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A Brief Guide to World Domination


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How to live a remarkable lie in a conventional world.

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A Brief Guide to World Domination

  1. 1. 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
  2. 2. A Brief Guide to World Domination Copyright © 2008 Chris Guillebeau. All rights reserved. Layout by Reese Spykerman Important: If you have access to a printer, please PRINT this report. You’ll get a lot more out of it if you’re not reading it from a monitor. Take it to your favorite coffee shop, read it at home in your comfortable chair, or bring it with you on the airplane the next time you travel. There are a number of hyperlinks in the report that lead to more information online. Whenever you’re at the computer you can follow each link to read more or check out a resource I recommend, but it’s still better to read the report in printed form if you can. a Brief Guide to worLd domination
  3. 3. World Domination Table of Contents PART ONE: What You’ll Learn in PART THREE: The Crowded PART FOUR: The Plan of Attack These 29 Pages World and the Way to Break and How to Overcome Through the Noise the Challenges • Introduction • Do We Really Live in a World so • The Toolkit for World Domination • Who Should Read This Report Distracted that the Truth Can’t • The Plan of Attack • What You Need to Know First Be Heard? • My Upcoming Plans • What’s the Catch? • A Small Blog with 50,000 Subscribers • Farewell from Singapore Airlines’ • The $6.7 Million Dollar Lecture Seat 4D PART TWO: The Unremarkably • 50 Marathons in 50 Days Average Versus the • Fixing What Is Wrong with Charities APPENDIX: Acknowledgements Remarkable Few and Resources • The Vision To Rule (and Change) • How to Be Unremarkably Average the World • The Two Most Important Questions • Challenges You’ll Face in the Universe • A Big Problem and the Simple Answer Copyright © 2008
  4. 4. Greatness 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 from greatness. part one part one what you’ll learn in these 29 pages A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
  5. 5. “Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” -AlAn Keightley Who should read this report Some are professionals fighting to this is a manifesto that can liter- change the status quo in their industries, ally help you take over the world. I should warn you now that this report If you’ve ever wanted to invade a small while others are involved in rewriting the is not for everyone. In fact, it’s probably country and become your own benevo- rules in institutions especially known not for most people. Instead of writing lent dictator, the next 29 pages will help for being resistant to change, such as for the general public, I spent about 35 you prepare to do exactly that. churches or universities. Still others are hours writing these pages for a small doing something completely different, minority of people interested in living If you have any other worthy ambitions, perhaps something that’s never been life on their own terms while making a like starting your own business, becom- done before. dramatic, positive difference in the lives ing a successful artist, or something else, of others at the same time. the report will also help with those goals. It’s a lonely road for those of us who choose to be remarkable, and the path of In short, I wrote it for people who are You’ll also learn how your own personal convention can sometimes be appealing. serious about ruling—or at least chang- goals can be directly related to helping That path is paved with safe lives, middle ing—the world. other people. While you are pursuing of the road monotony, and little chance your big ideas, you can also make a dif- of failure. But where’s the fun in being How this remarkable minority will end ference in the lives of others at the same like everyone else out there? up taking over the world varies consider- time. I’ll tell you a few stories of ordinary ably. Some are artists of all kinds, from people who have been doing this in very By the way, this report is affiliate-link painters to writers to musicians; others unique ways, and help you get started free. I have several recommendations for are entrepreneurs who have started busi- with your own plan of attack. you here, but I won’t earn money or any nesses that radically shift the way we live other benefit from your taking action on our lives. Copyright © 2008
  6. 6. 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 poorest places. 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
  7. 7. was getting ready to finish my master’s years (I’ve been to 83 so far, but there are degree. A couple of friends asked me a lot more). In addition to the crusade what I was going to do next, and at first against convention, my web site docu- I didn’t know how to answer. I went ments the progress toward this goal with through the list of “normal” responses blog posts from every country I go to. to that question—maybe I’ll start a new You can follow along or contribute your business, enter a Ph.D. program, go back own ideas on the site through email to Africa, etc. updates, RSS, or just by checking back every couple of days. But after thinking about it for a long time, I started telling people, “I’m going to start my own social movement.” (Here’s a quick side lesson: if you want to know who your real friends are, start telling your craziest idea to everyone you meet. Some people will slowly back away from you as if you really are crazy, but others will latch on to your idea and help you any way they can. The people in the second group are your real friends.) My social movement is called The Art of Nonconformity, and I plan to take over the world. I won’t take over the world by myself—many other independent-mind- ed people will also be pursuing their own campaigns and changing the world in the way they see fit. Oh, and I will also be traveling to every country in the world over the next five Copyright © 2008
