Northwest Trip, Part 4

The afternoon sessions started off with elective breakout sessions.  I attended two such sessions that were blocks apart from each other.  The first session I attended was held at a Unitarian church school.  I attended the session of Jamie Tardy, titled “The Eventual Millionaire”.  It was a seminar on how millionaires start their own businesses based on Jamie’s experiences as a business coach and interviewing many self-made millionaires.  The overall outline was that they get an idea that consists of the person’s skills, a need in the public, and asking others what is needed.  This did not necessarily involve passion, which goes contrary to what a lot of bloggers in the field of entrepreneurship would give as advice.  The next step is to evaluate how the business would affect the type of lifestyle that one would prefer, as this is an often overlooked consideration before it is too late.  SWOT analysis is vital at this point.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Testing.  Also, good old-fashioned feedback from the right people is also helpful in this evaluation phase.  This point is a pass or a fail.  If the idea passes, move on.  If it fails, then it is time to revisit the idea phase until it is just right.  The final phase is to get moving on the business, planning out the logistics, a brief plan, and future goals once the initial phase is over, so that there is direction.  At this point, it is worth it to get a name for the business, and an LLC because the business may grow faster than anticipated, so being protected ahead of time is important.  Once the business is successful, one sign is that people will start to sue the business, which happens quite often these days.  One thing that I got from it to apply right now is to come up with 20 business ideas each day.  However, I have not applied this since coming back from the conference due to the fact that I am in the middle of moving once again.

I then ran down the street for the next breakout session, which featured the Irish polyglot, Benny Lewis.  He gave a speech on his strategies to master a language in a three month period.  He told us of his story where he had an engineering degree from Ireland, but relocated to Spain for employment after graduating.  He only knew English, and was trying to learn Spanish, but he was getting frustrated with conventional techniques, and was about to give up learning any Spanish.  Briefly, this involves buying a $5.00 Lonely Planet phrase book in the language that you are tryi8ng to learn.  Memorize some phrases, but instead of rote memorization, us mnemonics or singing techniques to burn the phrase into memory.  He used romance languages as an example of learning a new language.  When learning these languages, it is important to note that the French Normans invaded England around 1000 AD, and they brought their language with them.  The nobility and royals spoke the Norman language, with Latin roots, while the commoners spoke a form of English with Germanic roots.  So to guess a word in a romance language, try finding a fancier version of the English word, and change the ending of the word to fit the romance language.  This can also be applied across more European language groups, but it may be more limited.  This was the first phase of the strategy.  The next thing was to find a native speaker of the language, either in person or online (he listed many online resources for this, including Skype) to speak with them in whatever broken form you can.  Then, once there is comfort is some phrases, grammar can be studied, and it will make more sense because the application of grammar is already seen.   This involves as much immersion in the new language as possible, which does not require travel, but requires creativity for language immersion.  Luckily, the internet exists these days, and there are many online websites, videos, and radio programs in many languages that can be accessed. The second half of the talk was Benny Lewis debunking common misconceptions and limiting beliefs that people bring towards language learning.  Some examples were that language learning dies off at age 14.  That was only the case in feral children, where children were abandoned and lived in the wild, NOT a second language.  He then gave a list of websites that have language learning materials for free or at low cost.
There were more lectures at the main stage, but I skipped those last few talks to spend some time with my brother for the evening.  The evening consisted of going to Hamburger Mary’s for dinner, and getting lost on the Downtown Streetcars.  Hamburger Marys had delicious burgers.  Later on, I found out that this particular chain of restaurants caters to the gay community, where the term “Mary” is a reference to a gay man of the early 20th century.  I wanted to check out the restaurant because of the catchy name, but when I think of the word “Mary”, I was thinking of the Virgin Mary or my former neighbor who was called Mary.  I guess I am very oblivious to such jargon.   The menu had a lot of innuendo to describe the food, but I did not think much of it at the time.  Our check was delivered to us in a high heel.  I thought all of this was around a woman named Mary, and that this was her presentation, but it was not.  My brother and I then left the restaurant and headed down to the  exciting nightclub district surrounding the Portland State University campus, or so we thought.  When we got to Portland State, the atmosphere was dead.  We found a dive bar and asked the people there were the nightclubs were because we did not see any.  They told us that the neighborhood around Portland State is pretty dead during the summer and that we would have to go to Old Town or Vancouver, Washington to get to some good night clubs.  So, we headed back to Old Town.  However, by the time we got there, we were becoming very tired, and it was only 9:00 PM!  We decided to go back to our hostel.  So much for a night out.  I guess the jet lag got the best of us that night.  The next day, I talked about my experience at “Club Disappointment” to my other friends attending the conference.  We only went down to the Portland State campus district because of some advice that we got on the airplane from that old man I wrote about earlier a couple of days before.

