World Domination Summit 2022 (WDSX)

All right, I’ll do it! Here are some thoughts about WDSX – this year’s 10th and final World Domination Summit – if you like pictures, here’s an album of ones I (mostly) took. And there are more commentaries linked below. This might get a little weepy as I’m on my 8th day of steroids and I just took 2 pills a few minutes ago – we’ll see. Enough lead-up – here we go!

I first attended WDS in 2018. Then again in 2019. Both years were pretty interesting and my curiosity about this movement/conference/experiment really grew with time. During the pandemic, we all waited patiently for the next in-person gathering. It was fun to hear Chris G. explain this year how he’s learned his lesson never to print a year on swag again – he printed up a bunch of 2020 pins which … are fun keepsakes, but… the event didn’t happen then. What did happen that year, though, was a very interesting weekend virtual event in which I still relish participating in. And really, participating is what WDS is all about. Take a try. Reaching. Trying. Testing the waters. That virtual event and our monthly community check-ins really meant a lot to me during the pandemic. They were the biggest gatherings (besides a couple of co-counseling workshops) that I participated in. And Chris and his able team were able to create some real magic online by making use of some fancy technology and a really great crew of helpers. 

During the community check-ins, Chris would pose a question and people would take a minute each to weigh in on things like “what they were learning”, “what was hardest”, etc. It was heart-warming to hear people’s responses. These are people who are spread all over the world so some of the people were up in the middle of the night. People were in all sorts of situations, too – you could really get a sense of the vast differences in peoples’ situations. Some would be in a closed-off closet – others would be sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea. Sometimes there would be couples happy together. Sometimes, families – it was really all over the map in terms of representation – but one thing that really stood out was how dedicated these (usually) over a hundred people would be to arriving on time, paying close attention, and being interactive. Sometimes people would be asking for help with a venture or just looking for a shoulder to cry on. I really got a sense of community watching the strangers come together and try to connect and help one another through tough times.

Then there was the virtual WDS Weekend. That also had a ton of magic to it. It had the same unconference feeling that much of WDS does. People around the world offered workshops throughout a long weekend – one presenter offered an awesome class on how to make Zoom workshops go better for all participants – he dialed in from New Zealand! There was another great workshop that someone put on from Nairobi, I recall. All throughout the weekend, it was as if we were together – learning, teaching, connecting, crying, laughing. It was quite impressive how well it was organized and it was a shining light in a sea of darkness at the time – thanks to WDS for pulling that together!

Another way I engaged in this community was via a few FB groups dedicated to alums and people about to attend. Each year a new FB group was started for the coming event, and this year was no different. These groups are a great way to hear about each others’ efforts and join a workshop; learn about a book launch; or support someone’s efforts in some way. From the group, I learned about a neat font (Teach Font) by Moataz Ehab Ahmed that I’ve used on my new calling cards and I’m working with my brother, Dan, to get some t-shirts going. Team Everybody is one of the phrases that WDS has emphasized over the years and I lost my t-shirt and want one that says that s0… currently, it looks like this.

OK, time for 2022.

This year I was ready for WDS. After having attended 2 previously and all that off-season time – I was ready to dive right in. I went to my first event the night before WDS week actually started. It was a fun evening that Jan Keck (Ask Deep Questions and so much more) led. We met in NW Portland and asked each other deep questions while randomly picking our route through the NW hills. We saw some great views and had lots of laughs figuring out how to get where we were going. The walk ended at the ice cream shop Salt & Straw where more people joined the group and my friend Cherie and I bowed out. I noticed that even that bit of activity was more intense (being around strangers – being forced to do a bunch of challenging things at once…) pushed some buttons for me and I ended up skipping out on all of the fun activities the next day – and instead, spent the day doing something familiar – playing music on my porch with my good friend, Steve Bennett. 

But on Weds. I was ready to participate again and then spent the next 5 days heavily immersed in the event. I went to meetups on retirement and re-why-erment and 2nd acts. That’s a big theme for me at this time in life where I have some freedom to choose what I do with my days. I led a singalong on Weds. night which was a lot of fun. People joined me at the Hotel Zags – WDS HQ this year – and we sang from Mark Bosnian’s excellent collection (and easy presentation) of singable songs. Anytime you want to sing some songs with someone, pull up https://portlandsings.com/and have at it. There are so many great memories of this week – here are some random ones in no particular order to give you the flavor of how this conference/event works. 

