Thursday, September 22. 7:00PM. PT. I stand in front of an audience of approximately 30 San Franciscans, not a Catholic holy order, but an audience of men and women excited to hear what our Fearless Force Participants had to share. The Vault lobby proves to be the perfect environment for an evening of sharing. The keg is flowing. The wine bottles - uncorked. The crudite and sensible cheese plate - delicately arranged. There is glint of fearless orange flow in the air, a reflection of the tungsten lights on the exposed brick wall. The ambiance is inviting, supportive, familiar.
I can not be prouder of our four participants Kasey Byrne, Melissa Carpio, Meg Bell and Komal Ahmad. Their journey began 5 days prior at 10:00AM on Saturday, September 17. We embarked on a fearless journey of self discovery and self expression. Each participant would be tasked with crafting and delivering a 10-15 minute Ted Talk/Signature Speech. I would be not only supporting them in that process, but simultaneously producing and hosting the event in a city where I’m only beginning to establish roots. There was no time for caution. We all jumped in.
We begin our work in Fearless Communicators by identifying the negative, imaginary voice inside each of us which, I believe, is the root of public speaking fear. You may know that voice yourself. The little micromanager that sits on your left shoulder and says, “You’re not good enough.” Or perhaps its the horrific CEO that sits on your right shoulder and says, “You’re a sham, you’ll never be any good at this.” Or perhaps it’s that hateful bully of a coach on the top of your head that says, “Why try at all, you’re such a phoney.” The voice I've just shared is a little G-rated. My internal voice uses expletives. If we were actually managed by the manager in our heads not only would we be fully fetal in the workplace, but we would sue the #$%&@# for harassment.
In our fearless work, we are able to separate that voice from reality. It is a context. It is a survival mechanism, a vestige of our childhood, triggered by moments and or opportunities that push us outside our comfort zone. Standing and speaking in front of strangers is uncomfortable for many people. 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety. I knew that I created A Fearless Force: Public Speaking for Visionary Women Leaders as an opportunity for participants to have a breakthrough in confronting this limiting voice to speak and create anyway. It's not just a breakthrough for participants, every single time it's a victory for me as well.
I watched in love and awe as each woman shared her story. Kasey gave us tips from her Mommy MBA, proving that her undergraduate degree from Cornell and MBA from MIT Sloan are nothing compared to the 18 years of experience she has as a mother. Melissa shared with us about her battle with anxiety caused by the voices of expectation, comparison and fear. Meg shared personal stories about three tables that have served as the inspiration and tool for her development as a professional community builder. Komal inspired us to craft our life plan in pencil and not in ink - our lives don’t turn out exactly how we plan them to be at eighteen. She shared several moments in her life that created the opportunity to become not only the CEO and Founder of Copia, but more importantly a brazen leader committed to eradicating hunger, the world’s dumbest problem.
Once all the speeches were over, I invited the audience to acknowledge the participants. Generosity and gratitude flowed from speaker to participant and participant to speaker. Each woman held the attention of the audience and shared authentically, vulnerably and powerfully. At least for that night the little, nagging voice of judgement and doubt was replaced by a chorus of love and abundance. It was palpable. The audience felt it. The participants felt it. I felt it.
Stay tuned for the next one. I can’t wait for you to experience it.