The Ditch the Day Job Diaries: World Domination Special

And after yesterday’s epic round-up post, you’ll be glad to know this is definitely my final post about the World Domination Summit 2012!

While I was in Portland I filmed some (rather shaky) footage and decided to edit it together for a kind of ‘bonus’ episode of The Ditch The Day Job Diaries. Whilst there isn’t any info about freelancing in the video, the trip is an important part of the story because it contributes to some of the decisions I’ve made that will be explored more in Season 2.

As well as clips from the PuttyTribe karaoke night, the Portland Blues festival, and the WDS opening and closing parties, the video also includes cameo appearances from four WDS friends:

Hung Pham, a Career Consultant turned Travel Photographer whose work can be found at www.HungOnTheWorld.com. Hung is currently on a 6 months trip to China, Vietnam, SE Asia, Australia, & New Zealand. I spent quite a bit of time with Hung in Portland and found him wise, hilarious, and extremely generous. Hung was also one of the attendees invited to speak on stage at WDS.

Melissa Dinwiddie, multipassionate artist, teacher and songwriter, who treated me to an impromptu ukelele gig/lesson in the park!  It was so lovely to meet Melissa “in real life” after knowing her for ages online and admiring everything she does to help creative people succeed. We had a great conversation about creativity and life in general (read my interview with Melissa here).

Dr Elise Bialylew, a trainee Psychiatrist and meditation teacher who writes at Curiously Creating and founded Mindful in May, an online, global meditation challenge. In May 2012 there were nearly 900 people meditating from 12 countries, that raised $26,000 for Charity Water. Pretty amazing eh? Elise is such a joy to be around, being extremely insightful, funny and a real force of nature, so I was delighted to be able to spend time with her despite the fact she never seemed to stay still for long!

Jason Digges, a professional video producer, musician, filmmaker, writer, photographer, philosopher, and entrepreneur. Jason writes at Practical Art. I met Jason right at the end of my trip and really enjoyed our conversations, and hearing his deeply spiritual perspective on things, as well as the four-person bike ride we enjoyed around the river with Hung and Elise! As a long-time creative freelancer, Jason also has a lot of experience and wisdom to share.

Finally, as we weren’t allowed to film during the event itself, here is the ever so slightly more slick official recap of the event, which is a bittersweet reminder just how far the gap is between my current video production skills, and what I would like to be able to achieve!

New Year “What Ifs” Part 3 – The World Domination Edition

The “What Ifs” I’m asking you to consider in this third and final part of the series were mostly inspired by my trip to Portland for the 2012 World Domination Summit (aka WDS2012), which was definitely up there as one of the most life-changing events of 2012 for me.

Whilst I went there expecting to maybe get a few tips about running a freelance business, I got something entirely unexpected instead; a whole new way of looking at the world.

What if.. “no-one else belongs here more than you”?

Portland Firefighters

That was one of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown’s talk at WDS2012 in Portland, Oregon.

It’s a good reminder that you are just as worthy as anyone on this planet, or in any particular, unfamiliar, out-of-your-comfort-zone place you should find yourself. It was such a welcoming, empowering message to hear when I was away in a strange city on my own for the first time in years.

Ultimately though, and mostly because of the people I met there, Portland felt like a home from home.

Not only was it gloriously sunny the entire time I was there, not only did I get to enjoy healthy food, karaoke, the 4th of July celebrations with new friends, a blues festival, and bonding with beautiful people in the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, but I also got to explore the city. I particularly loved Powell’s Bookstore which is so big you need a map (or smartphone app) to get around it, and which has a cafe that’s open until 11pm and sells liquorice tea (my favourite).

Here are some of the photos I took during my time there:

Portland/WDS pics on Flickr: Part One Part Two Part Three

And please also check out the stunning photos from my WDS friend ‘Olasis’ who is one of several very talented photographers I met there.

Another favourite of the WDS community is Gregory Berg’s Radio Enso. He’s interviewed quite a few of the speakers at WDS as well as many other interesting folk and it’s well worth a listen.

What if.. someone told you they believe in you?

Chris Guillebeau gave everyone at WDS2012 $100 to invest how we saw fit. It felt like an extremely generous and meaningful gift but one which came with a fair amount of responsibility. In my case, I couldn’t decide on one thing, so I ended up investing in quite a few different things, including myself!

It’s hard to explain what this gift meant.. a lot of people said that they felt that the real gift was that they got the message that someone believed in them.

