I had the black notebook, the gunmetal nail polish, and the red stilettos. My supremely talented friend at Sew in Harmony had tailored my jacket to say, “I’m professional and casual, all at the same time!” I had just enough nerves to give me energy and just enough confidence to give me calm.
The Killer Tribes Conference was a great place for my first speaking gig– a talk I titled “Embracing Your Niche: It’s Not As Dirty As It Sounds”– because I was surrounded by blogfriends who supported me. This also made it a great place for some messing around:
My friend Erin Love Taylor did an incredible job of designing business cards for me when I contacted her at the very last minute, and they greeted each guest to my session, along with a little chocolate-peanutbuttery persuasion:
New and old friends showed up to hear my talk (and a bunch of strangers did too, which was crazy). And the ever-Arkansasian-accented Tyler Tarver took a video of it, which he will have to share with us soon if we go to his site and lavish him with compliments/mildly veiled threats.
One of the wildest things to happen at Killer Tribes was that people actually took notes on my talk and traded them with people who took notes at other breakout sessions. That my words were the stuff of barter has not yet ceased to humble and amaze me.
Thanks to Kim Wilson and Joy Bennett (to whom all photo credit here is due) and to Anne Bogel (roomie extraordinaire, from whom I received an entire additional bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), I got to see with great relief that the notes people took meshed with the ones I had in my notebook and brain. Here’s a brief amalgamation of their notes:
My talk ended with about ten minutes left in the session, and I was afraid that not only did this mean I must’ve left out some poignant anecdote or essential words of wisdom, it also meant I would have to endure the silent disdain of a roomful of strangers and the loss of friendships predicated upon my now clearly false pretense of awesomeness. But none of that happened. I asked for questions and the audience had them. They were interested, and I got to do what I do best with a gathering of people: converse.
After my session, a few people hung around or caught up with me to talk more about what I’d shared and how it affected them. And I didn’t even bribe them with my extra candy.
My hostile phone prevented me from going on Twitter that weekend, but when I got home and looked on my computer, there was a lengthy page of Tweets filled with people’s quotes of my talk and their impressions.
I left my session far more confident than when I went in, and I walked across the lobby to join a great big group of people who had become so much more than avatars and 140-character strings. I jumped up and down, red stilettos and all, shouting over and over, “I did it!” And they gathered me in for a picture, these people who’d proven a loyal niche. And I embraced it.
My friend Jeff tried to tell me I say niche pretentiously; I told him I say it correctly. How you do pronounce niche? “Neesh,” “nish,” or “nitch?”