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Northwest Trip, Part 3

Saturday morning was the official beginning of the World Domination Summit.  Unlike some other bloggers, I did not attend all of the talks, but I attended the ones that mattered to me.

The first presentation was by Brenee Brown, as psychology professor from Houston, Texas.  Her whole talk was about vulnerability.  In this society, we are conditioned to act cool and in control.  However, that is not the path to living an authentic and fulfilling life.  Instead, we need to be uncool, otherwise known as being vulnerable.  To get us out of our comfort zone, we had to do silly things, such as laugh uproariously, dance in our seats, and to top it off, sing, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.  The talk went on to discuss how our role as adults is to disarm ourselves, and to take off the armor that we have accumulated ourselves.  Part of being an adult is to undo the conditioning that we endured in our childhood and teenage years.  I feel that this has been a theme in my life for the past couple of years, with some setbacks here and there.  We are initially encouraged to be creative, but then we go on being critiqued and shamed in some ways that seem minor at the time, but can develop into dysfunctional patterns latter in life.  The talk addressed the topic of scarcity.  Many people in the personal development field encourage abundance over scarcity, while Brenee Brown encourages joy over scarcity.  For this, vulnerability is a prerequisite.  One quote that stuck with me from her talk was “When we lose our capacity for vulnerability, Joy becomes foreboding.”  An example would be someone having the a great time at the park, and they notice it, but then they start to thing of all of the things that could go bad and ruin everything.  At this point the joy is squandered, which in the long run is meaningless because if anything wrong does end up happening, just because they were worried about it ahead of time, it does not hurt any less.  The alternative is to practice gratitude at these moments instead of foreboding, and I applied this throughout the weekend.  Vulnerability also brings out creativity in our lives instead of comparing our lives to others.  An important point from this portion of the talk was that unused creativity is not inert, but it becomes grief and confrontation instead. Contribution over criticism and cynicism is desirable, so the goal here is to contribute more than criticize.  Therefore, the overall talk is to be who you are and the worst thing to do is to try to fit in.  That being said, although I will not try hard to be cool, I will also not be going out of my way to be uncool, either.

The second talk was by Scott Harrison who gave his talk about Charity: Water.  This operation is run under two different account.  There is a Charity account to take care of operating costs, and a Water account for water projects in third world countries.  Scott’s story started with his childhood, where his mother got sick from carbon monoxide poisoning, and had a weak immune system.  He came from a very religious family, but when he was 18, he moved out and became a nightclub promoter shortly after that.  He made fast money, and lived the high life.  He accumulated various vices, and all sorts of addictions.  This lasted for about 10 years, when he realized that his life was going nowhere.  So, he left the nightclub scene, and moved to Africa.  He helped out doing aid work with some charities when he noticed that one of the big problems in the developing world, is that many people lack access to clean water sources, and that this was the root cause of disease.  Many villagers had to travel miles each day by foot to carry dirty water in plastic jugs back to their homes, which meant that many children were unable to attend school, and mothers could not make a living out in the bush.  One story that was quite heartbreaking was a story of a woman who would carry a clay pot of water each day to the village.  One day, she made it back to the village, but then collapsed and broke the clay pot of water.  She felt great shame for failing, so she then hung herself.  This struck a chord with the entire audience.  Charity: Water has installed many fresh and clean water pumps throughout Africa.  However, he had unconventional ways to tackle the water shortage problems that other aid organizations were slow to provide.  He provided some of his expertise in social media and nightclub promotion to apply to this water shortage, especially when it came to raising money.  He took a playful approach to raising money. At first, he would have parties where the cover charge would go toward creating clean water sources.  He would sell playing cards, have art exhibitions, and even ran an ad on the American Idol finale.  He leveraged social media, by equipping well drilling equipment with GPS and Twitter to update the donors on the status of any given drilling project for accountability.  He asked all of us to give up our upcoming birthdays, and to use that as an opportunity to raise funds for Charity: Water, to see how large of an impact that we can all make in improving the quality of life in the developing world.

