in Travel/Experience

Portland Redux and World Domination Summit 2015

This was my second year ‘unconferencing’ Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit. – where I show up without a ticket and hang out outside the venues talking with attendees. I meant to buy a ticket this time, but the event sells out within hours of ticket release, so I missed my chance. So I did the same thing as last time and showed up anyway without a ticket. Monet, it wasn’t on purpose this time, I swear!

I’ve long held that the true value of a conference lies in the networking, not in the talks, and given that this event took place in a small ballroom with many breaks and meetups outside, it was very easy for me to get a lot out of the weekend without feeling like I missed out. Many of the talks are up on the web afterwards anyways.

Whereas last year’s WDS was a wondrous introduction into the world of online entrepreneurs and lifestyle businesses, this year’s event left me a little jaded. It seemed like most attendees were people who were considering taking a leap into the unconventional and starting a business, rather than people who had already taken that leap. It’s a great event for encouraging normal people to start living off the beaten path, but no longer a good event for connecting with others who are already treading that path.

Either there were more hustlers last time, or I’ve just been around the block more since then. I found myself connecting with very few impact entrepreneurs, and more ‘wantrepreneurs’, life coaches, and at best, lifestyle entrepreneurs. Nothing wrong with those people, but I felt like I could get more networking done in a normal weekend in SF. Maybe that’s just my interests – judging from the Twittersphere, there was just as much tears and life changing this year as every WDS. (And Chris does put on a stellar event, so don’t get me wrong.)

I doubt I’ll return next year though. I’d recommend this event to anyone who needs that extra push to get into freelancing, lifestyle businesses, or coaching. If you don’t need that push, there are probably better networking events out there for you.

That said, I did have a great time, met a few cool people, and had a few nifty experiences. Here’s a few:

Portland Redux

Every stop on the Portland light rail is sponsored by a local business. “Now approaching Pioneer Square, sponsored by Chase Bank.” Clever way to get extra money for public transport!

Portland’s Ground Kontrol video arcade bar has a game called Killer Queen that accommodates 5 players against 5, for a total of 10! . Gameplay is a combination of Joust and Capture the Flag, with multiples avenues towards victory. It’s a clever, fun, highly engaging game, assuming you can assemble a team that knows what they’re doing. Plus you have to walk around the bar recruiting players – great excuse to talk to strangers!

I crashed the first night with a friend cycling down the coast who is staying with the founders of Beeminder, an acclaimed personal accountability SaaS product that only costs money if you fail to meet your self-imposed goals. The founders are a husband and wife duo who are so rational that they pay each other to do household chores, from driving the kids around to doing the dishes.

I loved seeing how this rationalist dynamic translated to a family atmosphere – their kids are named Faire (after fairness) and Cantor (after the mathematician), they have their own assiduously filled out Beeminder profiles, and the house is full of textbooks on math, physics, and psychology. What a fun house, and polite kids!

WDS Notes

Talk from Jonathan Fields on The Art of Becoming Known:

  • First ask yourself why you wish to become known, what for, and to what audience
  • What will you be able to do once known that you can’t now, and what freedom will you lose in the process?
  • “Adjectives are what you use when you don’t have facts” – Gary Halbert
  • 7 common ways to become known: through intellectual property, a skill, a story, a method, an approach, certain technology, or you in particular
  • Ask others what they think you’re really good at and what they’d thank you for to determine which to pursue
  • 10 elements of positioning yourself: Credentials, Association, Thought piece, Public speaking, a content engine, Authorship, Leadership of a tribe, Endorsements, or mind-blowing memories

Art of Storytelling from YesYesMarsha

  • Always touch upon what the situation looked like, and how it made you feel
  • Tell stories like you’re talking to a mate at the bar, not like you’re writing it down
  • Never introduce story aspects that aren’t relevant (Chekhov’s gun)
  • Tell stories chronologically or they will be confused

People Skills for Business with Vanessa Van Edwards

  • “A 1% increase in customer service yields a 2% increase in revenue”
  • Hands are key in first impressions – keep them visible and open
  • Top TED talks have twice as many hand gestures as the bottom ones
  • Making mistakes makes you likable, don’t be too perfect
  • Charisma, credibility, and intelligence are what create interpersonal expressions

Random WDS people and learnings:

  • Byron, who lives comfortably out of a 1991 Toyota Previa minivan, while running an eBay arbitrage business
  • Rick, a gay man stuck in a ‘mixed orientation marriage’ until 38, until he embraced his gay side and become a ‘coming out coach’, now transitioning to a ‘finding yourself coach’ (confronting who you really are is a problem we all have!)
  • John, a polyamorous lover who has a wife and children at home, but two other girlfriends (and their pictures on his desk at work) who also have their own husbands. Somehow they make it all work without jealousy. Apparently morethantwo.com and solopoly.com helped
  • Experience Institute – alternative to an MBA that stresses apprenticeship
  • Singularityweblog.com – premier trans-humanist blog and podcast, with super comprehensive interviews
  • Ryno single wheel motorcycle that feels like flying
  • Book: Essentialism by Greg Macgeowan
  • Book: The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Living The Courage Vibe documentary about nomadic living as a family