Corbett Barr

Lifestyle Business Weekly

How to Change the World

I spent last weekend with 1,000 incredible world changers at the World Domination Summit in Portland, OR.

My life will never be the same again.

This was my second year at the summit. Last year was incredible, but this year touched me even more deeply for some reason.

Over and over again, I was inspired and impressed by speakers, attendees and friends who are doing massive, ambitious and seriously world-changing things.

When people ask what this conference is about you hear different answers from different people. Some say entrepreneurship. Others say social entrepreneurship. Others might say adventure, travel, giving back, living your purpose or living a remarkable life.

Chris Guillebeau, WDS founder, posed a question that sums it up well:

How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?

But to me, above all the World Domination Summit is about more than living a remarkable life. It’s about learning how to change the world.

Here are three steps I learned from WDS this year that are critical to changing the world:

Step 1: Don’t ask permission.

Life is full of rules and establishments. Changing the world doesn’t start by following the rules, accepting what is or asking for permission. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what experience or qualifications you have.

The only person you need permission from to change the world is yourself.

Chantelle Baxter didn’t wait for permission to start One Girl when she was just 24. Now the nonprofit she started has provided 100 education scholarships to girls living in Sierra Leone.

Step 2: Dream big.

On Saturday at the conference we heard from Scott Harrison of charity: water.

Over 1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Scott will be the person who solves that problem, and it may only take a decade or two for him to do it. They’ve already brought clean drinking water to 2.5 million and are growing the operation like crazy every year.

If solving the water crisis wasn’t enough, Scott is also revolutionizing how charities operate. 100% of donations to charity: water go to building water projects. Private donors cover the operating costs so you don’t have to. Every dollar you donate is tracked and reported on.

Scott didn’t come from a non-profit background. He was a drug addicted concert promoter in NYC. One day he turned his life upside down, recognized a problem and wanted to help. Five years later and he’s running the sexiest and one of the most impactful nonprofits on the planet.

It all started with dreaming bigger than most people dare.

Step 3: Start with your world.

Sometimes changing the world has to start with changing your world. Mike Bruny shared an insightful Jay-Z lyric before telling the audience his story of giving back to the organization that taught him the value of hard work as a teen in Brooklyn:

And it’s much bigger issues in the world, I know
But I first had to take care of the world I know

-Jay Z

Maybe you need to change your life before you can change the world. Or, maybe that’s backwards. Maybe the best way to change your life is by helping other people get what they want or need.

Changing the world doesn’t have to mean starting a charity or nonprofit. There are plenty of ways to change the world, and you can even do so while pursuing your dreams or earning a profit.

Whether or not you attended the World Domination Summit or plan to attend next year, ask yourself how you’re planning to change the world.

Are you waiting for permission?

Are you dreaming big enough?

Do you need to start with your own world?

I know I haven’t been dreaming big enough. Thanks WDS for inspiring me to change that this year.

Thanks Armosa Studios for the picture.

Corbett Barr

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  1. Hey Corbett! I’m lovin’ the vibe I get from WDS, and I love how t touched you.

    Personally, I haven’t felt I’ve had much of a problem in the 3 points you mentioned, at least for the last few years :D

    I felt compelled to comment because Jay-Z is one of my deeply personal inspirations, and to see someone like yourself quoting him really got me.

    I love it.

    I also wrote a couple tribute articles to him – 1 called Rap Is The New Shakespeare, and the other called Rappers, Bloggers & Your Self-Esteem, if you’re interested :)

    Keep dominating your world, rock on, and ryze up! ;)

  2. Hi C

    Super stoked that you had such an amazing time again. I remember you telling me that WDS was hands-down, the best conference / event you had ever attended.

    Next year I will be there with bells on. For sure. No doubt in my mind.

    Keep rockin’ out, brotha.


  3. I’m still kicking myself for not going this year — even though I had heard of WDS last year and even signed up for the early notice list. I appreciate you doing a write up of what the conference was like. Hopefully (definitely!) I’ll see you there next year.

