Karen McDaniel

Sr. Product Manager

Location: Santa Clara, CA

"Not only do I feel more empowered, but I have a deeper sense of connectedness with everyone that surrounds me."

I had just come back from vacation and was reading through the hundreds of emails waiting for me in my inbox. An instant knot formed in my stomach after reading the news that I was being asked to do a live broadcast to 8000+ Intuit employees. As a complete introvert, I had a lifelong fear of the camera, being the center of attention and of course public speaking.

I knew I had to say yes. First, I could not disappoint my manager; she is amazing woman who has done more to champion my strengths than anyone else in my entire career. She is strong, authentic and always does the right thing in spite of her own fears. Additionally, I believed I really was the right person for the job. Nobody really knew our offerings to the degree that I did. Months of discussions with our employees helped me to understand how to connect the dots between what they needed and how we could help. Finally, my entire life I had let my fears hold me back from making decisions that could really accelerate my happiness. My fear of flying had held me back from taking the vacations I wanted to take and my fear of public speaking was holding me back from effectively marketing my products.

In the end, the team decided that a pre-recorded session for 1,000 employees would be much more manageable. However, I still feel tremendously proud that I had already made the commitment to do what felt like the unthinkable. To this day when I am on campus, I am greeted by employees whom I have never met telling me that they recognize me from that video and how much they enjoyed it.

Realizing that my fear of being judged and criticized was irrational and that sharing what I knew with other employees was the right thing to do got me through the experience. Looking back, I realize how much leaning into being in the spotlight has caused a significant reduction in my anxiety level overall. Having accomplished what I felt had been forever looming over me like a dark cloud empowered me to take more risks in speaking up on issues and sharing what I have learned with others. Not only do I feel more empowered, but I have a deeper sense of connectedness with everyone that surrounds me. It has encouraged me to explore what else has been holding me back in my career.