What a week it has been! 3rd week's done, heard 3 great speakers, and went to 3 drinking events. Good things come in 3's I guess.
While the week was uber-crazy-busy, it was also extremely exciting. Different clubs have started, our cohorts are beginning to elect class representatives for social, community, communication, and technology areas, industry brown bag panels have helped me focus my career goals a little more, prospective students have begun to show up in our classes (I had a few great conversations with them already) and Jimmy FIFO's Cafe have become a regular lunch place for me due to necessity. Out of all that, the three speaker events I attended were the highlights of my week.
Before taking Bill Sonnenschien's Leadership Communication class, I've always wondered why some speakers connect with audiences better than others. After two classes of Bill uttering "authenticity" in every other sentence he says, I finally began to understand what separates these great speakers. The three speakers were convincing because they showed their true self in their speeches. In short, they were authentic.
How were they authentic you may ask? Let me tell you.
Bright and early Sunday morning, close to 200 of my classmates dragged our sleepy heads to Andersen Auditorium to hear Prof. Srikumar Rao speak about "Harnessing Your Full Potential". Other than making us stand up and do some strange arm/body waving thing (see picture below), he also spoke at lengths about knowing yourself, understanding that what you perceive is only one reality of the world, and deriving happiness out of the process and not the outcome of what you do. During those 4 hours being entranced by him, I began to realize that Prof. Rao was able to drive his message home because: a) he related all his advice to his past experiences, b) he was passionate about the topic, and c) his passion showed through his speech.
Two days later, we had Will Price, the CEO of Widgetbox, the "world's largest widget directory", come speak to us as part of the "Life as an Entrepreneur" Speaker Series. He spoke about taking risks and having a "just do it" attitude, and again, I felt his passion for what he does, and his speech pulled me in.
Immediately after Will's speech that night, we were very lucky to attend the pièce de résistance event of the week, where Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, one of the largest and greatest companies in the world, spoke to us in a jam-packed Andersen Auditorium. While all of the topics he spoke of were very informative and relevant, and the speech was a great success, one thing stood out for me: his authentic voice. Every word he said, every example he brought up, and every question he answered came from his core being. That was when Bill Sonnenschein's words hit home and I fully understood the power of "be yourself, be passionate, and be authentic."