The second day of #WDS2015 opened with the photographer Jeremy Cowart’s multimedia presentation. He explained his journey from an average student who frequently told his parents, “I can’t.” His dad’s refrain was the bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Jeremy discovered he could draw and focused on design in University. He was an early expert user of Apple computers and design software. He got a job with an ad agency and enjoyed the money but did not find creating ads for air conditioning units particularly inspiring. This ultimately led to starting his own ad firm and then becoming a digital photographer.
His success as a photographer has allowed him to do special projects such as his project chronically the aftermath of Haiti or creating portraits of Rwanda survivors who have forgiven each other. When his older brother died unexpectedly before age 40 Jeremy realized that none of us know the length of our lives and he was determined to share everything he knows about photography with his children. He created SeeUniversity.com hosting 120 different video lessons to pass on all of his photography expertise.
Dr. Lissa Rankin presented her story of how she discovered her life purpose or calling. She quoted Martha Beck from her book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, about those people who are members of the team who feel an special call to make the world a better place. She left her traditional and soul sucking ob gyn practice to create the Whole Health Medicine Institute. She has written one book, The Fear Cure, about how to overcome fear to accomplish our goals. We make fearful assumptions, such as uncertainty is unsafe; I can’t handle losing what I cherish; It’s a dangerous world; I am all alone. By changing our perspective we realize that uncertainty is a gateway to possibility; Loss is a gateway; We live in a purposeful universe; We are all one.
In between speakers WDS alumni spoke about some of their projects. Tess Vigeland, former NPR radio host, announced her forth coming book, LeaP. Another alumnae shared a new college forming to help young men and women figure out their life purpose and then go on to University or other training at Wayfinding Academy. Another gave all attendees a $150 gift certificate to classes on CreativeLive.com.
After the afternoon break we enjoyed two final speakers. They were tasked with offering practical advice on how to get started with our own journey. I especially appreciated Asha Dornfest. Her gentle humor and down to earth approach was helpful. As she said, sometimes we can hear all of these great speakers and beat ourselves up for not having a more epic life. Her presentation was called, “How to be a Grown-Up.” She shared some basic myths and truths about being an adult. Myth 1: grown-ups stick to the plan. Truth: Embrace course corrections because variables always change. Myth 2: Baby steps are for babies. Truth: small consistent steps are the surest way of reaching your goal. If you meet resistance, then go smaller. Start small and keep going. Myth 3: Grown-ups are sure of themselves. Truth: Self-confidence grows every time you keep a promise to yourself.
The final speaker Derek Sivers gave us an excellent example of how this is practically applied. He created CDBaby.Com as a hobby and created one of the first on-line music stores. He eventually sold it for $22 million, then gave his money away to support music education. He challenged us to know what we want: money, prestige, fame, legacy or freedom. Then focus and optimize for that value. Do not get distracted by your business plan. No one knows the future and your business plan is fiction. Commit to a problem you want to solve and do not get attached because no plan survives first contact with the customer. Ask instead of answer; learn instead of preach. Derek shared many stories of how CDBaby set themselves apart by simple things like answering the phone by the second ring or paying musicians weekly.
Closing questions: What have you been afraid to try? What steps will you take to get started?