Sure, a Google search might reveal what you've done - but it doesn't dictate what you're going to do with the next day (or the rest of your life).
When I deliver keynotes to corporations, universities, and trade associations, I typically use about 20 slides for a one-hour talk. The slides vary from powerful imagery to key takeaways I want the audience to process or remember later.
After delivering hundreds of these talks, there’s one slide that consistently stands out as the most powerful one. What’s on it? Well, nothing. It’s a blank slide.
Let me explain. At the beginning of my talks, I like to share a bit about my background to build trust and help the audience learn about my story. I show them what they’d find if they did a Google search of my name.
They basically see a version of my resume – that I worked for top television networks in New York; that I’ve self-published three books; that my writing appears in a variety of popular online media outlets; and that I earned a master’s degree from an Ivy League school.
I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, but a Google search will tell you almost nothing about the difficult lifelong journey to get to where I am today – which, in a sense, is the real story.
The real story is the blank slide. I share it with the audience and let them know that 15 years ago, this is what a Google search would have told you about me. Absolutely nothing.
I started with a blank slate – no connections, not much money, and no experience – just like the slide they’re looking at. And given that I came from the kind of place that people never got the chance to leave, this was actually a blessing.
Because a blank slate means that no matter what people assume about you – whether it’s because of a Google search or where you come from – we wake up with a blank slate every single day. I remind the audience that this applies to them, too. No matter where they are in their lives, education, or careers, each day is an empty canvas.
Regardless of what transpired yesterday, or in the past, we have today. Today, we have the opportunity to begin sculpting that jagged hunk of marble into a masterpiece. Today, we get to sing a new song. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. That doesn’t mean there won’t be forces working against you. But your story is more than what Google (or anyone else, for matter) says about you. It’s yours to write. [Tweet This]
Go ahead, Google your name if you like. Look at your LinkedIn profile. Review your resume. If you love what you see, great. Keep moving forward. If you don’t, I have good news for you. Today you have a blank slate to create what you most want to create.
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