28 Festivals and 8 Reasons They Can Change Your Life (Plus: Free Burning Man Tickets!)


Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels.

Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he began at age 26 and built to more than 30 properties in California alone. In 2010, Joie de Vivre was awarded the #1 customer service award in the U.S. by Market Metrix (Upper Upscale hotel category).

Conley has also been named the “Most Innovative CEO” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, and I’m proud to call him a friend.

Last year, he decided that he wanted to become the world’s leading expert on festivals.

Why? Because he’d seen his personal and professional lives transformed by places like Bali and Burning Man. Since that decision, he’s traveled to more than two-dozen countries to experience more than three-dozen festivals and launched Fest300.

Why are festivals — one of the mankind’s oldest traditions — most important than ever in a digital world? What are Chip’s favorite festivals and how can they tranform your life?

This post — full of inspirational photographs — answers all of these questions.

Chip is also giving away two free tickets to this month’s sold-out Burning Man, which include drinks with Chip and quite possibly Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man. Deadline for submissions is this Friday! Details at the end of this post.

Enjoy… Read More

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A $36,000 Birthday Gift (Plus: Free Roundtrip Anywhere in the World)


I’m turning 36 years young! Here in a village in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.

My 36th birthday is here!

It’s going to be a great natal year–I can already feel it. Perhaps it will be good luck for you, too. In this post, I’m giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world.

But back to that strange birthday gift…

Much to the chagrin of my momma-san, I’ve become quite difficult to buy presents for. Some friends even think I’m impossible to find presents for. Not so. I love handwritten letters, homemade brownies, girlfriends in next-to-nothing, and–most of all–when people do something nice.

You, my dear readers, have an awesome track record of doing nice things.

For my b-day in 2010, you all raised more than $100,000 for high-need public school classrooms in the US.  In 2011, you helped build libraries overseas (Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam), and last year, you helped poor youth in developing nations finish school.

In lieu of gifts this year, my birthday wish is to provide clean water to the people who need it most. I’m doing it on this page. There are fun prizes involved, so keep reading… Read More

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How to Travel: 21 Contrarian Rules


(Photo credit: Moyan Brenn)

This is a tactical post on travel from Ryan Holiday, who’s written on this blog before about the pragmatism of Stoicism and lessons learned as Director of Marketing for American Apparel.

To his 21 rules, I’ve added a few of my own tricks. Please share your own rules and tips in the comments!

Enter Ryan Holiday

Why are you traveling?

Because, you know, you don’t magically get a prize at the end of your life for having been to the most places. There is nothing inherently valuable in travel, no matter how hard the true believers try to convince us.

Seneca, the stoic philosopher, has a great line about the restlessness of those who seem compelled to travel. They go from resort to resort and climate to climate, he says, and continues:

“They make one journey after another and change spectacle for spectacle. As Lucretius says ‘Thus each man flees himself.’ But to what end if he does not escape himself? He pursues and dogs himself as his own most tedious companion. And so we must realize that our difficulty is not the fault of the places but of ourselves.”

It’s hard for me see anything to envy in most people who travel. Because deep down that is what they are doing. Fleeing themselves and the lives they’ve created. Or worse, they’re telling themselves that they’re after self-discovery, exploration or new perspectives when really they are running towards distraction and self-indulgence.

Is that why you’re packing up your things and hitting the road?

Not that I don’t travel myself–I did my fair share this year alone. Both coasts of Australia. I was in Amsterdam for a speaking gig (and I found myself at a tulip farm with Tim where he caught a chicken with his bare hands). I researched for my next book in Rome. I went down to Brazil. I went to Copenhagen. I spent enough time in New York that it felt like I lived there. I road tripped across the United States more times than I can count–New Orleans to New York; New York to Miami; Miami to Austin… The list goes on. If there was a chance to go somewhere I’d never been, I tried to take it, especially if it was historic.

But are you, as Emerson once put it, “bringing ruins to the ruins?”… Read More

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4HWW Readers' Libraries in Nepal, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka Open Their Doors!


