Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Art (and Joy) of Non-Conformity

So I was Googling the word “happy,” the other day (what can I say, it’s an obsession)…and you know what? I came across some people who are pretty jazzed-up about their lives! Not about what they wanted to do, but about what they were actually able to accomplish. It was a random mix and match of artists, business owners, authors…even a few soul searchers on the road to self-improvement. I combed through their blogs, their sites, their articles, their videos - their happy lives were all so “in sync” …surely they had all been given the same coveted keys to castle of joy. But it wasn’t long before I’d found their secret weapon: Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity - a highly practical, personal and powerful guide to setting your own rules and living the life you want–oh!...and playing a supporting role along the way in a little production called…world domination.

In brief, Chris is the new face of wisdom…a brilliant, generous and pioneering spirit, ingeniously maximizing the age of technology. Now, don’t get me wrong, without Deepak we may have never learned to be present - and Oprah, hats off dear lady…we certainly needed a platform too. And might I add a nod to Dr. Wayne – as we are absolutely nowhere without peace and positivity. But now, we need something even more…

We need a plan...and Chris Guillebeau has it.
But he’s not keeping secrets…he’s spreading the word and as evidenced by his readers, MSNBC, The New York Times and LA Presse, he is in fact, changing the world. His intelligent optimism and unconventional nature has led him on an epic voyage (literally traveling to 125 countries and counting); sharing, listening, and leading thousands of people on the journey least traveled, yet most desired…

the road to authenticity.

In addition to his new book, he has developed refreshingly practical, yet monumentally resourceful, how-to guides, including Building an Empire, Breaking out of the 9-5 and Art and Money…Yes It’s Possible. How does he know his formula works? He’s walking, traveling, writing, world-dominating, non-conforming, living proof. His work, books and postcards from his remarkably “unconventional” book tour can be found at This week I had the great privilege of sharing a few moments of his time:

Q.Chris,have you always known you were a non-conformist and that you would most likely work for yourself?

A."I've always done things my own way, but the details and specifics came through experience. My motivation for self-employment in the beginning was simply, "I don't want to work for someone else." Years later I began to develop an appreciation for the power of entrepreneurship as a force for good, but it took a while to get there."

Q. What was your motivation behind sharing your wealth of entrepreneurship and unconventional know-how?

A."I felt like I had done a broad variety of things in my life, but I had no convergence point. I wanted to pull everything together, to create one platform that tied together a range of different interests -- hopefully in a theme like non-conformity that would provide inspiration and practical help to those who were interested."

Q. You’d mentioned that even some failures catapulted you forward on your journey to mastering the art of non-conformity. Any particular dark moment stand out in your mind, a sort of “blessing in disguise.”

A. "I was rejected by a graduate program in 2004. At the time it was crushing, but if I had gone then, my life would be much different now -- and I don't think I would have taken the time to build my legacy project which has ultimately been much more important and meaningful than graduate school for me."

Q. It seems like you’ve inspired many people, the world over, to stick with their vision and “build their empire” especially in the midst of near collapses. Are there any particularly powerful stories or quotes, from someone you’ve helped, you’d like to share?

A. "The goal of the project is to help people live unconventional, remarkable lives. But I think it's good to point out that we can only help people who want our help, so people tend to gravitate toward my work after something has happened to cause them to be more open to change.
It's hard for me to pick one story because so many people are doing amazing things." (For examples of your choosing, just ask Google or Twitter.)

Q. If there was only one piece of advice you could give to other non-conformists trying to make their own way in the world today….what would it be?

A. "You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to. And here's an optional, second one: you can do good things for yourself and for others at the same time."

Take aways for the week:
Be yourself. Be a seriously good guy...
and watch the world change.