The Unconventional Book Tour Stops in Omaha
Much like social media’s rise from idle hobby to serious business tool, so, too, has blogging transformed itself. Chris Guillebeau is a professional blogger, a job title that probably didn’t exist as recently as 10 years ago.
Chris’ audacious goal, to visit every country on earth by the time he reaches 35 (he’s up to 149…and counting), is supported by his other, equally audacious goal: to use his blog, the Art of Non-Conformity, to empower people across the world to "do something remarkable with [their] lives."
As part of his Unconventional Book Tour, Chris will be visiting all 50 states in the US and all 10 provinces of Canada. This self-funded tour is a chance for Chris to meetup with readers and do a little good—100% of the royalties from books sold on the tour will go to benefit charity: water and two Ethopian communities in need of clean drinking water.
*This event is co-hosted by Robyn Devine, whom you might remember as a girl with an audacious goal of her own: One Year, One Hundred Hats.
We interviewed Chris in the hopes of learning a little more about his goals in visiting Omaha:
1. What is The Art of Non-Conformity? What are your personal goals and how do they relate to what you write about?
AONC is a blog, a book, a business, and a community—mostly a community. I started the project to chronicle my personal journey to every country in the world, but thankfully it became much more than that due to the engagement of the readers. I write about unconventional strategies for life, work, and travel, with the goal of helping readers to live their own unconventional lives.
2. If someone has never read the blog, what can they expect from it? What will loyal blog readers find in the book that they haven’t seen before?
They can expect an optimistic message of individualism combined with responsibility. The central message is: You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and for others at the same time.
As for the book, it’s completely new—more than 90% of it is original and doesn’t come from the blog. I wanted to do something in a longer format for those who were interested.
3. How did you hatch the plan for The Unconventional Book Tour?
I asked my publisher, “Hey, what’s the plan for the book tour?” Then I heard that publishers don’t support book tours anymore and most authors don’t even do them. I thought about going to a few major cities, but that just seemed boring—after all, I have readers all over the place, not just New York or Los Angeles. So because I like big goals, I decided to visit all 50 states in the U.S. and all 10 provinces in Canada.
I really didn’t have a good plan for it until three weeks before leaving, but I think it’s better to start with a vision and then figure out how to make it happen. So far it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.
4. What kind of people have you been meeting on the tour? Why do you think people come out to the meetups? Or why should they?
All kinds. I meet a lot of travelers, entrepreneurs, and creative types, but there are also a lot of people working in conventional jobs who read the blog during the day and are contemplating some kind of choice for the future. There are also students and retired people—the project attracts a diverse crowd, and I try not to label them too much.
As to why people should come, I always say that the best thing about any AONC meetup is all of the other people who come out. It’s sometimes hard to connect with like-minded people, especially if you live in a smaller city, so this is one good place to find them.
5. You write about having a Small Army. Seth Godin writes about leading your own Tribe. Is social media and the internet making the process of forming these groups in the real world easier or more challenging?
Most definitely easier. Some people find that online relationships are superficial, but that hasn’t been the case for me at all. I’m an introverted person and it took a while to get used to the idea of people saying hi to me on airplanes or in coffee shops around the world, but once I understood how much we have in common, it became natural.
These days we have the ability to connect with like-minded people (a tribe, a small army, etc.) very quickly. It may come with some challenges and needed adjustments, but mostly it is a privilege and a great opportunity.
Are you an Art of Non-Conformity reader? A natural non-conformist? How are you challenging authority?