© 2013 jen

WDS – A Recap & How It Affected Me

World Domination Summit 2013 blew my mind, again. It always does. This is my third year of being involved with helping make it happen. This year I had the smallest role I’ve ever had at the event: lead ambassador for the opening party and closing party. Last year I organized the opening and the closing party and the year before that, the closing party.

This year, because my role was so much smaller, I was able to relax and enjoy the actual conference, which I LOVED!!!

I wanted to write this post mostly for people who have never attended and are local Portlanders, because my experience is that although WDS and Chris Guillebeau are known internationally, most people I know locally have never heard of either one. This post is really for anyone who hasn’t attended or for those who have wondered if they should try to get a ticket for next year. So this post is for you guys to have a better idea of what this event is all about.

I’ll try not to duplicate what I wrote in my last post, but I’ll mention a little about each of the speakers and give you my takeaways from the experience.

Day 1 of Speakers

Nancy Duarte – Duarte Design

Nancy Duarte, big wow! She talked about important speeches throughout history and why they worked. It gave me so many ideas! If I ever have to write an important speech, I now have a much better idea of how to go about it.

Nancy believes that ideas change the world and being able to effectively communicate your ideas is critical to that future change. She also believes that the presenter is never the hero or main character of a story being told.

The audience is.

You must move the audience through the story. You are Yoda, they are Luke Skywalker. Watch this video to know more about what Nancy thinks about great speeches.

Darren Rowse – Problogger


Next was Darren Rowse of Problogger. Problogger is a site devoted to everything about blogging: blogging tips, making your blog profitable, and other information about having a professional, functional site.

He had a lot of  great knowledge and was funny to boot, but the things I wrote down in my notebook that jumped out at me were:

1. What do you do that gives you energy? Do more of that and less of things that suck your energy. Sounds pretty basic, right? But I think many of us don’t make time for the things that give us energy.

The things in my life that most give me energy are great conversation with rad people – brainstorming – and playing my ukulele, while singing. Nothing else can even compete with these.

2. What do you do that gives others energy? I think it’s the same things.

Conversations and story telling either in person or on my blog, seems to be the things that I notice are most likely to make another person’s eyes light up or that I get the most positive feedback from. Also, the more I get comfortable playing my uke and singing around others the more I’m told people find the energy and deep emotion I put into it creates the same feelings in them. Many people say, after they hear me play, “Maybe I’ll pick up an instrument. Maybe I’ll get singing lessons.” I think people like to hear me play and I think the fact that I’m such a new uke player, who is willing to be vulnerable and new – mistakes and all – gives them the courage to believe that they could do that too.

Bob Moore – Bob’s Red Mill


Next was Bob Moore from Bob’s Red Mill. That guy is my hero.

He had this revolutionary idea of working with whole grains long before anyone was talking about whole grains. He grew his family business from one tiny store to a huge corporation – founded on a great product, paying people well and treating their people and their product with respect to create permanency.

At his factory today, he has a GMO testing lab and a gluten free testing lab, so that when the company puts GMO free or gluten free labels on their product, it’s been tested and is 100% true. That’s Bob for you, 100% true. I found myself crying during his talk and it wasn’t the words he used, it was his simple, clear insights and honesty. It was humbling to witness. It’s not that often that you’re in the presence of someone that good and righteous.

Bob believes we all need to make more time for creating things. It’s all well and good to have idea time, but most things stay in the idea form because we don’t make enough time for the creating, which is often more work than the idea stage.

Pam Slim – Escape from Cubicle Nation

Then we got to choose a workshop to go to. I chose Pam Slim‘s workshop on the Art of Taking Action. Pam recommended watching the Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk about the elusive creative genius. She gave many great tips. I’ll list a few of her tips for how to take action with a given project:

  • Specifically describe what you want to do. Look at the first steps. Look at what others have done and what models are out there.
  • Who it’s for? Describe that.
  • Why is it important? Define that.
  • What are the questions that need to be answered to bring this project to fruition?
  • Set a deadline.

Jia Jiang – 100 Days of Rejection Therapy

Next was Jia Jiang, who was amazing! Jia exposed himself to 100 days of rejection because he was working through his own issues with rejection. This was his self-imposed “therapy.”

By the end of the 100 days he learned that people reject you way less than you might expect.  He learned that every time you decide not to try something for fear of rejection, you are rejecting yourself first. That’s the deepest, truest rejection.

If you try to get something from someone you at least have a chance at getting it, before they said no (or yes!), but if you never try, there is a 100% chance that you won’t get it. So his message was essentially: don’t reject yourself by not trying – the odds are better that you’ll get what you wish for if you try. Every time you are faced with a possible rejection, it’s an opportunity too.

Chase Jarvis – CreativeLive

And the final speaker of the day was Chase Jarvis, who talked about creativity.  Chase also runs CreativeLive, which is a site devoted to free workshops by experts in a wide variety of creative fields including photography, business, and video. 

Chase talked about how our education system is doing away with creativity, which requires individual thought, not regurgitation. He talked about how everyone is creative, but that some people haven’t had enough exposure to creativity to know that they are creative. He also talked about creativity begetting more creativity. Creativity is essentially transferable to other areas of your life: once you find one area you’re strong in, you can create others.

I’ve always known I was creative. My earliest memories are of making things. I think I was actually born with (for lack of a better term) big creative muscles. My mother was a writer and poet. My father was very creative in construction, fixing machines, singing and playing instruments. They were also both weirdos and outcasts in their own rights, not people who fit any sort of standard thought or lifestyle.

Both of them were short in practical life skills and long in creativity. I got bits and pieces from both of them, then on top of it, I’ve spent most of my life enhancing those natural creative gifts that I received and learning some practical life skills too. I can generalize my creativity to many mediums, because I am so strong in my creativity (PS. I was always a terrible student – I didn’t follow the rules).

That’s why I already have my own style with the ukulele. I strum differently and louder than most of the students in the class. I have a super strong sense of rhythm and like to swing things, maybe syncopate it. I have a much deeper voice than any of the other women in my class. Everyone sounds a little different, but I think I sound uniquely different from anyone else I’ve heard.

If you want to hear me singing and playing my ukulele with my business partner, Jena Coray (she sings the harmony and plays the piano), you can hear us here.

Trust me, there are plenty of things that I’m not that good at or that I’m learning to be better at – like writing (I’m still learning!!). I used to think I was the world’s worst writer and yet I still wanted to write. I imagine if I keep up this pace of writing I’ll actually be great at it one day, because I’ve got my old friend creativity at my side, enhancing the things I do, and it’s something that everyone either has or can develop! Yay!

Day Two of Speakers

Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project


On Sunday, July 7th, 2013, the first speaker was Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project. She spoke about the importance of self knowledge. I took lots of notes on this talk because what she shared was extremely fascinating. She said there are three questions to ask yourself which will bring you closer to knowing yourself:

1. Who do you envy? This gives you insights into things you want. Start working in the direction of these things.

2. What do you lie about? We all tell little lies here and there. What you lie about can shed light on an area that you may want to work on to make what you’re saying true.

3. What makes you happy? Do more of this (this question could be a bit off, I didn’t write this one down. Sometimes I’m a bit ADD, but that was the gist of it).

More here.

She talked about expectations: yours and other people’s, and how we all come from different perspectives with expectations depending on the type of people we are.

Gretchen talked about different types of people:

1. Upholders – upholding inner and outer expectations.

2. Questioners – questioning all things: both inner and outer expectations are suspect until convinced through questioning and getting more info to make a decision.

3. Rebels – rebels against inner and outer expectations, until it’s clear why the rule is there and the rebel will only do things on his or her terms.

4. Obligers – meets outer expectations, but not inner ones.

Read more about these four personality types here.

I’m a rebel with upholder tendencies. My husband is an obliger with upholder tendencies. It’s no wonder we’re so compatible.

Andrew Warner – Mixergy


Next was Andrew Warner of Mixergy.  What is Mixergy? I grabbed this from his site, “Mixergy is where the ambitious learn from a mix of experienced mentors.”

Andrew talked about counter mind thoughts and true mind thoughts. He believes that if you start paying attention to the negative thoughts you have (counter mind) you can start debunking your own thinking, because many of the negative thoughts we think simply aren’t true. He also believes that through meditation and affirmations you can strengthen your more positive thoughts (true mind).

He suggests picking one area that increases your mental chatter (counter mind thoughts).

  • Ask yourself if it’s true?
  • Ask yourself, does it matter?

You’re well on your way to destroying negative mind chatter. More here.

Tess Vigeland – Radio Show Host

Next was Tess Vigeland. She was a radio host for Marketplace on American Public Media for years and years. She recently left for unnamed reasons and is looking for a new job. She described in amazing, vulnerable and descriptive detail what it’s like being in and out of the spotlight. She talked about how one day she’d have a big win – maybe she was on a great radio show and she’d be feeling great. She has great confidence, which I love to see in a woman, and would say things like, “They love me! I’m remarkable!” Then the next week there would be no phone calls or radio shows and she’d be heartbroken, believing that it was all over for her.

I think this feast or famine thinking is pretty typical of most small business people, especially in the beginning stages of business. One day, you’re on top, the next day you can’t remember what the top feels like anymore and now you’re at the bottom. I felt like it was really important for her to talk about this because it’s a human experience that not that many people talk about. I think that the more people talk about their fears, their truths and their real lives, the more everyone around them is affected by it and able to be more real within their own lives.

Thank you, Tess for keeping it real for all 3000 of us people that day.

