Mindy Gibbins-Klein posted a blog on Ecademy regarding her desire
to see women take a stronger role in the public speaking world, and
asked for my comment. I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts:
I’m forever encouraging people to take risks in order to develop their careers.
Had I not taken some risks in my career, I would not enjoy the extent of knowledge
and experience that I do today; nor would I have grown as rapidly. That is not to say
that we should take foolish gambles; but we don't want to be over-cautious either.
This bit of advice particularly applies to women. Most women I've known in the business
world tend to take the safe, conservative route. There’s safety in “blending into the herd”,
but you’ll never enjoy the growth-benefits that can come with standing out and differentiating
yourself. Women need to take some more risks and throw themselves "in harm's way" now
and then. For instance, I've intentionally taken jobs that I knew had a limited "shelf-life" because
I wanted experience with business startups, turnarounds, M&A, and other activities that I
wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. This required exposing myself to new experiences and having
to develop new skills while "under fire". These experiences have been my best, for a variety of
reasons. They are the experiences where most of my professional growth has occurred.
They’re the experiences that have primarily shaped me as a business leader.
Public speaking falls into the “taking risks” category.
Most people find it a bit awkward, and tend to shy away from it.
It's a learned skill that's best developed in the crucible of hard experience.
Women should look for speaking opportunities and hone their skills.
Corporations always have “dirty little tasks” to be performed that the majority shy away from - such as internal training classes. Experiences like these provide the opportunity to sharpen one’s skills as a speaker.
I’ve volunteered to conduct many of them.
Take opportunities where you can.
They will sometimes come rapidly from strange directions.
Once, as a young exec for a new company, I joined a selling trip overseas to tout some new technology to government officials. As we approached the final minutes before our first presentation, it was announced to us that the prime minister of the country was present and had decided to sit in. Everyone panicked like “deer in the headlights”. After a pregnant pause, I volunteered to go first. The others were happy to “sacrifice me”. I stumbled over my tongue a bit at first, but soon warmed up to the subject and set the stage for the others. We wound up winning a contract. A week later, the same exact scenario happened in another country. Both leaders were very patient and gracious with me over my “thick tongue”.
You're going to make mistakes at first. Oh well, no big deal. Everyone does! Find "vacuums" to fill, take the risks, make your mistakes, learn from them - and grow. Stick your neck out a little more often.
I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results. If no opportunities arise where you’re at - maybe it’s time to plan a move.
Al Walsh, CEO
Walsh Enterprises, Business and Financial Advisors
Huntington Beach, Ca
More of Al's articles can be found at: http://walshal.wordpress.com/. I select sources who have displayed an amazing capacity for incisive analysis. I’ve been following them for years. They saw what was coming, and why. You won’t find this information in the boiler-plate press.