Size matters… One of the first things past attendees seemed to mention was how much bigger WDS has become. From about 500 in Year 1 to 1000 in year 2 to nearly 3000 this year… it’s bigger. I overheard many people lament the size, and I suspect those comments worked their way up the food chain to Chris Guillebeau, because he addressed it on the second day. At the yoga studio we hear comments from some yogis that classes are too crowded, and some suggest it’s a clever ploy to earn more profit at their expense. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We do it to minimize the chance we have to say, “sorry we can’t let you in because we’re sold out.” In my experience that level of disappointment is far higher. I think Chris sees that and has acted.
Just do it… No, there was no Nike sloganeering at WDS (in fact, it is proudly and deliberately sponsor-free). One of the great themes (intentionally or not) amongst all of the great presenters is a variation on carpe diem. Seize the day. There is nothing to stop you… even fear of rejection is less of an issue than you’d think. Seriously, check out Jia Jang’s attempt to learn from rejection… and learning how little one actually gets rejected! One of my favorite speakers (he also got the elusive full standing O).
Tell better stories... the key to connecting with people is tell your story in a way that resonates. Don’t be afraid to share the low points on the path to the high points and aspirations. One of the best speakers was the first one: Nancy Duarte. She charted famous speeches throughout history and showed how there was literally a resonance curve that can be plotted from the telling of how things are now and how they should be. Check out her TEDTalk – the secret structure of great talks. In fact, just watch it now. What’s stoppin ya?
Rock 9 holes of glow in the dark mini golf when given the chance… seriously. Don’t pass that up. What the hell else are you doing for 30 minutes that’s more important?
Once you get a taste of unconventional life, you won’t want to go back… Having lived a less-than-conventional life of an entrepreneur (my stuff and Kimberly’s incredibly scaled up compared to mine stuff), I literally cannot conceive going back to a traditional 40 hour work week with expectations of cubicle sitting and meetings for the sake of having meetings. WDS reinforces that because there are thousands of others at different points on the same path, and seeing that makes you realize that while Kimberly and I may be amongst a handful of “those crazy people” in DC, there’s a lot more out there. and in that way, there’s a sense of community to reinforce my feelings.
Big thanks to Chris Guilliebeau and his team of volunteers and staff that make WDS happen. They offered the pioneer ticket rate again for next year, and I didn’t hesitate. I’ll be back next July.