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Five Questions with Chris Guillebeau plus a Giveaway

Friday, April 23, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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Chris GuillebeauChris Guillebeau is a writer who knows what the life he was born to live looks like and has created his own unconventional way to live it. He is the creator and author of The Art of Non-Conformity, a website and community for people who are living or want to live unconventional lives.

Chris’s mission is “to help people live unconventional lives, make their own choices, and change the world,” which sounds an awful lot like my purpose in life. That is why it has been such a pleasure to connect with Chris and why he is the first guest in my new series of Zen and the Art of Peacekeeping interviews – five questions with people who have found their own authentic way to be of service in the world.

Welcome Chris, thanks for answering my five questions!

Q 1 – What is it that breaks your heart? What fills you with hope/joy?

What breaks my heart – people who live their life with the vague idea of doing something great, but who are never able to find the courage to take even a small step towards their big dream. And of course, people who take advantage of or cause harm to other people.

What fills me with hope/joy – possibility. Opportunity. I used to say that freedom was the best thing, but now I realize that freedom has to be combined with responsibility. (I think Viktor Frankl said something about that.)

Q 2 – What are you doing about it?

I try to make my impact on the world by shining a spotlight on alternatives for living unconventionally. How can you live the way you want while also making a positive difference for humankind? How can I do that? And most importantly, how can we help others pursue their own big goals and change the world?

Q 3 – How did you get started doing this?

In 2006 I felt like I had done a lot of interesting things — lived in West Africa for four years, been self-employed my whole life, visited 80 countries, etc. — but I didn’t see a convergence point between all of them. Also, I had helped people on an individual basis, but I wanted to expand the tent and build a worldwide community. So then I started writing, and the vision has grown every day since then.

Q 4 – What do you do to take care of yourself?

I run. I drink coffee. I read books. I travel and have fun adventures.

However, I am probably not nearly as good at taking care of myself as some in your community. I am more inclined to wear myself out doing things than to take things easy.

I love that you list ‘drink coffee’ and ‘have fun adventures’ as ways of taking care of yourself, that’s awesome. But we may have to talk more about the ‘wear myself out’ part of that answer. Maybe next time…

Q 5 – Do you have any advice for someone who dreams of doing what you do?

They should dream of what they really want to do. It’s probably not the same as what I do, even though it’s normal to look up to people and share a similar aspiration.

Then, think about what it really takes to do those things. Do they really need years of preparation and formal training? It’s OK if so, but many of us go through higher education just because they don’t know what to do with their life.

I’ve heard it said that there are only two problems in life: not knowing what you want, and not knowing how to get it. My theory is if you can figure out the first one at a relatively young age, then you have the rest of your life to work on the second one.

I agree that simply knowing what we want is the first priority. In my experience, once you have a clear sense of purpose your fears about the ‘risks’ of living an unconventional life seem to pack up and move to more hospitable lodgings. Actually, It’s not that I no longer get scared, but more that my clarity about my purpose helps me face and move through those fears.

Thanks so much for your time Chris!

UPDATED: The winner of the $100 gift voucher to spend on any of Chris’s Unconventional Guides was Helen H. I’ve emailed her directions about how to access her prize. Congratulations!

Also – remember that if you sign up for my mailing list (which I’ll use to let you know about upcoming events, special offers and exciting opportunities) in April or May you’ll automatically get free access to “Yoga for Bloggers, Writers, Concert Pianists and Computer Geeks” a short and very easy yoga sequence to relax your wrists and shoulders.


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43 Responses to "Five Questions with Chris Guillebeau plus a Giveaway"

  1. Erika Harris says:

    “My new series of Zen and the Art of Peacekeeping interviews – five questions with people who have found their own authentic way to be of service in the world.”

    Marianne, this series is brilliant! And your five questions are the sharpest knives, ever. Skillfully peeling back any covers. Until all that’s left is the quest(ion).

    And the answer. (Thank you for these, Chris!)

    Here’s an open, public nag: please do the follow-up… Marianne, where you were about to unpack something Chris said about wearing himself out.

    These interviews are wonderful. More, please.

  2. Stefanie says:

    Would love this …

  3. Susan says:

    Hi there! I’ve been following Chris for some time – I think I actually found you through him. Thanks so much for doing this interview with him. He unconventional guides rock, so sign me up for the giveaway, and good luck to everyone else who enters!

  4. Joanna Smith says:

    WOW. I had not yet heard of Chris, but I absolutely am in LOVE with what he is doing. Thank you so much for sharing – I’ll have to read more about him!

    And my secret wish in life is to travel always … so his travel ninja book looks amazing!!

  5. Helen says:

    What can I say Marianne, other than once again you’ve led me to something I really need in my life. I’m now a few months off turning thirty, and with circumstances occurring in my life that have led me to question exactly what I’m doing, and why, and what I WANT to be doing.
    I’d have to say that, at the moment, I am definitely one of those people that break Chris’s heart (sorry Chris!). I DO have (and always have had) vague aspirations of doing great things, of somehow making the world a slightly better place for having been here, but am stalled with the seemingly impossible questions of “what?” and “how?”.

