Photography by Imagery Photography
Standing there, you begin to realize you’re not in front of an audience of strangers. You are with them, and they with you. We are all part of the business community. We all have our lessons learned, and still others waiting to be learned.
There’s an anecdote about former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir presenting a special award to an individual. The recipient stepped up to the podium, then went on at great lengths to explain why it was others who should really receive the credit for his accomplishments. Finally, the prime minister had reached the limit of her patience. “You don’t have to be so humble,” she interjected. “You’re not that great.”
Somehow, that story kept coming back to me after I was asked in 2014 to be one of the featured speakers at Lessons I’ve Learned. After a career as a writer and ad agency owner, I was quite comfortable talking about others. Talking about myself was a different matter. I had, in previous years, enjoyed hearing about the lessons of business leaders, many of whom I respected and admired. What could I say that would inspire the same emotions in this year’s crowd? What had I learned that would be of use to the next generation of entrepreneurs and professionals in our community? In answering those questions, I learned yet another very valuable lesson.
Some of the most worthwhile things you ever do are those that you are forced to do – either through unavoidable circumstance or your willingness to put yourself on the line. By agreeing to speak at Lessons I’ve Learned, I had to take a close look at my years in business, to evaluate what made it rewarding – and what at times had made it a nightmare. So many people came to mind: past and present employees, clients, suppliers, advisors, competitors, mentors, friends, and family. Some memories were fleeting. Others, like that of my wife Debbie always by my side, were and are enduring.
Then comes the big night when all those private musings are about to be broadcast to an audience of hundreds. It does no good to follow the old advice to imagine that the audience is naked. It’s you who feels stripped of your corporate armour. That’s when the tears can begin to well up, the voice can crack, the hands can tremble. But standing there, you begin to realize you’re not in front of an audience of strangers. You are with them, and they with you. We are all part of the business community. We all have our lessons learned, and still others waiting to be learned. This is an annual affirmation to everyone, including yourself, that there will be good times and bad, but that you can succeed in your own way, regardless of the hurdles in your way. It’s not our accomplishments that we celebrate; it’s our willingness to get up every morning to pursue our dreams.
If you are ever asked to speak at Lessons I’ve Learned, please say yes. Right now, you might be thinking, “Well, I don’t need to worry. They’ll never ask me!” To your surprise, they just might. Trust me. I know. Get your own story ready. We’re waiting to hear it.
October 8, 2019 event featuring:
Christine Hrudka a leading voice and passionate advocate for women in pharmacy leadership. Christine is the chair of the Canadian Pharmacists Association and owns community pharmacies in Saskatoon.
As the long-time CFO of JNE Welding Ltd., Brenda Nowakowski is a passionate supporter of and advocate for Saskatchewan small business, which has spurred her involvement in many community boards and organizations.
Terry Bergan is the past president and CEO of International Road Dynamics. He is an accomplished and successful leader in Saskatchewan’s transportation industry and business community.
Joe Vidal joined Bioriginal in 1999, where he is now president and CEO, providing the global health food and nutraceutical markets with innovative and successful strategies on an international scale.
Lessons I’ve Learned is a celebration of business and professional people in our community – of how people grow by learning from others who can relate to their experiences. It is this unique and compelling connection that has made Lessons I’ve Learned one of the most popular events of the year. There are lessons to be learned, stories you won’t want to miss!
For more information please contact the NSBA office.
First published in the September 2019 edition of The Business Advisor.