It’s not often that you get to meet one of your heroes in real life.
Even less often, I’d imagine, that said hero, upon meeting you for the first time in person, says, “You’re awesome.”
(I’m awesome? Can you say “disarmingly charming”?)
But Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Nonconformity (the book and the blog), is known for being unconventional in most things, so no big surprise that he’s also unconventional in his approach to hero-dom.
A Hero of the People
The very term “hero” conjures up images of someone apart from the rest of us. Chris, though, doesn’t set himself apart, but instead endeavors to make every single one of his followers and fans feel special.
I daresay he does an awesome job at this, which is one reason why he’s my hero.
The Unconventional Book Tour
At the time of this writing, Chris is still in the middle of his Unconventional Book Tour, visiting 63 cities in stops in all 50 US states plus all Canadian provinces on a self-funded tour to spread his message of unconventional living and changing the world.
A week or two before his San Francisco meetup last Wednesday (where I got to meet him), I opened a hand-addressed envelope to find a notecard with the following message on the outside:
And a hand-written note on the inside:
So glad you’re coming to #WDS! (And thanks for being so amazing.)
How could I not be totally inspired and impressed? The guy just has class.
Walking the Talk
If you’ve read much on this blog, you’ll know that Chris Guillebeau is a big reason why I’m finally on the path I’m on, following my evolving Bliss(es) instead of settling for what Tara Sophia Mohr calls a B+ life.
Truthfully, any number of amazing people could have served the function of setting me off on my Right Path, but Chris landed on my radar at a time when I was primed to leap off a cliff. He provided a model of how that leap might actually enable me to fly, rather than face-planting, and a model was exactly what I needed in that moment.
A model of doing what you love, and making a good living.
A model of doing what you love, and making a difference.
A model of not settling for B+, but really living full-out.
Ten months later and I’m well on my way to doing all of the above, so of course I had to make it to the Unconventional Book Tour / Art of Nonconformity Road Show!
“He looks about 12!”
I invited my friend Fawn, who knew nothing of Chris Guillebeau or the Art of Nonconformity (except what she might have heard from me).
Her tweet from the event:
At the Rockit Room with @a_creative_life for a reading by someone who’s apparently a major blogger. He looks about 12! It’s v cute.
“Apparently a major blogger!” Ha! In my (admittedly narrow) view, that’s kind of like saying the Beatles are apparently a popular rock band.
An Adult Fan-Girl
Knowing there’d be a crowd, I insisted we get there early, and was able to snag front-row seats upstairs in the bar where the meetup was held. A quick glance around the room revealed some A-list bloggers (whom Fawn also knew nothing about) making me feel like a fan-girl extraordinaire.
Ah, what ten months in the blogosphere will do to a girl…
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits did the honors of introducing Chris, and except for the fact that we were all in jeans in a dark bar rather than black tie in a fancy Hollywood theater, I might as well have been a bit player in the audience of the Academy Awards.
Heroes! Heroes galore!
Then Chris took the mike and gave his “ADD-Friendly” 15-minute talk about the Art of Nonconformity, in which he addressed several of us in the audience by name, called a few other people up to speak, and referenced the importance of connecting with the amazing people in the room probably more times than he referenced his own work in bringing us together.
Did I mention he’s my hero?
And he’s right, too: the people that I met that night played as much a role in the specialness of the evening as meeting Chris did. I met three very cool women, Michelle, Sophia and Shanna, bloggers all, each of whom was excited to write a guest post for my site-in-progress, 365 Days of Genius.
The Introvert Effect
During his presentation Chris talked a bit about being an introvert, and how these kinds of gatherings have stretched him.
Yeah, I get that. Though many people have done their damnedest to argue with me on this point, the truth is I’m an introvert as well.
(Yes, it’s possible to be a “people person,” and a performer, and also be an introvert! If you don’t believe me, you just don’t know the true meaning of the word.)
So, at the end of Chris’s talk and my mini-schmooze, when I turned to face the specter of the very long line of folks waiting for Chris to autograph their books, my Inner Introvert told me in no uncertain terms that she was done for the night.
I felt kind of badly to miss out. I knew I could have dived into the crowd and met a whole slew of other amazing people, not to mention getting Chris’s signature in my copy of the book.
But the prospect of trying to penetrate the crowd was just beyond me at that moment. It’s something I’ve learned how to do, and even do effectively, but it drains the hell out of me when I’m fresh, and I was fully cooked.
So Fawn and I meandered off for a cup of tea at her place (while ogling shoe porn on her laptop) before I hit the road down the Peninsula to my own comfy bed.
A Summit of World Dominators
I confess, part of the reason I was able to concede to my Inner Introvert’s needs over my Fan-Girl’s desires was that I knew I’d get more opportunities to rub shoulders with Chris and a passel of fascinating, unconventional people in the not-too-distant future.
Six months from now, in fact, when about 400 of us will converge on Portland, Oregon for the World Domination Summit.
I’ll pack my copy of The Art of Nonconformity in my suitcase, and maybe I’ll get an autograph then.
Or not. As Chris so wisely pointed out, it’s the interactions that matter most. The other stuff is just frosting.