This year for the first time since launching my skincare company S.W. Basics, I've been in crazy publicity mode: talks, workshops, interviews, panels, events and so on. At least once a month I'm in front of a group of people telling my story, teaching something or talking about the industry.
I've been a ham my whole life. There are a lot of videos of me singing and talking on camera as a kid. (I also grew up dancing in recitals and competitions.) It's not so much my talent that shines through in these videos but rather how comfortable and happy I am to have the attention of every human in the room, plus whoever my future audience would be.
I don't sing to my audience now, but I have found people willing to listen to me. I have lots to say, and I like talking. The past few months though, it's started to wear on me for a few reasons. For one, sometimes I just don't feel like it. I know that's not something that CEO's should really say -- and I'm learning that every day. But I do think there's a difference between toughing it out for the day-to-day grind of growing a business and this. You do whatever it takes, I get that. But public speaking? That's not something that anyone really warns you comes with the territory, and it's very different than creating a product or a brand. I spend all of my time busting my butt to get my business right and sometimes it's really hard to build up the emotional energy to get in front of people and tell them why.
Secondly, what if I was terrible at it? I'm not perfect by any means, and I'm actually still pretty terrified every single time I have to talk to more than four people at a time. What if I was actually incapable? What if I hated it so much I couldn't do it? Or what if it wasn't the terror that was the issue but the ability? It's a talent in and of itself to be able to get a room of people to listen, enjoy, laugh once or twice, and be on board with you in the end. That's so much pressure!
This post might sound a lot like I'm whining and should just suck it up, but I think this is more a plea for understanding. I think we all need to be more forgiving of entrepreneurs that don't love to get up and talk in front of people. We need to not write off the talents of someone who is insanely passionate and brilliant but can't necessarily explain their idea without fumbling. On the flipside, let's not be fooled by sexy, charming, sleek founders and CEO's without much to say. And if you ever happen to hear me talk, just remember that I may love what I'm doing, but I am totally and completely freaking out.