GETTING FEAR.LESS

Mar 24

GETTING FEAR.LESS

I recently interviewed Ishita Gupta, founder of the digital magazine, fear.less, for the insurance publication I write. fear.less features stories of people from all walks of life – artists, musicians, photographers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, physicians, spiritual advisers – and how they face and overcome their fears professionally and personally. It’s a great inspirational magazine, it’s free, and I recommend that you become a subscriber.

I started thinking about what it means to be fearless? And if I approach work and life taking on my insecurities, working through them, to make things happen and to enrich my life as well as those around me. Sometimes yes, sometimes no….

What comes to my mind is the work I did several years ago when I lived in Barcelona, Spain. My gig with a sports technology/marketing company came to an end and I really wanted to remain in this beautiful city I called home. I needed to work and was trying to figure out what I could do. So I started to come up with ideas and put together proposals. One idea was for a retail chain called womensecret, a brand that sells woman’s underwear, sleepwear, accessories and swimwear. I came up with a campaign for the retailer to become involved in bringing domestic violence out it the open in Spain, which was just starting to generate attention. No campaign was ever done like this. I got the proposal in the hands of a friend who knew the wife of the head of the retailer’s parent company (networking!) Eventually, the proposal made it to the VP of Marketing, who called me in. They weren’t ready for the domestic violence campaign at the time as they were committed to a nonprofit organization called Tierra de hombres, which provides surgeries and medical assistance in Spain for children in Africa. They wanted me to come up with a campaign for this NGO to help raise money in the countries where women’secret had a big presence (Spain, Portugal, Mexico). They wanted celebrity ambassadors to design T-shirts (with the proceeds going to the NGO), special packaging, massive press coverage, and a fashion show launch. It was to happen within six to seven months.

I had never done any of this type of work. Panic set in. Here I was doing something for the first time in a country in which the language was not native to me; I didn’t know any of the agents/representatives to obtain celebrities; I had absolutely no press contacts; I never worked on a high-end fashion show… Perhaps I was in over my head?

I called the campaign DESIGNING FOR LIFE, and created all the related materials in English and Spanish (hired my wonderful, dear friend Magda to write the Spanish version); designed proposals and press kits (thank you Alex!); obtained the eight women celebrity ambassadors, including Gwyneth Paltrow, who the client desperately wanted as she is/was a champion of many causes and loves/d all things Spain; called reps/agents; contacted the press, sending out press kits and following up so that they covered the fashion show event; worked with the ambassadors to get their designs; and so much more.

About month two into the project, I had obtained seven of the women ambassadors but getting Gwyneth eluded me for the longest time. It was time to go to press and we needed to finalize all the women who were going to be a part of this campaign. No one in Hollywood would return my calls (surprised?). One day my good friend Paul suggested I send Gwyneth the packet of materials directly to her home in London. I wasn’t comfortable doing this, but eventually I nervously did. She graciously responded within a week and was on board. In fact, she also wanted to design a matching onesie for baby girls. We got tremendous press coverage, on air (all the major TV stations, morning shows) and in print (every fashion magazine, newspaper and their supplements). And I got four of the celebrities to attend the fashion show. The campaign raised 300,000 euros for Tierra de hombres to help the children they serve. Everyone was happy….

Today, years later, as I was going through the women’secret’s website, I see the retailer now has a separate section on all the causes it has helped since the first one I did in 2005, including their spring 2011 campaign against gender violence…my original idea that got me through the door in the first place.

I’d like to think that experience in Spain showed me what one can accomplish when being fearless…whether it’s starting a new business venture, going back to school, or jumping out of a plane (haven’t done that yet….).

Please share your stories about doing something, overcoming something, whether professionally or in life, that involved you facing a fear or insecurity head on, of letting go of roadblocks that prevent us from moving forward, doing what we want.

