by Maisie Smith on July 23, 2014
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
It cracked open my soul a bit to witness the pasty white underbelly of self-promotion. And clarity came rushing in.
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 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:
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:
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,