By Angela Lussier, CEO & Founder, Speaker Sisterhood
On April 1, 2009, I looked at my bank account and immediately started to feel queasy. My mind started to race and I wondered how far my life savings of $2,000 would take me. It was day one of business ownership as a career consultant and I was determined to never have a 9-5 job again.
My first goal: Find paying clients. Rather than attend every networking event in the area or pay for advertising, I decided to try something that was risky and scary, but potentially more fruitful. I decided on – gulp – public speaking. At that time, I was still learning this skill and wasn’t confident in my ability. I was also 28 years old and looked like I was 14. Would anyone come to my free workshop about job searching in a recession? Would any local organizations even want me to speak? I had no credibility and hadn’t built a name for myself. Why would anyone want to hear what I had to say? I didn’t feel ready for this leap, but I also didn’t want to go back to full-time employment. It was now or never.
On that first day in business, I made a list of 20 local libraries and called each one to ask if I could present a workshop. I heard many “no’s” that day. Many libraries didn’t like having business owners speak because they used the opportunity as a sales pitch. Others were skeptical of my experience; especially after they asked how long I’d been in business and my answer was two hours.
Eventually, one library did agree to have me come in and not just give one workshop, but eight! I then sold the idea of an eight-week workshop series to two other libraries and they both said yes. By the end of my first day in business, I had booked 32 workshops. As I started to craft and deliver those workshops, I often started out shaky and by the end of each one felt more condent. I continually surprised myself when I could answer questions from the audience, make them laugh, and learn that my work was changing their lives. This experience was my first glimpse into the power of public speaking and doing things before you’re ready.
Since 2009, I’ve given over 700 presentations, authored five books, spoken at TEDx twice, and I founded the Speaker Sisterhood, a network of public speaking clubs that help women find their voice through the art of public speaking. What I’ve learned from my journey as an entrepreneur and a public speaker is that we often aren’t ready to do the things that scare us, but when we do, that’s where the magic lies. I never expected to have the business and life I have today, but by continually stepping into bigger ideas and bigger dreams, I’ve created a life that not only frees me from the 9-5, but also inspires others to think bigger, too.
Sometimes doing the thing we think we can’t do is just the thing we need to show us that we’re destined for so much more than we could ever imagine.