A Lesson in Overcoming Fear: Optimism for Turbulent Times
A few years back, I was invited to speak at Vermont/New Hampshire Direct Marketing Days. I wanted to be there, but I didn't want to travel there because the only flight was a toy airplane from LaGuardia.
But Larry Chait, my brilliant friend and mentor, asked me to come, so I had to say yes. Once I did, the event's organizer, Amy Africa, started calling. She's more than pleasant, but Amy has one of those moose-and-mountain-country voices that suggests she might shoot and skin an unsatisfactory speaker and nail the hide to the barn door.
I wasn't sure I wanted to go to Vermont.
Amy sent gifts with notes. Cheese's note read, "All the big cheeses will be here." Maple syrup's was, "This event will be sweet." I steeled myself and got into the little plane.
We took off tentatively, cruised at wave height over Long Island Sound and at tree height over Connecticut and Massachusetts, then swooped and dived and yawed and banged and clanged our way into New Hampshire, which, from where I sat, looked like Tibet. Somehow the 15-year-old pilot weaved us around mountains and along valleys, and suddenly, there we were.
And it was worth it.
The circus-themed event was outstanding: great speakers, circus acts, terrific food and lots of laughs, all thanks to Amy and her volunteers. They had a raffle, and I won a rototiller, which isn't much use in a 46th St. apartment, so it got "regifted" to a delighted Vermonter.
Amy and I kept in touch for a while; then, as she got more and more important in the Internet world and my agency business started hopping, the letters and e-mails slowed, and we lost touch except for running across each other occasionally at conferences.
Then Amy saw my face in Fortune Small Business magazine above an article I wrote about the challenges of moving my agency from New York to Florida. She e-mailed that she was happy to see my smiling (and touched up) face, and we started corresponding regularly again and got together in New York last December.