On Stage | Talent to the Top
Just a few thoughts on my amazing adventure speaking in Amsterdam to the Dutch organisation, Talent to the Top.
After a long (24 hour) flight from Australia, I managed to get a few hours of restless sleep before the day of the conference. As I was being picked up from the hotel at midday, I spent the morning walking around the city, exploring the landmarks and soaking up the atmosphere.
By the time I arrived at the venue, it was almost midnight my time and I was starting to feel pretty tired. After my av checks were completed I took my seat in the front row and enjoyed the Dutch magician, George Parker weave his magic.
Janine Shepherd and Cherie Blair
Cherie Blair was the next speaker and I was to follow her. I was told that she probably wouldn’t join us in the front row and would only appear moments before she was due to go onstage. I was pleasantly surprised when she ducked down in front of me and took the empty seat.
“Hi”, she whispered, as she turned and smiled to me. She was bubbly and warm and we shared a few words quietly before joining in on George’s activities.
Cherie’s presentation was inspiring and informative. She talked about her life and work with her foundation (cherieblair.org) and shared many funny stories of life as first lady.
When it was my time to take the stage, it was 2am my body clock time and I was starting to feel pretty dizzy. All I can say is…thank God for adrenalin….and chocolate!
Once I got on stage, automatic pilot set in and I was off. I had concerns about the language barrier, and even though I knew the Dutch spoke fantastic English; I wasn’t sure they would get my ‘funny’ Australian accent or my humour. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about.
At one point, the audience broke out into spontaneous applause, which confirmed my belief that the ideas I am sharing are universal and reach out to all people regardless of where they live.
When I finished my presentation, I spent some time signing books and mingling with the audience. Dizzy with fatigue, I sat and chatted with the delegates. I was completely taken by the warmth and generosity of the Dutch people.
At one point, a lady named Karen, took off her necklace and put it around my neck. “You have to have this”, she told me, “My brother sent it to me from Canada and I felt I had to give it to you.” I was deeply touched by her gesture and treasure this necklace as a reminder of our connection.
What lesson did I learn from my time in Amsterdam?
I deepened my understanding on the interconnectedness between us all. After listening to Brene Brown speak about connection, I know that when you have the courage to share your story with authenticity and vulnerability, you connect with people from your whole heart, and when we do that, we all speak the same language.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery