Q & A with Chris Guillebeau: Master the Art of Nonconformity
The Art of Non-Conformity project—a website that's become a new book—chronicles Chris Guillebeau's thoughts about how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, Guillebeau focuses on three areas: life, work, and travel.
The key theme that links each of these topics is nonconformity, which Guillebeau defines as "a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts or beliefs" or "the refusal to accept established customs, attitudes, or ideas."
So far Guillebeau has visited more than 100 countries, and over the next four years, he plans to visit every country in the world. You can view his progress here. Guillebeau has been featured in Business Week, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times.
MindBodyGreen: For people unfamiliar with your blog and writing, please describe The Art of Non-Conformity and its overall message?
Chris Guillebeau: The message is that you don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do great things for yourself and help others at the same time.
MBG: Please tell us more about obstacles and "what you don't need" vs. "what you really need"?
CG: Whenever you try to live life on your own terms, you'll likely run up against all kinds of gatekeepers and critics who'll try to hold you back. This is annoying, but the good news is that a lot of the things that some people pass off as prerequisites are actually quite unnecessary. You don't need experience, you don't need a mentor, you don't need paperwork, you don't need to pay for access or information…You do need passion, a vision and a task, commitment, etc.…I wrote more about it here.
MBG: Any goal-setting tips?
CG: The more specific, the better. Figure out what you want and then work backwards to get it. I'm a big fan of the GTD system ("Getting Things Done"), because all you need is paper. Oh, and a pencil helps, too.
MBG: What are you reading right now? What's your desert-island book?
CG: I just finished reading Mastery by George Leonard and Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. My favorite all-time author, whose books would definitely fit in the desert-island category, is Haruki Murakami.
MBG: What's the best advice you've ever received?
CG: Don't give up. It's more my advice to myself than anything else—when writing a book, running a marathon, visiting every country, etc.
MBG: Last but not least, please tell us what we can expect from you in the coming months. Tell us more about your new book!
CG: Over the past couple of months, I haven't been traveling as much as usual, due to being holed up writing my book. The book is called The Art of Non-Conformity (just like the website) and will launch into the world next fall. I'm planning to visit every state and province on a 63-city, collectively organized tour to meet readers. Before then, though, I plan to get back overseas a few times. My next trip is to the Caucuses—Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. I'm looking forward to it.
For more on Chris Guillebeau and The Art of Non-Conformity: