Can you see my periwinkle skirt, flip flopped toes, and hand hidden behind the woman in the red dress? That's me welcoming the attendees to WDS 2013 as an Ambassador (volunteer)!
Dare I say, this experience may have changed my life. I heard everything I needed to hear and had all the crazy thoughts and ideas in my head validated. WDS was exactly what I've been looking for as a means of inspiration to pursue my passions. After attending WDS, I'm happy to report that I'm learning to and giving myself permission dream once again.
WDS is filled with an awesome bunch of completely genuine people. The hosts, presenters, attendees, and ambassadors were all incredibly down to earth, friendly, and approachable. I've never seen a group of people so psyched to make a difference both in their own lives and in the lives of others. This is the community I've been searching for. The experience in it's entirety was totally overwhelming and I'll probably be processing it all for quite some time - however, I did want to share some of the talks that touched me the most.
Oh and if you're wondering if I'll be going next year, I'll save you the suspense: I already bought my ticket.
On Following Your Dreams: Lessons I Learned from Darren Rowse & Clare Bowditch
Darren Rowse, of Problogger fame, was the first of many talks at WDS that made me tear up - in fact, thinking about it I'm still tearing up. Everything that Darren had to say about following your dreams and learning to dream again, is what I needed to hear. Looking back, from grad school through two jobs, I stopped dreaming the way I used to dream.
Takeaway Tips from Darren:
- Take Responsibility For Your Future. Decide you will have that remarkable life.
- Look for Sparks. Those things that just make you light up and give you energy.
- Become Hyper Aware of Problems or Become Obsessed with Being Useful.
- Start with one small thing that will take you closer to your dreams and do that to the best of your abilities.
During Darren's talk, Clare Bowditch, a singer song writer from Australia came out to play a song that she realized she had written for this exact community. Her song, "Amazing Life," hit home for me and at that point there were just going to be tears.
"You don't have to be just one thing, but you have to start with something."
On Creativity: A New Mission from Chase Jarvis
This was the talk where I kept wanting to yell "Preach On!" about every 10 minutes. Chase Jarvis of creativeLIVE, gave a passionate talk about the crisis of creativity we are facing. Creativity in the sense not just of creating beautiful things, but all things new, innovative, and forward thinking. Things that change us and move us forward - these are the things I dream of doing. He began by querying the audience with two questions;
What was your most creative memory as a kid?
How old were you then?
In a room filled with almost 3,000 creative spirits and entrepreneurs, not one person was older than 12 years old when they had that amazing creative moment. (If you're wondering, in Junior High I created and edited a zine with a friend for about a year - it was way too much fun.) It's shocking to think of how creativity is truly stamped out of us in a world of standardized tests and conformity beginning at the end of childhood and into adulthood. Creativity is just not a value we hold high in our society. Chase challenged us to make creativity the new literacy. His call to action was for us to become an army of creatives and makers to solve the problems of our world.
On Finding What's Next: Lessons I Learned from Tess Vigeland
Since my entire career trajectory traces back to looking for good journalism programs at colleges, I'm a pretty big fangirl of all things public radio (I'm that person that even listens through the pledge drive). So hearing from Tess Vigeland about her experiences leaving her total dream job at Marketplace was simply inspiring.
Tess related her story of getting to a point at her job where she had too much self-respect to stay. That was her tipping point for jumping without a net or any kind of plan. She quit. Without a backup plan. Tess was incredibly real with us about the ups and downs she experienced with successes and rejections (speaking of rejection, if you're afraid of it you should meet Jia Jiang). She was candid enough to tell us she only expected to make about a third of her former income this year.
When Tess explained how everyone keeps asking her "What's Next?" and telling her to just go out and make it happen, she said all she wants to do is punch them in the face. (Me at that moment: standing up and screaming "YES!") It's hard to figure out what's next and for those of us that have pursued this one path for so long, being open to something completely different is just plain hard. It's challenging to know where to look, what to say yes to, what to say no to, etc. My key takeaway here is that I'm not alone. Even though the absolutely fabulous Tess Vigeland is struggling to find what's next, but the bottom line is that she doesn't regret jumping without a net once she got to that final point.
On What Is Getting Me Through Now: Lessons I Learned from Rob Young
One of the things I enjoy about the group of minds that dream up WDS is that they put a strong focus on giving back. Not only to charitable causes but to their own community. Last year, all 1,000 attendees were given $100 to invest in themselves and their dreams to change the world. During this years conference, a few of those attendees were invited on stage to share their stories.
Rob Young was one of those attendees asked to speak. In his quick two minute speech, he provided us with three key points that he has found in his success after that $100 investment.
- Take Action.
- Self Doubt Is BS!
- Build A Team.
That second point, well I've already written it on a hot pink post it notes to keep in my office. I also continue to repeat it to myself several times a day as I endeavor to follow Darren Rowse's wisdom to take responsibility for my future and change my life. To work towards molding it towards that remarkable life I envision.