Conversation with Chris Guillebeau
jump into the front of the room. Mr Chris Gill. Bo, please have a seat. You Oh, this is awesome. I love that. I said listed some of the guests that we were gonna have today. And I said, Christie is in the building. People like it was like, When you know, you tell your dog that it's dinner time and he's like food food, like not him again. Yeah. Um, thank you so much. Thank you for coming. All the California. Thank you very much. Um, help A lot of people. Awesome speaking, helping a lot of people. You're about to help a lot of people because one of the biggest obstacles were now in the execute section of the of the campaigning class here. Um, and it is one of the hardest parts of the book because it's this stuff where work happens, extra work where people sweat and make things come to life. They don't just sit there and think about it. And one of the reasons the express reason I wanted you. You are the exemplary character in my circle of friends who has done more things across a larger v...
ariety of disciplines than probably anyone I know, including travel to all the ninety three hundred five. Let's get straight. It's 1 93 1 93 all 193 countries before the age of 35. That's just crazy. Yeah, So in addition to writing X number of best sellers, what's the number now? Six books. Six books created My favorite conference in the Whole World. Better than Ted Better than the World Economic Forum. Better than Davos is World Domination Summit. That's really our competition, actually, Yeah, talk to me about your this. What seemingly is a relentless ability to execute on your biggest vision. How do you do it? You're very kind to say all that. I'm like you. I like to make projects I like to create. And that's that's what I'm motivated to dio you know, like we did that exercise earlier about you've got this open time. How do you spend it? And for me, it's like I spent it working on something that I believe that you know, and that can also lead to traps to of, like, you know, just kind of doing the same thing over and over again because that's what you know how to do it. But, you know, if I think about the things I've done that I have believed in and have worked, it's because I'm paying attention to that, that desire to myself toe like, I have an idea and it's, you know, it sounds kind of scary, but then you can't stop thinking about it like I have to do something with it, and so just kind of creating some kind of process for that. What is the next step? Okay, I'm not sure you know how to go to every country in the world. I'm not sure how many countries there are in the world, but what's the next step to figure out how many countries there are, All right. And the next step is to start making a list, and the next step is to start. Well, how does one do that? What are the obstacles? You know, one of the challenges. What is it going to take and so on in the same thing with you know, the conference or anything else. And I find that very rewarding for me, like the work itself is the reward. You know, it's almost like when you actually achieve some some kind of big success. It can. It can be disappointing, or maybe just not disappointing. But it's let down. Yeah. What? What? Now? You know, I mean, because the pursuit of it is enjoyable, at least to me or motivating to me. I think I think they can be for everybody if they find the right thing, right. So not everybody wants to do X or why. But there is something that I think when people discover about themselves and they start working toward it, they realize, actually, this, this is is the thing you just touched on a couple of different books around what you've written in a tighter topics. Underworked. You've written an entire book like, how did you decide what to do? And, uh, we'll just instead of me referencing all of the ones we're gonna go to born for this for just a second, which is one of a title of a book. Um, that I believe and we heard from so many people this morning like that is a hard thing, because we're we're we believe we have to only be one thing we have to choose. And if you choose this we're eliminating, you're turning our back on that. So we also all want to be something going to be everything. And we don't actually have a framework for thinking about how I am encouraging people. Teoh tune into their intuition and we talk a lot about it in the book. But I think your book and born for this is so powerful. And I would love for you to share the framework under which you, uh, decide what it is you're born to do. I mean, I think definitely intuition is important, but it's not everything also right, because sometimes you're just relying on, you know, a dream that doesn't actually have data beyond the dream. It could actually be kind of small, right? And the more experience you have, the more life experience you have when we're experiment like you were talking about earlier. I think that's when you begin to get a bigger vision. So I think the model that we looked at in the book I know you've referenced a couple of times is this the concept of joy, money and flow, like this kind of your everything down this convergence of like these three things you three elements of finding something that you know is really working for you. It is bringing you joy, which is obviously critical. But it's also sustainable in some way, which we're talking about here today is willing talk about a lot in the book. How is it economically viable? There's a lot of different things you could do. So you know, why not find something that you enjoy and is economically viable? And then the third thing is that element of flow of like, I'm actually really good at this, you know, I'm actually maybe not the best in the world, But I'm good at this and I lose myself in it. And therefore it's valuable in all these different things. Yeah, what are some of the orders of the indicators of like you said, I'm good at it. And is it, like, internal feel good extra recognition? Because I think a lot of people with, like, am generally good at a lot of things. Or how do I know I'm too scared? I don't