Doing Brilliant Things You Suck at Doing

Two years ago I came up with an idea, as I am inclined to do when I have ideas, I immediately bought some domain names to add to my ever growing list of domain names.  I knew it was a brilliant idea because it was all about filling a need I desperately wanted not to suck at, Pitching. I was going to start a conference and online forum all about learning to pitch my ideas without shaking like a leaf, about learning to give the kind of keynote that gets a standing ovation at a conference, about negotiating a contract, or knowing how to talk to my clients, or writing a press release that actually got talked about by the press. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but knew I needed to get it done.

I’m a doer, I’m a maker, I’m a conversationalist, and being a maker and a doer (admirable skills that have certainly gotten me far) I love making and doing things that are useful to my friends, and I am great at telling my friends about it because of that. But talking to audiences, the media, or handeling myself in a normal business presentation situation… not so much… I suck. I’m not a business person, I never trained to be one. I’m a doing and making person, and it shows.

“Sucking,”  is of course, the layman’s term for “failing”, and failure – the fear of failure – is some scary shit. I know there is a “Fail fast, fail often” mantra out there (at least in the tech entrepreneurial world,) but I didn’t set out intending to fail, and that mantra is one of the dumbest entrepreneurial phrases I’ve ever heard. Starting something is not about failing, it’s about doing cool shit the best you can, it’s about making something that doesn’t suck, no matter how badly you suck at doing it, or in my case, saying it. As far as I’m concerned, no matter how badly you suck, you’re probably way ahead of the game, you are better than the scads of people too afraid to even try and build something.

I vacillate from roaring like a lion, to leaning on the stereotype that women are horrible at pitching themselves and their own projects and accomplishments. I get gun-shy if I’m doing too much talking. I have been conditioned to blend in, be a good girl, and not rock the boat, no matter how much success boat rocking has gotten me in the past. The compulsion to sit back and let my projects get “discovered” like models in a shopping mall is overwhelmingly prevalent. The fear of failure coupled with the fear of doing something I have been conditioned not to do my entire life is sometimes paralyzing, and I won’t lie, I have from time to time fallen into the role of the stereotypically meek woman, because it’s an easy, well trodden path. It’s always been a struggle to put myself out there.

My brilliant idea, Pitch Refinery, is scheduled to take place in just a few weeks (Sept 22nd and 23rd.) The speakers are stellar, the venue is paid for, the volunteers are ready, but the audience… lets just say they’re all going to have front row seats if I don’t figure out how to do all the things I built Pitch Refinery to teach me to do… it’s truly the most redonkulous catch-22 ever, but I’m going to do my best, even if my best totally sucks. My speakers say not to worry, people will show up, and I have to have faith that they’re right, because they’ve “been there, done that”  – they are all very smart business owners, they’ve been on TED stages, written their own books, made their own money and write regularly for publications like INC., Forbes, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review – but I’m still nervous that this super cool thing that I’m doing, the thing that will teach me to operate way outside of my comfort zone, the thing that all my entrepreneurial and freelancing friends said they need to go to,  is something I’m going to totally suck at pulling off.

I have a feeling that they say “fail fast, fail often” so they can pretend that being sucky is what they were aiming for in the first place, but I can’t subscribe to that. I’m building something amazing, and no matter how much I suck at telling the world about it, failure is not what I’m aiming for. You can learn to not screw it up right along side me at Pitch Refinery, get yourself a 20% off ticket, I’ll save you a seat, just in case you want to sit in the front row.



That Settles It

I have lived in my apartment for nearly five years, it’s the longest I’ve lived in any one place in my entire life.  Each year the lease comes up and I think, “This is the last year I’ll be here.”  One of those years I recall refusing to sign the lease, preferring the security a month to month arrangement would afford an on the move gypsy like me.

I’ve come to know myself as the woman content to hang my towel on a rented towel bar, never put my name on the mailbox, satisfied to leave the walls standard issue landlord white.

I do try and keep the floor swept, wipe the counters down, and make an effort to keep the bedsheets tucked in tight, it’s not that I’m a slob I’m just uninvolved. I’m a non-committal inhabitant, itching to move away anytime one place starts to feel a little too much like settling.  It’s not that I mind settling *in theory* (I fantasize about it all the time) but I haven’t really ever had the inclination to practice.

Today however, I had the inclination to paint, so I painted just one wall of my kitchen. Then I put up two shelves and hung three framed Hatch Show Prints. I really don’t understand why it took me so long to do it, I’ve been dreaming about wiping out that smugly austere landlord white for at least three of the five “why bother” years I’ve been here. It took all of three hours to accomplish.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll sit down at my kitchen table and hold a cup of coffee, or tea, or whatever my gypsy heart wants in that moment, and I’ll look at that one wall, my wall, and I’ll take a sip, maybe two, and I’ll tell myself “That settles it,” and it will, at least, for one more year.

I’m Just Drawn That Way

When I was six, I remember asking my parents to stop making sexual innuendos to one another over the family dinner table, “Mom, Dad, that’s gross, please stop.”  I didn’t know exactly what they meant, but I knew their conversation meant more that the words they said. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of mechanics of sex, my parents were not as discrete as they could have been, and as cliche as it sounds, we had cable.  It was more that I knew they weren’t supposed to be talking about it in front of  kids. – I learned that earlier that year when was grounded for two weeks after my mom heard me using planetary metaphors to explain the sex to a rapt group of neighbor children all sitting cross legged in our back yard. “Well, you see, the man puts his Jupiter in the woman’s Venus.”

After that, my parents didn’t talk at dinner at all – I had effectively shut down their reindeer games.  It’s a sad thing really, now that I’m an adult, knowing how healthy for a relationship a good game of innuendo tennis can be, I wonder to this day if I had just kept my mouth shut would’ve they stayed together?  I know what you are thinking, you are thinking it’s ridiculous of me to hold onto that childish thought of fault – but let me tell you what, kids are exhausting, they take everything, and more often than not, one of the first things they take down is sizzle between the two folks that brought them into the world. I swear this is why there are so many innuendos in children’s movies. Just so when you are wrecked from a day of working and parenting and your kids want to watch Shrek for the hundredth time with you, your mind has somewhere else to go to than the land of far far away.You all knew that Innuendo in Disney movies is a corporate plot to create more Disney consumers, didn’t you? Why else would they put them all in there, think about it…

As an adult I love word play and hard to unmask innuendo, it’s part of who I am, I’d take a slightly clever compliment to my ass over a slap to my ass almost any day of the week, or at least several clever compliments proceeding the slap. It’s not as impressive as knowing the formula for rocket fuel or having performed open heart surgery, but I pride myself on my ability to decode innuendo and the sexual metaphor in conversation, it’s been a hobby since childhood. This is why it puzzles me so that it has taken me over 15 years to understand why Jessica Rabbit would be married to someone as ridiculously stupid as Roger Rabbit, he’s an idiot of a cartoon character, whereas she, she… is not bad. How did I miss the obviousness of this pairing? His name is Roger for crying out loud, and he’s a rabbit, a fucking rabbit for crying out loud!

And you thought this post was actually going somewhere didn’t you?