Heading right out of my comfort zone

Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone is in my head today, except the words are changed:

Heading right out of my comfort zone

Heading right out of my comfort zone

A few weeks ago I was at a party explaining to people how I knew the host, a professional singer.  One of the things I explained was that when she was studying for her masters in vocal pedagogy, I was her “sample student.”  I went into her class and demonstrated techniques and a vocal piece she had taught me.

“Weren’t you nervous?”

“Not really, I don’t really get nervous.”

And I don’t.  Not usually.  I sang a cappella in college which is pretty much the best way to develop a thick skin around public speaking.  Since then my career has often involved speaking at conferences and webinars, so I’m pretty used to it.

I’m also pretty used to demoing things.  When I sold EqualLogic, I’d drive around with one in my trunk, and the sales process involved hauling it out onto a conference table at customer sites and demonstrating how quick and easy it was to initialize and configure.  Over time, I also demoed different software packages that came with EqualLogic.

Three months into my time at Infinio I am starting to demo our product, Accelerator.  Twice last week I demoed the interface, and today I did a multi-customer demo of the installation too.

And yikes.  I was nervous.  I think it’s the tools that trip me up.  To do this demo I needed:

  • VDI Client
  • VPN Client (to practice at home)
  • Remote Desktop
  • VMware vCenter
  • Workload Generator
  • GoToMeeting
  • Already-running version of Infinio

I don’t use these every day.  For the life of me I couldn’t even figure out how to delete a virtual machine, which is a basic operation.  (For the record, it’s more hidden in the Web Client, which I was using.)

I wasn’t nervous about the demo itself, or speaking on the demo/webcast, but I was really nervous about getting everything else to work together, including switching between applications on my Mac when all my muscle memory is for Windows.

This is me out of my comfort zone.  Messaging docs, sales enablement, market research, herding cats, pitch decks, whitepapers, webinars, seminars.  That’s my comfort zone.  This stuff, not so much.

And you know what happened on the live demo?  A major technical glitch that totally messed me up!  Something that made me have to re-unzip a file live and swizzle the order of the webinar to accommodate how long that took.  The sky didn’t fall down, customers didn’t hang up on me, and I made it through to the other side.

“Do one thing every day that scares you,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.  Check.

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