It takes great, internal strength for a single human to speak to 24,000 people. It takes confidence to execute, resonate, and change someone’s perspective, all in a matter of sixty minutes. So, where does this strength come from? Is it wisdom, experience, or possibly both?
You may or may not know of Beth Comstock, but if you don’t, you should. This was my first time attending INBOUND and the first time hearing her speak – I wasn’t sure what to expect. Her presentation blew me away, starting off with a story of overcoming fear. Comstock admittedly claimed to be an introverted person and spoke of the internal conflict that she had in the workplace. However, she realized that she, herself, was the change that was needed. “Give yourself permission to make the change,” she speaks because ultimately, no one else will.
I think it’s very easy for all of us to want to be polite and considerate, therefore creating hesitation to do what we think is right. A lot of the time we become, “yes ma’am, no sir,” instead of forming an opinion, speaking our minds, and creating the change that we undoubtedly need. Risk taking is not easy, especially for those who are introverted. I consider myself to be an extrovert, and already have a difficult time taking risks. However, there’s so much value in taking risks and trying a change. Think about how much is learned from change, and how this “change” can impact curiosity, creativity, innovation, inspiration. We see that at TANK New Media when we sit down for brainstorming meetings; one might have a “wacky” idea, but it can spin into something that is miraculously attainable, providing success in change.
With nearly over two decades of experience at General Electric, NBC Universal, CBS, and CNN, Beth has acquired significant strength, making her practically indestructible. She is strong, she is powerful, and she is confident. This leader shows us that both experience and wisdom can help create the change you’re searching for, and it all starts with each and every one of us. It comes from within. It comes from doing. It comes from failure.
“It” being strength & confidence is like a muscle that you continue to build on; a skill that has to be nurtured and practiced over, and over. Beth Comstock, by far, is a powerful leader that I hope to learn from in years to come.
Harrison is the creator of charity: water – an initiative to provide clean water to the world. Aside from Comstock, Harrison also blew me out of the water, so to speak, for various reasons. First of all, this is a man who had everything and remained “spiritually bankrupt.” He tells his story of going from being a nightclub promoter in New York City who had luxurious, exciting lifestyle, to a humanitarian that traveled to foreign countries giving back and providing care to those in need. Harrison wanted a change, and he knew that ultimately, he was the change.
“52% of disease throughout the developing world is because of bad water,” he states, then proceeds to show photos of children, women, men, and entire families that were lacking clean water. Immediately, my chest starts to cave and tears come pouring down my face. Photos of disease – disease in which we do not see here in the United States. Photos of faces that have been invaded by bacterial growth and illness. Photos of innocent people that are living with health problems because of unclean water and no resources.
Harrison finished out his speech on a much more positive light, providing us with heroic stories that his initiative had created. Today, his organization has touched 8.2 million people around the world, by providing irrigation systems in countries that do not have clean water. The initiative will continue to educate, inspire, and motivate people to help those in need while providing infrastructure, technology, and resources to those third-world countries. And although 8.2 million is a significant number, 663 million are still living without clean water.
Comstock spoke of “the change,” as did Harrison - a common theme that I found while attending the conference. But, there’s a reason for that, as all of these leaders had to step up, find their strength, and persevere towards the future they were looking to build. Change starts with one person, it inspires another person and becomes a chain reaction. Harrison’s genuine heart allowed for change, which has impacted millions and will continue to do so. Harrison is a human-lover, an activist, and a change maker. What other qualities would you want in a leader?
Pang, from BostonSpeaks is on a mission to help individuals become great communicators and speakers. Often, we imagine public speaking to be a terrifying endeavor. Pang further explains that most are not only afraid to speak in public but fearful of having one-on-one conversations with people they do not know. Is this a result of technology taking the place of human communication, or do we just lack the skills to communicate with one another?
Pang continues his speech by explaining how communication is key. That communication then allows us to differentiate between powerful, moving leaders from everyday bosses. Leaders listen, remember what is being said, and ask questions. Leaders hear their people, consider their people and thrive off their people. Leaders build strong teams, help these teams grow, and create more leadership. Titles do not matter & not all CEO’s equate to great leaders... no offense!
Pang gathers this wisdom from personal experience, as he begins to tell us the journey of his speaking career. He had always felt like he needed to be doing more, that he needed to speak to as many people as possible, that his voice needed to be heard. Pang was focused on networking with people, extending himself through long nights of meaningless conversation, and lost his marriage because of it. “I wasn’t listening,” Pang explains. His wife had been telling him for months that she needed him and that wanted to spend time with him. If he was the leader he is today, he could have saved his marriage. As you can imagine, Pang did his fair share of change. He started to listen more, and talk less. Listening has made him a stronger communicator, a better leader, and a relationship building guru. It can be easy for us to jump on our phones and communicate through email or social media, but it’s much more difficult to introduce yourself to a stranger. I anticipate to stay up with Pang and his podcasts, as he is the type of leader I aspire to be.
As I walk away from my first trip to INBOUND, I feel incredibly grateful to have learned from these incredible leaders. I left inspired and looking forward to experiencing more wisdom and motivation at #INBOUND19!