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Finding Home – Searching for the Right Profession

On Aug 2, 2011, I was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame. I am humbled and grateful for this tremendous honor. Below is the majority of my
acceptance speech before 1,500 of my peers at the National Speakers Association National Convention in Anaheim. I am posting the speech here in the hopes that it may help anyone who is still searching for their professional home. With thanks – Victoria

When I came home to New York City in 1993 after living in West Africa, I was disoriented, depressed, and quite confused. Not only was I in culture shock, but being in my mid 20s, I looked around and realized that most of my friends now had husbands, careers, income and direction.

I had none of these.

What I did have were many seemingly disparate passions and interests – writing and performing, directing and producing, choreography and comedy…And while I’d tried out each discipline individually, no one profession seemed to

One evening, I went to visit my parents and found myself sitting in my old room, slumped at the foot of my old bed on my pale blue comforter. I dissolved into tears. I felt splintered by my interests and I felt lost. My mother wrapped her arms around me and said, “Your gifts will bring you home.”

It took a while. I kept trying. Then, a turning point came when I auditioned in NYC for HBO’s Aspen Comedy Festival. I was certain this would be the answer to my search; a spot at the festival would lead to a career in Hollywood where I could combine my interests.

But I didn’t get into the Festival. I wasn’t accepted. Without knowing it, however, I had auditioned for a community far more important: NSA.

Because that night, three speakers were in the audience: Rande & Robert Gedaliah…and Tim Richardson.

When I went out into the lobby after the show, Tim thrust his hand forward, introduced himself, and declared, “You need to come be a speaker.”

But I resisted. I had my sites set on Hollywood and on fame. Tim stayed on me, though, calling every six months or so, encouraging me to come to one NSA event or another.

And then, a number of years later, on the heels of 9/11 and the loss of my mother—two back to events that shifted the tectonic plates of my entire being—being famous in Hollywood didn’t seem quite as important as connecting and contributing…and NSA seemed to offer the opportunity to do just that. And so in 2003, a decade from that day when I had sat slumped at the foot of my bed on my pale blue comforter, I found myself at NSA.

And at the end of my very first day of my very first convention, I rode back up to my room in the Hilton hotel elevators there in Irvine with a group of speakers I hadn’t yet met.

I was joyous from the day, simultaneously exhausted and fulfilled. The other speakers all got off on one floor, joking and laughing as they left, but as they turned to head down the hall, one turned back—and I wish I knew which one of you this was—and as the elevator doors were starting to close, he nodded, smiled and called out, “Welcome home, sister.”

The journey from my blue comforter to this moment has been an incredible ride; and it has been an incredible ride because of the people who have guided and helped me along the way. To them I owe a huge thanks…and the honor of this award.

To those of you who are here for the first time and feel this isn’t quite your place, keep searching…you will find it. And to those of you who are here tonight and feel you’ve found your home…welcome.

Thank you all, deeply, for this honor.
National Convention – Aug 2, 2011

7 thoughts on “Finding Home – Searching for the Right Profession”

  1. Hi, Victoria,
    Thanks so much for letting us know about this wonderful honor! Congratulations…well deserved. I’m so glad that your business is going so well…I feel as though I can say “I knew you when…”
    All the best,

  2. Jack Perry

    You can do anything….yes the force is with you. From the Navy Seals–
    Fortune favors the BOLD…
    Be good, be well and peace be with you,

  3. Victoria Labalme

    Thank you, Lewise!!! The Brearley School is in my blood and always will be. The best training ground ever for a life of adventure… All my best, Victoria

  4. Victoria Labalme

    Thank you, Jack…You were there at my first NSA convention! All my best and thanks for your vision right from the start. All my best, Victoria

  5. I could NOT be happier…You rule!!! Victoria, it’s fabulous to see the nice folks finish on top. And you’re one the the classiest and kindest out there. And now the entire world knows how amazing you are. Congrats!

  6. Victoria Labalme

    Thank you, Brad. What an incredibly kind thing to say. THANK YOU. It is a joy to know you.

  7. Chelsea

    Congratulations – it could NOT go to a more deserving person! Your speech was beautiful, and, as often seems to happen, it seems the heart of this blog entry resonates precisely with what I am going through in my own life. Thanks again for sharing and all the best 🙂

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