By Devin T. Robinson X “Egypt”

Crazy…that’s what the next line will sound like to any professional speaker or APCA attendee. Getting booked wasn’t my main priority as being a speaker this year at APCA. My main priority was proving Victor Gonzalez right.

While in college, I met a speaker named, you guessed it, Victor Gonzalez. He was charming, funny and authentic (remember that word). Around the time I met him, I was about 22. I’ve been speaking since 19 and believed myself to be the next best thing since lemon pepper chicken wings. During our college’s annual trip to APCA, I introduced myself to Victor and began to alert him of…just how awesome I am. He then asked me to speak at a podium prior to his main speech. What followed…was pretty epic.

Excited? YES! Nervous? Not me. Prepared? Always…or so I thought. As I began to speak, he stopped me dead in my tracks and asked me one simple question, “What are you doing?” My reply, “Oh, I’m speaking.” He then said, “Well, what’s with all the hand gestures and robotic stuff?” There was no answer because I didn’t know what I did. He asked me to go again. I did the same and he stopped me.

He asked me one fundamental question and I didn’t have an answer for it, then he gave me a reason why I should never have to face that question again. Victor said, “When you’re talking to me, you’re your authentic self. (There’s that word I told you to remember) You’re not trying to speak, impress me or get my attention. You’re just…you. Be that on stage. Be you.”

From that moment on, I stopped “being a speaker.” Since then,  I’ve done two TEDx Talks, teachers show my TEDx Talk in classrooms and I teach TEDx speakers. Additionally, I’ve spoken in 16 countries and almost all the states in the U.S. Why? I found my authentic self and now share it with audiences.

From APCA attendee…to an authentic international speaker who inspires students to fall in love with themselves to defeat self-hate and hate of others. Without APCA, I may have never met Victor and my story may have become a tragedy. My lesson for the reader is…be authentic…it won’t hurt.

Devin T. Robinson X “Egypt”
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