Speech: The Art of Re/Inventing Yourself

End of September (2014) I was sitting at the Google office in Buenos Aires working on an analysis of the ±10 different partnership conversations we had conducted throughout Brazil and Argentina. It was already late PM when I got a Facebook message from the head organizer of the “IdeaLab! Founders’ Conference” in Germany, inviting me to attend their conference as a speaker – flights and accommodation included. Not only did I feel humbled by the invitation, I was also fascinated by the fact that I was invited by the WHU in Vallendar, the host university of the conference which happens to be the main academic rival of my own alma mater, the EBS in Oestrich-Winkel.

Feelings of surprise aside, the idea of speaking to 400 people in less than 3 weeks, made me extremely uncomfortable and excited – uncomfortably excited as we say at Google. Especially as I would be sharing the stage with successful entrepreneurs and CEOs (of Microsoft Germany or Rocket Internet). But what would I talk about? How could I possible make this a worthwhile 45 minutes? I was torn between “what an amazing opportunity” and “how the heck am I going to pull this off”?. 

After a brief conversation with Christian, the organizer, I understood that they were less interested in Google, but more in my story of being a fellow undergrad business student (albeit from their competitor) and how I made it to Google in Silicon Valley. And as the title of the conference was called “The Art of Innovation,” I aptly called my speech “The Art of Re/Inventing yourself” – focusing on both my story and the lessons I learned throughout my journey. By leaving Google out of this, I was able to go ahead without requiring any PR approval. I submitted my vacation request and booked my flights. 

Soon enough, a friend and EBS alum suggested I should also speak at the EBSpreneurship forum, the equivalent of the IdeaLab!. While I would have loved to – especially because the events were at consecutive weekends – I couldn’t because of timing (and I didn’t want to break the exclusivity I had with the IdeaLab!). Nevertheless, I agreed to stop by for a separately organized talk with different content. 

The three days I spent in Germany were quite exciting. My talk at the EBS was just 3 hours after I landed in Frankfurt. I headed straight to the campus of my alma mater (imagine all those feelings of nostalgia I had) and gave a 90-minutes talk to some 110+ students. We had expected 60 folks, so this was absolutely amazing. Two days later, I gave my talk at the IdeaLab! Based on my own feelings and the feedback I received from attendants, the organizers and fellow speakers, I think the presentation went extremely well. As a matter of fact, there was a lot of "buzz" following my presentation which was absolutely delightful (see the quote that one of the attendees created). Most importantly though, I learned a ton about public speaking (lessons that I shared here), was able to identify areas I further need to work on, and was extremely delighted about the opportunity to share my story with others. The video of my speech is included below.