A Life Goal Comes True

I got an email about three weeks ago from a very exciting "@" address, an organization that I love and admire and could only dream of getting to know personally.

But it sounded fishy.

The email had a link, plus instructions to go to said link and enter a password that was provided in the email. So far, the setup mirrored a phishing scam. Who includes a password in an email? Plus, the time stamp on the email said it was delivered to my work address around 10:30 p.m.

On the other hand, I really wanted to believe it was true because of the signature line from the sender.

I wrote back: "Forgive me, but would you mind giving me a ring this morning? ... A late-night email telling me to log into a URL with the password included in the email just doesn’t leave me feeling confident that this request is legit. I’m also curious how you got my name."

The next morning, the phone rang. I could see from the caller ID that it was the person I had been hoping it would be. He said the reason the email he sent arrived so late was it got stuck in his outbox and didn't move until he got home last night and connected his phone to Wi-Fi network. He had read some of my articles about organization and productivity, and that's how he discovered my work.

We talked. He convinced me it was all real.

I finally logged into the URL from the first email, and here's what I saw:

Jaw dropping. Reading those words was a dream come true. It's no exaggeration to say that being invited to a TED conference has quite literally been a lifelong and extremely far-fetched dream.

The Get Organized articles referenced in the invitation are an ongoing weekly series that I write for PCMag.com, where I work full time. Writing that column is one of my joys and passions in life, and I owe its existence to my editor, the director of online content, and the editor-in-chief, three people who have believed in me and my ideas in a way that has nurtured them and put confidence in me. 

The column is about keeping technology organized (think: how to organize email folders), as well as leading a more organized life with the help of technology (think: to-do apps). I truly can't express how positive I feel to hear that someone from an organization as prestigious as TED has recognized them.

The Talk
By the time this blog post appears live, I'll have finished giving my talk to a small group of people at TED headquarters in New York, at TED @250, a new and smaller conference series that TED now runs. A video of the talk may be online at a later date, and I'll link it here if and when it appears.

My talk is about email management, a topic which I've covered extensively, from how to avoid email overload to specific tips for managing email.

If the talk resonates well enough with the audience and TED coordinators (here's the dangling carrot), the video of it could be posted on TED.com. Needless to say, I'm both thrilled and nervous.

Mentorship and Teamwork
Being invited has led me to value anew the amazing working relationship I have with my colleagues. I literally would never have been giving this opportunity without them.

Across my career, I've had too many moments when I knew I was technically succeeding, and yet I didn't click with the management team or other colleagues in a way that brought out my full potential. To work now with people who not only see what I can do, but also coach it and significantly contribute to it is simply remarkable.

I wish I could share how or why these relationships have been so successful and collaborative, how it happened, how the mentorship and sense of teamwork came to be, but I don't know. (Wouldn't that make for a great article, though?) A lot of lucky stars just fell into alignment, and I am pretty overwhelmed at the whole experience.