The next talk was two speakers talking about introversion.  While I consider myself an introvert, I honestly did not get that much out of this talk.  It was about a bunch of stuff that I already read about or knew about introverts.  The main point is that we prefer to spend more time alone reflecting than out socializing, and that is okay.  It is who we are.  We are not antisocial or maladjusted, contrary to media portrayal.  Another point in the discussion is that some societies value introversion and are more introverted than American society.  An example of this are many Asian cultures, where introversion is not frowned upon like in the US.  Introverts contribute a lot to society, but are drowned out by the louder types  However, introverts are helpful because they are silent, they can sit back and better understand a heated situation, unlike those who are drawn into the situation.  Some advice for us introverts out there is for us to feel less threatened by other, so we can get more done, but to hold our own ground and not be a pushover.

Then it was time for lunch.  A bunch of us attendees made a beeline to the many food carts that line the streets of Portland.  I had a reasonably priced falafel sandwich among friends.

 

Northwest Trip, Part 2

On the second day of the trip, five of us crammed into a Dodge sedan and headed to the Pacific coast.  Our route passed through southwest Washington state and northwest Oregon.  We crossed the Columbia several times to get to the coast.  The most notable crossing was at Astoria, Oregon, where we saw the mouth of the Columbia River.  We drove into Washington State, and headed to Cape Disappointment.  There was a observation point that had a good view of the ocean.  What was surprising was how windy and cold the coast was relative to the inland areas.  It was around 65 degrees at the coast, with a steady wind, while it was well into the 80s in Portland.  We then went to look for an actual beach to visit in which to walk around.  However, Cape Disappointment lived up to its name, as every point in the park wanted to charge a fee, and threatened to fine us $99.00 if we did not pay the entrance fee, but there was no place to stop and pay the fee.  Disappointed, we turned around and headed back into Oregon.  Once back in Astoria, Oregon, there was a traffic jam that we had to get through.  While waiting, a fellow passenger found a blog post on their smartphone titled “How to Stop Being Disappointed“, which was an interested synchronicity.  Once past the long traffic Jam, we ended up in Seaside, Oregon, which had direct access to the beach.  We spent over an hour walking along the sand and enjoying the very chilly ocean breeze, especially for the middle of July.  After that, we then headed back to Portland.  Once back in Portland, we were already two hours late for the World Domination Summit opening ceremony and party.  I tried to get my brother into the party, even though he was not a paid guest.  That did not work out, so I went back to the hostel with my brother.  We had a simple dinner nearby, and I went back to the party after my brother went to bed.  By that time, the part was over (10:00 PM, too early for a party to end if you ask me).  My other friends who got to the party late ended up not eating because the lines to the food carts lasted until the party’s closing, and everybody was shutting down their operation at 10:00 PM.  We spent the next 2 hours looking for a restaurant that was still open on a Friday night, AND would allow teenagers into their establishment, as there was a 17 year old girl among us (someone and their daughter).  However, everyone ended up eating at a Crepe food cart around midnight.  I am glad that I had a simple dinner with my brother, and by the time I got back to the hostel I was dead tired.  Overall, this was the favorite moment of the trip for my brother and I.
My next few posts will be about the World Domination Summit, which was the main reason that I went to Portland.  For now, enjoy some pictures of the Washington and Oregon coasts.

