Monday, July 9, 2012

World Domination Summit: Closing Story

We were about to be dismissed from the World Domination Summit. Our minds were already full to bursting from everything we'd heard and seen. Then the organizer, Chris Guillebeau, came on the stage. He said, "I want to tell you a story. It's an old story, you may already know it.

"There was a man who was about to go on a trip. But he decided before he left he should take some of his money and invest it. So he found a few people and he gave each of them some money and said, 'do something with this while I'm gone.'

"A lot of people have explained this story by talking about the character of the people who got the money and what they did with it. I'm more interested in the person who gave the money. Why did he do that? Why didn't he take it with him, or save it in a safe place? Maybe it's because he believed in the people he was giving it to."

Then he told us that there had been a little profit from the conference, and they had been trying to figure out what to do with it. And then, along came someone who wanted to support the conference through a private donation. When Guillebeau said there wouldn't be any sponsors, the anonymous donor said it wasn't about that. And they tried to figure out what to do.

You know where this is going, don't you? I sure did, sitting there in my seat, thinking, "You're going to do this, aren't you?"

Suddenly, we were in the story, and it wasn't so theoretical any more.

As the attendees at the conference left the theater on Sunday afternoon, we each received an envelope--all 1,000 of us. Inside the envelope was $100 (do the math) and a note saying, "Thanks for making #WDS2012 a fantastic experience. We'd love to see how you put these funds to good use. Start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different--it's up to you."

I got my envelope and started crying. Why? Because it Scared. Me. Shitless. What was I going to do with this money? How could I use it wisely and well? How could I turn it into something else, bigger and better than the original investment?

It may be better to give than to receive. I also think it's a hell of a lot easier. My first impulse was to hand that money on to somebody else, somebody who could use it. But I already have $100 to give to others. I think the more challenging thing for me is to figure out something else to do with it, something different. I just have no idea what it is. Yet.

I'll be spending much of the week blogging about my experiences at WDS. I had no idea what to expect from it. I still don't know quite how to explain it. Maybe it has something to do with the underlying assumption that each of us is a good investment. Whatever it was, it was amazing.

Much more to come.

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