Q&A With Annie Keller

Why you should “raise your hand for something that scares you”

Annie Keller is an Experience Specialist at Slack. Her job ensures that customers use the product in a way that makes their working lives efficient, engaging, and enjoyable.

Last month, Keller volunteered to present to 50,000 people regarding Slack’s productivity Tips and Tricks. Although the experience was daunting, she found it extremely rewarding and something she hopes will encourage others.

Q: What has your experience been like working for Slack so far? 

A: Since graduating from college, I’ve felt very lucky to work on interesting challenges at a few different companies. My experience at Slack is no different. The company rewards work ethic and creativity with opportunities–like the opportunity to speak at one of our customer’s All Hands Calls. Slack provides a culture of support that made me feel comfortable in taking a risk! 

Q: Why did you volunteer to speak to 50,000 people? 

A: A few weeks ago, my project team was asked if one of us wanted to present to 50,000 people about Slack productivity tips and tricks. Without thinking, I shot my hand up. 

Then… I slowly lowered it. I volunteered but I had doubts– insecurity crept in and I thought to myself “Should I have let a more tenured/experienced person on my team do this instead? Why do I deserve this opportunity?” 

Ultimately, I realized I volunteered because simply…I wanted to do it. To present in front of 50,000 people would help grow my professional brand, and most importantly, prove to myself that I could do it. 

I’m so proud of myself for volunteering to present for this large audience. Raise your hand for something that scares you. It worked out for me!

Annie Keller

Q: What does the phrase “comfort zone” mean to you? 

A:A “comfort zone” is that place where you feel stress-free. It’s familiar and you feel 100% in control. It’s like walking; you aren’t thinking what foot goes next. 

But a “comfort zone” can also be suffocating. Anything outside of it seems scary. For me, I feel my pulse increase when I do something outside of my “comfort zone.” I have self-doubt. My personal goal is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, so that I gain more confidence with each challenge that comes my way. 

Q: How do you think this presentation will impact your future confidence and career? 

A: After I finished the big presentation, I was on Cloud 9. 

Being able to look back and reflect gave me a major confidence boost. I know it wasn’t easy. It was the biggest audience I had ever presented in front of, but I worked hard. I perfected my script. I shared it with peers. And I practiced. This experience helped me realize that work ethic makes scary moments easier to tackle. 

Had I not rehearsed as much as I did, the presentation would have flopped and my confidence would have taken a massive hit. As for my career, things are trending positive! Through the preparation and execution of the presentation, I was able to connect with senior leaders who now know about my work ethic and my ability to step outside of my comfort zone in a major way. 

Q: What advice do you have for students (and professionals) who have an opportunity to do something outside their comfort zone?

A: I’m not going to say “just simply do it,” because there’s nothing simple about it. 

For me, it was possible to step out of my comfort zone because I was confident about two things. 

#1: I have a group of supporters in my life, personally and professionally. It’s this safety net that protects me if I fall. 

Stepping out of my comfort zone has opened doors to more and more opportunities. Now, my comfort zone includes speaking in front of 50,000 people. I did it! I can do it again! 

#2: My work ethic helps me see through challenges. When I first raised my hand to present, I knew in the back of my mind that I had this superpower. 

I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone. With a support system and hard work, you’ll prove to yourself that your comfort zone may be bigger than you think!

Annie Keller

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