 

Northwest Trip, Part 1

About two weeks ago, my brother and I went on a trip to the Pacific Northwest, mainly Portland, Oregon.  I was going to the World Domination Summit, and my brother tagged along with me for the trip, but not for the summit itself.  I invited my brother, since he does not travel as often as I do, and he had yet to fly on a commercial airline or see the ocean.

The trip started off the day after Independence Day.  We flew out of Omaha around the lunch hour on that day.  Overall, the flight was uneventful, other than looking at the mountains and deserts that occur between Omaha and Las Vegas.  The plane stopped in Las Vegas for about an hour, but it would not let my brother and I off the plane since we were continuing on.  My brother hoped to get off the plane in order to check out the Las Vegas airport.  While we were landing, I pointed out a few landmarks of Las Vegas from the airplane, but that was about it for Las Vegas at this time.  The flight continued on to Portland.  I had a window seat, and after a while, the Nevada desert got really boring to look at from the airplane window.  Meanwhile, an older man started talking to my brother and I about Oregon while having some in-flight whisky.  He gave us some advice on things to see and do around Oregon, but later on we found out that some of that advice was inaccurate.  He was kind enough to offer us a ride to our hostel, but we declined.  When I turned back to the window, the landscape changed to a lush green forest, and pretty soon, I could see Mt. Hood, which meant that it was almost time to land.  Our plane landed in Portland, and my brother and I took the MAX light rail into town.  It took over an hour to get from the airport to our hostel just northwest of downtown Portland in the Alphabet District.

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We settled in, and then went to a nearby Trader Joe’s to buy stuff for the next morning’s breakfast.  I then got a hold of a couple of friends who were also in town for the World Domination Summit, Darby and Brian.  We met up at Holman’s Restauarant, located in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Portland for dinner as part of a meetup for introverts.  Although I am probably an Introvert, I only went to this meetup to meet with the other two attendees that I met before.  I met some new people there as well, as the meetup had about 25 people total.  We stayed there for about 3 hours, with dinner somewhere in there.  The service was sort of slow because our group overwhelmed the small restaurant, but at least we were all outside for the fresh Portland summer weather.  After we left Holman’s, a bunch of us went about a block away to Chopsticks II, a Karaoke bar/ Chinese takeout/ dive.  The place was kind of quirky, as the owner had his picture all over the Karaoke display screens in between songs, with the slogan “How can be?”, which I didn’t get, and I still don’t get.  I did meet the owner himself when I asked for some water.  After meeting him, it seems as if he is from Portland itself, unlike what his strange logo with “How can be?” would suggest.  It was a long night of karaoke.  I did not participate in the singing personally, like I normally do, because I was dead tired by this point, and I was with my brother, so I did not want to embarrass him.  There were at least 100 WDS attendees at the karaoke bar that night, and it included several big names whose blogs I follow, such as Tyler Tervooren, Benny Lewis, Johnathan Mead, Sean Ogle, etc.  There were a couple of locals in the mix as well.  Another thing that I noticed about restaurants and bars in Portland, is that they have an Oregon Lottery logo, which means that they have video lottery terminals and slot machine games.  Unlike the ones in Las Vegas, they tend to be almost silent, which is nice.

Busy Times

I have been quite busy for the past three weeks.  I am currently in the process of moving.  This past week, I went to Portland, OR with my brother.  I was there for the World Domination Summit.  I then went from that meeting to the Colorado Protein Aggregation and Immunogenicity conference for my work for the rest of the week, and I just got back home at the very early hours this morning.  I will write more about both conferences in the upcoming weeks.  I am still digesting what I got from both meetings, but for now, I must get some much needed rest.