Keep looking, you’ll eventually find your tribe. And when you do, you’ll know it. Do you ever feel like you’ve spent your whole life looking for that place you feel at home almost immediately? That place where you are surrounded by other people who are just as odd, just as different or just as uniquely wonderful as you are? I have. And the gift is that I have finally found them – I have found my ‘peeps’, my tribe, the ones who are just as outgoing, just as talkative, just as interested in the world as I am. And they are all gathered in July 2012 at the National Speakers Association (NSA) Conference in Indianapolis. Wow. Throughout my career, I have often felt like Goldilocks…first I tried technology, and that bed was just too soft, then I tried non-profit, and that bed was just too hard, but now I’ve found professional speaking and for once the bed and the career choice feels JUST RIGHT… Have you ever felt that way, like you’re looking for your tribe? My advice? Keep looking. I was many years into my career before I found my tribe at NSA. And at first, I wasn’t even sure they were my tribe… Keep Looking I’d only been a member of NSA for a few years when I attended my first conference in 2010. At the time, I knew only two or three other speakers and I have to admit the first national conference was a bit overwhelming. There they were, all these amazing presenters up on the main stage sharing their astonishing stories – of heartbreak and hardship, of celebration and competition, of breakthroughs and breakdowns – and I thought — I can never be like them. Will I ever be able to craft a story that’s anywhere near as good as what I was hearing hour after hour, day after day? Since then, I’ve realized that the lesson I needed to take away from that weekend was not CAN I ever be that good, but did I WANT to be that good, and I realized the answer was a resounding YES. When I worked in technology and I went to the annual MacWorld or CES or Comdex and I saw the presenters up on the main stage, I never wanted to be like them. I just didn’t care enough about shipping another cool technology product out the door. Other people loved it, but I didn’t. When I founded and ran a non-profit, the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, (now Watermark) it was, indeed, the very best job I’d ever had, until it wasn’t. Running a non-profit is the hardest thing I hope I ever have to do, particularly when all the money dries up and you are left having to lay people off and shut down offices and you watch all the many businesses you helped get funding also shut down one by one. Again, other people loved that world, but I didn’t. And then, I met my mentor Sam Horn, who said to me, “You know Denise, they pay speakers.” That was the day that changed my life. I had been speaking for years by that time, but I’d never been paid a dime. Today, only a few years later, I am a professional speaker, coach and consultant and I get paid to do something I really, truly love, which is tell stories and have an impact on other people that goes far beyond providing them another software product, or creating another networking event or all the other things I’ve been doing all these years. I get a chance to change lives. And, for once, that feels JUST RIGHT. Have you been feeling like you don’t really fit? Have you been trying to re-size your wonderfully circular self into an awfully square hole? Is it time to branch out and find out where you really belong? I invite you to keep looking until you find the place that’s JUST RIGHT for you — even if it means trying lots of different avenues before you find just the right path for you. You’ll be glad you did. And if we can help, as always, please give us a call. Meanwhile, check out a few of the videos of some of the speakers who presented – Vernice Armour – Flygirl – is always one of my favorites. (She’s also got an amazing website.) Here’s another session that was interesting – Toni Newman. Here I am in Indianapolis! And I can’t wait for my next NSA Conference!