Hi! I moved to a new place. I would love for you to visit me there.

How I Met Chris Guillebeau, Non-Conformity and Lessons Learned

Chris Guillebeau from the Art of Non-Conformity was visiting Atlanta last week as a part of his Unconventional Book Tour.  The message of his book – Set Your Own Rules. Live The Life You Want and Change The World. Love it! The changing the world part will come naturally, I believe, when you commit to living from your core and doing what matters to you.

I was incredibly inspired after listening to Chris speak at the event. I’ll  share with you the questions I asked him and his answers, as well as some golden nuggets from the Q&A session. First, however, I wanted to share a related personal story. You love my personal stories, don’t you?

So I’ve been going through a big life reevaluation process lately. Once again!

One of the peak moments in my life was moving to US 6 years ago. I changed everything – career, relationships, my future and my future kids’ and grandkids’ future. That’s what I thought, at least.

Little did I know that I didn’t make the most important change. Mindset.  Physical relocation to a new country leaving everything behind was a big deal, I have to admit, but at the core everything stayed the same.

I changed career, but I still hated highly disliked every one of the jobs I had, just like I did when I lived in Russia. I found a new circle of friends but it was very similar to the one I had before. I went back to school and got a new degree but felt that I was wasting my time. Same old stuff.

Only couple years ago the true change started happening. I decided to start my own business and committed to never do 9-5 again. I started a long journey of finding my passions, believing in myself, gaining clarity on who I am and what I wanted to do. I decided to get divorced. I let go of the friendships that kept me stuck in the past. I let go of the old beliefs that were not serving me.

I finally changed my mindset and as a result my external reality slowly but surely started changing.

Now looking back I see that one of the key steps I took  to make this change happen was connecting with the people who had already made it. Those who lived their truth. Those who had reached what I wanted to reach. At first it was my school professor, successful entrepreneur. Then going to the seminars and meeting more of those people. Then reading their books and blogs.

Recently I decided to make this process more intentional if you will. I decided to stop being connected as a silent observer and actually start having conversations.

So I sat down and wrote a list of names.  Some people on my list know who I am and we already had some kind of personal interaction.  I want to develop those relationships further. Most people on my list I never had any kind of interaction with besides reading their blogs and/or twitter feeds.

Now a lot of you know that I am a very introverted person. So the whole “conversations” thing with people I don’t personally know is actually a big deal for me.

Long story short, Chris was one of the people I had on the list. He was a very high priority too.  So of course I was incredibly excited to find out that he was going to stop in Atlanta for his AONC book tour.  I knew there would a big crowd at the event and wasn’t sure if I’d have a chance to actually talk to Chris.

I was in for a surprise. When I finally got to talk to Chris, I didn’t have to tell him my story. Why? Because he knew it already! He followed my link from Twitter, read my about page, knew I was from Russia, asked me about my son.  You can probably imagine how amazed I was.

We talked and at the end of our conversation Chris said 7 powerful words Jonathan Fields wrote a post about few weeks ago.

What can I do to help you?

I asked to interview him sometime in the near future. He said he’d be happy to do it. Real conversation. Exactly what I wanted.

Lessons I learned:

  • Set a clear intention. Just like I did with the list. The Universe will find a way to make it happen.
  • Your story is much more interesting and compelling than you think it is. Start and keep sharing it. People who resonate with you will find you and maybe even offer to help.
  • Expect that people do want to help you.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach anyone.
  • Start connecting. I wish I made the decision to start doing it earlier.

I asked Chris couple questions:

1. What are the key strategies that played the biggest role in your success? Chris’s answer was:

  • Clarity on who you are and what your message is (of course!)
  • Building strategic relationships with like minded people
  • Consistency and integrity. Don’t give up. Do what you say you will do. Always.

2. I also asked him how to approach established authorities in the niche when you are just starting out and are shy and introverted like yours truly. Chris’s answer was:

80% of big names online want to build relationships and want to help. Be genuine and authentic. And just write them. Simple. All brilliant always is.

I am going to take Chris’s advice to heart. Hope you will too.

Some other golden nuggets from the Q&A session with Chris:

  1. It’s not about being efficient, it’s about doing something meaningful. Do it even if it is inefficient.
  2. Think of your message first and then see who resonates with it. Target market is not something for you to decide on. Your target market will be people who resonate with your message.
  3. It’s never too late. It really never is. Start. Now.

I started reading The Art Of Non-Conformity Book. I’ll do a review when I am finished but I am already incredibly inspired after only first few chapters. Full of inspirational stories, actionable strategies and, of course, tons of non-conformist ideas. I have a feeling I’ll love this book.

And couple last things I have to write about, I loved how Chris looked into the eyes of every person he spoke with. He was fully present.  You could tell he was genuinely interested in everyone who came to the event. He cared. Doing meaningful work that makes you feel alive helps you stay present and connected. People can’t not like it.

Also after visiting so many states, meeting so many people and giving his talk so many times already, he was inspired, energized and passionate. At the end of the Q&A session everyone in the room felt the same. True passion is contagious.

So what will you start doing today to change the world?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Guillebeau November 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Hey Lana! What a fun writeup — thanks so much for taking the time. It was great to meet you and I’ll look forward to that interview.

Yours in World Domination,



Anastasiya November 4, 2010 at 12:37 am

Lana, what a great post! I loved how you combined your personal story and “golden nuggets” from Chris.
You know already that I am in the process of doing exactly what i want to do in life – I just hope that the results will not disappoint me 🙂 No matter what the outcome of my project will be – I know that it is worth trying and worth putting effort into. It’s a great learning experience.


Hilary November 7, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Hi Lana .. delighted to read the post – I bought something from Chris a while ago .. and just never got to use it – timing & illness issues .. but he emailed me and asked if it was ok & said I could always contact him .. so his name is up there – with people who care ..

So great that you were able to connect and will have that contact in the future .. so happy for you – so much has been happening & all your changes have been daunting .. & I understand the ‘being on your own’ bit (slightly!) .. but well done & a huge learning curve ..

Enjoy the future .. and I’m sure your son/children and grandchildren will be so proud of their Grandma!! happiness to you .. Hilary


Ivan Thalasso November 16, 2010 at 7:40 am

It looks like Mr Guillebeau’s small army is growing in size. Just like yours. 🙂


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