know if that's good or not good or by telling myself some some fiction. So a couple things, I think like you could pay attention to like what people are asking you about. You know what the topics people are asking about? That's kind of a way you can understand, Like your expertise. What am I good at? I don't know what I'm good at, but everybody is always asking me about you know, this particular element of photography or this particular life, skill or whatever on Ben, you know, in terms of the flow, it's like, How do you like What do you lose yourself in? What do you work on? And you're like, I thought 10 minutes went by, but it was actually an hour, you know, I was just so so immersed in this and so you you have to go down different paths, which I know you've touched on. But I think it's just so important to mention because I don't think it. Maybe there's somebody out there who's like I knew from, you know, age six. This is what I was going to do, and that's the path followed, and like, I respect that. But for me and for a lot of people, I think the only way you find what you're born to do, or even if you don't think of it. This is such a high level thing. Whatever. The thing that you're seeking is I think you have to go down different paths. Which means you also you have to go down past that actually don't work for you. You means you have to try things that don't work. You have to, you know, fail so called fail. You have to take a step back if you're willing to not to say. Actually, I thought this was it, but no, it's not. And if you don't do that, then you're never actually gonna find that thing. You have to continually. Oh, yeah, Yeah. I was moved by what Debbie was saying. Like, uh, something as simple as walking like assume we have an able bodied child and the child falls down the 29th time. Does the parents say gets my kids not a walker, right? All right. And I mean, it's so fundamental, and it's like we laugh. But how many times have you tried something 29 times? It stopped. But isn't it tricky? Because So that's a good example about, like the kid learning to walk. Okay, But I mean, the counterpoint is as adults. Not everything that we try 29 times. I would suggest you should keep trying 1/30 time. Yep, yep. Because you always hear these stories right about, you know, someone so tried, you know, the 29 times they persisted until the 30th time. But what I always wonder is, like, what else could that person had been doing? You know, like all those times. You know what? If you try three times you, like, actually do something different. So there's a lot of times that I have tried stuff and I'm glad that I have stopped me. Oh, okay. There's a lot of value and stopping, and there's a lot about you in that, right? Right. I think that's a thing that is really important. Our cultures will taught never to quit. Let me just do a quick, short list of things that I've quit medical school, playing soccer like a lot. It's a long list, and those things are things that I invested Ah, lot of time doing that. I ultimately had to quit. And in one of your books, I think it might even been born for this, that it was like that perseverance. We believe in our culture. We've got this narrative right about just fight on through. Keep fighting, never quit. And yet, yeah, it's not. It's not perseverance. That is the predictor of success. I believe it's it's adaptability. It's so you never give up on your dream like you don't give up on like your your big thing. But there's all kinds of ways you can probably achieve it. Yeah, and I just think there's a lot of takes, a lot of courage. Teoh quit something because we were told all the time. You know that winners never quit, you know? So the guy here, you know who is leaving his job? He's got a well paying job was leaving. It takes courage. You know, you can have a well paying job, but you know, if you're not doing the thing that's really bringing you toe life, there is something better for you out there. You're not gonna find it unless you take that that bold step, which is hard. What do you think the, um what's the antidote for everybody and culture telling us what it is that we're supposed to do because we get these messages right and and they come from people that we love. What's the antidote? Is there one or what would you recommend? I think the only antidote is doing different stuff, you know, doing different stuff. These exercises that you have in the book or so helpful just making making lists and imagining what would my life be like and then beginning to make small changes. You know, it doesn't sound very sexy to be like, just start making some small change. But if you do that like, your life is gonna be different, you know, not even like a year from now. It's a days from now. If you start making, like, small changes, your life is going to be different. And then, like any kind of healthy habit, like you start exercising, you know, for the first time you make a change in your diet may be a first. It kind of sucks. But then, if you do it over time, it actually becomes rewarding. And then it becomes exponential and it builds on it. So I don't know that there is, ah, secrets, you know, formula and antidote. Other than just trying to be more more intentional about how we live our lives. And that's I mean, we're all on a journey, right? It's not like you like, one day you're you're not there. And then the next day there, yeah, like you and I have talked a lot like we have struggles, everybody that we know, every other author like stuff that they're trying to work through. But ultimately, it is about, like, what is it that I want to do? You know, life is short. Life is also long as you said. But, you know, life is both What is it that I want to do with, with all the great privilege that I have all the opportunities and possibilities that are out there in the roads? And how can I execute and make that happen? One of the things that a gift that I feel like I received from you, I think you were trying to give it to a lot of people. It felt very personal to me. Thank you. Is in one of your books you