How We Prepared to Collaborate On Stage

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For over five years, we have had a shared dream of delivering our very own TedX talk. Back in 2012, Ricardo bought a pair of beautiful mustard yellow leather dress shoesYellow Shoes with the intention of wearing them one day on a TedX stage. This year on November 14th that dream came true. Ricardo with his yellow shoes, and me 8 months pregnant with our baby to be. It was spectacular. The conference theme was Collaboration. It couldn’t have been more fitting. And we haven’t been the same since.

For the few who have managed to live this long without discovering Ted talks, click this link to change your life and find out more. Essentially, TedX is a speaker’s dream stage and audience, and every viewer’s source for inspiring ideas. You can imagine what a huge gift it was for us to be invited to deliver a talk at one of the premier TedX events worldwide. The talks from this particular event have gone viral in the past and been viewed over 5 million times worldwide. This was a great opportunity for us to level up our speaking game and leave our hearts on the stage like never before. We did.

The most common question of all is “how did you do it.”
Only a few days since the big day, we have been receiving a lot of kind messages and a lot of questions. The most common of all is, “how did you do it.”

How did we get a TedX talk?
How did we prepare?
How did it feel?

It’s our pleasure to share a bare-all peek behind the scenes of how we did it.

Sep Pashang

Drew Dudley

Richard Ausar

Marie Poulin

  • Connector.

    How we got a TedX Talk

    Like most opportunities in business, it all started with a familiar relationship. About a year prior, we had met an ambitious PhD candidate and consultant through a mutual friend. His name is Sep. We had remained in touch, and he had seen our work and life posts through social media ever since. Fast forward to January 2015 and he was appointed the Director of Speaker relations at TedXUW. And, because we’re always sharing and posting online, he had us top of mind.

    Although we had been personally invited to apply as speakers to multiple TedX talks in the past (four to be exact), we had never been selected to speak. By the time Sep reached out to us this year, he had seen dozens of our media and speaking videos online and asked us if we would be interested in speaking at his team’s conference 10 months later. We accepted. And we couldn’t be more grateful that we did.

    Here’s what Sep Pashang, the TedXUW Speaker Director had to say about choosing us as speakers:

    As an executive at TEDxUW, my role was to search for exceptional speakers in Canada who could share wisdom, challenge conventional ideas, and create dialogue related to our conference theme: collaboration. Gloria and Ricardo were the first duo I thought of and approached as I’ve always been drawn to their ideas that promote innovation in strategy, branding, and community projects. Working with them on their TED Talk was a real treat as they were ambitious to push the envelope and cross multiple boundaries. They are true collaborators when considering business, love, and friendships. So for me, it was a no brainer to invite them to speak at TEDxUW.

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    How We Prepared

    It all started with a brainstorm mind dump of our ideas. That’s how we start any project or creative endeavour. After we got our initial thoughts out, we reached out for support from a friend who we respect and who has the lived experience that we trust as a TedX speaker. This was none other than seasoned TedX speaker and Host, Drew Dudley. He gave us a number of really helpful pointers. Two of those were: practice in the dark as well as a light shinning on your face; and, make it worth the audience’s time.

    After Drew’s sage advice we knew we wanted a bit more support from a speaking and voice coach, to help us bring synergy to our two very different styles on stage. That’s when we hired a Voice Coach, Richard Stewart to help us practice and improve together. We met him about once a month for 4 months before the big day. It was worth every hour and dollar invested. It made a huge difference to our confidence, our approach and our synergy together on stage.

    Our third step was typing out a draft of our talk for the TedXUW team to provide their feedback. I should mention here that we’ve NEVER done that before. Never have we allowed anyone to see our work in progress. So this was an incredibly uncomfortable move for us. It was something we were willing to try this time, in the name of collaboration with our broader team. In the end, their feedback was helpful and encouraging. We made a few adjustments accordingly and kept moving.

    Finally, it came down to practicing. And as usual, that’s where the majority of our work happened. We began rehearsing together about one month before the talk. We gave ourself 30 days to play with our material and make adjustments. We had also decided to launch a digital product very close to the content of our TedX talk, called Collaboration Kit. It was after launching our product that we realized our need to be less tactical in this talk and more heartfelt and vulnerable. Our biggest triumph of all. With 7 days left to go, we completely revamped our talk to focus more on our personal stories and to hand illustrate our slides with love. We wanted the visuals of the talk to match our authentic stories and ideas.

    Ricardo drew every single slide. And this turned out to be a big hit. Then, we practiced our talk with these new slides twice a day, for one hour, for the last 5 days leading up to the talk. Keep in mind that one of us is 8 months pregnant too. That’s why we blocked off our calendars, arrived in Waterloo one day early and got a good night’s sleep before rehearsals. We went to rehearsals and watched a few speakers practice after us. The minute we felt the urge to compare talks with the others, we quietly excused ourselves and took the rest of the afternoon off. We were ready, and there was nothing else to do but enjoy the experience wholeheartedly. It turned out to be our best talk yet.

  • Connector.

    How It Felt

    It felt inimitable. There was a bubble surrounding us when we walked onto that stage. No stage has ever been like that one. The audience, the stage and the two of us were engulfed in a circle of openness, acceptance and curiosity. That’s what our TedX experience felt like.

    We were calm, we had fun, and we shared our truth. We could have said absolutely anything up there, and we’re grateful that we chose to share how we’ve grown to work with our fears to free ourselves in work, life and love. It’s an idea which fly’s in the face of more popular advice to ‘overcome your fears’ or ‘conquer them’. It’s an idea that we believe is worth spreading.

    Joining hands with our fears and taking action in spite of fear has worked. And when you watch the talk, you’ll hear our 3 steps for doing just that. It was also a joy to have our dear friend and colleague Marie Poulin with us in the front row. Our voice coach and his wife were also in the room. Their support was palpable from stage, despite the hundreds of eyeballs watching us. We turned off our phones, avoided emails and kept ourselves in the zone until a few hours after the talk. We didn’t want to risk anything distracting us from that special moment and day. For the next 24 hours, we took time to digest and reflect on the experience. And now, you can watch the entire 15 minute video of our talk at the bottom of this post.

There were countless highs experienced as we prepared for the big day. Above everything else though, we were overjoyed to be able to deliver our talk together. Speaking as one person on stage is an exhilarating challenge on it’s own. Speaking as a duo on stage and making it work … well that was a whole new challenge that we accepted with joy. It takes a different level of preparation to collaborate on stage with someone else. It’s not like the interviews we have done together, or the training workshops from our past. Delivering an idea worth spreading, within the allotted 18 minutes … that was an experience worth going for.

We hope you’ll enjoy this 2 minute intro to us that the amazing marketing team created to promote its speakers. Talk about a cool way to tell a story …

And, if you ever have the chance to collaborate on a stage with someone else, we hope that you’ll seize it. We have found collaboration to be a rewarding pathway to personal freedom. Try it sometime and let us know what you find.

… Now, without further adieu, here is our 15 minute TedX talk. Enjoy!

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