5 comments

  1. Annie, I think you lead such an interesting and exciting life. Living in great places, having interesting experience and meeting neat people. But a number of people have told me that about my life. And while I love my opportunities and what I do, it is never exactly as it seems to the outside world. I feel sure that this venture took much planning, intense preparation and endless research. And, of course, for me, there is always some doubt and fear involved. What if I fail. But it doesn’t seem to stop me cold in my tracks. Thank Goodness.

    While stepping out into the consulting world without a real plan is scary, that part is not near as scary as some of the jobs I have said yes to. Out of the clear blue one day I received a phone call from a very large corporation. They needed to have their Best Practices re-written and implemented prior to their first Sarbanes-Oxley review. I had worked with a smaller firm on this and the firm that referred them to me felt I had the knowledge to get this done.
    Well, I was good on understanding the insurance requirements of the law. But working with a firm this large who operated totally different from any insurance organization I had ever worked for or with was daunting.

    I went to the HO and met with the Chairman, President and other staff members. I left the meeting with the job. I could not believe it and had no idea how I was going to achieve this really large, daunting project. However, my old habits of planning, research, scheduling and just refusing to be defeated paid off. This first project turned into 2 more for this firm.

    Sometimes fear is the best motivator. Protecting your reputation is a pretty big motivator too.

    Thanks for sharing this article and keeping us thinking.

  2. Annie George /

    Pat, thank you! I know that you’re a person who is open to learning and trying new things…and always offer real value to those you work and connect with.

  3. Ronald Williams /

    I remember in the 90′s when I was doing some stand-up in some of the local L.A. clubs that the butterflies in my stomach would cause me a great deal of stress moments before going on stage.

    But I thought I truly knew what “funny” was and I felt if I just believed in myself that I could win over the audience with my ability to tell humorous stories and present funny scenarios.

    Sure enough, upon hearing the firsts bursts of laughter from the audience, I would calm down and the material would flow and the fear would subside.

    Performing in front of a large crowd, whether being funny, or informative, or singing, is, for many people, the hardest thing to do. Many professionals entertainers quit touring at the height of their success because they suffer from stage fright.

    God bless those with the ability to overcome their inner fears and give a viable, meaningful performance in front of a large crowd.

  4. Susan McCann /

    Wow Annie, I love your blog! And your ‘fear-less-ness!’ So inspirational. I am a Broadcast professional (Radio) and the single mom of boy/girl twins. I am the sole provider of income for my little family and have been let go from my job.

    While I did pickup immediate part time work at another radio station, I need more than part time to pay the mortgage and feed my children.

    I was tempted to grab the first thing that comes my way, but after reading your blog, I am inspired to view this situation I find myself in, as not unfortunate, but rather, a chance to ‘make my dreams come true.’

    My daughter said to me after I lost my job, ‘Mom, if you could do anything you wanted at this time, would you choose to do radio fulltime again?’ Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE radio and what I have done for 27 years. Still I feel a longing to ‘expand my horizons’ perhaps into TV…?

    I do feel I still have SO much to offer in many related fields in this industry of mine – Entertainment. I feel this was no coincidence that I happened upon your blog. It was the Universe sending me a message. A message of Sucess.

    I hope I will have good news on my career progress to report back to your blog with–soon!! You can count on me as a regular ‘Georgie Girl.’

    Thanks for showing me some light Annie! And kudos on your own brilliant career!!

  5. Diane /

    Yes Annie I remember that time in Spain and was so proud of you. Not to mention moving there and immersing yourself in a new language and becoming a buyer for your own boutique!

    It’s funny when I think of fearless in myself I often go to younger days, I hitchhiked across the country a few times….(C’mon it was the early 70′s) I had my son at home with a midwife before it was even legal to do it that way.

    But now that I’m at an age when many people are looking to stop, to retire, I’m looking for new projects to write and feel inspired to create almost every day. This takes a lot because in this society if you are an artist and driven to do what you do, but not making a ton of money at it, (yet) you are often seen as, “Poor thing” But I get up every day and do it again, and don’t plan on stopping. Following your passion never gets old.

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