Are You Scared Shitless?

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Last week at Audience Conference I did something I have never done before. No powerpoint, no panel, just me on a broadway stage giving a talk at an event headline sponsored by Ford Motor Company in front of hundreds of people.

The attendees were also a lot of my peers or people in high places. People like executives from Ford, ABC News, Warner Brothers Records, Jason Calacanis (former AOL Exec, Mahalo founder) and many other heavy hitters.

It was by far the most intimidating audience I have ever spoken to.

Right before I went on Loren Feldman looked at me and said, "you nervous?".

"Shittin bricks" I replied.

I had never been on a stage with tons of lights, velvet curtains on the side and behind me, and microphoens all over. It was pretty neat.

I gave a talk about how I built an audience at How I blog in the space of making money online – but so do hundreds of thousands of other people. Why is it that I built one of the largest audiences in the niche and others have failed to get an audience. Even people much more “successful” than myself.

I believe it all comes down to 3 key things. I will be posting the video from my talk as soon as Loren gets it to me ;) (feel free to prod him on twitter @1938media)

This post isn’t about my talk though… it’s about facing your fears. I was scared shitless to take the stage and give my talk but what was the worst thing that could happen? I sucked? I tripped and fell? I fainted?

I remember back when I did my first appearance on SEO Rockstars radio show. I remember the first time I flew in an airplane. I remember when I gave my first keynote speech. I remember giving my talk at the Elite Retreat on conversion and seeing Seth Godin in the audience! All pretty scary experiences.

Are you doing things that scare you shitless? Or are you happy to live in your comfort zone?

Failure is something I can deal with. Regret is not.

96 thoughts on “Are You Scared Shitless?

  1. Web sites

    It is a matter of getting used to to speak in public, I’m afraid. A trick that works fine to me it’s not to think in the audience. I speak as if they where one entity.

  2. Arthur Cundy

    Wow, I can imagine how you felt. I always get nervous just before I have to go up in front a large group of people. But in life I enjoy doing this that I am afraid of. It means that I am living life, bettering myself and growing.

    Good Job Jeremy!

  3. Annie Sorensen

    Couldn’t agree more, Jeremy. It amazes me how many people in the business world SAY they want huge success, talk big, yet aren’t willing to actually do any difficult, scary work. Launching yourself out of your comfort zone, taking risks, is the only true way of growing. Not only ourselves but our businesses.

    “Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

    Looking forward to the video!

  4. Mike

    I bet it was tough but you are a good speaker so I don’t think I would worry. In my opinion some people are much better at conferences when they go with a power point and many are much better when they don’t prepare much because you get a lot less BS and more truth.

  5. Shawn Collins

    I thought it was a great venue for you – so much more natural than relying on slides.

    To me, it was the real you speaking – telling a story, rather than delivering a presentation, and that made it a whole lot more interesting.

  6. Christine

    What a timely post. I just had a gestalt shift over the weekend about this very thing. I face a major regret I had, and it smacked me in the face. No more regrets from now on.

  7. KRONiS

    I guess it’s just part of the territory. I’ve just recently started speaking on the circuit and have a mega panel this Wednesday at Pubcon with some of the top names in SEO. I’m not scared, because I’m prepared, however it is pretty much one of my first major speaking engagements. (I just did Blogworld/Wordcamp and 140char conf)

    It’s one thing to be comfortable and able to ‘wing’ things, but another to have to present your ideas and new information to a relatively advanced technical crowd, while being moderately entertaining.

    See some of you there! (nov 11 4:15)

  8. Travis

    It is always great to push yourself in order to grow your capabilities. These excersizes also give you much mire credibility in the blogosphere because it makes you appear more human and therefore connected (to the users) which is one of your biggest points of advantage.
    Glad to see you busted it out, I am looking forward to the video!

  9. We Fly Spitfires

    Inspiring post. I love it when I managed to push myself out of my comfort zone although it’s a pretty tough thing to do. I think I need to it again soon, not just for blogging but for all manner of other aspects in my life. I like the motto “fortune favours the bold”! :)

  10. purposeinc

    that’s why I love you! Whether you land on the moon, or wake up face down in the grass, you WENT FOR IT!

    Both online and in person, truly inspirational courage. :)

  11. Casey Caddell

    Im feeling a bit the same way oday. This is the first day of me having quit my job and starting my own buisness. A little scary, but mostly exciting.
    Thanks for the great post.

  12. Sites

    Like Michael Jordan said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Back at PwC partners always used to talk about getting out of your “comfort zone” and I guess getting up on stage in front of all those heavy hitters from industry would definitely qualify.

  13. Rick Kats

    Shoe first of all I’m sure you did an excellent job presenting, simply because you are good with talking and expressing your self. Secondly if I was in your shoes (lol in shoe money’s shoes) I’d probably faint haha, I still to this day get really nervous presenting in front of people and just don’t know how to over come that but I guess time will heal my fear. anyhow congrats man!

  14. james

    the 50th law of power – fearlessness. it’s a great read or, for those less inclined, a great listen.

    “the 50th law”

    look it up – no douchey amzn affiliate links here :)

  15. ez rent a car

    I used to be terrified of public speaking… i avoided it all costs whenever possible. Pretty soon it became almost impossible to avoid it, and after a while it was something I was expected to do on a regular basis. I was awful at it too, because i was so nervous. I think my brain just shut down all together. But I am here to tell ya, that anyone can conquer this fear — cause if I did, anyone can. I actually enjoy public speaking these days. I’m not the very best at it, but i feel pretty darn great when I get the job done. =)

  16. Adam Baird

    I loved this post. Its so important to step out of your comfort zone and go for it when opportunities come up.

    Failure is the worst thing that can happen…and that’s rarely ever that bad.

  17. SEO Denver

    Very cool!

    Unemployment tends to stiffen one’s spine as well. Having to build a business by building it and then telling people is terrifying. Unemployment is worse! You have to believe in your value though!

    Thanks very much… enjoyed this!

  18. David Walker

    The most inspiring part of this was that you, Jeremy Shoemaker, with one of the largest audiences in his niche, were scared shitless. I ask; who are we not to be? If that didn’t stop you then we shouldn’t let it stop us either. I’m doing crazy things that scare me when I stop to think about them; then I stop thinking about them and keep on. I believe if you’re scared of heights, then you should go up to the highest building and jump off. Alanis was right; bite off a little more than you can chew; that’s the only way to grow and learn.

  19. Mike Klein

    Right on! I agree you gotta face your fears.

    I’m a big believer that you don’t learn by staying in your comfort zone. All great learning comes from emotion. And, there is no better motivator than fear.

  20. Jon Poland

    Jeremy: You just hit on the one central point that keeps most people from turning their ideas into businesses. They are afraid of exposing themselves to criticism. It is much easier to sit back and do more planning and research and wait for the “right time” to move forward with the business.

    The “right time” never comes and the business is never launched, all because the individual did not have the courage to step into the unknown.

    Jeremy, your post has resonated with me on a very deep level because this is an issue I battled it for years.

  21. Jon Poland

    Jeremy: You just hit on the one central point that keeps most people from turning their ideas into businesses. They are afraid of exposing themselves to criticism. It is much easier to sit back and do more planning and research and wait for the “right time” to move forward with the business.

    The “right time” never comes and the business is never launched, all because the individual did not have the courage to step into the unknown.

    Jeremy, your post has resonated with me on a very deep level because this is an issue I battled for years.

  22. Facebook Applications

    No doubt, speak to public is very difficult for shy persons and Some people love to talk to public. But the thing is that what are you saying is clear to audience or not? Are they listen you with interest or not?
    I appreciate your try and wish you a good speaker

  23. Jakob (

    I have heard a bunch of times that public speaking is the number one thing which is feared by most people, and feared so much they would rather die! Now that’s pretty crazy. If you are up for small daily advices, which makes life interesting you should check out this book from Paul Arden – “It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be”.

  24. Darko

    Damn love that quote:

    Failure is something I can deal with. Regret is not. There is another one ‘Failure is never quite so frightening as regret.’ But your sounds better lol.

    Gonna implement that as one mantra in life…hope that more and more people implement this quote in their lives too.

  25. sockyee

    I can understand how you felt. With all the attention focused on you, especially with top and important people around, it will really get you nervous. I’m sure the next round will be smooth… hey, after all you are jeremy schoemaker

  26. tommy

    i think this is normal right?
    if we not usually speak on stage normally we will little scare. but if the audience very intimidate can make your cloths wet

  27. AffPortal

    I remember my first webinar… 300 people signed in and I was doing it on building landing pages. Literally coding html and css live… it sucked so bad… everything fell apart and of course none of it worked… Talk about shitting bricks.

    Since then, I have done about 10 more and all of them gradually got better and better. I’m comfortable now and the students at PPC Classroom give me good feedback now. It’s nice b/c there’s a lot that goes into these webinars and i’m much more of a coder and aff marketer than I am a presenter…

    Sometimes you just gotta show a little sac…


  28. First Link Checker


    I think you make an excellent point in saying that in order to succeed, you need to overcome your fears. It is so true, and I hope to remember your advice the next time I am presented with a similar situation.

  29. Shane

    It’s not always easy to find opportunities to confront your fears, though, is it?
    I can imagine that many would quite like the chance to be scared shitless because they have to give a talk to a huge audience. ^^

    But the point you make is definitely a valuable one.

  30. Personal Trainer Insurance

    Ahhh….yes discomfort is so much a part of real growth…I once heard a speaker say: If 20% of what you are doing everyday isn’t uncomfortable, you not growing. I am not sure I agree with the 20% or the everyday…but the principle of his comment run true anyhow..

    1. AffPortal

      Cheers to that. Bo Shembeckler (sp) Michigan FB coach always said “you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse”.

      Words to live by.

  31. neelmoney

    This situation is not the rare case. Everyone should pass the situation. Before the final you have to pass the qualifying rounds.

  32. Lead Generation Solutions

    I was scared crapless once, it was the first time I ever had to bat against (baseball) someone who pitched faster than 90 mph. It was absolute gas, and after that at bat I was never scared of anything moving at me again.

  33. Robert

    Definitely true. I would much rather be nervous and get it over with (even if it doesn’t turn out to be spectacular) than feel anguished because I was too nervous to even face up to a challenge. Also, by trying something new, you learn what you need to do to succeed at that thing the next time. Did my speech need to be more direct, more detailed, more enthusiastic? How can I improve next time around?

  34. Merle

    Love the pic. You are right about the “comfort zone”. I find myself fighting it all the time. It’s always easier to stay with what you know then to try something new, but if we don’t later on we may regret that we never gave it a shot. Better to try something and fail to have never tried at all. Regrets suck.

  35. Marcus

    Yes, the comfort zone has been far too comfortable for me lately. Got to liven things up a bit and get out there! Reminds me of a motivational speaker I went to a while back where he was describing a period of his life where he was “Parked” in life. Took him a while to engage the gears and get moving to take on challenges again. Your articles reminds me that I need to do the same!

  36. Mark

    Interesting topic, I was just listening to Tony Robbins talking about how important it is to continually strive to not get complacent. i like the synergy that your post ahs for me today!
    I seem to be continually presented with opportunities to ‘Break out of my comfort zone”!

  37. ClubPenguinCheats

    By trying something new, you learn what you need to do to succeed at that thing the next time. Did my speech need to be more direct, more detailed, more enthusiastic?

  38. hp micr

    Come on now, were you really scared shitless or were you just a touch excited at the same time? Been there at a much smaller chamber meeting and just went blank. I feel for you.

  39. Drew

    I didn’t realize they’d use this term in America. And the answer to your question is that I’ve never been so scared in all my life.

  40. Contemporary Doors

    EEE! I have been there/ same expression as well. It wasn’t as high profile as yours though. The missus does it with ease but all I can visualise is throwing up over everyone when your up there, great! and that might only be a presentation to ten people. Well done you! ps I havn’t thrown up any one yet but theirs always a first time haha If you do though do it in style, do it like Chunk out of the goonies style!

  41. Don Lawrence

    What I really believe is the feeling of uncomfortablity (ie: scared shitless) just means you have stepped beyond what is known (the past) into the present (exciting because it is unknown). If you are scared shitless it means you are alive and aware of the present. Nothing better than that. Nothing more rewarding either.

  42. ABDixon @ iPhone 6

    I really admire you and anyone who can standup in front of an audience (even with fear) and be coherent. When I was just 14 years old, I had a horrible experience that has stayed with me, and has probably held me back in my (former) career.

    I had just gotten braces and had to stand up in front of church attendees to lead them in prayer. I had done this numerous times, didn’t think anything of it, was not nervous, etc. However, because of the braces on my teeth, I began stumbling over the words — and I was mortified.

    Since that time, if anyone even mentions getting up in front of people to speak I literally break out in a cold sweat, and my heart starts racing.

    I have attempted to speak, (had to in my old job) and always did a Horrible job, shaky voice, shaky hands, etc. However, if I sit down and speak — I’m fine. So, if I have to speak in front of people, I Sit Down … LOL

  43. Christine

    I think you’re bang on the money – I recently read Feel the Fear and Do It anyway by Susan Jeffers – changed my outlook completely. I’m geting better at dealing with the things that aren’t working as I want them (yet) and learning to feel the fear …. and doing it anyway!

  44. MAtt Borden

    Right on Shoemoney! This is where I am at. 4 years ago I started working hard to be full time IM. Today I have quite my day job of 8 years, work with people all over the world and just bought part of a company with people I have never met. I am far away from giving speeches with red curtains, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared on a regular basis. lol Its nice to know that big hitters like you get scared too. ‘

    Im not sure I could do what you did, but think your right. Regret is something I can’t live with. Thanks for the motivation!

  45. hogorina


    Officer pulls weapon while a minor office holder tests the mentality of a gathered mob. As Karl Marx puts it: Idle time is acquired by the few, by converting the whole life time of workers to labor. Maybe this officer decided that he, himself, was merely a tool in uniform. Then again, this public servant , officer, most likely suffered from The Personality Suppression Gravitational Syndrome. It is possible that this individual lost his marbles by watching too many TV commercials. We must remember that Dr. Sigmund Freud tarnished this nation,s mobs by proclaiming that all Americans were paranoid.The late Dr. Karl Menninger, psychiatrist, M.D., proclaimed that the whole of American (voters) were sick indeed. The Constitution gives every humanoid the right to go nuts once in a while. So let it be !

  46. Erlinda Shen

    I have lived in foreign countries where I didn’t speak the language. I’ve picked up and moved at will. But now that I have two young children and I’m moving to a city of 2 million where I know TWO people – I’m scared shitless. But this is the one that matters the most. I’m leaving a place where the economy sucks, the thinking is static and the public education are awful. Of course, as an entrepreneur, this shouldn’t affect you, but it does. At the same time, I am new to both affiliate and internet marketing. My thinking is, you can’t bitch about your situation while sitting on your butt and doing nothing about it.

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