The Happiness of Pursuit

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau, whom I‘ve been following the last few years, has done it again. He’s the author of The Art of Non-Conformity, The $100 Startup, and overall pretty amazing guy. He produces World Domination Summit, where people get together in order to find out how to live a remarkable life in this conventional world. In his latest book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your LifeChris talks about his own quest of visiting every single country in the world, and also encourages us to find our own quest.

What is a quest?
This is a concept I initially had a little difficulty with. According to Chris, “Quitting smoking, losing weight, or getting out of debt are all worthy pursuits, but they shouldn’t be a lifelong focus.”
Thankfully, he has set some criteria for quests.

  • A quest has a clear goal and a specific end point.
  • A quest requires sacrifice of some kind.
  • A quest is often driven by a calling or sense of mission
  • A quest requires a series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal.

Chris’s quest was to visit every single country in the world (all 193 of them), by age 35. He completed it last year.

Many inspiring stories of people who’ve taken on different quests are featured in the book. The interesting thing is, this perspective —”If I didn’t try, I’d always wonder what might have happened”—showed up again and again, like Julie Johnson, blind woman who trained her own guide dog, and Matt Krause, who has walked across Turkey.

Some of my favourites are, Sasha Martin, who lives in Oklahoma, taken a quest to cook every meal from each country. I particularly love this example because it shows that your personal quest doesn’t necessarily have to cost thousands of dollars, or be in a grand scale, such as travelling around the world. Those are, of course, great quests and I would love to take on that myself someday, but I am also a big fan of doing what we can with the resources we have.  As a parent, I loved the idea of starting something right from home.

Chris tells us adventure and the quest is for everybody. Not too into travel? No problem. Meet Robyn Devine, who is on a quest to hand-knit 10,000 hats. This quest is still in progress. A quest can be a craft project, art, learning, or anything.

Another touching quest story is of Adam Warner, who has lost his beloved wife, and now on a quest to pursuit his late wife Meghan’s list of goals she wished to achieve.

Adam’s friends agree that his pursuit of Meghan’s goals has given him a sense of purpose, changing his life for the better. The blog originally started by Meghan is now updated by Adam. He went to Blue Jays game in Toronto, something Meghan wasn’t able to do before her illness rapidly progressed. He got more serious about running and completed the half marathon. He is —slowly—learning to sew and knit.

These inspiring stories of quests remind us that our lives are indeed very short, and we need to go after what really moves us.

I’m still searching for my own quest. I would like to say my quest is to publish my own book by age XX, but maybe that is not necessarily a quest? I don’t know. Although that is one of the things on *my list* and I’m not giving up on that, but I’d like to find my own quest. (Any suggestions welcome.)

Happiness of Pursuit

I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of the book. See all the marks in the photo? This was a great read.

I also loved “dispatch” sections of the book, mini-essay or more personal stories from Chris’ travels. I’m going through a lot of “Growth Opportunity” personally right now, and the first dispatch of “Courage” especially resonated with me.

“Embracing new things often requires us to embrace our fears, however trivial they may seem.” You deal with fear not by pretending it doesn’t exist, but by refusing to give it decision-making authority.”

There are many, many inspiring stories in the book that will be sure to make you want to create your own quest. Make sure to grab a copy, and #FindThe Quest.

Bravery, Courage and Voice – WDS 2014

“OK, hold the powder in both hands, but in the count of 3, only let go on the right hand. Only right hand, OK? 3, 2, 1!”

With that, millions, no, billions of colourful particles – green, red, purple, pink, yellow -flew into the air and massive rainbow coloured clouds emerged. Everyone was screaming with glee and my friend Mika next to me said, “I’ve always wanted to do this!” in Japanese.


Exhilarated, is the word that comes to mind when I think of this year’s WDS-World Domination Summit. The event is held every year in Portland. OR with Chris Guillebeau as the host. I’ve been following Chris since his first book, Art of Non-Conformity in 2011. He is the leader in “unconventional life”. Last year was my first time at WDS (and I’ve written about it here), and I went back for the second time this year. What is WDS?

WDS is not a business conference nor a social media conference. In my post last year I described that it’s a conference for creative people to get together to inspire people to have an unconventional life. 

At the opening of this year’s WDS, Chris asked us a question- How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?

