Danielle Di-Masi has a lot of credentials to her name: banker, financial adviser, keynote speaker and business lecturer. Also, she met the Dalai Lama.
“He was in Australia for an event, and I got an email late at night that said: ‘Hi Dani. Yes the Dalai Lama will meet you tomorrow at 10.30am at the Brisbane Convention Centre. Thank you’,” Di-Masi told Yahoo Finance.
This is where Di-Masi’s story takes an interesting turn.
The University of New South Wales business lecturer obviously lives in Sydney, and was in Coffs Harbour for the week. She had no business clothes, no heels, no stockings - just a pair of swimmers and pyjamas.
“I had to go to Target - it was the only thing open - and I’m trying to find an appropriate dress and heels and stockings and underwear.”
But it wasn’t just clothing she’d have to sort it - how was she going to get there?
“I’m looking at flights, but because I have to fly to Sydney from Coffs Harbour to fly to Brisbane - I’m not going to make it,” she said. Instead, she would have to drive.
And then, she hopped on Google to figure out what to expect.
“I keep seeing the same thing - when he meets someone for the first time, he asks them one question.”
And the Dalai Lama did ask her one question: “Who are you?”
“I practiced this question for five hours in the car. And he held my hand and said, ‘I know you’re Danielle, and I know that we have a meeting. Now who are you?’”
At this point, Di-Masi recalled she froze.
“It’s such a great question, that I think is really hard for everyone to answer.
“So, I think out of everything in our conversation, the biggest thing I learned was to keep asking yourself that question and to figure out whether you still align to that. It’s a reminder to take action everyday to align to who you are, and who you are becoming.”
If you ask Di-Masi what she said, she’ll tell you she has no idea.
“I honestly can’t remember. I stumbled through something - but I was so mortified. Now, it depends on where I am. It’s slightly different when I’m home, or when I’m working or onstage - and that’s okay.
“It doesn’t have to be some big esoteric answer that covers all possible things - you’ve got integrity, you can change from day to day and that’s fine.”
Why knowing who you are is key
Former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed the key piece of advice to her children was to walk their own path.
“They have to walk their own walk,” Obama told Oprah in an interview.
“They cannot define themselves by looking at each other or looking at me or their dad.
“They have to take the time to get to know themselves — give themselves a moment to figure out who they want to be in the world, not who they think I want them to be, not what the rest of the world says about them, but to really think about how they want to shape their lives and how they want to move in this world.”
And being yourself is incredibly key in the workplace too.
People experience greater anxiety when they cater to someone else’s preferences – ultimately hindering their performance – as opposed to when they behave authentically, a study by the Harvard Business School (HBS) revealed.
“Although people believe using catering in interpersonal first meetings will lead to successful outcomes, the opposite is true: catering creates undesirable feelings of instrumentality for the caterer, increases anxiety, and ultimately hinders performance,” the study found.
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