talk about, um, the most amazing lens through which you can decide because if quitting is a virtue, anybody wonder when it's time to quit. All right. I think I just saw 101. Not one of the crew is back. The crew is back. They're not. Include. I saw 101 heads nod. So your explication around that was the most elegant things I've ever come across. It is a framework that I used to this day, and I say that regularly would love it if you'd share that. So thank you for, uh, well, quitting can be over to write. Quitting is not. It's one of those things that can be positive. It can be negative, right? So I think a really simple framework, you know, what you're referring to is when you're trying to decide, you know, do I continue this thing or do I stop doing this? Thing is, you ask yourself to really simple questions and the two questions are you know, is it working and do I still believe in it? Okay. And your answers to these questions essentially like provide you the path Teoh move forward on. So if something is isn't working and you no longer believe in it, then you should stop. There's no reason to keep doing that right. You should find you need to stop immediately or find a way to stop in overtime. Whatever aan den. You know, if it's working and you believe in it, great, you don't even need to ask yourself this question in the first place. The only the only trick, the only part where you going to like the analysis is if some, if it's like one of those things, is true, all right? So if something is not working and who still believe in it, then I think first of all, you have to accept reality. It's OK to say, Actually, you know, I thought this was the right strategy or the right approach, but it didn't turn out the way that I hoped. That's okay, but I still believe in this goal. I saw this aim. So what can I change about it? Like, how can I, you know, change course or a different tactic, a different strategy, something right? And that's that's okay, um and then you know, if the converse is true as well, it's like if something is working, but you no longer believe in it, that's that's really tricky, right? That's, like, personally know, leaving his job. I think we've all been in situations. I've been in situations where something is going along just fine. But I'm no longer there's no longer enjoy. I don't believe in it anymore. And it's very hard then at that point, because the natural tendency for most of us, it's like, Well, it's why would I stop? You know, But I think ultimately have to make a change there as well, because most of us are gonna do our best work and be the most creatively fulfilled. Ultimately, like fill this space in the world's, however going to do it when they were doing something that is effective. But we're also, like, really excited about, so it's not gonna like solve every problem in your life. But I think if you start thinking about this like you know I want, I want to do things that are affected, to bring me joy that I'm somewhat good at. And here's how I know when to keep going, when to stop it. Maybe it'll help. It's like a catapult. Yes, it's like it's a very, very powerful framework for thinking, Um, so we're talking about creating small things on a daily basis, and that could be light and playful. We're talking about baking cakes and building, you know, building a family and planning dinner and coding all. They were talking about all kinds of stuff here, and we're also than talking about some heavy stuff like This is life change. And this is the book is meant to be a basic, a metaphor for big things in life. But you emulate something else that's that's outside of that. You got all that stuff wired check box marked are done it. But you also have so much fun. And I want it like, let's infuse a little levity here. You have several world records, do you not? Yeah, Well, not me. Not me, Just myself, but collectively, the attendees of World Domination Summit, which is that this event we've been doing every year in Portland for nine years? Yeah, we've said we said a couple different things, So we did. We started with the most people forming a human chain on the Willamette River. It was about 500 people. That was maybe seven years ago. And then we did an event called the Great Nomis Day, which is the most people doing like sequential yoga poses in Pioneer Courthouse Square, also in Portland. How many people? Uh, 800. They're on the fun fact about that. India came along the next year and decided to break the record. And India has a lot of people. You know, they like 20,000 but we set the record way said it with 800. So and then there's a couple other things after that. So notice what's in Chris. Is this a new element to play in a joy and of levity? We're talking about heavy things, but when you're also executed, this framework is a framework for life. It's a framework for understanding who you are and what you want to do. But it's also this amazing human connector, and this is like I want to acknowledge you and say Thank you for being one of the most amazing human connectors and building so much community in a way that I rarely see in the world. Just a small twist. Can you give us a little bit on world domination summit? Because if you don't know about it, it's in Portland. And if you traveled to come here next year, don't if I do another one of these things go there instead because it's so incredible. And I'm gonna going to give a talk on this book there next year. So but tell us a little bit about a W s DVDs because it's, um Yeah, well, you've been a keynote speaker there, So, uh, World Domination Summit started nine years ago. Um, I had my first book out, and I went to all 50 states and every province in Canada going to meet readers like wherever they were executing, like relentlessly executing. It was so fun. It was so great. Like I loved I loved everything about it was such a good decision to do that. Some of the people I met on that tour still like with me now. And, you know, it was like, it's kind of funny because I wasn't doing it like from smallest to biggest or it was just kind of random geographic, right? So, you