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Celebrating Pride: Building Community Starts by Being Your Authentic Self

Celebrating Pride: Building Community Starts by Being Your Authentic Self

As the CEO and Founder of the social entrepreneurship incubator, Count Me In, Shane Feldman has spearheaded a movement of more than 10 million changemakers, spread across 104 countries. As his organization rapidly grew, so did his personal brand alongside it, and Shane had a decision to make — should he be vocal about being gay?

Shane thrives at building connection and community. He has been recognized by The White House, The Prime Minister of Canada, and The United Nations for his achievements in community leadership. He knows the power connection and community have in initiating real, positive change, but he also knows that it begins with building authentic relationships. Shane knew that he needed to be his true, authentic self publicly, and, more importantly, he wanted people to know his connection with the LGBTQ+ community.

A couple years ago, Shane decided to take the leap. He was giving a keynote and he vowed that he would not leave the stage without giving a solid hint that he was gay. He wanted to make it clear that this is a part of who he is. And it felt right, it felt authentic.

About a year later, Shane spoke at an event that seemed to go really well, but the next day, the client emailed demanding a refund. Even though they said he was incredible, that he hit the message out of the park and hit all of their goals, they didn’t know he was gay when they hired him and this didn’t align with their organization.

This hit Shane hard. For six months, he struggled speaking on stage, physically shaking every time he was about to reach the part in his speech where he would disclose that he was gay. Deeply nervous of the audience’s reaction, he kept pushing himself through that discomfort because deep down he knew, that even it he got some negative reactions this didn’t outweigh the positive outcomes of being his true self.

“When you know who you truly are, you need to be all the best parts of yourselves,” Shane said. “There are going to be people that reject that. There are going to be people that are scared of that, that don’t understand it. But you can’t let that suppress who you are.”

When we all have the courage to be ourselves and not let others opinions shut us down, we can build community and find true happiness strong enough to help us rise above the noise.

“Think back to at least three memories, three distinct memories, of times you were incredibly happy, times that were just incredible in your life,” Shane said. “I guarantee you every single one of them involved other people. Always, of course. We can’t experience that level of positive emotion without that connection to others.”

Hear more from Shane in the video below:

Through his firsthand experience traveling the globe, researching community leadership and human behaviour, Shane Feldman helps audiences activate the leader within and connect more authentically with colleagues and customers to see greater engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Interested in learning more about Shane and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].