As mentioned in the last post, as I drove down to the TEDx event I was informed that my position was to change at GE on the 10am all employee meeting just hours before the talk. I was to go and now work for the CMO in a role that would direct marketing spend for one of the 4 key software segments. Of course, it was light on details, but after the phone call and the all employee conference call outlining all the changes, the entire talk that I’ve been preparing for was re-enforced.
TEDx Chatham Kent
I arrived early around noon and got to meet up with Noah Fleming. Noah was speaking on how retaining talent is the key to keep small cities from dying — not attracting retirees. He’s a great story teller and is relatable. Check out his talk here. I also got to talk with Brian Aspinall and he was speaking last. We shared stories and how he was the ‘closer’. He got the last spot of the day and after getting to know him a bit I could tell why. He’s doing amazing things with technology and to my surprise he majored in computer science. His class was watching live over the local cable station and that was just awesome. One of my thoughts after meeting him was that it was rare to hear of a comp sci guy being a teacher…and not running for the .com glory. Within the first couple of minutes of our chat I could tell he was doing something great and it encouraged me to stay until the very end (8+ hours of talks!). I’ve been following him since the event on twitter and am amazed at his passion. yes…I believe he’s a guy that is using the passion formula, whether he knows it or not :-) His talk is here.
The event started and Noah was up first and then I was up second. I was confident in my content and was relaxed. I don’t get nervous anymore talking in front of groups…something that I believe only comes with years and years of practice with a strong dose of having no fear of being wrong. lets just get this straight, I’m wrong all the time…when I’m wrong I learn. In every case like this where I talk in front of crowds, I always remind myself that worst case I’m going to learn something.
I was a bit more nervous with this event however…mainly because I started this with the intention of proving to myself that I was capable of delivering a message outside of my comfort zone. I put pressure on myself and it fueled my delivery…it added the emotion I needed…I believe it made the talk more ‘real’. I did however mispronounce ‘tenure’…which stood out huge! I’m still beating myself up for that! Anyways watch the recording of my talk below:
I started on message, just like I practiced in my basement sessions. If you watch it in detail you see me ‘settle in’ around 3 mins in. After 3 mins in I start to adlib…my body language gets more relaxed, I slow my pace and I start to throw tidbits out there that add to the messages. The next time you watch a TED talk or any presenter really, think of this…it’s really profound how this pretty much happens with every presenter.
The weirdest thing on the TEDx stage was the lighting. It pretty much blinds you from most of the audience. This is much different than what I’m used to. I’ve taken 2 professional presentation courses in my life and the #1 thing that I learned through those is to pick a person out in the audience and talk directly to them. It makes you naturally slow down in your delivery…it makes you talk more normal. I think this is a psychological thing for the speaker, because it focuses the brain on the topic vs. the venue/number of people in the audience. The tough thing was I couldn’t see anyone past the table right in front of me!!! I think this is why I looked at the cameras so often…because I needed to focus on a human face that I could see!
At any rate, I went off script a couple of times…but the biggest one was the story about my mom. I felt right to add that story…it fit and just flowed out. Shout outs to moms never fail right?! I felt accomplished that I got through it…it felt natural and I really didn’t need anyone to tell me it was great, ok or approach me after my talk on the breaks. I accomplished what I set out to do…it was a personal challenge and I felt like I achieved it. It felt good no matter the feedback and this feeling I encourage anyone to pursue. Do something that’s outside your comfort zone…it’s exerliatring even if you personally rate your talk a 6/10 :-)
I got to meet a lot of great people after my talk. Many of their stories reinforced the formula…reinforced that people pull you into great opportunities. I had a great chat with my old high school principal Jim C. He’s now the education director of the board and to get that far in education, he’s got to just love it. I talked with a guy who drove 9 hours to come to the event and he used to work for GM via EDS. I know GM systems well and we shared some war stories. I met an Oxford grad and his wife Chandra Clarke did a great talk about citizen science. (link here) They run a small copy editing business in my hometown. Amazing success and who knew this type of business was thriving there.
I could go on and on about the amazing people I met, but one stood out and reminded me NEVER to stereotype. Phil Shaw is a masters degree educated farmer whose farm is not that far from my grandfathers. His talk (click her to see it!) and our chat afterwards made me respect the 3B$ farming business that is located in and around my hometown. I always looked at farming as an ancient job done by labourers and is a simple thing to do. I was totally wrong. Never stereotype and never underestimate the knowledge it takes to farm crops. Phil Shaw you have a higher calling for sure. You make me respect my grandfather so much more now and the industry as a whole. Think bigger on what you can do with spreading awareness of agriculture and of course #DoSay my man!
When I was on stage, there were more than 20 people behind me. Those 20 people I had the privilege of learning more about and strengthened our relationships. All in all, the journey was just as enlightening as the day itself. I thank the organizers Brandon Houston, John Lyons, Fannie Vavoulis & Peter Martin for taking the leap and putting on a great event. The entire experience was great and I encourage everyone reading this to do it — or something similar. Push yourself, do something outside of your comfort zone…use the passion formula — prove to yourself that you can do it.
I only hope one of the 20 people I tapped into to do this, someone that watches the video or who’s read this blog — is inspired to do something similar. I’d love to be one of your resources or a soundboard…go after doing a TEDx talk, you won’t regret it.
This is my final blog post on the journey and now I’ll be turning to be a ‘curator’ of this blog site. I’ll post shorter tidbits written by me and others every couple of weeks on people who subscribe to the passion formula (whether they know it or not) and interesting tidbits on the ‘fallout’ of the TEDx event. Some examples of the ‘fallout’ are:
- In London, UK the day prior to my talk someone did a very similar talk. She reached out to me and there is amazing synergy.
- In July I’m doing a volunteer keynote titled ‘The Passion Formula for Youths’ for the United way in Chatham-Kent.
- That book idea just might come to reality…pulled by my friend Noah.
- And more!
Be sure to follow the posts on twitter @passion_formula and subscribe to this blog via email to get updates when new posts are up!
If you’re reading this blog for the first time, this post might not make much sense unless you read from the start! There are 7 parts to my journey and each one is linked below so you can read in order.
- My TEDx talk ‘root’ started in Israel…Nazareth actually.
- Our Daycare lady sparked – People come to you and shape your future
- Chicago & Yanksgiving – The formula emerged
- Nothing to lose…but which idea?
- OK so now it was on like donkey kong!
- Houston, Toronto, Paris, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte and a lot of practice!
- Follow the formula…follow your gut…embrace the pressure.
Catch you again in a couple of weeks!