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This year was my first time attending the World Domination Summit and I have to admit, it was impressive. The production quality alone was far beyond any other conference I’ve attended (except maybe SXSW, but that’s in a different league altogether). WDS is exactly what the name entails: it’s a gathering of entrepreneurs, speakers, writers, leaders, humans, who are creating things that actually affect the world in big ways. The core themes of the conference, for those who aren’t familiar, are Community, Service, and Adventure. If you hate those things, you’ll probably hate this blog and I’ll bid you adieu now.

The truth is, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when you have [a budget] and a strong commitment to the attendees. Creating an unparalleled experience was a top priority for Chris G. and his team, and it showed in everything from the quality of speakers, to the world-record breakings, to the closing party.

My notebook is full of inspirational takeaways and action steps, but in this post I’ll narrow it down to 5 key takeaways. Five ways that WDS inspired me to live a bolder, more interesting, more purposeful life. Oh, and to dominate the freaken world.

1. Be Vulnerable.

Throughout the week in Portland, I’d see people hugging and sometimes weeping while they appeared to share a moment about something personal. This could be between two friends, or two people that just met that day. It didn’t matter. The reality was that WDS provided a safe, almost summer-camp-like vibe for the attendees to come as they are, and leave as they want.

Admittedly, the part of me that grew up in the “real world” where people don’t embrace strangers for long periods of time in public, would witness these interactions and start to get uncomfortable.Don’t they feel awkward that people can see?

It wasn’t til my own repressed bullshit spilled out my eyeballs did I think, hey maybe these people are onto something.

The truth is, it’s not until people start being real, that these moments of intimacy actually happen. When people start being vulnerable and realize that they aren’t even remotely “cooler” or “tougher” than anyone else, that’s when it gets good, and that’s when change happens.

The most memorable example of this (for me) was a speech by internet marketer, and former pro athlete, Lewis Howes. His presentation resonated with me for many reasons. He used narrative and humor so effectively—two things I strive to do—that 3,000 people couldn’t help but listen to every word he said. We were engulfed in his story so much, that when he finally stripped off his alpha male facade, we were completely rocked. ROCKED I tell you!

Photo Credit: Armosa Studios, WDS 2015
Photo Credit: Armosa Studios, WDS 2015

This successful, masculine, attractive man, (hey! I’m human.) stood on stage and shared incredibly personal details. An auditorium full of people, males and females, cried as Lewis explained that he had been sexually assaulted as a child by his babysitters’s son.

He spoke of the effect it had on his life and relationships, as he kept that secret for over 25 years. He told us of the overwhelming fear he had when he finally told his family, and then subsequently shared his story on his podcast.

He told us of the impact it had had on his followers. The overwhelming support he had received for being so vulnerable and for showing other people that they’re not alone. That by sharing our vulnerabilities, we can truly help others to be able to do the same and move past the traumas and the baggage in our lives.

If you’re squeamish about emotions, and honesty, and being REAL, then this blog is probably not for you.

There will be plenty of sass--fret not--but there will also be raw and sometimes vulnerable things shared, because only through that realness can real change be made. Both in ourselves and in others.

Vulnerability affects change
Vulnerability affects change

I became friends with someone recently (a very impressive young woman who I’ll cover in a separate post), but after we made it Facebook offish, I noticed this quote on her wall. I don’t know who Oceana Pleasant is, and it doesn’t really matter.

The point is that this message of vulnerability leading to a greater reach and a greater influence has been following me around ever since WDS. Hence this blog. And hence why Be Vulnerable is #1 on my list of takeaways.

So this week, try and look for opportunities to be vulnerable. With friends, with family, maybe even at the office. If you find it easy, dig deeper. You’ll likely experience what Brene Brown calls a ‘vulnerability hangover’ where you ask yourself “Why did I share so much? What was I thinking??” but she goes on to explain it’s in these moments of exposure that we can start to see profound change and meaning in our lives.

2. Treat Everyone like it’s their birthday.

11 yr old Kid President was one of the most charismatic speakers to grace the stage at WDS. I’ve never seen Obama speak in person, but I like to think he’d be just as suave and quick witted.

Kid president is known for his youtube channel where he encourages people to be better humans through humor, dancing, and general awesomeness.

One of the simplest, yet most impactful, things he said was to “Treat everyone like it’s their birthday.”

Treat Everyone Like It's Their Birthday
Treat Everyone Like It's Their Birthday

It’s so easy to be grumpy cat when you’re out running errands and it’s a million degrees, or you’re at the doctor’s office because you have an ear infection for like the billionth time. But what if you bucked up a bit and instead oozed generosity in all those situations?

