Rebecca MacDonald, a Canadian immigrant born in the former Yugoslavia who started with nothing and is now executive chair of Just Energy, a $2.3 billion (market cap) energy firm, delivered such a vivid and passionate speech at the Womens’ Presidents organisation annual conference on Thursday afternoon in Vancouver, that the entire audience of 650 women business owners spontaneously leapt out of their seats to clap, howl and cheer her on.
“I laughed, I cried, I almost had to leave the room when she spoke about her relationship with her mother,” said Nancy Lyons, president of Clockwork in Minneapolis, raving about the range of emotions MacDonald inspired just moments after the remarks.
So what can you do to make a speech that spurs your audience to similar applause and admiration?
Whether it was the serendipitous drink that turned into her first supplier relationship, becoming the first woman to take a company public in Canada--or the bout of rheumatoid arthritis that nearly kept her bed-ridden while doing so--throughout her speech, MacDonald related her business and life experiences to the particular crowd she was speaking before: entrepreneurial women.
MacDonald held our attention for more than an hour--just by being herself--and without relying on ancillary or distracting materials.
MacDonald wouldn't get off the podium until she could respond to a question with an uplifting final answer--even if it meant risking missing her flight home to Toronto, where she was due at 5 a.m. the following morning to watch the royal wedding over champagne and biscuits with girlfriends.
- 'Nobody got to a big business without starting small.'
- 'Always pay your supplier even if you have no money to pay yourself.'
- 'I made a lot of mistakes, but I never made the same mistake twice.'
- 'Surround yourself with smart people.'
- 'I love hiring the best and paying them more than the market.'
- 'I never ask others to do something I'm not prepared to do myself.'
- 'If Rebecca MacDonald can do it, everyone can do it.'
- 'I thought $1 million was a lot, $10 million was a lot, $100 million was a lot, $1 billion was a lot. Now I want to shoot for $10 billion.'
Now let me see if I can get my hands on the videotape of MacDonald's address.
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