The long road to the talk I was meant to give

I am ready to spill the tea, and I have some big news for you today, #Firestarters. I’m doing a TEDx Talk! I’m so excited for this talk because it’s been literally years in the making. Like my trip back from Martha’s Vineyard, my path to TEDx has had its share of twists and turns. But, also like the Vineyard trip, my TEDx journey has taken me to exactly the right place. Here’s how it all happened.

What’s Missing? Alignment

When I first began doing professional speaking, so many people told me I needed to do a TEDx event before anyone would take me seriously. But, for me, TEDx was about a lot more than just checking that box professionally. It was a way to scale my message and get it to a lot of people in the simplest way. Creating and delivering the talk would force me to stretch beyond my comfort zone with writing, with preparation, and with the idea that every single human could have access to it. 

I took that stretch assignment really seriously. So, in 2019, I began working with a TEDx coach to learn how to apply for and prepare for a TEDx event. The first thing the coach told me was intimidating: “You have to fill out 20 to 30 applications a week before you find the right one, and it could take six to 12 months.” Yowzers!

So you can just imagine that I was incredibly excited when I was contacted by a TEDx organizer in the Washington, D.C., area. This was in the summer of 2020, just after my book “Find Your Fire” was released. The event was ideal for my message. It was in a perfect location to have friends in the audience. And I just love visiting D.C. and exploring the possibilities of moving there one day. I was taking every aspect of this talk…VERY. SERIOUSLY.

I began working in earnest with the coach to write my talk. I decided to speak about finding your fire and how to go from idea to implementation, no matter what change in the world you want to create. And I cannot tell you how many drafts I wrote and how many times I practiced.

But every time I meet with my coach, she would say that the organizer thought my talk wasn’t hitting hard enough. She asked to meet with me over Zoom. On that call, she told me that she selected me because she thought I was a badass. But she felt my message didn’t come across like I was a badass.

I asked her to clarify what she meant. She told me she had done lobbying before. (I was already a little dubious by this point, because there’s a big difference between advocating for something and being a professional registered lobbyist.) She continued on: “You have to be forceful. You have to be direct. You have to walk in your highest heels.”

Now, I have been a professional registered lobbyist for 20 years, like two decades. And none of that is true. If you’ve read “Find Your Fire,” you know that I begin it by saying that you don’t need a pedigree to create change.

I didn’t sleep that night. Later, when I talked to a friend, he suggested that my struggles with the talk might be indicating that I was never in alignment with this event in the first place. The organizer’s swagger was not in alignment with mine. Her intentions for the speakers did not align with how I wanted to show up in the world. And the words she asked me to use were not my own.

And so it was time to find a Plan B.

See You at TEDxVickeryPlace!

That plan emerged from my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. Layfayette was planning a TEDx event again after not presenting one for a long time. The organizers asked me to apply. I began tweaking my talk to be more about finding your joy and bringing in elements of my book with Scott James, “The Fire Inside You.” It seemed a fitting thing to talk about in my hometown, which has been named the happiest town in the U.S. I got excited thinking about the connection between joy and your right to create the kind of community you want to live in.

And then that event got canceled.

Plan C, anyone?

For me and TEDx, the third time’s a charm. Ashley Sharp, who’s a contributor to the #MovementMaker blog, invited me to apply for a TEDx event in Dallas. I’ll be focusing on the Great Me-Set as a consistent way of life. I hope that you will be able to join me in October at TEDxVickeryPlace as I pass along my own “ideas worth spreading” (that’s the TED motto). 

But, in the meantime, I want to give you a chance to help shape my talk. I’d love to know what about the Great Me-Set has resonated the most with you. I also invite you to share the moments in your own life that have given you clarity as you’ve pivoted in your career, your relationships, or your life.

I feel so good heading into this talk in a place of pure alignment. In the past, I often found myself negotiating pieces of my core values, my intention or how I wanted to show up in the world to please others, to fulfill the needs of a job or to avoid conflict. But what I’ve learned, as I’ve had my own Me-Set, is that doing so only creates conflict within yourself. If you’re going to cultivate the movement within you, you have to be all in. 

And now I am. How about you?

p.s. A special thank you to Ashley Sharp for giving me the opportunity to share my message. The theme of this TEDx is, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” And I truly believe now is the time for each of you to begin this Me-Set journey with me.

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