Here are a couple of great projects started by other WDS attendees using their $100:

Natalie Sisson’s $100 Change e-course

Dave Ursillo’s The Literati writer’s group

What if.. you told someone you believed in them?

If it wasn’t for the support of my primary school teacher Mrs Bliss, I might never have believed in myself as a writer. I might never have come back to it after a long hiatus during college.

Not enough creative people get this kind of support, and frankly, we deserve better. I now see it as part of my mission in life to support creative people in their endeavours at the same time that I work towards becoming a creative professional myself.

I’ve done it in the past through writing for local magazines about music, film and books, and of course more recently through this blog. I also buy records from local musicians when I can, and support people online who are doing good things.

Kickstarter and other fundraising sites are a great way to support other people’s creative endeavours, and I helped to fund quite a few projects this year from people I admire. 2012 was also the year that Kickstarter finally allowed people from the UK to get involved.

One project I was keen to support with my $100 was this one which Chris Guillebeau tweeted about which aims to create portable solar power:

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What if.. you believed in yourself?

But I also invested $100 in myself and booked a session with confidence coach Steve Errey, who I met on one of my last days in Portland. After speaking to him for an hour I had the insight that I not only had a lot to compassion to offer other people, but that I also needed to treat myself with some. This has made a big difference already in my approach to how I treat myself on a daily basis and the way in which I’m going forward.

What if… you used your knowledge or skills to help others?

After I got back from Portland I volunteered at a couple of social media workshops organised by the North Edinburgh News, and also helped the organisers film a couple of videos to promote the sessions. This was really rewarding, especially when I was able to help people to publish their first blog post or understand how to make simple videos for the web. Was it entirely unselfish of me? No – because one of the side effects was that it also helped me boost my own confidence – plus it was really good fun. So much so, that I’ve now volunteered to help out at the Edinburgh Social Media Surgeries which return later this month.

What if.. you honoured your heart’s desires instead of chasing meaningless goals?

Desire12

I attended a talk by Danielle La Porte at WDS2012 which was very inspiring. I was very impressed by her calm but confident poise and the intensity with which she shared her wisdom and experience.

Although her book The Firestarter Sessions had just come out, at the time she hinted that she had a new project in the works, which turned out to be the book and multimedia extravaganza that is The Desire Map. She suggests that we set goals without fully understanding why – in fact, what we are seeking is how those goals will make us feel, rather than the goal itself.

In a recent video, Danielle says “your feelings are like road signs – they always point back to your soul”.

Get the Desire Map here (this is an affiliate link which means you will be supporting the Clear-Minded Creative if you make a purchase).

What if.. it’s ok to be the quiet one?

One of the best books I read last year was Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts (yes, she also talked at WDS, in conversation with Jonathan Fields). Now that I’m a teetotaller (temporarily, at least), I’ve realised that drinking has long been a way for me to become more extroverted and dealing with big social occasions, although it could be said it often took me too far the other way!

Being sober, I’m coming to terms more and more with being an introvert – someone who needs alone time to recharge – instead of feeling bad, or conflicted about it. Of course the book explores the concept much more deeply, and is well worth reading for both introverts and extroverts. It ultimately made me feel much more accepting of my natural inclination to be “the quiet one” and to see that the world needs introverts (who tend to be more creative) and extroverts equally.

You can find out more about the book by watching Susan’s TED Talk below:

Phew. I think that’s enough “what ifs” for one week. I hope these have provoked a few new possibilities for you. Do you have any suggestions to add, life-changing experiences, or thought-provoking books to recommend? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Riding the Train of Awesome – Interview with Nathan Agin

Nathan Agin in action at his WDS2012 healthy lunch meetup

Nathan Agin is a former actor turned modern day nomad who shares his healthy living practices on his blog Nonstop Awesomeness.

I met Nathan at WDS2012 in July. He organised a number of unofficial meet ups, including a healthy lunch and meditation sessions and we talked about how healthy eating and exercise can have a dramatically positive effect on our mental health (see the Mental Health Foundation website for more on diet and mental health).

This is a man who definitely ‘walks the talk’ when it comes to healthy living, and as I’ve now committed to a Year of Clarity (i.e. no alcohol!) what better time to get advice on that topic.

I chatted to Nathan in sunny L.A. (via the wonders of Skype) and asked him about his exciting plans for a new show celebrating healthy food and travel which recently placed #6 (out of 121 ideas) in a recent Good.Is contest.

