The FF15 sheroes are people who inspire us with their strength, ambition, and fearlessness. My shero is David Meade – who has been one of my greatest advocates and cheerleaders throughout my 18-year events career.
David is a leading authority figure within the Business Community owing to his research and academic background, and years of management and leadership experience. With his love of live performance and mentalism, and interest in popular psychology, consumer behaviour and choice, David has become a sought-after speaker with a reputation for an innovative style that forces audiences to think critically about the challenges around them. Whether you experience David’s programmes online or in-person, clients and audiences agree the experience is unforgettable.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got here.
I was the shyest kid in the universe before I started part time jobs in the hospitality and events space. It was crippling but joining a ‘people-forward’ industry at such a young age was transformative. When I became an academic and then a keynote speaker, I used every skill I picked up working in F&B to communicate well. Today, 40% of my time is spent delivering keynotes (well – in an airport on the way to deliver a keynote🤪) and 60% is spent building and delivering LightBulbTeams.com – it’s a real passion project where EventProfs can use their events to build life changing devices like water filters and prosthetic hands as part of their conferences and events.
What does confidence mean to you?
Pretending. There’s a surprising science behind the old adage of ‘fake it to make it’, and I use it every single day. Amy Cuddy popularised the ‘power pose’; the theory suggests that standing in the classic superhero or wonder woman pose can boost our confidence and self-belief. Similarly, separate research known as the ‘Facial Feedback Hypothesis’ suggests that if we force ourselves to smile, even if we don’t feel like it, can dramatically boost our mood.
So even if we don’t feel confident, motivated, or excited about what’s in front of us or what lies ahead – our job is to ‘force fake’ it for a bit and let our own indescribably magical biochemistry notice the signals – and do the rest.
When have you felt your least confident; how did you overcome the experience?
Oddly I feel less confident when I’m interviewing candidates to join my team. I’ve got the same levels of imposter syndrome as anyone else and usually don’t feel remotely qualified to decide who gets and job and who doesn’t. Every once in a while, you’re sat across the table from an individual who is full of excitement, ideas, enthusiasm, and vision and I feel certain that ‘this bloody genius is terrifyingly good’. My solution, if you could call it that, is always to lean into the discomfort of it and use it as an opportunity to be inspired.
If you could offer one piece of advice to young event professionals on being more confident, what would it be?
Speak in front of groups. Whether it’s four colleagues or 400 industry professionals, the fear will manifest in the same way. You’ll follow a predictable pattern: 10 seconds before you agree to the talk, your body will feel a rush of adrenaline and cortisol – it’s a rush, and a fun one. Then 10 seconds after you’ll feel the trickle of self-doubt, dread, and fear. Within 24 hours that’ll shift to the biggest belly punch of all – regret. Despite those fears, ultimately though, you’ll deliver the talk.
No one will boo or throw serviettes. You won’t lose your job or reputation in the industry. You’re a professional, so your apprehension will turn to ambition. You’ll work your butt off to make sure you are prepared, and you’ll absolutely nail it. Then a brilliant (almost alchemical) thing happens; you realise that even though you were scared – palms sweaty, breath patchy – you survived.
In fact, I’m willing to bet you probably did a pretty spectacular job. You’ll learn that this pattern of apprehension breeding ambition can be used in any aspect of your career as you move forward – whether it’s going for that job you’re certain someone else deserves, or finally starting that blog you’ve talked about for the last 12 million years.
It works. I know because I do it every single day.