World Domination Summit 2012

I recently had the privilege to attend Chris Guillebeau‘s World Domination Summit in Portland. The theme was “How to live a remarkable life in a conventional world,” and this certainly was a conference full of remarkable people. I’ve never felt more connected, engaged and inspired than I did that weekend. I have found my people.

WDS 2012

Chris Guillebeau and J.D. Roth at WDS2012 – Photo by Chris Guillebeau

What does it mean to live an excellent, purpose filled life?

That is a question I have been asking myself for a long time. I once thought I could find the answer in consumption. A new car, house, electronics, and other forms of materialism can bring temporary satisfaction, but it never lasts. At least it didn’t for my wife and I.  Travel is also very enjoyable, but even that is a fundamentally selfish act.

After spending a weekend with such remarkable people in Portland, the answer to the question that has been haunting me for years has finally become crystal clear.

A great life is about connection and contribution. That is what it fundamentally means to be human. Everything else is secondary and superficial.

The Amazing Chris Guillebeau

Seeing all the hard work that went into the conference and the fact that 1000 people gathered from 20 different countries was impressive, but what really astounds me is the force of nature that Chris Guillebeau has become. In just over four years, Chris has created a hugely popular blog and online business empire, written two best-selling books, held two sold out conferences, all the while working towards his mission to travel to every country in the world. It goes to show what talent, focus and hard work can accomplish. Chris Guillebeau’s example has inspired me to dream bigger dreams.

The $100,000 Investment

By now you have likely heard that all of the attendees at World Domination Summit 2012 were given a $100 bill to do something good in the world. An anonymous donation along with the surplus from this year’s conference, totaled about $100,000, enough for $100 for each attendee. This might prove to be the most effective social good investment ever made.

Here is a video of how Chris explained the gift.

World Domination Summit 2012

It’s impossible to distill all the fantastic presentations  and discussions into a blog post, but here is an overview of some of the amazing people that participated.

Brené Brown on Vulnerability

The conference started with researcher, author and TED superstar Brené Brown introducing the importance of vulnerability in order to feel joy in our lives. For an introvert like me, conferences like this are very intimidating. There are just so many amazing people working on great projects that it can be overwhelming. Berné Brown’s talk made me realize that I’m not the only one that feels like this. She had everyone in the audience stand up and progressively challenged us to break out of our comfort zones, by first making a loud belly laugh, then dancing and finally singing American Pie. 1000 people singing a capella was a very powerful experience to say the least.

Some highlights that I took away from her presentation are:

  • “Your experience here can’t exceed your willingness to be vulnerable.”
  • “Your capacity to be whole-hearted and experience fullness cannot exceed your ability to be vulnerable.”
  • Joy is difficult for us to feel because we are afraid it won’t last. We need to practice gratitude and feel grateful, rather than always anticipating impending disaster.
  • Unused creativity turns to grief and anger.

Here is Berné’s TED talk on vulnerablity.

More Links
About Brené Brown
Her “Listening to Shame” TED talk
Brené Brown books

Scott Harrison of

Scott Harrison shared his fascinating story of how he transformed from New York City night club promoter, addicted to every vice imaginable to founder of, bringing clean water to  more than a million people around the world. Everything about, from Scott’s story telling skills, to the branding and the transparent accountability are absolutely brilliant.  Scott Harrison epitomizes the impact a single motivated and talented individual can have on the world. Amazing! All 1000 people in attendance agreed to give up their next birthday for the cause.

More Links
Follow CharityWater on Twitter.
Scott Harrison’s story

Jonathan Fields and Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts

In a world where everyone is fighting for attention and the loudest and most in-your-face are the ones who get noticed, it was very refreshing to hear a conversation on the value of being introverted. Corporations, schools and society in general, are pushing us all to work in groups and collaborate more, but there are drawbacks to that way of thinking. Judging by the conversations I had with other attendees, this discussion resonated well with all the introverts. It’s cool to be quiet.

Here is a great TED Talk Susan Cain gave covering many of the same ideas in the discussion.

