Monday, January 30, 2017

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

One of the hardest things for me is "Show up." Whether I've been to an event or are attending for the first time, I always get anxious.

This week I'm headed back to Alt Summit--this time in Palm Springs at The Saguaro Hotel. So, in addition to packing, I'm working on my confidence game to step outside my comfort zone. My hope? Appear effortlessly at ease.

In Step with This Little Miggy Stayed Home and Design Mom at Alt Summit Summer 2014


Here are the six things I'm doing.

How do you psyche yourself up for stepping outside your comfort zone?
Walking the Red Carpet at Alt Winter 2013 with Davon, The Bubbleista


One. Make yourself a morning playlist to play while you get ready for the day.

Choose songs that make you feel good. That energize you. That are positive.

You want lyrics where the protagonist has risen or taken a leap and succeeded (or lived to tell about it).

I've got twelve songs on my You Got This! playlist (one of which is explicit) that play for 46 minutes (great for keeping myself on track to get out the door in under an hour). It's got Katy Perry, Sia, Fifth Harmony, and more! Check out the playlist on Spotify.

I listen to this playlist while I review my progress against conference goals I've set for myself.

Photo Booth Fun at Alt Summit 2014


Two. Carry (and refer to) a book with an upbeat message.

Nervous? Before you get on a plane grab a book guaranteed to energize you (and that if you're a fast reader can finish in less than an week). Here are a couple of books I grabbed at the SFO airport before heading out to various conferences:


Live streaming the BBoys Dancing at the Alt Summer 2014 Opening Night Party


Third. Practice your hello.

As you extend your hand with a business card or gift in it, you'll want to pitch yourself. And pitch is exactly what it sounds like. You're succinctly explaining why the other person should get to know you.

Downton Abbey Themed Opening Night Party at Alt Winter 2015


Before you panic it's not as hard as you think. There's a formula for it! And the formula is this:

My name is [insert your name here]. My blog is [insert the name of your blog here], and I write about [insert two to three subjects you write about here]. [Optionally, include one sentence about why your blog is different or unique.]

Here's mine to give you a jumping off point:

Hi! I'm Eden.
My lifestyle blog is The Road to The Good Life. I write about urban dwelling, parenting, entertaining, and simple crafts for the home, with a focus on appreciating the haves in our lives rather than lingering on the wants. I help millennials and moms see what makes them extraordinary--the ordinary in their lives they overlook.

My Perfect Conference Tote: A Style & Co Shopper


Fourth. Practice your fangirl moment(s).

Now this tip may seem silly to you.

Trust me it can be an absolute life saver for introverts:

  • You won't get tackled and restrained by secret service. (Thank goodness for Al Gore's sense of presence and ability to think quickly on his feet.)
  • You won't have to make a mad dash down the hall trying to find another bathroom. (Lines are long; use your time wisely as tossing your card at a prospective mentor and making a mad dash isn't a good look on anyone.)

Search for Your Awesome Sponsor Dinner at Alt Summer 2014


If you follow creatives or bloggers, at some point you're going to cross paths with those who inspire you. Know what you want to do beforehand, because you'll be much less likely to be kicking yourself later.

Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Noticing your heroine and going calmly on your way. (As in real estate, location, location, location. While I'd die to have a short conversation with Sandra Bullock or even get my photo taken with her, when she's shopping for groceries and getting harassed by other shoppers, simply catching her eye and not being another annoying fan is enough.)
  • Briefly introducing yourself and saying thank you.
  • Asking for a photo or selfie.

Also know your exit plan. If they're dashing off to catch a plane or somewhere else, and aren't able to take a photo or selfie with you, be gracious. Respect their space. Finish with "Thank you again, you've really made a difference [to my business] or alternatively [in my life]." Then pause, give them space, and walk away.

Sharing a Moment with one of my Business Idols - Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked at Alt Summit SF


Fifth. Practice your response to fans.

If you've been blogging or creating for awhile, the likelihood that someone looks up to you (yes seriously you!) increases. Practice this moment!

Few people accept compliments well. Many start to downplay what they do/did.

Don't be that person! (I was that person too many times to count.)

Be the person that says: Thank you!

Feel free to swipe my fan response:

Thank you!
It means a lot to me that my story touched you. I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me.
Now tell me a little about you.

Attending a Breakout Session at Alt Summer 2015


Sixth. Remember to get into the action.

It's ok to sit on the sidelines. (Heck I make it a habit to search out people sitting by themselves or standing awkwardly to the side at a reception. There's a 50/50 chance they'll want to talk to me. (The other option is they need some space and that's totally ok with me!)

But you'll miss out on meeting some really awesome people. And you'll miss opportunities to grow!

My favorite moment from the summer Alt Summit in 2014 was captured by Justin Hackworth (at the top of this post): being in sync with This Little Miggy Stayed Home and Design Mom. Why? Because I have horrible timing and two left feet. Yet I still got out on the dance floor and tried. (And nope I did this without any alcohol; we were at an alcohol-free mingling reception focused on food and people.)

Also, want to know another secret? No one is looking at you. And no one is nitpicking your photos. (If anyone is it's you!)

I know this firsthand because there have been a couple of events that I arrived at without makeup (no one noticed). That I wore the same outfit to on two days because I spilled blush on the front of my dress (no one noticed). That I had to exit stage right a reception and change out of my color themed outfit because the wind kept catching my skirt (again no one noticed).

Photobooth Fun at the Carnival Mini Party during Alt Summit 2014


Want more tips?

Here you go! I've compiled a list of some of my favorite pre-conference pep talks from past years! (And if one of these posts doesn't answer your question, reach out on social media or through the Alt Summit 2017 Facebook Group.)


genuinely eden

Credits: Most images taken by either Brooke Dennis or Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit and used with permission. Photo of Susan Petersen and me taken by Weston Colton.

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. I own all of the books highlighted in this post. All opinions presented are my own.
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