"Linda, oh my God, girl! You did a TEDx Talk! How awesome! I'm so inspired by you! When can we talk? This is something I'd love to do as well!"
This seems to be the repetitive message in my Facebook messenger. I'm flattered... I guess. I mean, I know that doing a TEDx Talk is a big deal. It's been on my goal's list for years.
It was 2009 and I was home, surfing the internet. I had recently discovered Gary Vaynerchuk and I was devouring EVERYTHING of his that I could find. Doing one of my Google searches, I accidentally landed on his TED Talk at Web 2.0. Gary was already speaking my language but watching him on that stage planted a seed in me.
I didn't even know what TED was or anything. However, after watching his talk I continued to search for other TED Talks and many of them were great! I can't remember how long after I discovered that 1st TED Talk video online, I started to wonder how I could ever stand on a TED stage. However, I remember doing a specific search for "How to speak at TED". I landed on the TED page. Below is a screenshot of that page today 3/15/18 but I remember reading pretty much the same thing back in 2009. lol
I was blown away. Did you read that? Presidents, Bill Gates, the founder of Amazon! Then at the bottom it says suggest a speaker or suggest yourself.
At that point in my life I was a stay at home wife and mom. I was very unhappy in my marriage and was living in victim mode. I had big dreams that I had no idea how I would make happen. That TED stage was one of them. I put it aside but I never forgot about it.
The years went by. I got divorced. Eventually, I started my business. During those years, I would watch more TED Talks. Sometimes, I saw a logo on the videos that said TEDx and the name of a city or a school, which I assumed were being sponsored by that city or university. I didn't imagine that it was a separate entity (it's not). I just kept "dreaming" about it but never really imagined that I'd be able to get on a TED stage.
Fast forward to October 2016. I flew to Atlanta, GA for my book launch party. There, I met other authors. One lady spoke about her upcoming TEDx Talk and she credited another woman in the room for coaching her on landing her talk. After our event was over, I talked to her. We took pictures together. We got back home and developed a great friendship, even though we live in different states.
When I got home, I started researching the difference between TED and TEDx Talks. I learned that TEDx Talks are independently organized conferences (hence the city names and universities), that are approved by TED and must follow the same guidelines as TED. TED holds a conference one time per year and the TEDx conferences happen year round so it's a great platform for speakers to speak about their "idea worth spreading". <- That's TED's theme. TED has to approve the TEDx Talks and they upload the videos to the respective TEDx and TED channels.
I was so inspired to know that TED had smaller TED events and called them TEDx! I went to their website and found a listing of their upcoming events. Many of them weren't accepting applications. Others were only by invitation and others were accepting speaker applications. I applied to 4 different ones. Others told me that they weren't accepting applications. I literally followed the organizers on their social media pages. I sent emails but none of them replied.
By Christmas, I told myself I was crazy for even believing that I could stand on that RED CIRCLE on a TED stage. 2017 came around and someone I know on social media announced that they were going to do a TEDx Talk. I got the fire again and looked at the TEDx website. But I got discouraged because every single conference was closed and not accepting speakers. That took all of 30 to 45 minutes and I told myself again... "Why do you keep trying to do this? It's not going to work!" Well, towards the middle of the year someone else I follow on social media was now doing their second TEDx Talk.
At that point I called my friend. The one I met at my book launch party who had already done her TEDx Talk. I told her that I had given up on speaking at TED. I confessed that I applied to 6 separate conferences since I met her in 2016. She told me I absolutely better not talk that mess and to try again. So, that night after getting off the phone with her, I tried again.
Now, let me share this important piece with you so you can put things in perspective and start to see what I learned from my experience. You might be saying, "Wow, she applied SIX TIMES". Yes, I did. But here's how. I went on the TED website TWICE in 2 years and applied to 6 between those two times. It's just that the process was tedious but it's not like I went on six separate occasions throughout 2 years. So, what did I learn? I learned a lesson that I already knew and OBVIOUSLY needed reminding.
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY TO ACHIEVING RESULTS IN ANYTHING.
So, I found one TEDx conference that was coming up in 4 months. I researched them and emailed the address on their site. Someone replied and told me that they were not accepting applications until the end of the year and to check back. Well, I checked back and this time they sent me a link to an application. I was very nervous to click on the link. I feared that whatever questions they were going to ask, I wouldn't be able to answer or meet their criteria. However, I clicked on the link and began answering the questions.
Fear is a liar. BELIEVE THAT.
As I began to answer the questions, I realized that I met all their requirements and qualifications! I'd been building my business. I'd written a book. I'd built a strong social media presence. I'd been translating the sermons at none other than the largest church in the nation... So my speaking skills and my confidence were pretty solid. Stage fright was not a problem I had. So, when submitting a video was part of the application process, I was VERY COMFORTABLE with making one. After, I finished the application and submitting my video, I received an email telling me the speakers would be announced via email by a certain date and to look out for that. So, I waited and a couple of days before the date they stated in the email I received this:
I WAS SELECTED! I wasn't referred, suggested or hand picked BEFOREHAND. TEDxUCCI had never heard of me or me of them! This email blew my mind! 28 various criteria! I was sitting at home minimizing my qualifications! I was letting fear talk me out of this! What if I had kept trying the previous 2 years? Would I have been able to share my ideas? To share my message? I'll never know.
While I was at TEDxUCCI, another speaker, 3 time Olympian, Ronald Forbes, shared this in his talk. "If you believe something is impossible, it will remain impossible until you challenge it. Until you try it and it's impossible no more".
In 2009, I thought this was impossible but nice to dream about. I pushed it to the back burner of my mind and in 2016 this dream resurfaced. I gave it a very minimal attempt and gave up. In 2017, I tried again. This time even less effort into my attempt. By the end of the year, thanks to my amazing friend and TEDx speaker, Yolanda Flournah Perkins, I tried again and this time, saw it through. Not only did I get accepted to be a speaker. I got accepted to be a speaker at a TEDx conference in the Cayman Islands! So, when I finished my talk, not only was I now a TEDx speaker but an International Speaker! When I applied at the end of December 2017, I didn't even have a passport! How in the world did I apply to speak over seas and didn't even have a passport? Because this time, I borrowed my friend's belief in me and I just knew that I knew that I knew that I would be accepted! CONSISTENCY IS KEY.
Are you ready to land your own TEDx Talk? Send me an email! firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's talk!