Category Archives: Personal Development

World Domination Summit 2013: Accidental Discoveries

The greatest thing that I learned from World Domination Summit 2013 was entirely by accident.

During WDS 2013, the afternoon sessions were first-come, first serve. I wanted to go to “How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear” on Saturday, because those two aspects of me definitely have room for improvement. However, in a combination of tiredness and food coma (damn those food carts!) I ended up in Danielle Laporte’s “Desire and Fire” session–same building, different room. I sat inside a large church in a mostly female audience, and as she repeated someone’s question–“When is it time to dump that chump?” I realized that yes, I was in the wrong session. Many of Danielle’s comments were from the right-brained emotional side of the spectrum, concepts like initiative, enthusiasm, and trust. Do what feels right and makes you feel free. Feel feel feel feel feel feel. Get the picture?

The engineering-oriented, Computer Science graduate part of me thought, “Maybe it isn’t too late to catch the right session? I could bounce out the door and change rooms in 4 minutes 30 seconds.” But I realized that lots of people wanted to watch her speak, but couldn’t get in because the room was full, so I decided to stay thinking I’d be mobbed by a crowd outside. Towards the end, Danielle mentioned a comment:

“The shadow side of self-improvement is the premise that something is wrong with you”

At that exact moment, the wheels inside my head started spinning, and I started questioning my reason for being at WDS 2013 in the first place. What is broken inside me? Why am I here? How did I get involved with this self-improvement and personal development stuff in the first place? Am I a conference junkie?

Circa 2006 I first hopped about the self-improvement train by reading a blogger named Steve Pavlina. I felt I was surrounded by uninspiring, hopeless, people whose primary purpose was to sleep, work, and watch TV with no further goals or inspirations. Work, sleep, die. Lather, rinse, repeat. There HAD to be something more in my life than falling into this trap that the world appeared to be pushing me towards. After pacing the room back and forth for nearly 2 hours I decided to take a huge leap (at the time) and travel to Las Vegas by myself to attend his “Conscious Growth Workshop” which was phenomenal, and I attended 2 similar workshops in the following years. When Steve stopped hosting workshops, I decided to attend WDS 2012–which had the added benefit in being in a fun, interesting city like Portland (as opposed to Las Vegas whose artificiality has never resonated with me.)

Over the years I’ve connected with some very cool people, learned various tips and techniques to measure my personal growth, and even exercised the right-side of my brain by exploring concepts such as subjective reality and claircognizance (when you intuitively “know” something without rational proof.) My notes are full of the “what to do” stuff, it’s a question of me applying it more consistently and pushing through my fears–instead of hiding behind my knowledge and not actually applying it.

I’ve also realized that it’s not me who has the problem (nor others seeking self-improvement), it’s the rest of society that settles for the boring, uninspired life–when they know they’re capable of doing so much more. It’s easy to fall into the trap: your parents, your teachers, your employers, and your political leaders all shuffle you towards a path which is meant to please themselves instead of pleasing yourself. And somewhere along the line you lose yourself in the process. It’s time to find yourself again.

Conferences like the World Domination Summit are wonderful places to connect with like-minded people seeking a life beyond the ordinary. With a theme like “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”, these events tend to self-select for inspiring, successful people (or aspiring inspiring people :)) And when awesome people with a similar purpose get together, more awesomeness happens. But personally, having been exposed to this kind of atmosphere many times before, I’m looking for something different now. I don’t want to merely absorb and learn, I want to contribute and lead.

If I choose to go to WDS 2014, or any other seminar, it won’t be as someone who is “looking for inspiration to feel complete.” It’ll be as someone who has “made it” (by my standards), and wants to inspire others to push towards their own dreams. Until then, I can’t come back–I have all the tools I need within myself, I just need to utilize them. And I would be selling myself short if I went for another round of Kool-Aid without bringing extra sugar for everybody.


The Art of Creating Self-Directed Adventures

Whenever I visit a city, I have a tendency of wanting to go where everyone else isn’t. It’s easy to stay in the downtown areas, complete with visitors’ center signs with the bright yellow “You are here” star on the map. But it’s another thing to wander off entirely, take a random bus line, and see how far it will take me.

I’m currently in Portland, recovering after the 2013 World Domination Summit, a conference full of rather unconventional people (there’ll be a separate post on this later). Having a few extra days, I decided I wasn’t interested in going to the typical tourist spots, depicted in those “official visitors guides” filled with attractions that somebody paid a lot of money to include.

