Category: Inspiration

WDS2016: The experience of a lifetime

WDS 2016 closing party (credit: Armosa Studios)

Short Intro (skip this bit if you just want the juicy stuff…)
I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about WDS, but it was sometime in late 2015 or 2015, when my general dissatisfaction with life came to a head. This was to be the start of a transformational journey (one that continues) which saw me get hooked on the science of happiness, initially as it really honed in on some of the things which weren’t being met in my own life and was helping to tangibly identify exactly why I was feeling like I was, and what I could better do to improve my situation, my wellbeing and my life as a whole.

One of the major factors playing a part in my “quarter life crisis” (yep, so “millennial” of me) was the dissatisfaction I had in the job I was doing at the time and the accompanying work-life balance (or lack of) that accompanied it.

In no particular structured order, my spiritual awakening gained momentum and I started delving into more and more books and blogs; from lifestyle design (Tim Ferriss), new ways of working (freelancing/solopreneurship, entrepreneurship, portfolio careers) through to happier living in general (from the concepts of mindfulness and flow through to minimalistic living), I was reading it all. There was also a big movement I was seeing in individuals who apparently felt the same, with job dissatisfaction often being the thread which tied us all together. “Doing work you care about” must have always existed as a concept, but it is in these last 2–3 years that this movement really seems to be gaining momentum. I became aware of the Live Your Legend movement, immersing myself in their blog posts and resources (this was before “Live Your Legend local” started, with dozens and dozens of in-person meetups in cities all over the world, including London), before I found “Escape the City” closer to home and was immediately hooked. It was a step into a whole new world of work, good living, focusing on what’s important, self improvement…the list goes on.

WDS main stage (credit: Anouslacalifornie)

Main bit (“the juicy stuff”)
In this last year alone, I consider myself so fortunate to have found myself in so many amazing communities of like-minded people. And I’d clearly been going through this career change/happier living stuff for a long time — did I really need more inspiration, did I really need to be part of yet another group?

I had booked my WDS ticket several months before, at a time during my “Escape the City” course and perhaps getting carried away in the moment. (Through Chris Guillebeau’s books, Live Your Legend, Leo Babauta/Zen Habits, and more — both WDS and Portland kept cropping up and calling out to me, so I knew I had to experience it at some point). As the August “WDS week” approached, With my attention on my Masters course and making the pilot for my education programme happen, I hadn’t had so much time to dwell on WDS and, though looking forward to it, I couldn’t help wondering whether the investment (time and money) had been a sensible decision.

How wrong I was to have even doubted it. For, whilst I remained to be a community member of the groups I’ve mentioned (e.g. Escape the City, my Masters Group), interactions with these groups had for the last number of weeks and months primarily been online, with courses at both ending earlier in the year. Those other groups I was a part of had physical meets once a month as a minimum, if that. And if there’s one thing I know, despite my introvert-appeasing tendencies to delve into things online and quench my thirst, there is simply no replacement for that real-life, physical human connection. There just isn’t, and there never will be. Human connection can’t ever be scale; in-person is always where the magic is, tech is merely an enabler to keep it going and carry it forward in between the bouts of non-in-person-ness (my word). Digital connections/apps are far more transient than real-life.

WDS proved to be a week-long real-life warmth-fest of positive, inspiring, unconventionality-embracing folks from all over the US and beyond (Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia) with meetups, academies, talks and tons and tons of serendipitous interactions.

Impossible to sum up in words to someone who has’t attended, here’s my best shot of what made WDS the best conference I’ve ever been to:

1. I got to meet some of my heroes…
I got to see, in-person, some of the folks whose blogs I’d been reading and podcasts I’d been listening to over the last couple of years, and gaining inspiration from. To name a few, Chris Guillebeau (the WDS orchestrator himself), Chelsea Dinsmore, Leah & Naz (of The Connection Effect), and Jonathan Fields.

LYL Meetup — my head is small, but my smile is wide… (credit: LYL)

2. … and see that they were just “regular” people, like me!
Throughout the week, the WDS speakers, team, and whole community would get together and mingle, let our hair down. There was no hierarchy, no “us and you”, no ego’s. And the fact that these were people, just like us, who — yes — had worked hard and down impressive things. But that could be us. (I was reminded of the “You are the average of the 5 people you hang around with” quote, and the mindset shift that Scott Dinsmore describes during his interview with Jonathan Fields when he was plugging away for 3–4 years on his blog with no luck, before he moved to San Francisco and found a real-life community of real people doing extraordinary things — one of my favourite interviews ever).

3. There were lots of introverts! (Impressive, given the 1,000 “main-stage” attendees — reduced from 3,000 last year)
I decided to test my theory (of there being lots of introverts there and also trends in the Myers-Briggs profiles of attendees; I take all this stuff with a pinch of salt, but I also love to spot a trend) by asking various people where they sat on the introvert-extrovert continuum; there seemed to be a whole lot of mid-scale “ambiverts”, many of whom favoured the introvert side, and some of whom identified as being extroverts. But it was a big conference and there were lots of introverts, just like me! Interestingly, there were Myers-Briggs trends too… in particular, I recall speaking to a number of INFP/ENFPs.

