When I was 22, I rang my social worker and told him that I wanted to work.
Fair request you might think, admirable even with all the “get them off benefits” austerity measures the government are so keen on (not that I’m in support of those, but that’s another topic).
When disablism and dreams collide
Hanging on the phone, I told my social worker I wanted to do all we could to set up a job that was accessible and possible for me. Something that used the talents I have and minimised the challenges.
He replied that that was impossible, he couldn’t see anything I could do. That I was so ‘limited’ that I would never work, never earn money and no one would ever hire me.
All he saw was the multiple disabilities, he wasn’t looking at the girl living with them.
It took an ex-stripper turned business maven to do that.
Enter Erika and the 6-inch Stilettos
Thankfully I completely and utterly ignored my social workers words and decided to carry on regardless.
But first, I simply told him that he was the one who was truly limited as all he saw was problems and not possibilities. That his work would always be limited until he saw the people behind the diagnoses labels and lists of limitations.
Then I hung up the phone and became tearfully incoherent before googling like crazy for some business advice that would work for me.
Google didn’t turn up a lot, but by a series of happy coincidences I ended up coming across the work of Erika Lyremark.
Think Like a Stripper.
The lessons Erika learned on the stripper pole and from coaching women in business, as well as running a multimillion dollar real estate company all helped liberate me from the Sick Chick box and taught me how to turn Trail Blazer.
Think Like a Stripper: Business Lessons to Up Your Confidence, Attract More Clients & Rule your Market is an insider’s pass into an infamous industry you’ll probably never be part of—but could stand to learn a lot from.
Whether your goal is to build your business, or carry out your Red Carpet Dreams, Think Like A Stripper delivers the lessons you need to thrive as an entrepreneur, and the advice you’d never (ever, ever) learn in business school.
Nine years ‘on the pole’ left her with no desire to ever return; but her experiences there—more than either of the college degrees her stripping career paid for—proved to be her real education.
I read Erika’s book in an afternoon, with my iPad by my side, taking notes, action points, making plans and even snapping photos of chunks of it so I could go back and re-read them from my phone – and print them to pin over my desk.
Erika didn’t know me, she hadn’t read my files. She didn’t know how many illnesses I had, what my prognosis was and how much of a fall risk I was considered. But she saw all the things that really mattered.
It took a woman half way across the world to see me for what I truly was and recognise my possibilities.
Erika has gone through challenges herself. She didn’t consider the illnesses I live with an issue – she taught me to turn them into my leveraged story.
Allow me to explain; instead of seeing my illnesses as problems, Erika saw them as something which had taught me lessons and that I could use to help me work:
Challenge: Fatigue issues mean I can only take on one client a week.
Think Like a Stripper Solution: This spells exclusivity. If I can’t take on as many clients as I would wish then that means working with me is a special club with only a small number of spots so clients need to book their’s asap.
Challenge: Cannot pack Healing Boxes ™ myself, or drive to meetings.
Think Like a Stripper Solution: What a wonderful opportunity to give employment to someone who needs it. I get to utilise someone else’s skills, invite engagement in my brand and spend my energy just on the things that I can do.
Challenge: Could not travel far to events/public speaking engagements.
Think Like a Stripper Solution: It’s an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Everyone turns up – I can use this as a prompt to take advantage of the latest technology and send a video speech, participate via Twitter or hold an online launch party.
Challenge: My wheelchair doesn’t fit lots of non-accessible places and people stare.
Think Like a Stripper Solution: I’m not alone in getting stares and dealing with accessibility struggles. So we turned this challenge into an opportunity to connect and help the other people who also have this problem. There is a need there and I filled it. How? Erika turned me on to Dyana Valentine (world class coach and why-finder) to figure out a solution and we collaborated on an e-workshop so you can join too. This is how Pitch Perfect: What’s Wrong With You ™ was born!
And now, you can get Erika’s wisdom too.
I am sending a copy to David Cameron. If he’d just think like a stripper the country would be much better off.
I love Erika’s book and I can’t wait for this no-nonsense business advice to help liberate you too!
Images: Blogging against disableism, Erika Lyremark sitting next to her quote “for business bombshells, safety is a fairytale, real life is lived in the risks’, Trail Blazing Times Badge.