Speaker Spotlight



Every week, we will be featuring a different speaker in our "SpotLight" column.

This week, we are featuring Margie Warrell, bestselling author, CEO of Global Courage, and Forbes columnist. 

Sheila: What was the most important lesson/s you learned in writing your book?

Margie: I’ve written four bestselling books now and while each has held valuable lessons, my first book Find Your Courage (McGraw-Hill 2009) taught me the most important of all. That is, don’t wait until you know what you’re doing before you start! Prior to writing it, I had enormous doubts about my ability to write a book and absolutely no idea about how to get one published. Zero! But I was very passionate about my message and in the end I decided to follow my own advice to “fear regret more than you fear failure”. With four kids seven and under at the time, it took two years to write

Sheila: What was one of your most memorable speaking experiences?

Margie: That's a tough one as I’ve had so many over the years, but it was probably my first standing ovation. I was speaking at a conference in New Hampshire to 1600 mental-health workers, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses. Right before I went on, I decided to share about my own brother's long battle with schizophrenia. It’s not a story that I often share because it doesn’t have a happy ending. Yet, I decided to share it anyway, as I knew that they would understand the anguish my family and I had experienced. At the end of my keynote, I found myself moved to tears when the entire audience stood to give me a standing ovation. It was unexpected and provided a very personal lesson on the power of relating to people from a place of vulnerability and authenticity. 

Sheila: What can be done to encourage more women speakers on stage?

Margie: Doing just what you’re doing with KeyNote! Giving women speakers more opportunities to speak, providing them with access to other women who are already in the spotlight and getting more men on board supporting women - like with the “Panel Pledge” where men will refuse to be on a panel that doesn’t have at least a few women! The reality is that women have every bit as much value to share as men, yet we tend to doubt ourselves too much and back ourselves too little. Closing the ‘gender confidence gap’ is a vital part of closing the gender gap - whether it’s on the stage, on a panel, in STEM jobs or in boardrooms. We must not only insist on having seats at the table for women but also believe that we deserve to take one.

Having had a subpar education in literature, grammar and writing in a small school in rural Australia (I was the only kid in my grade until I was twelve), I remember feeling incredibly vulnerable that people would think I was a lousy writer. Yet, by giving myself permission to write an imperfect book, I discovered that what comes from the heart, lands on the heart. Find Your Courage is now in seven languages. So to anyone starting out, I’d just say, don’t wait until you know you’re going to pen a bestseller. Just start. 

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