Thursday, November 11, 2010

Open Container: Chris Guillebeau

Posted By on November 11, 2010, 11:00 PM

Two guidelines for living unconventionally: 1. Pursue meaningful adventure. 2. Ask, "How can I contribute?"---

Those guidelines were the heart & soul of a brief yet thought-provoking talk by Chris Guillebeau during a Wednesday night book signing and meet-up at Sam Weller's Bookstore in Salt Lake. All in all, his entire talk lasted barely 15 minutes, with another 20 or so minutes for Q&A with the crowd of about 20 people.

Guillebeau has been blogging for 3-4 years about living an unconventional life, dispensing philosophical advice about becoming your own boss, embracing creativity, becoming financially independent (debt-free, minimalist living) and, basically, living the life you want. He also writes a lot about his goal of visiting every country in the world by the time he's 35, which is he doing by "travel hacking" that includes loading up on airline miles, sleeping on airport floors and any other method that allows for cheap travel.

That's an incredibly simplistic description of Guillebeau's work. Really, the best ways to learn about him and his philosophies is to either buy his book, The Art of Non-Conformity, or visit his website,

In person, Guillebeau is a friendly, quick with a smile and seemingly still amazed that he is living the way he wants. This came across in his reading, as he engaged the crowd, patiently answered questions and stepped back from the conversation when others wanted to talk.

Understand that when I say "reading," this was -- as can be expected -- unconventional. Chris is doing a book tour, which in and of itself is uncommon in today's publishing world. Further, he's hitting 63 cities, at least one in every state. In each city, he's partnering with a local person who can help with promotion and whatever else is needed. (In Salt Lake, that was handled by local blogger Ghennipher). Finally, all of the proceeds from his book sales on the tour are going to Charity Water, which is bringing clean water to African communities.

As for the reading, Chris never actually read from his book, although some of the things he said are in the book (his time in Africa, for example). He also touched on things he has written on his blog, such as advice about how to start a blog that was a post a few days earlier. After the above-mentioned Q&A, he went upstairs in Sam Weller's and signed copies of his book, ate cookies and asked more questions than he was asked by the people there.

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Josh Loftin

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