Make WDS (or any conference) better next year

World Domination Summit Is very cool. It’s an event at the intersection of entrepreneurial spirit, global citizens, honest living, and matterful business. Here’s a few things I learned…

Full disclosure: I didn’t actually go to any of the conference. I just partied with the good people in town like Nick, Adam, Corbett, Willie, Scott, Mike, Mike, Derek and others. These are my thoughts, notes for myself. Your milage may vary.

There are people who are good to have cocktails with, and there are other people. Focus on the former and don’t feel bad about it. I’ve got too little time to spend outside of family and work to waste any of it on douche bags talking about A/B testing pickup lines.

Just about everyone looks douchey online, and (just about) everyone isn’t in real life. Expect to be surprised by how genuine and Good™ people are in real life in spite of their dishonest feeling online presence. Pretty much all the time I was surprised (pretty much).

I’ve been thinking recently, I’m not exactly sure what “douche bag” means. I think it has something to do with sleazy, selfish, ‘all hat and no cattle’ kinds of situations. This is not to be confused with Bros™, who wear college hats and/or colorful v-necks and/or kitschy slogan shirts and like to party… More often than not these guys are great. Though there can be a good deal of douche/Bro™ overlap. What does “douche bag” mean?

It matters a great deal that you find people you resonate with and it also doesn’t matter much at all. Some of the best conversations and relationships are found with the awkward guy or the girl who you thought was a nightmare at first glance. I can be pretty judgmental — sometimes that means I’m talking to the right person, other times it means I’m missing out on something great.

Don’t worry about missing out on something great. Do due diligence, discovering where the next spot to be is, etc. But don’t live in that anxious, “am I missing something???” mode.

I should have included my wife more. I saw other gentlemen including their partners and I had the, “why didn’t I think of that??” moment several times. My lovely and classy wife would only church up the joint (and me) and we’d be in a better position to make longer-term friends.

Have your elevator pitch ready and connect it to who you are. Too many people either didn’t know how to say what they’re job/role/mission was, or they knew it too well and didn’t connect it to anything heartfelt/honest. When I meet you, and you’re some goddam blogger, you’re already fighting an uphill battle to gain my (or anyone’s) trust… So show me how you have your skin in the game, show me how you care and what you care about. Further reading.

Do some research on the city you’re partying in. Yelp is fine. Talking to locals is even better. Before you get to the town you’re hanging out in, have an evernote list of quiet bars, dinner spots, rowdy bars, and late-night events. Have a preference, care about where the crew is going. Also, the map is important; it’s gotta be walkable. Some of the better spots for us this time were Chopsticks (karaoke has never failed… ever), Kask, Oven and Shaker, Mayas (oddly enough… basic mexican place, not enough seating, but it ended up being the right place at the right time), Dirty (gosh, i didn’t need to see this place, for sure… having a better club to go to wouldn’t have been a bad thing… we still made it count though).

A connection made about a non-work passion/hobby is better than a work-based anything. Conversation on conversion rates, favorite blog posts, email list size, or twitter followers all feel tedious. However, you find someone who shares your love about comics/cigars/cocktails/trance music/etc and you’ve got a potentially meaningful relationship… and when the work stuff comes up it’s a ton more meaningful. Know before hand what you love and geek out about and care about.

Everyone appreciates an enthusiast. My hobbies are good bars, good coffee, good people. I geek out about these things. And it’s clear to just about all the people who saw me in that, “what’s next” moment. I love my city, I love good bars and I wanted to have my favorite good people in the good places with the good boozes and the good times for the good conversations. Good™. What are you enthusiastic about? When are you most like an excited 4 year old? That’s your you. Let people see that. And fuck your damn conversion rates!

Go with the flow. Hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly you’re gonna lose control.

I mean it about the whole, “what do you care about, what are you enthusiastic about” stuff. Let people see your you. All those relationships that you make make just because the other person is more successful than you will feel vapid and pointless compared to the Good&trade. I can say that from experience. If all you have together is business stuff, you have an accountability partner, not necessarily a friend.

