I had the great privilege again of speaking at WordCamp Fayetteville, and this year I gave the keynote address… “I have never worked a day in my life”. Of course, I have worked and I work for a living, but it’s hard to call programming, photography and shooting video work. I enjoy what I do for a living and have been blessed for my entire adult life that I’ve been able to take that passion and turn it into a paycheck.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a tremendous ego and I love being the center of attention. So it’s been 30+ years since I was last nervous before talking in front of a large group. But as I stood on the stage and the auditorium filled, I was nervous. The purpose of the keynote, to me, is to motivate and inspire people… and set the tone for the rest of the conference. I hate keynotes that try to be educational or are veiled commercials for the speaker’s business. I wasn’t anxious or feeling ill, it was just a mild nervousness I hadn’t experienced since the first date with my fiance.
I didn’t write my speech, I never do… Just wrote some bullet points about what I wanted to cover and then created slides to indicate those bullet points for me as a visual cue. I did run through my speech in my head the night before and “tweaked” a few things. I talked about the power of earning money for yourself and how my parents gave me that power when I was 6. I talked about how I inherited my father’s entrepreneurial spirit and launched my first lemonade stand, which I ran like he ran his restaurant. I talked about finding his TRS-80 and beginning my life-long obsession and passion with computers. I talked about my successes and my feeling of being blessed.
As I spoke and moved around the stage, I heard laughter at all the right places and I looked into the audience and saw faces that were genuinely interested in what I was saying… it fed my ego and it fed my need to be the center of attention and I was in my element… When I finished everyone clapped and it didn’t feel like a pity clap or a polite clap. I think I did well.
Afterwards, throughout the rest of the day a lot of people came up to me and thanked me. I had talked about my beginnings in the 1980’s and a lot of people were old enough to remember those times. A few people even told me they were inspired by my speech and that’s what I really wanted. At least one person to tell me I inspired them.
As for WordCamp Fayetteville itself, it was another great year for them. A lot of great sessions and a lot of friendly faces. I love going to Fayetteville, and I’m looking forward to next year.