What if everyone you encountered each day, it really was their birthday, wouldn’t you wish you had been nicer to them?

The cashier at Target, the receptionist at the doctors, the guy that checks you in at the Jiffy Lube. Your girlfriend or boyfriend. Your teacher. Your mom.

James Altucher, one of my favorite writers, puts it like this: Treat everyone like it’s their last day on earth. Not your last day. This isn’t about ballin’ out, and flying to Rome to eat gelato. This is about them. If everyone you encountered, you knew it was their last day on earth, how would you act differently?

3. Share what you know.

Jeremy Cowart was another speaker that really spoke to me. Both literally and figuratively, I supposed. His presentation was unique in that the entire speech was expressed using photos and mixed media. He put every word on the screen in a way I had not seen before. He’s a true artist.

Jeremy spoke of his early struggles to see himself as a photographer (he is world renowned and has worked with hundreds of celebrities, artists, musicians, etc.) and he spoke of his philanthropic efforts through projects like Help-Portrait and Voices of Haiti.

But the thing he said that was profound enough to take make my list was something that hit a bit closer to home. Jeremy told us that he and his brother Mike, also a fellow photographer, had attended a Father Daughter dance in early 2014. There his brother snapped an amazing picture of Jeremy and his daughter in a snow machine that they had brought out on the dance floor. The picture would be the last one that Mike ever took of Jeremy as he died suddenly a few weeks later.

If you follow Jeremy’s blog, he shares the full story of grief through images.

Through his brother’s death, Jeremy was able to grasp the fragility of life in a way that he hadn’t before and he realized that he owed it to his children, and to his brother’s children, to share what he could with them before his time on earth was up.

So he created SeeUniversity.com, where he has loaded dozens of videos on every possible topic from photography, to business, to personal development. Everything he knows and everything he has learned, he has shared so that his children (and any followers who apply to join his list) can learn from it.

He preached that you are always ahead of someone. There is always at least person, if not hundreds or thousands, who can benefit from your knowledge and your unique perspective. No matter how insignificant you think your skills are, share them. They could open a door for someone else, and they could change their life.

Are you really good at coming up with recipes? Do you have a knack for writing jokes? Are you an excel wiz? It doesn’t matter what it is, you are better at something than someone else.

So write it down, record a video, compile the content through images. Whatever medium works best for you, just share what you know.

4. When you see people as just your platform, you eventually stand on top of them.

In the entrepreneurial world, I can tell you, it’s really easy for people to get caught up in the numbers. How many people are on your list, how many conversions did you get, how many downloads?

It can be easy to forget that every data point is a person. Someone that bought your product, joined your list, or signed up for your course because they trust you and they think you can provide value to their lives.

Jon Acoff hit the nail on the head with this quote, "When you see people as just your platform, you eventually stand on top of them." Instead of looking at people as a platform for your business, ask yourself how can I help? Am I doing what I said I would? Am I actually making people’s lives better with what I’m offering?

The same applies in the corporate environment. Rather than prioritize our own personal agenda and trample each other on the race up the corporate ladder, instead we can work to raise each other up. Celebrate each other’s successes, and constantly ask, how can I help?

5. You can do anything.

I wish I could convey the energy that exists when you get a room full of people who want to positively impact the world. It may sound cult-y but the truth is, I can’t imagine a better koolaid to be drinking.

The reality is that anyone who has ever created something that radically impacted the way we all live today was just a person like you and me. The difference is that they took action and worked hard. Really hard.

With technology what it is today, our reach is faster and farther than it’s ever been before. People can source materials, or get funding easier and from more sources than was possible even 5 years ago.

Want to start a foundation to put kids through school in Africa? You can. Want to write a book and sell it to thousands of people on amazon? You can. Want to create a piece of luggage that charges your phone? You can!

You Can Do Anything
You Can Do Anything

Jeremy Cowart's speech emphasized not only that we teach the world all that we know, but also that our ability to make an impact is literally limitless.

We are capable of anything if we can conceive of it.

There are countless quotes and texts that serve to inspire us with this same message. I'll give you one, just to prove how easy it is to google these things. Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."

Point being, it's true. Whether Jeremy Cowart said it on stage at WDS or Tony Robbins said it on stage at one of his conferences, or Napolean Hill wrote it in a book about getting rich, if you can think of it and set your intention to make it reality, then it is inevitable.

Another speaker at WDS said that we were 'a room full of wizards.' With the power to change the world. The truth is that we all are.  Not just the 3,000 people who attended WDS.

Whether you grew up on Harry Potter and can appreciate a good wizard metaphor, or not, you are capable of doing ridiculously amazing things. So go do it already.