Patricia was the last presenter in a 48 hours chalk-full of wisdom and knowledge bombs. All 70 attendees were exhausted, and perhaps more than a little sleep deprived, to say the least. You might say she had drawn the short straw. Not to mention, she was presenting to a bunch of awesome women who work in sports...let's just say (and I'm just surmising here), but this industry may be a bit more casual on the etiquette side of things than say, corporate finance.
|Patricia with the entire SportsETA Women Summit contingent.|
She broke down walls of intimidation immediately. We learned a million etiquette tips, laughed until we *about* peed our pants (no, just me?!), connected to one another, and made lasting memories.
So here's the thing that stuck out to me. Patricia spoke about how she went to journalism school trying to "train" herself out of her natural (and charming) southern drawl. It failed. What she found was that the part of herself she was trying to change, was actually one of her most intriguing and genuine characteristics...she called it her "quirk".
She impressed upon us to embrace our quirks, too, whatever they may be. She asked, "What did you get in trouble for as a kid?" That's your quirk. It took me less than a nano-second to identify mine. My table mates - most of whom know me already - called me out on it, too.
My special quirk is that I tend to be a bit of...how do I put this delicately...a smart ass.
Those that know me, know I love a good laugh and am the first to crack jokes. Quite frankly, it's been a part of my DNA as long as I can remember. Sometimes it emerges out of my sociability, sometimes creeps out of nervousness, sometimes it's just default, and sometimes I just plain don't think before I speak. (What can I say, but Mama Tried!)
|True American legend and singer of "Mama Tried", Merle Haggard|
After Patricia's presentation, I got the opportunity to put my lesson into practice.
I reached out to Patricia to thank her for her presentation, and specifically noted how her point about quirks resonated with me.
People. She called and left me the sweetest voicemail THAT VERY DAY! Keep in mind, this is a successful woman who travels extensively, is a regular on national TV, works with corporations and professional sports franchises, authored a book, and probably has a laundry list of other pressing items on her list. She didn't just respond to my email, she picked up the phone and called me. Actually dialed a number that wasn't programmed in her phone. In fact, the voicemail is still on my phone and sometimes I listen to it to remind myself that the small things we do can have an impact on people. (Don't worry Patricia, I'm not a creep or anything!).
|Seriously, look at the penmanship! Far cry from my chicken-scratch.|
That, my friends, is above and beyond sterile, self-serving networking, and into the land of genuine relationship-building. It was an amazing example to share with my class.
You see, Patricia's authentic approach overflows. It makes people comfortable, even with their quirks that often express themselves as insecurities. It certainly did for me.
|Hey look, some people were half paying attention to our presentation!|
If you ever have the chance to meet Patricia or invite her to speak, I highly encourage that you do so.
On Patricia's website, you'll see her mantra is: "Kindness not formality ~ Relationships not rules". Sage advice regardless of your walk of life, industry or role. Patricia, I hope you know that while I may be bombing at implementing proper table manners, the most important thing you taught me has taken root in my soul. And for that, I sincerely thank you! This is Stoll on Sports.