YLYW Interview #1: Chris Guillebeau is the General of Non-Conformity

Awright!! Proud to launch the Your Life YOUR Way interview & giveaway series – a mix of email & skype interviews with the coolest, funnest and most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met online, all living their lives THEIR way (+ some awesome book giveaways).

To start us off, here’s the super awesome Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non Conformity. I’ll feature at least one a week, (possibly more) so stay tuned every Wednesday for kick ass inspiration and real life stories of people that gone-done it right.

Blogger, Author & Non Conformist Chris Guillebeau is a man living life his way.

The tagline “Challenging Authority since 1978” pretty much sums up his adventurous lifestyle, having visited 151 countries and on track to visit every country in the world by his 35th birthday (slight #frenvy!).

Chris has just published his book, The Art of Non-Conformity, which is all about um.. setting your own rules and living the life you want – which makes him PERFECT to kick off this series!

And as a special bonus, I’m giving away a copy of his book to one lucky reader. A few bloggers are doing giveaways so if you missed your chance to win, you get another, yay. Simply leave a comment telling me what living your life YOUR way means to you & how you do it. Good luck, hope you win!

1. Hi Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few key questions here. First off, what does Your Life YOUR Way mean to you? When did you realise you were living life your way and how did that make you feel?

My life my way means that I spend most of my time doing what I love. And hopefully what I love also intersects with something that benefits other people as well, at least some of the time.

I’ve been self-employed for almost all of my adult life, so I’ve almost always been fortunate enough to set my own schedule. But I’d say it wasn’t until I was 27 or 28, about five years ago, that I truly felt I was completely living on my own terms. It was incredibly freeing… and it also came with a sense of responsibility, because where much is given, much is required.

2. Many people fail to get going because they have so many passions that they can’t decide which one to pick. How did YOU discover and pick (if you had more than 1) a passion you could turn into a business / career you love?

I’ve never tried to pick among different passions; I have many of them and I don’t try to limit myself. I do agree that at some point you have to focus, so what I tried to do was align as many of my passions as possible to focus on the theme of non-conformity or unconventional living.

Within that theme, I’m interested in all kinds of different things, usually expressed through writing, travel, entrepreneurship, or the meetups I do around the world.

3. A common refrain amongst people who are stuck between wanting to follow their passion & their many responsibilities is the very ‘real’ fear of “I don’t have money / time / don’t know how to make it work / what if it doesn’t work out, how will I survive?!”. What was the biggest challenge / fear you faced in turning your passion into a living and how did you take the first step in getting past it?

Yes, I agree that people often feel stuck. Ironically, losing the kind of stability they perceive to be true can be very helpful in creating a “nudge” to step out into something new.  As for me, I had to deal with my own fears and uncertainties about my whole project.

I looked around  at successful people and thought, “They’ve been doing this a while. What do I really have to contribute? Isn’t it too late?” Fortunately, I was able to overcome the fear and uncertainty, and I’m so glad I did.

4. Knowing what you know now and seeing how successful you are, what ONE most important piece of advice would you have given yourself when you were first starting out & is there anything you would have done differently?

Always focus externally and think about why other people should care about what you are doing. This makes all the difference, especially in terms of blogging or building some other kind of online platform.

5. Being an entrepreneur requires commitment and discipline in both mindset and marketing. What are your best daily / weekly habits & practices that help you stay inspired, productive & making progress especially when it gets “tough” to keep going?

First, be sure you’re really committed for the long-term. It does get easier over time as you build more and more content or product offerings combined with more and more meaningful relationships. As much as you can, create habits with your work, where you miss it if you don’t do it.

In my case I try to write 1,000 words a day, six days a week, no matter where I am in the world. I don’t worry much about schedules or time zones, since I work from more than twenty countries a year, but I do worry about making sure I am creating wherever I go.

Along with coffee, I think the creative addiction is a good one to have.

Thanks Chris! I have to add – of all the people I contacted for this series, Chris was the fastest to respond – both to say yes and to actually answer the questions. You’re a legend, mate.

Want more? Chris Guillebeau travels the world and writes for a small army of remarkable people at chrisguillebeau.com. Live updates from every country in the world via twitter.com/chrisguillebeau. Meet him in person during the AONC book tour (in Vancouver Jan 22nd!) and join the AONC community on Facebook.

Hope you enjoyed this shot of inspiration. I’d love to hear from you – how are YOU living your life your way? What are the small ways you make choices that matter? Thanks for sharing!

ps: The next interview will be up a week from today, which is when I’ll spill who won the book.

Facebook comments:



      • says

        LOL! I’ve only been “Canadian” for 2.5 years but I’ve always spelled (spelt? isn’t that a grain?) it with the U, being from India where the ole British ways still exist. Thanks Sandi, great to see you here! Appreciate your support & good vibes 🙂 x

  1. says


    It’s nice to meet and glad I ran across your site. Thanks for a wonderful interview with one of the most inspiring writers and entrepreneurs out there. He certainly follows his passion and lives life in a manner that most would feel to fearful to attempt. I appreciate the insight and entrepreneurship and marketing. I will certainly stop by again. Thanks!

  2. says

    Thanks for the tweet & comment, Joe, great to meet you too! I checked out your blog and love that you’re a fellow personal development + adventure junkie. You’ve got some good stuff in there, looking forward to reading more.

    Glad you liked the interview, it’s inspiring to peek into people’s minds and see how they’ve overcome challenges to get to where they are. More hope for us all! Have you already read Chris’s book btw? Thanks again for dropping by, love meeting new people here.

  3. says

    Love it Tia. And of course love Chris.

    I am commenting to just say how proud I am of you doing this awesome interview series and starting off in true non conventional style.

    I don’t need a copy of this book ( I have one and as you know am giving one away too) so I just want to say keep on being a force that is shaping this world.

    Natalie x

  4. says

    Thanks so much Nat, looking forward to featuring YOUR interview in the next few weeks You’re just amazing and I know people are going to be very inspired by your story. Looks like you’re having a great time in the US, must be time for the SHINE event with Ali soon hey? Take care, see you IRL in Buenos Aires!

  5. says

    Interesting interview!
    I’d love to read the book (hint, hint ;-))

    I like what Chris said about overcoming fear, combining passions instead of singling out one, and esp. about creating habits in your daily life. Too often, it seems to me that many people make it sound as if you just have to ‘feel’ your way into a great life, but I do believe that consistent practice and constructive habits are very powerful instruments too. And there simply ain’t no way around doing stuff, no matter how good you feel.

    Thanks for launching this interview series, Tia, I’m looking forward to seeing more of this – very inspiring.


  6. says

    You’ll love Chapter 4 “Smashing through the brick walls of fear” Mia!

    Say, how about some yummy Belgian chocolates in the mail and I’ll rig this thing so you get the book? Ooops did I say that out loud, haha. I crack me up :D!

    Girl you are so freakin right – on my whiteboard at home I’ve got a daily reminder that says “Habits are stronger than Desires”. I totally practice feeling my way, following my feel good and law of attraction, AND I also realise how it’s the little things we do everyday that lead to big changes. And-And, not Either-Or.

    Like working that muscle daily for 15 min instead of 1.5 hours in one month (thinking of my painful and ill fated attempt at boot camp last month). I know I’ve said this before in a post somewhere but it’s so important a point: Consistent little efforts = big swinging changes in the flash of a Jim Beam eye!

    ps: we have a deal yet? shhhh…

  7. says

    I love the idea of these interviews!! I discovered Chris a few months ago. I so agree with his life view. Twenty years ago, I walked away from a successful legal career to be a writer. I chose to be childless even though it cost me my marriage because I know it was the authentic choice for me. I moved to the beach and focused on being a writer and a dog mom. 🙂 My life hasn’t been as financially successful as Chris’s (yet 🙂 ), but I have lived my truth, and I know that’s what Chris is all about. The authentic life is extraordinarily rewarding. (Even when well-meaning people are harping at you to “get a real job.”) 😉

  8. says

    Ande, success is defined by you, not by anyone else’s standards. That’s something we tend to forget very easily and get caught up in comparisons. And reading what you wrote, WOW you are hugely successful for doing your own thing and following your intuition! Actually, no matter what you do, you are successful, you and everyone else, we were BORN successful (blog post coming up on this!).

    Not speaking for Chris (although I’m sure he’d agree , but financial success is kinda like the icing on the cake – the cake being freedom and happiness (and it tastes SO good!)

    Well meaning people can only go by their own limited experience. When my folks wanted me to be a Doctor, it was cos they thought a Doctor’s life meant money, being settled and secure, being respected and helping people and couldn’t see what else would be on the ‘same level’. Love them, but even though I have a healer’s spirit, doing it conventionally wasn’t for me.

    And HOW exciting that the world is full of people like us and we’re all gravitating to each other!? Weirdos unite!

  9. Leo Goodwin says

    And when he knew for certain
    Only drowning men could see him
    He said “All men will be sailors then
    Until the sea shall free them”

  10. says

    Wow, this is a special day! Here’s Leo all the way from … where are you now, Switzerland? One of the true blue world travellers and adventurers I know, roaming the BIG SEAS (and snows) with his boards and English teaching skills.

    ps: Are you quoting the mighty Leonard Cohen or JC?

  11. says

    Love your new site Tia, looks and feels wonderfulChris found his blog a while ago and have just finished his book- will i have been to 30 countries and the list to visit grows, many i have been to twice and maybe want to go back to- anyway I am waiting for him to put Australia on his agenda.
    Chris so inspired me as we both share the same value Freedom- as I see you do 🙂
    Living life my way is about being the change that I want to see in the world- living an inspired, empowered life having the freedom to do, be all that gives me the time and resources to become an architect of change. This empowers me, empowers others and creates a ripple effect that creates change in the world
    hugs and love

  12. says


    Love what you said “living an inspired, empowered life having the freedom to do, be all that gives me the time and resources to become an architect of change” AMEN girlfriend!

    When I lived in New Zealand, I hopped across to Oz for a 2 week trip. Covered Brizzie, Gold Coast, Melbourne & Sydney, didn’t like Brizzie too much but most of my Aussie twitter friends are from there so must be something about the city hehe.

    I was reading Sloane’s story and thought – holy hell, if Chris and I’d heard of each other when he was still writing the book I could so be in there! I need to tell my story of how I’ve lived in 4 countries on 3 continents and only worked about 4 years in the last 12 years (never being in one job more than 9 months). Ha!

    To think I felt like such a rebel (and sometimes, alone), when there’s a world full of people like us. Well at least I’ve found my people now 🙂 More power to the World Game Changing brigade!

  13. Leo Goodwin says

    Hi Tia!

    Yeah, Leonard Cohen for ya! Hope you’re well!

    …Behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
    Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance.

    (hoping that some very noncomformist posts might be the winning ticket 😉


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