Famed performer Amanda Lepore of NY, captured in the elevator in Atlanta's W Hotel at the Ready for the Stage event.

Famed performer Amanda Lepore of NY, captured in the elevator in Atlanta’s W Hotel where I stayed for the Ready for the Stage event. Perhaps she is a metaphor for TMI — in the business world!

“Rachel, are we supposed to feel sorry for you?”

Now substitute your name for mine.

How’d you like to get a comment like that? Would it freak you out?

This was printed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review in a scathing review of my first book, Go West Young F*cked-Up Chick. What softened the blow was that on the opposite page, my book appeared on the paper’s Bestseller List.

The Bestseller list rocked!

The review hurt.

I was young. It was my first book. I confess I harbored a grudge against this reviewer for years. She used to avoid me at literary soirees, afraid I’d sock her. (Maybe because I’d mentioned I would hit her if I had the chance to other writers so she’d be sure to hear. The power of suggestion!)

Now, years later, I see she reacted to something in the book. Something in me, then. I had less distance on my material. I tried to drain out any suggestion of self pity, but I wasn’t totally successful. I didn’t have the maturity, or the insight.

I did, though, have the balls to put my story out there. And as you can tell from the title, it was definitely my voice.

What’s holding you back? Don’t let fear stop you from sharing your story. You’ve got to tap into your true voice, use that voice to tell your story — then dig a channel from there to sales. These are the Three New Pillars of Business:  Voice, Story, Sales.

My more recent book, Love Junkie:  A Memoir, is drained of self pity. It charts the emotional journey of a woman who’s got a problem with love, sex and relationships, and it’s damaging her whole life. It traces the trip from self-loathing to self-love. And it’s resonated with countless men and women, many of whom have written me heartbreaking and powerful notes of thanks. That is what makes writing with raw honesty worthwhile.

Now, I’m in a phase of achieving a whole new level of self-worth. Self-value. In my case — and I bet in yours — it’s connected to business. Something I used to think was a dirty word. What are you worth? What is your value? How do you price yourself and your services?

How do you share your stories?

The way you share your stories is inextricably bound up with how you value yourself.

Are you hiding? If you’re not telling your story, using your distinct voice — guess what — you’re hiding. And, you’re invisible. You are lost in a sea of sameness. Plus, you’re boring us — and yourself — to tears. Not the good kind either.

I know what it takes to write with emotional honesty. To craft those personal narratives so they’re compelling.

Now, through Writers On Fire, I serve entrepreneurs and small business owners. I help them identify and share their personal stories on the page and the stage. Their job is to make ’em laugh, make ’em cry. And entertain.

Same same like writing. Or any form of art.

Just like Dan Pink said, Right-Brainers are going to take over the world. So if you’re an entrepreneur, best get your narrative and artistic groove on. And if you’re an artist, best get your entrepreneurial groove on. We shall all meet in the middle and blow up the old paradigms.

Think of craft — of mining a story, then shaping it — as strategy. Narrative strategy.

Business strategy.

The benefit is — besides increased sales — increased self awareness.

That’s another word for personal growth. Ever wonder why writing is a tool in all deep personal growth work? Time to embrace it. And realize — if you write from the artist’s angle — you’re going to awaken your senses, as well as yourself. If that’s not sexy!

I’m fascinated and moved by how split you small business owners and entrepreneurs often are. You have two selves. You learned to tamp down your true voices, your painful and triumphant journeys, so you’d appear polished. Poised. Successful.

Then you forgot who you were. Or maybe…you never even explored your identity.

Is this you?

Recently I worked with a new client. She’s brilliant with networking, and sees instantly how to map out other people’s success. She’s got 26 years of corporate work under her belt, and she’s already a stunning public speaker.

But she wasn’t yet reaching the audience on an emotional level and this was affecting sales. Why?

She’d never shared a personal story.

Then she got an opportunity to speak about transition for a local group of women.

We worked together on her presentation. Came up with some pivotal stories on her journey that showcased her own struggles, and triumphs. Some of these stories she shared with me she’d never shared with anyone. She reconnected with those events, those emotions — and I held the space for her to do so.

After this work, she was able to choose the ones that fit this presentation. She was clear on which stirred up more emotion. We decided which stories and details were TMI, and which were critical to showcasing her own ability to change. And she was game to experiment and see if she could share them in public without breaking down.

We crafted the stories and the presentation so it would have an arc. So it would drop audience members right in to the movie of her life. Give them an experience. Reach their emotions. Keep them in suspense.

I plan to feature this client in another blog. Consider this post a taster. Suffice to say, though, sharing personally had a tremendous impact on the room. As she said,

“One woman cried the whole time…I had the whole room with me…From the first line of my presentation, they were leaning forward in their seats…There was so much emotion in the room.”

Out of 40 attendees, 17 signed up to speak to my client and take advantage of her complimentary call.

Just the other day, I saw this client at my business coach Suzanne Evans groundbreaking event with Sage Events, Ready for the Stage in Atlanta. The client was infinitely more confident, and you could see people responding powerfully to this self-proclaimed introvert. In reconnecting with her own mess-to-message journey, in seeing and sharing its value — she’d learned more about herself. She claimed her heroine’s journey. Now she was unstoppable.

In today’s world, there’s a whole lotta noise. If you want to emotionally engage people, enroll them in your programs and your vision — you’ve got to tell stories. Tell the truth. Mine your own rich material.

You’ve got to be revealing.

How much is the trick.

Tell us how you’ve shared personal stories in your presentations, or sales calls — your blogs, Tweets, Facebook posts or videos. Or how you’ve been afraid to. Did this post speak to you? We hope it inspires. We want you to be as powerful — and as unique — as you can be. We can’t wait to hear your tales.

Yrs in truth,


P.S. If you’re interested in booking a complimentary 20-minute Message Makeover, get ’em while they last! We’ve had outrageous response and have been full up for the past month plus. Now we have some openings and are taking people first come first served who also fill out an application form. Shoot us an e-mail at info@writersonfire.com with Message Makeover in the header if you’re interested.

P.P.S. Amanda wasn’t there to attend the fabulous Suzanne Evans and Sage Events Ready for the Stage event I went to. But she was ready for the stage!