What I Learned from Embarrassing Myself in Front of 600 People

What I Learned from Embarrassing Myself in Front of 600 People

Just a few weeks ago, while standing on a stage in front of 600+ people, I said something embarrassing…

I said something I’ve never said before to anyone else…

Not even to myself.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what I said, but first, let me just set the stage for you. No pun intended.

I was attending a 3-day entrepreneurship conference in San Diego called Thrive, which brought together over 600 attendees and 26 speakers, including Grant Cardone, Lewis Howes, James Altucher, Pat Flynn, Adam Braun, Tai Lopez, Jack Canfield, John Assaraf, and many more.


Super stoked I got to meet one of my biggest role models, Lewis Howes!

On Day 2 of the conference, one of the speakers, Philip McKernan, decided to mix things up.

Instead of just getting up on stage and giving a talk like all the other speakers had done, he opened up the stage to anyone who wanted to ask him a question.

Even though I had no idea who Philip was until he had introduced himself just 20 minutes earlier, I felt compelled to ask him a question that had recently been on my mind.

So I went up onto the stage and I asked him my question, which was:

How do you find the balance between accepting ‘who you really are’ vs. trying to become the person you want to be?”

I don’t remember exactly how he responded to my initial question, but from it I basically ended up getting a mini coaching session that culminated with me admitting to myself (and to all 600+ people in the audience) something that I’ve never admitted before.

I said that although I feel that I’ve become a lot more confident over the last few years, I still feel a lack of self-worth

To which Philip replied by asking me one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked in my life…

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank your self-worth?” 

After pausing for a moment (and getting called out by Philip for my hesitation), I said “5.”

Why I’m Telling You This

Going up there on that stage and saying what I said was probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done in my life.

But I am SO glad that I did it, because as I’ve said before…

The more scared you are of doing something, the more certain you can be that you HAVE to do it.

You see, we tend to feel fear most towards the things that will help us GROW the most.

What happened to me up there on that stage a couple weeks ago is a perfect real-life example of this principle in action.

This is also exactly why I’ve been taking cold showers daily for the last 3+ years… To get into the habit of doing the things that scare me. And what I’ve learned from taking cold showers is that the more difficult something is, the more rewarding it will be.

And that’s exactly what I experienced with this “embarrassing” incident.

After I got off the stage, I was a little shaken up (okay, that’s an understatement… my entire body was literally shaking). 

So I left the conference room and went for a walk to clear my mind.

A sunny Saturday afternoon in San Diego, CA.
A picture I took while walking around the San Diego Bay. #nofilter

As I was walking around the San Diego Bay processing what had just happened, I had a profound realization.

I realized that, deep down, I knew that a lack of self-worth was what had been holding me back my whole life…

I realized that, really, this is what I’ve been working on all these years, and this is the very reason why I got so into personal development in the first place so many years ago…

I was just too EMBARRASSED to admit it because I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was ASHAMED of it, so I resisted it.

But now that I had finally ACCEPTED it, I felt AMAZING.

As corny as it may sound (and as I expressed on Snapchat shortly after all of this happened), I felt FREE.

Now that I was finally fully aware of the fact that all of my fears and anxieties stemmed from this one thing, none of them held as much weight anymore.

Obviously, I know that I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve already come a long way from where I once was, and I have a good feeling that things are only going to continue to get better from here on out.

And if I’ve already been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people through this blog (with over half a million views from over 200+ countries!) at a measly “5,” I can’t wait to see what I’m able to achieve once I’m at a “10.” :)

What You Resist, Persists

I’ve said before that the fastest way to past your negative emotions is to lean into them.

Most people try to resist or suppress their negative emotions, which may feel good in the short-term, but ultimately only makes things worse over the long-term because it just creates more tension and anxiety.

The same is true when it comes to any type of problem you may be facing in your life…

What you resist, persists. So for the love of God, stop resisting.

Have the courage to ADMIT when you’re struggling and to ASK FOR HELP when you need it.

Yes, it will be uncomfortable at first, and your ego might take a hit, but once it’s over, I promise you, you will feel so much better.

When you confront your problems head on, instead of avoiding them, you’ll find that suddenly they become a lot less scary and a lot more manageable.

Poster hanging on my wall above my desk: "The Secret to Life in 2 words."
Poster hanging on my wall above my desk: “The Secret to Life in 2 words.”

And in addition to propelling your own self-growth, having a little courage to show your vulnerabilities just might inspire those around you as well.

Imperfection Fosters Connection

So many of us spend our entire lives thinking that we have to project an image of perfection in order to appear “successful.”

