I have to say, that I still can't believe that I spoke at a TEDx Talk. If you've been living under a rock, then you might have not heard of TED. Just kidding, but really... TED has become the most widely known global platform for people of every discipline to share their ideas, world vision and plans to change the world. In essence, this organization believes "passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world." Visit TED.com to watch the talks on any subject, you name it, they have it. I've been watching these TED Talks for quite some time, becoming inspired that it is possible to spread awareness and game changing ideas, but I NEVER thought I'd be on a stage doing it one day, EVER. When I was approached by my former boss, within the same company (I work for AT&T), I honestly brushed it off. This was a TEDx, an independently run event, hosted by AT&T. The process involved submitting an idea, obtaining enough votes and going through a 2nd round of votes to make it to the actual stage. I honestly didn't think I had anything worth offering, which now I look back and find it outrageous that I lacked the confidence to just go for it. Two weeks later, I received an email from her imploring me to please submit my proposal, and that I had 30 minutes to do so. I spent 10 minutes looking at my screen, thinking "What could I possibly contribute? My passions lie in Environmental Awareness, and I'm not even working in that field!" I love my job, don't get me wrong, but it's not what I set out to do. All those years of studying and crying over my thesis to complete my Masters in Natural Resource Management, had started to feel like a waste because I hadn't the courage to start a new career after being so comfortable in my current job.
Long story short, I decided to submit my TEDx proposal under the Community category shedding light on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and sharing some life hacks to reduce our impact on the plastic waste generated by us (with 5 minutes to spare on the deadline) and I ended up being selected! When I received the call that I had made the cut, I was shaking, screaming in excitement and suddenly felt nauseated. Reality set in that I was going to present a 9 minute talk on the most prestigious global stage AND I had to be accurate and compelling. Twelve of us were selected and we had only 6 weeks to prepare. Fortunately, we had amazing coaches, to whom I am absolutely grateful, because without them I would have not even been close to feeling as confident as I did when I was up on that stage. Granted, this Talk is only to be seen within the company (to our knowledge, we are not sure if AT&T will release our videos to the general public. If they do, you'll be the first to know!), I still had an audience of 50 people and over 280,000 AT&T employees will have access to view our talks. No pressure!
We arrived at the AT&T Headquarters in Dallas the day before we were scheduled to film the event and I got to meet all the other presenters, which was so lovely. We had our rehearsals on the actual stage and I was so nervous, I was trembling and stuttering, even forgetting some important details I wanted to include in my talk. We didn't have a teleprompter. This was to be performed by memory with just a few visual slides. It was very humbling to see the other presenters share how nervous they were as well. We shared tips and tricks with each other to combat those nerves. And to add to the nerves, I had to make sure I projected a look that represented my style, without taking the attention away from the message I wanted to convey. I chose a simple black dress by Calvin Klein, black patent pumps from ShoeDazzle and then came the matter of my hair. I wanted to look professional and sophisticated without compromising my essence, which is kind of represented by my curly hair. Many people told me that I should straighten my hair because it "looks more professional", and that sent a shiver down my spine. Although, I love being versatile with my hair and switch it up between straight and curly, after reading those comments I felt a responsibility to show the world, and other curly, textured haired girls that we can look polished and sophisticated, while invoking a strong presence and respect in the professional world.
All in all, it was an incredible experience and I look back at it with so much pride. I'm so happy with how my Talk turned out. I hit every point I wanted to hit, created a call to action within my workplace and represented my passions, heritage and company with dignity. This opportunity is already opening doors for me! I immediately started to receive praises by individuals within the organization and find myself one step closer to my dream job. All the blood, sweat and tears shed along the years to achieve my goals have definitely not been in vain. Everything I've ever done in my life has led me to this moment, where I am seeing my dreams come true before my eyes. I now see the potential, the infinite possibilities and I will, without a doubt, continue to forge on until I reach the stars. There's no backing down from here!