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