I Wish You Nothing But the Best As You Take Over the World

Dear World Domination Summit,

We need to talk.

I love you. Deeply. Every time I am around you, I return a better human being. The speakers on your stage are always phenomenal. The values that you stand for are inspiring. Adventure. Service. Community. Check. Check. Check. The city where you live, Portland, is delightfully eccentric. Where else can you wail on the bagpipes while riding a unicycle or practice focused Tai Chi on a crowded MAX platform?

I went into the long WDS weekend buzzing with excitement. Having just launched a new business, I couldn’t wait to have meaningful conversations with people like myself. I imagined lively discussions with other oddballs about how we were going to make a difference in our small corners of the world.

 

WDS 1000 wide

( #WDS2014 )

 

The whole “So, what do you do?” question has always made me cringe. I do lots of things: I write. I hike. I raise my child. I read a lot. I try to make the world a better place. I smile. I think.

 

To define me by a title is a bit maddening.

 

But I get it. We need to attach a career label to ourselves if we want to find commonality with others.

“This is Maisie. She smiles. And she’s a great thinker in her spare time.”

Weird.

“This is Maisie. She’s the gritty Audrey Hepburn of writers… a merging of grace and badassery.”

People can wrap their minds around that. It would hopefully elicit a raised eyebrow or two and open up a dialogue about choosing how we want to be in the world.

What I didn’t realize was that the incessant self-promotion going on at the World Domination Summit would prevent me from even getting a few precious seconds of conversation space. I found myself stuck in 30-minute conversations with people that were all about them and what supermagnificenttotallyawesomeandlifechanging thing they were doing in the world.

I get it. You’re doing good work. And you have a mind-blowing book workshop coaching program business that I should totally check out. Let’s actually have a conversation about it… one where you look me in the eye and are just as interested in me as I am in you.

While I listened and nodded and asked poignant questions that kept people talking about themselves, my mind was on the verge of a colossal existential meltdown. Perhaps if I were as badass as I think I am, I would have really socked it to those conversation-hoggers with my endearing snark. I probably would have used a fantastic word like “puffery”. And my motorcycle boot buckles would have jangled in the wind as I walked away. Instead, the “grace” side of me won out. I stayed silent. And kept nodding.

 

It was like drowning in an ocean full of people desperately trying to do good work in the world.

 

 

My silence turned into frustration. Which then turned into anger. And then morphed into a greater understanding of myself and the kind of person I want to be. I spent much of the weekend in silent introspection, watching the buzz from afar like an anthropologist in the wilds of an Amazon jungle.

 

note the distant hugs

It cracked open my soul a bit to witness the pasty white underbelly of self-promotion. And clarity came rushing in.

 

You see, I don’t want to dominate. Ever.

 

I simply want to serve others. I want to carve out my own little niche in the world, a writing studio that helps adventurous businesses to tell better stories. Just me, my laptop, a beer and my guy. Traveling and writing and living.

 

I’m not interested in the hustle. Or the neverending self-promotion. I’m good with my small corner.

 

 

You often hear that knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want. To expeditiously cross shit off of your list in the quest to determine what’s really important to you? It’s a priceless process of elimination. I love the sound an X makes when pen hits paper.

 

Swish Swish.

 

It’s the sound of realizing that you are one step closer to getting what you want.

And so, World Domination Summit, I think it’s time we went our separate ways. It’s not you. Truly. It’s me. After two years, I’ve finally figured out who I am.

As Shakespeare says:

 

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

 

I’m ready to own that.

Thank you for making my mission crystal clear. I wish you nothing but the best as you take over the world.

 

All my love,

 

MaisieSmith-Sig-XS

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52 Comments

  • Reply
    stacey
    July 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

    BOOM. exactly.

    i love this: “I simply want to serve others. I want to carve out my own little niche in the world, a writing studio that helps adventurous businesses to tell better stories. Just me, my laptop, a beer and my guy. Traveling and writing and living.”

    amen, girl. amen.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Stacey! Life is about knowing what you want, eh? And then pursuing it. Ah, I love clarity!

  • Reply
    Madeleine
    July 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Wow, so beautifully written! Yay to you for finding the courage to find and admit what’s not for you. It’s so easy to get caught in some “hot” marketing thing ‘coz all the big guys tell me I should do it. But everyone is different and that’s the beauty of it: someone needs 7 figures, someone needs 4, and someone doesn’t care about figures at all.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks, Madeleine! You are so right… there’s plenty of room for everyone at the table.

