This morning, I joined one of my clients in Miami, Florida, for an incentive meeting honoring their top sales professionals. I don't get as many opportunities to meet clients face-to-face as I would like, but it is always such a joy when I do.
Speaking at this meeting was Rachael Scdoris, a 21-year old young woman who is the first legally blind athlete to compete in -- and finish -- the famed Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska. Rachael was born with a rare vision disorder, so she has never known what most of us call "normal" vision. As a result, Rachael will tell you that what she sees is normal to her! As a matter of fact, after talking to her, and hearing her speak, you quickly realize that her "weakness" is a bigger issue for everyone else than it is for her. Hearing the story of her life is quite a lesson for those of us who always seem to find time to complain about this or that rather than just "deal with it" and keep pressing on.
Rachael has only served as a keynote speaker about a dozen times so far, because:
- She is a professional sled dog racer, not a professional speaker, and
- Her pursuit of being the best she can be as a sled dog racer doesn't allow her much extra time for speaking engagements at this stage in her career.
For meeting planners who are seeking a dynamic, polished presentation, Rachael may not be the best option. Instead, one of the many Everest climbers and other "achievers" who have spent years on the speaking circuit perfecting their presentation skills is probably a better fit.
But for planners (and audiences) who want to hear a raw, authentic story of overcoming obstacles, Rachael is wonderful. And in addition to learning about her life, Rachael's audiences are also treated to some powerful imagery from her Iditarod run this year.
Actually, if you don't know much about the Iditarod -- as I didn't -- I encourage you to visit this page on the official Iditarod web site. You'll learn that it is a very long and very cold race! And also, did you know that fewer people have completed the treacherous Iditarod than have been to space or summitted Mt. Everest? Finishing the Iditarod is one of the greatest accomplishments on Earth, and knowing that Rachael did it while legally blind is truly amazing.