Yes, that's Bill Gates :-) It was Comdex, 1994 I think, and Bill was in Toronto to deliver the keynote. Five speakers were asked to present with him, and I was one of them…the only woman.
9 months ago
I had been at Canada for a year, having made a leap of faith from a well-paying consulting career at Arthur Andersen to this barely-known company, back then. I had even taken a pay cut, wanting to join them because I was a fan of their Office product on the Mac, and jumped at the opportunity to be part of a company whose product I loved.
They offered me one of two jobs: channel sales or seminar presenter. I didn’t even know what channel sales meant, but when I heard that I could share my enthusiasm for, and knowledge of MS Office, I inwardly leapt for joy…and panicked. Taking the job would mean having to face my deepest fear: public speaking.
I had managed to avoid it during my MBA years, letting others speak while I did any other work required. It hid a deeper fear about expression in general, and not wanting to say anything that would be mocked or rejected, fearing both in equal measure.
When I accepted the role of seminar presenter, I finally made the choice to speak.
My first few seminars were rough, by my standards, but I got through them, memorizing every presentation, some of them three hours long.
In that year of speaking, I discovered that my deepest fear was guarding my greatest treasure, one that culminated in that moment on stage with Bill Gates.
It’s a reminder to me, today, to continue looking at those fears, big and small, and with great love and determination, walk through them to the other side.