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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.



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