So, what do I need to do this morning? Eat, and get some allergy medicine–because as much as I love these trees, they’re killing my nose! How do I make this interesting? Pick a shop that is as far away and as inconvenient as possible. Why? Because you’re going to see something unusual on the way.

As I took the bus line eastward, I noticed a few (rather obvious) things. The number of Portland food carts lessened, and the number of chain restaurants like Popeye’s and Panda Express grew. (I’m willing to bet Panda doesn’t taste any better in Oregon than in California, where I usually see them.) The buildings in general seemed less well-maintained, and there were more open fields.

Oh look, it’s time to transfer buses. But the bus stop is temporarily closed. What should I do when that happens? Pull out Google maps on your phone! Wait a few seconds for the GPS lock to fixate, but the GPS is not sure what direction you’re facing, so…

Walk randomly! After a block I reorient yourself and head towards the temporary bus stop. I enter, and…


A car slams into a motorcycle right in front of the bus I’m on. It’s a good thing I had no time constraints (that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?), because my bus driver is a witness and is waiting for the police to arrive. At least Portland emergency services are fairly fast, with a police truck and a fire engine arriving within a few minutes. The motorcyclist appears to be shaking it off like nothing happened.

So I finally reach the destination, a small herb shop in the middle of a rather deserted shopping complex. After looking around, I find the thing I’m looking for. After buying it, and praising the Oregon people for their lack of sales tax, I head outside, and continue forward. I originally started on 13th street and am somewhere near 120th.

I find a sandwich shop where I eat a bland, uninspiring sandwich, since there wasn’t anything better around. It’s Arby’s, so I’m not wasting any more sentences on this.

A block away, is a Goodwill mega-store. While there wasn’t anything I was specifically looking for, I wander around inside and think of silly imaginary stories regarding the items they have on sale: “This telescope, it belonged to an amateur astronomer who got so bored waiting for the stars that he started drinking different types of beers. He learned so much about beer that he moved to Eugene to become a brewer, and donated his telescope before moving away.”

I head back. The return trip is always faster since I’m just backtracking along previously visited routes.

Say whatever you like, but I had more fun than sitting in one of those hop-on, hop-off, tourist mega-buses that go along the same routes every day with the overly happy tour guide afflicted with verbal diarrhea.


I did a similar concept in Montreal a few years ago, take the bus line east until to the edge of the river. My friend, who was FROM Montreal, hadn’t even seen that! Whatever the city, the rules never change: Pick a faraway place (or direction) to do your errands, and go. If you normally drive, take the bus or bicycle. Busy downtown areas slowly simmer down into quieter suburbs, and you get to see parts of the city that your average tourist doesn’t.

Never Settle: Rantings from a San Jose Parking Lot

I am a man. I make no apology for my needs and desires. I refuse to settle because it is politically expedient to do so, because society tells me I must act or be a certain way. I refuse to redefine my standards in order to fit what others think of me. I refuse to lower myself and give up on my dreams and move the goalposts for an easy victory. I refuse to let temporary situations in temporary places cloud my judgement and distract me from the freedoms and opportunities that have been made abundant to us.

I did not incarnate onto planet Earth to suffer, to be a cog of this machine which grinds us out and spits us out for meaningless slips of paper which lose value with each and every passing day. I am not here to qualify myself, nor am I here to prove myself worthy in somebody else’s eyes. I will not simply look at something or someone beautiful like a passive, whipped, dog. I interact, succeed or fail on my own merits and should I fall I remember that nothing is truly permanent in this universe. The chances that are given to us and the chances we take should always exceed the chances we take for granted, because coincidences aren’t. I am not a coincidence, and neither are you.

I was born for a purpose. So were you. Do you remember it? And when you do will you step forward to claim it, or drown your sorrows and pretend it will go away?

Last night, I was stream-of-consciousness ranting at a group of people who were making shitty excuses for the state of their lives. This was what I remembered. I posted this on social media, but since nobody ever reads anything longer than 2 sentences there, it’s better here.

False Positivity

It’s the fashionable and socially-approved thing to do these days. Embrace those who promote positive messages (i.e. those that you agree with)! Delete the phone numbers and Facebook friends of those who make you feel bad! Proclaim your righteousness across the universe! And for a while, it feels good. You’re “taking control of your life” and “taking action” and “embracing change” and all that cool exciting shit. But are you creating a supportive environment? Or an echo chamber where people ignore the shadows–instead of shining light on them so they can be examined?

Helloooooo echo chamber

Knowing that anything I post on Facebook is data-mined to hell by Zuckerburg’s corporate minions, I would occasionally post meaningless stuff, mostly political links, to play around with them. One week I’ll post stuff about Republicans taking government handouts, and the next week I’ll link to an article about Barack Obama killing dolphins. It’s amusing to see who unfriends me after that, and yes there are apps that will tell you. I’ve realized that people’s lives reflect an echo chamber of sorts: much like Fox News and the Huffington Post have their own audience, people have their own vibrational frequency when it comes to the types of things they read and the types of people they interact with. I’ve also noticed that people will stop talking to you instead of argue with you, because in this day and age it’s easy to find people or places that share your exact viewpoint.

The socially correct thing to do is to think higher (vibrationally), to chose the more positive interaction, or at the very least, choose interaction with those you agree with. But that ignores the fact that not everyone has been treated equally or comes from the same environment, and to ignore their perspective simply because it may be tinged with negativity is denying yourself valuable information. Is it someone’s fault that they are bitter because they have faced abuse, racism, sexual or religious discrimination? There are those who will say it’s their personal choice how to react to events outside their control. But I’ve noticed people who say this–without any empathy or offering any support–simply to dismiss others entirely and return to their positive bubble. Regardless, you’re missing out on information.

People who talk about bad things, or are currently in bad situations, are not necessarily bad people

I know people who give free hugs, post cute inspirational kittens online, etc. That’s all good, everyone needs their kitten fix. Screw them, I want penguins!

100% cooler than those kittens

But I also know people who bitch and rant about the world using various expletives talk about non-politically correct things like men’s rights, child molesters, false imprisonment, welfare abuse, etc. People attack them and ignore them for being too negative, but they bring light to aspects of the world that would otherwise be hidden without their anger and resentment. I’ve personally railed against the whole “all men are evil” meme and angered militant feminists over it. Whatever, they can stew by themselves instead of garnering male support which they would have attracted had they not written me off as “the enemy”. Rants on other topics remind me of pissed off, elderly white nationalists who are about to become politically irrelevant due to changing demographic trends. But that doesn’t mean their gripes shouldn’t be critically analyzed, because they do have valid points.

Keeping it real

There’s also lack of empathy when it comes to false positive people. You’re having a bad day, or bad week, or even a bad year. Everyone has a bad day once in a while and if nothing bad ever happens to you, you’re probably a lying sociopath 🙂 The so-called “positive” person would cut you off from their life in order to keep you from dragging them down, instead of asking how you are doing or offering you any support. Talk about fair-weather friend…puke!

False positive content: Years ago, I used to attend Law of Attraction events. For the uninformed, it’s based on the principle that whatever you think of gets attracted to you, which is why most practitioners tend to focus on positive uplifting, thoughts. This is wonderful in theory, but I stopped attending events in person after running into smug, self-righteous people who wrapped horrible beliefs in the cloak of uplifting spirituality. I’ve met people who believe that starving children in Africa deserve to starve, because it’s 100% their fault for not thinking positively enough (The audience smiled and nodded after hearing this). I’ve heard LOA used to justify rape. As techniques are morally neutral, I blame those people for being douchebags.

False negative content: As a contrasting example, in the days after Obama’s reelection, I’ve been reading news articles from bitter, angry Republicans. Most people would ignore them because they are bitter and angry and Republican, but some of the writers are realizing that their current strategy isn’t working for them anymore, and that they need to adapt. I look forward to seeing this ‘negativity’ transform into a revitalized political party.

In a nutshell, information is neutral, and dismissing it because it comes from “positive” or “negative” people is useless and ultimately self-limiting. Judge the content itself, instead of how it makes you feel or who says it.

Overcoming Conventionality: The World Domination Summit

When I was telling people I was driving 12 hours to Portland for a conference named the “World Domination Summit“, they were like…what?

  • “Is this some personal development thing?” (my friends know I attend Steve/Erin Pavlina conferences regularly) Sort of.
  • “You mean, like Tony Robbins?” Hell no, in those kinds of events people jump up and down like monkeys, only to have the energy dissipate a week later, forcing you to sign up for the next program so you can another whiff of the crack pipe. [Note, real crack may be cheaper].
  • “Is it a travel conference?” There are travelers there, but not everyone is one.
  • “Is it a business networking thing?” Some do, but many don’t have a business.

