The Bitch Slap: Not Everyone Is Going to Like It

bitch slap unpopularPretty much everything in the Bitch Slap category on this blog starts with me. Shit I need to stop doing, behavior I need to change, the inarguable fact that I can never (ever) go anywhere that they are holding pet adoptions when in possession of a wallet…

That stuff.

Having recently headed out on book tour dates for The Power of Unpopular, I’ve been due to be on the receiving end of one of my own Bitch Slaps for quite some time. So today, the Arm of Change is cocked and ready to fly in my direction (and you’re welcome to join in if you want a bit of the sting). Because as the purveyor of “unpopular thoughts and blunt advice,” I know full well here on the blog that not everyone’s going to pick up what I’m putting down. And apparently here, that’s fine. But guess what, Erika?

Not everyone’s going to like it and you need to put on your Big Girl Panties and cowgirl the hell up if you’re ever going to get to the next stage in this thing called business. So let’s dish about Kansas, Jesus the Dishwasher, and Choosing Our Underthings.

Leaving Kansas

I’ve got a bubble. You’ve got a bubble. For all that’s holy, when we build brands the right way, we create bubbles. Our job as branders and marketers is to build insular communities where folks can come in and fling ideas around like lube in Charlie Sheen’s bedroom. We build permissible environments for our audiences to be who they want to be, because it’s okay here.

But what the hell happens when you leave your bubble?

President Obama has a bubble.

Stephen King has a bubble.

I have a bubble (I have inserted myself into some lofty company, no?).

In order to grow your brand, business, and brain, you’re going to have to leave Kansas, Dorothy. And what’s outside of the bubble isn’t necessarily what you’re used to dealing with inside the bubble. The critics are (even more) harsh, there’s no protective white chocolate outer coating on your Twinkie-on-a-stick (not that I would have eaten one of those in Las Vegas this past weekend or anything), and while Toto might look the same and still lift his leg on the nearest tree, odds are a whole helluva lot higher that he’s going to lift his leg on you when you step outside this fantastic insular community you’ve built.*

*Acknowledging length of sentence is excessive. Four lines. WOW.

Which brings us to Jesus the Dishwasher.

Your Come-to-Jesus-the-Dishwasher Moment

You know the phrase There’s one in every crowd? Yeah. Well, sometimes there’s more than one. And when you leave Kansas, they crawl out of the woodwork. It’s not a bad thing — it’s just inevitable. Having been on book tour and a speaking circuit pretty much nonstop for the past two weeks, dear sweet Jesus the Dishwasher…they DO come out of the woodwork.

Here on the blog and in my Entrepreneur Magazine column, my audience knows what they’re getting. But for every event I’ve spoken and/or signed books at in the past two weeks, there’s been the “You were a complete waste of my time” responses. While the minority (I’ll take 3 in 100 or even 1 in 20 odds any day of the week), they still hit you in the gut.

Because I stand there having to drink my own brand of cough syrup (and I fucking hate cough syrup). Guess what, Erika? Not everyone is going to like what you have to say. Not everyone is going to like your brand. You’re going to put some people off.

I could be giving away free kittens and someone would want puppies.

I could be donating $1,000 to charity — and in someone’s eyes, it wouldn’t be the best charity in their eyes.

I could be helping a company embrace what they truly want to become to their audience — and someone who would benefit will still never do business with them.

So I need to listen to my Come-to-Jesus-the-Dishwasher moments, take the gut checks, and realize that the book I wrote and what I live regarding not seeking to please everyone is the better truth. Because for every 3 who walk away who couldn’t care less if they ever heard from me again, there are always the 97 who took away something positive (and even laughed once or twice).

Choosing Your Underthings

What comes along with accepting the better truth — how you choose to run your business and honor your chosen audience — is an episode involving underthings.

Boy shorts, thongs, boxers, or briefs — doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you put on your Big People Britches and pull them the hell up. And if you’re one of those freaky go commmando people (I don’t get you…that shit is drafty), find something to put on and pull up. Because this journey you’re making outside of Kansas sure as hell isn’t going to get any easier and you’re going to need some support.

I am completely exhausted with the internet cult of personality where certain online personalities think that anyone and everyone should know who they are. Because they don’t! And who really fucking cares?! There is still, to this day, nothing more surprising to me when I meet someone who reads my stuff or even knows my name. I feel like a colossal tool every time I sign a book — because I really should have the person standing in front of me signing something for me. And the day I feel any way other than this way, dear lord — will somebody please show up on my doorstep and hand me another Come-to-Jesus-the-Dishwasher moment?

When we leave these echo chambers we’ve built with such commitment and artistry, we’ll find ourselves in one of two scenarios:

Standing on the front porch IN our underwear, wondering why we got left out in the cold (waaaaah! people don’t like me!)

or

Pulling up our britches and inviting an entire new audience to have a conversation — heaven knows what we might be able to learn…

Get over yourself and grab a six pack of humility the next time you’re at the store. Throw it in the cart next to that multipack of Big People Britches. It takes humility to pull your britches up…and not run and hide once you do.

So, I’ve Got a Question for You…

I’m having the love affair of my life with humility these days, and can I say — it’s a really uncomfortable (but welcomed) experience. And surely I can’t be the only one out there who’s found themselves leaving Kansas, having a conversation with Jesus-the-Dishwasher, and discovering that putting on and pulling up my Big People Britches to be what’s for dinner.

So I ask: What’s been your most humbling business moment?

That’s a link to a forum for my book. There’s nothing fancy required to participate (you can sign in using Twitter, Facebook, or create an account if you really want another account). But I really want to know. I’m working on a pitch for an article and while I can blog till I’m blue in the face about my experiences, yours are the ones that will tell a better story.

Someone will always say that our baby is ugly — especially when we leave the comfort, protection, and support of the ones who have come to love us. And while this is something I’ve known and lived all along, it bears a reminder. I’ve never aspired to be popular, as people with unpopular thoughts are the ones who start the conversations that makes things happen.

But unpopular requires humility, because not everyone is going to like you, what you do, or what you love. And nor should they (which is the hardest part to remember).

And now, I’m oddly excited about doing some shopping at Victoria’s Secret for new panties to pull up.

I’ve been slapped (and does this handprint on my face make my ass look big?).

16 comments
troublesometots
troublesometots

I write about kids and sleep and will get 50 nice emails/comments which are awesomely complimentary and then one "You are an idiot and I hate you" will take all the wind out of my sails. Thanks for sharing your experiences as it's a good reminder that this happens to the "big kids" too :)

Ralph Dopping
Ralph Dopping

Great topic. Left my bizsnatch comments on your forum. Thanks for the soapbox.

Lauryn Doll
Lauryn Doll

I know the feeling.  I'm currently in the middle of my most humbling business moment.  It's a moment where I realize I had been attempting to sell my soul to the highest bidder with the quickest pay... and how no matter how hard I attempted to sell, it just wasn't going to happen, because deep down, I'm meant to be doing greater things... with people who love ME and who are for ME instead of people who love me for what I'm available to do for THEM.  Nothing hurts more than being sobered by realizing how quickly access to people in your life dries up when they decide you're not of use to them anymore.  I lied. Something does hurt more.  When you realize you've been waiting on other people to hold hands and celebrate and appreciate your greatness.... and cheer you on.. and they don't for the reasons mentioned above (after they needed you for extended periods of time)... and you come to the realization you've been playing YOURSELF all along ... making it EASY for life to step on you? And you're stuffing your face with your brother's girlfriend's black and white Birthday cake from Whole Foods and Triple Caramel Chunk from Ben and Jerry's to kill this illusive hole you have --- the one that doesn't REALLY exist, but fabricates its existence in your mind because you keep CHOOSING to feed yourself unempowering situations and wonder WHY SHIT is so hard....?  That fucking hurts.  Especially if you probably need a full body hug while you're at it. 

AmyS.
AmyS.

When I first created my website, I sent out a general request for all my friends to check it out and let me know what they thought.  I had one friend (an ex boss from when I worked in city government) hem and haw and finally tell me she thought it was too casual.  She said she thought it would keep me from being taken seriously by the professional community.  She gave examples of lawyers, government contractors, and business executives.  This was exactly what I'd been afraid of, but when I heard it from Linda, I realized *I don't want to work with those people anyway*.  It was kind of ah-ha for me.  Anyone who is turned off by my website - which is an expression of who I am - would not be a good fit as a client.  So yeah, in the dark of night when no one is hiring, I'm tempted to business-ify my look, or set up a separate, pinstriped, button-down version.  But what the hell.  If I have 4-5 different s/heros making a go of it being 100% themselves, why not me?

facebook-183201540
facebook-183201540

This post is the epitome of reasons why I unabashedly tell people you're totally my online girl crush, Erika. I hear ya, you're preachin' to the choir, I'm pickin' up what you're layin' down... and I so thank you for being you. :) 

cedennis
cedennis

I recently had this experience.  I flew to Tampa to do a three-day Social Media boot camp.  It was a small class, but one that I thought would be cool.  I have spoken to larger groups before, and done numerous social media-oriented talks, but this particular group apparently just did not dig me.  Could I have done a better job?  Sure, I think we ALL can ALWAYS do a better job.  On my personal scale, I gave myself a rating of 7 out of 10, as I was delivering someone else's content.  But some of the class apparently was none too enamored with my instructing.   Were my feelings hurt?  Hell yeah.  Did I mope a bit afterward?  Um-hmm.  But after a lot of introspection, I realized what I could have done better, and turned it into a learning experience that will make me that much better in the future. 

Bitch'in Suburbia
Bitch'in Suburbia

Y'know, I love when you slap the shit out of me, Erika.  I've been taking it silently, but I gotta speak up - who the hell wouldn't love you and the straight-up reality you dish with an amazing vocabulary AND so many goddamn good points. Just promise when you slam that six-pack of humility, you'll double check that some asshole with ancient fraternity row ideals and "values" hasn't slipped you a roofie that somehow makes you less outspoken. Love how you roll, lady.

Ben Anderson
Ben Anderson

While on the surface I love this article I have to take pause at the come-to-Jesus-the-dishwasher moments. If 3 out of  100 go out of their way to make a statement about your relative worth what does that say of the people who didn't go out of their way? I don't mean this to be a critique but I tend to think of criticism in these terms. If one of my coworkers goes out of their way to say I'm a lazy bastard then what is my boss thinking, what are the others thinking?  I'm not suggesting that all critics are equal or that they represent a larger group (although they often do). I am suggesting that the critics give us reason to give pause and self adjust. Perhaps an opportunity to pull out a wedgie (in keeping with your underthings theme). Success brings confidence and with your success (Red) I tend to think that you have more reason to flip someone the one finger salute for their obvious stupidity. If I had such success I'd be more inclined to drop a salute or two myself. I understand I should probably just put on something other than my TNMT undies and grow a pair but if there's 3 of 100...there's probably more...and that gives me reason to think. It may not be reason enough to reach for that pair of Lightning McQueen tighty whities...but it's certainly reason enough to take stock of my big boy underthings and make sure they are in last-day-alive order.

confusedeggdonor
confusedeggdonor

I don't even want to know the comments your OTHER book is going to bring...

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

This post is almost like a "Manifesto" of sorts for your book Erika... IMO that is. I'm going to the forum link now, but I have to choose which moment to put there ;)

Bill Dorman
Bill Dorman

I'm in commercial insurance sales; 'nuff said. Sales (like social) can be very fickle. You can be knocked out of the saddle by the greenest booger on the street regardless of how 'credentialed' you are. I do have 'target' customers and by aligning with people who I want to do business with eliminates some of this, but the potential is always there. It can be very humbling indeed.......... I'm out of my 'bubble' quite often, but think I have the greatest job in the world and couldn't imagine doing anything else more suited to my personality. 

Kellie J. Walker
Kellie J. Walker

I know they're out there. But, I still don't understand folks who don't absolutely adore you. You speak the truth. You know more expletives than a Teamster raised by a Merchant Seaman. You love animals. You rock the hell out of high heels. You're an athlete. And, a motherfucking business genius. What's not to love?!?! Now that my girl crush is showing... I've had plenty of humbling moments. But, because you asked, my brain refuses to cough any of them up. I'll noodle it over a bit more, head over to the forum, and share there. Thanks, as always, for the slap. The handprint goes well with the red shirt I happen to be wearing. I'm out! P.S. For the commando ladies in the house: You can always put on your Big Girl Shoes. They're great for ass kicking. P.S.S. If you were a complete waste of their time, why bother telling you? Doesn't that just waste more of their time? Things that make me go, 'Hmmmm.'

Craig R
Craig R

I recall recently pitching a new client and before hand, spent a week studying their webiste and where they could make impovements and show better contnt. All  with the purpose of getting their business. The face time happens, and every point I make is immediately rebuked by the client. It's almost like a game. I say yes....he says no. Seeing that I'm not making any type of inroads toward a sale, my last retort was, "If anything, you should at least change the e-mail adress on your website. I've sent you several e-mails without reply." He says that he's been receiving -emails without problem, and I mention that the e-mail is blah-blah @ XYZ.net. His reply was the final blow. The e-mail is blah-blah@XYZ.com!  Any ounce of credibility I had took the slow train to Barstow!

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