Updated: Jul 13
Imagine that you’re in a room of 10 people and a leader. The leader asks, “How can we combine Dance and Software Engineering?” While others are providing their input, you start to come up with an idea. You’re about to say it and then you freeze. What if I mess up? What if I blurt it all out and The concept doesn’t make sense?
What if the others don’t like my idea?
With all of the anxiety built up, you think “If I just wait for the right time, everything will be said how I want it to be said.” You finally build up the courage to speak only to be intercepted by the leader who says, ”Thank you everyone for your ideas, I’ll let you know what we decide.” You’re left with regret. If only you had spoken sooner, taken that leap of faith, not have worried as much about what the others were going to think, then your idea might have been heard. It is with this feeling of regret that pushed me into enrolling in the Dale Carnegie Course.
The 8-week Dale Carnegie Course was held on Tuesdays from 3:00-6:30pm at the PayPal office in Scottsdale. I had heard a few good things about this course from my coworkers and other recent college graduates who had just completed the course. I didn’t know what to expect. All I had was anticipation and curiosity on what was to come.
The first session was a memorable moment for me. I only knew one other person in the room which meant that I got to learn 14 different names and faces. Audra, our encouraging leadership coach, presented us with a helpful tool to memorize everyone’s names. How we used this tool involved us getting out of our seats which made for a fun and high-energy time. By the end of the class, I was able to have everyone’s names memorized along with the correct pronunciation!
At the end of the first session, we were left with a tip on how to get the most out of this course: take the time to read How To Stop Worrying And Start Living, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Quick & East Way to Effective Speaking.
We also set a vision to work towards throughout the eight weeks:
I am speaking my thoughts in a clear, concise, and calm manner. I am establishing more meaningful relationships in a deeper level.
Each week, I found myself becoming more comfortable with the stories that I told. At first, I wanted to cater my stories to the class because I wanted to appeal to my audience and I wasn’t sure what they would think. In between one of the sessions, I read in The Quick & East Way to Effective Speaking book that no one can tell your story better than you. This along with the support that the class exuded gave me that extra boost of confidence that I needed in order to share different aspects of my life ranging from a defining moment to a person who’s inspired me and has shaped me into who I am today. As a cohort, we all became closer as we connected with one and other each session. With all of the fascinating and unique tales that were told, I realized that when given the space, everyone has an inspiring story to share.
At the end of the course, the 8th session, our managers were invited to hear about our takeaways from this course. We started off by introducing our manager and take a moment to thank them for the confidence and encouragement that they have given us. In turn, we received a compliment from them which leads to the phrase that a little appreciation goes a long way. With this presentation, I was definitely more nervous than I had been in the past. With the helpful stress management techniques from the course, I was able to calm my nerves and turn the stress into positive stress and channel the adrenaline. With coaching from Audra, I planted my feet against the ground and introduced myself. “Hi everyone, my name is Courtney Ngai. Imagine yourself in a room of 10 people and a leader...”
By speaking about the benefits that I had received from taking this course, I was left with a great feeling of accomplishment after I had finished presenting.
To celebrate our completion, we each received a Dale Carnegie Course certificate. As a bonus, those who also had 100% attendance received a fancy gold sticker added to their certificate. I actually missed a week due to the PayPal RCG (Recent College Graduate) event in San Jose. However, Audra took the time outside of the course to meet for a makeup class.
In addition to all of the wonderful benefits and the Certificate of Achievement, I received the Breakthrough Award which contains a blue Dale Carnegie pen. This award meant that I was recognized by my peers for stepping out of my comfort zone. While winning an award was always a goal that I had in mind, I felt that whomever received this award or any of the awards (Breakout or Human Relations), truly deserves this award and that this could be the boost of confidence that they need to continue making a positive impact. This week, I intentionally focused more on the message of my speech which made receiving the award a terrific surprise! The class has been so supportive that this became the perfect opportunity to thank them for the encouragement they’ve given on this wonderful journey together. By taking the course, I am able to speak and communicate my thoughts in a clear, concise, and calm manner. I am also able to use the conversation tools to establish deeper and more meaningful relationships in both my professional and personal lives. When I’m in the office, I pass by so many people that I can now say more then just “Hi.” I can ask them more context-specific questions such as “How was your weekend?” or “Did you enjoy going to the basketball game?” because of the relationship that I’ve built with them. Having taken this leadership course so early in my career, I’ve felt that these techniques pushed me to find them in my personal life due to my professional career just taking off. However, these techniques are so invaluable that by implementing them now in my professional life will prepare me for the presentations that I may have to give in the future as well as the connections made during my career.
I am grateful that my manager and especially, PayPal encourage us to less as examples within our own careers and provides tuition assistance for continuing education. This experience has been quite impactful and I have gathered the confidence I need to continue to succeed in my career. As a wrap up, I appreciate your taking the time to read this and I hope that you take this course!