Growing up, I was self-conscious and lacked confidence. If you mix my introversion with my generation’s tendency to be solely tech-based, you end up with the perfect recipe for a fear of social interaction. To get the full picture of where I started compared to where I am, I’ll have to tell you a short story on how I met one of my best friends, JD Klopfenstein.
Throughout my senior year of high school, JD’s brother, Wayne, was one of my best friends. He recommended I reach out to JD since we both had similar aspirations of success. I knew I wanted to talk to him, but I didn’t know-how. After contemplating this idea for a while, I finally messaged him. We set up a 2-hour meeting to discuss ourselves, our futures, our goals, and just about everything we’re passionate about. My first thought was, “Wow, I’m putting myself out there!” This thought was soon followed by, “Oh my gosh! What are we going to talk about for 2 hours?”
The morning of the meeting arrived and I was as ready as I was going to get. I put on some of my best clothes and headed to town to meet JD at a local coffee shop. During the drive, I felt great, but I soon as I parked my car, the hesitancy hit me like a brick wall. I was having second thoughts. I asked myself, “Why did you put yourself in this position?” As I got out of my car, my heart began to race. I could feel my blood pressure rising. My ears began to throb, my palms started to sweat, and the rest of my body followed suit with some trembling that I can only describe as seizure-like. I was an absolute nervous wreck!
I walked in the door of the coffee shop clutching my cognac leather padfolio and approached the counter to order my coffee. I’m certain that I dropped my card 3 times while trying to pay for that cup! With my padfolio under my arm and a cup of coffee in hand, I approached JD who was sitting at the end of a long table. I wiped my hand off on my pants and extended for a handshake. I nervously stumbled through some words and introduced myself. I thought to myself, “There’s no turning back now.” JD told me about how he got where he was and a realization hit me, he’s just like me! We both had similar upbringings, struggles, goals, and aspirations. I think he saw a bit of himself in me because we started to connect.
After discussing ourselves, careers, and the like, we hit the topic of stocks. With Warren Buffett being my favorite investor of all time, the topic of Berkshire Hathaway was an easy topic to discuss. I mentioned how I was interesting in going to the Annual Shareholders Meeting that upcoming May. He told me he’s been wanting to go but just didn’t have anyone to go with. Our conversation took a dramatic shift from discussing random topics to planning a trip together!
Our time together soon approached its end. I walked out of that coffee shop feeling a bit more confident, but more importantly, I had a new mentor, best friend, and brother.
After that meeting, I had a newfound confidence that I can put myself out there, talk to people, and build meaningful relationships. I found out if you want something you have to go after it, even if it scares you. You don’t need to know how to do everything. Just get started!
Since this meeting, JD and I have gone to dozens of events together and I have since grown from just being his nervous shadow. My communication, networking, and relationship building skills have grown leaps and bounds. Today, I have no problem walking up and talking to people. I enjoy meeting new people and putting myself out there. As cliche as it is, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Growth only occurs during challenging moments.