A few weeks ago I gave a keynote presentation at PNW PHP in Seattle. It was the second time I'd given that particular talk, Eating ElePHPants, a quasi-history and lessons-learned of the process of rebuilding Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.
Overall reception was good, and afterward I was appraoched by a woman who was trying to push for better development practices and refactoring a legacy code base at her company. We've exchanged a few emails since, as she goes about trying to subvert her company's development process for its own good to introduce testing, refactoring legacy code, decoupling, and other concepts that many of us on the conference circuit take for granted.
In the course of that email conversation, she had this to say:
When I first started with this entire effort about 2 months ago, I thought I will never succeed, and I thought I had set myself up to failure - until I heard you speak about your experience. Your talk was highly inspiring and got me excited to invest more time into what I was doing and I believed in myself for the reasons I chose this effort.
All the tech talks helped me realize that I can get somewhere, made it seem within reach, but you and Adam Culp [who also gave a session on refactoring] left me inspired.
This. Right there, that thing. That is why I speak at so many conferences; because of moments like that. It doesn't happen every session, but often enough we can reach out to someone new and give them the inspiration, confidence, insight, or simple kick-in-the-pants they need to take the next leap in their career, their learning, and in helping those around them grow, too.
Most people we reach likely don't respond so explicitly, but speakers know they're out there. Different topics or styles will resonate for different people, but they will pick up on it.
The frequent flyer miles are nice, but it's the ability to have that kind of positive impact on someone that keeps me writing talks and getting up on stage.
To all those I've managed to reach, teach, and inspire over the years, thank you! Pay it forward to the next person. Or take the stage yourself and share with even more.