  8. 8. 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 part two the unremarkable average vs. the remarkable few A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
  9. 9. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” -martin luther king, jr. okay, that’s all i have to say about at the end of this report i’ll tell you me. 11 to be about my upcoming adventures around the world, but from here on out, the focus is on you. unremarkably in a moment, i’m going to ask you the ways average two most important questions in the uni- verse, but first let’s look at how life works for most people. here are a few ways that the average person lives out their life in our 21st century, Western world: 1. Accept what people tell you at face value 7. Think about writing a book, but never do it 2. Don’t question authority 8. Get the largest mortgage you qualify for and spend 30 years paying for it 3. Go to college because you’re supposed to, not because you want to learn something 9. Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work 4. Go overseas once or twice in your life, to somewhere safe like England 10. Don’t stand out or draw attention to yourself 11. Jump through hoops. Check off boxes. 5. Don’t try to learn another language; every- one else will eventually learn English You can read more about this here 6. Think about starting your own business, but never do it Copyright © 2008
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. The Two Most Important If you’ve printed this report, write your enjoy, all the things on the unremark- answers down in the space below. If not, ably average list, etc.), what would you do? Questions in the Universe write them in your journal, a legal pad, Still there? OK, great. If the idea of an or a Starbucks napkin if that’s where you One of my marketing mentors, Paul My- unremarkably average life sounds like are. It will be worth it. ers, has a great business newsletter that a slow death by asphyxiation to you, he has been writing for twelve years, Your First Answer: you’re on to something. which is basically forever in the online marketing world. His newsletter is free, Don’t panic; there is a clear alternative and if you’re interested in business, you to the way most people amble through can sign up here. life with little focus or patience. It’s not safe or easy, but if you want it badly In addition to online marketing, Paul is enough, absolutely no one will be able a bit of a free spirit. Like me, he writes to stop you from world domination or about more than just business. A while whatever it is you want to do. back, Paul came up with a great “Ideal Your Second Answer: World” exercise that helped me (and I won’t keep you waiting any longer. many others) answer the first question. Here are the two most important ques- You can get a free copy of that exercise tions in the universe: over here. #1: What do you really want to get out of The short summary is that you think life? through your idealized, perfect day in great detail, beginning from what time #2: What can you offer the world that no you get up and what you have for break- one else can? The First Question fast all the way through what you do for OK… here we go. each hour of the day and who you talk to. We’ll look at each question in some de- Then you begin to make plans to adjust tail, but to get the full effect, take a few #1: What do you really want to get out of your life to get closer to the perfect day minutes and answer each of the ques- life? you’ve designed for yourself. tions according to your first instincts. In other words, what’s your ultimate If you do nothing else, take this exercise goal? If you didn’t have to do the things seriously and you’ll learn a lot about you currently have to do (work you don’t yourself. You may even begin making Copyright © 2008
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. A Big Problem, and the Simple away from Microsoft this summer to to be reassured that it’s okay to put off focus on more pressing concerns. thinking about the second question. Answer If you’re still with me, you may have no- Your own goals are crucially important, It’s a satisfying answer because it pro- ticed something that is often perceived and you should NEVER listen to anyone vides temporal relief. It’s deceptive as a contradiction. For far too long, we who tells you to stop caring about them. because it’s not true, and over time most have failed to recognize the importance (I’ll show you later on what to do about people gradually begin to correctly sus- of EACH of these mindsets together— critics and anyone else who says that pect that they’ve missed something big doing what you really want, and radi- you can’t do something.) by believing this idea. cally helping others. But by themselves, money, fame, power, This is why you need to devote as much The problem is that in the prevailing and even the pursuit of your own goals time as it takes to find out what you can logic of our modern age, these two will only take you so far. To go further, offer the world that no one else can. perspectives have traditionally been you’ll have to heed the words of the viewed as opposites. You can do some- great Martin Luther King, Jr.: Answering the first question is usu- thing good for yourself, or you can do ally easier, because when we finally get something good for other people. You “An individual has not started living until serious about it, most of us can quickly can make money, or you can change the he can rise above the narrow confines of figure out what we really want to get out world. Right? his individualistic concerns to the broad- of life. Some people might know instinc- er concerns of all humanity.” tively, while others might need a few But wait a second. Why can’t you do hours or even a few weeks to mull it over. something great for others while you are Yes, to truly take over the world, you’ll pursuing your own goals? And alterna- need to consider the broader concerns But finding the answer to the second tively, why do you have to sacrifice your of all humanity—not just your own life, question typically takes much longer. It own goals while you are out changing and not just the lives of a few others can be a long journey riddled with initial the world for good? close to you. Dr. King placed the call in failures and false starts. But people are such broad terms for a good reason. counting on you to continue, and in fact, You see, the conformists of the world it is the most important work each of us will tell you to do one or the other, or Billionaire or not, your relentless pas- can do. else they’ll tell you to go make money sion can do more than just help you take for a while and then use your resources over the world for yourself. You can also Source: World Health Organization, 1. to help people. This is a deceptively use it to radically improve the lives of “Call for urgent increased effort to roll satisfying answer for people who want other people. back malaria,” Geneva. Copyright © 2008
  14. 14. TRue SucceSS 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 part three the crowded world and the way to break through the noise 14 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
  15. 15. Remember that it’s far easier to stand back and criticize someone else than it is to put your own beliefs forward. It makes you wonder if relevant truth-tellers in a crowded mar- the new york times recently did a ketplace. anything meaningful can story on the alarmingly high noise Throughout the levels in cairo, egypt. break through the noise whole city of 17 million people, the aver- Introducing Leo Babauta, barrier. Like everyday con- age noise level for most of the day is 85 Productivity expert versations in Cairo, is the decibels, which is louder than the noise In 2006, writer and government em- you hear standing 15 feet away from a truth silenced? ployee Leo Babauta started a small niche passing freight train. Everyone in Cairo blog called Zen Habits devoted to pro- walks around shouting to each other Thankfully, there is an easy and gratify- ductivity and lifestyle design. No big during normal conversations and asking, ing answer to this question: deal, at least at first. Leo wrote about “What? What?” over and over. the virtues of goal setting, exercise, get- NO. Not at all. On the contrary, the ting things done, and related topics. He When I read this story, I thought about world is desperately, impatiently waiting chronicled his own personal transforma- the phenomenon of globalization and for you to figure out what you can give it. tion, from out-of-shape smoker to veg- the huge advancement of technology we etarian marathon runner. have experienced in recent years. Many Don’t believe the hype about how crowd- of us are continually online, getting ed and noisy things are out there. When While Leo kept posting quality content bombarded with thousands of marketing you finally come out with something on a consistent schedule, a lot of people messages and personal contacts every truly worth caring about, people will started paying attention. In the first year, day. There is so much information on notice. he acquired 36,000 subscribers. He’s the Internet that it can be hard to wade now well over the 60,000 point and still through the constant barrage of useless Here are a few examples of very differ- information and get to something of ent people who have all found ways to be value. Copyright © 2008
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. feature here, and notice how relaxed Sam substantial. He used to make a ton of tries for a total of $30 million dollars that looks despite having just run 40 mara- money putting on parties for models and has changed hands—and the repayment thons by that point. My favorite part celebrities, and now he brings the same rate is an amazing 99.72%. Keep an eye of all the media coverage Sam received people together to raise money for local on them, because they represent the fu- was when a sports doctor (the so-called non-profit organizations in Africa and Asia. ture of charity and micro-lending. resident expert) was later quoted on M saying that Sam’s effort was I worked with Scott in Africa back in “virtually impossible” and would cause 2005, and I’m really impressed with how I’ll these are just a few examples. “permanent damage” to his body. he’s mobilized so many volunteers and be profiling other modern day change resources for the worthy goal of bringing agents, along with interviews and their I asked Sam just last week how he’s do- clean water to villages in poor countries own take on non-conformity, every ing. He told me that he is still running that have not seen much benefit from month on my site. almost every day and is gearing up for governmental aid. Go and watch this another big expedition. So much for the amazing video from Scott’s project in All of these people from incredibly differ- safe opinion. Sam also told me that he Kenya to see for yourself. ent backgrounds have one thing in com- raised