With TBEX under my belt, I went into the World Domination Summit (WDS) feeling nervous that I wouldn’t survive my second conference in one month. I had come out of TBEX exhausted and overjoyed by the experience and all of the people I met, but mentally and physically, I didn’t know if I was up for doing it again. Would WDS surpass my expectations and the high bar set by TBEX?
Well, let me just say that if there is any kind of community gathering or event you attend in your lifetime, it NEEDS to be World Domination Summit. It is the Lady Gaga of conferences, and I left feeling overwhelmed, excited, inspired, and in tears.
WDS, in its second year going on its third, was created by Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity and The $100 Startup as a way of pushing people to take action in their own lives to do/create something remarkable in a conventional world. It is hosted in Portland, Oregon every year, and simply put, it will truly change the way you think, feel, and do.
Artists of all kind, people of all ages, and souls of all walks of life come together for a weekend to share ideas and passions. You can’t help but feel as though you’re in the presence of the most intelligent and creative minds in the world. The sheer talent and potential of every individual in the room creates an unworldly energy. Whether they’re here to take the next step in improving their business or to just be in the same space of like-minded people, the bottom line is that everyone is there to learn from one another. It’s so easy to feel inspired by all the people you meet, and they understand your emotions so well that they’ll even congratulate you on quitting your day job.
Everyone is there because they are interested in others and their projects on a human and personal level. People don’t have an agenda and were open to sharing ideas and opinions with what they know is an incredible support system. That’s exactly what WDS is. It’s a community. When you’re out there paving the way for your own dreams, they will be your cheerleaders, your support system, your 2nd family, and the extra push needed to get it done.
Although snacks, water, and coffee are provided throughout the day, full meals are not so plan accordingly. There are plenty of great food options around town including my favorite: THE FOOD TRUCKS. $5 Thai food is my heaven, and all food truck options are legitimately cheap. From burritos, bratwurst, and grilled cheese to Korean BBQ, Thai food, and frozen yogurt, there is something for everyone. Of course, there are plenty of great cafes, coffee shops, and convenience stores around as well.
What’s great about Portland and a lot of the major cities on the West coast for that matter, is that plenty of vegan and gluten free options are available. You’ll quickly catch on to the variety of food and notice they’re all quite affordable and delicious.
According to the locals, Portland experiences a mix of cool weather, muggy heat, and rain before July 4th, and the summer weather usually hits shortly afterwards. Because WDS is typically scheduled for the first weekend in July, expect beautiful, sunny skies, and 80 degree weather. Bring your flip flops, sunglasses, and sunscreen. It doesn’t hurt to have an umbrella on hand either, just in case.
The Dress Code
WDS is a time to learn and enjoy yourself. It’s like the school of life, but way more fun. It is meant to be an informal, comfortable, and casual environment so your attire should reflect that. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and most like yourself. I do recommend tennis shoes if you choose to go on a bike tour or participate in cross fit during the weekend. Also, I’d advise having a light jacket or sweater with you because it can get chilly in the venue.
Other than that, anything goes. Skirts, dresses, flip flops, jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, shorts, kilts, tutus, or sumo suits. The sumo suits might be a bit difficult to fit in the seats though, and yes, I did see people wearing all of those different things throughout the weekend.
Raw. Genuine. You can feel it in your pulse. The atmosphere of WDS is alive. The whole weekend will make you laugh, cry, and kick your ass. The amount of information gold coming at you is so overwhelming that you need to take the night off just to soak it all in. I definitely recommend keeping a notepad on you, but on the same token, you may feel so entranced by all of the speakers that you will just want to listen in awe.
The comfort comes in knowing that you’re in a judgement free zone. The weirder, more uncool you are, the better you look. You and everyone around you are the essence of freedom, passion, and hard work. It is one of the most relaxing yet mentally stimulating environments to be in.
Be warned that there isn’t any wifi in the venue which you will quickly learn you don’t need. All of the speakers are so engaging and presented what they had to say in a fashion that I found myself taking diligent notes like I was back in school. Unlike TBEX, your experience will be made better by not having your laptop or phone on hand.
Opening night consisted of networking, food trucks, sumo wrestling, ping pong, ski ball, ice cream, a dunk tank, and all sorts of other shenanigans. Chris and his team really went all out and had the street blocked off for attendees to gather. There was even a marching band that led Chris on stage for a short welcome. Expect to have a lot of fun because it’s a golden opportunity to unleash the kid in you.
The conference itself was so well organized, and to reach such a phenomenal level in YEAR 2 makes me wonder how they’ll continue to top it year after year. In some way, shape, or form, all of the speakers presented ideas with a twist that made you go AHA! It’s intimidating and exciting to be in the presence of such brilliant minds.
The after party was hosted at Crystal Ballroom and was open to the public for a $15 entry fee. It was purely social. There was a live band, dancing, drinks, conversation, and even a Bollywood DJ. It was a nice way to come down from the weekend and be in good company one last time.
With 80 sessions this year compared to 10 last year, a lot were bound to be hit-and-miss. My advice would be to read through all the session descriptions, session hosts, and pick the ones that really pique your interest. Some are attendee led and others are more professional. For me, personally, I wish I had picked more sessions led by the moguls of a certain field as some of the attendee-led sessions fell flat. Topics range from fire starter sessions and philanthropy to travel hacking and fundraising. The main sessions where everyone sat together absolutely blew me away and were the best part of the whole weekend.
Conference days usually run from 8am to 6pm, but attendees managed to create informal meetups, both before and after the seemingly long days, from a morning run, walking tours, a bike tour, yoga, cross fit, and casual bar nights. The activities were about as diverse as the crowd and a great way to meet people in a more intimate setting. There’s a lot to choose from so no matter how tired you are, I encourage you to participate in as much as possible. After all, you paid the money to be there and have the time of your life, right?
- Bring your business cards
- Follow up with everyone you meet (yes, everyone) via email even if it’s just to ask questions or say “It was nice to meet you.”
- Stay hydrated
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- I 100% guarantee that your face will end up in photos, videos, and blog posts so SMILE BABY SMILE!
- Above all, have fun!!!
For more information on WDS, visit the website. Next year’s conference is tentatively scheduled for July 5-7 2013, and the first wave of registration opens in September. Be sure to grab your tickets early because they will sell out VERY quickly.