19. David “Awesome” Knapp-Fisher

It’s happy hour at the first night of the World Domination Summit and while I’m really happy to be here, I’m immediately finding myself having to crash conversations.

Hi! I’m Erin, please talk to me!  (says my endearing, but not desperate internal voice)

Do I get incredibly offended by people starting conversations with me? No. I’m not sure when I decided humans are evil, conversation-rejecting beings. But for me, this is hard.

Nevertheless, if this was my challenge for the weekend, I would accept it and invite myself into conversations. I was there to meet like-minded people.

Great news!! I was not eaten alive.

Instead, David, aka Fish, turns to me and says, “Hi! I’m David! You’re awesome!”…or something of the sort. Such is his enthusiasm for life, I imagine he only speaks in exclamation points!!

WDS 2015 - David Knapp-Fisher

We exchange stories and he is so energetic I felt like I had worked out by the time our conversation was over. But the conversation was never really over.

We were both people who had left our jobs to start doing work we love. Our stories are incredibly different, but there is an inherent understanding between people who decide we all have something unique to give and the opportunity to do what we love…and then take that opportunity.

So we connected again and again throughout the conference and beyond.

He helped manage my conversation-crashing fear and repeatedly pulled me into meeting other people like his rockin’ wife Paula who is smart, hilarious and just an all around cool chick.

His connecting abilities stem from a few easy tricks. If you meet David, I can guarantee these three things will happen:

He will tell you you’re awesome.

He will invite you over for dinner.

He will ask you what you care about and how he can help.

I think a lot of people would love to meet new people, try new things and have fascinating conversations, but they are just waiting for someone else to initiate it. This is David’s specialty…interaction, connection and storytelling.

David loves to energize a crowd. He was invited on stage to share one of his stories at WDS  where he shared that his son has muscular dystrophy. David has committed himself to making sure his son has an adventurous, well traveled life, even if it means carrying him up stairs of ancient European landmarks.

He believes in education through life experience and sets his son up to fully participate in that.  He now speaks nation-wide about what this has taught him, among other things. (find out about this and watch his TEDx talk at davidknappfisher.com) He has learned about the importance of living a full, awesome life and is incredibly passionate about enabling others to do this too.

So we traded stories and ideas, and I gave him a paper crane to thank him for being so approachable when I really needed it. And now taking a cue from our friend Fish here:

If you’re reading this, you’re awesome. You’re always welcome to come over for dinner. (There’s not much better than a shared meal and good conversation.) And please let me know how I can help you in following your dreams.

18. Do Something Great with Lewis

As I traveled through South America, I came late to the podcast game and then fell hard. I love learning as much as I love just about anything and with this new medium crush I quickly became one of those people saying, “I just heard in a podcast…” with a bit too much frequency in conversations. I know. I’m working on it.

I had bought a ticket to the World Domination Summit, a conference about living a remarkable life in an unconventional world. It is a once-a-year gathering in Portland, Oregon of passionate people living lives full of adventure, service and community.

As the event drew closer, I read up on the speakers who would be there and one guy’s work caught my attention in particular. His name is Lewis Howes and in addition to being a lifestyle entrepreneur, he hosts a podcast called The School of Greatness.

Naturally with my new found love affair of podcasts, I decided to listen. I was/am in the process of starting my own business around my passions and I welcomed his approach to interviewing people who love what they do and are great at it.

I love his story. Lewis was a pro football player who had to deal with a career ending injury and he recovered from that adversity tenfold…physically, emotionally, career-wise.

I was inspired by Lewis and I wanted to thank him before I even met him and then more so one I did and here’s why:

Lewis believes that everyone has greatness inside of them and has made it his mission to help people do what they love for a living, a belief I also share and hope to do in my own way.

While having a passion is great, he gets that it is living your passion in service of others, doing some good in the world that really counts.

He understands that your greatest wounds are also a source of your greatest gifts.

He promotes physical health and feeling great in your body in order to do your best in every other area of your life. This has been a big part of my own story.

He is a teacher, but also understands that to be a teacher you need to be a perpetual student. He has a natural curiosity and a talent for asking good questions to the fascinating people he brings onto his podcast.

Lewis focuses on gratitude. He acknowledges all of his guests and has open conversations about vision, truth and gratitude. I think gratitude cannot be underestimated as a powerful force for living a meaningful life.

