Seeing Chris Guillebeau in Seattle for his new $100 Startup Book

Yesterday morning I sat down with a cup of strong Irish tea to catch up on a ton of email. I didn’t get very far before I discovered Chris Guillebeau was scheduled to speak that night at Town Hall Seattle. I’ve never met the guy, and his writings expressing his unique way of thinking about our world provoke and inspire me. I love his blog The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work and Travel. He has a book out with the same title that also stirs the pot, your pot, with relish. It stirred my pot for sure.

Fueled up with a late afternoon cup of coffee, I hustled downtown and promptly got lost. I make the same stupid mistake every time by parking in the wrong underworld garage then meandering around in the labyrinthine maze atop the Convention Center lid over the freeways. I caught myself ranting on the phone to my wife as I tried to get her to come meet me, but she was too far away to arrive anywhere close in time.

She listened with more patience than me as I caught myself getting angry. Feeling silly, I burst out laughing at what a fool I was. I cooled off quick and chilled out. There were more important things to do than get wiggy over buses and cars, and, boom, Town Hall. Wow, I’ve never happened upon it so quickly. I could hear the Universe poking me and saying, “So, there!”

It was only $5.00 to get in to Chris Guillebeau’s presentation Downstairs at Town Hall. Wow. And between the time I paid $5.00 and scurried back from the bathroom the numbers of people in the room had swelled from about a dozen to well over a hundred folks. As more poured in the staff flung open the partition curtains and arranged more rows of chairs. And still more people arrived.

Chris Guillebeau is a tall, lean, young man who lives with his wife Jolie in Portland, Oregon. Apparently she lets him travel as long as he promises to keep coming back home to her. He’s never worked a real job and has been self-employed most of his life. Chris is a world traveler and adventurer who’s been to, as of last count, 183 nations. He’s a salesman, volunteer activist, writer, entrepreneur, networker, published author, and a blogger with a global following.

I think of Chris Guillebeau as a type of guerrilla Seth Godin as he operates on a much smaller budget than that genius on the Hudson. Chris has demonstrated he’s a man of action and vision, probably in that order, and is both proud and humble.

In person he’s courteous, friendly, easy-going, and piercing. Up on stage he is an acute, attentive listener with a quick mind. Chris bows before his mentors and his followers and acknowledges he wouldn’t be anywhere without both. He demonstrates a gift for speaking with a certain cadence right into the ears and minds of another’s listening. And his stories are … amazing. What people do to move forward when they choose to move is awe inspiring. His unique perspective on the Great Global Recession with his mix of gloomy realism and optimistic opportunism inspires. I could feel the whole room bend forward in … wow, in gladness, in hope. But don’t get your hopes up too high. Chris Guillebeau is much too pragmatic and down-to-earth to be anyone’s messiah.

Chris is on a whirlwind tour across North America to market his new book, The $100 Startup: Reinvent The Way You Make A Living, Do What You Love, And Create A New Future. He presents his two primary themes: “freedom” and “value.” He is all about freedom. He is for each person establishing their freedom – if they choose to do so. It is a choice, and he points out too many people give up before they even get going as they believe being free is just too hard, too much work, too expensive, etc. And he is aware to be truly free and independent is only true within the context of our interdependent networks. Chris is also a big stand for value and redefines value as something a person creates to share with others. It doesn’t do any good to invent or create the most astounding thing only to hide it or use it for extorting extreme prices.

There are other themes, too. Our current economic hard times are truly HARD TIMES. Everywhere he goes Chris encounters many, many, way too many highly qualified, educated, and skilled human beings out of work or underemployed. Either they lost their jobs or their businesses failed. When Chris saw over 300 supereducated people apply for a low-level clerical position for $14 an hour with 0 benefits, he knew the system is broken.

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Reticence

“OK, who’s in?” asked Deborah Drake for her scary, post-Halloween blogging challenge. She threw down yet another gauntlet to our delightfully strange circle of creative writers and business bloggers. “It starts next Tuesday, November 1st!”

Slouched in my folding chair with my legs flopped out from once sitting excited on the edge of my seat with my feet planted, I raised my arm. It was as a dead tree limb except it moved. It moved “yes.” My arm stuck up higher than I expected in spite of my reticence. And oh, I was reticent.

It occurs to me as I type we associate dead things as “heavy.” Dead weight. I think of death as lighter. If you’re an animal, well…uh…stuff drains out. Air expires. For a little bit, anyway, right, till decay generates more, uh … gas. Plants decay, too. In the water dead things float, become waterlogged, and sink to the bottom. Now that IS added weight, unlike the Lady of the Lake who turned into soap at Lake Crescent. But if there’s any spirit or soul, well, we’re a few nanograms lighter after bio-death, right? Hmmnnn…no more glazed donuts and Boston cream-filled shuga yummies adding to the scales. But a dead branch still jutting from a tree is dry and hollow, much lighter than a living branch heavy with water and life. Good Lord, see what happens with me living in my own ADHD? Everything relates. Oh, good, I’m now at 217 words.

That’s 117 more than the minimum per blog post. Deborah Drake is fierce in her advocacy for writing, or rather the discipline of writing every day even if it isn’t much or all that great. We return to the mindfulness of the practice of being mindful: we wash the dishes to wash the dishes to wash the dishes, not to hurry up and get out of the kitchen so we can rush off to the next distraction. We create to create. I write to write to write. Strip out the “because to’s” or the reasons why and all the “in-order-to’s.” We hone our craft with the presence of someone sharpening a dull axe or a big-bladed knife. I pay attention and drop into the flow of sharpening my edge whether it’s my axe, my writing, or, more challengingly, my children and my wife. Continue reading “Reticence” »