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 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.