As the Type-A Parent Conference draws to a close tonight, our closing keynote speaker is Erika Napoletano with My Perfect Imperfect Me: How to Build a Business by Breaking the Rules, Making Bold Choices, and Embracing Your True Self.
The first slide in Erika’s presentation is a disclaimer:
SMALL PRINT DISCLAIMER FOR TODAY’S PRESENTATION
I have a filthy mouth. I have dirty words on some of my slides. Neither of those things are going to change in the next hour-ish. Just don’t bitch…because I told ya so. LOOK! I got you a hedgehog!
[This is not the hedgehog picture she used, but I found it on Stock Xchng. Click on the pic for the link to the original.]
“Is this an awesome fucking conference or what?”
A lot of people had to leave early, so Erika says if she falls, she’ll give everyone a hundred bucks. “I get to do what I do because people like you pay to be at conferences like this.”
Let’s talk about something that matters. We’re all here to work, and our government is about to shut down because people can’t agree. (She has us shake hands with the people sitting next to each other to show how easy it is to play nice with one another.) Call your Senators when you get home.
There is a lot of standing and sitting for quick polls. Most of us don’t have it “all figured out.”
Only Erika is standing for that one. She’s going to tell us why. She started as a blogger in 2008. Her business, her rules. “I’m doing what I’m doing for me.” But then on October 26, 2010, she fell in love. Ridiculously, inconveniently in love. She and Jason fell crazy in love at an Xbox Kinect event. It didn’t get to last though, because he died on October 31, 2010. Her universe fell apart, but in the days, weeks, and months that followed, her audience inundated her with messages of support. Flowers and food showed up at her door, and she didn’t have a publicly listed address.
Everything she does is for her audience. She is so comfortable being herself because she’d spent 38 years living someone else’s “shoulds,” and she doesn’t do that anymore.
Instead of the term ex-husband, Erika prefers wasband.
What’s True and What’s Honest?
It comes down to the right words vs the best words. The best words speak to what is honest and true about your experience and who you are.
She’s telling us about the night she was supposed to meet her boyfriend’s parents. It was the night of the OJ Simpson white Bronco chase. The mom’s boyfriend used the N-word. The mom answered the door with a Marlboro in her hand. The mom’s first words to her were, “You’ll never be as good for him as Pam.” That was the first time she’d ever heard about the first wife of the man would become her husband. She ignored the warning signs. She married him, and he held her up against the wall by her neck.
She didn’t just say “the N-word” when she told the story though. She used it straight out. Because it has emotional value. She doesn’t want to make us say the word, as we do, in our heads.
How willing are you to tell the uncomfortable story? How willing are you to make people feel something?
Why Brands and Blogs Thrive
They are willing to put you in their story. It isn’t about them. It’s more personal, more universal. You can say, “I’ve been there.” It’s relatable. You want to tell someone else about it. Successful blogs thrive because they are willing to tell the stories that resonate. They use the best words.
Be willing to be unpopular. Rethink it. So many hands went up because we were unpopular in school. The reason we’re here today is because we got kicked in the lady parts by being unpopular. No one was telling us how awesome we were. We weren’t wearing the right jeans. We had to figure things out for ourselves.
If you’re living believing the myth that everyone is going to like what you say, it’s not real. Erika doesn’t care if she gets a 49% complaint rate for her speaking gigs. Those people aren’t her target demographic. But the other 51%? They got something good from her. Even when people don’t like her and tell other people about how much they didn’t like her, she affected them.
What Scares You?
Admit to your audience what scares you. It strikes a chord. It gives your audience permission to say the words and allows them to own their own fears.
What keeps you from telling your story?
“I will never turn down my ambition because someone else is uncomfortable with the volume.”
This post is over, because as Erika would say, I am currently losing my shit.