Life of a Public Speaker

Today I experienced one of those crazy days worth sharing before I forget. I had a speaking engagement in Vancouver and a flight booked with Harbour Air that morning to take the seaplane over to Vancouver. The prior evening I had forced my eight year old son to listen to a rehearsal of the speech I was going to give the next day in exchange for a later bedtime. At the end of it he was squirming in his seat and showing his displeasure! He’s just a kid and he wouldn’t know a great speech from a baby crying, I told myself. The next day on the way to school he randomly said, “I thought your speech was really good, Daddy!” My confidence soared. He’s such a bright kid, I thought.

After I dropped my son off at school I checked the live flight status tracker on the company’s website to confirm that my 10:20 am flight was still a go; several flights had been cancelled already that morning due to foggy weather. The website showed that my flight was good to go, so I went about my morning preparing for the talk in Vancouver. The weather made me nervous, though, so I called the local terminal and asked them if they could confirm with certainty that my flight was going to take off–I couldn’t miss this speaking gig. The woman on the phone said “Well… it probably will be cancelled, no flights have gone out yet today. You should probably take the ferry if you need to make your meeting…” This scared the crap out of me. If I took the ferry I would arrive at the conference 15 minutes after I was scheduled to speak. I figured it was better to be late than not show, so I made a game-time decision to try to catch the 11 am ferry.  10 minutes into the drive I realized that I had forgotten to bring my Olympic medal! I returned home to get it and by this time I was really cutting it close to make the ferry.  By the time I was back on route I realized I was not going to get there in time. I was sunk.

Out of desperation and clinging to hope, I called Harbour Air to check the status of my flight one last time. It was a go! I turned my car around and sped to the seaplane terminal. Close call, but I made it. Then another panic shortly after takeoff; the pilot banks right instead of left and I think for sure he has decided to land because of a big cloud front hanging in the air. But no, he is just taking a different route around the weather and we bounce along in the air to Vancouver. The flight was delayed and took longer than usual due to the headwinds, so I only had 10 minutes to run from the Vancouver harbour to the hotel. I got there with 1 minute to spare. After all that, I arrived just on time and ended up having a well-executed and really well-received presentation. It was just one of those fortuitous and crazy days!