Notice the good moments, be grateful. Write it down, take a picture… “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” – Vonnegut. I realize i’m the luckiest guy in the world to hang with the good people I get to. I have no right to be with these successful, brave, interesting people. Yet they allow me to speak too loud, and say ridiculous things, and drag them to the next bar… If this isn’t nice…

Anticipate that people are dealing with difficult things. Though they seem confident and they stroke their ego all over your face and they’re horrible listeners and they are clearly a douche bag… they’re dealing with divorces and deaths and doubts and just plain shitty dads. Everyone has skin in some game or another. Make your spirit big and “know better” than even the doucheiest of douche bags… Approach people with acceptance and honesty and then say something like, “all the best” when you go looking for a person who’s better at having cocktails.

Ruthlessness. You have to be ok with the ruthlessness. I have a wife and a son and a lot of honest work to do… I don’t get to party like this much. It’s costing me a good deal of relational currency with my wife to be out a few nights in a row. So I have no problem being ruthless, not even opening myself up to this person, quickly pulling the “well, it was really great to meet you!” bit. I have nothing against that person. He/she is a great person, someone dealing with their own difficulties and insights and successes… but I have friends here I really want to be spending time with so that person is cut off. It’s not very democratic of me. But i’m not much of a politician. This may be a rule more for me than for you.

Having a mission… Many people were a little lonely, just looking for the next person to talk to. I had a mission. I have lots of friends here, and I want to make sure they have a great time. That was my mission. I had hopes of catching up with them, but that was peripheral. We have email and gchat and every other way to be in touch. My mission informed the way I was. Having a mission changes the way you are. Is your mission to meet these three people you wrote down before you got here? Is your mission to delight 5 people with a random special gift? Is your mission to be less lonely at the end of this weekend than you were at the beginning? Is your mission to hear as many people’s answers to three burning questions you have about the next stage of your professional development? Is your mission to find 1 other person who also geeks out about photography/snowboarding/fetishes? Having a mission for the weekend (which is just another way of saying “being intentional about what you want”) will change the way you move.

Don’t get sick. It sucks being sick. So slam the grapefruit seed extract oil, garlic, acerola, et. al. the several weeks leading up to the event. Sleep plenty. Hydrate tons. Especially if you’re flying. None of this last minute bullshit. What are you, a newb? Turn pro: hydrate, rest, etc., because this weekend matters.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I’ve got right now. All said, this conference is one of those special ones that has those church-like moments. I’m grateful and plan on sewing a few more thoughts into the next one before it gets here. Hope I can remember I wrote this then!

If you’re not on the list   I can’t help you.   Help me help you!
@mpacc

This is solid life advice, really, especially the bit about knowing people are dealing with difficult things.

A few bits I’d add: • Be a matchmaker – know what other attendees do so you can set up conversations (when appropriate). Can help turn “well it sure was nice to meet you” moments into “let me introduce you to my friend as I walk away” ones

• If you meet someone whose work you admire, let them know – when I learned Brett Kelly was the guy who wrote the Evernote ebook…well, let’s just say my reaction probably guaranteed I stick in his memory better than any other 45 second friend.

• No onions in bean burritos. We really shouldn’t have to keep discussing this

Chase

Ha! NO F*CKING ONIONS.

Thx Mike.

These tips would work for any event you visit. This applies is Music Festivals, Business Weekends and World Travel. Thanks for the insight mate. I’m making a point of WDS next year.

I like your tip to talk about work-unrelated topics. I did that all the time and it saved me from a lot of ego trips and pure boredom. Sure, when someone asked me about my business, I’d give them my elevator speech but otherwise I loved exploring other common areas of interest.

And you weren’t at the conference why?

Otherwise I loved every word of this post, especially the Vonnegut quote. And I expect to see you at next year’s WDS… and wouldn’t be surprised if you’re on stage my friend.

This August, I visited your fantastic city for the first time and loved it! A little bit weird, though; fortunately, I dig (read: am) weird. I’ll be all up in WDS next year and will take these tips to heart. Hope to see you there.

Hi Chase: I just discovered your blog through Fizzle and I like it… great advice on WDS. I’m going to be a first-timer next year. I already have my ticket and my hotel booked and will have a Southwest ticket as soon as Southwest starts selling tickets for July 2013 (wow, they opened up ticket sales EARLY). I love Portland so it will be fun to return after about 10 years. (Although I live in Marin county so I think I’m a kindred spirit.)

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