As part of my business strategy to promote Catalyst, my newly formed marketing agency I started two months ago, I put together a module on all my experiences in customer service, and decided to share them for free with anyone and everyone willing to listen. I have also documented my thoughts in an e-book, which will be made available free on my website that is due to complete in the next few weeks.
To date I have done more than a dozen presentations, one went better than the previous one.
Tuesday night, I was invited to a second presentation to the first company I ever worked for, after my initial presentation with their administrative staff the week prior.
I was excited and happy to be there to catch up with old colleagues, who gave me the warmest reception. There were about 40 people, old and new listening my talk.
Because I have done the same presentation repeatedly many times, and because the time frame given for me was half an hour, I decided to forfeit on using my power point slides and planned on telling 3 stories, which would leave my presentation short and sweet.
You know what was coming. One thing led to another, I stumbled and could not recover. Most of you would not understand the unforgiving minutes of standing before 80 eyeballs, thinking of you as an idiot unless you have been in the situation. This is the kind of embarrassing moment that I do not wish on anyone at all.
There was no graceful exit on my part, however hard I tried. From the scale of 1 to 10, my self confidence reached an all time low of minus 5 that evening. You can understand why, my reputation, my company’s brand was destroyed beyond measure to the eyes of these audiences.
They say, word of mouth is a powerful advertising tool, I say word of mouth will be equally as catastrophic in ruining one’s reputation in this instance. Thank God for my wonderful wife and my dog who loved me unconditionally, that I could go home to.
Instead of burying my head in the sand, I did it with the blanket all night. For the record, I did not shed any tears. But it was painful.
The story does not end there. I had an appointment with a bank the very next morning, to discuss about a proposal that I submitted a while back. By the way, I also sent the marketing guy a brochure about my customer service talk, which I did not anticipate was going to form the agenda for this meeting.
There were 6 bank officers surrounding me eager to hear about my presentation that I stumbled the night before. Even I wouldn’t have wanted to listen to myself at that point in time. I was able to draw energy from one of the kind faces among them and pulled off what would have been the most difficult presentation of my life. There is a God out there, and God had mercy on me that morning.
The bankers would have felt my rocky confidence that morning, but was probably won over by the substance of experience I had to share. I was invited for a second meeting to discuss further on the subject.
Yesterday, I provided another presentation with every ounce of my energy. In my book, I executed it to my satisfaction. You do not just bounce back from a minus 5 to a 10 over night.
It is still a healing process, I am still beating myself up over that night, I wish my very short term memory would spare me the recollection of that night’s ordeal, and I would be able to burry that one day.
I document this because in every failure, there are lessons to be drawn from. Here is what I learned, I hope you will not repeat my mistake:
· Be over prepared. I could have drawn from the rescue of my power point presentation. · Avoid evening presentation whenever possible. At least for me, my energy level drops low come the evening. If I really have to, I will take a power nap to allow myself to bounce back.
· Stand up from where you fall on. In hindsight, I am grateful for the ‘surprise’ arrangement the next morning. I would never have been able recover otherwise.
I wish to thank the following people whose kind words have helped me to stand up again. Deon, Maki, Sebastian, CY, Paul, James, Azlan, Nana, Vincent and Izan.
A wise man (Paul McNamara) wrote me this note: “screwing up is the single most important part in learning new things” to that I will always carry along in my mind.