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live it up! talks TEDx – live it up leadership

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Mastermind Your Life

live it up!‘s Karen Holst took the stage and delivered a talk to remember during TEDxLund in Sweden. She shares her personal take on living one’s dream, or passion, and the importance of using that passion to serve a purpose that is greater than one’s own. It’s told through the lens of her journey in creating live it up! Catch the inspiration to dream without compromise, believe without waver, and live it without delay.

Behind the Scenes

By Karen

“Are you ready, Karen? I’m turning on your mic.” These words, spoken from the TEDxLund speakers’ assistant as we stood behind stage, snapped me into the moment at hand.

Oh my gosh. It was GO time. Right here. Right now.

Walk onto that stage.

Deliver a speech to a large audience.

Inspire 100% of them.

The process of creating my first TEDx talk pushed me to do exactly what we ask of our live it up! participants. Use your voice. Be emotive. Be powerful. Make every word count. Above all, be personal. Tell your story.

*gasp! What?! Talk about myself?!

Let’s back up to get the entire picture. We all know people listen to TED talks to be inspired, to learn, and to grow from the best minds of today’s thinkers and doers.

The day we were first contacted by TEDxLund to give a talk, I almost laughed it off: no way. We’re not ready. We’re too young of an organization. We don’t yet have decades of experience to draw upon, a global spread or scores of young women.  It’s not the right time.

Later that evening, I was at a good friend’s house justifying out loud why we should decline the TEDx offer. After listening to my logic, her husband, Andreas, leaned over the table, his face in my face, and said:

“Karen, you’re doing this. Are you crazy? To give a TED talk? Do you know how few people in the world actually have that opportunity?! You’ve GOT to do this. There’s no real discussion here – you’re doing it.”

And there it was decided. I was going to give a TEDx talk.

In retrospect, I was setting out on my own journey of pushing limits in ways I hadn’t challenged in years. The exact thing we teach young women to get comfortable with.

The first few weeks I wrote nothing. Honestly. Not one single word. The screen remained blank day after day despite the hours sitting at my desk. This was more than writer’s block. It was a full-on, concrete wall.

I had no problems whittling away the time. I browsed through all the top TED talks lists, watched the worst TED talks, listened to TED podcasts, read books and blogs about creating and delivering TED talks.  I sat in constant shock of the pure brilliance that unfolded nearly every time.

The days were zipping away and the deadlines fast–approaching. I needed to take the leap and put pen to paper. I bounced around my main message to a few friends. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote. And then rewrote and rewrote and rewrote.

I practiced in front of groups of friends and professionals. This was probably more agonizing than the actual talk as these were all people I would definitely see again.

After the first run through, it was decided that I needed to scrap the entire first half of the speech.

Rewrite. Rehearse. Practice. Repeat.

I remember one of many late nights in particular. I sat at my dining room table with my speech cut up into small sections, dozens of slips of papers spread across the entire table.

“Everything is here,” I told myself. “It’s just not the right order. Where is the flow? Why is this so hard?”  I shuffled the pieces around again and again and again. My mind was exploding and imploding at the same time.

And here I stood. The months of writing, rewriting, practicing, and, did I mention practicing?, were for this very moment.

“Are you ready, Karen? I’m turning on your mic.”

I was the last speaker of the event. I had an entire day and evening to the let the nervous energy flood into me. “Deliver the talk of your life,” is what they say.

As I walked onto that stage, I felt an overwhelming calm blanket me. With me, I had the strength of all those who believe in our vision; all the young women who have grown from our program; and all our fans who have cheered us on every step of  this great journey.

The time was now.

I stepped into the lights.

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