The Courage Talk – Cindy Solomon

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My friend from Oracle invited me to check out Cindy Solomon’s talk at the Oracle Women Leadership (OWL) conference last week.   I really enjoyed Cindy’s talk and I want to share some of the highlights and things I learned from her. The talk took place in the Oracle conference center auditorium, a beautiful conference hall covered with glasses all around.  I estimated there were about 200 Oracle women leaders there.  It was definitely a well organized event. 

As a speaker myself, I found it hard sometimes to get out of the “speaker evaluation” mode.  In terms of presentation technique, Cindy did a great job thanking the host, involved everyone at the very beginning by asking questions that include everybody and her humor was really well received.  You can hardly find any ahs or ums from her speech.  The only thing I would suggest Cindy is to receive and welcome the praise & applause from her audience for a little longer, instead of running off stage right after she is done speaking.  I think she deserved it. 

From the content perspective, here are some of the key points I learned from Cindy’s presentation: 

  • We were taught to color inside the lines.   
  • Companies want us to limit our risk.  We are allowed to take risk as long as we are not going to make any mistakes or lose any money. 
  • What stop us from taking risk?  Our peer, past experience, complacency, basis/assumption, myths, and our fear of unknown. 
  • It is naïve to think that what you have achieved so far is good enough for tomorrow.  (e.g. Blockbuster vs. Netflix) 
  • No one is comfortable risking.  We will never ever have all the information.
  • According to Old English dictionary, the definition of risk is “Imminent danger of assassination”. 
  • Courage is not equal to heroic act.   Courage can be learned.  Courage is not absence of fear. 
  • Quote from Anais Nin:  “Our lives expand or recede based on our ability to be courageous.”
  • I thought this is pretty funny - Silicon Valley is like a beehive for high tech companies. 

Be brave.  Be courageous. My favorite quote from Cindy was “If you believe it, you are it”. 

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