Last night was a big night for me. I spoke to almost 300 university students about “personal branding”, how to conduct yourself in a meeting, how to gauge a room and how to remain authentic and true to yourself. The audience had no idea the struggles I have faced the last 18 months as I’ve battled cancer and all the self doubt and anxiety that comes with it. They had no idea that I still have to work everyday at restoring my confidence to “put myself out there”.
I spoke for an hour sharing stories and anecdotes about my career and they seemed truly interested. I talked about my experience in the advertising/marketing world; the clients I have worked with over the 22 years I’ve had my business and how I got started.
It was only near the end of the session, that the Professor of the class looked at me and said “Is it ok if I share with the students what you have been dealing with?”
“Of course, if you think they’d be interested.”
Professor Goldberg proceeded to tell the class that I have been dealing with breast cancer; that I write a blog and then asked me to share with the class a bit of my journey.
I was a bit nervous as I felt that up to this point they seemed to be engaged and really enjoying what I had to say. I didn’t want to “lose” them if I started talking about cancer!
So, just as I had told them earlier that you have to be “authentic,” I started to share how hard it has been for ME, a professional marketer and speaker to overcome my fear and anxiety since I was diagnosed with cancer.
“I have to work at it everyday. You can never rest on your laurels. You have to keep pushing and learning and remain open to opportunities. You have to face challenges and not hide from them. You have to be willing to show people that you are courageous, passionate and committed. This is how I lived and conducted myself before cancer…and this is how I still live today. Cancer has shown and reminded me that I have a lot to offer and I am good at what I do. Cancer has tried hard to squash my spirit but I won’t let it. Hopefully none of you will ever have to deal with this but you will have to deal with many other hurdles in the business world and your own personal life. You can choose to let negativity and hardships destroy your dreams or you can work doubly hard to overcome whatever obstacles have been put in front of you.”
It was a bit of a “rant”. When I get excited…and speaking to people excites me…I start talking and things just bubble out of me. Oh god, did I say too much? Was I too preachy? How will they respond?
The class was completely silent for what seemed to me like several minutes…and then they started to clap…and clap…and CLAP!
This review I received meant the world to me. Last night I felt like I had found my mojo again. I felt confident and in control. I have been looking and waiting for an opportunity like this and it gave me just what I needed. Cancer hasn’t dimmed my light…in fact its fueled my fire.
Seek and ye shall find…it may take awhile but it will be worth it in the end.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.