4. It felt like a family
Outside of the various meetups and events, us WDS-ers were recognisable by the smart tags we proudly wore around our necks as we wandered around Portland. This led to lots of warm smiles and serendipitous interactions.

5. Portland is just a really, really cool place
Living in SW London, I have often though that if I ever moved to London (especially the City), I would find it quite a lonely place to settle and establish solid social relationships. (My friend, Amy, who I actually met on the first night at WDS — thanks to the WDS app which helped link the “early arrivals” — lives in LA, and admitted that it took a while there to find “the good ones”. I imagine it’s a similar story in any large city, and especially so in those where average earnings are higher (simplified explanation: more competition/keeping-up-with-the-Joneses effect, less togetherness/community). Portlanders are so cool and so friendly. On the street, at the Windows store (I bumped into it looking for the Apple store!), and at bars and restaurants. (This made the WDS Hero’s Journey a lot more fun and friendly too — a Friday morning series of group tasks we had to complete, many of which involved engaging the friendly folks of Portland).

6. There were lots and lots of warm, supportive, helpful, loving people
who were just like me! Different ages, from different walks of life, doing different things, at different points in their life, having had different stories, and inevitably on different journeys. And yet we were pretty similar. That alone was pretty magical.

WDS closing party — MJ + jellyfish (credit: Armosa Studios)

I could go on and on. WDS was magical (I decided not to edit the double-use of the word magical, for added magical effect…). Though it was such a powerful experience is so many ways, the 2 biggest takeaways for me:

  1. When you surround yourself with amazing people, it makes the “amazing” seem more normal, more possible. Do that!
  2. 2. Being PHYSICALLY around “your” people is so important. There is no replacement for it, even if you’re very active and connected on groups/blogs/podcasts online. Perhaps monthly meets aren’t enough… if we all procrastinated less online each day, though committed to a weekly meet, wouldn’t that be better for us all?! We’re always “so busy”, yet this business is often unproductive and the multitasking-form of business, which just isn’t good at all.

Some other notable highlights for me
– On arriving for Registration, I found myself sandwiched in between Chelsea Dinsmore and Corbett Barr. #starstruck
– After Registration, Chelsea & Steve (another LYL team hero) invited me to the LYL Local Meetup in Portland later that day!!
– I told Chelsea how incredible she was and what an amazing job she has done with Live Your Legend (I even bought her a drink at the closing party and 100% agreed that the DJ needed to play some Pitbull & Kesha) #wow
– Mr. Money Mustache inadvertently knocked my drink out of my hand and insisted on buying me another — until he realised he only had 3dollars in his pocked! #walkingthetalk
– I was lucky to have spent time with Leah Hynes & her awesome husband — Leah even invited me to join The Connection Effect’s community #badasscouple

– Experiencing Portland and, with an extra day after WDS ended, taking in some of the scenic side of Oregon when I visited a couple of waterfalls.

View from Wahkeena Falls trail, Portland, OR (credit: Lauren Roerick — WDS friend + hiking buddy)

Personal takings from WDS2016
I am blessed to know a number of inspiring individuals, mainly through the groups and communities I am a part of. But it’s left me wondering – ought I concentrate on cultivating a handful of these interactions, making more of an effort in real life, rather than aim to “keep in touch” with lots of individuals — no matter how positive and inspiring they are? I feel this is something I need to act on right away.

This was the 6th year of WDS, and I met equal numbers of previous and new attendees at WDS2016. WDS keeps getting better and better it seems, and in 2017 they are hiring a whole “WDS lodge” for the community, with rooms for WDS attendees to stay :) Never has the introvert in me been so excited by the prospect of prolonged, continuous interaction and stimulation…

And finally… what the heck is World Domination Summit anyway?

It really is pretty difficult to sum up. But after reading this article, I would encourage you to google “WDS2016” or World Domination Summit and engage in different perspectives online. Chances are, if something there resonates, it’s for you. And if in doubt — do it. Take it from me, it’s well worth it. And it might be the start of something pretty special for you.

My last MAPP weekend & new beginnings

This weekend was the last university weekend for my MAPP (Masters in Applied Positive Psychology course). Another strange weekend as lectures were merely a half-day on Sunday as it turned out, though I also spent Friday evening and half of Saturday in East London with my classmates.

The weather was terrific and we had a really great time. When I first met UEL and Bucks universities (the 2 closest, geographically, to where I live – and only 2 of 5 in the whole of the UK currently offering the course), the latter had told me that the course was often transformational for all, and often led to some form of career change.