thousands of dollars for Hurricane mon: either a relentless commitment to Matt and Jessica Flanery knew that Katrina relief and got sponsored along do something no one else has ever done, the way. many people don’t give money to charity or a new way of presenting ideas that in part because they don’t really know improve our lives. They all chose to look When you combine what you are most where their money goes. So, Matt and at the world in a different way, and then passionate about with a focus on helping Jessica decided to fix it. Their amazing they chose to take action where others others, just like Sam did, you’ll often end organization,, has essentially only dreamed about it. up exceeding your expectations for both democratized accountability for charities efforts. by linking up donors in rich countries But wait…. what about the first question with individual borrowers in poor coun- and our own personal goals? Here’s a couple of other up-and-coming tries. stories: If you really want the x amount of money Using Kiva’s web site, you can read about you think you need, the large vehicle to My friend Scott Harrison is a former New local entrepreneurs all over the world go off-roading at the mall, or anything York City nightclub promoter who got and issue your own micro-loan to the else, the world will probably let you have tired of partying every night and decided ones you are impressed by. So far, Kiva it. There’s enough to go around. to focus his energy on something more has facilitated 43,000 loans in 42 coun- Copyright © 2008
  18. 18. 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? the World 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
  19. 19. • Degrees or certificates from the same A lot of people simply do not expect obstacles that you need to be aware of schools that they went to their dreams to ever come true. The fun- right from the start. The opposition you • Lots of experience (but only in fields ny-but-sad thing is that as long as they face will come in many different forms, that they approve of) believe that, they are absolutely correct. but the most common are gatekeepers, • Apprenticeships Contrary to what you may hear from the critics, and the widespread acceptance of • Respect for elders latest self-help book, true success does mediocrity. • A steady progression through the ranks not come from passive visualization or (no skipping ahead!) wishful thinking. It takes action, plan- These are not small problems, and many • Most importantly, a willingness to ac- ning, and sacrifice. Like surfer-turned- world-changers end up backing down cept the rules of the system so that it can songwriter Jack Johnson says in one of before they achieve their goals because continue enriching the gatekeepers. his coolest songs, “Don’t let your dreams of the significant challenges. I don’t want be dreams.” Make them real. that to happen to you, so pay close atten- tion to this section. Most of the people who will read this re- port live in societies where gatekeepers challenges You’ll Face are common, and examples are easy to Gatekeepers Along the Way Gatekeepers exist in most industries, find. Lawyers, art galleries, record la- Before we go on to your plan of attack, I but their purpose is always the same: to bels, newscasters, political parties, labor have to warn you about a few obstacles control or withhold the flow of informa- unions, certification boards—these are all that will try to prevent you from ruling or tion and the ability to create change. professional gatekeepers. They consider changing the world. They act as old-school security guards their jobs to be either a) telling you what on innovation, trying to block outsiders to think, b) telling you what to do, c) tell- I wish I could say that all of this will be from infiltrating their ranks or changing ing you which choices you have, or d) all easy, but there’s a good reason why the the system. of the above. path of unconventional living is less traveled. On the journey of becoming If you don’t follow the rules they set, The bad news for gatekeepers is that yourself (the real you) and changing the gatekeepers get worried because they are information and power is becoming in- world in the way you see fit, you’re going threatened by change or any challenge creasingly democratized. It’s not so easy to encounter some real opposition along to their authority. To be accepted in their for them anymore. In many industries, the way. hierarchy, gatekeepers usually expect gatekeepers are on the verge of irrel- you to have some or all of the following: evancy, and they are in panic mode as There are people who will stop at noth- they slowly begin to realize it. ing to stand in your way, as well as other Copyright © 2008
  20. 20. Critics 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 they do. 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
