7 Days To Live

May 28, 2011

If you had seven days to live what would you do?

My first "Table Talk" during a gathering at LinkedIn.

  • I was sitting in my first ever Toastmasters meeting with 100 of my new peers at LinkedIn last week when I heard this question.  The meeting facilitator, Vish was doing what the club calls “Table Talks” or some such.  He read off a topic and asked people to jump up and speak for a minute or two on it.
  • While my peer was doing the talk right before mine I felt my confidence growing.  I was inspired by his share.  He said if he weren’t leading part off LinkedIn’s engineering effort, he’d be in schools helping kids learn math and science.  “I’ll inspire them by telling them my story”, he said.  “I’ll show them I’m living proof…Prove to them that they can accomplish anything regardless of where they come from” [paraphrasing parts of his moving minute long speech].
  • As his inspiring talk was winding down I gave myself a silent pep talk.  “I competed in Extemporaneous Speaking and Improvisational Duet Acting (IDA) in forensics competitions in high school…I got this!” I told myself.  “Who cares if that was 22 years ago..:).”  “It’s your room, so what if you’re the new guy, Bry…Belief Energy is with you…You’re gonna grab that microphone no matter what question Vish asks”, my brain told me.  I love it when my brain chooses the Surge or Man of Action path.
  • “What would you do if you had seven days to live?, Vish asked the audience”.  I sprung up with a smile for my turn, slightly scared of what would leave my mouth.  Through a small lump in my throat I introduced myself (receiving some applause when I mentioned I was starting LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Solutions group)…which helped.  My 47 seconds of fame went by fast with “no ums or uh’s” (per the meeting’s evaluator).  Sweet!
  • Wondering what I said in my speech yet?  Ideally so.  I hope my intentional build up of suspense has worked.  I don’t fancy myself a writer yet, but might someday soon.  OK, on to the main point of this post…
  • “I’d turn things around a little bit on this one”, I said.  “Instead of doing something that was only for me during my last seven days, I’d build a way for  everyone else in the world to get the most out of their last seven”, I submitted.  I’m so glad that’s what my brain told my mouth to say.  It was genuine.  A compassion play was my first instinct.
  • Dan Shapero, our VP of Sales, swung by my desk a couple days later and said, “I was very inspired by what you shared in the meeting the other day”.  “That really made me think”, he said.  Hearing that my 47 seconds had inspired a new colleague made my day.  I sometimes think people at LinkedIn are reading posts on this blog or my Belief Energy facebook posts before meeting with me.  It’s part of the reason I know I’m “Home” in my career right now.  The people I’m meeting and collaborating with  inspire me daily.  Many of their stories and the passion they have for the work they’re doing has actually given me the chills.  LinkedIn is fueled by and is fueling my Belief Energy.  I already have enormous belief in our mission and offerings.  This belief inspires more energy…focused energy even.
  • Five hours after responding to Vish’s question at the Toastmasters meeting I got to meet my new CEO, Jeff Weiner for the first time.  I told him “how impressed I’d been at the humility he showed during our company meeting on IPO day” last week.  Though he, like me, was tired after a long workday, he exuded a solid Belief Energy vibe.  I think he knows how worthwhile his work is.  I think he believes in the transformational company and movement he’s leading.
  • I’m fortunate to represent an organization that is operating from a compassionate place as it connects with and empowers its 100 million+ members.  Like the compassion theme of my short impromptu speech, LinkedIn has built and is expanding a way for all the world’s professionals to get the most out of their career and their time on the planet.  Whether they know it or not, they’re (we’re) raising Belief Energy levels in millions of people, their companies and our world as a whole.  “LinkedIn and the network we’ve built has an opportunity to make a big difference”, said our co-founder Reid Hoffman recently.  “We’re building something that can raise the GDP of nations”, he believes.
  • I already kinda believe him.  After all, they brought me in to help enable millions of nonprofits by lowering the financial barrier of access to LinkedIn products and services that will  help them exceed their stated outcome goals in the world.  Man o man is this gonna be fun!
  • Assignment: Think about what you’d do during your last seven days on the earth.  If a compassionate act doesn’t occur to you immediately, try to fit it in somehow.  How does it change the story?

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3 Responses to 7 Days To Live

  1. Hallonius on May 28, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    If i had one week, I think I’d have to spend as much time as possible with the people that I care about, and those who care for me. Enjoy our time together, no specific agendas, just good quality time together. I’d organize a way for everyone I cared about to be in the same place, and ideally everyone could share their talents with each other, whether it’s music, art, or telling a great story.

  2. Greg Schaum on May 29, 2011 at 3:27 AM


    I would want to spend that 7 days with my family…I would want to spend one full day alone with my wife and one full day alone with my son (I would want my parents with me for part of that day)
    I would want to spend the whole 7 days in Kansas City and I would want to do the best I can to reach out to everyone that ever touched my life (people like you)

    I would have to take in one baseball game at the K and enjoy a hot dog and a beer….walk the plaza, see every place that was a part of my child hood…

    I would make my wife go to one techno rave with me because I want to feel that energy one more time….I would video tape a long speech to my son and I would just watch him play for hours

    that is what I would do

  3. Clare Mullin on June 2, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    Hi Bryan,

    I am sending you three “Welcomes” to new chapters in life…..

    1. Welcome to Toastmasters. Just watch your life change for the better.

    2. Welcome to the Highland Garden Cottage, your new family home.

    3. Welcome to a new “Colorful Journey of Success”. That is the name of my TV show that features successful people helping others succeed. Blessings to you on your success at Linkedin.

    Clare of Six Colors of Success

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