I had been invited to speak at my first event, a gathering of more than 1,500 men and women. The organizers spared no expense. Picked up in a stretch limousine, I remember walking into the gathering and being greeted by an enormous ice sculpture boasting the name of the event. A perky 20-something took me to my first green room where I was bewildered why nothing in the room was, well, green. I had a lot to learn.
I hobnobbed with chart-topping musicians, listened to captivating speakers, and spent time talking with thought leaders from around the globe. Something gnawed at me. The host introduced me to several dazzling presenters, but the conversations felt flat, leaving me confused.
At the close of the gathering, as the stage was being dismantled, I stood next to Mark, one of the programming producers.
"How do you not become that thing?" I asked.
"What?" he asked.
I struggled to describe the emptiness, the hollowness that I'd seen. "Those ...1