  4. Corbett is was so awesome to meet you at WDS this year! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I had a few defining moments over the 3-4 days myself including an “aha” moment about why I do what I do, and it gave me validation that what I do is actually important.

    I teach photography to average people that want to learn how to use their cameras and take better photos. When Brene Brown said that as a society creativity gets squashed and that lack of creativity in our lives is not benign but shows up as anger, hatred, depression, and illness – that hit me hard. I, little old me, have a solution for that! I can help one person at a time find that creative part of themselves they didn’t know they had or have long since buried.

    I also took away from her Creativity over Comparison. I spend too much time comparing myself to others, thinking I’m not enough of this or that, or I’m too old to start something. No more – I’m going to value what I have to offer and offer it proudly. Who’s with me?!

  5. Tom


    Very very cool. Chris’s message is one that really strikes a chord with me, which has inspired a lot of change in my life. I can really feel the energy of WDS through others who have attended, and know that it’s definitely a community I’d love to be a part of.

    The path to success in the new economy is becoming exceedingly clear to me: overcome the status quo (a.k.a. your lizard brain), do what you believe, be remarkable, spread your message, and care. If you’re good, everything else will follow.

    Up until graduation from college a little over two years ago, this concept was completely foreign to me. The rules of 50 years ago are still being beaten into us from day one. It was only when I got out there on my own, and started discovering and experiencing and living life for myself, that I slowly, bit by bit, have dispensed with my deeply entrenched assumptions about what makes the world go round (22 years of the hearing same mantra is definitely an obstacle to overcome – there are some really really deep-seated assumptions and emotional attachments that have come with that).

    Bottom line for me: what you do is really exiting, what Chris and WDS does is really exciting, and the opportunities for doing something exceptional are more visible than ever.

    All I can say is thanks. Thank you so so much for what you do!


  6. This resonates with me so much! I wasn’t at WDS but I’m inspired by the tweets and now the blog posts I’m reading. A few months ago I started a small project to bring sewing and craft supplies to Rwanda. It was small but life-changing to the women who received the supplies. In just 7 days I raised almost $2000 by selling a digital Empowerment Kit I designed. Those women are now able to start businesses that will bring them a sustainable income.

    I was made redundant from my corporate job a few years ago and realised pretty fast that if you are waiting for the permission to do something you could be waiting forever!

    So here I am trying to change one life at a time, working on my next social project- an ethical accessories brand and a development program for more women in Rwanda. Who knows where it could lead?

  7. I’ve got to admin, I’ve just been inspired by reading everyone’s posts and watching their twitter feeds. I definitely seems like one of those occasions that will touch you forever. Hopefully one day I will make it across the pond. What are you doing with your $100?

  8. I attended WDS (thank you for the awesome meetup btw, so appreciated!) and this was just the reminder I needed. Being remarkable is sometimes really scary when you get back out in the “real” world… I constantly look for “permission” for comfort, only to realize that for the unconventionals out there, there are no roadmaps, no pats on the back and no guideposts til it’s all said and done.

    Great post!

  9. I’m so envious of everyone who attended WDS. Really hoping to go next year!

    Corbett, thank you for sharing this. Reading inspiring post-event posts from people shows the impact it had, and the inspiration is coming through.Time to start DREAMING BIG!

  10. Thanks Corbett,

    I have not attend WDS but I did motivational seminar in my college by using your tips and thoughts .
    I got very good compliments but all credits goes to you :)

  11. Excellent post Corbett. Can’t wait to do some more dreamin big with you man!

  12. It was great seeing you again at WDS this year. This was my first year there and the message of service was much stronger (pleasantly so) than I had expected. It really did feel like a “how can I help change the world” conference and discussion. Great summary of main lessons here, especially the push to dream bigger.