David Fugate – LaunchBooks 

Next it was workshop time and I went to David Fugate’s talk on how to publish a book. David is really an expert because he’s a literary agent. He gave tons of tips about how much authors can expect to make on each of the different types of books, self publishing vs. traditional publishing, how to pitch a book, how to find an agent for your book, and what types of books are best for which avenue. 

What I loved about David’s talk was that he said it like it was. He talked about how the most important thing in writing a book is to have a good idea, and that most people pitching book ideas don’t have that. Personal memoirs are one of the hardest areas to break into because everyone thinks their story is interesting, but many of them aren’t that interesting to the general public. Art and photography books are damned near impossible to find an agent for because the cost of the book is so high due to the printing costs. That makes it much harder to sell in the end. Great info to know, right?

Steve Schalchlin – Composer & Musician

Then Steve Schalchlin did a performance, which was one part singing and playing the piano and another part storytelling. He talked about living with AIDS and being so sick that he was near death and then receiving a trial medication that saved his life. His performance was very moving and at the end he brought in the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, which was beautiful.

The takeaway I got from his performance was deeply personal for me. I’ve been trying to define what the feeling is that happens to me when I’m playing my ukulele and singing at the same time and I thought that feeling was love, but I still felt dissatisfied with that answer, because it has more to it than just love. I realized in this performance that I feel the same thing that Steve felt after becoming strong enough to start playing his piano and singing again. Now I know the name of that  feeling.

It’s gratitude.

A deep well, in a place that nothing else can touch in the same way. It’s like a floodgate of gratitude, when triggered by my own music making. Sometimes the gratitude I feel is so deep I don’t feel strong enough to hold it inside of my body and when that happens, sometimes in the middle of a song, I burst into tears of joy. Friends who have seen this when I’m playing are always surprised, but I keep playing.

Why am I so happy? Because I gave up on making music a long time ago, when I was a kid. When I couldn’t afford lessons or dreams. My life was too hard and I had a long way to go before I could really focus on something like this, but now I’m here. On the other side of hard times, at least for the moment anyway.

I had quit wanting to make music on a conscious level, but the older I get, the healthier I get, recovering from Celiac disease, overcoming so much, growing into myself more and more each day, the more I hear my heart and what it’s always said, “Make music” and really just “Make” in general. For awhile my brain stopped listening to my heart, but that’s no longer true.

Reunited and it feels so good.

Donald Miller – Storyline


The final speaker of the day was Donald Miller of Storyline. He’s an author and helps people find their story. Sadly, I didn’t get to see this entire talk because of my duties with the closing party, but I caught the first few minutes and got the gist of what he had to say.

He talked about the questions to answer in a memoir:

1. Who are you?

2. What do you want?

3. What happened when you went for it?

I was sad to leave this speech because I’d have to say of all of the speakers, he was speaking my language the most. He was talking a lot about the self, who we really are, and how we become ashamed at some point in our early life and develop a personality to protect that real self.

He talked about the work of Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who helped many concentration camp victims deal with their trauma. There had been a high rate of suicide in this population, but once Viktor started working with these victims there were no suicides on his watch. He really got to the root of what people need for a full life. We all need to work towards a sense of purpose in life and have meaningful relationships. Sounds easy, right? And yet, tons of people who might be considered successful by today’s standards might truly be struggling in these areas and ultimately unhappy.

A person may have very little monetarily, but if s/he has a sense of purpose and people with whom s/he has real and true connections, that person is much happier than the business exec who got into business with the sole purpose of making money, who may be negating the real fruits of living.

Check out this cool talk by Viktor Frankl.

So that’s my wrap-up of the weekend. My biggest takeaway from the event in its entirety, which was also my takeaway last year, is/was that there is total strength and power in vulnerability, storytelling and truth telling – people connect with the truth more than anything else. The more honest you can be, the more you allow other to believe in their own truth. If we can all learn to be honest about where we are at, the more connections we can make and the more we can all feel comfortable living with and operating from our true selves.

Freedom to be yourself tastes so good!

Thanks Chris Guillebeau, the Action Team members and the ambassadors for a great weekend and helping me return to me, rerooted in what really matters in life.

Being me – living with authenticity.
Doing my part to make the world a better place – believing I have the power to change the world.
Making real and heartfelt connections while bringing my whole self to those relationships.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a ton of new ideas, lists to make, and creating time that I need to fit into my life.  I also want to dig deeper into all of these websites I’ve listed here. Best of all, I just got a new ukulele – a tenor this time. I think I’m naming her Octavia and I need to go play her and get my gratitude on. So I’m signing off.

Hope this is helpful and informational to you!





  1. Posted July 13, 2013 at 11:42 pm | #

    Wow! I want to come next year, will have to talk work into sending me. :)

    • Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm | #

      Good thinking!