May is Mental Health Awareness month. This morning I’m anxious about a commitment I made for this evening to lead a discussion on Marketing and Public Relations for the monthly meetup of the Barrie chapter of the Rising Tide Society. A little recap- the Rising Tide Society was started last year by a group of photographers who mutually felt that running a small business could be extraordinarily lonely. They began by sharing their musings on Instagram with the hashtag #CommunityOverCompetition and tens of posts rapidly became hundreds, and then tens and hundreds of thousands. Then, Chapters began forming all over the world, meeting together on the second Tuesday of every month to discuss a topic chosen by the Society founders. The Rising Tide Society is dedicated to providing affordable and accessible education for small business owners in creative industries. There are 268 Chapters all over the world, as of this morning- I counted myself.
So, back to today. Tonight is the Barrie Tuesdays Together meetup and RTS chose Marketing and PR as this month’s topic. Not only that but we’ll be talking about mental health in entrepreneurship. I don’t have a Marketing or PR degree, and the only schooling I had on the topic was a semester of Marketing classes, but it’s something that just makes sense to me and consequently I have ended up doing a lot of in my career thus far. When I worked for a boutique event decor firm in Washington, D.C., I was responsible for all our marketing efforts as a new company, including getting the word out about us, managing our reputation with our audience, networking, securing sponsorship opportunities and all communication with our clients, be it through social media or a regular mailing list. I also sat on the Board of Directors for the Washington, D.C. chapter of the International Live Events Association (ILEA- formerly ISES, the International Special Events Society) as Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
Which all sounds very impressive on paper, but I’m also a self-defined introvert good at faking extroversion. I get social anxiety whenever I have to attend an event, let alone speak at one. Being prepared is all well and good, but my heart will still race as I get to the venue, my palms will sweat as I walk through the door, and my face will flush as soon as I need to speak out loud. I don’t have a cure-all for anxiety, but I once saw a TED talk about how that rush of adrenaline and nerves is our body preparing us to do something amazing. Out of our comfort zone? Our bodies got us. Her precise words were that ‘[she had read]…a study recently of successful entrepreneurs, and the author found that these people shared a habit that he called “productive paranoia,” which meant that these people, instead of dismissing their fears, these people read them closely, they studied them, and then they translated that fear into preparation and action. So that way, if their worst fears came true, their businesses were ready.’
So today, I am going to read and study my anxiety and nerves about leading this evening’s discussion. I am going to convert my mentality into productive paranoia. And I’m going to kick butt.