More Links

Jonathan Fields
Jonathon Fields’ blog
Fields’ best-selling books, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance and Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love.
Tribal Author – Jonathan Fields’ book marketing site.
Good Life Project

Susan Cain
Susan Cain’s blog,
Cain’s best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

Scott Belsky – Making Ideas Happen

Scott Belsky, founder of  Behance and the99Percent and author of Make Ideas Happen gave a great presentation on what it takes to get creative ideas out into the world. It is not enough just to just be creative because most ideas never happen. Belsky’s Make Ideas Happen equation is:

Making Ideas Happen = Creativity + Organization and Execution + Communal Forces + Leadership Capabilities

Here is a similar presentation Scott Belsky gave for TEDx:

More Links
Make Ideas Happen book

Chris Brogan on Superpowers

Social media superstar Chris Brogan gave a powerful talk on finding your superpowers, including giving everyone in the audience a vintage super hero collector’s card. Some high-lights I took away from his talk are:

  • You don’t have to know anything if you have confidence.
  • Do something and fail. You will gain more confidence than not doing anything.
  • The weirder you get, the more you will succeed.
  • You have to earn it.
  • Don’t settle. Don’t read bad books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant.
  • It’s not who you say you are, it’s what you do. You are a writer, only if you write.
  • Endurance and tenacity are better than skill.
  • Use your powers for good.

More Links
Trust Agents – Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s best-selling book

Uncornered Market – Twelve Life Lessons on the Road

Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott gave a moving presentation with examples of their experiences traveling the world for many years. They shared travel stories from Iran and Tajikistan, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and more. Some of the high-lights were:

  • Embrace regret avoidance.
  • Nothing makes you vulnerable like travel, carrying on from Brené Brown’s presentation.
  • We’re all more connected than you think.
  • Whenever your family says what your doing is crazy, it’s probably a good idea.
  • Personal accomplishment is great, but shared accomplishment is sublime.

Dan and Audrey wrote a great summary of their WDS presentation here:  Twelve Travel-Reinforced Life Lessons.

More Links

Cal Newport on Why Following Your Passion is Bad Advice

I have been a fan of Cal Newport’s for while now. Of all the beliefs on following your passion, Newport’s ideas resonated most clearly for me. I have mentioned him before on this blog in The Secret to Finding Your Passion. Here is my favorite quote from Cal Newport’s original article, Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do.

I’ve been promoting the idea that you have to be good at what you do before you can expect your job to be good to you. This is why I push myself and others to stop worrying about their “passion” and day dreaming about courageously bucking the status quo. Navel-gazing and conformity-defiance, I argue, is not how people end up loving what they do. Instead, they start by getting good at something rare and valuable, and then leverage this “career capital” to construct — not discover — a fantastic career.

More Links
Study Hacks – Cal Newport’s blog

J.D. Roth on Success

The founder of the super successful site gave an inspiring closing presentation explaining his background and rise to blogging stardom. He talked about how he made the intentional effort to transform himself in high school. Some of the key takeaways were:

  • Gain strength and confidence from every fear your face.
  • The Power of Yes. Follow Derek Sivers’ advice of saying “Hell Yeah!” to things you are passionate about and no to the things that don’t excite you.
  • The Power of Focus. Focus on the five things that are most important in your life and do them first as daily chores.
  • The Power of Action. The things we do are our priorities, not what we say.

Here is a link to J.D.’s monster post on his presentation, The Power of Personal Tranformation: Change Your Self, Change the World. It’s a great read!

Other Amazing People

There were countless other people that gave short presentations on the main stage or spoke at the break out work shops. I am going to miss dozen’s of people, but here is a brief overview.

Unfortunately, I’m missing about 950 amazing people that attended. If you know of someone else that should be added please email or comment. I’ve also started a Twitter list to make it easy to follow all these people and other attendees. Tweet me @JetSetCitizen if you were at WDS2012 and would like to be added.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

4 Responses to World Domination Summit 2012

  1. Thanks for sharing these incredibly inspriational people. Amazing advice from amazing people. I absolutely love the idea of giving each attendee $100 to do something good with it. I’m sure the ripple effect from this summit will spread a long way!

  2. Joe Mobley says:


    I will be living off of this post for days.

    Thanks a ton.

    Joe Mobley

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