16 Jul

The World Domination Summit (2012)

“Is that something sexual?”

I was on the MAX train in Portland trying to explain to the guy sitting next to me why I was in Portland last weekend. First I said “for a conference”, but then he wanted to know the name of the conference. Which is what prompted the previously mentioned question. One week ago the 2012 World Domination Summit came to a close. WDS is technically a conference, but it is quite different from any other conference I’ve been to. The best way I found to describe it is a group of people who are trying to change themselves, and through doing so change the world.

The topics ranged from travel hacking, to language learning, to innovative charities and giving. At one point Chris Guillebeau, the organizer, asked the 1000 person theatre who had been to 20 or more countries. From where I was sitting it looked like 0ver 50% of the attendees raised their hands. Then he asked how many had been to at least 50 countries. Hands went down, but still a lot of people had their hands up. There were even a few that had been to over 100 countries. Then there is Chris, who is almost done visiting every country in the world. Where else will you find a group that is so well traveled?

The entire weekend was excellent, but I’ll just mention a few personal highlights here.

  • Meeting Jess Flynn and Stephanie Worrell at the airport. As I was in the airport security line I was just behind Jess and Stephanie, the other two attendees from Boise. It was great to finally meet them and spend time together over the weekend.
  • A food truck lunch sitting in a parking lot with Barrett, Nicole, Jen, and CalebGreat people.
  • Scott Harrison’s talk on charity:waterThe story of Scott’s journey from nightclub promoter to leading a global charity is quite inspiring.
  • J.D. Roth speaking about personal change. I don’t have a lot to add, except that his focus and dedication to improving himself is admirable. He also tells great stories.
  • The $100 Investment. At the end of the conference Chris Guillebeau came on stage and announced that they wanted to make a small investment in each attendee. His book, The $100 Startup, gives many examples of businesses that were started with $100 or less. Since the conference made a profit the organizers decided to give that money back to the attendees to put into whatever project we wanted. Whether that is to start a new business, give to someone else’s project, or donate to charity:water. So they withdrew $100,000 in cash from the bank and distributed it to each person in the 1,000 seat theatre. It may be a small amount of money, but the generosity and fun had a big impact on everyone there.
  • Benny Lewis’ talk on becoming fluent in three months. That evening I had dinner with Benny and a few other new friends. We discussed travel, language learning, online guides, and product launches.
  • Bollywood dancing with around 1,000 people at the closing party.
I still have a hard time explaining WDS to someone who wasn’t there. But it is the best conference I have ever attended and I already have tickets for next year.
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