Last year, while at the World Domination Summit, I made some little big decisions that have transformed my life. It proved to be the most electric gathering of people I had been a part of, so I impulsively bought a ticket for WDS2014 right after the conference ended last year. Near the registration booth for WDS 2014, an unassuming ‘capsule’ beckoned. I remember it being a time capsule. Inside, a little stoop sat near the ground and a camera lens that peered into your future. From behind the white canvas wall, a voice called out, “What’s your life like in 2020?”
At first, I was terrified to go inside. I can barely even fathom my life next week, much less in 2020. After receiving some curt advice, I swallowed a big gulp of courage, bowed my head and stepped into the time capsule. I heard shuffling from the future side and a voice told me the camera had reached its capacity and that I’d have to wait a minute. Longest minute ever. Then, she asked, “What’s your life like in 2020?” and I let it rip. I didn’t think anyone was actually going to look at this footage so I got fantastical. I told myself that I’m living naked in front of the world and that I’ve overcome my struggle of belonging. In what I remember as a very authoritative tone, I told myself, “… And you wrote that book.” I allowed myself to be vulnerable. Neat way to kick off the summit eh?
I enjoyed reconnecting with friends I had met at last year’s summit. We kept in touch and followed each other’s journeys over the year. It was a real treat to spend time together as we shared enlightening conversations and went on wild adventures around Portland. I saw familiar faces from the Misfit Conference I attended in Fargo, ND. I got to meet lots of new people, too. Everyone possessed their own unique and empowering story of how they’re living a remarkable life in a conventional world.
The talks were spectacular. Each of the speakers had such deep, actionable lessons to share with us. John Francis, The Planetwalker, blew my mind. After feeling the devastation of an oil spill in 1971, he stopped riding in cars and walked for the next 22 years, 17 of them in silence. He said that the most valuable thing he learned from that entire experience is that how we treat our planet is a reflection of how we treat one another. So, maybe, our environmental issues stem from people not being nice to each other.
AJ Jacobs is a lifestyle experimenter who writes books. He spent one year following every single rule in the Bible, everything from “love thy neighbor” to stoning adulterers, and wrote a book about what he learned. He talked about the power of gratitude and how there’s so much to be grateful for in the world. He’s working on a new experiment: building a family tree of the whole world. He’s got 77 million people so far and he’s hosting the Global Family Reunion next June. Everyone is invited, seriously.
One of the wonderful things about the World Domination Summit is that there are no sponsors, no sales pitches, and the surpluses are invested back into the WDS community. Two years ago, they gave a $100 bill to every single person who attended and said you have to start something with this money. Later that year, Chris published the $100 Startup, a New York Times Bestseller. In WDS 2013, “Scholarships For Real Life” was born. I planned to apply, but missed the deadline. Chris showed the winners’ videos on stage. Each winner received $10-$12k to start the purposeful project they’ve been dreaming about. There wasn’t a dry eye in in crowd.
There were 20 minutes left before the conference ended and the final speaker had left the stage. Four chairs were set up on the stage with a treasure chest next to each one. A collage of clips showing people in the time capsule played on the big screen. My heart jumped into my throat. Afterward, Chris came out into the audience and called up three people. Finally, he approached me, “Hey, it’s Mūff, right? Why don’t you come up to the stage with me?” I grabbed my notebook and bag, stumbled into my sandals, and followed Chris onto the main stage.
Taking a seat in the fourth chair, I winced through the bright lights into a crowd of 3,000 non-conformists. My face became stuck in one of those way too big smiles where you’re not sure if the person is smiling or if something is wrong. My body shook. I floated through a trance-like state, fixated on the faces before me. Chris started playing the clip of Tom Rooney, founder of the Aperture Project, which teaches youth about human connection and diversity through photography. Next came Ruthy’s story: a one-woman woman show dreaming of starting a food business. Then Bethany’s spoke, hoping for a better education system. Finally, Chris cued my clip and played it on the 40 foot-wide screen. My vulnerability became public. I told myself, “… And you wrote that book.”
Chris asked me to look inside my chest and there sat a typewriter with a single page that read, “The End.” He said something like, “We couldn’t write the whole book for you, but thought we’d help with the last page.” I also found a leather-bound notebook inside wrapped with a pen. Chris told me he bought my ticket for WDS 2015, and that he’s sending me on the Writer’s in Residence train. To top it off, he’s introducing me to his publisher, David Fugate.
I am blessed to receive such overwhelming support from a remarkable community. It’s incredible to think about how so many little decisions have led me to where I stand today. I’m proud to belong to the non-conformist tribe. If I’m reading the signs right, I believe the Universe is telling me: “Write a book.” It’s time to start releasing the story that’s bubbling inside. Life is such a dream. Thanks for teaching me about alchemy, World Domination Summit.