“So, what do you guys do?”
“Well…” Heidi begins to explain, “a little while ago Sean lost his job…”
“Congratulations!” Chris says smiling.
“Exactly!” Heidi and I both reply at the same time. And that’s how our first meeting with Chris Guillebeau started.
Last night we had the fortune of meeting blogger and author Chris Guillebeau at the University of Washington bookstore in Seattle. It was an inspiring atmosphere being surrounded by so much knowledge and next the UW campus.
The room had a lot of great energy and was full of 50+ like-minded bloggers and non-conformists.
I was impressed that before he spoke, Chris took the time to meet as many people in the room as he could, including coming up to Heidi and me.
During his presentation he spoke about his motivations for writing the book. Then he proceeded to give a 15 minute spiel about some of the important elements found within the book. There were a few points he made that were especially potent for me. Here they are in no particular order:
Impact of Your Life
Chris spoke the importance of building a legacy. What will be the impact of your life? This goes hand in hand with what Chris considers the two most important questions in life.
1 – What do you really want to get out of life?
2 – What can you offer the world that no one else can?
People living what I term the “average life” can dismiss these two questions as merely philosophical.
But I know, from personal experience, if you really take the time to think about them and answer them, they can have profound effects.
What do you want the impact of your life to be? Phew! It’s a doozy of a question!
After his brief presentation, Chris took questions from the audience. One of the questions led to talking about the charitable work he and others do in other countries. Chris mentioned how working with others is really an act of “selfish generosity” as he termed it. In other words, both parties benefit. A win-win. It’s a wonderful concept.
Step Back from the Bridge
In his book, Chris opens with the concept that as kids we’re told, “If everyone jumped off the bridge, would you?” It’s often used as a way to get us to think for ourselves. However, as we get older, that question somehow gets lost and, even worse, we are expected to act as everyone else does. So the question turns into, “Everyone else is jumping off the bridge, why aren’t you?”
If I may elaborate ever so slightly…
The questions (even if not spoken but merely assumed) usually sound like this: Everyone else is going to college, why aren’t you? Everyone else clocks in at a job, what makes you any different? Nobody travels until they are retired, what makes you so special? Don’t you want security and stability in your life?
There are a few other things that I was especially impressed with. When we first showed up, Heidi and I just took a seat in the front.
Chris was already talking to a small group and we didn’t want to impose. A short while later he walked up to us to meet us. Very cool.
I was next impressed with his level of sincerity. He asked questions and then listened. He also responded very genuinely to our questions.
Finally, I was impressed with his ability to remember names. I suck at remembering names especially if I’m meeting more than 5 people at a time in a busy environment.
After the presentation, Heidi and I had Chris sign our copy of The Art of Non-Conformity (which I highly recommend to everyone) and as I sat down, he knew mine and Heidi’s name and even remembered we had two little girls. Wow!
A Final Note
One of Chris’s underlying messages is that you don’t have to live life the way others expect you to. You should do what makes the most sense to you. If that just happens to include living an extraordinary life and helping others along the way, even better.
I agree with pretty much everything the guy has to say. You could say it’s his mission to help free people from living average lives. He knows his message isn’t for everyone.
He’s well aware of the resistance of years of conditioning beliefs and society’s unspoken rules (however faulty and limiting they might be).
For the people who do hear his message, and more importantly, are doing something about it, it serves as a clear and optimistic voice saying, “Go for it!”
Thank you Chris for your message.