Chris Guillebeau is the most unassuming leader of a revolution you might ever meet. A prolific writer and world traveler, the soft-spoken Guillebeau is the founder of the popular World Domination Summit, a conference held in Portland, Oregon each July.
It has quickly built a reputation for its quirky activities (like setting a world record for the largest mass yoga exercise) and rabid following among its attendees who are interested in figuring out how to "live a remarkable life in a conventional world."
In the midst of organizing his 5th annual World Domination Summit this coming July 2015, Guillebeau also recently published The Happiness of Pursuit, his 3rd book.
I recently caught up with Chris and asked him to share his thoughts on how a community of non-conformists have helped fuel his success.
Corcoran: In about 5 years, you've published 3 books, created a popular annual conference, created numerous digital products and travel guides, and kept up a popular blog -- all while traveling to dozens of countries per year. How?
Guillebeau: I'm very fortunate that I do things I enjoy most of the time. I also believe in working hard for something you believe in. I work everywhere I go and don't rest much.
Practically speaking, at the end of every year I spend a whole week on an "Annual Review" where I identify all the goals for the next year, and make a plan for how I'll achieve them. I certainly don't succeed in all cases, but I do try to do what's important to me.
Corcoran: You have a reputation for keeping in touch with a large network of other bloggers and entrepreneurs all around the world. How do you manage to keep in touch with your large network of connections and make sure those connections remain warm?
Guillebeau: I'm not sure I always "keep in touch with a large network." I do try to be available and helpful wherever possible, but that's different. I fall behind as much as anyone else.
Corcoran: You built a conference, World Domination Summit, which now sells out months in advance. It is also a huge undertaking which I imagine requires coordination of dozens of organizers and volunteers. Tell us about the relationships you've built to be able to put on that event each year.
Guillebeau: Yes, it's definitely not a one-man show. We have a core team of about 8-10 people and then another 100+ volunteers and partners as we get closer to production.
I believe that if you issue a challenge and invitation to be part of something rewarding and meaningful, you'll get much more commitment out of people. The group that's worked on WDS hasn't changed substantially since we started. Many of our volunteers return year after year, and we certainly couldn't do it without them.
Corcoran: What recommendations do you have for someone who is just getting started with blogging? Should they spend more time writing for their own site or for other sites, or building relationships with other bloggers, or something else?
Guillebeau: All of the above! But if you have to choose, focus on writing for your own site and building a portfolio. Ultimately the most valuable relationships are with your readers, not other bloggers or anyone else.
Always choose your readers over any other concern or interest.
Corcoran: Your new book, The Happiness of Pursuit, documents your quest and others' quests and also discusses the importance of pursuing adventure in our lives, in whatever way we can. For people who cannot pursue larger quests such as traveling around the globe, how can people implement more adventure in their day-to-day lives?
Guillebeau: "Implementing adventure" is a great way to look at it. Everyone, no matter their situation, can find a way to embrace the value of adventure in their own lives. Some of my favorite stories in the book have nothing to do with running marathons or roaming the earth.
There's a woman who is cooking a meal from every country in the world--right from her kitchen in Oklahoma. There's a guy who wants to become a ninja (it's a long story).
The point is, adventure is for everyone, and adventure is good for us.
Corcoran: Please tell us about a few of the relationships you credit for your success - mentors, friends, business associates, colleagues, other bloggers, etc. These are the people who have been instrumental to your progress and success along the way.
Guillebeau: I give more credit to my community of friends and readers than any mentor. Ultimately, they are the people who have nurtured and supported my projects along the way.
Of course, I've learned from plenty of folks, and I'm grateful for them--but a big part of the Art of Non-Conformity message is that you don't need a mentor or someone to tell you what to do.
John Corcoran is an attorney and former Clinton White House Writer. He writes about how to increase your revenue by building relationships. You can download his free, 52-page ebook, How to Increase Your Income Today by Building Relationships with Influencers, Even if you Hate Networking.