Personal Development by Zoom?

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I’ve been re-purposing the same joke for weeks now, seeking to lighten the mood as we all drudge through the seemingly endless Zoom calls this pandemic has forced us into accepting as the norm. “Well one silver lining to this COVID crisis? I’m finally comfortable in front of the camera!”

I live and work in Los Angeles. Though I don’t work in the Entertainment Industry, I interact with many professionals who do (and many who wish they did). Trust me, this joke has been killing.

Behind that joke is some hard truth for me about a real, anxiety-inducing fear that I’ve had to overcome. Thrust into a bizarre new reality where we can’t have meaningful business conversations face-to-face, I spent the first 90 days of stay at home orders giving myself near constant pep talks about my ability to present well on camera. You see in person there’s so much more to be considered, there is eye-contact to be made, body language to express warmth and connection, clothing and objects to create more interest and support the vibe I’m trying to create. I’ve always been quick to declare I’m awkward on camera, but stellar in person. But here I am, forced on camera, just me….in a box.

I am a professional fundraiser, an executive in the nonprofit sector here in Los Angeles and a national trainer and coach for other nonprofit professionals. I know how to find and recruit investors to a cause and build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that provide incredible value to communities and philanthropists. I do this well because the conversation is never, ever focused on me. I am never supposed to be the center of attention. I am the conductor of attentions. I drive focus to mission. I facilitate experiences and knowledge exchange, and I’m comfortable, if not powerful, in that role.

But time waits for no one and as this pandemic wore on and we continued to work from the safety of home, I found myself being forced to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I embraced this discomfort so deeply that I even agreed, after a bit of coaxing from a very persuasive and talented broadcast journalist, to be the subject of an interview this month about (gasp) me.

Mere exposure effect is very real my friends. The repeated, required time on camera to effectively do my day job has rendered me more comfortable on screen and more joyful and willing to be, well…seen.

Seen and heard.

So, here I am dipping my toes into the waters of one of my favorite platforms for consuming the brilliance of strangers. This platform, like being on camera, is something I never knew could bring me value and joy until COVID forced us all to stay at home and discover new technology, new creative outlets and new parts of ourselves.

My hope for us all is that our personal discoveries of 2020, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, bolster our collective resiliency as we continue to move through uncertainty and into a better future. Until next time, stay safe and joyful (and camera ready).