This morning I gave a talk at Mailchimp Headquarters that I was fairly nervous about giving. Last year and old friend of mine – Gregg Bernstein – who I hadn’t talked to in quite sometime reached out to me about coming to give a talk at his office. He works at Mailchimp and they have an ongoing speaker series called Coffee Hour and he thought I might be a good fit for it. I said of course and didn’t think much about it as the date was kind of far off at that point. I actually really like Mailchimp and use their Tinyletter platform for my personal newsletter (which you should subscribe to if you haven’t already) though I wasn’t totally clear on what he wanted me to talk about. Normally when people ask me to come talk at an event or to some group of people they somehow persuaded to sit quietly in a room together they have a set topic in mind and ask me to speak about that. That’s easy, hand me something and I can talk about if for hours – even if it’s something I don’t know anything about I’ll just make some shit up and people will assume I’m an expert on the topic. You think I’m joking there, but.. well, yeah. Keep in mind that I’m a college drop out. Anyway, when Gregg asked me to come talk I agreed and then I asked what I should talk about and he said “anything” which left me thinking “…” so I asked again, with a little more sincerity and he said clarified that as long as the talk was about me and the stuff I’ve done all would be well.
If you know me, you know my least favorite topic to talk about is me and the stuff I’ve done. I get super self conscious and all the little head voices tell me how stupid it all is and that no one cares and who the fuck do I think I am talking about stupid shit like this and all that. Most often I take those voices as trusted council and avoid this dangerous topic at all cost, but I for this I told those voices to shut the hell up and I moved right into uncomfortable land. In part because I never do it, and I thought forcing myself to do it might help me get more comfortable with it, or at worst at least I could point to this in the future if anyone asked. I tweeted that I was giving the talk and some folks asked if it was open to the public or if they could watch it online, neither of which is was – fortunately for me, unfortunately for those folks. But what I did do was record the audio and posted it as episode 005 of my Viva Riot podcast, and I put the slides up on Slideshare as well in case anyone wants to listen and follow along at home. I’m embedding the slides here, though I know sometimes some people can’t see these embeds, so here’s a direct link as well.
If I sound nervous, especially at the beginning that’s because I was. I seriously considered faking my own death this morning at the hotel before making my way to their offices, but I didn’t and I think I calmed down a few minutes into it and it went really well. I think it did anyway. I did a “questions?” thing at the end and about 10 people had really great questions – the audio didn’t work out so well on those however, but I think if my talk sucked people would have just walked out rather than hang around and ask questions and stuff after. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. So there it is. Thanks Gregg, and Thanks Mailchimp!