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I was probably the last person anyone expected to start rapping.
I had a speech impediment as a kid, and I had to go to speech therapy throughout junior high. In school, kids would constantly make fun of me for my voice. To make things worse, I also got braces at age twelve and had to wear them until college. My teeth were so unusually screwed up that I’m probably a case study in several medical textbooks.
My entire life, I’ve been self-conscious of my voice.
That insecurity prevented me from doing a lot of things I was passionate and curious about when I was younger, from film and comedy to leadership opportunities.
But luckily, I was too weird and broke too many rules to have a normal job, so I decided to be an entrepreneur and start my own company when I was 23.
Forced out of my comfort zone
Being an entrepreneur forced me to do a lot of things I felt uncomfortable with. As the only founder of bootstrapped company SalesFolk, I did all my own sales and marketing in the early days. I had no problem writing persuasive web copy, email campaigns, or blog posts, since I’ve always been a natural writer. But as someone who has always been introverted and awkward, doing sales was intimidating and emotionally exhausting.
Then I got good at selling–so good that I could close a five-figure deal with just an email and a twenty-minute call.
I also procrastinated doing webinars and online events because I hated my voice so much, and hearing the recording of it made me cringe. Opportunities came up that I couldn’t pass by, and I forced myself to do webinars. I still didn’t like the way my voice sounded, but I got comfortable faster than I expected. It helped that billion dollar companies like InsideSales.com and Hubspot were telling me my webinars were some of their top performing content.
Many people said I should make an online course for cold email and sales prospecting, but I drug my feet. I knew I had pioneered many of the best practices and created the industry’s top-performing templates, but due to my insecurity, I left millions of dollars on the table.
I finally created the course, and it was quite successful and lucrative, but without my friends and employees constantly nagging me to do it, it wouldn’t have happened
But then came 2018, one of the best and worst years of my life.
The month when it all fell apart
2018 started out pretty strong. I was getting ready to roll out the enterprise software I had been toiling over for almost a year, and wrapping up a book proposal that I thought could be a New York Times Bestseller.
And then, suddenly, everything started to fall apart during a business trip to Asia.
Within a few weeks, I had legal threats, learned that dishonest employees that were fudging numbers, and people I once deeply respected were trying to bully and shame me into removing content I had published that I firmly believed the public needed to see.
Things really sucked. And then, to make matters worse, both my parents found out they had different kinds of cancer within about a week from each other. My life was a mess, and I also felt like an asshole for not spending more time with family and other loved ones.
That’s about when burnout hit me like a sack of bricks.
I think I’d been teetering on the edge of burnout for at least a year; maybe longer. I ignored all the warning signs, and pushed myself to the point that looking at a screen made me so nauseous that acid would come up into my mouth.
I was a total mess for months. I had to take some serious time off and do some soul-searching to get better again.
What do you do when you suddenly have time again?
It’s really strange to suddenly have free time after beasting nonstop for years. I really didn’t know what to do with myself when I wasn’t working.
It was about this time that I discovered rapping.
As a teenager, I knew every single line to hundreds of rap albums, but as a blonde girl with a soft, high-pitched voice, I never thought rapping was even remotely possible for me.
I’d ghostwritten some songs and comedy sketches for friends over the years, but a whole new world of possibility opened when I heard Yolandi Visser rapping. Yolandi, female singer of the South African rap group, Die Antwoord, also has a fairly high-pitched voice, which she completely owns and makes work for her.
I didn’t immediately decide that I wanted to try rapping, but I was definitely inspired by female artists like Yolandi, Awkwafina, and Tierra Whack, who seemed to break the mold and “own their weirdness.” And I wanted to do that too.
I desperately wanted a chance to get to express myself authentically and creatively, without all the constraints of the corporate business world.
How rap saved me, and helped me discover my alter ego, Razzlekhan
I had this crazy idea for a song that I just had to make. The song came to me at 9:00am on a Tuesday, completely sober, and I wrote the whole thing in about thirty minutes.
On the surface, it’s an absurdist stoner story, similar to the likes of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, but underneath is an allegory of Silicon Valley, chock-full of symbolism.
I had no clue how to create a rap song, though.
Because I had no musical abilities, I decided to find a producer to make a beat for me. My friend recommended searching on SoundBetter, where I found my producer, Keyzus. He went above and beyond to help me improve my rhythm and flow, and we bonded over both having synesthesia.
Now I have seven rap songs, and counting, under my rap persona, Razzlekhan.
I’m definitely not trying to win a Grammy for my voice, but I am addicted to rap. I know I still have lots of room to improve, but that’s what I like about it, and I intend to keep rapping into my eighties, in between building new software.
My advice for discovering your own passion:
1. Look for interests and passions that you had when you were younger for inspiration, since they often are close to your core self.
2. Decide if you want that activity to be social, solitary, or a combination of both.
(Are you introverted or extroverted? Maybe you need a more introverted activity to give yourself time to reflect and recharge, or perhaps you need something more social to connect with others?)
3. Try to find something that takes you out of your comfort zone that challenges you.
(You’ll probably find that you can do a lot more than you thought possible. It’s a real confidence boost when you master something you previously sucked at.)
April 30, 2019 at 07:16AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs