The other day I was accepted to participate in The Storyteller Project: Digital Storytelling for Women of Color at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa created by Dr. Rachel Raimist and Dr. Robin Boylorn. I paced the room after reading the email. I could barely contain my excitement!
I applied for the project after seeing a post on the See Jane Write Facebook group so special thanks to her for sharing it with us! Even though I don’t know exactly what’s in store yet, I do know I will be surrounded by 9 other women who also have a story to tell. Stories that may look radically different than mine. It’s the thing I look most forward to. Collaborating and learning and growing and developing with complete strangers united in one mission.
One question I’ve been asking myself since my acceptance: Who will I be on the other side of this experience? I have reasons to be both exhililarated and fearful of the answer and I think that’s more than enough reason to go and find out.
Every time I have taken a chance related to my writing or speaking, I have not had an ounce of regret. It has always brought me to a new level of self-awareness whether the outcome was what I pictured or not.
So next month I will spend a few days in Alabama, uncovering more of who I am and how I want to share her with the world.
I spent this past (snowy) weekend at the 2017 Pop-Up Conference hosted by talk radio host, social media coach and web designer extraordinaire Sharvette Mitchell. The two-day conference featured a keynote speech by Kim Coles (from Living Single) and Channel 6’s Antoinette Essa. It was geared toward female entrepreneurs and the theme was “Monetize Your Platform.”
I know there are many writers who may not see themselves as businesswomen (or men). However, that could not be further from the truth. Even if we are lucky enough to be plucked up by a major publishing house, we have to depend on ourselves to market our work effectively. The artistic side of me tends to slink away from the word “sales” picturing a stereotypical, pushy car salesman. However, how are people supposed to know about or purchase your labor of love unless you learn to present it to the world? I know no one has ever knocked on my door asking to read my work.
I figured even if no part of the presentations catered to a writer, I would undoubtedly learn something I could apply. Right from the beginning, any doubts that I may have harbored about whether this was right for me were immediately squashed. Sharvette’s “Hey Girl Hey” ambassadors, Stacy Rodriguez and Toni Winston, were friendly and engaged me immediately. Her team was so organized I was tempted to sing “Formation” as things started to gear up. Registration was seamless and I was invited to sit at a table by a panel member, Yolanda Gray, a warm and welcoming life coach who made me feel right at home with her message of female empowerment.
After a rousing presentation by Confidence Coach, Speaker and Author Shirley T. whose emphasis on relationship building and connection made me walk right to her at the end of the evening and hug her, we were welcomed by Sharvette herself. I think she figured we were warmed up by the hors d’oeurves, conversation and Shirley T. so she threw us right into the fire. She broke us up into groups of 4 and we had to come up with a 60-second skit for one of our businesses. It wouldn’t have been so intimidating if Ms. Kim Coles herself hadn’t made a surprise appearance and watched all of our skits!
Our schedule with swag bag.
Confidence Coach and Author Shirley T. gifting us with her sage advice about relationship building.
I will still hyped after Day 1 in the conference. I had just trudged home in the snow but excited!
Needless to say, we made it through and it was a lot of fun! It was fascinating to see all of the joy and creativity pour out of all these women. It was the passion they had for their businesses that shone through more than anything. There were also plenty of other writers there so any fears I may have had about that were allayed on the first night.
The second day of the conference ran from 8:15-5 and there was so much useful content that I ran out of room in the notes section of the binder provided and moved on to filling up my journal. There were many highlights. They were panels on branding, going from ideation to execution, building media relationships with Antoinette Essa, a session about sales conversations led by skin care business owner Ellice Darien, and the keynote speech “Broadcast Your Brilliance” by Kim Coles.
One of the notable standouts was “Unlocking The Giant Within-Identify, Train and Unleash your Giant–I’ts Screaming to Come Out. It was led by Chief Apostle Olive C. Brown, a local author and Faith Coach. Her content was incredibly uplifting and I fell in love with the idea of “the female Giant.” It’s rare to see us presented that way, even when that’s exactly who we are and must be in this world.
Sharvette’s presentation about monetizing your platform provided the most useful, actionable content for me. She broke down specific tools and strategies to earn income online, even according to your gifts. She was insightful enough to realize some of us are better writers than speakers and vice versa and gave us options for both when creating and selling our products (ex. email courses vs. video courses). Her delivery made me feel like I needed to go home right now and get to work!
Kim Coles signing books
This woman can tell a story! She not only made us laugh but she captured our hearts.
Me and my friend and writing buddy Sonia with Sharvette Mitchell.
Our lovely host listening intently on Day 2.
After the day was done, I was smiling. I hope I not only made connections but possible budding friendships. There was a lot of strength and grit in that room but there was an air of gratitude, service and connection fostered in that room, too.
Without a doubt, I will be popping back up for 2018.