So what was it? It could be best described by the conference theme:
“How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”

Basically, it was a weekend full of inspiring speeches, practical breakout sessions ranging from connecting socially to volunteering abroad to travelhacking to entrepreneurship. What was probably more important than the actual content was the people that you’re surrounded with–after all, anyone who self-selected themselves into attending such an event is probably an interesting person worth talking to.

The following are notable quotes and ideas…the random-stream-of-consciousness version. If you want coherence, go find another blogger :p

  • Brene Brown: “Being you is usually uncool”. When we try to be cool, we end up not being open to connecting to people. Your experience is based on how willing you are to be vulnerable; because after all how can you love someone if you demand that they love you back? If you overprepare to try to not be vulnerable (like create all sorts of backup contingency plans), then joy becomes foreboding.
  • Susan Cain + Jonathan Fields on Introverts: “Conviction is more important than loudness.” Individuals who brainstorm by themselves have better ideas than group brainstorming. Because people tend to be influenced by the most assertive people AND they think they thought of the idea on their own.
  • Breakout Session on Getting Unstuck: “Our experiences reveal the truths we need to learn about themselves”
  • Breakout Session on Doing Anything: “Are you telling a good story about your life? Or just telling a story about sitting on your computer and reading other people’s blogs?” The gap between doing something and not doing anything is small.
    • Personal Sidenote: At the place I was staying I met someone whose goal was to travel from Canada to South America via bicycle. When asked on how he did it, he said he just got on a bike and started pedaling. Really, how hard can it be to actually take meaningful steps toward your goals?
  • Scott Belsky: New idea syndrome is when we get very inspired and passionate about an idea, but then never see it through to completion, but just start a new idea. Failure points include:
    • The gravitational force of organizations (real world distraction). The feel of being disorganized. Lack of accountability. Lack of leadership capability. Lack of feedback exchange.
    • To solve this, overcome reactionary stream of emails/texts/etc and create windows of non-stimulation. Measure the value of a meeting in actionable steps
  • Chris Brogan: “The opposite of fear is not courage or bravery, it’s giving up?” How does fear play into your identity? Batman put on a bat mask because he was scared of them. Spiderman saves the world but can’t get laid. Professor  X maintains community but is physically weak.
    • It’s not who you say you are, it’s what you do. You’re a writer as soon as you actually write, others just fake it. (Note: This is quite easy to fake).
  • Cal Newport: Steve Jobs said to ‘follow your passion’. Steve Jobs was wrong. He didn’t study electrical engineering, he studied eastern philosophy and other subjects, fell into the computer business, and leveraged his computer business to gain the lifestyle attributes he wanted to have.
    • Get good at something that is rare and valuable, then leverage it to get the traits you want (such as fewer hours per week, more autonomy, etc).
  • J.D. Roth – Just say yes. Learn how to focus (so you have time to say yes). Action is character.
    • “People with dull lives often think their lives are dull by choice. In reality, everyone chooses more or less what kind of events happen to them by their conscious patterns of blocking and yielding.” – Keith Johnstone

What did I think about it? I have to admit, I was overwhelmed during the actual conference itself. Imagine a thousand people packed into an auditorium, the room buzzing with energy, ideas and excitement being thrown about. People talking everywhere, to the extend that the “Highly Sensitive Person” lounge was overrun by people bantering at its periphery. In fact, it was so overwhelming I almost didn’t want to come back next year. Last year there was only 500 people, and my friends who attended said it was much easier to make connections. While socializing was fun, one thing I noticed was people were running from one place to another trying to find someone else.

Although, one thing made it awesome for me: the unofficial events. Where smaller groups of attendees decided to throw a party on a rooftop, or visit a bookstore, or grab some donuts. I loved the smaller scale, interaction, and randomness of it all.

Of course, if you’re one of those super-outgoing-extroverted types then you’d love the main events with everyone packed into a theater to listen to the keynote speakers :p

What did I get out of it? I could point to such abstract, unqualifiable terms like “fun” and “inspiration”, but here you are reading this new blog, so that’s a concrete result. I could have spent days trying to figure out some fancy theme and design, but it’s better to get started now and refine later. After all, what world dominator doesn’t have some sort of media platform?

At the end of the conference, the organizers gave each attendee a $100 bill to do something. Some ideas that others floated around included charity and launching businesses. I know what I’m doing, but you’ll have to wait 🙂

P.S. I love Portland. From yummy random food carts to local beers to cute hipster girls. If only the weather stayed nice year round…

Random late-night food cart!