I did a TEDx talk in Switzerland.
And I was super nervous.
But it happened.
And I can’t bring myself to watch it.
But I wanted to share it.
Here it is.
I’m going to skip directly to the exciting news: I’m giving a TEDx talk next week!!
I’ll get back to that.
First let me introduce you to 15 year old Geremy who was a big dreamer. Somehow, he believed that although he was a highly-reserved introvert who feared public speaking, he could someday garner the courage to be a keynote speaker in an academic setting. Since 2001, he held on to that dream of making a difference in people’s lives by sharing what he has learned on his journey.
I publicly declared my desire for public speaking on my blog in 2008, but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been blessed with amazing opportunities to actually speak.
Two weeks ago, I went to Trinidad and had two opportunities to speak in a public setting. One of those opportunities was a fancy business networking dinner where a friend recommended me to be the keynote speaker to a group of business people (thanks friend). Not only was there a good turnout, but people paid actual money to attend! My favorite part was when I spent 2 minutes talking about my lawnmower incident. They actually let me talk about severed toes on stage, and no one grabbed the microphone from me!
After my talk, I spent over an hour having individual conversations with people of various ages who approached me. If you were one of those people–hi…you’re cool!
Now on Tuesday, I’ve got an amazing opportunity to speak at a TEDx conference in Switzerland. The conference will be held in the world’s best hospitality school and my talk will focus on using the unique things about yourself to make an impact on the world. If this topic sounds familiar, it’s because it follows the vision of my brand, Peculiar PPL, to positively affect the world through Peculiar people. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to see what the future holds!
It is wonderful to look back on large crazy dreams of the past and see them actually come true. If you’re someone with big dreams, keep pursuing them because if someone who had a goat as a best friend can be invited to Switzerland to speak in front of a worldwide audience, nothing is impossible for you!
In preparation for my drive to Boston for my friend’s wedding, I organized everything for a flawless 6am departure.
Camera bag with lenses – check!
Fruit to eat in the car – check!
Laptop and other assorted electronics – check!
All set! Now it’s time to hit the road!
I drove to Boston, stopping at Tesla’s Superchargers along the way to recharge my battery powered car. At each supercharger, I had a haunting feeling that I was forgetting something important, but I quickly dismissed the paranoia.
Since I had the esteemed role of escorting the grandmother of the bride down the aisle, I was required to attend the wedding rehearsal. While practicing walking, I continued to feel like I forgot something, but I assumed it was relatively minor, like forgetting to pass my belt through the belt loop in the back of my pants.
Between the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, I went to the Sheraton to check into my room. The lady at the front desk asked, “would you like us to bring your luggage to the room?” I replied, “sure!!” She followed-up with, “okay, where is it?” Hmmm… that’s a good question, where is my luggage?!
Suddenly, everything became blurry, the world spun in slow motion, and everything smelled like ketchup as the reality of the situation quickly became clear. MY SUITCASE IS SITTING IN MY LIVING ROOM IN NEW JERSEY!
I turned to the lady and said “OH NO! THIS IS A DISASTER” before sprinting out of the hotel to my car. It later occurred to me that since I didn’t give much of an explanation, she might have thought that I meant that the check-in process was a disaster.
I hopped in my car and sped away, determined to drive five hours back to New Jersey to get my luggage. When I called my mom to tell her about my brilliant accomplishment of forgetting everything, she spoke some sense into me. She wisely suggested that I buy everything I’d need for the wedding and save myself the agony of traveling to Massachusetts twice in one day. That lady is so wise…if only I had some of that wisdom at 6am when I left my suitcase behind.
I rerouted myself to Macy’s and proceeded to buy everything I’d need for the next 24 hours. These items included a suit, tie, pocket square, shirt, undershirt, dress shoes, socks, underwear, razor, deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Then I went back to the hotel and tried everything on, only to realize that the shirt was too big, the shoes were too shiny, and the tie was too ugly.
After returning these items to the store, I made better decisions the second time around and walked out with an outfit that worked. To add some extra uniqueness to the ensemble, I considered leaving the tag on my jacket, but that might have been seen as tacky in a wedding…maybe.
The next day, the wedding happened without any additional mishaps on my part. This allowed me to give my full attention to witnessing my two friends share one of the happiest moments of their lives.
After the ceremony, I began mentally preparing my wedding reception speech. Fortunately for the bride and groom, there wasn’t an “open mic/open speech” portion of the reception. That’s too bad because I was looking forward to starting my speech by proclaiming, “I BOUGHT NEW UNDERWEAR JUST FOR THIS WEDDING!”
