INTERVIEW: Chris Guillebeau

TITLE: How to dominate by opting out

Today we’re going to talk about…questioning the norm. A cliché statement and concept, right? We’d all like to think of ourselves to some degree as being renegades, rebels, leaders, and unique.

A height of being a raving rebel is a gang member, right? And then what really happens? They 100% conform to the crowd. They look the same, act the same…are the same.

Which is what we culturally do. It‟s so hard to go against the flow, and there is no great prize for going against the flow just for the sake of it…it just creates more work.

The point is questioning the flow and looking at what truly gets successful results. What we really believe in, are convicted in, and called to. Which may require going against the flow, or…just opting out. But it will never be merely going with the flow. It will require a different path.

I often find myself going against the flow. I connect with the rebel. I want to fight the system. There is relevance for that.

But our guest today, to me, took a more peaceful way. He just opted out. It‟s pretty intriguing. So…our guest.

A good number of years ago, this guy wrote a book titled The Art of Nonconformity. No way I could deny a title like that. Bought the book…greatly appreciated it.

Then, in the midst of my having a big business with a paid online membership community helping people transition from traditional employment to self-employment, he wrote a book titled The $100 Startup.

Read that and went to a book signing at a Denver bookstore with my friend Justin Lukasavige.

Next, he writes a book titled The Happiness of Pursuit. In all truth, I was kind of ticked off, in a jealous sort of way, as the brilliance of that title was just…man, I wish I‟d thought of that!

I think my dad, Dan Miller, of the acclaimed “48 Days” podcast you need to check out if you haven‟t…sent it to me.

Now he‟s written a new book, Born for This. He sent a copy to Tom Ziglar and said he‟d love to be on the show, to which Tom replied…absolutely!

Our guest? Chris Guillebeau. Find him, and all those books, at and go straight to his new book at

Don‟t know Chris? I‟ll give his bio, but he‟s initially famous for being a guy who has visited every country. Every.

I asked Tom what his relationship was with Chris. He said, “My relationship with Chris is simple – I am a fan of his work. I don‟t know him well personally, but I have followed him for years now, and love his statement that, „Many people trade their dream for a car payment.‟”

We‟ll dig into that statement with Chris in a moment!

Here‟s the official bio:

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon, he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounges.

With no further ado, here I bring you Tom Ziglar and Chris Guillebeau. Let‟s see what we uncover:

Chris, welcome, and thanks so much for giving your time to Tom, me, and The Ziglar Show audience!

Chris, I do a lot of research in preparation for the Ziglar Shows. With interviewees I listen to audios, I read books. I check up on them. I ask other notable names about them.

With you, however, I got enough content to fill a show off a mere couple of pages on your website. Dramatically more if I dive into your blogs — and then books!

Let‟s begin with Tom‟s favorite statement from you: “Many people trade their dream for a car payment.”

Break that down literally for us.

>>Listen to the show.

Your website leads off with a quote from Alan Keightley:


You use this as a primary anchor on your website and message. What is it in your personal life that brought you to this focus?

>>Hear Chris Gillebeau‟s responses on the show.

In November of 2008, seven-and-a-half years ago, you wrote a blog titled, “A SHORT COLLECTION OF UNCONVENTIONAL IDEAS.”

In it, you led off with this, which…is near and dear to my heart:


A year after you leave college, no one will care what your GPA was.

Once you fully understand what you want, it‟s not usually that difficult to get it. At all stages of life, people will gladly offer you unsolicited lists of things you “must” do, be, or have. Most of the time you can nod your head, walk away, and ignore them.

You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.
Potential is good when you‟re 15 years old. After that, you need to start doing something.

Chris, you‟re bucking against cultural norms. In my intro to this show, I talked about going against the flow. Swimming upstream. And, admittedly, that‟s often my tack.

But Chris, you strike me as not so much taking on that fight, but instead, just peacefully…opting out.

Which as a fellow non-conformist, is interesting to me. I‟m curious as to your thoughts of…the strenuous fight vs. the peaceful opt out. Your thoughts?

>>Hear Chris‟s responses on the show.

So to continue in the vein, on your website you give your

“The essence of my philosophy is this:

  1. You don‟t have to live your life the way other people expect
  2. You can do good things for yourself and help other people at the same time
  3. If you don‟t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life, someone else will end up deciding for you
  4. There is usually more than one way to accomplish something
  5. In short, I‟m interested in the convergence between highly personal goals and service to others. You can learn more about that subject in the original Brief Guide to World Domination that was read by more than 100,000 people in 60 countries during the first six months.”

Chris, let‟s just break this down.

You don‟t have to live your life the way other people expect.
A reasonable statement most people would nod their heads to. But few, a drastically small few, will take that statement captive and really, deeply, consider it.

So I‟m wondering if the question we must ask ourselves, is…how might we be living a life based on others‟ expectations?

>>Listen to the show

Chris, I had awesome parents. You know them! But, of course, they had expectations of me. Great expectations! As the book is titled. But I, like most…conformed — to a degree — to those expectations.

Now I‟m a father to seven kids, and now more adopted. In all my love and care and best, I can‟t help but have expectations of them. And even if they are valiant expectations to me, there is the absolute possibility they may be errant for THEM. Not totally authentic.

So to take your statement captive, “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect.”

It feels like it necessitates…really taking your life captive. And trying to take real inventory of…what part of your life you are pursuing for you, true to you…and what part might be from another‟s expectations. Which may weigh heavier on the former…what is it you truly want.

Chris, what do you think?

>>Hear Chris Gillebeau‟s responses on the show

Next you say, “You can do good things for yourself and help other people at the same time.”

Of course, this is Zig‟s essence, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

But Chris, to put that statement out there, I have to assume you experienced people viewing them as an either/or.

>>Listen to the show

OK Chris, you cite next, “If you don‟t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life, someone else will end up deciding for you.”

This is another statement that I think is somewhat easy to just nod to at face value, but to actually conceptualize and accept…is just overwhelming.

The vast majority of people, even the awesome Ziglar Show listeners, have not intentionally decided for themselves what they want to get out of life and proactively, fervently gone after it. Which means…to your statement, they have let someone else decide for them.

I want to ask, can the “someone else” not necessarily be a person, but could it be a circumstance?

Could we also say, “If you don‟t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life, someTHING else will end up deciding for you”?

Did they let a circumstance….

  1. Harmful, hurtful, confining, or negative or positive labels, decide for them
  2. A marriage decide for them
  3. Becoming a parent…having kids and all the duties that heaped on them
  4. A job that presented itself
  5. A trauma or tragedy
  6. A success!
  7. A responsibility that we ponied up for! We were valiant! Responsible! But also…ended up with a confining circumstance that stifled our “one, true swing,” to quote Bagger Vance?


>> Hear Chris‟s responses on the show

You then say, “There is usually more than one way to accomplish something.”

AGAIN! Such an easy thing to say “of course!” to, but testimony to our culture, for 99% of people, is we don‟t live this way.

I want to take that and go in a tad different direction. When we go after something in an alternative way, when we live an alternative lifestyle, we are likely going to endure social pressure.

I want to use a bit of a parallel example here. You‟re driving along the Interstate. You find a sign that says, “Left lane closed 3 miles ahead.” One hundred feet farther, everyone is in the right lane. And I‟m thinking…and granted, admittedly, I am one of the most impatient people I‟ve ever met, but better AND worse…I‟m thinking, “There are three miles of open lane!” So I‟m the one jerk who stays in the left lane. It generally irritates people, which gives me anxiety…I‟m a people pleaser. But…I still do it. I finally show up at the point where the lane is finally closed, and nose my way in. I saved 10, 20, sometimes 30 minutes.

Now I understand that, culturally, this may not feel OK. And I won‟t argue it. From a PR perspective, it may not be worth it.

Please, let‟s set that aside. And for now, just question…the pressures we have to conform. There is no efficiency in leaving an open lane…OPEN…for three miles. But because of social pressures — which are relevant! — WE conform.

So Chris, I‟m asking you to speak to this. Not conforming HAS…social pressure. Which takes us back to us deciding what we want, what is good, what is right, what is true…versus what others around us believe or have…without questioning…accepted.

This isn‟t easy, as it entails relationship and social friction.

Chris…your perspective?

>>Listen to the show

OK, Chris, your latest book, Born for This. The description is,

“Win the career lottery and find the work you were born to do. My new book is the culmination of years of research on people who‟ve found or created their „dream job.‟ From the outside, it looks like these people have been lucky. But, in reality, they‟ve followed a process of trial-and-error to get exactly what they want.

“You‟ll learn how to:

  • Hack the job of your dreams within a traditional organization by making it work for you
  • Find not only your ideal work but also your ideal working conditions
  • Create plans that will allow you to take smarter career risks and „beat the house‟ every time
  • Start a profitable „side hustle‟ and earn extra cash on top of your primary stream of income
  • Escape the prison of working for someone else and build a mini-empire as an entrepreneur
  • Become a rock star at any creative endeavor by creating a loyal base of fans and followers”

>>Listen to the show

“Whichever path you choose, this book will show you how to find that one job or career that feels so right, it‟s like you were born to do it.”

Who would NOT want to read this book? So, instead of digging into the details, I‟m going to ask an overarching question. This book can literally help people. But many will read it, as they do other amazing books that have the power to help them massively better their lives, and be inspired, but not actually change.

If someone is about to open the book, what would you offer to help them not only read the information, but digest and take action on it? Is there a real or perceived obstacle you know many people have…that you’d endeavor to remove?

>>Listen to the show

End of your email…

“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. . . . It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” ~ Erica Jong

The risk of doing ____…vs. the unthought-of risk of staying where you are.

Tell us your motive for using that in your email signature. Is it a message you want to deliver to others, or more…a label you want to identify personally with?