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.

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.

Shine on!

26 days ago 1 4

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