The Only Conference I’ll Ever Recommend: WDS

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A few days ago I took some vacation time, flew across the country, and attended the World Domination Summit. I almost didn’t go even though I purchased my tickets months ago.

One reason was superficial: I think the name – World Domination Summit – is ridiculous.   Other reasons were more substantial: I didn’t want to be away from my family, I was burning two vacation days, and I really had no idea what I was going to or why.  Those last two reasons really emphasized the first few.  It was challenging to explain to friends and coworkers why I was going and what I was doing…because I had no idea.

Even now I’ve been through it, I’m still not sure what happened to me.  But is was great.

Rest assured, this has nothing to do with multi-level marketing schemes or buying/selling anything.  In fact, there is no corporate sponsorship at all.  No job seekers either.  The focus is on the content and experience for the attendees.

Back Story

I heard of the WDS organizer, Chris Guillebeau, from a blog posting someone forwarded me about 3-years ago.  I liked what CG said in the post even though I don’t remember which post it was.  I occasionally read more of his writing and at some point I started hearing about the World Domination Summit.  Eventually, I signed up for more info.

In this same time frame of the last 3-years, I helped split and divest a giant company into smaller chunks, launched an IT company, sold the IT company, and went to work for the acquiring company.

Adrift is probably the best word for how I felt when I bought my WDS ticket earlier this year.  Please don’t infer anything negative from my sense of being adrift.  I’ve enjoyed my career so far.  But I also feel like I’ve stalled since being acquired.  I’m in a strange place in my career.  Even though I go to two or three conferences a year, they seem worthless.  I needed something new.

What is WDS?

The most meaningful and well run event I’ve ever attended.

WDS is built around two-days of speakers with varied backgrounds who cover a wide range of topics.  The speakers and their topics are loosely connected through the WDS principles of Community, Service, and Adventure.  What’s interesting is how the speakers apply these principles to business.  To give examples I would have to break down each presentation and explain my perspective.  That’s not what this post is about.  Just go to next year’s event and see for yourself.  Regardless of your age, occupation, or interest, you will find something valuable in the content.

There are extra events and meetings anyone can attend.  These begin as pre-confernece options and last until after the main conference ends.  I attended none of these and still feel I learned an incredible amount.  In fact, simply listening to the main event speakers is proving to be too much to digest and apply this year.  It’s not how I expected to feel, but it’s a welcomed result.

WDS is the highest value event I’ve attended.

How is WDS special?

WDS is made up of common people doing extraordinary good.

I don’t know the WDS founder, CG.  However, after hearing CG emcee the summit, I have no doubt WDS is an extension of his personality.  This is a good thing.

WDS is quirky, creative, authentic, humble, intelligent, informative and applicable.

There is an abundance of awesome and amazing.  I heard those words all weekend.  And they describe the truth of WDS.

The event is also, somehow, highly polished and professional yet creative and fostering of free thinking.  The pace of WDS exemplifies a subtle mastery of information delivery: from when the speakers begin, to the various lengths of the talks, to the frequency and duration of breaks.

Even the registration process and swag are representative of the consistently excellent delivery of information and attention to detail of the WDS staff.  Nothing is forgotten.  You are left to experience, explore, and absorb.

Random Information

The swag is genius.  Participants actually want to wear it.  And you see the swag all over the city.  Strangers stopped me to ask what WDS was about.  The residents seemed proud.  The tourists felt like they had missed something special.  They had.

The founder of the event doesn’t receive a salary.  I assume WDS is his passion project to help people run small businesses in order to have a positive impact on the world.

Apparently, there was a mythical Native American man who healed a woman.  No fewer than 5 people made reference to the mystical man.  I didn’t meet him but I may have glimpsed a shadow of his shadow.  😉

Everyone I met was really nice and genuinely curious about learning.  Conversation with fellow attendees easily flowed.

The Unexpected

I almost left a day early.  I was overwhelmed – in a good way.  Exhausted.  I didn’t think I could learn anything else because I was already mentally full.  And I was missing my family.  The airline was sold out for a Sunday return flight.  But it ended up that what I actually needed was rest.  Sunday was better than Saturday.  Maybe because I knew what to expect.

I don’t consider myself a particularly interesting person.  When you attend WDS, you’ll find you are surrounded by smart, curious people who have genuine interest in learning, growing, building, and helping.  They will ask really good questions that pull interesting things out of you – that you may not have known were inside of yourself.

I hoped I wasn’t wasting time away from my family and throwing away money.  Obviously, it’s not too hard to exceed my low expectations.  However, I didn’t expect to have an out flowing of creativity.  WDS really knocked it out of the park.

That’s their magic.

The WDS staff consistently hits home runs when it matters most.  They prepare year round and practice for months.  When it’s time to play, they hit it out of the park.  To continue with the baseball reference: it’s as if WDS is the Yankees and all other conferences I’ve attended are stuck in the minors.

Definitely sign up for the 2015 WDS.  More info here.

2 Comments for “The Only Conference I’ll Ever Recommend: WDS”

says:

I agree with you – unparalleled swag. And people, even beyond the swag, an incredible tribe.

More than the speakers, or even the event itself – for me, it’s the people.

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