First off…I am old school and a little skeptical so it takes a fair amount of story telling to pull me from my Blackberry and pay attention. But you know what, sitting in a cavernous convention center in Rochester, N.Y. with more than 1,200 others, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns had our total attention.

I have heard Ursula speak many times before, but this was different…this was personal, This was a story from the heart.

The event was the annual luncheon for the YWCA of Rochester.

Ursula was the keynote and she did not disappoint.

Recounting how she grew up in the projects on the lower east side in NYC, she said “we were poor, but we didn’t know it.” Ursula gave her mother tremendous credit for shaping her character and said she was often told “where you are — is not who you are.”

After obtaining a degree in engineering, Ursula started as an intern at Xerox and never left…working her way up the ladder to the top spot.

What was also inspiring was the credit she gave for the mentoring support she received at Xerox. She told the audience…I work at a tremendous company, which has given me tremendous opportunities…but at Xerox that is not unusual.

And it was with great pride that our table of Xerox people joined those 1,200 others in a very heartfelt standing ovation. Yep, this was pretty cool and I had a tear in my eye.

– Bill McKee @xeroxprguy