WDS was an incredible, emotional, SOUL-MOVING experience. And I don’t even talk like that. I will 100% admit my skepticism of the World Domination Summit. Even though Chris has been my “real-life” mentor and friend for three years (that’s forever in Internet years), I went into this wary of what I’d get out of the different sessions and attendees.
I was afraid the content would be all, “And then I quit my job and reached for my dreams and stars rained down on me and life is beautiful.” That’s bullshit. I’ve lived through a year of entrepreneurship and this shit is NOT stars and rainbows and there are several times when I am NOT KILLING IT. Just because I was a speaker at the event does not mean I have this figured out. I will be the first to tell you that I am a work in progress.
Edit: Want to watch my panel talk? Here’s an excerpt of our conversation.
Beyond my skepticism, I also approach events/conferences with a set agenda, applying an analytical eye and setting goals for what I want to learn and the types of people I want to meet. I didn’t do that in this case because not only did I not know what to expect, I also hadn’t given myself any time beforehand to really consider this.
This worked in my favor, because there’s no way I could have anticipated the sort of experience this was.
Here’s what happened:
Everyone I met said they were there to be around like-minded people and to feel good. They came for emotional reasons, not because of any set agenda or one particular speaker. This resonated with me like a gong because what business am I in? Oh, that’s right. Creating emotional experiences. Allowing people to step into a world a little apart from their own and take away a feeling of being different when they go back to their everyday lives.
I was moved to tears by a conference speaker for the first time ever when Scott Harrison of Charity: Water took the stage and shared the full scope of what he’s trying to accomplish. I was already familiar with the organization and have even donated to campaigns in the past, but seeing him lay out the work he’s doing to solve a massive problem moved me to give up my birthday for Charity: Water.
I learned that unused creativity doesn’t just dissipate. It turns to grief. Since I left my job, I’ve started looking at the writing I do (here and on my personal blog) as a “luxury.” As it turns out, getting that part of my brain engaged and the feeling I get from writing is what helps me deliver powerful experiences through Midnight Brunch. It also allows me to focus more intensely on the revenue side of my business (which is also a very creative endeavor). Thanks, Brene Brown, for this one powerful lesson.
The biggest breakthrough for me was regarding the connection between establishing a regular physical practice (i.e. an exercise routine) and productivity. I have been obsessed this year with understanding why top-performing execs usually also have some insane habit like running marathons, becoming yogis or riding their bike 10 mi. every day. While I’ve been noodling over the physical and habit-forming aspects, I was missing one crucial link until Jonathan Fields‘ workshop.
He called out Kristoffer Carter (K.C.), who was sitting in the audience, as someone who has an excellent physical practice and who, as a result, has the “vibe” he needs to do great work. Thinking about how exercise changes the energy or “vibe” you present to the world was a huge, huge lightbulb moment for me. It resonated to the point where K.C. and I have already connected again this week to talk more about how I can establish these great habits in my life. (Check out his video today, “7 Minutes to Meditation.”) I also met another fellow entrepreneur who is featured in The $100 Startup, Patrick McCrann, who runs Endurance Nation, a private training resource for triathletes. Think he can teach me a few things about building a physical practice?
I got to meet Scott Belskey, the author of Making Ideas Happen and creator (along with his team at Behance) of The Action Method. I mentioned during my WDS panel that these two things were what saved me from my first two months of “entrepreneurship,” which were spent watching Law and Order marathons, nursing wounds from mental burnout and recovering from the loss of a childhood best friend.
I got validation from Cal Newport (brilliant and funny) for the five years I spent at my last job. He said something that I hope you all understand and value, especially if you are looking to get out of your current job and start your own business. He said: “Develop a skill that is rare and valuable and then use that skill to bring the traits you desire into my life.”
Value craftsmanship. I knew I wanted to stay at my last job to learn all I could for a reason. I sometimes joke that getting my ass kicked doing sales for a startup was my unofficial MBA. But it was true — I developed a skill that’s rare and valuable (relationship-based selling) and now apply it to everything I do for Midnight Brunch and for my consulting business.
Lastly, I was blown away by Chris’s generosity to the attendees he had brought to Portland for this incredible experience. Even though WDS went from 400 attendees last year to 1,000 this year, Chris still made a commitment to keep the event sponsor-free. Between the profit from ticket sales and a private donation from one of last year’s attendees, Chris and his team found themselves with $100,000. That works out to about $100 per attendee. (Hello, $100 Startup theme!) Chris decided to invest that $100 per person by giving it to them in cash as they left the event with a call to create, give or push a project forward. That level of generosity and belief in people is absolutely priceless and practically unheard of.
I didn’t take the $100, since I attended for free as a speaker and I already have a $100 Startup. However, I do plan on giving freely this month in terms of chatting with people I’ve met through Chris who have asked for advice and help, and also and finding someone to mentor the way Chris has mentored me.
This is all to say that WDS was life-changing for me. I already got my ticket for WDS 2013, and recommend you get on the waiting list if tickets go on sale. Get ready to have your soul all shook up. This is how we dominate.
Many thanks to a handful of incredible people I either met for the first time, or got to know better:
- Jen and Omar of These Are Things (fellow featured $100 Startup biz)
- Pam Slim
- Janice Campbell (whose workshop on creating multiple streams of revenue was GANGSTER)
- Michael and Mary Ruth Hanna, of Mattress Lot in Portland (fellow featured $100 Startup biz), who both celebrate their 50th birthdays this weekend.
- Bassam Tarazi
- Jim Hopkinson
*Note: Almost all the nice photos in this post are courtesy of the incredible Wes and Tera of Armosa Studios (they also shot the wonderful book trailer video featured in my last post). The rest are by me.
I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won’t want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing. Request an invite to future Midnight Brunch events here.