Every year in August, I would experience a living nightmare of catastrophic proportions when I flew to Charlottesville for work. For some reason, everything that could go wrong would go wrong, like the time in ’09 when they cancelled the flight while I was sitting on the plane on the runway. Or the time in ’10 when I had a layover in North Carolina but the airline decided that flying home was overrated, so they cancelled my flight for no justifiable reason. Or in ’12 when my return flight was cancelled so I had to rent a car and drive seven hours home, in terrible weather conditions.
Eventually, I concluded that Charlottesville loves me so much that it tries to keep me every time I visit. Hey Charlottesville, you’re cool and all, but I am in a committed relationship with New Jersey!
These terrible journeys meant that I spent a lot of time in airports, thinking. One thought that came to me in 2010 was “I need my own plane so I wouldn’t have to frequently go through this,” and I relentlessly pursued that vision since ever since. During my final trip back to Charlottesville in 2014, I stared at the United Airways Express plane on the runway and said to myself, “my next flight to Charlottesville will be in a private jet.”
I planned on avoiding Charlottesville until I could accomplish this goal, but three weeks ago I was smitten with excitement when I realized that it could happen sooner than I initially thought. Not only was I able to fly back to the same airport that was a constant source of my frustration, but I was able to fly there in the exact jet that I plan to own.
My brother and I flew to Virginia, rented a car, went on a Segway tour, had lunch, ate a weird chemical ice cream concoction, and then he drove the entire way home since he can legally do that now!
As I relaxed in the passenger seat, I realized two things:
1) Charlottesville Airport is quite nice when you’re not stranded there against your will
2) Setting audacious goals is a great thing, because sometimes life will surprise you.
The same place where I set a seemingly impossible goal out of frustration was the same place that I walked through as I took steps toward to accomplishing that goal.
I left France because I needed a break from speaking French. Now I’m in England and I’m reviewing my way through the country, while speaking English!
When my mom was young, she was attacked by a dog, which made her eternally scared of them. This was especially tough for my dad and I since we both liked dogs. But back in 2010 my mom decided to come to a compromise and allow us to get a pocket-sized “dog” that some might call a guinea pig.
The guinea pig’s name was Groffy and he was extremely well trained. He’d leave his cage, walk around the house and return to his cage when he wanted to eat or rest. After a year, Groffy unexpectedly passed away and everyone in the house was sad. That’s when Tommy entered our lives.
Tommy the guinea pig was intended to fill the void that Groffy left, but Tommy was completely different. He didn’t care about cool tricks, he never wanted to leave his cage, and he didn’t know how to use his house and he’d sleep on its roof. Tommy was basically the guinea pig version of me. He was the oddest animal that I’ve ever seen, but he was odd in a special way.
He’d also scare easily, so when I was stuck in bed from my foot accident, I used a robot camera to check on him, while hilariously freaking him out in the process.
Three years ago, I read an article that suggested that Tommy had all of the characteristics of a female guinea pig. Since I’m not too skilled at identifying the man part of a guinea pig, I assumed that the article was factual and I told the family that Tommy was actually a girl. That’s when Tommy became “Tommy the Female Guinea Pig.” Months later, I purchased a female friend for Tommy and he demonstrated his male characteristics by constantly trying to…um…make little Tommys with her. So she had to be given away because we lived in a nice Christian household.
Tommy eventually got a male friend, Sylvester, and their friendship quickly grew. They would wait for each other to eat, they’d sleep at the same time, and Sylvester would freak out when Tommy was missing from the cage. In April of this year, five years after we got him, Tommy started demonstrating signs of old age and decreased wellness. When I took him to the [super-duper expensive] vet, she prescribed medicines to try to cure his illnesses and prolong his life a little longer. When it became evident that Tommy would be going to guinea pig heaven, Sylvester refused to leave Tommy’s side and he spent most of the day staring at tommy and helping him maneuver with decreased vision.
Tommy eventually passed away at the ripe old age of 6 after living a wonderfully exciting life. Sylvester was somber for about a week and a half, but then I rubbed his belly and gave him a slice of watermelon and now it seems that he forgot that Tommy even existed. How rude…what kind of friend is he?!
This episode of Geremy’s Peculiar Snaps spans several months and feels almost as long as an episode of Family Matters!
In this episode, I traveled to Maine, California, and Chicago, I stumbled on an active shooter situation, and I asked about Gentlemen’s clubs.
Have you ever met someone who was passionate about fruit? So passionate that they treated each piece as if they’re a brain surgeon and successfully slicing fruit was a life or death situation?
During my trip to California last month, I witnessed three inspiring examples of extreme passion: 1) A Burger Joint, 2) A Doctor of Fruit Preparation, and 3) A Massive Museum.
