When Chad Foster took the stage at the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo, attendees were in for an extraordinary experience. As a motivational keynote speaker and author, Foster's message of "blind ambition" not only chronicled his remarkable journey of success but also provided a blueprint for professionals to improve their vision — not by looking around, but by looking within. His speech left a lasting impression on the audience, eliciting a multitude of heartfelt comments from attendees who were deeply touched and inspired by his message.
Foster's journey began with a daunting challenge – losing his sight at the young age of 21 due to a genetic eye disease. Yet, rather than succumbing to a smaller life, he chose an inspiring path of resilience and became a black diamond downhill skier. In his own words, "Though my blindness was guaranteed, my attitude was my choice.” This remarkable attitude is what inspires audiences everywhere and struck a chord with ASAE expo attendees. For all who couldn’t make it to the expo, here’s what you missed.
Foster’s keynote begins with an emphasis on personal accountability and the power of choosing one's perspective. He encouraged his audience to reflect on the stories they create for themselves and about themselves. He shared that he had the choice to either view his blindness as bad luck or as a source of strength that enabled him to help others. "One story paints me as a victim, and the second is a Jedi mind trick that transforms my disability into my strength," he shared.
An audience member remarked after the keynote, "Chad's unwillingness to give up, despite adversity, is inspiring. He was very candid about his feelings about perspective and success. Definitely an area that I always need to reevaluate in my life."
Foster’s radical view on success and how we each individually view success stretches the mind and challenges his audiences to think differently.
Another attendee put it, “Chad inspired each of us to change our perspective on how we view our personal and professional challenges" which beautifully underscores his advice to attendees on the importance of thinking beyond your personal expectations.
Foster emphasizes the necessity for a positive and empowering narrative in your personal and professional lives. He emphasized the significance of visualizing success and setting ambitious goals to foster belief in one's ability to achieve them.
He introduced the audience to the concept of cognitive reframing, and stressed how individuals explain things to themselves in their minds effect the world outside their head. This impactful reshaping of the personal narrative was adopted by his ASAE expo audience, as one left the event saying, “Choosing our story is a game changing mindset. The image we believe changes the way we show up.”
Attendees walked away from the event with the idea that one's belief in their potential plays a significant role in their performance, and that they are capable of far more than they often give themselves credit for.
Foster also shared how his personal journey of losing his sight illuminated the value of stepping outside one's comfort zone. "If you never get outside of your comfort zone, you aren't growing. Life begins outside of our comfort zones.”
As an advanced skier, Foster says his blindness, rather than being a disadvantage, became an advantage that enabled him to focus on the next step. This concept of turning disadvantages into advantages resonated with a room full of professionals who often face daunting tasks and responsibilities. His unique perspective on adversity was encapsulated by his statement, "While most people are intimidated by the size of a ski slope, I'm just thinking about the next right turn." His personal stories inspired an audience member’s new mantra:
“Get comfortable with discomfort. Leaders grow outside of their comfort zone.”
Foster’s unwavering determination, his ability to choose a positive perspective, and his insights on leadership and resilience serve as a reminder that success is not defined by circumstances but by one's response to them. His message, encapsulated in the idea of "blind ambition," continues to inspire and empower professionals around the world to approach their challenges with newfound determination.
As one attendee shared, "It’s exactly the way people should approach life and work! Thank you for your time Chad!"
Foster's keynote was a remarkable moment that will linger in the minds of attendees, urging them to choose their perspective and keep pushing forward, no matter the obstacles they may face. Foster's vision for success has indeed left an indelible mark on the ASAE’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo. His keynote speaking fosters a spirit of resilience, ambition, and limitless possibility among his audience. Bring Chad Foster to your next event for a memorable and engaging experience that will make a lasting impression on your audience.
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