MY DEBUT ON THE PODIUM
From apprehension to applause
Scrolling my way to LNV
It all started with a LinkedIn post! Chris Stone, who I’ve been following on LinkedIn for more than a year wrote down about Women In Agile, which I knew about, and their initiative Launching New Voices. This was the first time for me to hear about the program and the great idea of supporting women who never spoke internationally before.
I got so excited and applied. What I probably should have started this post with is that I’m an Egyptian Agilist, born, raised, and currently raising my kids in Egypt. WIA would be in Orlando, FL, needing a 24 hrs flight to get there, but I believed so much in the initiative and immediately applied.
A few days later, an email was sent to me that I got accepted! I was on a vacation then and didn’t keep an eye on my email, why would I! I never thought something that amazing would happen! Not until Jenny Tarwater herself DMed me on LinkedIn a few days later. I accepted their kind offer to be one of the new voices for WIA- 2023.
My Mentor, the celebrity
I knew I would be paired with a mentor, and never thought that he’d be the one and only Chris Stone. Not only have I been a fan of his posts and podcasts, but he’s also the main reason I got to know about LNV. I remember jumping off my chair when Jenny told me I was paired with him.
The first time I e-met Chris, he was in his famous studio behind the microphone which he speaks through to all those Agile celebrities and gurus. This made me feel so fortunate.
We set foundations for my talk, and then met a couple of times before our flights to Orlando. On my -so long- flight, I was so anxious, that I spent most of my time going over my slides, changing things and wondering whether I shall change the whole subject and go for another topic, but I decided not to, Chris and I have already done so much work, and knowing how experienced he is, gave me confidence that the topic is exciting, and it’s up to me to deliver it in an exciting way as well.
Chris as a mentor was a huge help. He gave me all those tips about adding jokes and coached me to engage my audience with interaction points designed to anchor my topic with their own experience. He also coached me into getting the best out of my visuals and helped elevate some of the vocabulary I use for my talk to be more powerful and deliver my message. He even timed my talk every time I presented it to him, to remove unnecessary statements that would make me exceed my 7 mins time frame.
On the day
I arrived a day earlier than the conference, we met in person at the Gaylord Palms, the resort where WIA and Agile2023 took place, and practiced for a while. He showed me around where the talks would be, and we walked around the amazing resort, saw the crocodiles in the artificial lake, the restaurant in a sailboat, chatted for a while, then I was off to practice some more and sleep early for the next big day.
From the moment I arrived I felt welcomed and supported. It’s amazing what women can do for each other. I sat at the same table with the other 2 protégés, Tracy Goodhue and Swati Dubey, and their mentors Tony Richards and Elena Aminova. A while later, Diana Larsen came to sit with us. I couldn’t believe I sat one chair away from the amazing lady who wrote and co-authored many of the must-read agile books. I was amused by all the conversations across the table and admired the talks by President Leslie Morse and Conference chair Shonna Smith. The Keynote speaker was The Woke Coach Seena Hodges, and she was really inspiring in her talk about racial equity.
The day was coming to an end, and LNV was the last item on the day’s agenda. I was the first protégé to take the stage. Those were the most amazing 7 minutes in my professional life. I got all the support anyone can wish for, literally all 200 something people in the room interacted with my mini-game, and they all laughed at my light jokes. They stood up to clap for me and kept congratulating me for the rest of the day. For the rest of the week, during Agile 2023, people would approach me to praise me for my talk.
All this support brought to my attention how the agile community is very friendly and encouraging. Agile people really stand for their values, we’re very diverse yet so similar.
I’m so grateful for the experience. The exposure and the knowledge I gained were phenomenal. I want to forever be part of this amazing initiative, and hopefully pay it forward by guiding and supporting other people through similar experiences.