a brief guide
to world domination*
How to Live a RemaRkable life
in a Conventional World
*and other important goals
By Chris Guillebeau
This reporT is 100% non-CommerCial and does noT ConTain any affiliaTe links
If you want it badly enough, and are willing to
make some changes in your life to cause it to
happen, you too can take over the world… or
do anything else you really want to do. Yes,
you really can have it all. The only things you’ll
need to give up are assumptions, expectations,
and the comfort zone that holds you back
part one what you’ll learn in
these 29 pages
A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
A Quick Introduction
any of them. (Also, most of the recom- No matter what you have been told, no
mendations are free.) matter what has happened to you, and no But wait—I’m probably getting ahead of
matter what mistakes you’ve made, you myself. Who am I to tell you all this?
can completely change the way you live
What You need to Know First
every day of your life. You can focus the You can read my whole story here, but
I’d like to let you in on a big secret, right
majority of your time on the things you the short version is that I have been self-
here at the beginning. Whether you go
enjoy, and you can also make an incredi- employed for my entire adult life and
on to read the rest of this report or leave
ble difference in the lives of other people have never had the dreaded “real job.” I
it behind and move on with the rest of
while you are at it. recently turned 30 years old, so I figured
your life, please remember one thing.
that since I’ve made it this far, there’s
Are you ready? Here it is:
In fact, they are counting on you to do no sense in looking for one of those real
exactly that. jobs now.
You don’t have to live your life the way
other people expect you to.
What’s the Catch? In 2006 I returned to the U.S. after spend-
ing four years as a volunteer in West
I’ve put the best world domination If you’re still with me, you may be won-
Africa. During that time, I lived in Sierra
instructions right here in the beginning, dering what the catch is. There always is
Leone, Liberia, and six other African
so pay attention to that statement. If one, right?
countries, helping to improve access to
you come to understand and apply it to
healthcare and clean water in the world’s
the hundreds of choices you make every Well, not really. I’m not out to sell you
day, no one will be able to stop you from anything, and this report is entirely non-
whatever it is you want to do. commercial. However, I should warn you
I worked with everyone from presidents
in advance: nothing is for sale here, but
to warlords, and learned a lot about un-
If you want it badly enough, and are will- free ideas can have tremendous value.
conventional living in the process. The
ing to make some changes in your life to
four years I spent in Africa was by far the
cause it to happen, you too can take over Victor Hugo once said, “One can resist
most rewarding experience I’ve ever had,
the world… or do anything else you really the invasion of an army but one cannot
and I only left it behind to enter a gradu-
want to do. Yes, you really can have it all. resist the invasion of ideas.” After you
ate program at the University of Wash-
The only things you’ll need to give up use these ideas to take over the world,
ington in late 2006.
are assumptions, expectations, and the I’ll show you a couple ways you can give
comfort zone that holds you back from back. But don’t worry, you won’t need
The conversation about world domi-
greatness. to do that until you’ve invaded your first
nation started earlier this year when I
small country. Does that work for you?
A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
The big picTuRe
Yes, to truly take over the world, you’ll need to
consider the broader concerns of all humani-
ty—not just your own life, and not just the lives
of a few others close to you.
part two the unremarkable average
vs. the remarkable few
A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
If that life sounds good to you, don’t feel
bad. You’ll fit in just fine with the sta-
tus quo, and no one will ever challenge
you to be different. Conforming to the
world’s expectations is the safe, conven-
tional path. You are far from alone.
However, I don’t want to ask these impor-
tant questions to the wrong person, so
just to be fair to the minority of people
who reject the path of convention, you
should close this report now if you’re
comfortable with an unremarkably aver-
age life. I don’t want to waste your time,
and the rest of it won’t really apply to
most people anyway.
I’ll give you the space on the rest of this
page so that you can close the report
without reading further. Thanks for your
time! Have a great life.
