Saturday, June 18, 2011

World Domination Summit - Sunday Recap

This is my recap of the second day of the World Domination Summit that I attended earlier this month in Portland. My day one recap can be found here. Here some of my “takeaways” from Day 2.

Chris welcomes us to Day 2

Our first speaker was to be Neil Pasricha, however, due to a last minute illness, he was unable to attend. Neil is the founder of the blog 1000 Awesome Things. If you need a little light and joy, I recommend checking out the 15-minute talk he did for TED. You really get a sense of how he came to his project. My take away from Neils' TED talk was all about the Three A's of Awesome:
  • Attitude
  • Awareness - see the world through the eyes of a child ... like it's your first time seeing everything
  • Authenticity - be authentic and real
And the final message: You will never be as young as you are right now.

Next up was the powerful duo behind Mondo Beyondo, Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen. These two rocked their presentation. It was all about dreaming big and taking your life list (and life) to the next level. Key things in order to make your big dreams real:
  • Trust
  • Courage
  • Vulnerability
  • Intuition
  • Flexibility/Openness
One of the activities we had to do was to write a word on our body that we wanted to carry with us for the day. We arrived at the word through some storytelling activities with the people we were sitting next to. My word was genuine. I wrote it on my hand and looked at it throughout the day. For me, a reminder to be genuine means being open and sincere in my interactions with others. No false fronts, just real Sophia.

I was so impressed by their talk, I am signing up for their Mondo Beyondo on-line course which is starting early July. I am looking forward to keeping the energy and inspiration going. Want to join me?

The Mondo Beyondo Team, Jen and Andrea

John T. Unger, amazing fire bowl artist, was our speaker after lunch. My biggest take away from him was to clearly distinguish what is an emergency and what is just a problem. It is way to easy to elevate issues, which are really just little problems, into full-on emergency mode. It was not until I was working outside of an office setting that I realized how much of the work day was filled with a "fire drill" mentality.

John T. Unger

After John's talk, I sat in the break-out session with Michael Bungay-Stanier from Box of Crayons. His whole thing is Do Less Good Work and Do More Great Work. I learned the best acronym ever ... it's WOMBATS. These are thing in your life that are a Waste Of Money, Bandwidth And Time. Where are the WOMBATS in your life and how can you ditch them in order to make room for the great work?

The final speaker was Jonathan Fields. I've got pages of notes from Jonathan's talk, as many things resonated with me. The message that I got from his talk was about risk taking. People, generally, want to go for the safe option. Perhaps it's an evolutionary thing, better to go the safe route than try something risky, but potentially more rewarding. Also, we don't want to be wrong and we don't want to be judged. So, how do you harness those butterflied and "go for it"?
  • Create  the right internal environment - find a network of judgement-free people based in non-competition.
  • Create work flow practices - are there certain aspects of your work day you can ritualize? This helps you maintain focus and productivity.
  • Create personal practices - e.g., meditation, mindfullness attention training

Jonathan Fields

In closing, it is still hard to describe the feeling I walked away with after the weekend. It's very inspiring to be around people who have consciously shaped the life they want or are close to being there. Creating my recap blog posts will remind me of the key points and to keep working towards the correct balance in my own life.

I have some projects in the works that I am excited about, and the enthusiasm from the World Domination Summit will be important in carrying me trough the potential times of self doubt.

 Note: All photos credits are to Armosa StudioFlickr page for heaps more photos from the talented team at Armosa. They really captured the feeling of the event!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

You've Been a Great Companion, Mister C

It’s nearing the end for our cat, Chaucer (aka Mister C, Chauzy Pants, Stunt Kitty and Little Man). He's been declining for the past few months and we can no longer ignore the signs. He is reduced to little more than skin and bones, has no appetite, and his hygiene has dropped off. We know it’s time. Chaucer even goes to the door, meowing feebly, like he is telling us it’s time for us to let him go. To keep him with us any longer would be selfish. Tomorrow morning Bob will call the vet. Our hearts are heavy and I can’t remember the last time I cried this much, or that Bob and I cried so much together.

In the early years of our relationship, Chaucer always tried to remind me that he was Bob’s favorite and I would forever be a distant second (Bob got the cats in 1998 and I met him in 2000). Some of the ways he reminded me he was el numero uno was by clawing my sweaters, walking on my head while I slept, and shedding ridiculous amounts of cat fur on my suit jackets (always on the days when I had important client meetings or project interviews). Eventually, Mister C and I came to an understanding. He would sit next to me on the couch, greet me at the door when I came home and would follow me into the kitchen, more like a dog than a cat. We would play with the feather-on-a-stick toy together, rousing his hunter instinct and getting him to do acrobatic jumps.

When Bob worked the long, long hours on the Planetside project, sometimes not coming home until 3AM, Chaucer would lay next to me when I slept, right along my side, a proxy for Bob. Those were challenging times, right after we bought the house, but before we got married, I wondered if I could be with someone who worked 16 hour days. But Chaucer stayed by my side all those long nights, like he was trying to tell me that Bob was worth it, and the project crunch would be over someday and that he would always be a loyal partner. We know how that story ends … Bob and I married in 2003 and he was, indeed, worth it.

Chaucer would show me his affection through head butts, ankle nips and also the occasional dash between the legs that left me one step from having a good tumble. He demonstrated his mischievousness by trying to sneak some food when we would have parties. I remember the time he snuck under the coffee and tried to grab an entire wedge of fancy cheese with his big paw that a party guest had brought, you know, the kind of fancy cheese that aged in a cave in Europe and costs a gazillion dollars a pound. Yeah, that kind of cheese. Naughty kitty. I won’t even discuss the cat tongue prints that would appear in the butter or the missing bites out of cookies. He’d dare devil by jumping off of the kitchen cabinets and walking along the balcony railing, with a 25 foot drop on the other side. He’s always been the adventurous pet in the family and he has had a full and rich life of nearly 15 years.

