Chris Guillebeau: live your life by your own rules

Written on December 20, 2012 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Chris Guillebeau, 34 years old, was born in Virginia, US. Best known for his popular blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, he uses the digital media to fly the flag of freedom: according to him people must live their life by their own rules using a “non-conformist” lifestyle.  In the blog, he discusses entrepreneurship, travel, and personal development topics. His traffic grew substantially after the release of a manifesto, A Brief Guide to World Domination, in 2008.

Guillebeau is also author of books and guides for travel and small business topics under the brand Unconventional Guides. His mission is to visit every country in the world by the time he is 35.

About one of his travels and adventures, he says: “I served as a volunteer executive for a medical charity in West Africa from 2002-2006. It was thrilling, challenging, and exhausting—all good qualities to have in an adventure. I gave keynote speeches to presidents, hung out with warlords, and learned far more in those four years than anything I learned in college”.

Masaaki Hasegawa, student of the Master in Visual Media Communication of IE, has interviewed Guillebeau. “Unlike people in the past, he is not stuck in the one location and one society. He traveled around the world. He generates value on his lifestyle and, through the blog, he gives valuable information and tells people about the life-style design. This is definitely new way of communication with society, both from the view point of commercial and individual perspective”, says Masaaki.


Find bellow the interesting interview.

M. Where are you originally from?

A.  I was born in Virginia (USA) and grew up in many different places. My hometown is now Portland, Oregon (USA) where I live about half the time and travel internationally for the other half.

M. Why do you travel? Many people hesitate to go to unfamiliar countries and places because of the fear of getting involved into some troubles.

A. I love the sense of being in motion and of going between worlds. I’m writing these answers on a flight from Hong Kong to London. Upon arrival, I’ll be continuing down to Guinea Bissau in West Africa. It’s a long journey but it all feels very normal. About the trouble, well, you can get into trouble anywhere, right? But, this concern shouldn’t keep you from crossing the street or crossing the world.

M. Could you imagine your current life before you went to West Africa? It seems that it would be difficult to depict the future that is traveling around the world and managing business, regardless of location, without current technology.

A. No, not at all – but I don’t think it’s technology that has made all the difference. Technology certainly helps, but I’ve been online since 1992 and have been working for myself since 1999. The greater change, I think, came from understanding more about the world and the possibilities that are available to many of us as we seek to engage with people.

After my time in West Africa came to an end in 2006, I came to Seattle for a graduate program in International Studies at the University of Washington. I enjoyed my studies, but I enjoyed travel even more – during every break between quarters, I traveled independently to countries like Burma, Uganda, Jordan, Macedonia, and 20 more.

M. You intentionally realized your current life-style with specific purpose and defined target or you just have been following your intuition?

A. Perhaps a bit of both. As you work toward a goal, a couple of things tend to happen. First, you often find you can achieve the goal quicker than initially expected. Then you often feel challenged to set higher and more challenging goals as you gain confidence. So, in my case it was first about stepping forward, saying to anyone who cared, “Hey, I’m doing this thing” and then learning to take more risks as I went along.

M. How did you come up with your life-style? Was there a certain moment you decided not to work as people next to you? Most people have no doubt about the common sense in the society and just to try to find the correct answer from options they have.

A. I was initially motivated by a sheer desire for freedom. I wanted to do something on my own, whatever it turned out to be. Later on I became more interested in questions of purpose and contribution—what will I create and leave behind? What kind of legacy project can I pursue?

Q. What was the first step to realize your life-style and how did you prepare for it? Because a lot of people, who dream to be free and start their own business, often end up being stuck to their business and losing their time to meet with people and to travel around the world. How do you overcome this dilemma?

A. Indeed, a lot of people end up creating a job instead of creating a business. That’s why it’s important to a) create the right kind of business, and b) continually reassess as you go along.

M. What are your criteria to choose business that you would be able to manage while traveling?

A. It greatly helps to have a business that is more dependent on specific deliverables than time commitments. It’s also much easier if your business is inherently dependent on skills instead of location—if your goal is to run the business while traveling, you probably don’t want a fixed retail location.

M. Please tell me about your path of self-promotion. What is the most important media for you?

A. By far the most important media are my own readers. More than any other form of coverage, the efforts of my readers are what ensure the project is widely-read and sustainable. If forced to choose, I’d gladly give up all traditional media coverage forever and continue to build worldwide relationships.

M. There are so many people who are working as nomad-worker, but not all of them can publish books or be famous. What is the biggest difference to make your life valuable to be paid attention by people?

A. Well, I think you allude to it in the second part of the question: the work itself has to be somewhat valuable. No one gets paid merely to roam the world and “be themselves.” They have to create something useful and helpful. If you do that and can find a way to package it in a way that meets people’s needs, that’s when you can be successful from a commercial perspective.

M. Based on your experience, what is the difference between people who can achieve their original goal and people who cannot achieve their goal?

A. The biggest difference is that those who succeed are able to overcome the roadblocks of getting started. Most people have dreams and aspirations, but not everyone translates those vague ideas into specific tasks. Execution is everything.

M. What is the definition of success and definition of freedom for you?

A. As for me, I try to live a life of gratitude and adventure.  My hope and intention is to create work that people find meaningful, motivating, or useful. I want to continuously improve in this regard and to learn more about the world along the way.


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