What's the challenge?
To speak at TEDxHouston on October 18th, 2015
What are you afraid of?
Besides the inevitable fear of public speaking at such event, I'm afraid of not inspiring people enough with my message and my journey to face their fears and change their approach to life.
How was the experience?
The idea of giving a TED talk as my 100th fear was something I thought about the moment the project went viral and I realized the power I had to inspire others. But to tell you the truth, I also thought that it was kind of a long shot and that I was maybe dreaming too big too soon. Nevertheless, I included it in the list as a possibility for my final fear. My husband loved the idea and decided to start doing what he does best: making things happen. So he researched all the upcoming TEDx events and their organizers. When we saw that TEDxHouston was just weeks away, we knew we had to get into that one, plus, they’re one of the best ones. We decided to contact the organizer and share my project with him. He replied right away expressing how much he loved what I was doing, but unfortunately they were only looking for speakers that had some sort of connection with Houston (which I didn’t).
At that moment I felt defeated, but I had two options: a.- thanking him for replying back and settle with his answer or b.- keep pushing. I asked myself: what's the worst that could happen and went with “b”. I wrote a huge email listing all the reasons why they should accept me to speak at their event; I went all out. A week later I received an invitation to speak at TEDxHouston 2015. For the first time in my life I experienced what happy tears feel like. I was crying not only because my project had made it to TEDx, but also because I followed my heart and didn't take "no" as an answer. This showed me the importance of believing in ourselves and to fight for what we want.
The rest is history! I prepared myself as best as I could with the best people around me. I met with the best behavioral psychologist, my SVA professor Dr. Tom Guarriello, who helped me better understand my fears and how to structure the presentation. I met with branding expert and founder of the Master program in Branding at the School of Visual Arts, Debbie Millman, who added some “Debbie drama” to my presentation and helped me with the delivery of the speech. My friend, Maria Silva, who designed the "stack" slides. And I also couldn’t have done it without the help of all my amazing friends who listened to my presentation over and over again until it was perfect, giving me such valuable feedback. I practiced tirelessly, while showering, cooking, cleaning, on the subway, in my sleep! I practiced so much I bet my walls know the entire script…well, at least my husband for sure does.
On Thursday, October 15th (my 4th anniversary with my husband) we traveled to Houston, and that Sunday I stood in front of 460 people (including my parents, my brother, my husband and my in-laws) and I talked about my project: 100 Days Without Fear.
I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end my journey. A journey that started as a way to become a braver person myself but unexpectedly inspired millions along the way. A journey that changed my approach to life, my career and my aspirations as a human being. A journey that will not end up here; I will keep going, keep growing, dream even bigger and inspire more and more people to join this fearless movement.
A thousand times THANK YOU for being there for me, for your support and continuous motivation, for your amazing ideas and for sharing your fears and dreams with me.
Now, it's your turn to start. See you on my next video :)
Special thanks to my brother Daniel Poler for creating this amazing video.