Notes from WDS2012.

Leaders Inspire the Generosity of Others

Notes from WDS2012.

On a sunny day in Portland, I sat on the grass with two new friends, Hung and Elise. We had just traveled across the globe for the World Domination Summit and enjoyed some quiet conversation before the conference began.

Hung told us how he traveled the world and made photographs of beautiful places. Elise shared how she organized an online meditation challenge, which raised money to give clean water to thousands of people.

Hearing about their adventures pushed me to think bigger – to broaden my understanding of what was possible. Their stories dared me to chase adventure.

say yes
when you’re tempted to stall
say yes
though the action may seem small
say yes
when adventure sounds its call
say yes
and go and change it all
(inspired by JD Roth)

A leader inspires others to take action. She leads the way and shows the impossible can become possible. She pushes people to say yes to adventure.


the clay jar shatters
water spills upon the ground
life returns to dust
water, water everywhere
and not a drop to drink
(inspired by Scott Harrison)

Scott told us a story of a woman who, for years, spent four hours a day acquiring water. Each day she had to choose how to use the limited amount she could carry. Did her family drink it? Did she cook with it? Did it water her vegetable garden? Did she wash the dirt from her clothes? Deciding wasn’t easy.

A few years ago, charity:water built a well in her village. With access to abundant, clean water, she could provide for her family. With the extra time, she was able to start a business. She responded with gratitude saying, “Now, I am beautiful.”

With the story, Scott challenged us to give our resources so others could also share in the benefits of clean water. He asked us to stand and pledge our support.

The whole auditorium stood. I stood.

skill at your command
resources in abundance
leverage them for good
(inspired by Cal Newport)

A leader inspires others to serve those less fortunate. Showing gratitude for the blessings she’s received, she leverages her skills to give with extravagance. Her generosity challenges others to join in and be a blessing.


do the good you can
take a step to grace
do it where you can
home is a good place
do it how you can
use talent and heart
do it when you can
now’s the time to start
(inspired by Stephanie Zito)

Stephanie told us how she once felt frustrated with charities. Were they actually doing any good? Was it worth supporting them? As an experiment, she decided to give ten dollars to a different organization each day for one month.

One month turned to a year, which turned into another year. Yes, there were lots of worthwhile organizations. And they were doing amazing good in the world. Her gifts may have been small, but they changed her perspective.

She encouraged us to take one step to changing the world. After we wrote down what that step would be, she gave each of us ten dollars toward that action. She invested in us.

when someone has faith
in you and what you’re doing
you go prove them right
(inspired by Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott)

A leader inspires others by investing in them. Through her gifts of time and money, she demonstrates belief. She empowers others to do the good they’re capable of doing.


on the other side
of fear that dares to break you
is the heart of life
(inspired by Ishita Gupta)

I’ve always been too afraid to dance. But at the Crystal Ballroom, where we gathered for the closing party, I joined in.

Perhaps it was the Bollywood style of music, which reminded me of home. Maybe it was all the conversations about taking action. But most likely, it was the people I danced with – leaders who celebrate being vulnerable.

As I danced, I discovered that the secret to dancing, and probably to life, is to stop comparing yourself with others. I let go, joined my new friends, and had a blast.

true currency
laughing, dancing, singing
for you belong here

pure humanity
giving, loving, living
in gratitude and joy
(inspired by Brené Brown)

A leader inspires others to vulnerability. She understands that openness is the key to love, joy, and life. She creates environments of belonging – where people are accepted as they are, where they don’t have to try to fit in.


remove the gloried mask of the hero
untangle from the praise that people see
put aside temptations of the ego
be again part of the community
(inspired by Chris Brogan)

At the end of the conference, everyone in the auditorium rose to thank Chris Guillebeau for the weekend. I watched him stand in the midst of the applause.

It moved him – knowing he affected so many people. But he did not raise his head or hands and bask in the praise. Head bowed, he stood in silence and accepted our gratitude.

There was wisdom there. Chris was the public face and inspiration for the event, but the weekend was bigger than him. It was about the remarkable people behind the scenes. It was about the other speakers. It was about the people who attended. It was about the community.

of a great, strong tree
it may be the seed
but of water and soil
it still has a need
(inspired by Scott Belsky)

A leader inspires others to form communities. She recognizes the wisdom of the proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. She builds relationships and connects people. She knows that leaders inspire, but it is the generosity of others that takes over the world.


a quiet, small voice
spoken from true conviction
may inspire great change
(inspired by Susan Cain)

Whether you sit on the grass with a few friends, walk past a person in need of assistance, or stand before a group at a conference, you have the opportunity to lead. What generosity will you inspire?


PHOTO: Notes from WDS2012.

PS: To everyone who contributed in some way to what was a lovely week in Portland, thank you.

10 thoughts on “Leaders Inspire the Generosity of Others”

  1. Absolutely brilliant post, Josh. Sounds like Portland was a really wonderful and beneficial trip for you. Glad to hear it. I think this is one of my favorite pieces you’ve written yet, which says a lot!

  2. Effective leader Joshua, you have inspired and reminded me that a leader never lacks resources because she/he is already a full resource to share ideas, opinions, directions, counsel and many more.

    What is little to one is sufficient to another. Let us give.

  3. Good timely stuff to teach on leadership to leaders a training we are facilitating today. Thanks Josh.

  4. Milo, Thanks.

    Frances, That’s the important piece. Inspiration is worthless without action.

    Alicia, Please do. I’d love to read it. 🙂

    Josephine, Not only do we know more than we think, but we have wonderful people around to help us with what we don’t know.

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