Choose Your Own Adventure: Life as a professional inspirer

Chris Guillebeau plays by his own rules. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that he doesn’t acknowledge the existence of rules that disempower. To Chris, rules only exist where one personally implements them. Rules are there to work for you, not against you. Rules by definition are stringent guidelines that keep control in the hands of those who would seek to limit the choices of others. That is why some rules are meant to be followed, some to be bent, and others, to be broken.

In 2011, Chris went to 26 countries he had never visited before, putting his overall count well over 150. Most of these travels were after our TEDxConcordiaUPortland event in May. Think he had a busy year? He also hosted his World Domination Summit event for extraordinary authors, bloggers, thinkers and doers, and, finally, he finished writing a book. Wow. I do know for a fact that he loves to drink coffee. He plans to make a smooth transition to more herbal tea in 2012.

At last year’s May event Chris spoke on the business of inspiration, something that, from no lack of experience, he knows a lot about. “I was greatly impressed with the professional quality of both the planning and execution, says Guillebeau. “ It was somewhat intimidating to follow it with my own event, but fortunately we managed to persevere.”

As with most TED and TEDx speakers, Chris was extraordinary before he came to speak at our event. The act of speaking doesn’t make one extraordinary; rather, the actions that lead up to the invitation to speak are what everyone wants to hear about. It was good to hear that Chris had a great time last year, and is excited as ever about our upcoming event.

I’ve personally met Chris several times, and it’s still not easy to glean the mindset with which this man propels himself to such extraordinariness. His is no false modesty; he genuinely believes that anyone can do what he does in terms of grabbing their life by the wheel and getting to where you want to go. He makes you believe that you too have this power, and that emancipation from the ordinary is only one hard, introspective look away.

One gets the sense when talking with Chris that he doesn’t work for stardom or the adulation of fans, but that he is sincere to the core in what drives him to succeed. When told that his career has been and is extraordinary and subsequently asked about how it came to be, Chris replied, “I’m not sure I’m that atypical. Probably the only difference is that I learned to focus on what I wanted to do and then reverse-engineer the process of actually doing it.” Like many TED and TEDx speakers, he is authentic about his message, and we can tell. That’s why we’re proud to announce that Chris’s company Unconventional Guides is our title sponsor in this year’s March event. Unconventional Guides helps supply “practical resources for world domination”.

Chris is a very connected man, with 40,000+ subscribers to his newsletter internet email series “6 ways to Change the World”, and his own website, he stays in touch with what matters to him personally and professionally when he’s traveling. Technically, we live about 9 blocks apart in Portland, but I’m not surprised that I’ve never seen him around town. Portland’s a cool city and everything, but those 195 other countries in the world aren’t coming to you, so if you’re interested in travel hacking, as Chris fantastically deems it, or you’re interested in living your life on your agenda only, and with the calibrated finesse it takes to become extraordinary, then Chris’s materials are worth checking out.

By Hunter Brookshier

Hunter is a Communications and German major at Portland State University. He has always been interested in stories; how they’re told, who’s telling them, what the person telling them has experienced that makes them tell such a story. These are all fascinating questions to Hunter. Sometimes stories recount the facts, other times they exist only in the fragile framework of an idea. Many times, more often then not, stories are interesting, and occasionally, they’re all we dwell on for days and weeks and months after experiencing them. That’s why Hunter loves TED. It’s an organization that tells stories through the age old venue of public speech. TED is more than the sum of its parts. This isn’t an ad for TED, but really, why shouldn’t it be? TED connects brilliant minds, and tells the most interesting true stories in the world. Hunter is proud to be a part of TEDxConcordiaUPortland, and here he will continue to learn and grow.

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