Chris Guillebeau served as a volunteer executive for a medical charity in West Africa from 2002-2006, he is a keynote speaker (to presidents), has hung out with warlords, studied at the University of Washington and most intriguingly, has been to 125 countries with a long list yet to visit prior to turning 35.
Chris is an entrepreneur with an interesting history ranging from importing coffee from Jamaica, search engine optimization in its early days, Google Adwords and Adsense arbitrage, and building a small publishing company while volunteering in Africa. He now writes on his site and is a published author.
We took some time to ask Chris a few questions about his interesting journey… here is what we found out.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to uncluttered white spaces. What are you doing right now?
I’m on my end-of-year review where I take a week out and spend time thinking about the previous year and planning the forthcoming year.
Where would you rather be?
Your book, The Art of Non- Conformity, is described by Barbara Sher, she states it teaches us how to live with gusto, on our own terms, and bring excitement into our lives. Inspiring even the least courageous person to make bold steps. How would you review your own book in one sentence?
This book provides an alternative to everything else you’ve been told.
When you write a book like this, what are you hoping, more than anything else that people take away from the book.
I want to inspire readers to take action to create positive change. What that looks like will be different for everyone.
I am a big believer that time is just an illusion and that 9-5 thinking creates a platform for excuses… if it matters enough, we make it happen regardless of time constraints. What are your thoughts on the conventional approach to business?
I agree. Time exists independently and can’t be managed, and as you say, we make time for what’s important to us. It’s fair to say as well that it’s not just 9-5 thinking that creates a platform for excuses; entrepreneurs and other self-employed people can also become complacent. The trick is to fight complacency wherever it shows itself.
What projects are you working on right now?
Let’s see… I just finished a 53-city book tour in the U.S. Next month I head up to Canada to visit every province there. I’m also creating a new business project called the Travel Hacking Cartel. Shortly I’ll begin writing my second book, and after the Canada tour I’ll resume my quest to visit every country in the world. Those are the main projects on my mind at the moment.
How do you define success?
Continual progress toward improving myself and others.
You say you spend 10% of your time on “business” and the rest doing the things you love. Is this a realistic goal for all of us?
I think that most of us in the privileged part of the world can find ways to spend our time on things we are motivated by. In my case I chose a 90/10 ratio, but I don’t this is the only way.
Is work life balance a myth?
I’m not sure it’s a myth but I’m also not sure it’s the right pursuit. In my case I don’t believe in separating life and work; I’d rather find a way to create convergence in my life among everything I’m passionate about. I also think “balance” is a word employers use to make their employees believe they are happy.
If you could solve 1 problem right now, what would it be?
Access to clean water for everyone.
What are your top 3 books?
Top 3 is hard to choose! But let’s say Man’s Search for Meaning, Mountains Beyond Mountains, and A Wild Sheep Chase.
Finish this question… what the world needs more than anything right now is… ” ”
More people asking why they do the things they do. I have a screensaver on my computer with a sign that reads, “Why do you do this every day?” It’s a helpful reminder.