I think that about sums up the theme for WDS. WDS is for the people who want to live a remarkable life, and we also have 3 key values in this community:




Each speaker shared his or her story based on these values.

This was my second year at WDS, and I noticed a little shift in myself. The speakers were fantastic and they all inspired me – but then I felt like I haven’t moved anywhere since last year. I felt a little self conscious. “What have *I* done this year? Did I make ANY difference?”

Among other events and conferences, WDS is extra special for me, as it is a chance for me to see my real good friends – more like my soul mates on unconventional living – Estuko from San Diego and “Eddie” Hori from Tokyo. We found each other online, and it was like we were meant to be friends. We also had a couple new friends from Japan! The WDS Japan Team is growing.

I love this pic of first-timer, Mika. Photo credit: Armosa Studios
I love this pic of first-timer, Mika. Photo credit: Armosa Studios

It was easy to get into “I’m a failure as I didn’t make any progress” type of self-loathing. Instead, I took it as an appropriate kick in my butt. Following are some of the speakers I resonated with:

A.J. Jacobs

I knew his name but wasn’t familiar with his books. Eddie said book The Year of Living Biblically was actually quite popular in Japan. His anecdotes on following the every rule in the bible was very funny (in fact, I bought the book after I heard him speak – and enjoying it tremendously). The part I deeply resonated with him was when he talked about acting his way into a new way of thinking,  rather than thinking his way into a new way of acting. His latest book is about family, and his discovery that most people in this world are connected (mostly as cousins) was fascinating. I have always been interested in Identity and family trees, so I found his talk quite interesting. He is having a giant family reunion next year in New York. I’d like to go!

Jadah Sellner

Jadah is a co-founder of She started her talk with a powerful poem she wrote a decade ago. Excellent public speaker, she pulled the audience into her personal journey of entrepreneurship. She told us about her struggle in her early days, and gave us 3 tips on making our dreams come true:


1: Say your dreams out loud

2: Make imperfect action

3: Let go

I thought all of these are important, but especially #2 resonated with me. Oftentimes, we withhold/sabotage ourselves from doing what we really want “Because we don’t have enough money” “Because the website isn’t ready” “Because I don’t have the business plan yet” etc. I realized I’ve been procrastinating writing a book because I hadn’t had the structure or proposal ready. But thanks to Jadah, I’ve decided to say my dream out loud -That I am going to write a book – and #3- that I am just going to start writing.

I also started checking out her Green Smoothies website and started having green smoothies too. 🙂

Shannon Galpin


Shannon is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. She is a rape survivor, and now an activist for women’s rights. Her talk was on how to overcome apathy. She told us about her visit to women’s prison in Kabul- most women there were in there because they were rape victims, (crazy I know) or because they spoke up. I loved her street art initiative to include the people in the art – then no one can ignore it.  “Women’s rights is not a women’s issue” – one of the most memorable quote from this weekend.

Michael Hyatt

Michael is an author and a publisher, but he didn’t talk business. I love when  WDS speakers share their personal stories. Michael’s story begins with his fond childhood memories with his dad, who later turns out to be alcoholic. His personal story about his father and how he promised not to be like him was, heartbreaking. Michael described his father’s life as “Drifting life“. The opposite of that, where people are obsessed with work and success, he calls “Driven Life“. Neither is great. Michael suggests “Designed Life” which he says equals conscious life. I like that a lot, as I’m always trying to be present and have a meaningful life. He also presented these 3 questions we can ask ourselves;

1: How do I want to be remembered?

2: What is important to me?

3:What single brave decision do I need to make today?

We all wrote down our own answers.

Towards the end of his talk Michael asked us one more question, that really resonated with me: “How are you doing with what you’re given?” Life isn’t necessarily fair. I’m a big believer of doing what we can with what we have. Are we making the most of what we are given?

Dee Williams

Photo Credit: Armosa Studios
Photo Credit: Armosa Studios

Dee is the co-owner of Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD). She started her talk with her childhood story growing up on a farm and pretending like a superhero. After an illness, she decided that she wanted to live a simpler life in nature, and so she built a tiny house. Her house is 84-square foot! She brought her cape (actually a red blanket from Delta airline :)) and taught us that we are all superheroes. She also shared a touching story of losing her neighbour and a friend with us, and how she felt powerless afterwards. Yet, “Simply showing up is a superpower” she said. How true is that. Also loved: “I’m a superhero. I need to pay attention” That is my mantra now.


