To preface this entire post: the biggest thing I learned at World Domination Summit is that I don’t like conferences. I don’t like large crowds of people and I don’t like schedules. Small talk drains me. I prefer exploring a city on my own, by myself. I also have a hard time with audio learning: give me the transcript to read of the presentations I heard, and I promise I’ll retain about 409% more information and likely be more inspired. Oh, and it cost the equivalent of a cross-country, round-trip flight.
Here’s the thing: none of this is the fault of WDS (well, my missing Danielle LaPorte was totally the fault of WDS because they did not scale well when tripling the size of the conference…but that’s another story). This was my first-ever conference, and it will likely be my last. I met so many awesome people–some that I had never interacted with before, others that I’ve been working with and tweeting to for years. Those connections are priceless. But I’d rather continue to grow my network organically, through New York City coffee dates and meeting up around the globe rather than an entire weekend dedicated to networking (however un-networky it is). Even if it wasn’t the “oh-my-god-I’m-SO-INSPIRED” weekend I was hoping for, I still had some key takeaways:
Portland is weird, and it’s awesome.
The highlights: a bacon maple bar from Voodoo Donuts, heaps of fresh-off-the-farm raspberries and blueberries and cherries at the Farmers Market, every single ice cream flavor I tried at Salt and Straw. Connecting with family I hadn’t seen in years. The sunshine and blue skies and green trees and COMPLETE LACK OF HUMIDITY. Holy moly, the fresh Pacific Northwest air. Hippies and hipsters. I’d happily go back, if only to eat ice cream and sample every food truck offering.
Rejection is only an opinion.
Jia Jiang was totally the sleeper hit of the conference. I had never heard his name before, but his speech was hilarious, moving, insightful. Basically, after quitting his job to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur and subsequently missing out on a round of funding: he decided to get over his fear of rejection by actively seeking rejection 100 times. To avoid the negative experience, we often don’t allow ourselves to have the positive–and how many love stories would be written without a fear of rejection?
I’m an upholder.
One thing that resonated with me from Gretchen Rubin’s discussion on what motivates different personality types. I am an Upholder, through and through (perhaps with occasional rebel tendencies!). That’s why I list my goals for the year publicly and write my monthly goals in a notebook. I’ve been putting extraordinary pressure on myself to make a certain trip work in late fall (against lots of odds), and I realized it’s because I committed to it both externally and internally: I discussed it with a friend, I wrote it on the very first page of my notebook. Sometimes this is an incredible trait to have: I’m quite disciplined about healthy habits like meditation and very intentional with my friendships. Other times, it creates a heavy, arbitrary pressure that I put on myself: Croatia made no sense in my travel plans last year, but that’s where I decided to spend my 24th birthday six months earlier–so I stuck with it.
Publishing a book is daunting, but not impossible.
Literary agent David Fugate gave an honest, frank discussion of traditional publishing and self-publishing. It should come as no surprise that I’m interested in writing a book someday, so this was definitely the most practical and helpful information I came across at WDS. I didn’t exactly come out of the presentation feeling inspired and ready to put pen to paper–I’ve been second-guessing whether my idea is “truly great” since Sunday–but I do feel like I have a better understanding of navigating the world of book publishing. One day! (p.s. David has a great eBook called The Unconventional Guide to Publishing: worth a look if you’re interested in writing a book yourself!)
Great stories happen when characters take action.
Don Miller tackled a huge, existential question in his presentation: what makes a life meaningful? His answer revolved around devoting yourself to a meaningful project and being able to share your life with someone. I loved how he encouraged us to look at our life like a screenplay, to be able to answer the questions as if we were a character: who are you? What do you want? What happened when you went for it? And perhaps the mantra that I’ll be repeating from here on out: We are not our failures–but we are also not our successes.
I’m already living the life I want.
I think this is the main reason why WDS just didn’t quite resonate with me. You guys: I’m happy. I feel very in control of my life and the direction it’s going. “You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied” has been my mantra for the past three years: I always want to live my life so that my memoirs would be a best-seller.
I recognize the things that make me happy, and I do them: reading in the sunshine, waking up early on Saturday mornings to clean my apartment and do my grocery shopping, vinyasa flow yoga classes, having nothing to do but wander around a new neighborhood and take photos, riding bikes and drinking beer with my friends. I have an incredible network of friends and family in New York City, my hometown, across the globe who are supportive and hilarious.
I’m inspired every day: by working in a successful start-up, by the wandering souls who traverse the globe, by my friends who are rock stars in their industries. I read voraciously, I disconnect whenever possible, I meditate most mornings. WDS promotes “living a remarkable life in a conventional world.” And I like to think I’m already on my way to doing that.
p.s. all images are via my Instagram feed from my Portland trip.