December 25, 2018
What’s Your Story?
My life changed on June 14, 2018. The announcer called my name, I took a deep breath and climbed the steps to the stage, excitement and nervousness fueling each step toward the coveted red circle. It was my time to give my TEDx talk.
After three months of working with a coach and having an immense team supporting me, this should be easy, right? I didn’t need a teleprompter because this was MY STORY and it was embedded in every cell of my body; in fact I realized, I had been preparing for this talk nearly my entire life.
Getting to TEDx
In June, I shared my story in front of an audience of more than 1,400 Johnson & Johnson colleagues, along with family and friends, at TEDxJNJ Elevate 18, a full-day J&J Development Month event in New Jersey. My TEDx talk was titled The Power of Storytelling. In it, I shared details of a struggle with anorexia that began in childhood, and my complicated pathway to parenthood as an adoptive and biological mother.
Fifteen speakers were selected to speak at this exclusive J&J-sponsored TEDx event. The TEDx program was created to help communities, organizations and individuals spark deep conversations in the spirit of TED’s mission, “Ideas Worth Spreading.” To qualify, applicants submitted a detailed outline of their proposed talks and then were interviewed by a committee.
Summoning the courage to share the stories that shape me brings authenticity to my world.
Even before presenting my TEDx talk I learned about the power of personal stories when two colleagues and I used the CaringCrowd® platform to raise funds for Project HEAL, a non-profit that assists people who can’t afford treatment for eating disorders. The response was modest at first, but when we posted our personal stories of recovery, the pledges rolled in and we exceeded our $10,000 fundraising goal.
I was inspired to take my personal story public after hearing several J&J leaders speak about their families’ encounters with mental health issues. I learned from them that I have nothing to hide about my eating disorder or anything else that shaped who I am today. That, along with J&J’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and fostering an environment where ‘You Belong,’ encouraged me to bring my ‘whole self’ to work. In fact, sharing my story—and taking others along on my journey—has given me tremendous growth opportunities.
During my talk I announced a new storytelling community called, What’s Your Story, USA. This initiative will enable people to raise awareness, encourage advocacy, and promote healing by sharing their personal experiences. Stories can be about personal hardship, development or even something unusual that happened to you. Each event will also raise money for a non-profit.
I believe we can all bring authenticity to the world through the timeless skill of story-telling. Help me to create community storytelling events that create new possibilities for people, ignite connections and raise money.