The first speech I ever made was about the Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly. I was eight years old. This third grade class presentation would not only be my first foray into public speaking but also my first intensive public speaking training, courtesy of my mother.
Make eye contact. No note cards. Enunciate your words. Slow down. Smile. My poster was propped up on an easel, and I was given a long chopstick to use as a pointer. So ensued multiple rehearsals, each videotaped and carefully reviewed.
“Notice how you repeat the same hand gestures?”
“Count the ‘ums’ in your speech.”
Tears were shed, but Mom’s patience won the day as we ironed out the kinks, dropped the filler words and memorized my first five minute speech.
This memory has been top of mind, as I had the honor of speaking in front of 300 people at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for CreativeMornings/NewYork in September. After producing dozens of similar events, it was a nostalgic, humbling and slightly alien feeling to be invited to take the stage myself.
I spoke about scaling CreativeMornings from four to 100+ cities over four years—the strategy, highlights and challenges. It’s a personal talk about growth, community and empathy.
As I prepared, I had flashbacks to Mom’s public speaking bootcamp. Her lessons were timeless, and I know for a fact she has proudly watched my recent talk at least twice. Thanks to the CreativeMornings crew for the wonderful opportunity to cap off my time on the team, and thank you for listening.
Footnotes from the talk
- The montage sequence from 500 Days of Summer I rewatched obsessively. The song is “Vagabond” by Wolfmother. (00:50)
- This is Jerri Chou, Co-founder of The Feast. (01:55)
- This is Tina Roth Eisenberg, Founder of CreativeMornings. (02:50)
- This is Craig Shapiro, Founder of Collaborative Fund. (05:46)
- Douglas Atkin’s quote on why people join cults comes from his book, “The Culting of Brands.” (08:10)
- The animated gif is of “No Face” from the Miyazaki film, “Spirited Away,” which also happened to be my girlfriend’s Halloween costume this year. On the same topic, I highly recommend Paul Graham’s essay on resourcefulness. (11:37)
- One of my favorite business books, “Give and Take” by Adam Grant (12:32)
- Current full list of CreativeMornings cities. Find an event near you! (13:17)
- fingerspitzengefühl (13:42)
- A blog post reflecting on my experience at the 2012 CreativeMornings Summit. (17:51)
- Stiles Hall is the nonprofit led by David Stark which organizes the “Facing You, Facing Me” course at UC Berkeley. If you’re interested in learning more about David’s class that’s been going on for over 30 years, I recommend this video from the documentary “What’s Race Got To Do With It?” (21:15)
- How I packed and booked my RTW ticket for my world trip. Also, here’s the video recapping that crazy three month adventure: Around the World in Kevinty Days. (24:45)
- My new company, Classcraft, is helping teachers engage students by transforming the classroom into an immersive role-playing game. (26:31)
From the Q&A
- My favorite CreativeMornings talk, Benjamin Salka from the Story Pirates. (01:16)
- I’m referencing the Hedgehog Concept, which was made famous by Jim Collin’s in his book “Good to Great.” (03:40)