Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship’

How TrekDek Cards came to be a part of the World Domination Summit

From Egypt to Portland: TrekDek, Chris Guillebeau, and the WDS

Last weekend I was able to volunteer at the World Domination Summit in Portland, OR. How did I even hear about this oddly named conference? Well, it all goes back to a time when I was in the exotic land of Egypt.

I had landed a gig teaching English at a private school in Cairo. Teaching was never what I had intended to do, and it was really just a means to facilitate travel. In any case, I was trying to figure out how to get TrekDek up and running.  The process of figuring out how to get this business off the ground involved reading a lot of books, one of which was of course, The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. I  e-mailed him to tell him how much I enjoyed his book and maybe get some feedback on TrekDek. To my surprise, he actually responded. Awesome.

Flash forward to May 2011. I moved to Portland because a) it is an awesome city and b) I thought it would be a great place to launch TrekDek. After my first batch of cards was made, I remembered that Chris lived in Portland. I sent him a few decks and once again to my surprise, he enjoyed them so much that he wanted to put them in all the WDS gift bags. Score! It was at this point that I looked up what it was. After reading about it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be there personally to see all the awesome speakers and get some feedback from the WDS attendees. I begged and pleaded to be able to volunteer for a few weeks and I am happy to say my strategy of wearing the WDS staff down payed off.

The Best Part of WDS

Hands down, the best part of WDS was meeting the fantastic attendees. I’ve never met so many people looking to live life on their own terms. Most of my peers from college are struggling to define themselves through their careers, or attempted careers (sucky economy and all). It was refreshing to meet entrepreneurs, travelers, pastors, speakers, bloggers, and translators. I won’t even begin to tell you how many side projects that were being discussed.

The beer tour was a fantastic opportunity to meet some excellent WDS peeps (shout-out to Group 1). I had a long talk with Caleb Wojcki (@calebwojcik) about his upcoming wedding and plans for a long trip to Bali. Though I can’t say I’m not a little jealous of his upcoming adventure, it was inspiring to hear him talk about his aspirations and the concrete steps he is taking to get there. I wish you the best of luck (though luck has very little do with it) on your journey.

TrekDek reception

 Though I don’t mean to toot my own horn, I received very positive feedback on the TrekDek Playing Cards. In order to work TrekDek into the conversation without sounding too much like a sales guy, I had to make my own TrekDek jewelry. Now I know what you’re wondering and no, there aren’t any pearl TrekDek necklaces for sale. What I ended up doing was punching a hole through a pack of TrekDek cards, running a book ring through it, and attaching it to the name tag chain everyone was wearing. This was a much less awkward way of talking about the cards because most of the time, the person I was talking to would ask “why the heck are you wearing those?” It occured to me later that it wasn’t obvious that I was the guy behind the cards and not just a huge fan.

There were a couple of suggestions that a few people had for the cards:

A. Make it obvious that they double as actual playing cards

B. Have a website where people can upload the stories of their adventures that took place while accomplishing a TrekDek challenge.

Both are good points. In fact, I’ve already been working on B for a quite a while. Its still under development but you can test out some of the features here . Don’t be too harsh, it is still far from complete but I would love your feedback.
See you next year

I saw the amount of people that signed up for next year. All I can say is…Wow.

Good luck on your quest for world domination and I will see you in a year!

 

Cheers,

Dale

State of flow in a Portland coffee shop

Erica and I drove down from Victoria to Portland with her dad two days ago and we found ourselves sitting at a quintessential Portland pizza place called Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty. It was Portland in that it was low key, but the food was a bit full of itself. For example, Salami was called Saluni. Still delicious though.

Joining us was Erica’s twin sister Chloe, and her boyfriend Kevin. Kevin is a potential Trekdek co-founder that I’ve been bouncing ideas off. We only recently began talking about his role in Trekdek during my last few weeks in Egypt. It was difficult to stay in touch in the midst of an internet outage in Egypt and my beach hopping in Thailand, but we finally got the chance to sit down and chat in person

There were 5 people at the table. For my purpose, it might as well been just Kevin and I. We immediately begin to talk about the potential for Trekdek and how it could become the next billion dollar business (I never said we were realistic). Though it was bad table manners, I pretty much ended up ignoring everybody else. I only ended up saying a few words to them, “Could you pass the saluni?”

The next day I met with the founder of Supportland a Portland based startup that is replacing the punch card with a common swipe card that could be used at multiple businesses. It is pretty cool stuff. Why was I meeting with him? Well, Kevin is also working at Supportland and Michael was initially worried about a conflict of interest. However, that was about 5% of the conversation. The other 95% was talking about start-ups, Trekdek, Supportland, investment strategies, travel, and how work sucks. It was pretty awesome. Again, I didn’t notice anyone else hanging out at Albina Street Cafe.

The most trusted source on the Internet, Wikipedia, defines flow as
“completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.”

I achieved this state of flow twice within 48 hours of arriving in Portland. I rarely achieved that state of flow while teaching or working in a government office. The state of flow is the exact opposite of the mind-numbing work performed a la Office Space. Richard Florida, an economist who wrote The Rise of the Creative Class, believes the new economy is divided between the creative class (engineers, artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, small business owners, etc) and the non-creative class (service and factory workers, office admin people, etc). The creative class tends to be happier, live in nice places, and generally earn more money. The non-creative class are engaged in lower paying menial work. It is this transition to the creative economy that is exacerbating the huge income inequality that is currently prevailing in the US. Florida believes the solution is to turn these non-creative class jobs into creative ones.

I fully believe this to be true and many companies, at least in theory, are trying to empower their employees and letting them exercise their creative faculties to the benefit of the company and the employees. The employees create additional value for the company, and in general, the employees are happier for it and in theory, are better compensated. Even Subway has acknowledged this idea by calling their employees “Sandwich Artists.” Whether or not Subway employees are actually encouraged to employ their creative faculties is another story, but at least they are on the right track.

Sometimes I wonder if its possible to trace back all happiness to the state of flow. Maybe eating dinner with family encourages a state of flow. Maybe religion is a means of channeling spiritual flow. Maybe political rallies, concerts, and football games foster a collective flow. It is Avatar’s “aiwa” and Buddhism’s Nirvana. It is Einstein’s eureka and and Thoureau’s Walden. It is perhaps the Portland coffee shop.

-Dale