A small subset of people set remarkable goals. Chris Guillebeau, who writes at The Art of Non-Conformity, is one such individual. He has challenged authority since 1978, and also happens to have been born in 1978. He has set a goal to travel to all the countries of the world by April 7, 2013. He has been to 122 of the total of 192 countries, as of this writing. This traveling, and travel-hacking that he does to keep his goal attainable, gives his writing a worldly sense, as his current ‘home’ is more like Earth than it is his home state of Oregon.
Chris has put out some greatly useful creations, like his free Ebook 279 Days to Overnight Success. It lets the reader know that, while it requires patience and time to reach a worthwhile goal, is it certainly doable, and the Ebook is filled with his thoughts and pointers about how to make it happen, based on his experience. He has also put out other products about travel tips or working for yourself. I am always in support of folks who put their knowledge and ideas out there for others to absorb and build off as desired. Here is my interview with Chris, followed by some closing commentary, and a summary:
Armen: How do you feel about the millions(or more) around the world who conform to certain expectations set on them, due to a fear of potential consequences of going against those expectations? What would you want them to know?
Chris: I feel that it’s unfortunate. I’d want them to know they don’t have to give in.
Armen: You have talked about using “social media as a force for good”. I agree with this usage of it. What are a couple of conventional or unconventional ways that come to your mind of using social media to bring benefits to individuals who may or may not use social media?
Chris: The conventional use of social media is a broadcast platform for personal promotion; the unconventional use is to create and participate in conversations. I learn from people every day through Twitter, and I enjoy using the platform to bring awareness to other people’s good work.
Armen: Do you think that boldness trickles down? This would be like when a person such as yourself takes bold action, leading to a few others around you then doing something that is bold to them, and so on.
Chris: That’s a good way to put it. I guess I’d say that in the beginning of my project I didn’t really understand that concept, but now after a couple of years I can see how it makes sense. And when I think about it further, I recall all the people I was inspired by who helped me to go further in my own life.
Armen: Transparency is a big reason as to why site-writers and others who put content out online are looked at in a good light, because we can often see more of what they are thinking and doing, as compared with the voices behind other types of media. While some individuals, such as yourself, benefit greatly from being more and more transparent, it is possible that some big shots on the Internet may start to pull back once they have gotten large enough, leaving transparency behind. Do you feel that the transparency of those who put content out online is going to increase or decrease in the future?
Chris: I feel that it’s increasing, overall. One thing to keep in mind is that as someone’s profile grows, they may not be able to be as transparent as they were in the beginning. It’s not that they want to hide something; rather it’s that the situation may be so different that the same level of disclosure is no longer relevant.
Also, my view is that no one has to be 100% transparent about everything, but whatever you choose to be transparent about, you should be 100% open.
Armen: In your travels around the world, have you noticed that Internet frontiersmen like yourself are becoming the new leaders(I feel this way)? Do you look at it more like that you are a leader, or that you are a person that people can potentially look to for guidance and experiential knowledge?
Chris: I feel like I am a leader, sure. A leader who is someone with influence and followers — that’s pretty much the basic requirement. The relationship isn’t always one-way, of course — and I’m a follower of many other people, like Seth Godin, Paul Farmer, etc. As for the other part, that’s for other people to judge.
Although he was featured on The New York Times, MSNBC, The Washington Times, and in other media outlets, I feel that Chris’s impact is most felt by the people around the world who he continues to see and communicate with. When people meet with him, they are able to get insight from a man who has a global view, and who has seen much of the many types of societies and people that exist. It is tough to be narrow-minded when your mind has been so expanded. This connects with a quote by a past author and physician, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said,
Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
- You don’t have to give in to expectations, or conform to how certain individuals want you to, as you are your own being
- Social media is commonly used for self-promotion, but it can also be used to create and take part in conversations with people for the common good
- Inspiration and boldness spread from the folks who show/present them to others around them, and the cycle continues to pass from one person to the next
- Transparency is increasing and becoming more of what we want to see people show, and the key to it is to be 100% transparent in those items chosen to be transparent in
- Leaders influence people and have followers, but they can also follow others, and people can choose what guidance or knowledge they take from a leader