There probably aren’t enough words in my native language to describe #WDS2013, and I don’t know another language, so I sit here, feeling happy and warm from the inside out. Inspired and new. This feeling will fade, so I want to capture some of it before it retreats back to nostalgia.
This is likely the first post of many, but I wanted to highlight the speakers in order of appearance. They were so wonderful, and each of them spoke about something different, but they all came together and gave me a road map for the future. Maybe they’ll help you, too!
#WDS2013 Day One Speakers
Nancy spoke first thing Saturday morning about the shape of a good speech. She analyzed famous speeches (she’s a big data nerd, which I loved) and found a pattern in them. She showed us four famous speeches, then spoke a bit about Eva Peron, whom I want to know more about (Duarte mentioned that she was the greatest female speaker of the 20th Century). Great speeches go from what is to what could be, and they end with what could be, giving people room in their imaginations to go with you.
Takeaway: Don’t use the phrase “But, I’m just…”. Ever. It limits you in more ways than you think.
Darren is a Really Big Deal on the internet, and I was excited to hear him speak. He talked about his life, and the sparks in it. One of his significant sparks was when a girlfriend broke up with him using the phrase, “I don’t want an ordinary life.” He told us to listen to our dreams. He gave us a task, which turned into a fantastic icebreaker for the rest of the weekend.
“Turn to your neighbor and ask them to tell you their dream. Then ask them what they intend to do about it.”
Takeaway: The internet makes things happen in a very short time. Darren is arguably one of the most successful bloggers out there. He’s the man behind Problogger, for goodness sake. In 2004, when he started, he couldn’t even make text bold. You shouldn’t let lack of knowledge hold you back from your dreams.
You’ve likely seen Bob’s products in the grocery stores. He’s 84.5 years old, and on his 81st birthday, he sold his company to his employees. He focused early on his employees, sharing profits as soon as there were profits to be shared.
Takeaway: You can be very successful in business, and if you share your successes with your employees, you’ll create something bigger than yourself.
Jia made the biggest impact on me this weekend. He sought rejection 100 times on his blog (which I’m going to devour later!) and he discovered something really important: rejection, if sought, rarely happens.
He put himself in vulnerable situations. “Can I play soccer in your backyard?” “Can I drive your police car?” etc and wasn’t turned down.
In fact, he wasn’t able to get rejected 100 times! And no, he doesn’t resemble George Clooney (no offense, Jia!) so he didn’t use his looks to get what he wanted.
He simply asked.
My favorite quote from him was, “Rejection is like chicken. It’s either yummy or yucky, depending on how you cook it.”
Takeaway: Do not fear rejection. Ask for things, and you’ll surprise yourself.
Chase was kind of all over the place. He talked about how our current education system stifles and suppresses creativity, then he went on to discuss his website where you can take lessons online for free.
I’m not sure what he wanted us to get out of his talk, other than the fact that he did a cool thing.
Takeaway: Not all speakers will inspire. And that’s okay.
#WDS2013 Day Two Speakers
Gretchen taught us how to tell if we were abstainers or moderators, then went on to discuss upholders, questioners, rebels and obligers.
Abstainers vs. Moderators
The abstainer is the one who can’t have ice cream in the house, and the moderator can take one bite of a cookie and let the rest of the package get stale.
I’m a moderator, what are you?
Upholders put external and internal to-do lists in equal priority and get stuff done. Questioners only do something if they’ve been convinced it makes sense. Rebels don’t like being given a to-do list (and the best way to get a rebel to do something is say “betcha can’t…”). Obligers do external to-do list items but will neglect their internal ones.
I’m an obliger. I need external motivation. I’m working on a project, does anyone want to be my accountability partner?
Andrew taught us to listen to our true mind and that the key to success is to somehow ignore the counter-mind. “What if someone thinks my idea is stupid?” will lead us to not asking for feedback. We need to ask for feedback!
He led us on a guided meditation. True mind statements are true, useful and wanted.
I am a writer.
Steve is a musician with a powerful story, filled with anger. He was dying of AIDS in 1996, and somehow, miraculously, was one of only 1200 people in a lottery to get a new experimental drug. The drug saved his life, and now, he treats every day of his life as a bonus day. He’s living his life in the bonus round.
I cried like I was watching an episode of Extreme Home Makeover listening to his story. It was pure, unfiltered heartache and wonder.
Takeaway: You don’t have to be dying to live your life in the bonus round. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted.
Don is a great speaker — he seemed like he was sitting across from me at the dinner table, rather than standing in front of a huge crowd. He was funny and engaging, and although I’ve not read any of his books, I’m going to start. He talked about how the self is protected by several layers and that if we want to truly connect, we have to get through those layers. His framework is Christian memoir, which is likely why I haven’t heard of him before. But his editors told him his latest book was his best, so I’ll start there.
Takeaway: We are not our failures. More importantly, we are not our successes. We are living our life story, and stories need action to be worth telling. Live the story you want to read.