    I feel good to at least be looking those questions in the eye now, though, even though they’re scary. Far better than letting them trail behind me, endlessly labeled “one day…”

    And it’s so heartening that there are people out there setting up signposts and lighting lamps for those of us trying to find our way.

    Again, thank you.
    Helen x

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Looking at the scary questions is powerful work, Helen. I have boundless love for people in that place and enjoy nothing more than supporting them to find their own way to sit with their fears and find a way through them. I hope Chris’s great writing helps and do keep an eye out for the “Zen and the Art of Peacekeeping” workshops on finding your purpose and facing your fears which will pop up here in months to come. You can always sign up to the mailing list to find out when they’ll be happening. Maybe you already did.

      Be kind to yourself in this time of change. Gentleness is much more powerful than we give it credit for being.

  6. I love what Chris has to say! How many people can say that they live their life with intention? Deliberately? I live what most people would say is an unconventional life as an American woman living 12+ years in Japan as a actress/voice-over artist, certified Feng Shui consultant, volunteer to bring arts to orphans around the world, and globe-trotting with a hula-hoop. I travel abroad every other month for studying/playing/exploring/working and people are confused by this.

    Fortunately, I don’t get asked by friends and family anymore, “When are you going to find one thing?” Because they see it working for me.

    “I wished I could do that!” Yet, they are afraid to take the same leap. I just started following Chris a couple of days ago and can’t wait to read more of his Unconventional Guides.

    But I know there is much more to achieving the 100% ideal lifestyle and creating even more sustainability. I am actively seeking those answers. So, please tell me how to make it all happen, Chris and Marianne. What is inspiring is seeing that both of you really live your words.

    Thanks for inspiring!
    Live it,

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Soness, that certainly sounds like an unconventional life! I’m also not the kind of person who is going to be happy doing just one thing, the magic is in the chemistry that happens when my different passions converge.

      I’ll have more on the sustainability side of this in weeks and months to come – that’s a huge part of my passion.

  7. melissa says:

    You do have tend to write about things that I need to hear/read at that moment. I will have to check out Chris’ site because I think I’m finally getting to what I want to do…now its how do I get there. Thank you for this. xo

  8. Lubna Kably says:

    Hi Marianne
    It is an awesome interview. I agree that many of us dream of doing something great, but don’t find the courage to take the first step.
    A lot of things could be holding them back. In such circumstances, it is best to break down that dream into an attainable one.
    Instead of starting a reading-room for instance, one could just start a story book collection drive and donate these books to a school run by an NGO. I did this, I broke my dream into an attainable one.
    I firmly believe, every little drop does count.
    I have bookmarked Chris’ website and shall have a nice time reading it, over the weekend.
    Have a nice weekend.

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Great point Lubna, breaking a big dream down to steps that can be taken now is really helpful.

  9. Sara B says:

    What a great interview! I have been following Chris for a while now, and I absolutely LOVE the questions you asked him! Thanks for another great post on your FANTASTIC new home!

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Thanks Sara! So glad you enjoyed it. There will be more fabulous change-makers answering the same five questions and their answers are so sharp, it almost hurts.

  10. Helen H says:

    Nice work M. I’m looking forward to the whole series. πŸ™‚

  11. Abbie says:

    I love Chris Guillebeau! I’m so glad you interviewed him for this series πŸ™‚

  12. I love Chris’s writing and have been following him for the past year and whenever I need a kick to prompt me to take those steps that will lead me towards creating the future I want (one filled with possibilities) I re-read his manifesto.

  13. Clara says:

    I’ve been following Chris’s blog for over six months, and he’s become a must-read. His candor and transparency are a breath of fresh air. I’d love some funds toward one of his Unconventional Guides. Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Suzanne says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of Chris but what he says really resonates with me. Thanks for the introduction and great giveaway!

  15. Tara Bradford says:

    Nice to see Chris’s interview here. Wise words. Am really loving the look of your site!

  16. Love the new series and the fact that Chris was your first guest. I’m a big fan of his.

    One of my friends recently told me that I am living an unconventional life, which is something I never would have said about myself. As a result, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live unconventionally, or at least what it would mean to me.

  17. This is super! If it were not for Chris I would have never discovered you and hence never been able to cultivate a home yoga practice and redefine what yoga means to me.

    You inspire on so many levels.

    Thank you for starting this series.


  18. debra says:

    Timely post and interview. Chris’ mission: β€œto help people live unconventional lives, make their own choices, and change the world,” is near and dear to me. I’ve never been much of a mainstream thinker. I truly believe that we are the change we wish to be in the world, and that the Power of One is alive and well. We are testaments to that.

  19. Robyn says:

    Hi Marianne,

    I’m another person whose finding your posts much needed soulfood at this point in my life.

    Thankyou for your interview with Chris, I would not have found out about him otherwise. His answer to Q1 hit me like a truck!