The Vang Lam preschool we built in Vietnam. So cute a lumberjack would cry! Now we have three more locations.

You all should be *very* proud.

I’m thrilled to share completion reports for the three libraries you supported and made possible. The funds were raised for my birthday campaign in 2011.

They’re finally done!

This post include photos of the dedication plaques for each library, as well as information about the impact that each library has had on the local community.

In a nutshell:

– The K-to-6 library in Cambodia will help 500 students per year become literate. 500 per year = 2,500 over the next 5 years.
– The Grades 1-5 library in Sri Lanka will help 2,000 students per year become literate. 2,000 per year = 10,000 over the next 5 years.
– The K-10 library in Nepal will help 550 students per year become literate. 550 per year = 2,750 over the next 5 years.

In the next 5 years, you all will have helped change the lives of more than 15,000 students. Not only that, but you will have helped add critical thinkers to the world who can perpetuate a virtuous cycle of solving problems. Cool, right?

Here are the dedication plaques for each school. Click to enlarge:

Now, the completion reports (and pics) for those interested… Read More

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Feel Good Friday: Readers, You Did This — 21,559 Students Helped So Far…


Students helped by DonorsChoose.org
Imagine a huge stadium full of kids like this. It’s a lot, and you’ve helped them all.

This post is an experiment. I’m calling it “Feel Good Friday.”

There’s enough bad news in the world, so let’s spread a little optimism…

Since May 13th, you have directly helped 21,559 high-need public school students in the US. In fact, in the last few years, we (the community on this blog + me) have directly funded classroom projects for nearly 200,000 students (!!!).

Below are some of the teacher thank-you’s, which I think you’ll enjoy.

And one more thing:

It’s anyone’s game to win. The prize is roundtrip airfare to a leisurely dinner with me and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. We can discuss anything you want, including business. If you’re interested in winning a seat (four (4) people will win), here are the rules.

If you’d simply like to donate $1 and feel great, click on my giving page here and choose a project you love.

Have a great weekend, all. Letters below… Read More

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How to Finally Play the Guitar: 80/20 Guitar and Minimalist Music


When will you stop dreaming and start playing? (Photo: Musician “Lights”, Credit: Shandi-lee)

I’ve always wanted to play the guitar.

It started as a kid, listening to my dad play around the fireplace during the holidays. The fantasy continued with Guns N’ Roses and the iconic Slash. From hyperspeed Slayer to classical Segovia, I was mesmerized.

But I never thought I could do it myself.

Despite tackling skills as esoteric as Japanese horseback archery, I somehow put music in a separate “does not apply” category until two years ago. It was simply too frustrating, too overwhelming.

My fascination with guitar wasn’t rekindled until Charlie Hoehn, an employee of mine at the time, showed me the 80/20 approach to learning it.

This post explains how to get the most guitar mileage and versatility in the least time… Read More

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The Magic of Thinking Big – How to Break World Records in Times Square


Preface from Tim

The following is a guest post by John-Clark Levin, Joe Luchsinger, and Jason Soll.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to publish it, and today is that day. Why? I have big battles coming next week, and they make me want to tackle the world.

By the time you finish reading this post, you’ll learn how they:

• Booked the heart of Times Square for three days for only $20
• Brought together teams of elite competitors from as far away as Nepal and New Zealand
• Organized a record-breaking competition as full-time college students…from 3,000 miles away
• Received a promotion on every page of YouTube.com, ultimately receiving over 800,000 webcast views and tens of thousands of comments during the course of the event
• Landed extensive coverage by the Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CBS, and AOL News
• More than doubled the previous Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuous Handshake

After telling the crazy story behind this event, called “Shaking History,” they’ll teach:

• How systematically studying both your successes and failures can take you to the next level
• Why taking on charitable projects allows you to make astounding breakthroughs in the size and scale of your endeavors
• How to achieve spectacular results by defining your own “best practices”
• Why you can be the best in the world at something

Now, on to the story… Read More

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