I have become a huge believer in the idea of serendipity, the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for (link). Many of the opportunities I have been lucky enough to come across have come into my life seemingly out of nowhere. Though, when I start looking back, I can almost always find the root of the happy surprises.
Here’s a quick list off the top of my head:
- I first met Ryan when was working at an emergency room. I came in following a seizure back in 2003 and he had a part in taking care of me. I didn’t remember this experience until fate crossed our paths four years later through a friend.
- I was offered a job at Pure Marketing and Media through a blog post right here, based on a Vimeo video Ryan shared with me.
- I was given the opportunity to be published in the New York Times because a product the company I worked for was written up in the paper.
- My photography was featured in multiple galleries and eventually won awards and actually sold to art collectors because I casually showed my photo book to a local gallery when I was trying to rent a space for my graduation party.
- One of my best friends, Chase, has lived just miles away from me nearly my entire life, in Houston and Tulsa. We went to several of the same concerts, knew some of the same people and yet we never met. Eventually we both move to Columbia and both get a job at the same Starbucks where all the pieces fall together.
The latest bit of serendipity goes like this. I moved to Santa Rosa California in 2005 without a job or any friends. I meet a girl on MySpace named Kayla who works at Starbucks. I get inspired to get a similar job and apply for a “Food Avenue” position at Target. I was hired to open the Starbucks in the store. A few months after opening, I was approached by a Starbucks manager who asked for my information. This manager was sent to my Target by an employee who was dating my another friend’s roommate.
A few weeks later I am hired to work at the Stony Point Starbucks by a guy named Sean Charter. His assistant manager is this incredibly perky and fun girl named Jessica Wong. She became one of my favorite people pretty quickly but was sadly transfered to a different store shortly after I started working at Stony Point. Her boyfriend at the time would come in regularly for a coffee and we became acquaintances.
Fast-forward six years when I get a message via my blog’s contact form from a guy named Tony inviting me to give a talk at the next Ignite conference. Tony is “Tall Coffee.” He has been reading my blog periodically since 2005 and thought I’d make for an interesting speaker.
Seriously?! I have been a fan of O’Reilly Media, the people behind Ignite, for years. From their awesome technology books to their FooCamps, to the people with whom they associate themselves. The people who give talks at Ignite are people I admire. I’ve wanted to go to an Ignite talk for quite a while but never found the chance to do it. I never dreamed of actually talking at one.
What is Ignite?
Ignite is a geek event in over 100 cities worldwide. At the events Ignite presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes.
Yet here I am, just two days away from being a featured speaker at the next Ignite talk! Who could have guessed that an opportunity like this would fall into my lap?
I’ve been thinking hard about what I’m going to talk about and I’m excited to get it all together. I was only given a few days to pull everything together which makes me a good deal nervous, that and the fact that I will be talking before tons of brilliant people.
I’ve never been one to jump at an opportunity for public speaking, though once I get started I always surprise myself. If you have any tips or suggestions about what I should talk about, leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for all of your support! I’m taking most of tomorrow off to focus solely on completing my presentation.