The 4th annual World Domination Summit (#WDS2014) concluded last Sunday. I have been attending this summit since the year 1 – but this time I participated as an ambassador (=volunteer to help out running the show). I have always been curious about the ambassador team with different color shirt from the rest of us, and after attending as a participant for 3 years, I wanted to see how it’s like to be on the other side. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Throughout the few days of being an ambassador, I found myself wanting to sing the Lego Movie theme song “Everything is Awesome” as the lyrics goes “everything is awesome when you are a part of a team”. I did watch the movie with my boys so I know this is not necessarily a song about being unconventional or remarkable, but all jokes aside, being an ambassador was unique and wonderful way to experience WDS.
Since I was a part of the team that focused on making the attendee experience as great as possible and helping out with whatever and where-ever was needed, I really can’t write much about main stage speakers – this is not to say that I didn’t catch any of it. I was able to see about 50% of the speeches. But I was always “on duty” and constantly looking at the clock on my phone so I was not late for the next task, so I was not fully present while sitting in the audience. I also sat different parts of the theater as opposed to the front rows where I always sat over the past three WDS (which explains a fair amount of my pictures on flicker stream from past WDS!) As a result, my level of engagement or excitement for the content of speech was very different from the past years. I look forward to catching those speeches once they become available in a few months – from talking to my friends or reading others’ blog post, I know they got a lot of inspiration out of them.
Being an ambassador was a fun experience. I loved being able to say hi to anybody, smile or attemptto give high-five without being self-conscious about it because of the orange shirt I was wearing. I do not consider myself introvert – I am right in the middle based on the test Daniel Pink recommended in his book – but being an ambassador pushed me to be extra friendly or open to talk to anyone, asking where they are from or if this was their first time attending WDS. I know I could have done all those things as a regular attendee too, but the orange ambassador shirt empowered me to do more, and also pushed me to stretch myself even when I felt tired and didn’t feel like it. Because of that, this WDS became the year I talked to the most people in all of the years I have attended. I also got to know more about other ambassadors and core team members. They are truly devoted, committed group of people. Jollie Guillebeau (Chris’s wife) reminded us right before the closing that WDS could not happen without this team and that is true. I was happy and proud to be a part of the team who believe in the vision of WDS.
At the closing, Chris did something to make me all teary. The team and he selected 4 attendees to be on stage, and after showing their vision for their future captured in the video they shot during the registration, he announced how they’d help them realizing their visions. He said “We can’t help everyone. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help someone”. One of the four people who received this incredible gift was clearly overcome by sense of shock and joy, and crying. Seeing her face got me crying too. Later when I congratulated her in person, she said it was a miracle. Of course Chris didn’t forget to remind everyone that they still have to do the work, it wasn’t like he or WDS made their dream come true. But he also said that all of us have a responsibility to help others with their dreams as well.
This last segment made me think of my past 4 years of attending WDS and what it all meant to me. Here is a short recap of what has transpired since the first WDS.
WDS 2011 – I didn’t know what to expect but I signed up right after it was announced just because Chris invited us to do so (I was and still am a true fan). It was much smaller event with just 500 attendees. Iremember the ice sculpture of the globe at the opening party and thinking “they do things differently here” as I had never seen one at a conference…. I enjoyed every minute of it including a Bollywood dance lesson during the official programming on the main stage by DJ Prachant. Yup, it really is a tradition to have him at WDS! Credit to Chris for finding such talent and bringing him in. You can read about my experience of the inaugural WDS here.
WDS 2012 opened with a keynote speech by Dr.Brene Brown who blew away everyone with her own act of vulnerability. Then at one of the attendee-lead sessions, I was so inspired to learn that someone from my own town took immediate action after the first WDS…that person was Gregory Berg, he started Radio Enso after the first WDS and he was presenting how to start a podcast show in a workshop! I was almost shocked and felt like “what did I accomplish this past year?” Looking back, I did have a baby between the first and second WDS, so I should probably cut myself some slack, but in any case, I remember thinking that I need to do something before coming back again. At the end of the last main stage speech, Chris shocked everyone with the gift of $100. WDS 2012 was truly magical from the beginning till the end. 7 months later, I used that $100 to purchase some microphones and a mixer, and I started my own podcast show. I continue to produce one show a week ever since its launch and as of this writing, 74 episodes have been released.
At WDS 2013, Darren Rowse talked about dream. Then he had Clare Bowditch perform a beautiful song and he re-appeared wearing a superman costume. His speech and Clare’s song planted seed in my mind and on my flight home, I decided to revive my dream of moving to Japan with my husband and kids for a few years – a dream I had shared with my friend Eddie Hori (@mehori) at the first WDS, but had given up after we had our third baby. After returning home from this experience at WDS 2013, there was a big meetup in September with San Diego WDS group, and I told my friends there that I am committed to do everything in my power to make it happen.
Then, one month before this year’s WDS, it became clear that we are moving to Japan in one of the best ways we imagined possible. I saw Darren Rowse at the opening party, so I had to share this story with him – that it was him who inspired me to reconnect with my dream, and that 12 months later it is about to become a reality. He said he came back to WDS this year partly because he wanted to hear what people did with their dreams. From that perspective, this year’s WDS really felt like a celebration. Speaking of celebration, WDS has always closed with an epic party, but this year was extra special – I somehow ended up dancing on stage in the end (I believe it was the power of orange shirt), and WDS designated “party closer” DJ Prachant gave me a gift of having everyone sing Happy Birthday for me after the party ended at midnight as my birthday officially began.
I am about to embark on a new journey at the end of summer with my husband and three kids, and I have many more dreams I will pursue. At the same time, I am also curious how I could be of help to other people’s exploration of their vision. I’d like to encourage you to share your own dreams publicly, if only initially just with close friends. I, for one, would love to help in any way I can if you dare to share your dream with me.
*Photos by Armosa Studios & Gregory Berg