I was recently asked to give a speech to local high school students. The kids are apparently in summer school, taking a business course. I was supposed to talk to them about the challenges of being an entrepreneur. So I prepared an eloquent lecture in my mind, one where I’d talk about my life as a musician and restaurant owner, including how to write a business plan, get a good architect, and find a loan. Surely it would inspire them.
So today was the day of the speech. As the kids filed into my restaurant, I was thrown off. They looking bored before I even started. A few yawned. Their eyes glazed over when I began speaking.
And about 10 seconds into my eloquent presentation, I threw the whole damn speech out the window and shot from the hip.
I told them about my nights as a traveling songwriter, sleeping on couches and under trees, eating bar olives for dinner. I told them about the early days of buying my building, cleaning up dead pigeons and human piss, scraping off tar and bird shit from the floors while I was pregnant...twice. I told them about how I faced discrimination from local government and fought with media outlets. I told them about learning how to fix my building after kids spray paint it. I didn’t hide anything.
And after I got their attention, I told them to write a business plan and find a good architect.
Reader, I learned a lesson by accident today: there’s a time to say things “right,” and then there’s a time to say things just like they are. Those kids didn’t want me to be well-spoken. They wanted me to be vulnerable. As easy as it is to forget, sometimes the ugly truth is more relevant and relatable than anything else.
On a complete aside: I saw a sandhill crane on the side of the road this week. I’ve never seen one before, and it made my week. I was just in awe of it. Wishing you a week of beautiful surprises and ugly truth-telling. See you next Monday. -Em