I had the privilege of being the morning keynote speaker at the 11th annual WOW! Forum, a women’s conference in Torrington, Connecticut. Hosted by the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, this conference attracted 220 motivated and talented professional women. I was honored to speak alongside Dr. Dorothy Martin-Neville, children’s book author Mary Pope Osborne, stand-up comedian Robin Fox, and Emmy award-winning journalist, Kara Sundlun.
Ironically, it was ten years ago that I pitched myself as a motivational speaker for the very first time..and to the WOW! Forum. At the time, I had this crazy idea to do a “simulated strip tease” opening with a group of women to the song, You Can Keep Your Hat On (the theme song for the 1997 British film, The Full Monty). My concept was that this group of women would be casting off wardrobe items (not all of them) representing things that they didn’t need, like fear, doubt, uncertainly, criticism, shame, and guilt. You get the picture…
I pitched the idea to the planning committee, crossed my fingers, and waited for their response….
They turned me down, but that didn’t stop me. I couldn’t get that song out of my head, or the idea of being a motivational speaker. So I took my hat, an Australian Akubra hat that I picked up while in Sydney, and went to a photo session with a group of women. There I met the amazing photographer, Matthew J. Wagner. With the encouragement of my friends and the talent of Matthew, we got this photo. This image went on my very first product, Stand & Deliver audio training program. It also propelled me forward towards my professional speaking career.
Ten years after that rejection, the executive director of the WOW! Forum, Ms. Jo-Ann Ryan called to invite me to keynote at her conference. Of course, I said YES!
- Lesson Learned: Never give up on your dream! It may take you ten years, but if you believe in yourself…you will get there!
Pushing the envelope
I decided that this occasion called for something special – something new and out of my ordinary. It was time to push the envelope and test the limits of my verve. So I wrote a new keynote speech entitled… Creating a Life of Significance. I wanted to use this platform to share my most important messages and personal experiences for the sake of encouraging others to believe in their own self-worth and significance, despite whatever circumstance or hardship they were currently facing.
My challenge was pushing the envelope of my own safety net. Was I willing to take a risk with this talk? Was I ready to do something bold and gutsy? Or should I play it safe and deliver my normal message in my normal way?
I consulted with a number of trusted colleagues. I even bounced my idea off a stranger sitting next to me on an airplane. Their feedback, insights, and encouragement were vital to bolstering my courage and creativity.
I then took the next leap: I invested in my idea. I hired Dom Piccini to videotape the performance. I bought a killer dress while in La Jolla, CA attending Mark LeBlanc’s Whatever It Takes conference. I hired stylist Debbie Wright to put me together for the day. If I could have found a choreographer to work with, I would have enlisted that professional help as well. But I had to call upon my past dancing career and experience to choreograph a 90 second opening to music.
The hardest part was having the courage to practice it in front of others. There were plenty of moments when I was ready to abandon my idea and go with something “normal” and expected. But the conference name, “WOW!” called me to find my backbone and to go for it.
And go for it I did.
On October 9, 2015, I gave my new keynote speech, Creating a Life of Significance, to a sold out crowd of 220 women at the Warner Theater in Torrinington. It was the most fun that I’ve had speaking since I began on this path ten years ago.
The audience responded with laughter and clapping, with tears and joy in ways that exceeded my expectations. There was a long line of women waiting to speak with me to tell me their personal stories. That was an awesome experience. A real honor to be present to support them in their journey.
Below are some photo collages that I created from the WOW! Forum.
If you are curious as to what all the hats were about, please reach out to me and I’ll explain. YouTube video clips are coming soon!
If you know of a women’s conference in need to a gutsy keynote speaker, please have them contact me at 860.408-0033 or email me at Kathy@AmericasMarketingMotivator.com