Her tiny house was on display at the after party. So adorable. Would you like to live in a tiny house?

Elise Blaha Cripe

Elise is a craft blogger. She likes to make things. She said she always had a hard time explaining what she did when people asked that inevitable question “So, what do you do?” She is a creative person, and she likes to make stuff, and she has a blog, and she sells her stuff online….she used to feel awkward about having to explain all this. But eventually she came up with a perfect one-liner. “I make stuff”. 🙂

She shared her challenges in creating things all the time, and this also echoes what Jadah said, but she said to learn our way through failure. Her daughter doesn’t wait to learn all about walking before she starts to walk. She just starts walking, by failing occasionally.

She also encouraged us to share our dreams with others. She had everyone fill out a sticker that said ” I                                    .  I filled mine out. Here’s the proof!

These are just a part of the WDS experience. Each speaker was great, as well as all the attendee stories, WDS Foundation, scholarships, Portland Experience, etc etc…

For me, the key words I heard throughout the weekend was “Bravery” “Courage” and “Voice“. Be brave, Be courageous. And don’t ever lose your voice. That was the message I got from the weekend.

Photo Credit: Armosa Studios

And of course, the after party! WDS is known for its legendary after party. We got to ride in a hot air balloon (was my first time!) and of course, DJ Prashant. I am a huge fan of him, and I know certain WDSer come to the event pretty much to dance to DJ Prashant’s Bollywood tunes. The scene at the beginning of this post happened right in the middle of the after party while we were dancing. I’d never forget it.

Photo credit: Masatake. E. Hori

Thank you Chris, organizing team and ambassadors for making this year’s WDS another great success. Thank you also Armosa Studios for beautiful photos. See you next year!

First Step of World Domination


I’ve just returned from my first World Domination Summit. This was my first time at WDS, and also first time in Oregon.

Water fountain

As I heard from many people, Portland is a beautiful city. Although I spent most of my time at the conference, I very much enjoyed my strolls downtown.

WDS T-shirt

What is World Domination Summit? The answer varies. As I was coming home, one of the TSA agents at Portland airport said “I’ve seen lots of people wearing the same shirt as you, and asked what the conference was about, but everyone’s answers have been very vague.” Then he asked me for my version of the answer: “Creative people getting together to inspire each other to have unconventional life.” At least, the TSA agent said my answer was the best he’d heard. Ha.


2800 people. Two days. It was a little crazy just how many people were there. I missed few people I knew was coming, simply because there were so many OTHER people! I *almost* didn’t have a chance to look for anybody I knew, as whenever I stop and look around, someone would approach me and introduce themselves. It’s not a bad thing, though.

I made a whole bunch of new friends and gained so much insight, knowledge, and inspiration. Every session was amazing, but here are three highlights for me.

Darren Rowse

He is THE Problogger. Anybody working online space knows him, but I was surprised some people had no idea who he was – which is actually a cool thing about WDS. All kinds of people in the spectrum.

But this talk wasn’t about problogging. Darren talked about dreams. He shared his story and told us to take responsibility for our future. Right now, this every day life we’re living is literally shaping your future. So do something every day to get closer to your dreams. He literally made us tell a fellow attendee what our dreams are. And he encouraged us to share the dream ten times a day. This will give us accountability. At this time, I identified my dream as working to connect Japan and the World. That is my dream. Sure, of course it requires courage to identify your dream. But Darren told us how important it is to know what we want and we need to take action.

Another thing he taught us, among others is, to Become Obsessed With Being Useful. This is why Problogger and Digital Photography School is so susssessful. What a great lesson.

After his talk, so many people were saying how humble, nice, and approachable he was. I felt the same…I also attended his Problogegr Academy Workshop on the second day, and again, he was giving away so much information for us bloggers. He actually stayed WAY after the session to answer as many questions as possible. What a great guy. I learned some very important tips I had never thought of before about my blog…and I implemented as soon as I got home. Thank you, Darren.