So many of us think that to show any sign of weakness is a bad thing.

But the reality is that nothing could be further the truth.

It’s our imperfections that give others something to CONNECT with. Imperfect humans can only connect with other imperfect humans.

This is something I’ve started to understand more and more over the last few years, which is why I try my best to be as honest and open as possible here on my blog.

But it’s still a difficult concept to fully grasp…

Immediately after getting off that stage and realizing what I had just said up there, I started worrying about what other people were going to think of me throughout the rest of the conference.

I was worried that maybe I had opened up too much. Maybe I had been too vulnerable…

But what I ended up realizing was that by going up there saying what I said, I simply showed other people that it was OKAY for them to be vulnerable, too.

Throughout the rest of the conference people kept coming up telling me how much they appreciated what I had said and thanking me for having had the courage to say what I said.

Sure, I may have turned away some people, but I’m not here to try to please everyone. I’m here to serve the people that I’m meant to serve as powerfully as I possibly can.

And if I have to be a little vulnerable every now and then in order to do that, then I am more than willing to do so.

We’re All In This Together

It’s easy to think that the people we look up to were born with some superhuman traits that gave them an unfair competitive advantage over the rest of us.

It’s easy to think that they were born with an unwavering self-confidence and are immune to the fears, self-doubts, and insecurities that the rest of us mere mortals struggle with on a daily basis.

It’s easy to think that whatever challenge we’re currently facing in our life is some unique misfortune that were picked out just for us.

But of course, the reality is that even the most successful people in the world struggle with the same fears and doubts and insecurities as the rest of us.

As one of my biggest idols, Tim Ferriss, once said…

“Most ‘superheroes’ are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk… Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”

No one's perfect. Not even Tim Ferriss.
No one’s perfect. Not even Tim Ferriss.

So Please, Let’s Stop The Bullshit…

We’re all just humans doing the best we can.

So let’s stop lying to ourselves and to each other…

Let’s stop trying to hide our imperfections…

Let’s stop trying to be Mr. Perfect…

Let’s stop being afraid to admit when we’re struggling…

Let’s stop being afraid to ask for help when we need it…

Let’s stop avoiding our problems…

Let’s stop running away from our fears…

And let’s have the COURAGE to be a little vulnerable…

Not just for our own personal growth and happiness, but for everyone else’s, too.

Image Credit: Header imageTim Ferriss

About Stefano

Stefano Ganddini

Hey there! I'm the creator of Collegetopia and the guy who writes all these articles. I'm here to help you live BIG, do EPIC shit, & be HAPPY. Click here to read more.

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  • Great post Stefano! Thanks for sharing this experience.

    I think there’s always a stigma attached to self-improvement and balancing who you are at this moment in time to who you want to be. I definitely felt this when I graduated and was feeling lost and unfocused in life. The thought of reading a self-help book was like admitting to myself that I wasn’t where I wanted to be and that I needed to improve.

    But once you totally accept that about yourself, that’s when you can take ownership to improve and hold yourself accountable. Glad you were able to have that experience in front of your role models and kudos to you for putting yourself on the spot.

    • Stefano Ganddini

      Thanks Victor! Yeah, I think the tough part too is realizing that there’s ALWAYS going to be room for improvement. You don’t just wake up one day and suddenly have everything figured out and never have to worry about it again. It’s a never-ending, life-long process of continuous improvement. You just gotta learn how to enjoy the ride :)

  • Matt Kohn


    This was golden.

    Seriously powerful stuff.

    “Have the courage to ADMIT when you’re struggling and to ASK FOR HELP when you need it.”

    • Stefano Ganddini

      Thanks man!

      Yeah, it’s one of the things I’ve struggled a lot with personally. It’s hard to admit that we don’t know everything, but it’s so so so crucial if we want to continue to learn and grow and improve.

  • Kay

    It’s odd how some of the people we respect most are the least sure of themselves.

    I figure if a person isn’t a little insecure then they’re probably not very self aware.

    I personally think a person dedicating his time to helping others should be proud. hint hint at least better than 5. :)

    • Stefano Ganddini

      Thanks Kay! :)

      I think the exact number isn’t too important. At least for me, it was just more about acknowledging that there’s still a lot of room for improvement, while at the same time acknowledging how far I’ve come…

      Sadly, I think there was a point in time when I was probably at a 1, which is why I now feel that it’s my OBLIGATION to help others who are struggling with the same thing… Because I know how painful and miserable life can be when you hate yourself and everything feels so meaningless.