My Experience at WDS 2013

This was actually my first WDS. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. There were two previous   ones (500 attendees in 2011, 1,000 in 2012 and about 3,000 in 2013). I wasn’t actually going to attend WDS 2013 initially because of some urgent client engagements but that resolved itself a few days before WDS was to commence. Suddenly with some free time, I decided what the heck, and booked my trip from Europe to Portland, the hotels and all that the night before I left, and packed my things. It was a little bit stressful. I read something about a cruise Friday morning which looked interesting, and booked it. It actually turned out to be a world float when I turned up and good ol’ Benny, the Irish Polyglot, was offering cold coffee to the huge queues of people.

Overall, I had a great time and really enjoyed the event. This conference had some very inspiring speakers and lots of successful internet entrepreneurs including Andrew Warner, Laura Roeder, Pat Flynn, Nathan Barry and others. You meet a lot of like-minded people and come away from the event with a lot of energy.

Here are some of my notes. I took book recommendations from one of the speakers:

  • An American Childhood by Annie Dillard

  • Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin

  • Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Gretchen — The Happiness Project


Nancy Duarte

Nancy analyzed the greatest communicators in history over several years and noticed a pattern which repeated. Steven Jobs, Martin Luther King, Evita. Why Evita? She was the most successful female communicator in history. Most of them oscillate between the status quo i.e. how things are right now and how things could be.

In copywriting, we generally follow the problemagitatesolution form to help persuade readers to take a particular action when writing copy. The pattern that Nancy was talking about was very interesting and it can be applied to effective copywriting.

Nancy made an interesting comment that if you try to submit a manuscript to Steven Spielberg, he is obviously not going to look at it first. In fact, it is just a bunch of interns from USC. Even they don’t bother to read the whole story. They just read the first page and last page so they know what the transformation will be.

Once again, in copywriting, very useful. You want to show your prospects where you will take them.


See what gives others energy.

You need to create space to observe. To allow the sparks to fly and give you ideas. How do you create space? By not doing anything. That is why have you sparks of inspiration in the shower.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What gave you energy today?
  • What sucked away energy from you today?
  • What problem did I solve?

Jia Jiang

I think that Jia was the highlight for most people that attended WDS. His talk was mainly about embracing rejection and not being afraid of it.

Rejection is like chicken — it’s either yummy or yucky depending on how you cook it

He’s from Beijing. Inspired at a young age when Bill Gates came to give a talk, he wrote a letter to his parent when he was a child and stated that he is going to take over Microsoft.

At age 16, he was offered the chance to study in the United States which he jumped on, only to find himself in rural town somewhere in the midwest with a small population of 400(?).

He did the typical thing. Studied hard in high school, got into university, got a job, bought a house and car, got a promotion, got another car, upgraded his house, and so on.

When his wife got pregnant, he had some flashes into the future and came to realize that he sacrificed his dreams for security. His wife seeing that he was unhappy, gave him 6 months to pursue his dreams. At 4 months, he had an investor that was ready to invest in him only to pull out. That hurt him and he wanted to give up. He felt hurt by the rejection which he took to heart.

To get over this, he actually sought out to get rejected 100 times to get over his fear of rejection. So he started vlogging about it and gained widespread publicity.

He pulled over a police car and asked if he can drive his car. He asked a pilot if he could fly the helicopter. And they all said yes. This showed him the sheer power of asking.

Andrew Warner

Andrew spoke about that nagging critic inside your head. I think we all face that critic which keeps us from doing what we really want to do. That negative voice which crowds out your real desire.

He talks about ways to silence that negative voice and express your True Mind.


Pick ONE ISSUE that triggers your NEGATIVE CHATTER.

This helps because when you pay attention to it, it loses its power. You realize how ridiculous some of these thoughts are.

Learn to QUESTION it

Is it true? Does it matter?

  • Figure out what is true, useful and wanted. This is your true mind thought

  • Negative Chatter is also a form of procrastination.

  • Strengthen your True Mind

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