Living a remarkable life in a conventional world.
Author and professor William W. Purkey once said:
“You’ve gotta’ dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
There is no better place to embrace this mantra than the World Domination Summit, a gathering of nearly 3,000 bloggers, entrepreneurs, travelers, dancers, and dreamers. The conference is held in Portland, Oregon, the hometown of host Chris Guillebeau, author of the $100 Startup and visitor to all 193 countries.
When I attended last year and started building my path to world domination, the experience blew me away, and I have to say he hit a home run again this year.
At one point I found myself as one of the only people in a meetup group of first time attendees looking for direction. The group organizer Jon Carpenter – who would go on to become a close friend by the end of the weekend – asked if I could give some quick advice. I shared the ABCs of conference attendance:
A – Actionable items. Look for key learnings that you can later apply to your business
B – Be inspired. There was no shortage of inspiring speakers all weekend.
C – Connect with people. I spent the weekend connecting with close friends, people I met last year, and anyone and everyone that I found standing next to me.
Wait. Let’s add one more item to make it the ABCDs of WDS.
D – Dance like there’s nobody watching
I’m not much of a dancer. It’s not that I don’t like dancing. It’s not that I don’t try to dance. But despite being a drummer that can find a groove and keep a beat, you’re looking at your garden variety 43 year old white male without a ton of natural rhythm.
If I’m at a wedding or at a club and the music starts going, I’m not going to be the first person on the dance floor. I may sit out a few songs. I may hover near some female friends for support.
In fact my friend Jayme has a running joke, acting out the scene from Hitch where Will Smith teaches Kevin James how to dance without making a fool of himself, limiting movements to just a few simple, conservative actions.
“This is where you live. Right here. You live right here.” (1:10 mark)
So a funny thing happened last year.
As I walked into the closing party, filled with a room of nearly 1,000 people on a spring-loaded dance floor, a Bollywood DJ pumping out Jai Ho at top volume. (Video)
I walked straight into the crowd and started dancing like a fiend. I danced for hours. I danced with anyone around me. I danced like no one was watching. The feeling was glorious.
I wondered if I’d capture the magic again this year.
Build your business like no one is watching
It occurred to me on a glorious mountain bike ride 2 days after the conference that I could tie several business lessons into this theme.
1. Tell a story and look for patterns
World-renowned design guru Nancy Duarte kicked off the show with my favorite presentation of the weekend. Drawing from her research around her book Resonate, she took an analytical approach to storytelling.
In her speech, she broke down four of the most famous speeches in history:
Martin Luther King, Jr (The “I have a dream” speech)
Steve Jobs launch of the iPhone
A bible passage from Jesus
Evita’s speech (Don’t cry for me Argentina)
Takeaway: As a business, it is imperative to speak about your brand and your product through storytelling. Whether it’s in a presentation, a video, a blog post, or your website copy, don’t reinvent the wheel. Use time-tested formulas.
As a dancer, don’t complicate things when starting out. Watch what the DJ does and repeat it.
2. Embrace fear and rejection
My second favorite speaker was Jia Jiang. Most people avoid putting themselves in a situation where they can be rejected. Not only did he scoff at this, he made it a point to seek and embrace rejection. Oh, and there were donuts. Watch his Ted Talk.
Tess Vigeland, a veteran journalist from NPR’s Marketplace Money talked about her fears when she quit her well-respected job, then didn’t get the once in a lifetime follow-up position that she thought she was born to do.
Pro Blogger Darren Rowse spoke about the path he took to overcome fear and live his dream, stealing the show by appearing in a Superman costume. He runs one of the most popular blogs on the internet, and when he began he didn’t even know how to bold text.
84-year-old Bob Moore weaved a decades-long tale of business success and failure.
Takeaway: Stepping off that ledge and starting a new business can be terrifying, especially if you are laid off unexpectedly or quit your job without a safety net. But embrace the fear and rejection that you’ll inevitably will face and persevere.
The same goes for walking out on that dance floor. The only way to overcome the fear is to face it head on.
3. Surround yourself with like-minded people
Last year I summed up the conference by saying, “These are my people.”
In a conventional world filled with Go to School, Get Good Grades, Get Married, Buy a House, Have Kids, then Work 9 to 5 until you’re 65 years old, it can be tough to lead a remarkable life with others around you questioning every move.
Work remotely from Buenes Aires?
Share your thoughts on a blog or a podcast?
Create an online course to add a new revenue stream?
Why the heck would you ever want to do that? Play it safe. Get a good job. Stop dreaming.
But a magical thing happens when you surround yourself with a few thousand people that share your world views.
Partnerships are formed
Inspiration is shared
Suddenly, it’s everyone else that seems a bit crazy.
Takeaway: True breakthroughs in your business come when you do the opposite of what is expected. When you buck conventional wisdom. Whether it’s an annual conference, a coworking space filled with solopreneurs, or a mastermind meetup group with big dreams that can hold you accountable, find your tribe.
So you take a deep breath, then you…
Walk out on the dance floor
The closing event this year wasn’t a private event tucked away in a dark dance hall like last year.
This was an epic dance party held outdoors in the middle of Portland in Pioneer Square.
It was still daylight when the party began.
There were three times the people.
There were tourists overlooking the square wondering what the heck was going on.
There were video cameras taping the event via drones!
But it didn’t matter. I knew what I had to do.
I channeled my inner Fresh Prince and embraced my unique white guy moves.
I stared fear and rejection in the face and they backed down.
I looked around and you know what? There were a lot of other people just like me, facing their own fears about their business, their personal lives, their dreams.
Then I waded directly into the middle of the crowd and planted myself center stage, and danced like no one was watching.
How else are you going to achieve World Domination?
[Note: All photos by Armosa Studios, used with permission]
Check out my free online salary negotiation course, “How to Negotiate Salary: The Negotiation Mindset.”
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