When I landed in Los Angeles, the first and most crucial task was to go to In-N-Out burger and max-out on my daily allotted calories. In-N-Out is a fast food restaurant chain that specializes in a simple menu (burgers, fries, and drinks) prepared with great quality. The only problem that I’ve found is that they haven’t opened a restaurant on the East Coast (please fix this, In-N-Out). Not only is the price ridiculously low for the quality of meal received, but they know how to make an amazing burger, especially compared to the terrible excuses for burgers that I’ve become used to in New Jersey.
I went to In-N-Out nearly every day while in California and each time it was filled with people. Their burger tasted like they took a calf, raised it to be an upstanding citizen of the farm, then sent it to a good university so it can be filled with the hope of a bright future, then humanely killed it so it can be assembled into the finest burger for Geremy’s consumption. Not only was the food great, but every worker seemed like it was their life’s dream to grow up to be an In-N-Out burger technician. In-N-Out was amazing and I was inspired by their passion for burgers.
To balance-out the millions of calories eaten at In-N-Out, I found a stand to buy fruit. This was when I discovered Joe Mendez—a man who cut fruit as if he is an international champion at the game Fruit Ninja. Joe always had a long line at his fruit stand, but when it was finally my turn I realized what all the hype was about.
I was new to the fruit stand scene, so I ordered something simple: “Give me a medium sack of fruit.” I didn’t know if he heard me because he didn’t look at me at all. In fact, Joe never looked at anything besides his fruit ever. Even when he went to his van to get more fruit, he continued to stare at his fruit. This man loves fruits! Since I didn’t use the typical fruit-ordering vernacular, I stood out as a fruit stand newbie and he probably recognized this.
He heard my vague request and immediately went to town. He arranged a symphony of fruits for my “sack” and he sliced them with a level of care and determination that led me to believe that he was a surgeon in a past life. While he was assembling my fruit, he handed me a few slices of mango to eat while waiting. The amazing thing was that even when he handed me the mango, he never stopped chopping the other fruits with his two hands…I think he had a third arm that came out of his back and handed me the mangoes. I don’t know.
Before he handed me the bag, he squeezed 3 limes in the bag and poured some red dust on my fruit. I was almost outraged. I thought, “I didn’t ask for red dust and lime!!” Right as I was about to ask him to wash the fairy dust and sour juice from my fruits, he handed the bag to me and said, “Five dollars.” Five dollars for a sack of fruits?!?! This is the deal of the century! I gave him the money and walked back to the car, only slightly annoyed by the two unwanted additions to my otherwise perfect bag of fruits. As soon as I sat in the car, I tasted the first piece of fruit and OHMYGOODNESSITWASAMAZING!
The juxtaposition between the tart taste of the lime juice and red glitter powder with the sweet fruit made my tastebuds quiver with excitement. I don’t curse, but this bag of fruits made me want to use a few expletives. Joe was a wizard of his craft and he knew how to chop a glorious bag of fruits. For comparison, fruits from another stand were purchased and it couldn’t even come near the excellency of Joe’s fruit creations.
Since my stomach remained delighted by the food offerings in LA, I needed to go somewhere that my mind could be delighted as well. I visited the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa, which were both created by a ridiculously rich man named J. Paul Getty who worked in the oil industry but was passionate about art. He loved art so much that he would invite his friends over to see his art, but then his collection grew so large that he bought a separate estate just for it. That estate is the amazing Getty Villa, which can be visited for free…thanks Paul!
Eventually, the massive 64 acre didn’t have enough space for the collection, so a second 110 acre location was opened—complete with waterfalls and a monorail. This second location, the Getty Museum, was also free for the public to visit and is one of the best museums in the United States, if not the world. I visited these two sites and the passion shows in every corner of both estates…lots and lots of passion!
This was the second time that I visited the museum. The first visit can be seen in this video clip at the 4 minute 12 second mark.
When I thought back on these three places that inspired me, I realized a few common trends:
Passion Shows – When someone is really passionate about something, you can see it in their work.
Passion Energizes – When I visited all three places, the people working there were filled with energy. It was obvious that they loved with they did and they did what they loved.
Passion Attracts – There were no shortage of people at Joe’s stand, at In-N-Out or at the Getty Museum, even though I didn’t see a single advertisement anywhere for them. Customers and visitors were naturally drawn to these places because of passion and a job well done.
Consistency – Each place consistently delivered excellent results. This made me want to visit more and more.
Focus – They focused on what they did best: Fruit, Burgers, and Art. They didn’t try to be all things to all people.
Not motivated by money – These three experiences were the three most underpriced things that I encountered during my visit. The weren’t motivated by money, but by their passion.
The two biggest lessons that I learned were that I need to have an unwavering pursuit of my passions, and I need to book another trip to LA ASAP!!