  1. Fantastic academy by Yes, Yes, Marsha inside the Winningstad Theater. First time inside a venue like that with so many people and I’ll probably have more to say about this event. She also involved Gary Ware and Jeff Harry in helping get the audience to participate in fun ways.
  2. Holding up Happiness Sprinkling signs on Saturday morning while everyone waited to go into the mainstage sessions. I hadn’t slept well the night before – and this brought me up and out of my funk in a big way and brought lots of joy!
  3. Hosting a Saturday Happiness Sprinkling where I had 20 RSVPs and only one person came and joined me! This made me doubt everything and kind of threw me – but I had fun wandering the Farmer’s Market with the signs, anyway, and then ended up canceling the same event for Sunday as I realized people were at that point being drawn all over the place – during Sat. and Sun. afternoons there were so many meetups – it was incredible.
  4. Saturday night we hosted a Campfire Conversations event (pic below) led by Amy and Jan. That was a delicious highlight. So many nice people came and participated – and it was the first time we’d had a fire in a very long time. Louie the cat also had a blast that night being petted by many.
  5. I got to see my long-time friend’s most recent version of her show Plan V which she’ll take to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival soon! Ding! That was a very special event – and so fun to see so many of my fellow WDSers open their minds/hearts to Eleanor’s work. I’ve been following Eleanor’s creativity for many years and she always brings really good things to life. 
  6. Trying to figure out how to stay safe during the week’s events was a little challenging. Eventually, I settled on masking indoors (mostly) especially when sitting in a theater with thousands of people. I did hear a couple of people caught Covid during the event, but it did not seem like a lot – it was somewhat early in the Omicron wave that is currently (7.16.22) engulfing our area. This was not a perfect solution, but luckily I did not get sick and have continued to stay clear of the virus. Time for that 2nd booster, I know!
  7. The SWAG – well done once again. I picked up a lovely mug and a nice t-shirt. I love the imagery that WDS has put forward over the years and I will treasure some of the things they gave us which have a special place in my head/heart. 

The mainstage presentations are a bit of a blur to me now – but I did enjoy being inspired and all of the lighting and interesting use of video mapping was a lot of fun. I look forward to re-watching some of the mainstage presentations – they are very much like TEDx talks and are often full of great messages and inspiration.

Somehow I managed to write this far without really saying anything super meaningful about it so here go some ideas. WDS really pushes you to try things as I mentioned, it gives you the opportunity to try things and FAIL and to try things and succeed and to ask for support. And really just offers a chance to get vulnerageous – which is a word I think I heard Jan Keck say for the first time – a combination of vulnerable and courageous. Where you are putting yourself out there constantly to see what you can do; what your limits are; where the edges are – you fall sometimes. You do fall – you get teary.  YOu get happy. You get sad during the event. There aren’t many places where there is enough safety built into the experience where you can actually try and fail. So, I really appreciate WDS for that.

And it also brings together people who are actively working on projects. And who are lifetime achievers  – People who have succeeded sometimes and failed sometimes. You learn a lot from those peoples’ stories and that gives you an opportunity right there during the week to take some chances and see what works and what doesn’t work. And that can be hard. It can bring up some emotions. It can be vulnerageous.

Here are a couple of things that did not go well for me and which I tried to adjust, but had no luck with. 

  1. The opening party on Friday night was in Pioneer Square Park. I would have loved to participate but the sound volume was so high I just couldn’t be anywhere near the event. So, I left early. I attempted to talk to the sound person, but they wouldn’t listen. Also, this party happened on the same day that Roe v. Wade was overturned – and playing sort of crappy 70s one-hit wonder music too loud in the middle of the City felt very tone-deaf to me, and I’m sure others. I ended up joining people marching in the streets for a while before heading home early. 
  2. Sort of the same issue @ Sunday night’s closing party – but the music was a little better as the night wore on and it was also not as loud. Perhaps someone heard me. I kind of wish I had pushed myself and attended both parties for more time, but these big parties have generally not done much for me. I much prefer quieter one-on-one time vs. loud unconscious stuff. That said, I’m very sorry I missed seeing DJ Prashant’s closing dance on Sunday night. 
  3. The whole “setting a world record by dressing up in dinosaur costumes” went right past me. Looks like people had a blast, though. 

Well, that feels like a good first approach to this event. I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering how things might move forward. Chris G. did hint that he loves putting on events in one of his closing remarks. So, we’ll see. There are now thousands of people who have had hundreds of thousands of interactions and have been drawn into lots of new relationships over the years. I have a feeling some of them are going to instigate some cool stuff. 

Will WDS itself happen again? Will there be a WDS Y?  To be determined. I would go. In fact, I’ve been encouraging people to set that time aside next year. Perhaps we Portlanders will pull something off together. This town is a good one to host such an event, I believe, and I’d be happy to participate. I hardly know what it takes to put something like this on – but the unconference part where people are meeting in various coffee shops and hotel lobbies is something that might be doable. Since I think the mainstage speakers part of the event is less memorable and possibly not as necessary- perhaps we just move to an unconference format. Or, maybe we all fly to Melbourne and go visit Bill Simpson! To be determined! On this note Vanessa shared: 

🎉Many people in our community are asking “What’s Next?” – as an event creator, conference connoisseur, & person who really loves to gather, I’ve been blessed to have been “nominated” by our community to try to answer this & really it starts with each & every single one of YOU! We must create it, share it, build it, invite ourselves to it, & attend it. If you want to know more – whatever that is – go ahead & drop your simple contact details here & I will keep you posted! https://tinyurl.com/TheNextThing2023

So, we’ll see! I’m always open to feedback, questions and comments – feel free to add below 0r reach out to me.  As I mentioned I’ve shared some other thoughts I’ve found posted below and perhaps these will help round out my recollection above.

Service, Community, Adventure – See you out there! Albert


Jeff Harry is feeling grateful @ WDS X
As this WDS experience come to an end, it makes me think of the concept of beautiful sadness.
There is an inherent beauty in sadness, especially when an experience comes to an end. It makes me wonder if it has to end to allow us to cherish our WDS memories even more and put that inspiration into action.
If the WDS experiment was about how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world, it would have been the conventional choice for World Domination Summit to go on forever. There is nothing remarkable about that choice.
By ending, WDS has now cleared a path for WDSers to create the next iteration in building a community connected by service and adventure.
I think it can be both nerve-racking and exciting (Nerv-cited) to not know what is next, as it challenges each of us to come up with that answer.
Now, we may attempt to recreate what we’ve experienced this past decade, and we will probably be disappointed because “it just isn’t the same.” But maybe that isn’t the point. WDS is asking what is the next remarkable step each of us is willing to take in our lives and how do we want to do it with the community we cultivated here? It’s not an easy question to answer, but it sure is an exciting and remarkable one.
So, at the same time that I am really sad that it is ending, I’m also excited to see what adventures we come up with next. Thanks, everyone for creating such a magical experience at WDS! I’ll never forget it.
WDS 2022
And, away we go!

Paul Kim

I first learned about Chris after reading his book Art of Nonconformity. After that, he seemed to keep popping up everywhere, and I heard him on a few different podcasts where he kept mentioning this thing called the World Domination Summit. I looked at the website, but couldn’t quite get a clear idea of what it was. I searched all over the web and found a few blog posts here, and a couple of videos on social media there, but still nothing. Yet I felt something strangely drawing me to it, so I decided to book a solo ticket to Portland. Fast forward 6 WDSs later, I’m lucky to have brought my daughter with me this year to share this special place and all of you with her. She now finally understands what this thing is that I’ve been gushing about for all these years. This week made a wonderful impact on her and I can’t think of a better way to spend time with her before she heads off to college this fall.
I still think it was the universe sending me to this special place on that initial solo trip where I made so many close friends, met such incredible people, vastly expanded my knowledge and consciousness, and had truly amazing experiences.
Thank you so much, Chris. The positive impact you’ve had on me and on everyone in this community is immeasurable. It isn’t a stretch to say you saved my life in a lot of ways (and your long hair these days does more resemble a certain prominent religious figure after all lol).
Thank you WDS core team and every single ambassador ever for your years of planning, execution, support, and service. And to the larger WDS family, I never knew I needed years ago, I will miss seeing you in person dearly. Take care, travel safe, may your experiences be impactful and plentiful, and I hope to see you again down the road.

Reflection and Transference prompts (for WDS and beyond) from Iggy Perillo (Iggy@wslleadership.com)

What were memorable moments for you? Who resonated with you? What spaces, systems, or structures made things easier or more challenging for you? What meaningful lessons or ideas stuck with you? Where are you headed from here? And what is your next step on that path? (Extra credit, when, how, and where will you do that next step?) How do you need to be to follow your path or get where you want to go? (This question was stolen from Monica Von’s awesome goal-setting workshop at WDS!)

Campfire Conversations with Jan

Campfire Conversations with Jan and Amy

7.23.22- Group Discussion Questions from a hand-out at 2nd Act meetup
  1. Can you paint a picture or articulate a vision of where you want to be in 5 years? 10 years?
  2. What excites you about this vision
  3. What concerns are lurking below, or perhaps even right on top, of the surface?
  4. What is one action you could do in the next month to work towards your vision?
  5. What would future you tell you about how to approach your Second Act?

Q during a mainstage talk where we were all handed sheets of seed paper. Q was: What are things you want to let go of from the pandemic? A: loneliness, being single, lack of touch, lack of connection, lack of purpose, lack of love.