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Nervous That Being Your Big, Silly Self Won’t Seem “Professional?” This Story Will Help.

In: Creativity Coaching

I don't have six-pack abs. (No surprise there.)
My mental math skills are WEAK.
Logistics and details are my actual undoing.
And if you want me to send back the steak? I’d just as soon starve. (I am MORTIFIED by this.)

These skills are not in my wheelhouse. But I do possess another superpower that not every Winnie, Barb and Bianca has—and this superpower is singlehandedly responsible for anything I’ve ever accomplished. (Which, to be clear, includes the time in the 8th grade when I got Jason Rockholm to go out with me. Hi, Jayyyy.)

Upon first glance, this superpower seems much more whimsical than it does practical, but as I’ve learned, that’s not the case. In fact, it’s the only reason that little ol’ me, of food stamp and Spray Net glory, was able to:

  • Get my trailer-park ass to college
  • Convince decision makers to take a chance on me
  • Land jobs I was unqualified for
  • Get promoted over others
  • Create an entire career on the Internet
  • Make a reputation for myself
  • Have clients knocking down my door
  • Make more money than I ever knew was possible
  • Get the book deal of my dreams (Dre-ea-ea-ammmmss, dreams, dreams, dreamssssss…you know that song from The Ladybugs when Jonathan Brandis gets all googly-eyed over the girl? Good, I hope that's stuck in your head all day, muahahahah!)
  • Connect with thousands of strangers around the world
  • Be nominated for awards
  • Get invited to give keynotes in fancy-ass ballrooms in London this fall (oooo, yes, that’s coming, sisters—stay tuned!)
  • And, yes…even outbid other bidders on my brand-new apartment in the Old City, Philadelphia (you should know that I was up at two o’clock in the morning Googling, “heated floors” and “wide-plank oak” AS IF I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.”)

All of that comes down to one very important, little praised, highly-underestimated skill:

Creative. Writing.

Creative writing has given me everything I have. (Well, that and a stubborn streak of pissed-off donkey.) Which is really about communicating artfully, and using words to create pleasure. If you can make someone smile, you’ll never go hungry—even if you aren’t writing “copy.” Even if you’re just writing a thank-you letter. It matters.

The right words can make another person fall in love with you, which brings us to what happened last week with—dun, dun, dun—THE APARTMENT. Remember when I wrote and I was like, hey, this thing happened and I’ll tell you next week what gave me the edge over the other buyer?! Well, here we are, because—surprise!—that goes back to creative writing, too. We were down to the wire, and there was another buyer bidding against me, and they had everything that I had and more.

Except words.

Whenever the going gets tough, the tough get writing.

So as we made our final offer, I wrote a little letter to the buyer. It wasn’t conventional by any means. I could’ve blown the entire deal, in fact. But I had to trust that who I am, and what I represent, is a good idea.

I wrote the following note to the sellers (who happened to be on their honeymoon in COSTA RICA, of all places—which is exactly where I was when I was doing this deal).

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You are the sellers
And I’m here to woo ️

Your apartment is stunning
And of course there’s a queue
But I’d like to offer
My very best “yahoo!”

You see, I’m a writer
And we writers, we’re a crew
We need a quiet space to work
That doesn’t make us go, “ewww.”

Your apartment is special
There are really so few
That have windows like statues
With such a pretty view

More than anything, however,
This is more than a coup
To have a place to call home
Would be a dream come true

I’ve traveled the world
I’ve made my debut
But now all I want
Is a place to renew

If you would kindly consider
With all your purview
To allow me to shepherd your home
And see it all the way through

I won’t let you down
This isn’t just a rendezvous
I’d like to thank you for your time
And hope we won’t bid adieu!

I am so excited at the prospect of making your home, mine. (And thanks for entertaining my inner Dr. Seuss.) On a more serious note, I just wanted to extend a show of good faith and let you know that I’m grateful for your effort and time, and I’m happy to create a win-win situation for all—because, a deal is only a good one if it feels good. And that includes on your end, too.

In the meantime, congratulations on your wedding! Enjoy Costa Rica! Get to Manuel Antonio! Ask for a “michelada” beer! (It’s basically a beer that mated with a margarita…and it’s delicious.) And just in case, deodorant in between your legs works wonders for anti-chafe.

Wishing you so much joy on your trip and next adventure, wherever life is taking you next.

Otherwise known as “The Buyer,” and sometimes even “The Clumsy One Who Will Definitely Fall Down Those Stairs at Least Once But Really Wants to Live There With All Her Heart, Anyway.”

Within the hour, I received the following email:

OFFER ACCEPTED!!!  Executed Agreement of Sale attached!  Your poem put it over the top!  The sellers wanted to share the following with you:

There once was a couple from Philly
(Ugh, yes, those Bud Light ads go, “dilly dilly”)
They fell in love with each other and a place,
‘Twas In Old City, a very special space.

Life moves fast and how interesting to know!
Kelly is a writer too
(this poem proves she can go toe-to-toe)

Suffice to say, it takes a special folk
The listed address is for no ordinary bloke.

Your letter impressed, your poem woo-ed,
How soon can we say, welcome home to you?!

Shakespeare we are not,
but sincere we are,
Let’s make a deal, and michaeladas on us,
at the next bar.

Hooray! Which is really to say: showing up as you is a risk, but it's highly rewarded. I was taking a chance, sending that: it could have completely turned the sellers off. They could have thought me a less serious buyer. They could have scrunched their nose and said, “nah.” But, in being my most enthusiastic, creative, fun-loving self, the opposite happened, instead: I cemented the deal for myself by a landslide. They wanted me to have their apartment because now, they felt something. I wasn't just another buyer on paper: I was a human being with a sense of humor and originality. Someone they'd want to be friends with. And someone they'd want to do business with, too.

This is the greatest benefit of showing up as you are, without the airs, as your most genuine, honest, eager self: no one else can compete. Your creativity is your greatest secret weapon. Because money is money is money, and deals are deals are deals, and there are plenty of people in this world who can make the very same offer you can.

But what they don’t have is your style.

And hiding it might feel safe? But it's actually the least safe thing you can do.

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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