  13. Epic post Corbett.

    I’m a Nigerian, living in Nigeria ATM and it’s kinda hard getting a visa to UAS to attend a conference like this…. I once registered for a conference paid and went for my visa interview but was denied – reasons, i don’t earn enough monthly online (But hell, this is what i wanna use my money for).

    I’m 100% sure we’ll rock next year’s #WDS so catch you, till then, be good.


  14. Awesome my dude, OneGirl seems like a fantastic project, they can expect a donation from me.

  15. Great post, Corbett! WDS was really amazing–I’ve spent the weekend reviewing all of my notes and doing some serious brainstorming. It made me totally rethink what I’m doing, aka “Why am I doing something generic when I have real passion to share with the world?” WDS has given me the drive and the energy to start something new and be REAL this time.

    I also have to say a quick thank you for your Think Traffic happy hour. I connected with the women who would become “my people” at the happy hour. It was the perfect way to start the weekend.

  16. Corbett: Awesome lessons my man! I am thinking bigger and bigger everyday. Also, I am meditating and keeping my mind focused. Honestly, I have never been a person that was good at asking permission so I guess that is a good thing and a bad thing.

    People think that I am crazy and maybe I am, but at the end of the day, I have to do what I feel is right for me. What is right for me might not be what is right for the next person because we are different.

    Anyways, I liked what you said, “Maybe you need to change your life before you can change the world. Or, maybe that’s backwards. Maybe the best way to change your life is by helping other people get what they want or need.” I think the second choice is the last key to my personal growth. Little by little, I am going to start becoming a more helpfully person.

  17. Sounds like it was a really epic experience. I’d love to make it next year!

  18. John

    What is with all this “change the world” narcissistic propaganda? The way Chris put it “live a remarkable life” sounds so much better.

    The message I get from your write up (probably not what you meant – but still) is that if I am not changing the world I should get to it sooner rather than later. Seriousl? What’s wrong with just being a good guy? Cleaning up your street, cooking some food with love? Do I have to right your perceived wrongs in the world instead?

    On another note “changing the world” is akin to saying “help the be water flexible” (yes silly). The world always changes through every little thing. The world IS change.

    Good message and energy from WDS but please, drop some of this empty rethoric.

  19. Having been raised as a “Church Kid” from day one, I never really formed my own opinion of the world I had been living in until recently. Posts like these help me come to terms. The world I live in deals me life on life’s terms, and I need only affect the part of life that I find myself living in. Thanks for another bomb topic, I hope to get to WDS next year!

  20. Nice blog. Thanks. It sounds like a great event.

    I wanted to share with you about the Mona Foundation. They’re a charity out of Seattle that was established 12 years ago to provide support to grassroots educational initiatives in places around the world (Haiti, Panama, Tanzania, India, Cambodia and many more).

    What you said about the 100% of contributions going to charity:water made me think of them since they have been doing the same thing for the past 12 years. 100% of specific donations to directly to the people who need it, and 97% of general donations go to the projects with 3% for operational expenses. They also have a fund specifically for operations so that they can forward the highest percentage of donations possible to the projects.

    Just thought you might like to check them out. I’ve done some volunteer work for them before and they’re good peoples. You can find them at

    Thanks again for the post. I hope I can attend the next WDS. :-)

    – Mark

  21. I’ve been reading about WDS on many different blogs. Each review echos the other – it was beyond epic! I won’t be missing it next year for sure!

  22. Corbett, I agree that one should never ask for permission. We need to stop waiting around for someone to give us the thumbs up. We are in control. If you don’t believe this, give it a shot. Do something different. Try something bold. What do you have to lose?

  23. Corbett, immso glad to have been part of year 2 of WDS. Having gone to the inaugural event was glad to see it only got bigger and better. Still haven’t found another place to match the great energy and people who attend. I got my ticket for next year and I’m ready to go.

    Of course another Jay-Z lyric comes to mind after reading your post and thinking about WDS:

    “This is Jay everyday, no compromise; no compass comes with this life, just eyes.
    So to map it out you must look inside; sure books can guide you, but your heart defines you.”


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