WiTH Summit Keynote: Embrace What You Fear

Joze Piranian has dealt with a stutter his entire life. Today he’s a stand-up comedian, an inspirational speaker, and a TEDx presenter.

“I hated that I couldn’t say the words to express my thoughts, feelings, and emotions,” he said, speaking during a keynote presentation at the recent Women’s SoCal Leadership Summit. “This basic act of speaking, that everyone else did so effortlessly, was mission impossible to me. I’d had enough. Something had to change.”

To overcome his debilitating stutter, Piranian had to repeatedly do what he feared the most: speak. He joined a public speaking club {“painfully uncomfortable at first”), joined a debate club, and entered public speaking contests.

And just a year ago, he delivered a presentation in front of 3,000 people.

“Over the past two and a half years, I’ve also been doing stand-up comedy,” Piranian said. “I always warn my audience that my presentation will be full of suspense, and that they’re stranded on Stutter Island.” He’s performed stand-up in Chicago, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Edinburgh and other international locales. “I should mention, I stutter in six different languages,” “I’m on a quest to test people’s patience internationally.”

His presentation to members of the Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH) community offered ideas on how to confront adversity, by taking ownership of what makes you unique, and by repeatedly exposing yourself to what you fear.

“I’m still at the beginning of my journey, and I still go through ups and downs,” Piranian said. “But it’s through repeatedly exposing myself to the source of my fears, that I manage to overcome this. I confront my adversity one word at a time. And while my stutter is visible, yours might not be as obvious.”

Piranian at one point asked for a show of hands of the audience: how many in attendance had ever held back, from anything, due to fear? Every hand went up.

“I hate to break it to you, but you all have a stutter,” he said. “When you wish to speak up in that meeting at work, and you remain quiet, that’s your stutter. When you wish to take the initiative on a presentation or call, and yet you just allow the colleague to take over, that’s your stutter.”

Giving power to whatever your stutter may be results in “stripping away countless possibilities.”

“The bad news about fear is it never goes away,” Piranian said. “The good news: fear never goes away. If we know that something in life is a constant, wouldn’t it be illogical for us to wait for the fear to magically go away before we take the action we know will unlock our potential?”

Click here to download the presentation.