Northwest Trip, Part 5

On the second day of the summit, I slept in and missed the first two talks.  I was really tired, and I decided not to get up for Chris Brogan’s talk.  At the time, it felt like a talk that I “should” attend, but since I am not so much into “shoulds”, I went back to sleep for an extra hour or so.  It turns out from what I heard from other attendees that it was an amazing talk, and people got some superhero trading cards.  Please refer to the other blogs about this amazing talk that I missed out on.  By the time I got to the theater, Cal Newport was beginning his talk.  Cal is an assistant professor at MIT.  His talk was not about doing what you love or what you are passionate about.  Instead, it was about why this advice is bad, and the alternative to that.  The alternative is to become really good at something, gain respect in the field, and then when the right moment comes, leverage the experience and pivot into something that is more intrinsically rewarding.  He used a couple of examples for this.  The first example was with Steve Jobs.  Steve Jobs spent much of his teenage years working in circuit boards and building microcomputers.  However, when he went to Reed College (located in Portland), he did not major in engineering or anything related to computers at the time.  Instead, he majored in Religion, with a focus on eastern religions, mysticism, and literature.  While in college, he was working part time for Atari before dropping out of school.  He sold circuit boards to a computer shop for a while.  The moral of this story is to get good at something, and to do it first to see if you are passionate about it.  It is always important to take the action first instead of thinking about it in the abstract.  Another takeaway from this is that the longer someone is in a position, the more that they feel like it is a calling, and because of this, it is beleived that less than 4% of raw passion directly translates to a career.  The second example that was used was an editor from the New Yorker.  Once the editor is in a strong position at the company, instead of taking a promotion, he quits and moves to Vermont, and wrote several best sellers on environmentalism.  His work in newspaper editing was then leveraged to a career in writing books.  The third part of his talk was that what you do for your work is what really matters, but instead what sort of lifestyle traits that are desirable.  So, the most successful people are somewhere between a super passion and a career in ditch digging.

That was the last talk before lunch, and then it was back to the food carts up the street for lunch.  I had Thai food for lunch that day, and I ran into some other people that I met at a Steve Pavlina workshop last fall.

After lunch, I went to my first breakout session by Scott Dinsmoore.  I chose this breakout session because it deals with connecting with other people in a meaningful way.  The first step is to provide a new and unusual experience for the person that you are meeting with.  The second step is to help friends without expecting a return, so when you find a way to reach out, do it!  The third step is to show up and be there for that person.  There was some reference to that is based off of pickup artist techniques.  Scott used an example on how he sent an unusual postcard to Warren Buffet, and then got to meet him in Omaha this past spring.  Overall, I thought that this session was going to be more interactive than it actually was.  The main thing that I got out of it is that it would be helpful for me to read “The Game” in order to improve my social life, and by extension my professional life.  This is a theme that I am working on, as I realize more and more that a person’s relationships are a major factor in defining the quality of a person’s life.

The next breakout session was a Travel Hacking workshop.  This was much more interactive than I thought it would be.  Everybody was giving each other advice on how to find mileage offers on credit cards and how to redeem miles, and even to upgrade airline miles.  I wrote down a lot of notes for websites that I have yet to check out, even one month after the fact.  The hour at this session went by really fast.

We all went back to the theater for a WDS attendees stories forum.  This consisted of last years attendees who returned this year, and what they have been up to after last year’s WDS.  I don’t actually remember much about each story, but they were inspiring.  The two that I clearly remember was about an older attendee who lost his business and his home a few years ago, and then he started making balloon animals, and he got good at it.  He now travels the country making balloon animals, and he was even hired to make balloon animals for the WDS.  The second story that I remember was about an attendee who developed breast cancer last fall, and performed a song about her experience on a ukulele.   It was a pretty lighthearted song considering the circumstances.

The final speech was by JD Roth, who has a personal finance blog called “Get Rich Slowly”.  It was not about personal finance so much as his life story.  It was a story of reinvention at several points in his life.  He was bullied in school, so he reinvented himself to become more active in school activities.  He was successful through college and getting his career established.  However, he started to burn out, resulting in being $35,000 in debt and overweight.  In this hole, he reinvented himself again, and his personal finance blog is a part of helping others get out of their financial ruts to begin with.  The main points of this talk was to allocate as much money as possible to things that truly matter and cut back on everything else.  An example of this is to put rocks in a jar first, then the sand, because if the sand goes in first, there will be no room for the rocks.  Another takeaway from his talk is to focus on one thing at a time, finish it, and then move on.  This takes about 10,000 hours per thing to become an expert at it.

After that, Chris Guillebeau had a surprise for us.  He gave each of us $100.00 in cash to go out and make the world a better place.  It took me a few days to decide what to do, but I got my idea a few days later when I was in Colorado for a work related conference.  Colorado and many other states have been suffering from wildfires this summer, so my idea is to help those affected by the wildfires with my $100.00.

There was an after party at the crystal ballroom that ran from 8:00 PM to midnight that night.  At first, the party got off to a slow start.  There a group performing old-time standards from the American songbook, but at the time it felt like elevator music.  Things did not really begin to pick up until 10:00 PM when an Indian DJ came and played his Bollywood dance mix.  The last two hours of the party was everybody jumping around looking uncool dancing to Bollywood music.  After the after party, some of us went to look from more clubbing action downtown.  Three of us, including my brother, ended up at an arcade and played some games until closing time.

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