Forbes | Day In The Life: My Day Speaking At The Pentagon

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I’m on the road 2-3 days a week speaking, on average.

Here’s a rundown of a fairly typical “speaking” day.

5:00 a.m.–Wake up; read a spiritual text, pray, do a quick run-through of my remarks.

6:30 a.m.–Shower and dry my hair. Order room service. Usually a fruit plate. Sometimes an omelette with Swiss cheese and mushrooms; eating before you speak calms your nerves. I’m not very adept at putting on makeup so I typically hire someone. I put on my favorite black and white striped dress. Until recently, I wore pants when I spoke. But I’ve decided that I want to own more of my female-ness, so I’ve started wearing dresses.

Here’s how I get ready the day of a speech:

8:00 a.m.–Meet up with Brian Bettis, Department of the Army Inspector General (IG). Brian invited me to speak with his colleagues after reading my book, Disrupt Yourself.

Thanks to Lt. Col. Brian Bettis I got to spend a day at the Pentagon.

Thanks to Lt. Col. Brian Bettis I got to spend a day at the Pentagon.

8:15 a.m.–Instead of driving to the Pentagon, we walk a half-mile from the hotel. It’s easier to walk than to drive given security. I chat with Brian and his colleagues about the IG and their career trajectories; personal disruption is continual in the military. Then we walk across the courtyard inside the Pentagon, and wait for an authorized person to escort us to the Army Briefing Center.

10:00 a.m.-12 p.m.–I conduct a facilitated workshop on personal disruption. While I love keynotes, a facilitated session allows for a deeper dive on the mechanics of disrupting yourself, including the seven accelerants I’ve identified. It’s fascinating to have more of a conversation with people, to debate and discuss ideas. Invariably, I learn something new.

Post-presentation group shot at a briefing room in the Pentagon.

Post-presentation group shot in the Army Briefing Center at the Pentagon.

12 p.m.–Lunch in the commissary. The post-speech conversation is something I enjoy. In addition to finding out which of my ideas are sticky, I’m no longer dealing with pre-speech jitters. So I can really focus on who I am talking to. Hearing their stories. Their hopes and dreams.

12:30 p.m.–Depending on where I am, I sometimes become a little starstruck. I’ll confess. It happened at the Pentagon. These are hallowed halls. I’m not a big picture taker, but I had to have a picture at the podium where the military briefs the press.

This is the podium where Generals stand to brief the American public.

This is the podium where Generals brief the American public.

1:00 p.m.–Usually I’ll head to the airport. This time, I drove three hours to my house in Lexington, VA. Along the way, I bought McDonald's MCD -0.62% fries. Definitely not good for me, but a post-game treat. On the drive home, I think about doing a postmortem. Usually it has to wait until the next day. Because I’m emotionally tired and need to decompress.

4:30 p.m.–Happy to be home.

All photos courtesy of Whitney Johnson. 

Whitney Johnson is the author of the critically-acclaimed Disrupt Yourself, host of a podcast by the same name, and a co-founder with Christina Vuleta, of Forty Women Over 40 to Watch.

This post originally published at Forbes

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