Derrick A Parsons is a presence in the room – six feet tall (at least), larger than life – and when I met him at the Google for Startups: Black Founder Exchange in North Carolina I was deeply impressed.
That was the problem. I sensed that he felt he was having to live up to something – an image he projected, a confidence that was based on swagger not his authentic story. Over 20 minutes I gently tugged and pushed and pulled and we had the most profound conversation. It became one of my (very few) podcasts –a journey into vulnerability that was an honour to be part of. He used to get really really nervous before pitching, he would look happy but inside he wouldn’t be. Nine times out of ten he would pitch but not remember what he said.
Sometimes in life you have to go line by line through a pitch and that is exactly what we did. We got Derrick the presenter out of the room and brought Derrick the person into the room. We focused on improvising, breathing. It was night and day transformation and we got to get the real problem he was and is solving – boring staff training and getting people super engaged. There was a bit of singing, a lot of joy and a real unlocking. Here is what Derrick had to say about it:
The first thing I do when I coach people is to get them to tell me their story. I don’t want them pitch it or try to impress me, just tell me the story. You can see people relax, turn off their serious voice and get real. These stories always carry a heart and soul.Read MOre
If you think cyber security, you perhaps don’t think powerful Iraqi-Surinamese-Dutch story-telling woman, in her mid-twenties. But that’s before you’ve met Nadia.Read MOre