Today is a pretty special day for me that was an enormous catalyst in my overall transformation professionally and personally.

One year ago in Moorhead, MN, I first stepped on to the stage in front of an audience for my first formal speaking gig. It was a keynote lunch-and-learn for the United Way of Cass-Clay​ Emerging Leaders. I had spent months preparing in advance for not just this individual opportunity, but for the addition of keynote speaking in general to my professional offerings. It was a non-paid gig, but I didn’t even care because all I wanted was the opportunity. I knew that I could knock it out of the park if just given the chance to get in front of an audience. Looking back, it was FAAAR from perfect. There were parts of it that bombed. I forgot things. I said things I shouldn’t have. It was the ultimate learning experience. But it was what I had to do in order to get started.

Three people in particular were ultimately responsible for giving me this very first opportunity that would forever change things for me, and it all started with a conversation around my retirement at Alerus​. So, thank you to Bret Kinzler, LeeAnn Staffne and Chantel Carlson for believing in me, pulling some strings and creating a priceless opportunity that has allowed me to, ultimately, positively affect thousands of people thus far.

Since this first opportunity, I’ve done paid gigs and free gigs. I’ve traveled for some and done others right in my own backyard almost. Every one of them has offered a unique opportunity to influence others and learn a ton about myself as well.

If there’s one lesson I want others to take away from my short story here it is the following. If you truly want to do something, the only thing holding you back is yourself. Get laser focused on your WHY, develop a bulletproof plan to get there and passionately pursue it to the fullest. Nothing can stop you from reaching a goal if you refuse to quit until you reach it. Also, don’t be afraid of failure. It is the ultimate stepping stone to success.

I look forward to future opportunities and audiences ahead, am extremely grateful for the people I’ve been able to meet and influence thus far and am excited for those I will get to meet down the road of life through public speaking!

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