“Coke Whore”, “Crazy Bitch”, “Skank” – and those were the nice ones. It’s been a few years since hearing colorful adjectives followed by my [stage] name, and as a true recovering narcissist, I gotta say, I kinda miss it.

When you spend a decade in your 20s as a sex-worker (nude stripper), it’s hard to shake the judgment vibe. Even though my pole-swinging days are long behind me, at forty-four, I still wrestle with some pretty ugly name-calling. Only now all these years later, I only hear it from myself.

A couple of weeks ago, while surfing the Twitterverse, fellow tweet-buddy Bryan Elliott (founder of Linked Orange County) announced he was hosting a speaker event that sparked my interest.

“Guess which business icon is coming from NYC to OC to give a game-changing presentation this week?” – @BryanElliott

Game Changing? Really?

I’m the first to admit the only business savvy I possess is a direct result of watching Samantha Jones work her shit as a kick-ass publicist in New York on Sex and the City. Carrie’s stint as a contributing writer for Vogue was also helpful, but to be fair, that was really more about the Vivienne Westwood pinstriped suit (I still dream about it). So when Bryan’s tweet popped up on my TL (that’s “Twitter Time Line”, for you social media virgins), I was more curious about the “game changing” than “business icon” part.

After clicking on his link, I learned Bryan’s guest was none other than Seth Godin, world-famous entrepreneur, author and public speaker. He’s HUGE! This is HUGE! Naturally, I was still clueless as to who exactly Mr. Godin even was, but after perusing his website, I dug the guy immediately.

Because I’m fighting the men off with a stick, and hordes of literary agents and publishers are fighting over me, I decided to throw Bryan a bone, and sign up for this gig. It took a lot of calendar adjustment (what with my channel surfing old Seinfeld and Will and Grace episodes and heating up some frozen lasagna), but I was able to swing it.

The event went down on a Friday night, right after work. Enter excuse number one to bail: The “I’m too tired” vibe came around just after the blood-sugar-crashing-three-o-clock hour – and lasted all the way through to the hotel parking lot where a few steps away in a banquet room, were hundreds of Seth followers and fans. It didn’t take long before my brain was flooded with even more reasons to drive my ass home, instead of attending. “These people are professional business-career grown-ups. Who you foolin, you crazy bitch, ex-stripper, drug addict wanna be writer?” There’s nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone to release your inner asshole.

There was only one person I wanted to talk with, one of my best friends Patrick, who at that very moment was somewhere flying over the Arabian Sea (asshole). He’s a self-made man who has been through the professional ringer and survived, keeping his business afloat after nearly every one of his “friends” in his industry turned on him. He also happens to be my biggest cheerleader and can make me laugh, while I wipe my tears. I knew I couldn’t speak with him, so I sent Patrick an email instead.

“I’m sitting here in the hotel parking lot, paralyzed with fear. Why am I so afraid? I forced myself to come here tonight, this is so out of my comfort zone. This whole business/Corporate America/entrepreneur thing – I feel way in over my head.

But I’m doing it. Out of our comfort zone is where the magic happens, right? Fuck. Here goes…”

Fast forward to where I end up in front of those hundreds of people, under the spotlight during Seth’s Q&A at the end of his presentation, my knees buckling as I cling to any words of encouragement that would keep me from passing out. C’mon, Christine. You used to bend over naked in front of strangers, for fuck’s sake. Get your shit together – you can do this.

When it came time to speak, I was honest (probably to a fault – did I really tell Seth Godin I had no idea who he was?). My voice cracked and I fought back nervous tears, but I asked my question. As I stood there locking eyes with this incredibly talented man (with a mind that’ll blow your creative socks off), I savored every sip of his honest and thoughtful advice.

I’ll share exactly what I learned in a future post (you can take the “strip” outta the “tease”…) but for now, I’ll just say that not only was this event indeed a game changer – it reminded me that as long as I stay true to my whistle and scorecard, the fans in the seats will come.

* * *

Here’es the part where you tell me: Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone – and what went down because of it?

