7 things I learned from Chris Guillebeau’s book tour

Chris Guillebeau (pronounced Gill-a-boh) was among the first bloggers I started following. It was 2008. I was immersed in learning about social media and found his blog, “The Art of Non- Conformity.” While I was learning a lot from  Copyblogger, Problogger and Seth Godin, Chris spoke to my heart.   He was a writer with an entrepreneurial spirit. He encouraged taking responsibility for your own reality with a practical twist. He was speaking my language.

What I really like about Chris is his sensibility and creativity.  He doesn’t have anything against “the way it’s always been done.” But, if that way doesn’t help his goals or feel right to him personally, he considers all the alternatives and creates one that works.

Which is why he launched his own tour to promote his first book. The publishing company’s marketing plan (or lack thereof) wasn’t going to do. As a veteran traveler who’s in the process of visiting every country within five years (an entirely different subject that has become an entirely different opportunity for Chris), he decided to apply the same logic to his book tour – visiting every state in the U.S.

I remember when the book was just an item on his list of goals. Now the book was in front of me. (Not surprising, he has an entire annual review process for making his goals come true.)

So, when I saw that Stop #49 was in Tempe, Arizona, I wanted to support him, thank him, encourage him. The staff at Changing Hands bookstore had to get more seats…. Apparently lots of others felt the same way.

I brought my Mom and hadn’t really thought about how she would interpret her daughter being a groupie of the author of a book called, “The Art of Non-Conformity.”  Fortunately, Chris handled that right off the bat, then spent the next 20 minutes sharing insight from his own unconventional life. (Along with @pamslim from Escape from Cubicle Nation… total surprise, BONUS, guest host!)

Here’s what resonated with me… what’s helping me shape my own goals:

1) His message is more for the discontented than taking a stand against convention. He’s not here to judge anyone’s path – conventional 9 to 5, or not. He’s more about considering alternatives that could make your life better. This seemed to put Mom at ease.

2) He bases his actions on answers to two questions. He considers the two most important questions in the universe: 1) What do you want to get out of life? 2) What can you offer the world that no one else can? He plans the route, using the answers as his logic check along the way.

3) He works with the end in mind, considering what his legacy will be. For him, it’s not about money or career. It’s about influence and relationships. He even has a Legacy Project on his list of goals.

4) Sometimes he places adventure over efficiency. It recognizes that it isn’t efficient to go to all 50 states on a book tour or to travel to every country. He makes decisions based on what’s meaningful to him.

5) He let his writing create the niche. When Chris started his blog, he wanted to establish convergence between life, work and travel. Speaking from his experience was more important to him than finding a niche for each interest.  While this does not follow traditional marketing logic, I like the way he started… saw what connected… then created products and valuable content for each of the niches that evolved. It just shows there could possibly be a different way, especially within social media.

6) He pays attention to opportunity. He says he gets paid in nice emails and blog comments. However, from these… opportunities have risen. He’s turned common questions and topics into lucrative income streams by creating products that answer their questions and solve their problems.

7) He knows everyone has something they want to do. And, everyone worries they’re too late.  One of the most common comments he receives is people worrying they’re too late or not ready. He offers consolation with a cherished quote, “The best time to start was last year. Failing that, today will do.”

Chris just finished his book tour… has launched a new “travel hacking” site … and is planning to launch his next book in 2012.  He’s a true example of doing what you love and money, success (whatever that looks like for you) following. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer (or harder-working) guy.

Have you taken an unconventional path? Is there something you’d like to start that you haven’t yet?