Evening UST MBA student Julie Warner was one of the featured speakers at Ignite Minneapolis 7. Ignite is a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have a burning idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd. All talks are 5 minutes (20 slides x 15 seconds/slide). You can watch Julie’s “nice” talk above, starting at 23:20. We asked Julie to share her thoughts on why she participated.

There’s a saying: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

For me, “The more uncomfortable I make myself, the more naturally talented I seem to others.”

Previous versions of myself would stare incredulously at the latest release of Julie Warner, finishing marathons, preparing financial reports and publishing articles. I used to not run, study accounting nor write for others.

That is, until one day, I started.

People love to joke, “I’m not a _____” or “I can’t ______,” which is a limiting statement that begs to append the suffix “only because I haven’t put in the work yet.”

I watched with admiration the confident speakers at the 2013 Ignite event, an evening featuring 18 speakers talking for 5 minutes each in coordination with auto-advancing projection slides on a topic of their choice.

I wondered if maybe, in like, a decade, I would be comfortable enough to get on stage. Wouldn’t that be crazy?

The week before finals this year, a St. Thomas staffer urged me to apply for Ignite. She said my name came up as someone who would be “interesting and engaging as a speaker.”

Her email was flattering but misguided. I suck at public speaking.

Given the timing and my five-week backlog of laundry, I had every excuse to politely pass and only one nagging reason not to: Unless I said yes, I would continue to suck at public speaking. Waiting for “someday” is a bad plan. Time does nothing for us but demonstrate the effects of gravity. It certainly doesn’t develop our skills.

Conscious effort, however, does. Growth can’t be wished for, it must be worked for.

Though I came close to making myself sick with anxiety leading up to my Ignite talk on the semantics of the word “nice,” when I watch myself after the fact, the woman on stage looks like she’s done this a million times. She seems like she’s just naturally comfortable speaking in front of large audiences.

And if you asked her now, she would agree that she is.

Full-time UST MBA alumna Rachel Levitt also spoke at Ignite and shared her thoughts on the experience here on Opus Magnum.