“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet”
Gretchen Carlson recently left Fox News after a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss, Roger Ailes. Ailes was the king of Cable TV News, but he was forced out of the empire he built when he settled Carlson’s lawsuit for $20 million dollars.
Before her time at Fox, Gretchen graduated from Stanford, worked for CBS News, and was Miss America in 1989.
In her memoir, Getting Real, she relayed an experience that every small businessperson should keep in mind. She was eating her dinner on tour as Miss America. While she was midway through her meal, the emcee asked that would make most of us lose our appetites. I will let Gretchen tell the story in her own words:
I was on the road in Atlanta to attend a dinner for one of the sponsors. There were two thousand people in the hall. I sat at the head table and we ate dinner, and it was delightful. Then, right before dessert was served, a guy came up behind me and whispered, ‘I just want to give you a five-minute warning for your keynote.’
I turned around. ‘Excuse me?’
‘Your keynote,’ he repeated.
‘Oh, Yes,’ I mumbled. Nobody had told me I’d be giving a keynote address. ‘How long would you like me to speak?’
‘Thirty-five or forty minutes.’ In other words, a lifetime.
I grabbed a cocktail napkin and excused myself from the table and went into the bathroom. I had five minutes to write down a bulleted list, and I tried to remember the talking points my coaches had given me.
I gave the speech, and to this day, I can’t remember what I talked about, but they applauded enthusiastically, so I guess I did okay. It was a great lesson. From that moment on I didn’t go anywhere without having at least three speeches ready. But It also gave me confidence.[i]
Would you Be Ready?
If you are not comfortable with this scenario, list a few topics that you can discuss at length. Take some time to do this now. You never know when such an opportunity will arise, and what we know from Steve Harvey’s book, Think Like a Success, greater opportunities often emerge from successfully completing smaller opportunities.
Are you prepared to stand up and speak about your business? How long would you feel comfortable speaking about your product or service?
[i] Carlson, G. (2016). Getting Real. New York: Penguin Group USA. (p. 120).