Jia Jiang


I had no idea who he was and what his story was about. (Which is one thing I was so impressed with WDS. I didn’t know many of the speakers but their stories were all absolutely amazing. By the end of the first day, I learned to trust the WDS crew.) Jia’s story was this. Everyone hates rejections. We all take it so personally. After he was rejected by an investor for his startup, he decided to do 100 days of rejection therapy, in order to de-sensitize himself from fear of rejection. He asked a stranger to lend him $100, and rang the doorbell of a stranger and asked if he could play soccer in their backyard. Amazing thing is, some people said YES! If you’re like me and haven’t seen his famous donut video — you have to see it here. Such a great story.

Another amazing thing about his life is, he has the most supportive wife. When he quit the job four days before his first baby was born, his wife gave him six months to pursue his dream. Four months in, when he was rejected and devasted, this is what she said to him; “I gave you six months, not four.” How awesome is she?! Love, love, loved his talk. Thank you Jia.

Gretchen Rubin

Credit: Chris GuillebeauShe is a blogger and the author of The Happiness Project. I own it, read it, but other than that, I didn’t know too much about her. Her presentation was great – very entertaining. Great speaker. Gretchen presented bunch of questions to us that will help us find out who we are and what we really want to do to be happy.

First one was “Who do you envy?” —Honestly, I am still trying to figure this one out. I don’t necessarily “envy” anybody….hmmm I guess someone like Richard Branson?! I don’t think that’s an envy thought, it’s more like admiration. Still trying to figure this out but I can see this is a great question to ask yourself.  You envy somebody who has what you want and doing what you want to do.Also “What do you lie about?” and “What do you do for fun?” are good questions to ask, she said—If you have hard time answering what you do for fun, she said to think about what we did for fun when we were 10 years old. This will show you what your essential self (I’m currently reading “Finding Your Own North Star” and that’s the phrase used instead of “Social Self” which you create to satify expectations from others and what you “should” be doing. Anyway, I digress.) For example, she loved making books when she was 10 – and now she’s an author. Her sister loved watching TV and now she is a TV writer…etc. When I pondered this question, what I used to love to do when I was 10, and still now is — reading books. And I felt kind of stuck. Is there a job where I can read books all day and get paid?! My husband said that means I would be a writer and also do book reviews…I’m not 100% convinced, but I will definitely keep you posted. Also I would love your opinion if you know what this implies for my dream job.

I know everybody took away different things from WDS, but for me it felt like that the message throughout WDS was “Follow your dream” “Find our who you are”…I had this vague idea of what I’d like to do, but maybe somehow, always felt like it was “just a dream”. Like it will never come true. WDS made me realize that the first step of World Domination is to know what my dreams are. Then take action every day to get closer and closer…until one day it is no longer a dream, but your reality.

Chris Guillebeau

Finally, I would like to thank Chris Guillebeau for hosting WDS — He is this guy who is quiet and unassuming, yet he has firm vision on what he wants to see happen. I’ve listed him as the person who influenced me back in 2011, and he still is on the list 2 years later. Thank you for being you, Chris, and see you next year.

2011 Year in review

I see many friends uploading their “Year in Review” posts and I’m finally sitting down to write it myself.

Looking back, 2011 was a busy year for me. I am not sure if it’s neccesarily a bad thing though. I’m just re-reading my posts from this year and reflecting.

Here are some of the big moments of 2011.

– Dove Singing in the Rain campaign.

In February, I flew in to Toronto with 13 other fabulous women to film a web commercial. The shoot was a lot of fun, but what I got out of this project was handful of really amazing friends. We live all over Canada, but we constantly connect and share through social media. The experience and the friendship is definiately something money cannot buy, and I am so grateful for them.

-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

As I read my past posts, I could see March was a rough month. I wrote about running into my friend, and re-reading this post got me all tear up. They are still in Japan and she is getting treatments.

Then the 311 earthquake happened. I didn’t write anything about it on this blog, mainly because I didn’t know what to write. What can I write when your home country is hit by the biggest disaster since World War ll? I still remember the hopeless, devastated feeling I felt while watching all the TV footage. I was asked to talk on a national TV show and I barely got to speak as I was crying. It’s been 9 months and still 300,000 people are without homes.

