I closed my company, but I still had a story to tell and a book to sell, so I ramped up my speaking career. It’s been going really well. My story gets more interesting all the time, and guess what – I’ve learned that my flaws are much more interesting than my perfections!
Reaction has been great. Many speaking invitations have been coming to me, without even having to solicit them. My story seems to be attractive to a wide range of people. Rotary clubs, business associations, ladies’ church brunches, as well as big corporate events. On the very week I closed my company, I was the Keynote speaker to 800 managers at Intel Corporation – on Monday I closed my business, and on Wednesday I spoke at Intel. After my speech I got a standing ovation, and then for people who wanted a personalized autograph, I hand-wrote their names on the books they bought (and they bought a lot of books!) That took over an hour, and my hand was a little sore by the end, but it was worth it because we all had a great time.
And of course, I showed up with berries for everyone!
I change my presentation a little depending on who I’m talking to, but it morphed into a standard theme of how I built my company from nothing, ran it successfully and happily for years, and then had my heart broken when I lost it. Every time I spoke I seemed to live through those 22 years all over again, and when I got to the part about losing the company I felt my heart break again.
So as a large speaking event approached recently, I spent hours trying to make my speech “feel better” so I wouldn’t lose it when I talked about the end of my company. I asked my friend Debbie Kientz (see her in my book’s Acknowledgements) if I could pick her smart brain on how better to deliver my speech. She listened to my tearful explanation of how it tore me up inside to go through it all again and then she gave me a great idea. “Start with the end of the story first,” she said. “Get it out there right away and then go on to the good stuff.” I thought, “Yes! Get the monkey off my back right off the bat!”
My altered speech was a huge hit – another standing ovation and a lot of books sold! Plus a line of people waiting to talk to me and tell me their berry story. So that’s what I do now. I explain that for years when I spoke to promote my berries I always started with the beginning of my story, but now it seems more appropriate to start with the end – but it’s not the end of my story, it’s just the end of the chapter!
After I share the bad news, I go back to the “berry” beginning and show a slide of me as a little girl in my dad’s garden where my love of strawberries started. (see photo below)
After my events I often get emails from people telling me what sharing my stories meant to them. I got one recently from Stephanie Morin Sherwood that said, “Hi Shari! First off - thank you SO much for the wonderful chocolate-dipped strawberry. Yummy as always! Secondly, thank you for the courage to share your story. What an amazing testimony you have. I LOVE that you are sharing your faith and love of God through your business.”
These messages mean so much to me. I want to continue to speak about the lessons I learned – and continue to learn – so if you belong to an organization, company, association, club, or church group, and you’d like me to speak, please contact me via the website, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.