10 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
more conscious decisions about how (Another side note: the fascinating thing This is because most people are not
you spend your time and what you focus about setting long-term goals is that ultimately satisfied with a life that fo-
on. I do this exercise once a year in De- once you get serious about planning cuses entirely on themselves. Look at
cember and always end up making a lot for them, you may find that you fulfill the recent trend of billionaires making
of improvements the next year. them much faster than expected. This deliberate choices to give away most of
is because we tend to overestimate what their money. From Bill Gates to Richard
The Ideal World exercise is best com- we can complete in a single day, and un- Branson to Warren Buffet, your aver-
pleted when you are also thinking about derestimate what we can complete over age billionaire (if there is such a thing)
your long-term goals. I keep a few ongo- longer periods of time. ) spends a lot of time worrying about how
ing lists of some of the things I want to they will change the world.
accomplish in several periods of time, When you have a decent answer to the
and you’re welcome to use my system or first question (you can always revise it What are these guys thinking—haven’t
modify it to suit your own needs: later), you can move on to the second. they already taken over the world by
And by the way, we’re going to come creating hugely successful businesses?
1-year goals — this list gets reviewed a back to the first question before the end Don’t they know that the person who
few times a year, and I create next year’s of the report, so hold on to your answer. dies with the most toys wins?
goals each December
The Second Question It turns out that they’re on to something.
5-year goals — this list gets reviewed Bill Gates may lose out to Steve Jobs
The second of the two most important
once a year in the coolness department, but if the
questions in the universe is:
Gates Foundation can eradicate malaria
lifetime goals — this list gets re- in Africa, do you think the Nobel com-
#2: What can you offer the world that no
viewed once a year, and make sure to mittee will award the prize to the creator
one else can?
include some really big ideas for your of the MacBook Air?
lifetime goals The real secret in life is that even
I love my iPod as much as the next com-
though you can probably have anything
If you take the time to write out the muter, but every year more than one
you want if you work hard enough, in the
description of your perfect day and then million children die of malaria.1 That’s
end it’s not all about you. You’ll be able
combine it with your long-term goals, one every 30 seconds—or six in the time
to achieve your own important goals,
you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it takes to listen to one song on my iPod.
but to truly go to the next level, you’ll
you really want to get out of life. By all accounts, Bill Gates thinks about
need to do something great for the rest
that a lot, and that’s why he’s walking
of the world as well.
12 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
Contrary to what you may hear from the latest
self-help book, true success does not come
from passive visualization or wishful thinking.
It takes action, planning, and sacrifice. Like
surfer-turned-songwriter Jack Johnson says
in one of his coolest songs, “Don’t let your
dreams be dreams.” Make them real.
part three the crowded world
and the way to break
through the noise
14 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
Introducing Sam Thompson,
growing. All of these people feel like In his “last lecture,” Randy provided a
they know Leo, and look forward to his good mixture of humor and motivational Ultra Marathon Runner
writing and personal stories. content on the subject of “Really Achiev- Sam Thompson has been running for a
ing Your Childhood Dreams.” You can long time, and he goes out for exercise
Leo lives on the island of Guam, a place view the whole lecture here, or a four- a lot more than anyone I’ve ever heard
I’ve yet to visit, and has a large family (6 minute feature here. of. After running the entire Appalachian
kids!) that he writes about from time to Trail (2,000 miles!) a couple of years
time on ZenHabits. Instead of pushing Randy’s ideas are very simple, and he has back, Sam decided he needed a “real”
paper for the federal government, Leo said that the lecture was primarily for his challenge.
now does what he wants to. He has the kids to have when they get older and he
freedom that he’s always longed for, and is not around. But at last count, at least With the goal of raising funds and aware-
he spends a large part of his days writ- ten million people have watched various ness for Hurricane Katrina relief, Sam
ing blog posts and short essays that add forms of this talk, and Randy received decided to run 50 marathons in all 50
tremendous value to his readers. I’m one a reported $6.7 million dollars for the states in 50 days. How’s that for extreme
of them, and I’m grateful. rights to a related book. goal setting?
