This week was Global Entrepreneurship Week, and because of that, there were tons of super cool workshops and events happening. Visitors came all the way from Arkansas to meet the UIT class: Jeff and Phyl Amerine, of Startup Junkie Consulting. Everyone got to hear some very valuable advice from Jeff, Permjot Valia, as well as the co-founder of local startup Marcato, Darren Gallop. We all learned a lot of valuable information on subjects such as mentors and company culture. There’s a particular experience I’ve been wanting to write out: why I’m glad I put myself in an awkward situation.

Presentations

We started off the week on Monday by being introduced to Jeff and Phyl, and a few of us students (Ben, Dave and myself) pitched our projects and ideas to them. Ben pitched his chat app: “Text and Paper Chat“. Dave, his company idea: “Invisible Hand”. I pitched my SaaS (Software as a Service) app I’ve just started working on. It’s a visual-based task/project management app called Vennio. It relies more on motions and gestures and visual representations than other projects in the market. Everyone did a really solid presentation, with tons of noticeable improvement. Everyone presented their idea in a way that sounded clear and natural, and it’s awesome to be able to see the progress as it’s happening!

I’m hoping my pitch seemed that way as well to others. But at the same time, I knew going into this that I would be taking my chances. This was the first time I’d pitched the idea to anyone, so it was like an experiment. I wanted to challenge myself to see how they would take to my idea. There would be nothing to really lose from giving it a shot anyway. If my idea got ripped up, so be it. It’s the early stages and I know it might not seem like an idea that’s completely solid.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott

Some solid advice from Mr Scott

Starting off strong…ish

While I was presenting, I felt pretty good – probably a 6 or 7 on the confidence meter. The only thing that bugged me was that I felt like I couldn’t get the point of my idea across in a way that represented how I felt about it, and what my goals were. 

I’ve spent a lot of time working on the programming side of things, but I didn’t really spend much time thinking about what the real incentive is for others to use the product. I mean, I have a general idea – The project is meant to be targeted towards creative and visual learners. But, I haven’t truly gravitated towards a distinct aspect of that area. I think that’s just because of how new the idea is to me. That should improve as I spend more time getting to know the project, so I’m not too worried about it.

Questions I have no idea how to answer

After the presentation however, I was asked a lot of questions which I didn’t have the answers to yet. I know for a fact that I stammered my words more than once. I have to admit the confidence level dropped to maybe a 3. When I was finished answering questions, I sat down and shook it off, because that’s what I expected to happen anyway, and being put in that awkward position will just help me in the long run.

It’s not over… ever

Anyway, going back to what I was saying, it was hard to get across what my app is, just because of how new it is to me. The experience of being put on the spot and asked difficult questions was what I was kind of hoping would happen. I knew if I were to get asked any detailed questions, it would make me uncomfortable, but I’ve heard time and time again that the only way to become comfortable is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations.

To anyone else who feels awkward stepping out of their comfort zone: Don’t even think about it. Just get it over with. It’s worth it. It won’t feel easier right away, but over time you can learn how to manage your awkwardness. That’s what I’m in the process of right now.

And so, I feel pretty proud of myself that I went up to do that.  But it’s not a one time thing, that I can just sit back and never have to think about again. I’m going to have to do this lots of times. And if I want to improve and minimise the awkward factor, I better start getting used to it…

1 thought on “Put Yourself in Awkward Situations”

Eric Lortie says:

Great writeup that covers an extremely valuable lesson. I’m not sure when I personally learned this one but I was definitely older than you are now. Being comfortable putting yourself out there is an excellent skill to have. It also doesn’t need to end once you get comfortable doing what you’re currently uncomfortable with.

For example, I’m pretty comfortable with presentations and public speaking, primarily due to the jobs I’ve have over the years. So in order to take that to the next level I’ve done standup comedy a couple times now. I actually got into it right before starting this job so I could have even more experience speaking to a group of people, and I think it really helped me hone my comfort level.

You’re doing really well at your presentations and your mindset is spot on. I’m sure you’ll continue to get even better over the year, and beyond.


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