Tag Archives: Put Yourself Out There

Why Self-Promotion is a Bitch

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Oh wait. Let me just reapply my lipgloss.

“How was your summer?” A good friend recently asked me.

“You know. Strange.”

“No, I don’t know. What do you mean?”

“Well, the weather for one thing. And between the ski area being open and my book coming out, we’ve been working pretty hard.”

“Oh yeah, your book! How’s that going anyway?”

That’s when the little voice inside my head says Kim, just stop it. You don’t have to promote your book to your friends. They’re going to buy it anyways. But it’s like an addiction. Or like washing your hands for the fifteenth time while mumbling the words to Gloria Gaynor’s classic “I Will Survive.”

After a while you start to get a little weird.

Maybe in this era of Facebook updates and frequent retweets, promoting yourself isn’t as shameful as it once was. Everyone’s doing it. We all have learned to don the party wig, apply another coat of lipgloss and smile for the camera, being sure to capture our best side. Who knows? This could be our new profile photo. Or worse, someone could tag us in an unflattering light before we have a chance to swipe our names off the offending photo. It’s always good to think ahead.

But this kind of thing doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at it. Often, I’m just faking it. So instead of doing all the wonderful summer-vacation sort of activities I’ve honed myself on the past few years, I’ve been busy sharpening other skills. Here’s a list of my accomplishments (see! I’m getting better at this self-promotion thing):

  • Even though I didn’t climb any volcanoes this season or even sleep outside nearly enough, I did learn to surf, thanks to my friend Hillary.
  • Launched a major book promotion campaign. This isn’t easy, even with a great publicist at my side. Who knew that this blog (and all your comments and participation) would be a driving factor in the campaign? Thanks for all that, by the way.
  • Managed to drop the phrase, “My book is coming out in October” into 90% of all my conversations. Not sure if that’s a good thing, or a sign of a serious underlying obsession. (Did I mention that my book is now available on Kindle? Oops. Did it again.)
  • Dropped below 500K on my Alexa ranking. As if that actually means anything.
  • Decided that someday my husband and I will live in the Alps, either Chamonix (sorry skiclimber; it’s a big enough town we probably won’t run into each other) or Verbier (thanks to Corrine and Eric).
  • Almost 100  10 5 people so far told me after reading an advanced copy of my book that they liked it. One reader said my blog changed her life; so just imagine what reading the book will do. (No, this reader is NOT my mom, although those of you following along know that Mom’s reaction was equally full of praise. It’s good to have a fan. Even if she’s your mom.)
  • Actually, the # 1 comment I’ve gotten from readers so far: “I had no idea your job was so dangerous.”
  • Oops. We ski patrollers aren’t supposed to talk about that.

Put Yourself Out There

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This post first appeared here in August 2010, back when only my mom read my blog. Since there’s a few more of you now (thank heavens!) I thought I’d re-post it, especially in light of the fact that today I’m speaking to a large group about improv, my book and all sorts of other scary topics.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

I think she was onto something here.  I recently spent a weekend in Whistler Blackcomb Resort, where the opportunity to scare yourself lay around every corner.  Surrounded by so much outdoor enthusiasm, it led me to wonder about the draw, even during the summer, of ski resorts, which are planned communities of adventure, fun, and well, yes, scary things.

While one woman’s bone-tingling ride of death might be another woman’s walk-in-the-park, I think Eleanor Roosevelt would have approved of this kind of adventure.  So I ask you, dear reader, what scares you? What activity really puts you “out there”?

As John and I rode the Peak 2 Peak Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb, riding 1400 feet above the valley floor, we pressed our noses to the Plexiglas windows, amazed at the huge support towers, the thickness of the haul rope and the sheer design of the thing.  As a ski area operator who has built countless chairlifts, both big and small, John can truly appreciate the specs on this one–with only four two hundred foot towers, the cabins ride across the longest expanse of any lift of its kind.

While we awed over the engineering feat, I noticed a woman clinging to the aluminum bar within the gondola car, her eyes squeezed shut and her forehead beaded in sweat.

She told her friend that she “was scared of heights”.

Before I could wonder why she’d chosen this particular lift, her friend asked her for me.

“Well, I dunno,” she answered. “Because it’s thrilling!”

That’s the thing about resorts such as Whistler. They offer that thrill. Some find it jumping off of ladder-width bridges onto a dirt track on their downhill bike, while others find their thrill flying down a zipline through the trees.  And then there’s the cadre of brave souls down the valley in Squamish, perhaps wired just a little bit more loosely, who walk a slack-line (essentially a not-so-tight rope) between peaks with only a thin strip of webbing between their feet and the valley floor several hundred feet below.  But some don’t even need to go that far.  They can find their thrill riding the world’s highest gondola, their eyes squeezed shut, the windows curving away towards the floor, their bodies and souls protected by Dopplemayr engineering.

Any way to look at it, I agree with Eleanor.  We need to be scared every once in a while.

Challenges are like electric shocks that keep us focused, creative, self-confident.  They’re nature’s little reminders to pay attention.  Fear pulls us out of our protective coating and lays us bare again.

And that’s when we do our best work.  That’s when we are most creative, most ourselves.  I’ve always found my trials in the outdoors.  Maybe that’s why I like ski resorts so much, where challenges lay around every corner.

But it doesn’t matter if you’re dressed like a gladiator, getting huge air over dirt jumps, or just riding a chairlift, designed and engineered by the world’s best.  Ask yourself today, what scares you.  Then go and put yourself out there!