Being scared is just a part of being human, right?Â At least that’s my humble opinion. I mean, I’m not a chicken per se, but one of the things I have learned to embrace is that it’s good to be a bit fearful, have trepidation.Â It’s what you do with that energy, that matters.Â If you turn that fear into a challenge to overcome and do so, beyond your wildest dreams- if you are able to do the virtually impossible, to recognize the “wall” as an opportunity to scale and land on your feet, even if you get scratched, battered and scarred on the way up and on the way down, darn it. At least you did it. And you are onto the next time you can turn your fear, into being fearless.
This year’s TEDxMidAtlantic’s theme was none other than “Be Fearless” and was held over the course of two days at the Sidney Harman Theater.Â With over 40 speakers (including Cameron Russell, Geoff Tracy, Alec Ross, David Rubenstein, Colin Powell), 1,000 attendees, 100 volunteers, and 20+ fearless event partners TEDxMidAtlantic created extraordinary experiences, memories, connections, and ideas.
While I had never attended any TED or TEDx event, I was beyond honored and thrilled to be contacted by the Case Foundation to interview some of the speakers after they spoke in the media room.Â The two I ended up having my conversation with were Barbara Van Dahlen, one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and the founder of Give An Hour, as well as Paula Kahumbu, a conservationist who had just flown in from her home in Kenya, is the Executive Director of WildlifeDirect and chair of Friends of Nairobi National Park.Â Having a passion for fearless women who are entrepreneurs and leaders as well as for philanthropy, well, these two were perfect.
Barbara Van Dahlen is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been practicing in the Washington, D.C., area for 20 years, she received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland in 1991. Concerned about the mental health implications of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dr. Van Dahlen founded Give an Hour in 2005 to enlist mental health professionals to provide free services to U.S. troops, veterans, their loved ones, and their communities. Currently, the network has over 6,300 providers, who have collectively given nearly $5.7 million worth of services.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, Paula Kahumbu, grew up as as child of eight (she’s now a mother of one, who is in the Navy) and was coached and mentored by paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey, who remains one of her closest allies and supporters (and boss!). Born and raised in Nairobi, Kahumbu entered into conservation at the height of the elephant poaching in the late 1980s. Kahumbu is well known in Kenya for her infectious passion for conservation and animals. She believes in the development of Kenya, but not at the cost of the environment.
While both women came from two different worlds, the similarities were astounding.Â Each was just as humble, open, honest, kind, interesting, thoughtful, and beautiful. Was I experiencing fear before meeting each? Absolutely. I was beyond intimidated and after doing research on each, I felt like a complete loser.Â However, Dr. Van Dahlen and Paula made me feel very comfortable and confident.Â Their people skills and calm demeanor were something I picked up as a few of the reasons why they are so successful in their endeavors.
We will have the video interviews up hopefully this week or next and will share with Punch readers on YouTube.Â There were many take-aways from interviewing these extraordinary women, but one I shall always remember is that these women know themselves.Â They are comfortable in their own skin.Â They know the odds they are up against every day, every hour, every minute are enough to make anyone throw in the towel, but not these two (nor the other speakers).Â They are not only extremely self-aware, they have recognized their passions, what they are good at, where they need help. They see the bigger picture, but have put together teams, strategies, plans, and paths to deliver their mission in changing the world.
These women are truly FEARLESS.
“When we stop worrying about what might go wrong, we discover what is truly possible. We celebrate the stories of the people who werenâ€™t afraid to fail, who overcame the odds, and persisted when the outlook was bleak.” …. TEDxMidAtlanticÂ
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.