@&#* ’em – You’re Just as Smart as They Are

Once upon a time, I was a nobody in the PHP community. Then I ran into a problem and needed to ask someone…gulp…a newbie question. The responses I received were awesome and encouraging, so I started getting more involved. As I started attending conferences, I thought, “Wow, how amazing that these people know enough to get up and give a talk. That would be so awesome if I could do that.”

About a year later, Elizabeth Naramore gave an awesome talk. I stopped by to tell her afterwards that I loved her talk. She told me I should try giving a talk. My reaction? “No way, I don’t know enough about anything to get up and give a talk on it.” (What I really meant: “No way! I’m scared they will all laugh at me and tell me I’m wrong.”) What Elizabeth said next has stuck with me and formulated the last two years of my life. She said, “@&#* ’em. Who cares what they think. You’re just as smart as they are.”

This was a mindset that I’d never considered having before, but she is 100% right. Who cares what they think. So I got out there and gave a talk at my local user group, Madison PHP. Everyone was very supportive, and even if someone did correct me, who cares? Now I know more than I did before. Determined to keep pushing myself, I gave a talk at CodeWorks, then at tek, and now in the next two months, I will be speaking at PHPBenelux, SunshinePHP, PHP UK, and Confoo – and it’s not because I’m special or smart or lucky. It’s because I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a try.

So now it’s my turn:

If you don’t think you have something to share, you are wrong. When people correct you, who cares. It’s a great way to learn more. It is more important for you to help others learn what you already know than for you to be safe, comfortable, and invisible. You are awesome. Now get out there and give it a try.”

Your action steps after reading this:

    • Submit to your local user group (need help finding one or starting one in your area, just let me know!)
    • Submit to a conference. In fact, do it right now. The tek13 Call for Papers is open until January 15th: http://tek13.phparch.com/call-for-papers/
    • Encourage someone else to do the same

If you need help coming up with a topic or want someone to proof your slides, just let me know.  I definitely don’t know everything, but I promise to cheer you on.

3 thoughts on “@&#* ’em – You’re Just as Smart as They Are”

  1. WOW! What a great post! Thanks for sharing your experience & cheering us up. I will definitely give it a try. 🙂

    1. Be sure to let me know how it goes! I love hearing about people getting involved. Let me know if I can help with anything.

  2. This is exactly how I felt at my first tek (TekX). I would never have imagined wanting to talk at a conference, because I was scared mostly. Then I started attending local user groups and realized that I had information to share. Even if I am not a master at a topic, I overcame some obstacles that I can help others avoid.

    Every time I speak at my user group now, I do it for a few reasons.
    1) I get to share my passion with others, and help them learn something more quickly than I may have.
    2) I get to learn every time I talk. There will be people in your presentation that know the material like you do. You will end up teaching them something, and they will teach you as well. I love this part.
    3) Public speaking is hard. But it gets easier with practice.
    4) I get to meet new people. It’s easier for people to go up and talk to a speaker than it is to talk to other people at the presentation for some reason.

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