Chris Guillebeau makes a full-time living from his blog The Art of Non Conformity while travelling the world on his mission to visit every country on Earth. Last year he very kindly agreed to be interviewed for my book Screw Work, Let’s Play and share a little of what’s made his lifestyle possible.
Chris, how do you answer the dinner party question “What do you do?”
I am a writer, entrepreneur, and world traveler. I publish the Art of Non-Conformity site and help people live remarkable lives.
You describe yourself as being on a five-year personal quest to visit every country in the world. How did you come up with this goal and why?
It’s a long story, but the short answer is that I realized I had been to about 50 countries due to a few years spent volunteering in Africa, and I wanted to see if I could go everywhere. Every good goal has a deadline, so I set mine for my 35th birthday in 2012.
Can you describe a moment that represents the lifestyle you’ve been striving to create?
I sometimes fly First or Business Class before checking into a $15 hostel – kind of ironic, but it’s fun. I really enjoyed being the only westerner in a bush taxi last month from Mozambique to Swaziland. Hopefully every day has moments like that – whether in Bhutan, where I’m going next, in Kuwait, where I just came from, or while working at home in Oregon.
The thing is that a lot of what I do is the same wherever I go, and personally I like that – I write, meet people, drink coffee, have fun.
How do you manage any fear or anxiety around your projects and your travel?
Great question. I experience a great deal of fear, anxiety, and insecurity – and probably anything else like that you can think of. The only difference is that I try not to let my fears determine my decisions. It’s definitely a process, not a single step.
You make an interesting suggestion in your excellent free guide to World Domination that it almost doesn’t matter what project you take on first, just go do something (which I wholeheartedly agree with) – can you explain a bit about this?
Everyone has an idea for a great project, but lots of people feel stuck and unable to start. I like this quote:
“The gap between ignorance and knowledge is much less than the gap between knowledge and action.”
I like that you have identified your central message so clearly; “you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to”. How did you come to this realization or have you always known it?
It’s been a process, but thankfully I learned to question authority at an early age.
When I mentioned my book Screw Work, Let’s Play, you said “But I like my work!”. You’re certainly an advocate of hard work but do you find the line blurring with play and fun?
I love work. My philosophy is that if you don’t love what you do, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. Perhaps it’s not that far off from what your book is about.
You’ve put together a whole load of advice for artists to make a living in your Art Money Guide. What’s the single most important tip you can share that you learned from interviewing full-time artists and creating the guide?
Artists have to learn to take responsibility for their own careers instead of expecting galleries (or anyone else) to help them be successful. This is an important shift in mindset that is unfortunately quite rare.
I’m a big fan of personality profiling systems like Wealth Dynamics and Myers Briggs. Do you know your profile and if so do you have any sense of how your profile influences the way you’ve built your business and lifestyle?
Ironically, I just took it this week. I’m an INTJ – still not 100% sure what that means, but the description sounded good to me: The INTJ Personality
Can you name one belief or behaviour above all that has contributed to your success?
Find out more
Chris has written a superb and comprehensive guide for those who’d like to take their first steps to being a professional blogger, a full-time traveller or someone with a similarly unconventional lifestyle. It’s called “The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom through a Very Small Business”.
Chris has also written “The Unconventional Guide to Art and Money: How to Thrive as an Artist without Selling Out”. I haven’t read it yet but if it’s as good as his first guide, it will be well worth checking out.
Read about everything else Chris does and fetch his free guides to World Domination and 279 Days to Overnight Success at artofnonconformity.com.