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Auditioning for TEDxColumbus

Auditioning for TEDxColumbus

Those were the exact words that went through my head, except I used the actual word as I exited the stage.

The thoughts, don’t fall down on your a$$ also went through my head because you had to walk down steps to get off the stage.

Let’s rewind a bit. For the last few weeks, I had been hinting on my social networks that I was preparing to do something BIG. I didn’t want to announce exactly “what” that was in case I didn’t get to audition for whatever reason.

The Week Before

It was the week before my audition and I still only had paragraphs of ideas of what to say. I had the idea down (it is what I talk about daily) but the actual pitch was so rusty. It really did sound like more of salesy pitch rather than a TEDx Pitch! After a facelift from my team, friends and colleagues, we were ready to start practicing.

At this point, I am still confident as hell that I can do anything and that this is simple. It was 3 minutes in front of 50 or less people. I’ve been on stage in front of 250 people before – this was going to be nothing! Of course, all of my friends were telling me the same.

Energy was high.  It was electrically charging me and fueling my mission.

T-30 Hours

Holy Shit Balls. We begin counting down the hours until showtime.

I am now starting to feel the nerves creeping in. My mind and body working against me, questioning if this Sid-billy (a common term for hillbillys in our town) who was a high-school drop and teen mom could really pull off trying out for a TEDx event.

I keep calm and just keep going for gold. With every practice run-through or every replay of my own voice reading it, I visualized my body on stage and looking out at a crowd that was totally tuned into my idea worth sharing.

Every time I practiced it, I felt like I forgot another part that I had down the time before. It became so frustrating but I wasn’t giving up! I may have been on the verge of over-practicing but this was IT.  This was that one opportunity you patiently wait for and you can’t go up there and freaking bomb it!

T-10 Hours

By this time, I had been up for about an hour and a half reading and listening to the audition over and over. I didn’t even tap into my email that morning because I wanted to remain extremely focused. If I had opened my email, I would have found a way to put off practicing, my ADD would have kicked in and I needed to be in the present moment with everything because I was about to run through it live with my assistant.

I was extremely tired because naturally, my nerves and night sweats wouldn’t let me sleep. And I was really nervous about running through it with someone so close to me but I knew she understood the message more than anyone else. What my idea worth spreading was all about.

I made it through it, it was kinda choppy and I felt like I still was forgetting a lot.

I think Emily could hear the nervousness in my voice. I wanted to hit everything because it was all so important. She reminded me to speak from the heart and the passion would flow through.

Time was creeping closer and those damn voices were talking louder in my head!

A little background on me…  Not only am I freaking out about the audition, I am freaking out more about the drive over, the parking situation, being by myself, and then also doubting my existence as a human. I only started driving myself to big cities a few years ago, mainly when navigation systems came out. I would have people drive MY car so I wouldn’t have to! Parking garages scare the piss out of me. I got Ed’s brand new BIG truck stuck in a parking garage about 18 months ago and I am freaking out it will happen again. Seriously, who designed those things?

About being by myself… One of my besties once mentioned that it was kinda funny that I have no problem getting up on stage and speaking to a large group but I FEAR walking into any place alone. I am working on getting over all of these fears but I am just stacking you up for what I was dealing with.

For those who think, oh she does so much, it is easy for her. Um, NO, it was NOT a walk in the park yesterday.

T-5 Hours

I should be leaving the house but a storm was hitting so I decided to let it pass so it wasn’t a stressful drive over. Gave me more time to practice and listen and primp. I did the best at primping (in case you are wondering).

T-4 Hours

I am on the road. Address programmed into my car’s built-in navigation so I am confident I will arrive without any problems. Full tank of gas, 5-hour Energy Drink, big bottle of water and the mp3 of my audio reading the speech.

At this point, I am focused on getting there and complete silence in the car to practice without anyone else around. I have about an hour and 45 minutes depending on traffic.

Nerves are there but they are more about arriving to downtown Columbus than about the speech.