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Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

A must watch TEDx talk for Clear-Minded Creatives from Larry Smith on the excuses we come up with NOT to do something great with our lives. Amusing, inspiring and thought-provoking. The part on what we say to our children in particular hit home and links with what Brené Brown had to say about the ‘creativity slump’ at WDS (basically, the tragedy of so-called “grown-ups” unwittingly ruining the true dreams and hopes of children).

Someone who is also interested in this is the Mad Researcher, aka Gregory Wilson II, who I met whilst in Portland. He is surveying people about “their perceived creativity level while in school and in the present” and is aiming to design tools to help counteract the creativity slump in children. If you have a couple of minutes spare please take part in his survey.

WDS

Vulnerability, Creativity and Redemption – WDS2012 Dispatch #3

Lovin’ It – Photo by Armosa Studios

This is my third dispatch from the World Domination Summit 2012. These are the themes which hit home for me the most from the event.

Read Dispatch #1: Change Your Life, Change the World

Read Dispatch #2: Beautiful People

Brene Brown – Photo by Armosa Studios

Vulnerability

WDS2012 was put together with an amazing amount of thoughtfulness and professionalism. It ran like clockwork, and was truly world class. Even the scheduling of each talk seemed to be perfectly planned.

Brené Brown, whose work I wasn’t familiar with previously, did the opening talk, which pulled the rug from under my feet.

She told us that our experience in any situation “cannot exceed your willingness to be vulnerable”. As she says in her TEDx talk which I’ve embedded below, vulnerability is “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love”.

The Creativity Slump

According to Brown, “unused creativity is not benign. It turns into grief and rage”. She talked about how children, though naturally creative, were hitting a ‘creativity slump’ at around 4th and 5th grade (9-11 years old). At this age, children start to feel shame, and the criticism of teachers, parents and peers only makes this worse. But as Brown says, and I wholeheartedly agree, that no-one has the right to tell a child at that age that they’re not creative.

What Drives Me

I got a massive insight that this is actually a big part of what drives me to write this blog. As someone who lost my faith in my own creativity for several years, and then rediscovered it, I want to help adults recover from the pain of the creativity slump and believe in themselves as creative people. I met some fantastic people at the conference who want to address the problem at the source and stop it from happening to children at all – which I would love to support also. But for me, it’s helping adults who have relapsed creatively or have doubts about their own creative abilities that drives me as I feel their pain!

Contribution and the Power of Uncool

Brown emphasised the importance of contribution over criticism and cynicism. She said that she will only respond to feedback if it’s from someone who’s also in the arena, getting their ass kicked. To everyone else she just says, “suck it”.

She talked about the power of being uncool and used a quote from the film Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

She got us to laugh, dance and sing, and then to do our coolest poses, to demonstrate that the former involved movement, and the latter stillness. She said that being cool involves control, disengagement and self protection, and being uncool involves movement, activity and engagement.

Brown spoke of the importance of wholeheartedness, and the need to belong instead of just fitting in. She said “who you are will always trump who you think people will want you to be”. We all got up and sang ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. The Glee version. Talk about uncool.

Chris and Brene’s duet of uncoolness Photo by Armosa Studios

Brown is an incredible speaker, and her talk moved me deeply. I felt a shift in myself. Instead of worrying about networking with as many people as possible, I relaxed. I opened myself up to serendipity. I went with the flow. I allowed myself to be comfortable with being quiet. I sensed the same shift in the other people there. We were open to deep connections and conversation. Brown’s talk set the tone for the entire experience from then on.

Scott Harrison, photo by Armosa Studios

Redemption

And now that I was open, and vulnerable, Scott Harrison stepped onto the stage and told a story of heartbreak, of losing your soul and regaining it again. Of unbelievable hardship, and of hope and love. As a child, he watched his mother, a passionate journalist, become an invalid due to carbon monoxide poisoning. He then spent 10 years as a nightclub promoter in New York and addict to every vice imaginable. He hit rock bottom and came face to face with his own spiritual bankruptcy. Harrison knew he needed to make a change, so he joined the Mercy Corps. There, incidentally, he met a kindred soul, Chris Guillebeau.

