If I had a walk-up song for the recent event I had the pleasure to speak at it, it would undoubtedly be Believer by Imagine Dragons.
A couple of weeks back, the head of the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC) China Califf emailed and asked if I’d be interested in being a featured storyteller at what used to be the annual State of Small Business – now, newly reimagined as the SBDC and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Small Business, Big Connections event. I asked if we could hop on the phone and if she knew our video production company, Fireside Production – was a small business with me at the helm struggling with health issues. She said, “Naomi, we’re really looking for vulnerability in our storytellers.” To that I replied, “Then, I’m your gal!”
I felt some anxiety about speaking because a) my muscle spasms worsen when I’m nervous – so they’d be on full display and b) I have trouble with stairs and standing for stretches of time. I was so thrilled that when I mentioned these barriers, the SBDC and Chamber teams jumped into action!
They literally bought a ramp, so that I could skip the stairs and more easily (with a little help) access the stage. They let us put a chair on the stage for the event, so that I could sit while sharing my story. At every turn, they reached out to ensure that accessibility was a priority (special shout out to Cassie Fasick and Meagan Logan!). I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. This approach to accessibility should become a gold standard for all events.
China had the three speakers (myself and small business rock stars Mowa Haile of Sky Blue Builders and Ryan Cobbins from Coffee at The Point) work with renowned storyteller, Nathan Havey to craft our individual stories. Nathan is a gem and totally gets the importance of impactful storytelling. We decided I would get super brave and share my story in essentially three acts over five minutes.
- Act One: Fireside Production’s start-up story and the importance of the SBDC and Chamber of Commerce in our journey.
- Act Two: My purpose was capturing and sharing others’ stories, but I was hiding my own.
- Act Three: My personal health journey and how sharing my struggles has impacted me professionally.
I’d love for you to watch (and share!) the video of my Small Business, Big Connections storytelling experience.
It’s what happened afterwards, though, that moved me to the core.
I went into this hoping I might touch just one person who needed to hear my message. Turns out, there were many! People shared their own journeys with me. Tears were shed. Hearts opened.