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Toast Master

July 9, 2013


I don’t fear a lot of things, but two things I do are the most common: public speaking and riding in an elevator. I’m not quite certain where the elevator one stems, it’s absolutely the fear of getting trapped more than a space-issue, but from what I can remember, I’ve had it my entire life.

As for public speaking, there’s nothing I dread more than talking in front of a crowd. One-on-one I can hold my own. Group settings like parties, (even when I only know one person in the room) I’m perfectly fine. But, the second I have to stand up and address a crowd, even if it’s just a simple name, what you do for a living situation, I clam up. My throat gets dry, my belly does flip-flops, my palms sweat and my breathing changes to a much more rapid pace.

I’ve never had a bad public speaking experience per se, but I just always dread it. My brother got married when I was a freshman in college and he asked me to give a reading – anything I wanted (I took the road most traveled by way of Corinthians) – to which I tried to make myself pass out beforehand by locking my knees. I was so nervous just waiting for my long walk up to the podium for my part in the ceremony.

Years later, at my father’s funeral service, all four of us children gave eulogies, the whole time before my turn I wasn’t thinking of the finality of this moment, but how nervous I was about reading what I summed up of my father’s life that fit typed out a single sheet of paper. The corresponding photo is me giving a reading at one of my best friend’s wedding a couple of years ago; I rehearsed my short verse over and over on the six-hour plane ride to Europe.

I tell you all of this because last month, I took a long, hard look at my business, danapop, LLC, and the model I’ve used since launching in 2008, deciding that it’s stale. I’ve reworked my model, adding pillars to my writing business and brand I never knew existed, included a new element I’m particularly excited about; danapop Presents, an in-person events series.

For danapop Presents, I will be using a lot of what I’m great at … planning, using my network of smart women, curating a fantastic event, but also it will put me in the role of moderator, which I’m already nervous about. But, that’s the point, I suppose, especially when owning your own business – to push yourself and grow beyond your wildest expectations. Or better yet, beyond your own limitations.

I remember when I ran that half marathon back in 2009, I was terrified of it (not for fear of incompletion, but more for all that head space and isolation in training) and that process really made me wonder how many other things in my life do I hold back on because I’m scared to do it? Walking the stairs in lieu of an elevator ride is one thing, but not using your voice because you’re worried about what might come out is an all-together different issue. I personally don’t want to live my life in fear of things, or even worse, in fear of myself.

On top of that, it’s my job to be the example for my daughter and myself. This year, I’m getting over that barricade that’s been there most of my life. While I’m still flushing ideas out and solidifying the setup, spring 2014 will play host to the first danapop Presents. Here’s to getting out of comfort zones and being fearless!