Chris & Scott, photo by Armosa Studios

As official photojournalist he had to take photographs of people with the most horrible facial disfigurements, who had walked for days and weeks for the chance of treatment by the visiting, volunteer doctors. He watched as they were successfully treated. He learned that the common denominator that led to the spread of these diseases was a lack of access to clean water. He discovered that one billion people don’t have access to clean water.

And he decided that he would solve the problem, one well (or whatever solution works) at a time. Not only that but he would completely reinvent how charity is done. He would ensure 100% of all donations went directly to providing water for the people who needed it. He ensured that every one who donated would be informed of exactly what their money provided thanks to GPS technology. And he used his promotional prowess to create a modern, sophisticated brand.

By the end of Scott’s talk, all 1000 attendees had pledged to give up their birthdays to help bring clean water to those that need it most. During his talk, I cried. The double whammy of these two opening talks had an immense effect. Again, something has shifted within me. I don’t want to be selfish any more, or guarded, or half-hearted. It feels like redemption is possible, within reach.

Personal Transformation

JD Roth talked honestly and movingly about personal transformation, and how by improving himself he has begun to help others. He pointed out that we who were present are extraordinarily fortunate. Unlike the majority of the world’s population we have the opportunity to be independent, to learn, and take risks and chances, and make a difference.

Spirituality and a desire to give service to others are aspects of myself that I’ve repressed. Because I was scared, embarrassed, lazy. I was not being wholehearted. That will change now. I will change now.

Chris on stage, photo by  Armosa Studios

What Drives Chris Guillebeau?

I was curious about what drives Chris Guillebeau before. Whilst I chose to believe he was a positive person, I didn’t know how much of what he did was a cleverly crafted public persona.

Now I strongly believe Chris Guillebeau is deeply driven to change the world for the better. He strongly believes that this is the most important thing that we can do, and more importantly he believes that it is possible.

He has surrounded himself with people who believe the same. He has gathered 1000 people with shared values together in the beautiful city of Portland.

$100 envelope – photo by Armosa Studios

On the Sunday evening Chris walked out onto the stage. He talked slowly and purposefully, with a massive grin on his face. We knew something very (un) cool was about to happen (by the way, Chris has an unexpectedly great stage presence – and he is very funny).

He reminded us of the Parable of the Talents – in which a man distributes his wealth to three people before setting off on his travels, with varying results.

Chris Guillebeau said that what always interested him was the motivations of the man who gave the money. Maybe he was just curious to see what might happen.

He explained how, after losing a lot of money last year, this year’s event made a modest profit and also received an anonymous donation. It turned out that this amount was enough to give $100 dollars back to all 1000 paying attendees. That’s $100,000.

As we left the theatre, we each received an envelope with a $100 bill inside.

When we registered on Friday, we were all given a copy of Chris’s book – the $100 Start Up. Chris gave us each a gift, and a challenge. He left us with no excuses.

As I typed these words, sitting in a Portland coffee shop (I’ve since returned home), I feel that this has been a life changing experience. Of course, action speaks louder than words.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Competition Time!

Could You Change the World with $100?

I’m giving away one copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The $100 Start Up (read my review here) and one copy of his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity to whoever gives the best answer to this question:

 How would you use $100 to change the world for the better?

Post your idea on the Clear-Minded Creative Facebook page or in the comments below and I’ll pick the one I like best in a week’s time – at which point I’ll request a postal address from that person.

I’ll send the books to anywhere in the world, but be aware that it might take a while for them to arrive if you live outside the UK. Also please note that my choice will be entirely subjective so please don’t get upset if yours doesn’t get chosen – I’m really interested in seeing any responses that come in.

Change Your Life, Change the World – WDS2012 Dispatch #1

I just got back from an amazing trip to Portland, Oregon, where I attended the second annual World Domination Summit.

It’s a provocative name for an event. A number of times whilst walking around the city we were asked by locals what was happening and what the name tags we were wearing were for. The term ‘World Domination’ raised some eyebrows.

I was quick to point out that the name was tongue-in-cheek, and that in fact the event has an extremely positive purpose. I mentioned the fact that a number of speakers had also done TED or TEDx talks. The locals seemed relieved.

Still though, it’s tricky to explain exactly what WDS is all about, and to get across just how positive an experience it was.

