. You’ve done it. You are an inspiration to us all. And we can’t wait to see what you do next.



20 Responses to #WDS: Sunday Recap (Day 3)

  1. Damn I wish I had your amazing handwriting. It brings everything to life and captures the essence of the weekend. Plus it looks funky on this page :)

    What a wonderful idea to head back to Chris’ life changing post of where it all began. As you say if you want to see a source of inspiration in just what CAN BE DONE in so shorter a time then Chris is a shining example.

    I am jealous to not be one of the people crashing on your floor. I can only imagine the ongoing world domination conversations that went on. And I look forward to so many more – you are so wonderfully unique and I’m blessed to have met you girl.

    • Sarah says:

      I wish you were here! I can’t wait to travel the world more and meet up with you in lots of fabulous places – I have a feeling our paths will be crossing a lot in the future :)

  2. Matt Langdon says:

    Love the photos of handwritten notes. What a great way of sharing your thoughts from the conference.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks, Matt! So good to connect with you – I’m excited to see what you’re working on and stay in touch!

  3. Love the new site Sarah!! Looks really good.

    And this post is really freakin awesome. I loved how you closed it out. But did you leave any unique parts from the weekend off of it…??

    -Scott

    • Sarah says:

      SCOTT DINSMORE! Yup, there’s a lot that I missed in the recap, and those things are just things you have to be at the conference to get. :) It was SOOO good to meet you and bike along the river and hear more about all of your projects, writing & work! See you in SF!

  4. Dawn says:

    I got goosebumps. I am so excited to see this energy unfold. I hope to be a bigger part of it myself someday. I just need to figure out my own way.

    • Sarah says:

      You will DEFINITELY get there, although “there” is not somewhere to get — enjoy the process, love the travel, and if you wake up every day smiling and exploring, you’re already there!

  5. Benny says:

    That is a great recap. Love the notes you took. Like Natalie said, I wish my handwriting looked that neat and cool!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Benny! We all have little quirks and talents – I suppose handwriting is mine. What’s yours? :)

  6. I absolutely LOVE your recaps from WDS#11. Wish I had been there! Thanks for capturing such fabulous insights and also sharing your awesome handwriting :)

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Amanda! Handwriting = force of habit from architecture school (although, full disclosure, I’ve loved writing and penmanship since I was about 4, so it’s definitely part of who I am). I felt a little lazy for just photographing my notes, so I’m so glad that people like them!

  7. I am in love with “the biggest lesson of all.” So inspirational. Your recap of the event was amazing and I’m looking forward to attending next year and hopefully connecting with you! xo

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks so much for coming by! The event was unbelievable – and I can’t wait to see what Chris does next year (in addition to Bollywood dancing, of course). Looking forward to meeting you next year!

  8. Dane Findley says:

    How great that you drew a bold, purple square around “How Not To Do Everything Yourself.” Collaboration and team-building, it turns out, are an essential part of success in the digital era, I am learning. Trying to do everything yourself isn’t as much fun, even if it *was* sustainable.

    { twitter = @danenow }

    • Sarah says:

      Hey Dane – You are so spot-on with this! I struggle a lot trying to do too much, when really, the best work we can do is interwoven with the work of others and the work of great teams. Work that is just “good” and not our “great” work should be discarded, which is hard to do because it seems like good work should be done. If you’ve built teams, structures, or systems, I’d love to hear about it – what works and what doesn’t? I’m *always* learning more from other people.

  9. […] of non conformity (and the book review from earlier, as well as the recap’s one, two, and three from the #WDS conference earlier this year in Portland, […]

  10. […] the years spent in various jobs. The recap of the event took four separate posts (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Photos) – and Chris joked that I should become the “scribe” of future conferences because […]

  11. […] Day 3: Sunday Recap, what it was, and the magic. and  […]