Oh, and he also has a new book deal, sig- More than anything else, what this (I said recently that I was proud of run-
nificant advertising revenue for the site, story illustrates to me is how desperate ning 3 marathons in 2 states in 2 years.
and on January 16, 2008, Leo quit his day the world is for the simple truth. Nine Sadly, it doesn’t sound quite as impres-
job. He is now a full-time blogger. months after the initial video spread all sive.)
over the world, I was traveling through
O’Hare airport and saw a clip being
Introducing Randy Pausch, Sam hit the road and went out running,
played on Fox News. Nine months later,
Carnegie Mellon University over and over again. From city to city,
the same clip! day after day, with no time out for rest
Last September, Professor Randy Pausch
and recovery days like most long-dis-
gave an inspiring lecture to a small
I’m telling you, the world is in short tance runners have. On some days, he
group of friends, family, and colleagues
supply of truth-tellers. If you can be an ran two marathons (52.4 miles, or about
at the university where he had taught for
authentic one, enough people will listen. eight hours of running) due to schedul-
ten years. Randy had recently been diag-
ing conflicts with other states.
nosed with pancreatic cancer and did not
expect to live much longer.
When he made it to Georgia, CNN came
calling. You can watch their interview
16 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
sons and books by Nietzsche and all
You can be a for-profit change agent too,
and there’s nothing wrong with that. En- kinds of random topics. But my Dad instead of one or the other, when
trepreneurs and artists of all types should never discouraged me or said I shouldn’t you set significant goals for your-
be rewarded for their work, and if you read something. He just said, “Looks self while focusing on improving
add value to the universe, you deserve to interesting” and paid for my books. the state of the world (all human-
be paid for it. ity, to use Dr. King’s phrasing),
I wasn’t able to master Cantonese, but I that’s when you’ll find yourself on
BUT—then the world will be waiting im- did become fascinated with learning, and the path of world domination.
patiently for you to give back. Our lives those experiences at the bookstore are
are connected with others all over the still helping me as I begin my writing ca- The answers to the two important ques-
tions (What do you really want to get
world, and as Richard Branson and Bill reer twenty years later. Even if you didn’t
out of life? and What can you offer the
Gates have discovered, the most fulfilling have a good experience with learning
world that no one else can?) will help you
lives focus outwardly in the end. This like I did, or if something else happened
has never been truer, and each of us has to trip you up somewhere, you can proba- understand more about your quest for
an obligation to consider how our own bly remember a lot of people who helped ultimate life fulfillment. It is that serious,
goals can intersect with a shared respon- you become who you are now. and that important.
sibility for other people.
The way you fulfill your obligation to the Have you ever thought about doing
Besides, no one has ever been self-taught. people who helped you is by doing the something differently than you do now?
great stuff you’ve always dreamed about, Ever thought about starting a business,
No matter how independent they are, while helping others go even further at a blog, a web site, a marathon training
I’ve yet to meet someone who has accom- the same time. program, an overseas trip… or something
plished everything in their life complete- else entirely? How about changing
ly on their own. It just doesn’t work that careers, learning a language, moving
The Vision to Rule—and change—
way. somewhere completely different?
Here is the summary of everything we’ve
When I was a kid, my dad took me to If those examples don’t fit, then think
covered so far:
bookstores a couple of times a month about what makes sense for you. Most
and let me buy at least four books each of us have dreams of distant things we’d
trip, even though we didn’t have much like to do one day, and one thing I have
money. I was probably the only 10-year observed in years of questioning expec-
old reading Cantonese in 30 Easy Les- tations is that there is a big difference
between dreams and goals.
18 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
Last year, the band Radiohead decided news” presented in a hierarchical fashion
In addition to gatekeepers, chances
to release their new album, In Rainbows, based on what a small group of media
are you’ll also encounter a number of
directly on the internet for free. Anyone barons and editors thought was impor-
people who are just downright negative
who wanted to could go to their web site tant for us to hear.
about your plans to take over the world.
and download it without providing any
These people are expert pessimists, and
payment info. If the listeners liked the Unfortunately for the media barons, but
they are not usually critical of just a few
music, the band encouraged them to fortunately for the rest of us, this is no
people. Instead, they tend to be critical
send in the payment that the listeners longer the case. Consumers, at least the
of anyone who thinks differently than
thought was fair. hyperactive ones, are defining the news
more and more as ratings for traditional
news outlets plummet every year. Look
The record companies
So that you know how to recognize a
at the rise of new, user-generated media
didn’t like this idea from critic when you meet one, here are a few
outlets like Digg, StumbleUpon, Del.
