I looked around as Chris Guillebeau asked how many people in the room were bloggers; and that’s when I realized why I was here.

We hadn’t traveled that far, but it had still been a journey to get to the Vancouver bookstore that was hosting the signing of Chris’ new book ‘The Art Of NonConformity’. We had driven the car to the ferry dock, sailed on the ferry across to the mainland, taken a bus to the Skytrain station, rode the train into town and then walked to the bookstore.

All the while I wondered why it was that I was willing to take such steps just to meet someone who had written a book that I had read. What was it that compelled me to meet someone whom I admire? What was I getting out of it that I was prepared to go through all the trouble? How was this going to change me in any way?

When I saw all those hands go up I realized that I was there to meet like minded people; fellow travelers, and bloggers, and writers, and dreamers who are trying to find their way in a conventional world.  The energy in the room was amazing as we all listened to Chris tell his story and encourage us all to find a way to live our own story.

His message of “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to” may not be groundbreaking but his consistent delivery and leading by example is inspirational. He teaches that we all have the power to change; a philosophy that I believe in strongly.

One of the interesting things about the people I met that day (hi to Angie, and Trevor, and Sarah!) is that, during our conversations, no-one ever asked why? We shared our ideas and dreams and goals with each other with little prompting; listened to each other’s stories; and encouraged each other to keep stretching and reaching; but no-one ever asked why I was doing this or that…they only asked how. It’s a small difference, but it felt good to be around people who already understood the why and were just genuinely interested in the how.

I don’t remember when I first found Chris’ website and his writing, but I do know that he has definitely influenced me since we have come home. The power, and freedom, and confidence that I have felt since returning is magnified when I read his work.

His website is a quiet revolution of entrepreneurship, unconventional ideas, goal-setting and a general movement toward doing what you want without listening to that wave of doubt that stands in your way. You should read it…all of it. There is a ton of stuff there and I don’t think there is anyone that could read it and not get something out of it. Seriously.

There comes a time, though, when it’s time to invest in the future. A time when you have to put your money where your mouth is. We weren’t home long when I signed up for his Empire Building Kit.

I needed a push; some ideas; an example or two of how other people have built their own empires. And it delivers. Being frugal, I signed up for the least expensive option but still received 10 case studies, 5 video interviews and, for me, the most important; a daily email for 365 days showing me what to do, how to do it, what has worked and what probably won’t.

It is the daily email that has been the most valuable. Every day Chris emails me and, quite frankly, although the content of the email is always interesting and relevant, full of useful information, and keeps me on track; what it really does it keeps me focused on making changes, on being uncomfortable and in-the-moment. It keeps my ideas in the front of my mind and doesn’t let me ‘forget’ what it is that I said I wanted to do.

In the end I’m super happy that I made the trek to Vancouver that day. I plan on attending a couple of conferences this summer (TBEX’11 in Vancouver and The World Domination Summit in Portland) and this was a baby step to see what it might be like. The experience has left me more excited than ever about each of them and wondering where they might take me!

You can just call me Empress Gillian!

What are you doing to invest in your future? Are you planning on attending any conferences/meet-ups/gatherings in your niche this year?