I know what we are doing tomorrow is the right decision, and in time our hearts will heal, but man … this is tough. Please, everyone, hug your pets a little tighter and think good thoughts for a peaceful transition for our sweet Chaucer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World Domination Summit - Saturday Recap

This past weekend I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland. I know, a kind of a vague and somewhat ominous name. One person misinterpreted it as the World Dominatrix Summit … now that would be an entirely different type of conference!

This event was put together by Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non Conformity, and his team of volunteers. In a nut shell, the summit brought together 500 people that are crafting the life they want for a weekend of inspiration and mixing with other folks who are leading unconventional lives. Attendees came from all backgrounds, including travelers, bloggers, photographers, life and business coaches, small business owners who left the corporate track, writers, artists, travelers and adventurers of life.

Each of the speakers inspired me and I took home something valuable from every one of them, which is summarized later in this post. However, the real highlight was getting to connect with the other conference attendees. For example, I met Becca, who runs a blog called Modern Athena that is an empowering place for women athletes. I chatted with Jami, a foodscaper (love that word!) from Indiana, who is working with local decision makers on policy related to urban gardens. The first people we talked with were Joe and Patty, who after taking a 6-day sailing course took their 36-foot sailboat around Baja. This is just a small sample; everyone had a story which made them unique.

Let me share with you just a few of my “takeaways” from Day 1. Seriously, I have a little notebook full of handwritten notes, these are just a few of the juicy kernels :

Pam Slim: Pam is the author of Escape from Cubicle Nation. From her I learned the word Ya’ateeh (welcome in Navajo) and the importance of genuinely greeting each other. A greeting is eye contact and accepting everything about the person you are meeting … so take the time and be sincere with it. Something else that Pam said that I wanted to share with my friends who are parents: “The greatest gift a parent can give a child is the gift of independence”.

Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits fame, spoke about habits, simplicity and living without goals. The kernel I took away from Leo on changing habits is to just pick one thing you want to change and work on it for just five minutes a day to start. I also recommend reading Leo’s blog post on his experience at WDS and the great word JoyFear.

Leo Babauta

Danielle LaPorte, of White Hot Truth,  is fiery and says it like it is. I had so many notes from her talk, you know the kind you underline and highlight, because it's that juicy. From Danielle's talk I took away the following:
  • You need to know when to walk away from a project
  • Know the rules before you break them
  • Take wisdom from others, but the decision to implement is yours alone
  • Make a list of how you want to feel, not what you want to do or be. Make sure all your projects and commitments are leading you to how you want to feel.
  • If you are ever interviewed, sit on the edge of your seat and own the interview!
  • When you become resentful, it’s time to let it go

    Danielle LaPorte
Jodi Ettenberg, our afternoon speaker, has been crapped on by 11 birds and one bat. She keeps a poo tracker on her blog, Legal Nomads. Three years ago, Jodi left her fancy pants job with a private law firm in New York to travel the world. She is still at it, blogging about food and travels. Her talk was inspirational and funny. My take away from Jodi …there are thing that you CAN do, but why not do the things you WANT to do?

Karen Walrond is a photographer, writer and amazing speaker; strong stage presence and great story telling. Oh, she was also an engineer and attorney in a former life. Karen wrote the lovely book “The Beauty of Different”. Her talk focused on some of what she learned while writing her book and was illustrated with her amazing photography. My notes from Karen's talk:
  • We are wired to connect
  • We all feel different
  • Making comparisons is a colossal waste of time. Comparing ourselves to others is useless, since we are comparing our insides to someone else’s outside
  • Adventure occurs when we embrace possibility
  • We don’t age because time passes, we age because we stop looking for the wonderful
Karen also talked about her life list during her talk and about curating an exciting life. One of the items on her list is to make old-fashioned hand-crank ice cream with her daughter. As many of you  know, I have my own life list that I am working through. One of the items on my list (#20) is to help five other people achieve something on their life list. After Karen’s talk, I asked her if I could send her an ice cream maker so that her and I could BOTH work towards something on our life list. She graciously said yes (!!!). I have my eye on a great vintage ice cream maker and will post an update if this all pans out.

Day 1 wrapped up with Bob and I going on the "Sweet Tour" which included stops at Alma Chocolate and Pix, two stops that should be on your list if you ever go to Portland. A special "thumbs up" to Alma's thai peanut butter cups (PB + chocolate + lime + chili + sea salt = heaven).

Edible gold leaf + chocolate milagros from Alma Chocolate.

Beautiful macarons from Pix.

Oh, I almost forgot, there was Bollywood dancing! DJ Prashant and his team taught the 500 of us some killer Bollywood moves and we put it all together to Jai Ho. Talk about fun! DJ Prashant is a bit unconventional himself, as he left his corporate job with Intel to start his own DJ/Bollywood dance performance business.

Learning some Bollywood moves!

Yes, all this in just one day! A recap of Sunday coming later this week, which will cover an artist who makes dramatic fire bowls and more great speakers. Until then, dream big!

Note: All photos credits are to Armosa Studio, who photographed the entire event and made their photos available for use via Creative Commons. Check out Chris' Flickr page for heaps more photos from the talented team at Armosa. They really captured the feeling of the event!