He’s also a connector. He worked hard to establish his own network who now helps him to connect and in turn, he helps to connect others to each other as well. I dream of a world where we all do this naturally and are all helping each other do what we love.

He is an example of someone who has found what they are good at and what they love to do. By sharing that, he is empowering others.

Project Paper Crane is really about finding inspiration in the people I meet every day, which typically doesn’t include well-known multi-millionaires. Although that’s the point here and a point that Lewis makes regularly… that we all start with what we have and we all start out as every day people, with our own gifts and our own challenges. And yet, we all have the opportunity to do something great.

I did get to meet Lewis at the conference and gave him a red paper crane to thank him for being someone who does what they love for a living and inspires other people to as well.

*You can find out more about Lewis, his podcast, products & services and his new book at lewishowes.com.

17. Dominating the World with Chris

In July of 2014, I came back to the USA for a visit. I had been traveling and living in South America on a journey to figure out what I was most passionate about and to start a new life and career around it.

I was talking to one of my cousin’s who had just come back from the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, Oregon. She told me that I had to do whatever it takes to get to this conference in 2015; that the people there are trying to do what I’m trying to do… live a life of purpose, on purpose.

wait…World Domination…what?? 

Now before you get too alarmed, this conference is all about dominating the world, but with passion and meaning, by living unconventional lives full of service, community and adventure. The idea of the conference is to bring together people to geek out on these exact things.

Naturally, I followed my cousin’s advice because I have the incredible fortune to have awesome cousins. I went back south to live and volunteer in Patagonia for another 6 months and when the time came around, I bought my ticket to the conference.

In the mean time, my passion-fueled journey had started to reveal some things to me:

  • I crave an unconventional, meaningful life and am pursuing that 100%.
  • I believe we all have the opportunity to design a life around our passions.
  • I believe the best thing we can do for ourselves, those around us and the world is to be the most authentic version of ourselves at any given time.
  • I have a deep passion for time in nature and outdoor adventure, for long term travel and expeditions into the unknown.
  • I want to visit every country in the world and I want to write about all of this.

…And then I find out about this guy Chris Guillebeau, the one responsible for igniting this whirlwind of positivity known as WDS.  And then I find out he is also the guy who was already achieving these dreams. Case in point, his latest book The Happiness of Pursuit is almost exactly the idea that I had for a book I wanted to write.

My first thought was… “He did it. I finally found my dreams only to discover the guy who already pursued them.”

This quickly turned to… “What can I learn from him?” and realizing that whatever he has done, he has done it in his unique way and I have my own set of experiences, quirks and ideas to bring to the game. How about a human-powered crossing of every country in the world?

There is one truth for which I am certain: There is room for every one of us to pursue our dreams in our own way, in a way that only we can.

So I went to World Domination Summit and I met Chris, a few times. This is what I found:

He’s humble and successful, as ordinary (by which I mean, he’s incredibly approachable) as he is extraordinary.

He’s an avid world traveler and a published author.

He also surrounds himself with remarkable people, which is a sure sign of character.

After the conference I sent Chris a paper crane. The Paper Crane Project was created to share the stories of people I meet for whom I am grateful and who inspire me, in hopes of spreading good news, inspiration and action to others.

I find Chris so inspiring because he is an example of someone who I believe has found that special place where his talents, passions and values meet the gift that he has to share in the world. He has found how to love his life and be in service in the process of that…something which I believe is available to everyone.

Travel, learn, innovate, create, share, repeat. This seems to be his process and it’s a good one.

He doesn’t have that “get rich quick” stench. Rather, he’s a storyteller and a story connector…meaning, through the nature of the way he lives his life, he is always gathering stories from all sorts of people and places around the world and then making the meaningful connections between those stories. That’s what he shares. That’s where the real power in storytelling comes in, when we can find a piece of it to relate to and transform our own lives.

He dreams big and in this case, I got to experience what it is like to walk through one of his living dreams within the crazy imaginative context of the World Domination Summit. I got to witness the domino effect that happens when we do what we love and then share that with others. Surely that deserves at least a paper crane.

Thank you Chris. I hope to see you on the road again!

*You can find more about him, his books, blog, products, services and adventures at chrisguillebeau.com