    The stage I am at is that I have well and truly begun to step onto my own path. I know that now that I have begun to step into my true self I will never turn back. It feels completely truthful and right, even if the physical reality hasn’t caught up yet.

    The difficulty for me at this juncture is that it is meeting alot of adverstity, fear and resistance. A year in, it has dawned on those around me that I have committed to this path which in their eyes shows no ‘success’. I find this very challenging as I continue to delve deeper into releasing and repatterning ideas, thoughts, behaviours and feelings. Fear, control, resistance are the very things that held me back from myself in the first place. And are easy to slip back into.

    What I find a miracle is that it is at these moments when I feel quite alone and scared, one of my interwebs people shine through with the answer and support I need to stay strong and focussed.

    Bless you for this post.

  20. Adam says:

    Timely post and interview. Chris’ mission: β€œto help people live unconventional lives, make their own choices, and change the world,” is near and dear to me. I’ve never been much of a mainstream thinker. I truly believe that we are the change we wish to be in the world, and that the Power of One is alive and well. We are testaments to that.

  21. aj bush says:

    Love, love, love the new site. And I loved reading the interview with Chris. I am sharing it with my daughter who is at a cross road with her career path right now. I think it will be very helpful for her to read his insight.

  22. Laurie L. says:

    I love this new adventure of yours, interviewing people.

  23. George says:

    I love Chris’s writing and have been following him for the past year and whenever I need a kick to prompt me to take those steps that will lead me towards creating the future I want (one filled with possibilities) I re-read his manifesto.

  24. cath says:

    love the new series of interviews – fun!! and love that chris said we should aspire to do what we want to do… not what he does (or what anyone else does)!! can be hard to figure out what “we” want when there’s so much social pressure from such a young age… anyhoo, very nice, look forward to more of these πŸ™‚

  25. Leana says:

    Love Chris’s attitude toward life and all the possibility that exists for each one of us!

  26. Ronna says:

    How great is this, Marianne! ‘Thrilled that you have Chris here. Definitely a kindred spirit and a GREAT encouragement to those of us who (want to) believe we have something of unique significance to offer the world. Beautiful! Powerful! Fabulous!

  27. Megan says:

    Thanks for this interview, I had first seen AONC a few months ago + was wondering if his work was “too good to be true.” Your endorsement is very encouraging – as a newcomer to your blog I feel most connected to your sincerity.
    Looking forward to upcoming 5 Questions installments.

    peace + gratitude

  28. claire says:

    This is an awesome giveaway. Please sign me up!

    Also, thanks for the reminder. I could use the Yoga for bloggers about now. πŸ™‚

  29. Caitlin says:

    Thanks for interviewing Chris and writing this post! I enjoyed reading it. Marianne, I really reading your posts – please keep writing!

    All the best,

  30. Jamie says:


    Great new site and great old one too. You’re such an inspiration to my life here in Tajikistan in the moment, and my life as a writer and beginning practicer of yoga.

    I love this interview and am excited to hear about Chris as well.

    Keep up the great work!

  31. Janine says:

    “My new series of Zen and the Art of Peacekeeping interviews – five questions with people who have found their own authentic way to be of service in the world.” !!!

    You make the internet worthwhile. I’m so excited to read these interviews.

    I really enjoyed this interview with Chris. It feels like I was waiting for someone to say, “this crazy dream you have can be realized” and this interview did just that.

    So thanks to you and Chris.

  32. Cara says:

    I love Chris’s stuff… it’s a constant reminder in my mailbox “to have fun adventures”.

    Sign me up for this giveaway, I’d love to try out some of his products I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise!

  33. Alex says:

    I’m so glad you interviewed Chris! I connect with the unconventional life for obvious reasons ;)Great questions and answers! xo

  34. Debbie says:

    Thanks Marianne and Chris for writing about making our dreams our realities. And Marianne, thanks for your great posting on facing your fears. I decided to quit my job last month and move to France to give myself a (starting point) year of creative writing and have been facing my fears daily ever since. The big move happens next Sunday. These days my excitement far outweighs my fears, which I’ve talked through and have consequently diminished. Thanks again!

  35. Oh my goodness! I didn’t know you were a Chris Guillebeau devotee as well! My favorite blogs are you, Swirly, Maggie Doyne and Chris… and we’d include Letha if Wrap Up Africa had a blog. So glad you supported the recent drive for WUA — my husband created the ChipIn. We really must meet. How about at this year’s European Summit for Global Transformation, October 15 – 17, Amsterdam? Want to talk about your book?

    I think I should win the $100 credit because I’ve been at this lifestyle design thing since Tim Ferris and Chris Guillebeau were wee tykes (or something) and now I am trying really hard to live like that and make the world a much, much better place for everyone, all at the same time. I can use all the help I can get! πŸ˜‰

  36. […] friend Chris Guillebeau, on the other hand, is happy to talk about that side of things. He is incredibly generous with the […]

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