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Follow the Fear: My ‘Bold Talk’ at Hubspot [Video]

Follow the Fear_Handley

When Hubspot first invited me last September to its “Bold Talks” stage, a stage that ostensibly was to give attendees at its annual user event access to “bold and powerful talks from a diverse and powerful group of exciting and influential people,” my first impulse was to say thanks but… No.

This is the story of why my first reaction was No, and how it came to be that last August, I showed up to give the talk at Inbound, Hubspot’s annual user conference.

“Showed up” makes it sound like it was no big deal — like I hadn’t spent the previous night sleepless with worry; like I hadn’t considered driving straight past the exit to the Hynes Convention Center and continuing on straight to Rhode Island into Connecticut, New Jersey, and so on… driving all the way down the Eastern seaboard, possibly forever; like I didn’t have to wear a sweater onstage to camouflage my nervous sweat stains. (Eww. Sorry. But true.)

The idea of speaking publicly about marketing is a piece of cake. Speaking publicly about myself? Not so much.

Hubspot’s been slowly releasing its Bold Talks on its blog. And finally, my turn came up. I’m not sure whether this horrifies me or thrills me, but I’m sharing it here with you now.

Why? Because as I tell my children: Very often when something scares you, it’s the very thing worth doing.

Here’s the video of my talk, which I also originally wrote up here.

Here are my annotated slides:

And here’s the graphic recording that the talented Kelly Kingman did:


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26 Responses to Follow the Fear: My ‘Bold Talk’ at Hubspot [Video]

  1. David Vogel says:

    Ann, you were one of the reasons I decided Inbound13 was a “must attend,” and you did not disappoint. It was great to hear your personal story, and fun to watch Kelly Kingman’s art develop during your talk. I’ll admit to being somewhat distracted, watching Kelly to see which elements of your story would make it into her drawing.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Katybeth says:

    This was wonderful. One of the things I am working on this year is courage. Thank you.

    And I loved your dress!

  3. Shelia says:

    This was golden Ann! Good for you for putting yourself out there and for the great advise. Follow your fear!

  4. Cindy Marshall says:

    Boy, Ann, I can really relate. Right now, I am dealing with my fear of conflict. This first developed when I was 13 years old. Forty years later, it is affecting my life in multiple ways and I have to push through this to find my true passions and my authentic life. Thanks for sharing what so many of us need to hear to kick us out of our dead zones.

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks for sharing, Cindy. Everyone has some “thing” we need to get around or past or beyond… and I’m confident you’ll do it.

      I still hate field hockey, though.

  5. We were all weird children. And, if we’re lucky, we grow up to be weird adults. 😉

    Listening to your talk, I started to think about the things I’ve done in my life that I’m most proud of. Every single one was something I was afraid (even terrified) to do: saying yes to a job (even though I wasn’t sure what it was), doing my first new business pitch, having a baby, going through a divorce, living on my own for the first time in my life (after my divorce), working for myself, flying on a trapeze, jumping fences on horseback, singing with a band, ziplining across a deep canyon, publishing my inner thoughts for all the world to see.

    Everything worthwhile has come only when I pushed past my fear and stepped outside of my comfort zone. Everything.

    I love your idea to “follow your fear.” Too often, we think of our fears as a cage – penning us in and keeping us from doing the things we want to do. In reality, our fear is more like a beacon – guiding us to the things that will make us happy and proud and reward us with a rich life. Love turning the perception of fear on its head. :)

    • Ann Handley says:

      That’s an interesting perspective, Jamie… and I just realized that you are right! Love this: “Everything worthwhile has come only when I pushed past my fear and stepped outside of my comfort zone. Everything.”

  6. Heidi Cohen says:

    Ann–Thank you for sharing this presentation. It shows the power of telling your own stories to help others. Great content marketing as always. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  7. Marcel says:

    Keep this going please, great job!

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    Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely
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  13. ShanaGJones says:

    Your bold talk is really inspirational. I liked it. I think this is one of the best videos I have seen in this week that helped me.

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  20. Julius says:

    Absolutely love the content Ann! I’m in the very beginning stages of creating content for young athlete’s, but I’m focusing heavily on mental preparation to go along with the physical. 100% agree with your outlook on things that scare us. Thanks for a great video and message! (Actually a little nerve wracking leaving this comment).

    Continued Success!

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