Well, I can proudly say that after hearing so much about the World Domination Summit (WDS) and wishing I could be there, I was.  For those unfamiliar with Chris Guillebeau‘s brainchild here’s how the event guide introduces it:

Once again, our weekend of community, adventure, and service will explore this key question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”  Together, we’ll discover answers, possibilities, and opportunities.

I remember the anticipation of buying my ticket nine months ago and making sure I got one before they sold out. As last weekend drew near I questioned whether “it would be worth it” and I wondered if I was doing the right thing by “going to yet another conference” about “shipping” instead of actually “shipping.”


WDS met my expectations in some ways, missed them in others, and touched me in ways I didn’t expect.  I had hoped to meet several new people or someone locally I could do a project with.  I didn’t.  I had hoped I would have a break through idea of a product I could create and launch. I didn’t. I hoped that the voices in my head about being disappointed would be wrong.  They weren’t.

Get Fired Up

What I did find was a lot of enthusiasm and 3,000 people rooting for each other.  I can’t remember being on the verge of tears so many times in a row for two whole days of a conference.  Admittedly I was a little raw going to into the event with some personal things I already had going on, and yet there was also more going on than met the eye in the way all the talks and events seemed so well tied together.  The rampant optimism and desire to make the world a better place was contagious.


The Best Parts

Highlights for me were:

  • The high-five line when you entered the building–it was like being on a football team and running out of the tunnel, twenty people cheering and screaming (really), whooping it up, and slapping your hand as you quickly walked by.  There was no way to keep a straight face.  It sounds kind of silly now, but it was profoundly touching and inspiring.  I’d love to recreate that somewhere in another place.
  • The woman sharing from the stage about her recipe site who had a hard time finishing because she was crying while people in the audience screamed, “You’ve got this!” “We’ve got your back!” “You can do it!”  “Keep going!”  Where have you ever heard of or seen such a thing?  Usually the audience holds their breath and hopes for awkward moments like this to pass.
  • Nancy Duarte–a compelling presentation continually contrasts “what is” with “what could be.”
  • Darren Rowse–spend 15 minutes a day doing something to push your dream to the next step and do that until you get somewhere.  It will happen.
  • Donald Miller–We are not our failures.  We are not our successes.  Either.
  • Many others I hope to summarize when some of the videos become available again.

The Cost Was Worth It

Was the $500 ticket price worth it?  After a disappointing opening night and the first day of talks I wasn’t sure because I was too focused on whether there had been enough “value-for-money” or “return-on-investment” from what I learned from the speakers–compared to what I already knew.  By the end of the second day I was convinced it was.  Like some of the really special things in life, you can’t always quantify or attach a dollar amount to them.

The intangible value of the experiences made it worth it because I believe they will help propel me forward.  I know I’m still in the “after-glow” of the event, but the need and sense of actually moving things forward is deeper in my bones and the timeline is less important. Darren Rowse reminded me that showing up and putting in a little time every day is what matters.

One thought that inspires me is to picture myself as one of the attendees on the stage next year, freaking out as I look out at 3,000 people and explain how WDS propelled me forward to something new and big. Honestly, being one of the people on stage next year is probably the least likely thing I see happening in my life, for any number of reasons, and yet the thought of it inspires me too.

Everyone is on Your Side

It would be tempting to attend next year just for the shot in the arm of being surrounded by so much enthusiasm and positive energy.  Sometimes I felt like the enthusiasm and the crowd got a little too carried away with itself–the standing ovations seemed to increase in frequency as the weekend progressed and not always in proportion to what was happening.  At the time I cast a cynical eye towards it.  Now I realize I was being judgmental and that there could have been real value in it.

The event really was for everyone, no matter what their role was.  Who knows, maybe one of those standing ovations I wasn’t into gave someone on stage the biggest encouragement of their life.  Kind of like walking through the high-five line and watching the people cheer for me.  It brings tears to my eyes as I re-live those moments and write about them here.

I hadn’t done anything and none of those people knew who I was, and yet there was something intrinsically special about those three or four seconds when everyone was cheering for ME, simply because I was me and because I was there.  Obviously something very deep in me was touched–in a way I haven’t experienced before.  It’s an experience I will continue to draw strength from.  I can only wonder how much juice it would give you to have a packed concert hall doing the same thing.

Thank you Chris Guillabeau and to all the people that gave their all to make WDS what it was.  I think I’ve described it a little, but you really can’t understand what it is until you’ve lived through the whole thing–something I recommend you do at least once.