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When was the last time you were asked to jump in and do something different and you were scared out of your mind? If you’re like most of us, it happens now and then, and we turn it down politely and move on.

Bad idea.

Great opportunities in our career similar to what I just mentioned above can be pretty much anything that takes us completely out of our comfort zone and instills a shrill of fear and anxiety in us that penetrates our confidence to the core.

Here’s a great example of what happened to me a few years back.

I heard about this amazing global social media conference my friend Eric told me about. Days later he mentioned to me they were looking for speakers and my name came up in conversation. Shortly after that I got the official invite – that’s when the fear hit me like a ton of bricks. My brain instantly started coming up with silly excuses like…

  • What? You want me to speak at a global conference in Vegas in front of five-thousand people?
  • I’ve never done that before, I’m not an expert
  • It’s too far away and I would need to travel across the country from Boston

The list in my head went on and on for weeks. All of my excuses were completely just reasons for me to back out.

When Opportunity Calls

I realized this was an amazing opportunity to learn and grown in ways I have never had before. I need to accept this or just be the marketing leader who really isn’t willing to expand my horizons. As I looked at my staff and saw how they needed a leader to help them grow and learn as well, I then realized this had to be done.

Challenge Accepted

Once I officially committed to the speaking engagement, I started investing time in my 45-minute talk to professional marketers and leaders. This was very hard. I was going to be criticized by five-thousand people all within a 45-minute time on-stage. Here we go again, fear sets in and causes me to want to back out of my commitment. However, I accepted the challenge and I must give them the best social media and content marketing presentation they have ever seen!

I started digging in and created a list of ways my team leverages both social and content marketing. Wow, I realized we were really good at it and now that I have the opportunity to tell the world. It looks so impressive when creatively designed and purposely put into a presentation. Then I started researching ways for us to get even better using the tools and systems in place. Thanks to many other people and companies who were publishing their work, it was easy for me to see how we can raise the bar.

This was like finding gold!

Weeks of research, planning, reading, scribbling notes on my phone, whiteboard sessions in my office and drafting my presentation… it finally came together. My friend Cyril gave me tons of advice and even dissected my presentation. What a friend. His advice was exactly what I needed to put the frosting on the cake.

7 Things I Learned from this Opportunity

  • Forced me to dig deep inside and figure out a way to exhibit the marketing leader inside of me – and then showcase it to a global audience of marketers.
  • Admit I do not know everything and learn-learn-learn my craft even more from others. Learn, adapt and pivot.
  • Research and find ways to tell a story to thousands in a way that simply and powerfully communicates a keynote message.
  • Confidently hold my head up high to deliver a presentation that is something I can truly buy into and be proud of. I need to be able to deliver this in my sleep.
  • Everyone wants to hear someone that is confident, knowledgeable and has answers to common problems – I had some juicy nuggets for marketers.
  • Growth in me was huge, beyond my expectations – even while I was educating others.
  • Networking opportunities were plentiful as well. I gained several new peers and friends from this wonderful opportunity.

Additionally, I learned that I was going to learn a lot more from this than my audience would – even though I was there to educate them. In the end – both were happening. What a nice surprise.


Scott MacFarland is the Director of Marketing for HMY Yacht Sales in Jupiter, FL. He’s an advocate of exciting new ventures, digital marketing and transformation, learning new things, and how to continue to be his best in today’s fast-paced digital marketplace. Scott has had the opportunity to work with some amazing business leaders, all of which were instrumental in his perspective and desire to continue growing through business change.

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