I remember pacing across the house last year, rehearsing my speech to the baby growing inside of me. It was just days before I would step onto the stage in Minot, North Dakota. It was a talk I was so excited to give! It was also a talk that today I still have people asking, “So Katie. This TEDxTalk you gave–tell me about it!”
I thought I’d jump back in time a little today and tell you about that journey.
When I was in college, a couple friends had a homework assignment that required them to create a bucket list of sorts. What did they want to experience in life? What did they want to accomplish? The assignment sounded pretty cool, so I wrote one for myself. My list included all sorts of things like fly in a hot air balloon, fall in love, live in another country, and give a speech at a notable occasion like a graduation or something.
TEDx was my something.
A TEDxTalk is different than a TEDTalk because it’s not organized by TED. Locally community members go through a big application process to host an event in town. They’re becoming more and more popular in our relatively rural area of the world. I’m so excited about that! It’s really exciting to learn about all the local talent and ideas brewing in your local community. If you ever have the chance, absolutely attend a TEDx or TED event.
I’d applied for two different TEDx events. I was accepted to one, but not the other. Hindsight being 20/20, I’m so grateful it worked out that way. I was 32 weeks pregnant when I delivered my speech. At the event I was not selected for, I would have had a teeny newborn. I would not have been properly prepared for that talk!
The event was really well organized. The afternoon before, all the speakers and volunteers got together for a quick rehearsal. There were nine speakers, ranging from the local football coach who’s a great role model to kids to the CEO of The Nerdery. There were professors and business owners. The local bookshop owner already had Gadanke journals stocked on her shelves.
I slept so solidly that night. In fact, I even slept in. That was because of pregnancy. My nerves, meanwhile, were leaping all around. I kept thinking, “Is this really happening? Is it?!”
And it was! I wiggled my way into a black maternity dress and support pantyhose. I wore the same white pearls I wore on my wedding day. The heels on my feet were especially low–an intentional decision because I figured the last thing anyone wanted to see was a pregnant lady tripping up there, and a pair of flats just didn’t feel dressy enough.
I sat behind stage, listening to the speakers before me. A microphone wove through my clothes. And for good measure, I’m sure the baby kicked as I stepped onto the stage and started to smile and share my story.
I still remember the baby kicking as I talked!
“Tell me your story,” I told folks. “And I will listen.”
I talked about self love and discovering the impact of our stories. The ideas I discussed where just the very tip of the storycatching theories swirling in my head. It was so much fun to put these words together and share my ideas. The audience was incredible, too. We had several breaks between speakers and a reception at the end of the event. I loved those moments because I got to immediately put the message of my speech into action and listen to stories people shared with me.
I expected women to start up conversations with me. But believe it or not, it was primarily men that had ideas to share with me at the reception. That was really exciting! It really helped me drive Gadanke toward a different road. My focus was always on women. But that day, I knew it was time to stretch beyond gender division and include resources for men. I also started focusing more on children. We all have fabulous stories.
I still can’t believe that I got to be a part of something so incredible because a group of volunteers got a spark of an idea in Minot, North Dakota, and they decided to turn it into something wonderful.