A month ago I met with two team members, Josh and Lee Ann, to discuss a startup event we were planning. The first half of the event would be meetings for investors and startups; the second half would be a reception and fireside chat. As it was our third year of organizing, the format was established, and the bulk of the work was finding people for all of the spots, which included the host for the fireside chat.
Josh suggested that the host should be a woman from the New Hampshire startup ecosystem, as the guest would be male. Equal representation always works for me, so I agreed with that sentiment. Josh then suggested that I should be the host.
What did I do then? In typical me fashion, I stammered and suggested another woman. Josh asked if I was sure, I nodded, and then Josh said he’d email her later to see if she wanted to host. We finished the rest of our planning, and we all headed our own ways.
As I walked home, I contemplated my decision. Why would I think that I couldn’t host this talk? Although I initially have a few butterflies when speaking publicly, I overcome them quite quickly and actually enjoy being in front of a crowd.
By the time I was at my home office, I was pretty unhappy with myself. After a few more minutes of contemplation, I emailed my colleagues and let them know that I had changed my mind, IF they hadn’t emailed the other suggested woman. I definitely wouldn’t take it from someone else. Delightfully, Josh emailed within minutes that he hadn’t asked anyone else, and he thought I’d be wonderful.
Fast forward to September 26th, the day of the event, Speed Venture Summit. When it was time for the fireside chat, there wasn’t a single butterfly or bit of nervousness to be found. I was calm, prepped, and excited to interview Will Herman. Will was the perfect guest, answering all of my questions thoroughly and thoughtfully.
After the chat was done and the event was ending, I am humbled to say that a number of people approached me to praise the interview I’d run. They thought my style and questions were well done and captivating. And to think, six weeks earlier I didn’t know if I should do this.
So, why was my instinct to defer? The simple answer is that my first thought is that I’m not good enough. I assume that there must be someone more talented who could do the job. I’m not very good with praise. My second thought is that I am afraid of seeming conceited and overly assured of my talents.
This is something that I’m aware of and try to override. Accepting this host role was a huge step for me. The next time an opportunity like this approaches, I’ll remember this event. Hopefully, the feedback from my hosting will be echoing in my ears, and I will remember that I am good enough.
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