As some of you may know I attended a 3-Day Conference in San Francisco hosted by The Passion Company. The conference was called Start Conference and it mainly focused on how to simply start your passion project. It was a magnificent gathering of over 300 folks from all over the country, but mostly from the SF area.
I heard about the conference through a co-worker who then told me about an award I could apply for. So my thought was well I can go for the first day or the second and get an idea of the company, the theme, and the feel of the conference, but I quickly found myself applying to the Passion Project Award and little did I know I was one of 9 other projects to get picked to pitch at the conference. So, I was in a panic. I had no idea what to do, what a pitch was, or even what I was doing. Let's be honest I'm just as new to this idea of me being my own boss as anyone. This entire ordeal is freaky. BUT! I got the courage, started writing, and later found out that MY story was unique, interesting, and I kick-ass! I came to this realization out of a result of me not reflecting...at all. I rarely stop and smell the cookies when I've hit a milestone, got an order, or made a new friend out of networking. So of course after I wrote my 4 minute pitch and started sharing it with friends, loved ones, and co-workers I was becoming more and more confident that I had a shot at winning!
Day 1 started on a Friday and little did I know it was the start to a very very busy weekend. I met with my Tribe, all awesome inspiring, and vulnerable humans. I had made it just in time for lunch so we sat outside in the deliciously crisp air and we spent some time learning about one another. Our thoughts. Our passions. Our fears and successes. Our projects!
One thing that really resonated with me during this lunch was my realization over how afraid I am of my success rather than my fear of failure. I consistently doubt myself in everything I do, wondering if it's the right choice and if I'm doing the right thing. I try my hardest in everything I do, but in the back of my head I am always certain I'll fail at it. That someone will do it better. And that comes naturally to me. So when we discussed fear, I wasn't afraid of failure, I was more afraid of the success that would come if I really shined and I stopped getting in my own way.
This realization was the precursor to a very very emotionally charged weekend. I'll spare you all the gory, teary, salty experiences and give you the gist of what went down.
**Day 1: Speakers; Day 2: Workshops; Day 3: Pitch Event and Brunch**
Day 1 ended with some amazing new friendships and some insights to how I want to go about growing my business and IF I want to grow my business. A lot of what I've felt during this conference was the sudden urge/need/pressure to grow something to make it bigger and better. But in reality just because it's big doesn't mean it's better. And this pressure isn't coming from one particular source, I believe it originated in myself, but also in the environment in which I currently live in. I live in Silicon Valley and everything here, that seems to be worth talking about, is big and better and 'amazing' and blah blah blah. Don't get me wrong, I want to stay passionate about my venture for a long long time, but right now, as a 25 year old woman who is the most confused she has ever been, I doubt that what I want or need right now is big and better. I make cookies, not electric cars.
Saturday morning was an early, long, late, and emotional day. I was incredibly anxious. Mainly because Day 2 was the day I was going to practice, refine, and prepare for the Pitch Event. I spent most of the morning prepping and practicing and felt really good about the pitch I had written. Mind you, I didn't memorize it but I did have note cards I was planning on bringing up to the stage. It wasn't until the last workshop session that the other candidates and I met to practice, share our stories, and get a better understanding of what was going to be asked of us after the pitch and during the pitch. And that's when I hit my limit. I was so tired, so stressed, nervous, and my boyfriend had just left that morning for work in Pittsburgh that I was already distraught he wouldn't be here to see me pitch. The woman running the Pitch Event brutally told me I wasn't 'allowed' to bring anything up with me while I pitched. She then proceeded to tell me how to give a pitch, that I couldn't read my current pitch I had spent so long writing, and that I had to flatly wing it while I was up there. Saying I was furious is an understatement. I hate it when anyone tells me what to do, one. I had worked so hard on writing my pitch that I was so sad she didn't even want to hear it first, two. And she then wanted me to try winging it in front of 8 complete strangers, three. No. I asked her to move onto someone else. When I get furious, angry, pissed, I tend to openly cry instead of burst out into an angry rant and start cursing off anyone I see. People are sympathetic to tears, people are not sympathetic when you scream 'f**k you' in their faces. So of course when it was my time to present in front of only 8 people, I broke down and cried. I'm a crier. I cry everywhere, especially in public places. I used to be shy about it, ashamed of my tears, but now that I'm more older, I give close to ZERO f**ks. When the feeling of needing to cry occurs I let it flow! And boy did I cry for most of that evening. On and off, and thankfully I had a few really wonderful friends with me to help me and cheer me on all the way. After some much needed pizza, lots and lots of breathing, cursing, and crying, I was able to compose a rather well thought out 3 minute speech.
Good morning Day 3: My friend Dan and I got up early, had some coffee, and went about our way assuming this so called brunch was going to happen before our pitch event. We were wrong. As soon as we got there I made a mad dash to find a fig bar, shove it in my face, and continue to practice my speech. I was really hoping for some bottomless mimosas before I gave my pitch, but you know, we can't always win.
Then it happened. I relaxed. I screamed into the infinite abyss of the universe how much I don't care and that whatever happens was always going to be what happened. I just needed to roll with it (which is really hard for me to do). But when I got up there, on that stage, in front of 300+ people, I just began to talk. Like I would with anyone. A little bit of this, a bit of that, some data and revenue sprinkled into the mix and then BAM. It was over. I nailed it and I was so happy with myself!
All my fears and anxiety just went away. I felt awesome because I am awesome. We ALL are!
And after all of that I didn't win the pitch event. But I did win at life. I realized that what I'm doing is HARD and what I need to do is reflect more, do less, and take it all in one milestone at a time.
I'll get to where I'm going even though I'm not sure where that is yet.