Why I speak at so many conferences / travel the way I do and why I’m slowing down.
That is the question I got in the speaker room, as I walked in, sick.as.shit.
I had taken the 10PM flight out of Philly, landed in Dublin and went right to my hotel to take a 3–4 hour nap, so I could be refreshed for the presentation I had to give in a few hours, and I was flying out the next morning.
Then I woke up, stuff coming out of all the orafaces. WTF, I was effed. The organizers of the conference said, Wil, you don’t have to show up today, we understand.
That was not gonna happen, I was gonna get there early scope out the closest bathroom, use it right before I went on stage and then I would know where the closest one was in case I had to exit, handle my business and jump back on stage. (Marcus Tandler did that once and I was like damn this dude is my spirit animal).
The speakers in the speaker lounge were like what are you doing? Why do you do this? Then they went, wait…get away from me. Some (Thank you Aleyda, Ian and Lexi, etc) who offered everything from giving my preso to pepto.
So I stopped and thought why do I do this? It was good reflection point…
First I do not shirk on my responsibilities, I just don’t I don’t know how to live that life. Where someone pays to fly you all the way somewhere and you don’t show up without at least trying to power through. So staying in the hotel was NOT an option.
As I reflected here are my other thoughts on why the heck I do this to myself (in no order):
Flying lets me gain maximum points, so having those points helps me cringe less when I end up flying my wife, 2 sons, and nanny to some of our far off adventures, like our upcoming family trip to Brazil. I’m a points whore these days.
Then Amex gives me back 30% of points I used when I book through them!
Huge for family travel.
I like flying
A330, A350, A380, A321, I am an AV Geek, the wonder I have of how airplanes work continues to amaze me. I love getting on a plane, I think I also like the ability to put my headphones on and zone out, with NO meetings too. Somewhere up 38,000 feet is where I get certain types of work done.
I was really afraid to fly, like I wouldn’t stand up on the plane, scared. You know how much that sucks when you drink a bunch of beers to calm your nerves and you are afraid to stand up on the plane, much less walk ALL THE WAY to the bathroom?
Every time I get on a plane, it reminds me that I got over that fear, that I looked at something that petrified me in the eye and powered through and said, you won’t keep me from doing this. My next fear is to learn to swim, after having been rescued once from the bottom of a pool at 6, and once in a riptide at 24, and then losing a friend to a drowning at 14, the water has scared me, but I’m coming for you next!!
There is something about looking back at your old self, and realizing how far you’ve come. Every time I fly and my palms don’t sweat all up, and I don’t think I’m going to die! It helps me remember that I’m not afraid, that I can get over anything I put my mind to.
I’d like to think my presentations actually help a lot of people, so I like getting out and sharing that with real people. I’m definitely over the ego parts — people telling me I crushed a preso was great for my confidence 3–4 years ago, but now its about that feeling deep in my gut that I might be able to help someone that kees me going.
I went to school to be a teacher, so deep down that has always been a massive motivator for me…how can people come into my “class” and I teach them something that helps them level up, and be ready for the next grade?
As I reflect on my time presenting and hitting the road so hard, I can’t help but think, there’s got to be a part that loves going somewhere and speaking / being asked to speak.
I came from pretty humble beginnings and the fact that other people see enough value in what I have to say to fly me all over the world feels good. Now at this juncture of my career, I don’t think my best years are ahead of me when it comes to speaking, that isn’t to say I don’t have things that could add value, but …
At What Cost?
I was in Amsterdam 8 months or so ago, and this time Nora was like, no need to bring the kids, just fly in and get home. NBD. The 1 day I had in Amsterdam, I walked around to some of our favorite places from last time we were there and would text Nora a picture.
Ultimately I realized that being in these places solo feel different than when I am in them with the family, I was kinda lonely. As my son gets ready to go to school next year its the perfect time to start saying no. I’ve seen enough, I feel good about it, time to enter a new phase, lets see what it has in store.