  • Reply
    Joyce
    July 24, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Maisie,
    Like moth to a flame, your post pulled me in deeper and deeper. Having been at #MisfitCon14 in Fargo too and being on my own reinvention journey, there is something about truth spoken. It’s hard to not be taken in by the din of ‘listen to me me me.. ‘
    I confess, I’m guilty of it. Listening and learning and carving out what success means to you, to me, to anyone, is unique. My definition of success? Having time to deadhead by flowers” Be well. and thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Hi Joyce! Thanks for your insights. One thing I’ve learned along the way is that we learn the lessons when we are ready. The Universe is flinging them at me as fast as I can take them. And I am so grateful for the clarity.

      I can’t wait to see what amazing things you do!

  • Reply
    Jan Gray
    July 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    You are amazing a beautiful.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Thank you, Jan! It’s been a fun ride figuring it all out. 🙂

  • Reply
    Laura Aiisha
    July 24, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Maisie… give thanks for sharing so transparently about your experience at WDS! Reading your beautiful written words is so easy for me.. easy to digest, easy to hear your voice.. I love it 🙂

    I honor your clarity about what you don’t want to be doing as far as self promotion, that you value deeper connections and conversations with others and that you want to ‘simply serve others.’

    One thing that made me curious is that instead of stating your truth and helping to bring conversations back to center, you retreated inward instead. Were there any ‘conversations’ or introductions that you had with people where you were able to shift from self promo to something more authentic and deep?

    Giving thanks for you being you in the world!

    xox

    Laura Aiisha

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Hi LA! Boy, I sure do adore you.

      Thank you for asking that question, because I have wrestled with it since returning from Portland. Within me there is a duality that is fighting for equal ground… graceful fierceness/fierce gracefulness. It’s been a beloved challenge to merge the two and my retreat inward at WDS was just plain awkwardness.

      I did have an awesome afternoon with a lovely writer friend of mine. We shared a beer together and had a blast. I also had the chance to hang with our motley tribe of Misfits for an evening. Those conversations always rock my world.

      It’s been fun following your journey. I am so excited to see what amazing things lie ahead for you!

  • Reply
    Keith Nerdin
    July 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Such a wonderful post Maisie. And wonderful posts flow from wonderful thoughts. And wonderful thoughts are generated by wonderful minds in wonderful people.

    These steps, this process, of getting closer and closer to understanding who we really are–learning to hear and feel our own natural rhythm–can be so rewarding and liberating.

    Deliberately small and intentional is a beautiful thing. Genuinely serving others is a gorgeous thing.

    So yeah…you’re on to something. Something special. It does resonate with others (including me), but even if it didn’t, it rings true for you. It brings you clarity, focus, and comfort. What a blessing.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks, Keith! Clarity is such an amazing thing. This was a pretty deep dive for me and the experience was a total pivot point for my business and my life. Feeling grateful!

  • Reply
    Carolyn
    July 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    We should have run into each other…I would have left plenty of room for awesome conversation as that is all I had/have to offer.

    I experienced a great deal of introspection this year too, which I am chalking up to be a very good thing, even if it was a bit isolating.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Carolyn! I love this. Thank you for sharing. It would have been lovely to meet.

      I hope you keep having awesome conversations. The world needs them. 🙂

  • Reply
    Beth
    July 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Beautifully written, Maisie! Just the name World Domination is enough to give me hives, but good for you for checking it out (and then crossing it off your list). Bummer on not being able to work “puffery” into the conversation though. That would’ve been awesome. 🙂

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Haha… “puffery”… what an awesome word, right? I’m kicking myself for not slipping that in somewhere. Pretty sure there will be a next time, though.

      This process of elimination in figuring out what makes me tick is super sweet. Seriously, actually crossing stuff out on paper is incredibly liberating. Perhaps give it a try in figuring out your first offering once you dump “The Man.” 26 days, right?

  • Reply
    Anne-Marie
    July 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    THIS is PERFECTION!! TRULY!!!
    Call me when you get back . . let’s hang in a corner and not self promote . . and drink beer!
    xo
    AM

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Sweet, Anne-Marie! I’m totally in.

  • Reply
    Micky
    July 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    This is. It just is! Best blog post I think I’ve ever read. Hats off to you.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Micky! Thanks so much for the rad comment. Seriously. You made my day.

  • Reply
    Lisa
    July 24, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Maisie,
    Thanks so much for sharing this. 2014 was my first (and likely last) WDS. I felt what you described, the lack of connection, the self-promotion, so intensely that it was incredibly off-putting. I did manage to connect authentically with a few people and we found such interesting similarities in our life experiences. Those sorts of things made it worthwhile.

    I especially like this: “I simply want to serve others. I want to carve out my own little niche in the world…” I’ve been thinking a lot about how everyone *seems* to have world-changing projects going on, or the gimmicks that seem to be necessary to get a “platform” for those projects so something more can come from them. Like you, I think I’m cut out for something smaller. I feel like for years I’ve been trying to live a “big” life and it’s been killing me, literally. I wish that there was more space in the WDS world to say that you just want something good, small, and meaningful. Everything doesn’t have to be outsize to fulfill our missions.

    Thanks again,
    L.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Lisa! You are spot on, sister. Supersized dreams work for some people… but not for me. Small, curated, and lovingly crafted is where I see magic happen.

      Do you follow the Misfit movement? If not, you should. It would be totally up your alley.

      Take care and keep doing good things!

  • Reply
    farideh
    July 24, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    YES!
    Wow – I didn’t think that anyone else felt the same. So many great comments felt the same.

    I don’t want to start a revolution.
    I don’t want to lead anyone.

    I want to serve.
    I want to be behind the scenes.

    In February this year I realized that the greatest way to change the world was the serve others. If I help ten, who are helping 100 who are helping 1000 ….this is how I can do it.

    Great to meet a soul sister with a love of the quiet silent storm.
    Farideh

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

      Hi Farideh! I am loving your comments… YES to it all!!!!! Cheers to the benevolent disruptors and champions of small corners.

  • Reply
    Jane Boyd
    July 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Amazing post. You are onto something here…big time (or little time…) No question.

    For me it’s always about serving others. Listening. Engaging in two way conversations that have depth and connection. Giving. Intention. To me – this is where the magic happens.

    I’m so glad you are crystal clear on your mission now. Welcome home.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Hello fellow Misfit! Thanks for the comment. I love that desire to serve. It makes me think that humanity is moving in a good direction… more listening, less steamrolling.

  • Reply
    Gunhild
    July 25, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Wonderful, honest post!
    It makes me feel incredibly fortunate, that I actually had kind of the opposite experience of what you did, Maisie (I was at WDS2014 as well). I did encounter one strange person, who came up to introduce himself, seemingly wanting to get to know me and my friend – and then went on to tell that he was there to give absolutely awesome coaching for free, to grow his business. He then excused himself and was quite plainly not the least bit interested in doing anything else but promote himself. However, he was one person, and in the end I might count 20 people whom I feel like I connected with on a genuine level. A few I am absolutely sure will be friends for life, and a handful will definitely continue to be good acquaintances. Even people I will never see again contributed to a sense of being amongst awesome people who act on theirs dreams.

    I wish you the best of luck with finding your tribe people whereever they may be.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Thanks for the comment! I am SO glad that you experienced such genuine connections. There are so many people doing marvelous things in the world, many of whom attend WDS. I hope you dip into that good juju whenever you need it.

  • Reply
    Noel
    July 25, 2014 at 4:31 am

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way. The vibe this year was really different. Thanks for being brave enough to admit this. Too bad we didn’t meet. Best of luck to ya.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Hi Noel! It would have been lovely to meet you in Portland. 🙂 I hope you keep putting goodness out into the world. Those bits of brilliance matter. Take care.

    • Reply
      Rachel Whalley
      August 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      Agreed, Noel. I think the vibe this year was different, too. Fewer people came who were more familiar with the original seed of where WDS started?
      I’m not sure, but my post last year was about how wonderful it was to attend an event that was so full of open minds and hearts, so largely uncynical, that it was refreshing for me after seven years of business networking.

      This year, my post is very different, and one of the themes is that I had a harder time feeling like I “fit in” while being unconventional.

      I always go to big conferences for the networking, more than anything else, and I set a strong intention to attract people who are real and deep and funny…and just as interested in actual sustained connection as I am. I mostly got what I asked for this year, as I did last year, but this year, these kinds of people–MY people–seemed fewer and far between.

      Thanks for sharing this, Maisie. I get it.

  • Reply
    Jason Lindell
    July 25, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Love it! The line “She smiles. And is a great thinker in her spare time” is fantastic! Good for you finding out what you don’t want & who you do not want to be!

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Thanks, Jason! It’s been an interesting ride so far.

      I appreciate that you took the time to comment. It means the world to me. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sam Hunter
    July 25, 2014 at 9:47 am

    In deep appreciation of your candor. I had a good time but didn’t get my mind blown. I saw the swirl of networking going on, but managed to stay out of it. I wanted good, meaningful, local connections, and got them. I returned to a few people to just keep speaking with them because they were interesting. I probably didn’t manage a 10th of what I could have done, but it was all plenty. It was a lovely event, although I can’t say it CHANGED MY LIFE – I’ve been working at that for a while, so I know that it’s all incremental. It added some lovely info to an already deliberate path. And one new book to my reading list. Will I do it again? Maybe. I might volunteer tho… get more of those local connections that matter so much more to me.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Sam… thanks for your comments. I agree. Bits and pieces from our experiences form us, adding to a puzzle that is only partially put together. I love the “deliberate path.” Best of luck on your journey!

