5 Things I Discovered at World Domination Summit

world domination summitThis was my first year attending Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (aka WDS). Words can’t accurately convey the experience. It really is something you need to experience first hand. That being said, there were 5 things I discovered.

1) Connections
Admittedly, I was having some anxiety before leaving for Portland. Of the almost 3,000 attendees, I knew about 20 or so and not very well. I thought everyone was going to know each other or they would come with friends, partners, or spouses.

My fear was unfounded. No sooner had I stepped on the MAX Line from the airport, I met 4 people on the train – Mona, Scott, Linda and Dana – who I would run into several more times over the course of the weekend.

It turns out you met people everywhere; standing in line for the bathroom, at the overflowing coffee house lines, at the various events, and even the #8 bus which I was sure would only have regular commuters proved to have several attendees. The brownish orange badges and grey messenger bags were telltale signs you were an attendee.

Aside from the new people I met, it was great to connect with people that I previously only knew online.

I was even surprised to find that I recognized one of the ambassadors (the great team of enthusiastic volunteers helping out during the event). Sean Aiken was easily identified by his blond dreads. I had read his book, The One-Week Job Project, two years ago and wrote a blog post about it at the time. I didn’t mention that part to him, but I was excited to meet him as I loved his idea to work 52 jobs in a year to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

2) Resonance
I had seen Nancy Duarte’s TEDx talk before and looked forward to her talk. Creating “resonance” in a presentation is the basis for a successful speech.

Presentations are meant to inspire and engage audiences. Having managed speakers for 7 years, the speakers I gravitate to are the ones that move me and speak authentically. They share their stories in a way that you connect with them on a personal level. They make themselves vulnerable.

The weekend was filled with many great speakers and takeaways, but there were three main stage speakers that I “resonated” with: Jia Jiang,Tess Vigeland and Donald Miller.

Jia Jiang, also a TEDx speaker, talked about his journey to understand and overcome rejection. In a unique project called 100 Days of Rejection Therapy, Jia went out looking for rejection over the course of 100 days asking people for things that he was sure would get him rejected, but what he found was he also got many yeses.

Tess Vigeland, journalist and former host of the Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Money, engaged us with her story of leaving her job after 11 years for the great unknown.

Lastly, Donald Miller, founder of Storyline had us all laughing with stories about the bladder problems of his youth to meeting his wife.

3) Dreams
The weekend had an overarching theme of dreams. Darren Rowse, blogging guru and founder of ProBlogger, shared funny photos and stories about his dreams over the years.

The thing about this conference is that it attracts dreamers. We are all at various stages in pursuit of our dreams. I met several people that had no idea what their dreams were but they had a feeling there was more to their current reality. I met others who were in the early stages and those that were much farther along in their pursuits.

“Dreams can only have one real owner.”

These were the wise words of Tom Allen, whose film Janapar screened during the weekend. Filmed over 4 years in 32 countries, Janapar follows Tom’s journey. He leaves everything behind and sets off on his bike without maps, a journey that would take him 12,000 miles and have him fall in love surprisingly with Tenny, an Iranian-Amernian girl. He enrolls her in his bike adventure at one point but her family disapproves of an unmarried couple traveling together. Not ready to give up on his adventure, Tom sets off alone again realizing that you can enroll people in your dreams but ultimately “dreams can only have one real owner”.

4) Uncoventional Experiences
In hindsight, I wish I changed my ticket and arrived a day earlier to partake in the world float. I was happy to hear when I arrived that a new Guiness Book of World Records was set for the longest floating human chain – 620 people held hands on the Willamette River.

While I missed that once in a lifetime experience, I did try my swing at glow in the dark miniature golf. Yes, it does exist. Evidently it was 3-D as well but they forgot to give us the glasses.

Then there was the Unconventional Race. I hadn’t realized it existed until I was at the opening party at the zoo. Dana, who I met on the MAX Line, was busy taking photos of the elephants and bears at the zoo. She had actually been on my flight and had snapped a pic with the pilot. I thought she was a foreigner at that point, not realizing she was attending WDS or that the Unconventional Race existed.

I quickly became enrolled in taking photos and completing the fun and varied tasks on the race list. I had no chance in winning, but I was enjoying the experience.

What made the Unconventional Race even better was to see Nazrin, one of the three dynamic Aussies behind Rock Your Purpose Live, on stage sharing her story about Mercedes. You can read here amazing story from WDS here . It is stories like Nazrin’s, which make up the wonderful weekend.

5) Rumbling
Attending WDS creates a rumbling, a stirring, a possibility of living your life to the fullest. Chris Guillebeau sets a precedent for pursuing your dreams and living your life’s purpose. He has built a business on the values of community, service and adventure and has inspired countless people. I have to say I spent most of the weekend marveling about what an incredible human being he is.

Image courtesy of Armosa Studios


Do you have an unconventional dream you want to achieve? Learn how to turn your vision into reality.


  1. says

    I forgot about some of the finer points of Don Miller’s humor, like the self-depreciating story about having a bad bladder in school. I also already forgot how prominently a role public transportation plays in Portland. It’s awesome, and not just because it’s a great way to meet people you already know or could know!

    Thanks for the recap, Wendy. I highly recommend what you’ll hopefully be able to do for WDS 2014 and that’s coming a day early. Showing up the day before the festivities officially started was a great way to acclimate myself to the environment, people, and food. Ya gotta get your orientation early to know where the paleo food carts are, right? :)
    Joel Zaslofsky recently posted..42 Unusual Ideas To Power Your Remarkable Life (#WDS2013 Recap)My Profile

    • Wendy says

      After seeing all the great recaps, it was almost hard to post this. I was impressed with how many notes you and Scott took. I had a pen and paper but writing in the dark proved impossible. You should see my notes. They weren’t really written in any lines or entirely legible.

      I wish I just had one powerful story to share or 50 plus takeaways, but I went with what I had.

    • Wendy says

      I think you would really enjoy the event. It is really a hard to event to capture in words, you almost just have to focus on one or two things. There have been a lot of great blog posts floating around about WDS, so I hesitated about even posting mine. I definitely think it is something one needs to experience, as words don’t really do it justice.

      I hope you buy a ticket for 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge