Girl Up: The Secrets to an Extraordinary Life: Courtney Ferrell (Transcript)

Courtney Ferrell at TEDxRVA

Full text of creativity consultant Courtney Ferrell’s talk titled “Girl Up: The Secrets to an Extraordinary Life” at TEDxRVA conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Girl Up: The Secrets to an Extraordinary Life by Courtney Ferrell at TEDxRVA


Okay. I need a favor. I need all girls who are between the age of 17 and 24 to stand up. You got to go quickly. Don’t feel like she won’t know. I know you’re here; so stand up tall. Stand up, let everyone see you.

And then yep, okay. So right… right there: do you mind… you, yeah. Would you come up on these stairs right here and just come onstage with me?

Okay. So I have spent the majority of my adult life trying to awaken the creative spirit in people and keep my own creative spirit entertained.

And 13 years ago, I married a lovely man named Wortie Ferrell, who spent the majority of his adult life in education, just helping young people become good people.

Come on, come on, come over here.

And so I have come to have this belief that the greatest untapped resource that society has…. in this chair right here… that society has, exists in girls like this. Exists in girls between 17 and 24, give or take, a few years.

And so today… what’s your name?

Girl: Tessa…

Hold this right here. Tessa, who? There’re lots of Tessas. Which one?

Girl: Tessa Anderson

Tessa Anderson. Okay. Today Tessa Anderson I wrote this TED talk for you, and only for you. The rest of these people get to listen but there’s nothing more that I could do with my time today, more important than to make you feel as big and as valuable as you are.

So I’m going to tell you this story. First of all….

Okay. So I am a mother of three, I have two girls and a boy and my second little girl Roswell went to kindergarten for the first time this year. And I was going to be mother of the year and have her prepared.

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So the night before I explained what was going to happen. I took her out in the yard and I got down on one knee and I picked up this acorn.

And I said Rosie, “This acorn believes that it is going to become a big oak tree. Even though it doesn’t look like one now and it doesn’t care what you think, or what I think or what any of these people think, it knows it inside. And that is self-confidence: knowing that one day you’re going to become something bigger than you are right now.”

And I opened her little hand and I put it in there. And then I took her other hand and I put a kiss on it, like that.

Now close your little fingers around it and I said, “That is LOVE. That’s the love of me and your father and your sister and your brother and your aunts and your uncles in your community and you are loved from the top of your head to the bottom of your toe. And with those two things, tomorrow you can get out of the car with your sister and walk with your shoulders back into school with no crying. You understand?”

And she said yes.

Every day you pack those two things. You pack your love and you pack your creative spirits.

The next day we get in the car. We drive; we open the door. She puts her little shoulders back seat. She has the acorn in one hand; she has the kiss in the other and she walks right into school.

And I’m so proud. I don’t even cry; I’m so proud of myself really at this point, right?

And I get home and the phone rings and it’s the school.

And I say, “Oh hi, is Rosie okay?”

And they say “Yes, Mrs. Farrell. She is. Kindergarten actually starts tomorrow.”

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So if any of you didn’t get mother of the year last year because I had it locked up.

So I tell you that story, because perfection is not a human quality, and a lot of girls and a lot of women pretend like it is. It is not; let go of it. Don’t even aspire to it. Just be good enough and show up with your self-confidence and show up with love.

So that’s what I’m going to try and give you in the time that I have remaining.

All right. So I’m going to tell you another story.

So I live in Dallas, Texas. Are you cool right now?

Girl: Yeah.

You’re good, okay. So I live in Dallas. This is water, I drink; if you’re thirsty you can have some. I promise I’m very healthy right now.

Okay. So I live in Dallas, Texas. I moved there five years ago. I knew not a soul; not a soul. And after a year I’d finally cultivated like a couple friends and one of them was a very like big-time Dallas person. You know Dallas, that was like big hair, big, big, big and I… like I don’t even wear makeup. This is just for today, right?

So she invited me to her birthday lunch and where all the other trendy, very trendy women were going to be. Andy Hardy told you I was like this on high heels, right? This is not my thing.

So I was excited… because I was going to meet trendy cool women.

And then I got up that day and I started digging in the garden and I lost track of time. And then I looked at my watch. It was only ten minutes to the lunch and I was dirty… really really dirt in my fingernails and like crazy hair and the whole thing.

And so I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get ready.

So I went into my garage and I put on the gorilla suit and I grabbed a bunch of bananas. And I drove down to this really cool eating spot and there they all were, because I was a little bit late and they were there looking gorgeous with handbags and stuff.

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And I walked up to this girl and I gave her the bananas and I stood there. And then I took my mask off and said, “Oh, she dressed up me in something completely different in Virginia.”

Now I’m thirsty. I got to have some.

So I’m telling you that, because you have to be authentically you. Come hell or high water, I don’t care if everyone dresses up but that’s not your thing, don’t do it. And if it is, do it, right. Authentically you… and if you’re going to be authentically you, you have to trust your gut in every situation.

And here’s the crazy part. We wait until we can intellectualize what our gut is telling us and we can explain it before we actually listen to our gut.

And what I’m telling you is you have to listen to your gut right there even if it doesn’t make sense. If you feel like the moment would be better if you did something, go do it.

If you feel like you need to remove yourself from a situation, remove yourself. And in order to do that, you need resources. Every girl… every girl and especially you, tell me your name, again because I’m all excited I forgot.

Tessa. Tessa that’s the name; you need mad money. You need mad money; that means if you’re out with people and you get mad, you got money to get in there.

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