  • Reply
    Tim Brownson
    July 25, 2014 at 10:11 am

    That kind of sums up why I’ve never been to such events, although I have been very tempted at times.

    I used to attend a lot of conventions when I was in sales and they too were entirely about self promotion. I didn’t expect these to be any different, other than the fact people feel because they have honorable intentions then self promotion is not just ok, but their duty.

    I self promote a lot! However, I do it on my blog and through my writing because if I didn’t I’d be out of business. When I meet people who like what I do and want to chat I’d far rather have a beer and talk total crap and get to know them as a person than waste my energy wondering how I can convert them to a client.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 25, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Hi Tim! Thanks for the comment. I’ve been thinking about self-promotion A LOT lately. You have to do it if you want to stay in business and support your dreams and goals. I totally get it. It would be awesome to see a switch in the mentality of the masses to a more service-oriented style of promotion. I’d like to believe that we are all doing our amazing thing in the world because it will genuinely help others. “How can I help?” goes way farther than “How can I land this person as a client?”

      We should have a beer soon!

  • Reply
    Heather Thorkelson
    July 25, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Maisie, this was absolutely spot on and so well-written. I’m so glad to know you.

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 26, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Thanks, Heather! I would not have been able to do the “deep dive” without the encouragement I’ve received from you over the past year. Giving you a deep bow today, my friend.

  • Reply
    Lesley Stefanski
    July 25, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Oh this is absolutely perfect. And not just about WDS either, but about this constant push to dominate the internet and the world. Let’s serve, support, and encourage other’s while living our own beautiful lives. 🙂

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 26, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Yep… totally. There is room for us all, no need to dominate. Cheers to living life in your own magnificent way!

  • Reply
    Emily
    July 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Maisie,

    I’m landing here via the lovely Heather, who has said her hellos above and who I’m so grateful to know – via WDS no less. But that was back a few years, when deep and meaningful and laughter-filled conversations could be had. I went for two years in a row but could see in 2013 how the piles of business cards and elevator pitches were tipping the scales, how (by far) the most valuable and lasting connections (not networking, but connections in the old-school definition of, like, connecting…) were made around the hotel’s fire pit, and how the hustle to pursue an “unconventional” life in the “right” way was replacing the idea of creating an adventurous and fulfilling life by personal definition. I didn’t go this year. And I secretly hoped that I would regret that decision. I did not.

    I’m dismayed to learn that the noise got louder but happy to discover you came through it with more clarity for yourself.

    Perhaps I’ll see you around a different fire pit. I look forward to our conversation in that eventuality!

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Hi Emily! Thanks for the comment. I adore those conversations around the fire pit, where you talk about all things absurd and brilliant. That’s the stuff of life.

      Looking forward to meeting you one day!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      July 26, 2014 at 11:20 am

      “…how the hustle to pursue an “unconventional” life in the “right” way was replacing the idea of creating an adventurous and fulfilling life by personal definition.” OMG, that–utterly and completely. One of the things that really struck me is how the “traditional” path of higher ed, followed by grad school, law school, MBA, etc. (or whatever other approved middle class path) is dismissed in a favor of another equally rigid “right” way of proving one’s unconventionality.

      Thank you for putting more of my thoughts into very eloquent words :).
      L.

  • Reply
    Jackie Lea Shelley
    July 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Fuck, yes. THANK YOU FOR SAYING IT. I, too, adore WDS. It’s completely saved my life and radically transformed it. And I also was done with the hustle this year. I love what you have to say. So much gratitude for you, lady. Love!

    • Reply
      Maisie
      July 27, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      JLS…. yes x 1000! Rock on, you glorious Misfit.

  • Reply
    Laura D'Ambrosio
    July 29, 2014 at 10:10 am

    You describe well the unease I feel at many conferences and events. Misfit Con is different. Even though we all want to make a difference, there is a celebration of each individual person. Each persons’s unique gifts. And the ability, even encouragement to be vulnerable. That is what connects us. That is what is real.

    I’m with you – I don’t want to dominate anything. That title alone kept me from attending WDS. It just range false for me.

    You write with grace and care. No judgment. Just a deeper understanding a who you are and how you can make a difference. And you did with this post. Thanks.

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