the beginning, and they distinguishing characteristics:
Icio.Us, and the other social networking
liked it even less when communities. No, not everyone uses
• Critics will give you all kinds of good
them—but more and more people do all
Radiohead made at least
reasons why you “can’t” do what you want
the time, and the point is that there is
$10 million dollars in the to do.
now a choice.
first week from the “free”
download.2 • Critics will say that you should give up
(By the way, if you are part of a social
and do something safe and expected.
network and think this report is worthy
(“Get a real job. You’ll never make a living
The mainstream media outlets, especial- of wider attention, please submit or vote
as a ______.”)
ly TV and newspapers, are the archetypal for it. It will mean a lot to me.)
gatekeepers of what we as citizens are
• Without being prompted, critics will tell
expected to pay attention to. For years, The recent democratization of world-
you everything they think is wrong about
viewers and readers were simply told changing doesn’t mean you can ignore
your ideas, and if they can’t find some-
what was newsworthy, without having the gatekeepers—you still have to be well
thing, they’ll make it up.
chance to vote on it or share their own aware of the ones you’ll encounter as you
opinions. When the nightly broadcast pursue your goals. That way, you can
• When you ask a critic for their opinion
came on at 6:00 and 10:00 every evening, defeat or bypass them and make the way
about something (a book they recently
hundreds of millions of people would easier for others in the future.
read, a movie they saw, a new restaurant,
sit in front of the screen and watch “the
20 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
When you take the time to become a real
expert in something highly specialized that
really adds value to the world, the people you
help will start looking to you for answers about
seemingly unrelated topics. It’s always better
to start highly focused and then work out-
wards than to begin with a broad, unspecific
part four the plan of attack
and how to overcome
22 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
a two-year commitment to work for free of others. Does your world domination encounter. This claim runs contradictory
without even visiting first. plan have an educational component? to the classical understanding of efficient
markets, and Granovetter even showed
In the context of this report, let’s look at Here is the interesting thing about this: how most new information we acquire
some the examples we covered earlier: when you take the time to become a real in our daily lives comes from extended
expert in something highly specialized social networks.
• Ultrarunner Sam Thompson runs 50 that really adds value to the world, the
marathons in 50 states in 50 days to raise people you help will start looking to you
Your goal will probably require some
money and awareness for disaster relief for answers about seemingly unrelated
amount of money. How much do you
topics. It’s always better to start highly
need? Simply put, you need enough
• Prolific professor Randy Pausch gives focused and then work outwards than to
money to accomplish the goal—no more,
his “Last Lecture” on achieving child- begin with a broad, unspecific mandate.
no less. Figure out what the true cost is
hood dreams before dying
and then figure out how to get it. Work
A Small Army
You need to recruit a small army of com- the math out backwards.
• Government bureaucrat Leo Babauta
mitted believers who will support your
changes his life and starts an insanely
cause and add their own resources in For example, on a train ride between Slo-
popular personal development blog
support of it. How many people do you vakia and Hungary a couple of years ago,
need? Well, obviously it varies, but 1,000 I figured out that the cost of visiting 100
• Social entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau
true fans is a great start. In fact, a small, countries would be roughly equal to that
travels to every country in the world and
devoted army is far better than a large, of buying a new S.U.V. When I saw how
profiles other nonconformists
uncommitted mob. relatively little that was, I felt encour-
aged. I gave up the hypothetical large
(By the way, what do you think of my
Friends of Friends vehicle and received the world in return.
story? Is it interesting enough? Is it com-
A small army is critical, but in the long
pelling to you?)
run, the friends of your friends may end Enough Time
up helping even more. This is because You have to be able to devote significant
Expert Status in Skills that Help Others
of the phenomenon called “the strength time to improving your skills. You don’t
As we’ve seen here, you can’t just take
of weak ties.” In 1973, sociologist Mark just want to be good enough; you want to
over the world for yourself. You have to
Granovetter published a controversial ar- be remarkable. What this means is dif-
add value to others, or no one will want
ticle claiming that “weak ties,” or friends ferent for everyone--some people are able
to help you. Therefore, you need to have
of friends, are responsible for the major- to pursue world domination in their off
skills that will radically improve the lives
ity of new jobs and opportunities we hours, while others will need more time.
