I wrote the following before being laid off for my position at MetLife last year. It turned out to be a pretty great speech which the snotty women I was working with let me read maybe a handful of sentences of. Ironically that included me leaving out the part about how “remarkable” i thought they were. Regardless, it serves as an eternal reminder to be proud of myself. I’ve walked many paths and tried many things. Not everything has worked out, in fact most things haven’t but that’s ok. Everything that doesn’t work out brings me closer to the right thing. In the meantime, whenever I feel down I have my own words to re-inspire me. I remind myself that I truly am an exceptional person.
Hello! Welcome to Professional Development. I am honored I get the chance to speak this morning and I wanted to start off by giving the most sincere thanks to the ladies of the WBN for giving me the opportunity to share my story. Tomorrow is my last day with MetLife and I wanted to say thank you to everyone for making this office such a positive environment. Its truly been an amazing experience working here.
Ok, so I know what some of you might be thinking, “What makes her qualified to be up on that panel this morning?”
And you’re right. I am not qualified to be up here in the presence of these remarkable women. I haven’t earned my bachelors degree and I don’t balance work-parenting-personal life. In fact, I’m about to be laid off from my entry level position and I took two busses and walked 30 mins to deliver this speech.
I came here today to tell you that you’re looking at the future of leadership right here.
But what makes me a leader?
Well, I’m from Scottsdale, AZ and I can say I have lived a sheltered and privileged life. Although I grew up in a very nice neighborhood, we were not wealthy.I was raised by my mother, a multiple sclerosis survivor and a graduate of Rutgers and Tufts University with a masters degree in Spanish and Psychology, and my grandfather who was a retired WWII vet and an engineer that worked for Honeywell and Nasa.
I say that to say this: At age 20, a year after my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and put into a nursing home, my father whom I’d had never met at the time reconciled with my mother and moved with us. Suffice to say, we did not get along and on my 21 birthday I was kicked out of my parents house at 3 in the morning in the middle of winter with nothing but the clothes on my back.
Three weeks later I found myself in Schenectady, NY with $60, 2 bags of luggage, and my guitar. I slept on strangers couches and floors, until I got a job, an
apartment, and a bed. My first summer out here I walked miles to and from work, uphill both ways, at all times of the day and night. Come my first winter I marched through snow in cowboy boots and leggings because it was all I had. I’ll never the forget the feeling of sitting at work cold and wet all day, dreading the adventure home.
In the past 5 years I moved 9-10 times for various reasons. It’s taken me this long to truly master stability. Up until this year I worked mostly temp jobs through staffing agencies. Scraping together change for the bus used to be a frequent occurrence as was going to work hungry and going to bed cold. Not to mention almost being run over walking down access ramps to freeways and roads with sidewalks- the Capital Region is not pedestrian friendly.
And yet despite setbacks I can honestly stand before you and say that I’ve conquered everything I have set out to do. At 25 years of age I have traveled not only the United States, but the world. I’ve been a journalist, an editor, a photographer, a videographer, and a graphic designer. I’ve interviewed renowned musicians, NYS Assemblyman, the head of the prominent teachers union (UPP) and worked side by side with a U.S. House of Representative. Next month I get to host my own radio show at 97.7 WEXT. I am an award winning poet, a freelance writer, and an alumni of the exclusive International Baccalaureate program. I am trained in martial arts and modern dance.
However, none of those achievements are what make me a leader.
I am a leader because I am.
I have no fear. I stare into the face of adversity and say “Do you worst and I shall do mine.”
I am not afraid to quit- to walk away from a job, a situation, or a relationship that no longer serves me and my objective which to thrive and live that leaves me fulfilled and gives me a sense of purpose.
I am a leader because I take risks, I push myself to the breaking point and I always
come out stronger.
I lead by being a force that cannot be stopped. I get what I want through determination, patience, and hardwork. My best friend and I have saying, “Lead follow or get out of my way.”
I would like to leave you with a quote from my favorite author Henry David Thoreau in hopes that you will be inspired to never give up following your dreams because you too have the power to do anything that you can imagine
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. . . . In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.”