  21. 21. life in general, or pretty much anything), but I rarely look forward to flying any- longer have the responsibility to provide they will usually begin by telling you all where in America these days. any standard of comfort to travelers. the things they didn’t like about it. If they liked something, it will probably come as I’ve recently started to believe that virtu- The same standard is increasingly true an afterthought. ally all the U.S. airlines have effectively in other industries. Instead of embracing abdicated their duties to take care of innovation and strong user experiences When you do actually achieve your their passengers—the same people who as common values, in many cases the hard-earned success, the same people keep the airlines in operation. Strangely only thing we strive for is the standard of who said it was impossible will then say enough, the flying public has accepted “not bad” or “good enough.” that it wasn’t that important anyway. It this abdication for the most part. In the can be maddening if you let it get to you, airline industry, mediocrity has become Something has gone terribly wrong. We which is why you can’t allow that to the new “good enough.” If you fly any- have forgotten how to complain about happen. where in America these days, you proba- the right things, and started bitching bly know all about this, because medioc- about everything else. Critics are not happy people by nature, rity is what you hope for on the average but they seemingly enjoy putting other U.S. flight. If there is any good news to the nor- people down. You need a strategy to malization of mediocrity, it’s that when deal with them, but in the end, don’t give You hope that your flight is not terribly you do something excellent, it will be so up. You’re not working for them, and late and that they don’t lose your lug- uncommon that you will instantly stand critics will never change the world. gage. You hope that the passenger in out. People will be amazed, because front of you won’t recline her seat, be- they’re so used to the good enough that Lastly, remember that it’s far easier to cause the airlines have crammed in so the excellent is truly rare. This can work stand back and criticize someone else many rows that you feel squished even to your advantage when you decide to than it is to put your own beliefs forward. without the seat in front coming back take things up a level and exceed the low The critics know this, so that’s why they against your knees. expectations around you. stay in the corner and complain about Source: (October 19, anyone who steps out. You probably don’t even consider the 2. 2007) hope that your flight will be comfortable, The Normalization of Mediocrity that you’ll have decent leg room, or that In my quest to visit every country in the you’ll get a nice meal—because the pub- world, I do a lot of flying. Ironically, I lic has come to accept that airlines no don’t usually mind going on ten-hour red-eye flights to Asia or the Middle East, Copyright © 2008
  22. 22. expeRTiSe 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 mandate. part four part four the plan of attack and how to overcome the challenges 22 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion
  23. 23. The truth is that if you want to achieve your most significant goals, and you want to change the world for the better in the process, you really don’t need to jump through all the hoops that people hold up for you. The Toolkit for World Domination In the modern-day classic Good To Great, so far we’ve covered the most im- Jim Collins tells the story of his wife Relentless Passion portant secret of world domination By far the most important thing you (“You don’t have to live your life the way deciding to compete in the 1985 Ironman need in the toolkit is an intense passion other people expect you to”), looked at race. One day she looks up at the break- for your cause that can not be hindered the two most important questions in the fast table and says, “I think if I give up by critics or your own shortcomings. universe, checked out a few examples of everything else—grad school offers, the You have to be willing to give it your all, other world-changers, and reviewed the full-time job, most of my other hobbies—I and for a long time with potentially few challenges you’ll face along the way. can actually win the Ironman.” Just like rewards. In the short run, few people will that. And then she makes it her very notice, but in the long run, everyone will. You’re almost ready. But wait… specific goal, devotes every day for three Or at least, everyone you need to influ- years to achieving it, and comes in first ence in your campaign will notice. Before you head off to storm the castle place despite a severe hamstring injury (“First we take Manhattan,” as a reader that caused her a lot of pain on the 26.2 A Very Specific Goal said on my site recently), you’ll need a mile run. What sets you apart? Where will your plan of attack and a few important tools. tipping point be? What will the world A Compelling Story look like with you in charge? You can Future leaders and changers of the world, I went to West Africa in 2002 because also call this your elevator pitch. If you I present to you the toolkit for world I heard the story of how a hospital ship had two minutes with anyone in the domination. Please do your best to use needed volunteers to come work in world who has the power to influence the these powers for the good of us all. desperate countries like Sierra Leone. It rest of your life, what would you say to was a compelling story that profoundly them? “Hi, my name is _____ and I’m affected my life, and my wife and I made going to _________.” Copyright © 2008
  24. 24. 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 Enough Money 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
  25. 25. When he was a real lawyer and before he This list of ignorable expectations in- The gatekeepers aren’t in charge any- started writing the same book every year, cludes: more, and if you have something of merit John Grisham got up at 4:00 a.m. every to bring to the table, the public can now • Qualifications day to work on his first two novels. This judge it directly. • Introductions strategy doesn’t work for everyone, how- • Endorsements ever, because many people find that their The plan of Attack, and the Ready- • Everything the gatekeepers expect from 9-5 commitment steals their best energy Fire-Aim Method you from them. In these cases, you’ll need to I use mind maps and the fantastic GTD make some major adjustments or even method from David Allen to plan out quit your job. These are all the things you DON’T all of my projects, both business and NEED. personal ones. You can read more about Regardless of which side you fit in, you’ll this here, but the summary is that you need enough time. As the online poet I’m probably going to make some people brainstorm the final outcome of your Robert Bruce eloquently puts it, “You’ll angry with that sentence, but my first goal (publish book, run marathon, invade never crush your own mediocrity work- obligation in this report is to present the Panama, etc.) and then work backwards ing only four hours a week.” truth. And the truth is that if you want from the goal to determine everything to achieve your most significant goals, that needs to happen for the outcome to One-Way Communication and you want to change the world for arrive on schedule. Yes, social networking is here to stay, but the better in the process, you really don’t you also need some kind of pulpit. You need to jump through all the hoops that The tasks you write down should be need to be able to speak to your army people hold up for you. small and detailed, and for large projects directly. This can be done through a web you will have many different tasks. Us- site, a blog, a newsletter, an email list, a In the old days, you had to keep checking ing these strategies, the answers to the phone broadcast, or something else. boxes and ticking tasks off the expecta- two questions, and the toolkit for world tions list for a long time before anyone domination, you can figure out exactly iMpORTANT: would listen to you. But guess what? how to get started on your own cam- Life is different now. You are your own What’s NOT on the List paign. guru. The above list may not be fully com- plete—be sure and tell me if I’ve missed By the way, planning is great, but when You can set up shop tomorrow and call something—however, I can tell you with it comes to acting, I prefer the ready-fire- yourself an expert on whatever subject certainty that there are a few things some aim method, and I prefer to start sooner you want. Who’s to say you aren’t one? people will expect from you that are com- rather than later. You can always make pletely unnecessary. Copyright © 2008
  26. 26. 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
  27. 27. inspiration helps you with the pursuit of A couple months ago I was on a flight those Economy seats back there are a your own goals. from Los Angeles to Tokyo. Thanks to a little cramped for an 11-hour flight.” free ticket from my many Frequent Flyer Before the end of the year, I plan to have miles, I was seated in Singapore Airlines’ Jon laughed as the flight attendant finished most of the content for my first nice Business Class cabin. Singapore is brought us more champagne. book that will expand these ideas further. frequently voted the best airline in the I haven’t written much more than the world for premium travelers, and tick- A few days later I was in Mumbai, India, outline yet, but I include the stated goal ets on the LAX-Tokyo route sell every and I went to visit a part of town called here because I figure if I have a few thou- day for $5,000 and up. There I was, a Dharavi. This neighborhood is some- sand people holding me accountable, the graduate student without a job, drinking times known as Asia’s largest slum, and odds are greater that it will actually get champagne and placing my order for the while I don’t really like that description, done. five-course meal. Life is crazy that way. it helps you get the idea. With a guide who lived in Dharavi and a few other On the flight I got to talking with Jon, visitors, I spent the afternoon walking Come and Join Me? Lastly, I’m recruiting my own small army, my seatmate. Jon was an electrical around two square kilometers that serve and I would love to have you in the ranks. engineer from Colorado. “You know,” he as the living and working quarters for said, “I don’t meet many students who fly more than 1.2 million people. Enlistment is easy, nothing is for sale, and you can be released anytime. All you Business Class to Tokyo just for the fun of it.” I don’t want you to have the wrong im- have to do is be remarkable, and you are pression—the situation was not dismal your own judge of that. I thought about Jon’s comment for a few at all, and it was encouraging to meet You can follow my world journeys, as well seconds. It’s true, I’m living an amazing several local entrepreneurs who were life. I try to be grateful for it every day. building impressive small businesses out as the crusade on convention, via your of recycling plastic. But it was certainly favorite RSS reader or by email subscrip- But it’s also true that I do what I want worlds apart from the Singapore Airlines tion. because I’ve made deliberate choices to flight I came in on. structure my life to pursue the things I The Wrap-Up: Live from want to do. During both of these encounters I kept Singapore Airlines thinking about the two questions as ap- We’re almost done, but let me tell you “Well,” I finally said to Jon, “I believe in plied to my own life: one final story before we close things doing exactly what I want. And besides, down and get ready to storm the castle. What do I really want? Copyright © 2008
  28. 28. 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? It’s your turn now. or write to 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 that you? A lot of people ask, “How many coun- 3. 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 post a short comment on my site. I’d re- ally appreciate it. 28 A Brief Guide to World dominAtion