24 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
changes later on, but if you never begin, This strategy applies to far more than On all of these trips, I’ll be document-
you’ll never know what could have hap- just language learning. Here’s a quick ing the journey on my web site through
pened if you tried. tip that will help you make progress right weekly essays about Life, Work, and
away, with any project on your wish list: Travel. It’s not easy to go to every coun-
For example, I sometimes hear from when you finish this report, make a list of try in the world, and the few people who
people who want to know which foreign at least three things you can do that will have done it are typically much older
language they should study in high bring you closer to achieving your sig- than me. I may succeed, I may fail—but
school, in university, or just on their own nificant goals. Without waiting too long, I’ve committed to documenting the en-
as an independent learner. The decision go out and do them, and then add three tire process for you, win or lose.
is usually stressful for them. “What if I more tasks to the list.
The Crusade on Convention
make the wrong choice?” they ask, as if
While pursuing my own goal of world
they are afraid they will be behind ev- What i’m Doing: every Country
travel, I plan to be a catalyst for the cru-
eryone else for the rest of their lives by
in the World, and the Crusade sade against mediocrity and convention-
choosing the “wrong” language.
Against Convention al beliefs. My social movement is called
Before we wrap this up, I promised a few The Art of Nonconformity, and while my
My response is that it doesn’t really mat-
pages back to tell you a little about my personal goals have a lot to do with my
ter which language you choose, as long
own plans. I’ve been fortunate to have own life (obviously), the writing on my
as you get started with one of them. If
done a lot of traveling over the past few site is for everyone who seeks to follow
you start with Spanish, you can always
years, mostly to Africa and other places their own path of world domination.
switch to French, Italian, or Portuguese
in the developing world. In 2007 I vis-
later. Everything that you learned will
ited 26 countries, and I’m on track to go I’m not that particular about the means
still be relevant. Even if you choose to
to at least as many this year. that you use, or what your specific plans
study a language that’s more difficult for
include. I’m not the guru, remember?
English speakers, such as Arabic or Chi-
In fact, over the next five years, I plan to You are. Just remember the wise words
nese, the skill you acquired in learning
achieve my personal goal to visit every of Uncle Ben from Spiderman: “With
an easier language will help you with the
country in the world. Before the end great power comes great responsibility.”
more difficult one.
of 2008, new countries that are on my
itinerary include Pakistan, Brunei, Swa- Each month I’ll be profiling others
In other words, the choice ziland, Latvia and Mongolia—not exactly who take their own paths to greatness
doesn’t matter—just do your typical vacation spots, although I through service to others—people like
something. hear that Latvia can be nice.3 Leo, Randy, Sam, and others. I hope the
26 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
What can I really offer? If you’re not familiar with these books,
If you have your own two answers al- 4.
the basic premise is that you read a few
ready, come and share them with every-
pages and are then presented with a
The life I have chosen, and the life that one else who has been reading. You can
choice. Depending on which choice you
awaits you, is the opposite of fate. Did be anonymous if you want, and if you
make, you turn to a different page later on
you ever read a Choose Your Own Ad- don’t have the answers yet and are still
and the story evolves as you go.
venture book?4 Life is like that. It’s wait- working it out, that’s OK too.
ing for you to decide whether you’ll be
average or remarkable. Post your feedback here:
What will you make of it? http://ChrisGuillebeau.com/manifesto
It’s your turn now. or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
And now, introducing… YOU Thanks again for taking the time to pay
attention to my manifesto in the midst of
What will you do with this message? It’s a crowded and noisy world. I’m tremen-
up to you. dously grateful.
If they didn’t stop reading at the unre- Be the change,
markably average section, most people Chris
reading this report will shrug it off. Is
A lot of people ask, “How many coun-
How will you take over the world? tries are there?” Naturally, there’s a
What’s your story? It’s your turn. debate over this question, but the list I’ve
chosen has 198. At the time of this writ-
Please do me one favor: if this report has ing, I’ve been to 81 so far. Read more here:
meant anything to you, come over and http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/places
post a short comment on my site. I’d re-
ally appreciate it.
28 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion