Back in April, I had the great pleasure of presenting at the TEDx conference at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh. And, maybe the only thing that made it cooler was that I got to be there with a really good friend, Chris Guillebeau, who was also taking the stage.
I have mixed feelings about speaking. I’m terrified before I go on. But, once I find my groove, I absolutely love it. And, I plan to grow the public speaking aspect of my “renegade biz-plan” fairly aggressively over the next year and a half (conference bookers, call me, lol).
The theme of TEDxCMU was “fearless.”
That was it. Just one word. And, that was all the guidance we got. Create a compelling talk having something to do with being fearless and deliver it in precisely 18 minutes, not a second longer. Those are the rules.
The venue was a beautiful 500 person lecture hall. The late CMU professor, Randy Pausch, gave his famed Last Lecture entitled Achieving Your Childhood Dreams in the very same hall. That presentation blew me away (as it did millions of others). So I felt an even deeper sense of responsibility to those who’d shown up. I was the lead-off speaker, which meant I was done first, but I also had the job of warming up the audience, made up predominantly of 500 college students…at 9am…on a Sunday morning.
The video was just posted, so, for those who’ve been asking (mom, sis and the guy at the deli)…
Whenever I look at footage of me speaking now, I tend to go immediately into critique mode and look at how much I did wrong or how many opportunities to connect I missed. At first I wondered if this was healthy, but my sense is that if you really want to become great at something, you’ve got to be willing to examine where you are now, deconstruct it, learn from it, then integrate what you’ve learned into future opportunities.
Interestingly, too, in the short months since I gave this talk, my ideas about fear and how to not only work with, but harness it have evolved in a number of ways. More to come on that.
Chris followed a bit later in the day. His talk was framed around the idea of fear and permission. And he shared some amazing stories that brought his ideas to life through his travels and volunteer work all over the world.
All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with many other great people and presenters. Special thanks to the volunteer team who organized the event and congrats to those who graduated! Be sure to check out the other sessions as they’re posted.
And, as always, I’d love to know your thoughts on the exploration of being fearless…
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