Greetings from the Atlanta airport, where I’m preparing this post before heading home after a 13-stop leg of the Unconventional Book Tour. In writing the AONC book, I wanted to highlight the stories of other people who have forged their own unconventional lives. Everyone mentioned below was included in the book, already in its fourth…Read More
I met Jodi at an AONC meetup in Bangkok, where she had just returned from a big trip through Burma.
Jodi isn't a typical backpacker—she was a corporate lawyer, trained in Quebec and working for a big firm in New York. The whole time she was working, she was also saving for a new life.Read More
Sometimes I find out about people who read AONC and I think, "Really? They care about what I have to say?" I think it should be the other way around. Dr. Sarah England is one of those people. She wrote in to thank me for the World Domination manifesto and I thought, "Hold on a minute! I should be thanking you for being awesome." After stints in Vietnam, Switzerland, and elsewhere, Sarah moved to China with her family to work against the tobacco industry. As she mentions below, attitudes toward smoking in Asia are slowly changing, but there's still much less awareness than in the western world.Read More
A quest combines a passion for something meaningful with a measurable goal. For example—visiting every country in the world. Running a marathon in all 50 states. And so on. Once in a while I discover someone else on a quest that deserves broad attention, and I'm always fascinated by the back story. Enter Thomas Hawk, the San Francisco photographer on track to producing 1,000,000 finished, processed photos. He does this while working a full-time job and raising four young kids.Read More
It's a new month, and time for a new profile. My friend Tsilli Pines recently quit her job to go full-time with the side business she's been building for the past three years.
Yay! Congratulations to her. And when we were talking, she told me how she had worked at the job for eight years, and has spent the past three years carefully building her business to the point where she could take a big leap ...Read More
February is Black History Month in the United States, where we recognize the achievements of African Americans and honor our culture of diversity. A lot of attention during this time is focused on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and rightfully so. Above my desk is one of his most famous quotations: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is this: what are you doing for others?”Read More
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of author and change agent Seth Godin. I’ve been reading his books since my years in West Africa (2002-2006), and he continues to produce excellent work almost every day on his great blog. I had the chance to speak to Seth’s “Alternative MBA” group last year, and when the invitation came, I rearranged my schedule and dropped everything to fly to New York. (Never pass up a major opportunity for personal growth.)Read More
Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said this in response to questions about civil rights and the law. The point was that morality and the law are not always on the same side. I often think about this as I ponder the social and political issues of our time. The question that comes to mind is: What about now?Read More
This is the story of John T. Unger, a working artist who actually makes a good living. Despite the recession, each month in 2009 he’s made more money than in the same month last year, in addition to more than he did in every corporate job held long ago.Read More
It’s time for another Profile in Nonconformity. In this series I look at people who are challenging authority and changing the world in unique ways.*** The Professor in Handcuffs
How does a tenured, full professor lose his job? First, he throws out the grading system by deciding that every student gets an A+.
Next, he tells students to rebel by showing how they, collectively, have more power and authority than any of the administration. Then, he gets arrested and taken away in handcuffs by the police just for showing up for a film club on campus.Read More
Monasteries all over the world have been self-supporting for centuries, and the practice of monks running a small business is nothing new. Most of them, however, don’t end up experiencing 700% annual sales growth, selling 30,000 products, and competing with Fortune 500 companies. Instead of baking fruitcakes for the occasional visitor, the monks from Our…Read More
Last year, Sean Aiken from Vancouver, Canada, graduated from college with a business degree and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next. Like a lot of us of all ages, Sean had a good work ethic, but was uncomfortable with being locked into a career that offered little variety. Sean was also a bit…Read More
Robert Bruce says that the most difficult thing about his chosen art form is having the title poet attached to him. Yes, Robert says, he is a real-life poet, but without all the stereotypes. If you’re turned off by poetry readings and literary journals that nobody reads, don’t worry—Robert doesn’t like them either. Instead, he…Read More
As a new feature on The Art of Nonc-Conformity site, I’ll be posting profiles of individuals, companies, and non-profit organizations that have chosen alternative paths in pursuit of their goals. We’ll have at least one of these interview features a month, and the first profile is with Tony Hsieh, CEO of online retailer Zappos.com. I…Read More