I had the privilege of speaking at INCAE Business School in Costa Rica.
Getting there was the problem tough…
I left Londres on the 6am bus. I arrived in Quepos at 6:40am. While waiting for the 7:15am bus to San Jose I drank some coffee and had a couple bananas for breakfast.
At 7:15am I boarded the collectivo – a bus that stops frequently to drop off and pick up passengers. The direct bus I took to get from San Jose to Quepos took three hours. Due to the frequent stops I thought it would take four hours despite actually getting off the bus earlier than San Jose in a city called Alajuela.
Well, we got off to a good start, but then the highway turned into a parking lot.
Because some taxi drivers decided to park their taxis on the highway to protest something. So that caused a two hour delay as we parked on the highway somewhere between Quepos and Jaco.
I was in touch with my contact at the business school, Neil, the whole time. In the end, I arrived at the place where the business school was going to pick me up at 12:45pm. My speech was at 1pm. There was hope! But the driver was waiting in the wrong place. This caused another 15 minute delay..
Of course, it was upsetting that both modes of transport went wrong in some way. But at the same time both were beyond my control. I just had to stay calm and accept it.
In the end, I got to the school at 1:20pm. Thankfully, the students were understanding about the delay and they waited for me.
The students were a mix of first-year and second-year MBA students. I shared a short presentation that explained who I am, what I did pre-MBA, what I’ve done post-MBA, and how I took the plunge.
Since I was late, I did my presentation in 10 minutes instead of 20 minutes and then we had 20 minutes for questions and answers. Wow! They asked good questions. Many of them were interested in social business and entrepreneurship and asked about my experience working with NGOs. I was happy to offer whatever advice I could.
I shared my email address with the attendees and spoke with several students after the speech and I hope to stay in touch with them going forward.
Something strange happened though. I wasn’t nervous for the speech. In general, I don’t get too nervous about public speaking. I wouldn’t say I’m terribly comfortable with it either. But I found myself speaking with more energy, cracking jokes (which often elicited no laughs.. tough crowd), and walking around the stage.
Somehow, speaking about something I am passionate about brings out my best speaking abilities (which surely still need a lot of work, but as they say in Spanish “poco a poco”, or little by little). I’m not sure how to explain it, but it just felt right to be up there in front of MBA students trying to convince them that other career paths are available besides finance, consulting, or corporate toolery.