When I did The OpEd Project workshop earlier this year, it truly spoke to me, and it lit a fire under me about wanting to refine and share my voice. At the same time, I felt a little more ease about the mandate to get something published since I had just had a post on maternal health on the Huffington Post about a week earlier. So I was off the hook, right? Of course not.
I had written about something that I had been thinking about for months, and that was in fact very personally meaningful for me. I struggled to find the crux of my idea, and then it hit me–maternal health was not about just survival–it had to be about supporting women to have an experience that would be a source of pride and strength. I’m still not sure I got it quite right, but at least it was out there.
So when I got an email from one of the curator’s at TEDxSF inviting me to speak at an upcoming TEDx on global health, and to give the “talk of my life” on an idea that mattered, I knew I would need to go back to the same well of urgency I felt when I wrote the Huffington Post piece.
So many times in preparing my 5 minute talk I found myself asking, who am I to speak on global health, and how can I credibly stand up there next to true health experts? But I thought about The OpEd Project, and in particular the exercise on maximum credibility, and I decided I had a unique perspective to bring. I would be the expert on using market-based approaches to improve maternal health, and would be the one speaking as a mother who had experienced the benefits of a birth experience where my voice mattered.
I also knew from my training with The OpEd Project that I would have to make an argument, that it wasn’t enough to say that entrepreneurs could bring something vital to this effort to improve global health, but that they needed to be a part of it. I even managed to work in a “to be sure” because that last thing I wanted was to come across as naïve, believing that innovative social entrepreneurs could do this alone.
Though I didn’t get to have a mentor editor help me out for the talk, I did get the benefit of two coaches. One, a speech coach working with TEDxSF, and the second, my colleague at Acumen Fund and fellow Op-Ed colleague, Elizabeth Patella, who suggested I could give people something concrete to take away. My three lessons on what makes a health social enterprise succeed came from that helpful bit of advice.
It meant a lot to me to be able to take this idea that is so close to my heart and share it with an even wider audience through a TEDx video. And truly, I felt I was part of a movement that The Op-Ed Project is helping to fuel of women stepping out to find and share their voices, one step at a time, with a shared commitment to creating positive change.
Yasmina Zaidman is the Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships at Acumen Fund, a global non-profit venture fund working to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas.