Finding my voice at World Domination Summit 2013

Sam_WDSI tend to do what I’m told (for example, Bollywood dancing at the closing party) so when Chris Guillebeau advised World Domination Summit 2013 attendees to go to a breakout session on a topic that might be uncomfortable or new, I took his word.

I decided to go to the Improv Workshop with Portland legend Gary Hirsch, knowing that improvisation would be a stretch of my public persona skills. I was 15 to 20 minutes early. But not early enough to get a seat. Was I hoping to be shut out??

Dozens of people arrived later than I did. I floundered for a few minutes and then decided to try the pirate-themed, glow-in-the-dark, miniature golf course a few blocks away in downtown Portland, OR. Chris had mentioned it several times from the WDS main stage.

Naah. I went back to our hotel room to write this blog post.

One WDS theme: becoming more self-aware

WDS_riverfloat2Although the guiding principle of WDS is how to lead a remarkable life in a conventional world, it is becoming clear that there are several sub-themes and several types of people here.

One theme is to find one’s true self and become more self-aware. This is frequently coupled with a desire to more comfortably express one’s self, particularly when speaking in public before a large crowd.

Because this is one of my great stressors I had hoped to start at the improvisational level. I am no good at improvisation because I always want to have the mot juste pass my lips. That means a mental block unless, of course, I have had just the right amount of beer.

So there was to be no progress in public speaking skills at #WDS2013.

In the photo above, we are participating in the river float on the Willamette to break a Guinness Book of World Record for longest floating human chain. Yes, we did it.

Another WDS theme: taking a gap year

Another theme coupled with finding one’s true calling is the sabbatical or gap year theme.  One speaker said that 70% of people want to change careers and a gap year appeals to most of them if they can swing it.

WDS_Debbie_talk4I suspect that’s why Debbie was chosen as an Attendee Story Teller: our story of my leaving a successful medical practice after 31 years and us moving from a big city to a small town resonated with many attendees. (Debbie is also an experienced speaker and has an online persona, which I do not.)

More importantly for me, even if I do not improve my public speaking skills at this event, is that I have learned that I must write about my anger and disgust with the way the private practice of medicine evolved during my career.

WDS has shown me that I have to purge myself of this even at the risk of alienating readers.

Well, as I find my WDS voice and as I try to transform myself, a bit, I need to clarify what contributed to my need for personal change.

Prepare yourself, dear reader

So, gentle reader, prepare yourself for some angry perspectives on medical care.

The speakers all come with a variety of skills, with the exception of one devoted and compelling attendee who could not keep it together on stage, and all had good presence.

But they do not all have the ability to move the audience.  Two of the first eight speakers were so genuine that they brought the audience to their feet. The others, in my opinion, were too polished or too self-absorbed to truly move the group.

Tess Vigeland, the former host of NPR’s Marketplace Money, was one of the genuine speakers who described leaving her job without a plan or established safety net. Her situation is perhaps the most comparable to mine in terms of the level of career “sacrificed.”

Tess clearly wanted to return to broadcast journalism and described for us the heartbreak of losing, very narrowly, the tryout to be the next anchor of Weekend Edition of NPR’s All Things Considered.

I am more comfortable knowing that I will never practice medicine again than she is considering she might not broadcast from a national stage again.

Why am I comfortable giving up the tiny celebrity of the successful physician?  Is it because I am most comfortable as an introvert? If so, why am I seeking a more public persona by starting a blog on medical excess and self-rejuvenation?

Go figure.

8 Responses to Finding my voice at World Domination Summit 2013

  1. James Clear August 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    Hi Sam — I was at WDS as well! What a great time.

    I wanted to reach out to you because I’m passionate about health and wellness, and I’m always looking to speak to as many experienced MDs as possible.

    More specifically, I write about behavior science and health. If you’re up for it, I’d love to talk more. You can shoot me a message here:

    Hopefully, we’ll connect soon!


  1. Gap Year After Sixty | Sump pumps at 6 AM on the coast of Maine - July 15, 2013

    […] came back from the World Domination Summit with a renewed sense of self worth, even without a professional title. As part of the trip back, we […]

  2. Gap Year After Sixty | Finding structure without patients and hourly appointments; proton beam therapy and more - July 20, 2013

    […] euphoria of the World Domination Summit is waning. I really enjoyed the sympathetic qualities of the participants. I was inspired to develop […]

  3. Gap Year After Sixty | Gap Year metrics: how to fit it all in - August 16, 2013

    […] transition, July would be a combination of events and projects (finish the guest house, go to the World Domination Summit, visit my father) and August would be spent trying to have an extended summer vacation without the […]

  4. Gap Year After Sixty | Bombast, swagger and lobster boats - August 19, 2013

    […] medical setting. I admit that achieving a bit more self-expression is a Gap Year goal. Leaving the World Domination Summit I did affect a bit of a […]

  5. An Interlude of Grace, Generosity and Possibility: World Domination Summit 2014 | Gap Year After Sixty - July 19, 2014

    […] Finding My Voice at the World Domination Summit 2013 (Sam) […]

  6. Reaffirming Nonconformity, Adventure and Social Activism at World Domination Summit 2014 | Gap Year After Sixty - July 21, 2014

    […] WDS2013 kicked off a career of travel, adventure, study and reflection and #WDS2014 is focusing my sights on new adventures, a different community and alternative service. […]

  7. Onward: Sam’s Gap Year Wrap-up | Gap Year After Sixty - August 31, 2014

    […] months on the coast of Maine in the summer of 2013, highlighted by my first trip to the World Domination Summit in Portland, OR and then a hunter safety course in the early fall. I started my blogging career […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.