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Book Review: A Brief Guide to World Domination

Chris at Liberian Election

The Manifesto Arrives

If you read last Friday’s interview with Chris Guillebeau, you may remember that he planned to release a free eBook titled: A Brief Guide to World Domination. Early yesterday, the manifesto became available. And I highly recommend it.

At a high level, I must admit, the guide hits the standard, commencement-style post-grad high notes:

  1. Don’t restrict yourself to conventional paths.
  2. Follow your passions.
  3. Give back to the world.

These glossy ideals will be familar to anyone who has ever attended a graduation ceremony. You’ll hear the standard quotes…

e.g., “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.”

…coupled with some brief, insight-free anecdotes of the type required by law to be included in any piece of self-help literature. (“Bob hated being a lawyer, but then he quit to become a professional woodcarver and loves it!”)

Where Chris really begins to pick up speed, however, is when he shifts from the general to the specific. Unlike many aspirants to the Tim Ferriss throne, Chris actually lives the life he preaches, and his approach introduces some new and exciting practices into the broader conversation. Ultimately, it is the practical tips that separate the work from standard “be the change you want to see in the world” fluff, and make it an essential read.

For example, early on, Chris introduces an intelligent deconstruction of the prevailing paradigm that you either serve yourself or serve the world. Drawing from personal experience, Chris walks the reader through the possibility of compromise — a position forged, no doubt, from extensive practice in the art of leading a non-conformist lifestyle in a reality of bills and student loans payments.

I was most excited, however, by the the final part of eBook, which describes a “Toolkit for World Domination.” Chris’s advice on the power of a catchy story and the need to build a small army, among other examples, struck me as both shockingly original and intuitively sound. (If anything, the discussions here are too short.) This is exactly the brand of tactics I hoped to glean from A Brief Guide — battle-hardened strategies extracted from years of struggling to keep his unusual lifestyle alive.

In the end, I think Chris is on to something interesting here. His philosophy begins with The Four-Hour Workweek, then injects a social conscious, removes the shady Internet businesses, and gives the whole thing a cleansing bath in new media, social networking-powered goodness.

I recommend starting with the free guide — skimming the generic and dwelling on the novel — then continuing to Chris’s blog, where there’s much insight to be gained from his growing collection of war stories born of his daily skirmishes against the conventional.

[Update: I recommend that you check out Swaroop’s excellent reflections on Chris’s approach and how it applies to his own unconventional life.]

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