In the words of Kelly Clarkson, “A moment like this, some people wait a lifetime for that…” Ok, well not a kiss per se but a kiss of determination to make something that seemed far away become possible.
My journey to TEDxWilmington was riddled with self-doubt, nervousness, creative roadblocks, and just thinking, "Am I truly ready for this big stage?"
preparing for TEDxWilmington
About 4 years ago I heard of this thing called TED, and I wanted to know what it was all about. What was truly amazing was when I clicked on my first video, I saw it was ordinary people, sharing their ideas with the world. To coin the phrase what Steve Jobs said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it.” It made me wonder, how I can influence the world at the prime age of 31 years old. Do I have 3 decades of experience that anyone would want to listen too? All these moments were running in my head.
People would constantly tell me I should apply for a TEDx Talk in Wilmington; my response was always, "Ok I will look into it." But unfortunately, those where just words spoken that I never put into action. But then two years ago, I was selected to give a version of a TED Talk at the Microsoft Retail Store Managers Conference in Arizona. Working at Microsoft has been a great career growth experience for me, empowering customers and helping them learn everything involved in their inquiries about technology. So, as I flew to Arizona the nots of nervousness kicked in, I wondered would I do well, will the readers get what I am saying, and probably the biggest fear of them all… DO NOT FALL ON STAGE.
As the doors opened I peeked into the room and I saw a sea of 400 eager faces waiting to see me and 4 other retail associates WOW them. Side note: There is nothing top secret that I will be discussing here; remember a secret is always kept. Now that we got that out of the way, it was amazing walking on the stage and presenting about the 4 O’s to organizing your digital world. Having the support of the audience really helped break the nerves. I got a lot of positive feedback from my peers.
At that point, I felt good about presenting in front of a large audience. Then about two years after that event in Arizona, my friend Kristen told me that I should apply. I engulfed myself into downloading the TED app and watched YouTube clips of various TED and TEDx talks. I was amazed seeing other people talk about life experiences, careers, just eye opening and thought-provoking ideas. With the help of my family, friends and two amazing TEDx speakers that I personally know Taria and Jacqueline I felt it was THE time. I got assistance from Taria on the website to visit and apply on.
The race was on! I was on the cusp of missing my chance since it was the day of the deadline and the timing on the clock was counting down fast. I finished filling out the form, uploaded the video and then hit send. Now it was me and my prayers lifted up, in hopes that I would be able to be on the stage. I kept hope, that I would be picked trying to speak this reality into existence, telling people I applied for it, and watching TEDx videos along the way.
This was when I talked to my good friend Tynetta. We always joked, but joking in a serious manner, that we should one day do a TEDx talk. We always planned to share our ideas on the big stage. I told her that I applied, and she said, "Please let me know when you get it." The days leading up to the reveal of the speakers had me on an emotional rollercoaster, and then it happened! Inbox 100+. As I heard the chime, I skimmed through my emails until I found it. There it was…. “Dear Errol: TEDxWilmington is honored to extend a formal invitation to you to give a TEDx talk.”
Here is the acceptance letter I received into TEDxWilmington.
In the words of Booker T: “Shucky Ducky Quack Quack.” I was elated to receive that email, and, in that moment, I felt that I had made it. I praised God, then went on social media to share the good news. My friend Tynetta was extremely excited for the news and I asked her if she applied. She responded by saying,"Not at the moment," but in me applying it lit a fire in her to now share her story. We met up and figured out my plan to discuss the cloud and figured out her plan for her future TEDx talk, for I know she will do amazing.
Through this journey of receiving that letter, I've been on an emotional rollercoaster. The stage is set and now it's my time to break free of self-doubt and go on my journey to make my voice heard and knowledge spread. I can't wait to see the lead up to this moment, all the greatness that this moment brings, and all the new people I will meet. So, as the adage says: To be continued....