T-2 Hours

I should have arrived but I am freaking doing loops around Columbus because all the exits that I need are CLOSED! I have only driven to downtown Columbus a handful of times and I am always with someone who knows exactly where they are going.

So after the third time that the car said please exit the highway, cross over and get back on, I took matters into my own hands and just started driving. I was hoping I would recognize something and finally I came up on the Short North. The last time I was in Columbus was for a wedding and we went there afterwards. Eureka!!!

About this time, my car and my iPhone have me on a short path to the destination. Fucking Fabulous.

BREATHE Ali. BREATHE.

T-1.5 Hours

I have arrived. And parking, easy-peasy. It was a small parking lot with big spaces. Ahhh, breathing.

I walk in and discover that it looked like I was the first to arrive. Awesome, I know I will definitely be auditioning at this point because I will be one of the first. Time to sit, practice and wait.

About two weeks ago, I had a someone contact me on Twitter and we tweeted back and forth a few times. I let her know that I was going to actually be in Columbus yesterday and was she interested in meeting up.  She was totally pumped and that morning she decided to courageously audition as well! Super cool. Not only do I now I have a buddy here, but we can be each other’s cheerleaders. We chatted for about 45 mins before diving into more practicing.

T-55 Minutes

People are now arriving to audition. It has now hit my body and brain that I am freaking auditioning against other incredible people. I have a big tightness in my chest. My heart is pounding. I can hardly swallow. And the palms are sweating. That is when I know the nerves are in full gear.

TEDxColumbus Audition Number

TEDxColumbus Audition Number

T-30 Minutes

They open up registration and holy shit balls, I am NUMBER 3!

Time to socially announce what the hell I am doing. I am feeling the need for support from my peeps. Shit is getting real and I am kinda freaking out a bit. What have I done? I made this public and I HAVE to go through with it.

My friend that came along, she was handed the Number 1! She offered it to me but I couldn’t go first.

T-0 – The Ladies Set The Bar

The first two up ahead of me were women. Then myself. I felt like there were more ladies than gents there but the first three that were up ROCKED the stage…Yes, I am including myself in that statement.

I fumbled and forgot parts but filled in with some other things. I gave it my all and that is all I could do.

Before the TEDxColumbus Crew mentioned that they would only be taking 2-3 talks and that they were looking for diversity. From what I heard, there was some amazing ideas and they had a total of 28 audition.

My Idea Worth Sharing

So you may be wondering what my idea worth sharing was.

That Girls & Women + Technology are the Future Revealed

Title – Technology Makes Everything Possible.

A few excerpts…

I’m on a mission: to activate a new generation of tech-powered trailblazers — women who bust stereotypes, break glass ceilings, and show the world who’s boss. And I’m on a mission to show women + girls that being a Geek is seriously hot.

Historically, women have fallen behind the guys in math, science + technology. And it’s time to get OVER those old stereotypes + social norms. Because when women master the fundamentals of technology, they become limitless. They can literally do anything.

Technology is the future revealed. It is here to stay and everyday somewhere, someone new is using technology to create something revolutionary.

It starts by illuminating what’s possible, and clearing space to dream beyond the cornfield, beyond the neighborhood dive bar, beyond the local cubicle farms.

It starts with technology.

Let’s start teaching girls and women to fish in lakes that go beyond the cornfields and boundaries of Ohio’s landscape.

The key is technology. Technology makes everything possible. {END}


Technology certainly made it possible for me to get to where I am today. It helped me achieve the goal of auditioning yesterday. I truly believe if my Twitter angel had not been there, I very well would have hopped back in the car and headed back home.

So that is my story of how it pretty much all went down yesterday. I had hoped to do video with each step but to be honest, I was so nervous, I couldn’t do it.

My friends have all made comments about how I am a natural and it had to be easy. Honestly, being on LIVE television is easier than what I did yesterday.

Even if I am not picked, I still won. I still took the biggest leap of my career and life.

Don’t ever let your thoughts and limiting beliefs stand in your way.

Leave some love.

What is the biggest leap you have taken this far? What did it feel like the next day when you reflected on it?

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