The theme of the conference was ‘how do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?’. Within that theme, Chris Guillebeau also highlighted some shared values of those attending; community, adventure and service. Speaking about personal transformation, co-organiser JD Roth summed it up as ‘if you change yourself, you can change the world’. Here’s how a few other people described it:

 WDS is Woodstock for World Changers – Jonathan Fields

The WDS experience is so amazingly out of this world that its kinda like being abducted by aliens, only difference is you go willingly. You remember everything but still not sure what the hell happened. You want to tell everyone you know but unfortunately not everyone will believe you and some may even think you are nuts. Only those that have shared this experience with you can truly understand how you feel and how you life will be forever changed! – Hung Pham, Photographer

WDS is about taking over the world for good – because people with good hearts should have more power – Jason Digges, Jaybird Productions

More Than I Bargained For

When I decided to attend WDS2012 I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. I followed the work of a number of the speakers, such as Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim and Danielle La Porte; and of course Chris Guillebeau himself. I also knew some of the bloggers attending.

I had been a part of this loose and diverse community for a while, via social media. I thought it would be interesting to be there in person, to be in the thick of it. I was curious to see what my favourite bloggers and authors were like in person, on stage and off.

I wanted to challenge myself. To see if I could come out of my shell enough to make some meaningful connections.

I thought I might get some inspiration on where to take my freelance business and blog, and how I could maybe bring them together and ensure that they were aligned with what I care about.

I got something completely different than I expected, and 100 times better.

I’ll be posting updates about the conference over the next few days so stay tuned!

Competition Time!

Could You Change the World with $100?

I’m giving away one copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The $100 Start Up (read my review here) and one copy of his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity to whoever gives the best answer to this question:

 How would you use $100 to change the world for the better?

Post your idea on the Clear-Minded Creative Facebook page or in the comments below and I’ll pick the one I like best in a week’s time – at which point I’ll request a postal address from that person.

I’ll send the books to anywhere in the world, but be aware that it might take a while for them to arrive if you live outside the UK. Also please note that my choice will be entirely subjective so please don’t get upset if yours doesn’t get chosen – I’m really interested in seeing any responses that come in.

My Bid for World Domination in 2012

In two week’s time the second World Domination Summit is taking place in Portland, Oregon. The event is organised by Chris Guillebeau and the speakers at the event include some of my favourite bloggers/authors, including Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim, Scott Belksy and Danielle La Porte.

Here’s a video from the last event:

When tickets went on sale at the beginning of the year I took a chance and bought myself one, as I knew they would sell out fast. I was still not even sure if I was going to leave my job at that point, though deep down I must have known I would.

I still can’t quite believe I’m going! According to the WDS site’s calculations, I’m making an 8400 kilometre journey, and I’m not the only one coming from far and wide, with people coming from all over the globe.

I’ve been preparing by watching the daft comedy series Portlandia on Netflix, which has made me wonder what I’m letting myself in for. The series stars Kyle MacLachlan, aka Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks as the Mayor of Portland, as well as various other guest stars.

According to the above video, “Portland is the city where young people go to retire!” so it’s no surprise that a lot of bloggers with unconventional businesses and lifestyles would end up living there, as well as Chris himself – for example Charlie Gilkey of Productive Flourishing, Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind and his wife Ev`Yan of Sex Love Liberation, Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike, Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology, and Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens (thanks to another Portland resident, Janet of Purple Pandy for compiling this handy list!).

This trip is going to take me way out of my comfort zone. I’ve never taken such a long flight anywhere on my own before, in fact I haven’t really travelled anywhere on my own properly before at all (apart from going from Scotland to Ireland which hardly counts). Add to that the fact I know hardly anyone (though I’ve had brief contact online with a few other people attending, including CMC type Melissa Dinwiddie who’s featured in the above video from last year with her ukulele!).

So I am very nervous about the experience but it seems appropriate to do it in the year that I’m testing the waters of being freelance/building a creative business, and while I’ve still got a few months of funds left. I’m expecting to meet quite a few inspiring people and possibly learn a few things about myself in the process. So.. here goes!

If you’ve taken a step outside your comfort zone recently or in the past, tell me about it in the comments. And if you’re also going to WDS I’d love it if you introduced yourself!

p.s. I’ll be sending out the latest update to the Ditch the Day Job Diaries on either Sunday or Monday * which will include a sneak preview of my new micro-manifesto which will be released at the beginning of July.  *Correction – the video and email now won’t be sent until next week at the same time as the manifesto will be released.

You can subscribe here to catch up with all 14 episodes, including the most recent, which ended on something of a cliffhanger as I considered the possibility of going back to full-time work…