Chris Guillebeau, your darling A.Y. Daring and my good friend Brittney who's also an avid reader of the AONC blog
When I was 17 years old I used to sign things off as “The Empress”. I’m not even kidding. I had a passion for writing, media and self-improvement so I decided I was going to be my generation’s Oprah. I would begin by writing and then progress to running a multi-billion dollar lifestyle media company by age 30.
How does Chris Guillebeau come into the picture? Well, he’s been talking about how to take over the world from the beginning of his blog, Art of Non-Conformity and detailed how one can do so in his wildly popular manifesto, which has now been expanded into his first book. But while his advice was highly practical (and still is), I was only a teenager back then and didn’t think anyone would take me seriously if I started giving lifestlye advice. I mean, I knew I like hearing messages of positivity and female empowerment, but no one would want to hear me talk about those things, right?
So I e-mailed him to ask for a second opinion.
He wrote back.
It wasn’t a particularly long e-mail, just 2 sentences, and he told me this: “Don’t worry about being too young to follow your dreams. If you keep working hard at your vision, by the time you get to be my age, you’ll be twice as successful as me.”
First, he was about 30 at the time, and I wanted to be wildly successful by age 30, so it was nice to have my projected timeline validated.
You know what was funny about his e-mail though? He was one of the first people in my life to ever tell me that I didn’t have to wait to go about manifesting my dreams! Everybody- my parents, teachers, friends, relatives- thought that I should take it slow and laze about my youth. The thing was though, I’m pretty sure I was born fully aware of my mission in this world. Holding back my message was keeping me up at night, writing articles and manifestos about ideas that I thought would have to fester for ages before seeing the light of day. What I wanted was to remind women of their inalienable right to love themselves in their natural state and help enable them to live incredible lives! I had all these ideas and thoughts of how I could go about it, but not once did it occur to me that I didn’t have to wait for a degree, industry experience, permission and start-up capital to do so!
“Don’t worry about being too young to follow your dreams,” I’d say over and over again in my head.
I printed off the e-mail and stuck it on my vision board, where I could look at it every single time I got discouraged. Chris Guillebeau is hardly the only figure who’s influence me over the years, but he was certainly the first who made the concept of large-scale success on your own terms seem within reach. I love Oprah, and I will always see her asa mother figure, but let’s face it- how accessible does her life really seem?
The aftermath of the story is that two years after that e-mail and a variety of other perspective-changing events, I’m writing a blog all about the message I wanted to get out there, am getting interviewed by national news shows about the things I’m fighting for and I work really hard every single day at what I feel most passionate about. Like, OMGHHKP! You guys, he was right!
So obviously, when I heard he had published his first book The Art of Non-Conformity, and his book tour would be bringing him to Toronto (that’s essentially my backyard man!) I had to get myself there.
The benefit of going to his book tour wasn’t really in meeting him, although that was nice too. What was really great about the meetup was that it was filled entirely with other people who wanted to lead remarkable lives, and the stories of those who had done so. Most of all though, all their stories were relatable. I met a woman who had started a company to help people eat more fruits and vegetables, and she gave me the e-mail address of a mentor of hers who is doing something very similar to what I want to do. I tripped over the dividor rope at the stage area, and I met a girl with the most positive attitude ever who rushed over to help me. Someone else brought cupcakes that said “No really, u rock!” They were delicious. If you were the one who brought them, you need to know that your baking is amaing. Please keep being awesome and feeding people like me :)
They were amazing. I wish I knew who brought them.
Also, look what what myself and the wonderful woman beside me got to do during the opening talk!
We coloured in Ontario on his map! I had no idea how big my province was until this past Sunday. We went with a heart, because that’s what Quebec did, and it’s not often the rest of Canada shows Quebec some cultural love!
I don't know what I was saying at this moment, but I was really excited so I was probably talking too much.
Meeting Chris Guillebeau in person was a bit weird. I don’t really know what I was expecting him to be like, but I was taken aback by how…well…normal he is. Hear me out here.
This man has made a living telling people to shun the status quo, and not do anything just because you’re told to do so. Yet he looked like the sweetest, most regular guy I’ve ever met. I can’t imagine him rocking a boat or conquering a small nation or even being particularly forceful. It would appear that he got to where he was by being really nice, patient and getting really good at something he liked to do that other people benefited from. His actual story and personality is much less drama-free than his “world domination/challenging authority since 1978″ message. I like it.
Usually, successful people at the top of their games are larger than life extroverts. I know saying “introverts can be successful too!” is a silly thing to say, but the world doesn’t seem to say it very often, save for a few brilliant but suicidal poets and highly intelligent, but socially awkward computer programmers. CG is cool, graceful, rocking his game and does so while openly admitting to being an introvert and caring a little too much about what people think about him. How so very normal a person living such an extraordinary life! Passion + discipline = success. That’s it. No drama, no frills, not even any glitter! I can’t imagine a life without glitter (obviously, my first book will be brightly coloured and have a holographic cover) but it takes all kinds, and I love that.
Oh yeah, the book!
What? I pose like this in bookstores all the time!
I haven’t actually read it yet.
It feels strangely sacred, after enduring frostbite in my toes and burnt socks to get to Toronto (don’t ask). I will start reading it tonight though. I’ve flipped through it, and it seems like an extension of everything he’s been saying for years, expanded and put together in physical form. It’s written in the same voice as his blog posts, so I think it should be an easy but entertaining and highly useful book.
May the blessings be,