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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

On 1:15 PM by Rachel Preston Prinz in


I thought I was just offering an answer to the question, “How Would You Start Your Commencement Address?”

Outside of digging in to how I felt about the state of the world, and my role in it, inspired by questions asked on Echoing Green’s cool website, and getting “bragging rights,” I didn’t think anything that remarkable would happen.  

Was I wrong!?! A few days after my submission, I got an email from Work on Purpose Director, Linda Kay Klein, congratulating me on winning the Echoing Green Work on Purpose challenge, and telling me that she had looked me up online, and seen that I was already on the path of inspiring people! Her comments blew me away, honestly, and made me more sure than ever that what I was doing was of value. (And here I’d gone to the Echoing Green website to get inspired!) Linda then offered me an hour long call to help me finesse my own messaging, communications and story-telling, to help me through any places where I felt like I was getting stuck, as she put it “so by the time I DO give that graduation address, I would be ready!” It was as if she had seen who I wanted to become, before I even was ready to admit it to myself! 

In our coaching call, Linda asked me what she could help me with. I was preparing a new talk to open the very first TEDx event in Santa Fe. I felt some pressure, because I was the first speaker and would effectively set the tone for the entire event, but also because it would be my first time speaking in public without slides. The benefit of slides is that they can keep you on track if you forget where you are. In NOT using them, I was stepping outside of my comfort zone by a mile. I’m not one of those “loves to hear themselves speak” people who is a natural in front of crowds. I’m only naturally confident when I am eye-to-eye with people. 

Linda helped me to step into a more comfortable frame of mind when I speak in public by connecting emotionally with my audience. She gave me permission to let my heart guide my words. That was immensely powerful and probably the most important thing she taught me, as it’s changed the way I see the world. Now, I give myself permission to connect with people - even if it’s a HUGE room full of people - for a great conversation.  She also helped me to stay on topic by using message triangles and to leave my audiences with motivating information - things they can take home with them and implement in their own lives. 

The talk went GREAT and several people stopped me after the TEDx was done and told me that it was their favorite! Now, a year and a half later, the lessons of motivating from my heart, of meeting people where they are, of using message triangles to stay on topic, and of giving people tools to make a difference in their own lives is coming to fruition in the most gorgeous, community-impacting ways! I’ve changed the course of my architectural and preservation firm to one that celebrates engaging the community, and I’ve even started producing a television show to share with people how they can live better without technology, using the homes they have: to stay warmer in winter, cooler in summer, have access to water, and to grow their own food on their own yards. 

I cannot thank Echoing Green enough for their investment in me as a challenge winner. It may have only been an hour of Linda’s time, but these days, finding mentors who see us in our truest form, and then do something, anything… to help us achieve our dreams, is a rare, and wonderful gift. 

Please don’t be afraid to put yourselves out there and attempt your own “Work on Purpose challenge.” No matter what, you’ll grow. 
And if you are very lucky, you’ll win!

Blessings