know, I would go to like Los Angeles and 100 people. I'm like, I'm, like, really made it now, you know, And then it would it would be like North Dakota, like eight people, you know, like, Okay, cool. You know, just progressing. But anyway, the point is, community, you know, it's wife started. It started out of nonconformity in the first place, and I thought, Wouldn't it be cool because I actually really enjoy those conversations with people in North Dakota or wherever else, and you wouldn't be really cool to bring everybody who's like minded, interested in pursuing a big goal for themselves, you know, while also making world a better place together at the time. There really mean there were those, like conferences like Ted and stuff that you mentioned? There really were not a lot of gatherings of people interested in alternative living or unconventional living or whatever. And so, along the tour, I kind of invited people and said, Come to Portland next summer, You know I'm doing this thing. It's called World Domination Summit People like What's it about him like? Not sure, but come next year, we'll do it. And so I think maybe 440 people came in first year, and then it was great because my myself in the team, like we had no idea how to run an event. None. What made so many mistakes, But yet I think it also kind of strangely worked in our favor to because we need a lot of mistakes. But we also, like, approached it with a different lens of like, we're not event planners. We can we just focus on community. So anyway, since then, you know, nine years now, we've been bringing people together, and we have main stage, you know, talk to people like Renee Brown, chase drivers, lots of other folks. You probably know on we do a lot of workshops, meetups parties, gatherings based on all kinds of topics, every creative field you can imagine. And lots of other things as well. So we have people here have been two ws. Anybody been to Debbie ds, if you need. Awesome. You guys? Yes. You need a recommendation. Like go talk to those hands that are up. It's that good. Um, so we're actually going ticket sales, not next week. Not to promote anything at all, but start final ticket sale is gonna be next week. So when he says the final ticket sale, hes hanging it up after 10 years. So this is a thing that you were gonna want to jump on. Um, let's talk more about, you know, I got this. In a way, this is talking about my stuff cause I'm talking about creating the life of your dreams and you have done it. You've done so many amazing things. Part of what I believe is, um, keeps people from their dreams, is big thinking. So we're in the execute part. But imagining and imagining even the concept of going to all 193 countries like I can't even think of how much that cost. Like it's it's phenomenal. And so there's, uh, there's a bunch of rules and guidelines in our society or culture, no evil genius, but that tell us to think small. So what is your recipe for? I mean, you've done some amazing things. How do you How do you do that? Yeah, but let me just talk to their like I didn't get the idea to go to every country in the world when I hadn't been anywhere. I had a love of travel first, right? I love to travel. And then I lived in a much different countries. I was an aid worker for four years in West Africa, and when I was there, I became more comfortable with traveling in kind of difficult circumstances. And so one day I made a list of, like, all the places I've been like a list maker. Everyday boys like making a list of various things, and I was like, I've been a 30 countries. Cool. You know, I was maybe 24 at the time. I was like, it would be great to get to 100 countries, you know, sometime in my life, whatever will make that my goal. And then I started working toward that. It was like hundreds like, 1/2 on its ambition much, But my point is, his building blocks Yeah, that's what I really want to stress in the same Mr with any other project I've done or lots of other big projects. Your vision expands as you gain confidence, experience, and so same thing with writing a book. I mean, my first block post on the art of nonconformity when I started it 2008. That was like defining the objectives of Cresskill abo dot com or whatever is like there's like I would love for one day, you know, to have, like, 1000 people read this blawg. That would be just amazing. You know, and like, obviously like a lot more people when I'm treated. But I couldn't fathom that at the time. All I could commit to is like, This is this is what I can see And so I think people get hung up often unlike what's the big thing? I. But you do what is in front of you. You do the idea that you have now. Well, that's another thing that is important. People get stuck on creative ideas. Is this do this one or this one? It's like Just pick one and do that, do that thing that is in front of you. And then if something, something else will come of it, maybe you'll stop that just something else. Maybe that lead to something else. So I think you know about thinking bigger, thinking small. I think it actually is valuable to think small or think like what is in front of you, because that's going to get to, you know, bigger and bigger, but like more depth. Yeah, it's not just about scale. It's about depth, depth and quality. Wouldn't you say that's that's been the case in your work as well? Absolutely. I imagine you talked about this morning, but, like, did you imagine we'll be working with all these world famous athletes? No, no idea. My hope was that I could, you know, make enough to buy a new pair of skis honestly, like the and when I did. And when I sold my first photograph for $500 in a pair of skis, I was like, Wow, just two weeks ago, I had never sold a thing. And now I achieved the dream, and maybe my dream could expand. It was like it was literally exactly as you described it. I started taking pictures with my IPhone at the ridicule of all of the professional photographers around the world. But I had this idea, that man, maybe because we were all gonna have cameras with us in the future that