29 comments

  1. Last summer when my book started it’s brutal editing phase and I was only 0-4 (i ended up 0-7) in rejections from publishers, I participated in a first time authors video chat. If you ever want to snow real snobbery, not the fun music/pop culture kind we particpate in with our friends and twitter followers, hang out with writers who either have a deal or are looking for one. I wrote a novella about a female Rocky Balboa in dirty jeans who could rock a club with her fender strat, tough songs, and bad ass attitude. I was too punk rock for the virtual room and so was my book. When it came to my turn to “pitch my book” and introduce myself, I considered playing the “bad connection” game. Instead, I smirked through my pitch and enjoyed the uncomfortable silence. Afterwards, the person who hosted it, a lovely woman named Kristen, who’s written 13 books, and trashed my 15 page treatment I sent her weeks before, emailed me. She told me she was proud of me and my pitch was the only honesy one that made sense and sounded interesting.

    Sometimes, Christine, being too punk rock for the room or just not the slickest person around means you’re unique and someone will recognize it. I can’t wait to read your book. I hope you get a chance to look mine up. You may hate it but you’ll recognize the weird passion. It’s why I read and comment you.

    *fistbump*

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  2. Consider me one of your devoted fans, cheering you on…..always waiting for your next post. Always getting something out of it. Hell yeah, you did it afraid – because sometimes even taking a small step takes big balls. I love your balls, Christine!

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  3. Self deprecation goes a long way. Sometimes we are carried through marathons of hatred with insults ramming our brains. Good of you to climb over that (again and again).

    God I love reading you!

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  4. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. I’m glad you didn’t chicken out and you went…and spoke up.

    Oh, and I loved Lance’s comment. Awesome story! In a world of ‘sameness’ it’s nice when something, or someone, becomes memorable. These literary folks decide what the masses will like and force it upon us in bulk. I applaud those who choose keeping themselves true over fitting the mold.

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  5. Everyone is a business person, an entrepreneur, and above all a human being. I don’t care if you’ve got a 5000 dollar suit or a 20 dollar bedazzled thong on, everyone has a seat at the table, and every person has the ability to be a “game changer”. You’ve often written how you took pleasure in being the stripper and owning a room by being the confident one on display. I don’t see any difference in any business world. You know how to own a room, you know what confidence feels like, and darlin’ you’ve always had a penchant for being weird. Kick ass, own a room and leave a mark in ways 17 year old Kiki never knew were possible. Side bonus: Less precision shaving.

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  6. Christine,

    You remind me every day that when you stay true to who are are, embrace every part of yourself, and go after what you really want — the universe has a way of opening up for you. I’m cheering for you.

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  7. Seeing you speak in public several times now, I find it silly that you would be nervous! You are an amazing speaker, even better writer, and I adore everything you say and write. Never doubt yourself…please. I’m .ooking forward to reading what you asked and what/how he answered. I’m sure you gave your question serious thought. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the book! Keep writing, dreaming, and moving forward girl!

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  8. I LOVE your raw truthfulness!!! There are NO veils when you share. It makes me pay more attention to what you have to say because I know you are hiding NOTHING!! I respect your courageous spirit. BTW courage is defined as being afraid and doing it anyway!!
    Yes. I have stepped out of my comfort zone MANY times. Each time I do I am amazed at what is revealed to me in self discovery!!
    YOU are my HERO!!!

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  9. RIGHT! Out of our comfort zones IS where the magic happens. I am now LIVING out of my comfort zone. Every second of every day. I am more alive and inspired than I’ve ever been.

    Your writing never fails to inspire me- it’s brilliant. Raw, honest, relatable. I always look forward to, learn from and am entertained by it. Keep it coming!!

    xoxo

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  10. You have helped me shut my ‘inner mean girl’ up and your inspiration has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone which is where I believe true growth happens. I adore you, I thank you, and I too am cheering you on!
    XoJ

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  11. That took a lot of courage for you to be so honest asking Seth Godin a question, especially in the spotlight in front of everyone. Proud of you!

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  12. Well, as you know, courage is doing the right thing despite your fear. Good on you for pushing through, being present, and being courageous. How liberating that must have felt.

    I once spoke to 600 real estate folks, after falling on my face two weeks before in front of a small group of 50, during a regional “sales rally.” I did it, and did it well. That was a game changer for me.

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  13. I know you Chrissy and I’m not surprised you had the courage to get up there. I saw you speak at a book reading in SF, it was a small room, but you had us memorized! Good for you sweetie!

    Like

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