Then amazing Victoria community all came together to put on Hope Love Japan fundraising event. The event was a huge success and we have raised over $14,000 CDN and have been donated to Canadian Red Cross.

-Trip to Japan in May

Because of the earthquake and Tsunami, my plan to visit Japan with my kids have been changed, and I ended up going by myself. I was there about two weeks, and thought this might be my first and last time to visit Japan without kids. (Turns out I am doing it again in February 2012)

I visited my family in Sasebo, Nagasaki, and then I also stayed in Tokyo for a week. Believe it or not, this was the first time I spent so much time in Tokyo, and I had an absolute blast. I met many online friends there – many from Tasukeai Japan team where I volunteer. I even got to meet Chief Cabinet Secretary, that was cool.

I met up with many online friends and we got to discuss social media. There is a huge gap between how social media is perceived and used in Japan and North America, and it was fascinating to learn that. This made me realize one day I would like to the work to connect them together.

-It’s all about social media

Last half of 2011 were filled with many social media events. I was a part of Social Media Camp again this year. Great to see Jayagain and meet Amber for the first time. See how much fun we had?

Also, Russel and I had a one year anniversary of Getting Engaged show. We are thankful for all your support and hoping to kick it up a notch in 2012.

In October, I was back in Toronto for Blissdom Canada. It was so wonderful to see all the online friends.

Then I also did BlogWorld LA in November. This is the year I finally started to see that I am part of this industry. I stopped to feel insecure about exactly what I’m contributing to the industry, just that I am part of it.  I met so many amazing people like Chris and Jacq, and they continue to inspire me on daily basis. For that I am very grateful.

-I fell in love

As you know I have been single since I separated from my ex-husband. I have dated here and there but I was almost just as happy to be by myself.

This all changed when I was in LA.

Did you hear about this guy’s ghostwriter story? I do remember catching it on Twitter(pretty sure it was Scott Stratten‘s RT). At that moment I had no idea who he was, but I read the story, thought it was funny, and went about my day.

In early October, my friend Dan hosted his usual High Noon Hump Day Lunch Tweetup. (He does this on Wednesdays.) I do remember I was on the fence about attending. Maybe I was feeling lazy. But I went anyway. Little did I know he was the guest for the tweetup and Dan had interviewed him over Skype. I tweeted about it and later he thanked me for it -and that’s how we met. I already had the plan to go to LA, so we met up- in fact, he picked me up at the airport when I landed in LA, and we have been together ever since.

The funny thing I learned about myself over this experience is, when you meet someone you have been waiting for your whole life as your dream man, you freak out. I came up with all kinds of excuses for not being with him. It’s the fear…fear of failure, fear of getting hurt again, fear of judgement, etc etc, that prevents me from being courageous and just go with the flow. Luckily, I came to senses and now I have never been this happy.


Finally, this is not a popularily contest, but I wanted to thank few people who has influenced me this year.

Jason Kolt

I met Jason over Twitter and we met up for coffee earlier in the year. I remember we closed down the coffee shop. He is sensitive, creative, funny and although we are both so busy and don’t get to see each other too much, I feel he gets me. I hope to spend more fabulous time with him in 2012.

Chris Guillebeau

I’ve read Chris‘ “The Art of Non-Conformity” few months ago, but this is the year I realized he’s the man I really want to learn from. I want to do what he does- work location independently and travel. I am hoping to attend World Domination Summit(WDS) in 2012 and learn and grow.

Mike Vardy

Mike is the productivity expert and writer based right here in Victoria, and I got to have some interesting chat with him later this year. I value his opinion and perspective greatly, as I know he and I share a very similar view of the industry. He is the one who recommended I attend WDS. I feel as though he is my senior coalleague.

Steve Hof

Steve owns Sauce Restaurant and Lounge in Victoria. He and I became friends around June and we always have the best conversations. He is passionate about his restaurant, social media and giving back to the community. I also want to thank him for pointing me into Crossfit. I started training in the fall, and as hard as hell it is, I am still doing it. It is a completely new workout program for me, but I think I actually enjoy it. So, thanks Steve.


Overall, 2011 was a busy, exciting, and also a tough year. But I don’t believe too much in looking back. I believe in looking forward. So, here’s my farewell to 2011 and I am excited to welcome the new year.