Selfish Generosity

The-art-of-non-conformity-set-your-own-rules-live-the-life-you-want-and-change-the-world Chris Guillebeau is an interesting dude.  I had the chance to hang out with him recently when he was stopping in Baltimore on his book tour in support of his new book, The Art of Non-Conformity, and I interviewed Chris on the radio show, Money, Riches & Wealth.  In case you’ve never heard of Chris and require a little more buy-in to believe he’s worthy of the “interesting” label, my summary following should do the trick:

Chris quit high-school after his freshman year, got his GED, snuck into community college, finished hisundergrad degree in 2 years (your math is correct—at that point, he wouldn’t have even finished high school ordinarily), served with an aid organization in Africa for several years, came back to the states to complete grad school, began to blog, became a professional writer and then wrote a book including a chapter in which he calculates to the penny how he could’ve gotten more education for far less outside of grad school rather than in.

You might expect this rebel with a cause to be a loud, type-A, bull-in-a-china-shop sort, but I was somewhat surprised to learn he’s actually a soft-spoken introvert.  That hasn’t stopped him from communicating a truck-load of wisdom, certainly through his book, The Art of Non-Conformity, but even more so through his online presence (which you can enjoy at www.chrisguillebeau.com).

And here’s the most interesting thing about Chris and his vision that separates him from the vast majority of vocational self-help voices:

He doesn’t think it’s all about YOU (or him or me).

Way too many books—most glaringly, The Secret—have attempted to make us followers by courting us with self-centric pronouncements that WE are each the center of a universe that is waiting to dutifully serve us all the success and money we could dream of if we simply dedicate our every thought and action to that “reality.”   Mr. Guillebeau, on the other hand, sends a strikingly non-hedonistic message.  Sure, he believes that we should be enjoying nearly every minute of our education and job, but instead of attracting us with visions of living endless hours with our toes in the sand and a fruity umbrella drink in hand, he encourages us to live a life filled with purpose and work that may be enriching, but definitely fulfilling.

He believes that in order for us to be entirely fulfilled with our life’s work, we need to be serving someone other than ourselves; that we—regardless of our age—must be building a legacy, not just an estate.  He calls it “selfish generosity.”  Doing something good for others that is also good for you.  If you struggle to believe that one can find financial stability, or even affluence, by pursuing a vocational course that doesn’t seek first and always to serve oneself, take a look at, well, Chris.  Or, have some fun learning about Blake Mycoskie, the young entrepreneur who started a phenomenally successful, for-profit shoe company—TOMS Shoes—on the premise that they would give away one pair of shoes for every pair sold. One-for-one.

Aw, I don’t know…the whole greed-centered focus worked out so well in the Great Recession, though! (Sorry, I’m obviously struggling with my 2010 New Year’s Resolution to avoid the use of sarcasm…)

Listen to just a few minutes of my interview with Chris Guillebeau on this topic by clicking here:

 

Chris Inteview

 

 

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