I started the Inspiration Interview Series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to practice courage, be creative, and dream big. Chris Guillebeau is one of those people. Meet Chris!
Chris Guillebeau is a writer, entrepreneur, and traveler. During a lifetime of self-employment and ventures ranging from online publishing to volunteer work in West Africa, he has visited nearly every country on earth before the age of 35.
Host of the World Domination Summit, an international gathering of creative people, Chris is focused on encouraging individual quests while also “giving back.”
I had the opportunity to speak at World Domination Summit this year. During my AV/sound-check the night before the event, I told Chris that I was nervously thinking about ending my talk with a sing-along to the Glee version of "Don't Stop Believing." He smiled and said, "Go for it." Then I said, "You'll need to come up on stage and sing the boy part." Silence.
After fifteen minutes of talking and laughing about being public-speaking introverts, Chris finally said, "Your book is Daring Greatly - I think we have to do this." Here's a moment from that adventure:
To celebrate Chris's The $100 Startup, we're giving away three copies! Just leave your name in the comments and we'll pick winners on Wednesday.
Enjoy the interview!
1. Vulnerability is _____________________.
The willingness to be your true self, and the courage to share that true self with others. Both are tough, and both are worth it.
2. What role does vulnerability play in your work?
I first had to learn to be willing to accept the role of vulnerability. I'm good at putting up walls and isolating myself, but such a lifestyle hinders growth. So after I took some small steps, I became comfortable with bigger ones.
For example, I'm a natural introvert but I went on a 50-state book tour, meeting readers who came from all over. Challenging myself in this way has been good—I learned that opening your life to others requires vulnerability, but it also creates unexpected rewards.
3. What does authenticity mean to you and how do you practice it in your work?
I notice that it's much easier to be authentic than to be false. When I practice authenticity, I feel energized. When I pretend to be someone else, I feel drained. Not being yourself is exhausting!
4. Is perfectionism an issue for you? If so, what’s one of your strategies for managing it?
Thankfully, I learned to let that go a long time ago—I'm well aware that my work is far from perfect. But I do have the weakness of being driven to succeed. Like a lot of things, this can be both a strength and a weakness. I try to harness it for good, creating projects that are useful and interesting, without letting the results define my entire identity.
5. What inspires you?
These days I'm largely inspired by many of the people in my community. I began the Art Of Non-Conformity a few years ago with the goal of chronicling my journey to every country in the world. I'm glad that the project has become inspiring for some people, but I too have been changed by the process of going everywhere and sharing the quest with readers. Many of them are doing remarkable things of their own, so when I meet them or hear from them online, I find myself challenged to keep going.
6. What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it?
I sometimes find it hard to get started. Once I'm underway on something, I can stick with it for a while, but unfortunately I'm also very good at procrastinating. To move through it, I set measurable goals and deliverables for myself. I focus on outputs—what do I need to accomplish today? What's next? I also exercise regularly, something I know is connected to my creative drive. And of course, there's always coffee.
7. It’s often difficult to stay open to constructive feedback and filter the reflexive criticism and mean-spiritedness that we see online. What strategies do you use for dealing with criticism and how do you stay open to feedback?
It is indeed difficult. If you've got this figured out, do let me know. As for me, I do my best to stay positive and ask myself if there's anything I can learn from the experience. But such a thing is easier said than done.
8. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life.
I made it to the Sudan last month, a country I'd been trying to get to for years without success. I finally found a contact who arranged my paperwork, and I arrived late at night on a flight from Dubai. It was 2am before I located my driver and went to the guesthouse, but I felt very happy to have made it safe and sound. The next day I toured the museum and mosque, getting a sense of the land and feeling fortunate to be in a place most Westerners never see.
9. Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart?
Yes, that would probably be the Art of Non-Conformity mission statement: You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and for others at the same time.
Now, for some fun!
From James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio
What is your favorite word? Convergence
What is your least favorite word? Phone call (technically, two words)
What sound or noise do you love? Ocean waves
What sound or noise do you hate? Alarm clocks
What is your favorite curse word? WTF (technically, a curse acronym)
What’s something about you that would surprise us? At the age of 14 I aspired to become a professional car thief. Sadly, I wasn't highly skilled in this new profession, and I kept getting caught.
Your six-word memoir: Curious adventurer achieves gentle world domination.
Don't forget to leave your name in the comments!
Congrats to Nancy, Yoli R, and Qiana!