this idea that mobile photography might be a thing. And so I developed the first IPhone out. It was literally because it was small that I felt okay about doing it because it's only a 0.3 megapixel camera. I could never get sucked into something so big. And yet it was one of my both biggest professional successes and failures. So it's I think, this idea of it revealing itself over time. It's so lost in our culture. It's so missing. And we all want to again. We're a programmer at Microsoft or Facebook across the street. You want to own a cafe, and we just look at that. That arc is just so massive and unachievable that what do we end up doing? Nothing. Yeah, do what's in front of you do it's And everybody here has an idea. Anybody watching? Got some idea. Even if you're not sure where it ultimately is going to lead. What do you doing toward that? You know, tomorrow we're going toward that. What is what is the biggest, uh, one of the biggest as you've been to all 50 states, 193 countries. Obviously, what you learn is that we're all human. What are some of the characteristics that you've seen around the world that surprised you? I mean, I think you know, obviously we're all human, but I think, um, it's kind of a superficial observation that people make when they first start to travel about like everybody in the world. We're all the same, you know, like you go to China like they love their kids to like everybody smiles. People like food, you know. But actually, I think what's interesting is is the differences between people, you know, this is actually partly why, like, travel is because something isn't gonna be the same. Everywhere I go, I don't necessarily want to have the same coffee shop experience, you know, in each place I want to Teoh, you know, get out and see the world. So I kind of think more about contrasts than about like, what is what is similar. And I think a lot about entrepreneurship because I'm an entrepreneur also and always work for myself and one of the maybe one of the things teams that I think about a lot again from having lived in Africa for a while. It's like a lot of us have a very like, western model of entrepreneurship because that makes sense that we do, because this is where we live. But you know everybody in sub Saharan Africa, just about every person isn't entrepreneur in one way or another. You know, every person in lots of parts of South Asia and South America, etcetera. People are like, you know, buying and selling and making their way. And so that really influenced me a lot. Not just like that observation that may be experiencing it over time. And I think that's helped me. In some ways. You know it just in my work, different things I've done. What is a place where you see people stumble most you've seen. I mean, with world domination. Zamir. You've brought so many speakers to that to that conference you've coached millions. You've been I have all the eyeball on every 50 state, all 50 states, all 50 countries. And as a creator and an entrepreneur yourself, you see, people will get blocked. What is it? Well, I'm trying to think about the best way to explain it, because I was going to say what it is is people get stuck when they look and see, like I totally believe in reverse engineering success. Thank you touched on that earlier, too. I think there is something to it, but the danger of it is if you look at what's what's working now for other people is not necessarily going to work for you and what is working now, whether it's in social media or whatever, the thing is, is not going to be what works later. And so I think people tend to get stuck when there when they're always kind of like focused on what was before. Okay, and you know the world is changing. I think it's like you don't always know what it's going to be, and it's not like you're trying to be a futurist, whatever. But I do think it's important to be like what's coming next, which you can only get when you kind of step out and not looking at your phone all the time. Like you said and not you have Teoh have a bit more of a vision for what is something What is a way of doing something that's a little bit different. I just have to be a little bit different because also, I feel like people are stuck on finding something that's never been done before, right, what's the most innovative idea in the world? That's a great way to be frustrated, You know, I think what you need to ask is like what? So what's it you know, when I think about the different things that I want to do or that the joy money flow, and I've got my model or my rough lens. How can I do it a little bit differently? What is the just that the tweet that I'm going to add to it? It actually is going to help me stand out. It is going to help, maybe for some kind of new path or something. If you have the most innovative idea in the world, that's great. Pursue it right? But for the rest of us who don't, there's still a lot of creativity we can express. And maybe actually, by expressing the creativity and the so called smaller things that will lead us to the most innovative thing in the world. Yeah, it's crazy that you can't stand out and fit in at the same time. Good, right? Yeah, you can tweet that right? I just gave you, like, a four minute answer, and he's like, Here's how did this better was? No, no, you've got to me like your experiences so like oppression. And so it's so riel that the ability to actually be different and not just better is like That's the sauce right? And how many people have become photographers, designers, entrepreneurs, how many right billions? Someone got literally billions. And so if you're waiting around to find difference out there in the world, where is the actual difference? Hint. It's in here, right? It's in here. That's your specific lens from someone who has. I traveled the world Biltmore businesses brought more people to gather like as a huge inspiration to me. I want to say thank you so much for traveling all way from California to be with us today. And can we get that far? Would you please join me in giving Cresskill abo a huge thank you gratitude?