How long has it been since you did something for the first time?
Yesterday I pulled a Brené Brown. I don’t know if that’s a saying already, if it’s not, it should be. I was invited to do a talk about Branding and Strategy Positioning.
Yes, I’ve been working on this for the last 15 years.
Yes, I was a professor for 8 years.
No, it’s not the same thing. Not even close.
Yesterday was my first time taking “the stage” to talk about what I do and how I do it, to a crowd.
I woke up this morning with a big urge to write about it. that means I’m in need of processing, understanding and reflecting from the experience, that something important and meaningful happened.
I’m shy. A lot shy. I’ve been like this my whole life, and a big part of my almost 35 years were focused around dealing with it. Facing directly towards the storm, everything I’ve done included an audience of some sort:
I’m a designer working with and for clients and customers;
turned leader, guiding and facilitating teams;
turned entrepreneur, facing stakeholders and investors;
turned educator, helping others understand and grow themselves.
This opportunity felt different enough to catch my attention, it presented a new and challenging learning goal to pursue. So I accepted.
I did some acting during my student years, and I still remember the overwhelming fear of forgetting the script seconds before the curtain raise. This was my first thought after accepting, I’m going to forget everything and panic in front of the crowd. I was already confirmed as a speaker, it was too late to back out, so the only way was forward into deciding what to say, and how to say it without panicking.
What if I didn’t need a script? What if I could talk about something that is so innate in me that I wouldn’t need to learn it in advance?
I hadn’t had been a speaker before but I did knew what was like to be audience. We build up our expectations, we check the speakers and decide to attend the event because of the topic they chose, their profile or something we read about them that call our attention. When we sit in a chair to listen to somebody talk we’re expecting some things to happen.
In my view I had two options, staying within the safe boundaries of the known expectations, or going out of the box and focus on something else.
The Little Price gave me the last push: I was going to try to give the audience an experience they could take with them. That is inspiration for me: to be shaken and surprised, an invitation to open up and feel.
I believe branding is about people. People is the most unique thing we could aim to work with, and that’s where the focus should be: to discover and understand that uniqueness, and turn it into creative and vulnerable brands.
The human centered approach is the framework for this. But I had already decided not to based my talk around a graph, about formulas. Instead, I chose a topic nobody wants to talk about, and gave it the space it deserves: the soft skills we need to have, to work with a human approach. My real How’s.
How can we be more open, vulnerable and honest? How can we be more human, really?
I created a manifesto of the skills and beliefs I live by, those resources I find essential to build empathetic and vulnerable brands.
Shyness is a reaction from our body, a signal showing us that a “dangerous” exposure is happening, a crack is opening up in our defense and others might see through it. Open, honest and vulnerable people are shy by nature. The key, I believe, is to be courageous enough to embrace that shyness, and expose yourself knowingly.
The first decision was to say yes, to accept doing something new. To challenge myself and my vulnerability.
The second one was to not play a character, a role, and to talk without a script.
The third -and crucial- one was to dare greatly, to walk the walk and share my thoughts by doing. By showing.
Let’s face it, it was risky to say the least, like jumping into the unknown with no clue to what’s going to happen after. I literally was not -even- able to think about the possible outcomes.
I trembled, I shaked, I sweated. So hard.
After those first minutes that seemed like hours, I suddenly felt it. An extremely deep connection, so empowering and frightening at the same time. We were all in the same place, sharing. The 130 people in the room were actually paying attention and listening. That fiery energy possessed me with a sense of responsibility and proud commitment.
I enjoyed and laugh with an amazing audience that trusted me every step of the way. We play together getting to know each other as humans, open ourselves up, sharing being vulnerable and honest.
The bigger the risk, the bigger the satisfaction.
The saying is so-fucking-true. We rocked the house, all together.
I’m truly grateful:
with PRLab for inviting me, and Matías for believing in me;
with myself for daring to accept;
with my colleague speakers for the warm love and respect, Drashti, Diogo and specially to my co-speaker Toby :)
-last but definitely not least- with the audience for the incredible trust and energy.