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

16. Yes We Cannabis with Jose

I met Jose in the kitchen of a hostel in Mendoza, Argentina. I was telling someone my story of what I was doing there…on a journey of self-discovery, wanting to design my life around the passions I found… Jose smacked his hand on the table, leapt up and shouted “YES!” and we’ve been friends ever since.

We went on to have many discussions about leaving the corporate world behind to pursue unconventional lives. Although born and raised in Colombia, he had since headed to the USA to pursue “The American Dream” only to feel that when he achieved that, it didn’t feel so dreamy to him.

It turns out that Jose was on sabbatical. He was traveling around South America, contemplating what his return and subsequent exit from Corporate America would look like.

So we started scheming together…asking questions, telling our stories, brainstorming ideas and congratulating each other on having the courage to create something new.

Typical reactions to a Jose story are along the lines of “you did what?” or “of course that happened to you” as he has a habit of getting himself into interesting, unusual, serendipitous situations…mostly because he is so curious and just an all around life enthusiast.

Everyone should have at least one person they can reach out to for a dose of encouragement mixed with conviction and positivity. That is Jose.

Whether it is being invited into photography shoots, artists’ homes, local Argentinian weddings…or casually telling the story about being pulled off a train and thrown in a Russian jail by mistake…he is a magnet, or maybe a curator…of fascinating situations.

So perhaps I should not have been surprised when I get an email from him to tell me that he has a new career as a “cannabis consultant”.

Me: “You’re a what?”

Jose: “I’m a cannabis consultant, the entrepreneur and expert behind the regulation and development of the legal Cannabis Industry across Latin America. How’s your book coming?”

He had gone back to the USA, shocked his boss and people at the office with a question about what they would do if they could do anything they wanted and then quit. He sold his things, moved to Buenos Aires and dove head first into pursuing this passion of his and trying to do some good in the world.

Jose has been hugely supportive in my journey and I gave him a paper crane to thank him for his encouragement and so many inspiring conversations. You can check out what he’s up to at josegastaldi.com.