As I had been transitioning already before the course had become, and there were various other things I was involved with which were playing a role in my own change, perhaps I’d forgotten what the effect on others the course would have. It’s been great to see many others slowly transitioning to more meaningful work, reducing their hours at their workplaces, as many of them are starting to build up a coaching practice / workshops alongside, to hopefully generate enough revenue to transition fully.

Much of our identities get so wrapped up in the work that we do. It really does take a look of mental toughness and courage to take steps to move away towards something you care about. There are lots of tricky aspects to this move, but one that stands out is that one has to embrace uncertainty, to do things without knowing where they’ll lead, to take action and have trust in the whole process or the universe itself… so many times I’ve seen individuals do this and, even if things haven’t turned out the way they thought they would, it has moved them in a better direction and towards a better life, work they better enjoy, and overall better wellbeing.

That trust in the process is a tricky, tricky thing. Surrounding yourselves with others who hold the same values and are going through the same process will also help. (See also: my post on Communities).

Leicester City: A true underdog story


This week, Leicester City confirmed what has been looking inevitable for the last couple of weeks. That they are the undisputed champions of England, having won the Premier League, coming out the victors over the course of 38 games.

A quite extraordinary sporting feat, even when we compare it with other amazing stories. Greece winning the Euros, Porto winning back-to-back UEFA Cup and Champions League, Senegal and South Korea both exceeding expectations in different World Cups. Of course, outside of football there have also been incredible stories. But none, from my memory and in my lifetime at least, quite as incredible as what Leicester City have achieved. And that’s including Average Joe’s winning the Dodgeball competition against Globo-Gym, in “Dodgeball”…

So how did they do it? Here’s my take on the ingredients which came together to lead to Ranieri’s men (Ranieri, before the start of the season, was predicted by the pundits to be the first manager to be sacked!) achieving what no one really thought was possible (in no particular order):

A handful of standout players
Perhaps the obvious ones are Riyad Mahrez, winger extraordinare & PFA Player of the Year, and Jamie Vardy, who this season broke Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s impressive goals-in-consecutive games record, scoring in 10 matches against a row (and, of course, he broke this playing against United!), ran rings around defenders and was just a general nuisance by chasing down every ball. The last addition to the top 3 has to be N’Golo Kante, who at just 5”5 had unbelievable stamina, running up and down the pitch, and must have made the most interceptions and tackles in a season, ever. It’s fair to say, these 3 were the key men for Leicester, and they all had the season of their lives.

Team performances
Despite “the big 3” mentioned above, there were many times this season when the team collectively put in a shift, and players had the games of their lives. Wes Morgan and Robert Huth in central defence weren’t only solid, but they scored crucial goals too. Drink water and Albrighton put in their fare share of performances, as did Okazaki and Ulloa (the latter of whom often came off the bench – and again, I recall scored a crucial later winner during the season run-in; the former of whom became “the main man” during Vardy’s two-match ban, and came up with the goods in the first game in which Vardy was missing).

Team spirit
There’s been a togetherness in the Leicester team squad that we’ve seen throughout the season. It was only fitting that they were all together to celebrate their winning the league after Tottenham’s 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge this week. (You must have seen that video by now?)

Stepping up to the plate during games at key times
From coming back late-on when 2-0 to Aston Villa, to getting a crucial 2-2 draw with West Ham just last week when they were down to 10-men, and that amazing 3-1 win at the Etihad, Leicester have got some key results against big teams, and pulled themselves together to fight back when the going got tough. Again, this only increased morale and team spirit, self-belief and confidence, and momentum.

Low down in the injury-table
I was already aware that Leicester had pretty much gone the season without any injuries, and this handy “injury table” that I found here confirmed that. Leonardo Ulloa (who wasn’t even a first-time starter) suffered a minor back injury picked up against Swansea…and that was pretty much it. This was crucial in keeping up momentum, and having first-choice players in their chosen positions. The fact that they only had the PL games to concentrate on, and so didn’t really require squad rotation, also helped. Bar some minor resting of the likes of Kante and Mahrez (understandable!), Ranieri wasn’t put out by injury troubles or concerns.

Ranieri’s influence
Claudio Ranieri is a seasoned manager and, as everyone says, a very nice man. He didn’t once let any pressure keep in, first saying they wanted to get 40 points, and then just concentrate on the next game and take their matches as they came. As they kept breaking these target, Ranieri next time for “top 4”, and it was only in the last 2-3 weeks that he really acknowledged the league title.

No egos – all in it together
There have been no “big superstars” (well, surely there are now?!) in the Leicester team, and so no one on ridiculous wages of a higher status to other players. Everyone kept down to earth, pulling together, and enjoying their football – intrinsically motivated and unspoiled by the ridiculous weekly wages seen at the likes of the top clubs in England and the rest of Europe.

Captain fantastic
In 32-year old Wes Morgan, Leicester had a captain who gave everything on the pitch, steered his team when they needed it, and even contributed with a couple of key goals of his own in the final few games leading to Leicester’s title win.

Well done Leicester City. What a story.