My entrepreneurial journey began on the night of my senior prom – what should have been a special event turned out to be one of the worst nights of my life. I was an incredibly shy and insecure child from a family without many resources, and as a result I didn’t have a date until the last minute. In fact, I didn’t have a date for the senior prom until the desperate guy asked the desperate girl!
Having found a date, of course I needed a dress. I didn’t have much money, but I’ve always had a knack for style, so I went downtown to a high-end store, where I found a gown on sale that I knew would suit me. I styled my own hair and manicured my nails. I already had long white gloves, and I had a pair of shoes dyed to match my gown.
I thought I was all set for my very first date, but I’d forgotten that the evening involved dinner at a restaurant. And as my family couldn’t afford to eat at restaurants, I simply didn’t know how to deal with a formal table setting. I was so embarrassed. I ordered something from the menu, but when it came I had no idea what it was. Looking back, it was just clams and shrimp and maybe scallops. But the only thing I could identify then was shrimp, and I was so self-conscious that I just couldn’t eat a thing. I felt like the whole restaurant was staring at this girl who didn’t even know what fork to use. After all my efforts to look right, I realized that I didn’t know how to behave. It was a terrible night, and I vowed then to never find myself in that kind of situation again.
That determination drove me to learn how to present myself in the best possible way. Throughout my career, I worked in a number of industries and at various different levels, and I gradually realized that I could achieve even more in my life by complementing hard work with what is generally called etiquette – in other words, good manners, grace, charm and poise. When I had that realization, I looked around and saw that many other people could benefit from my experience. People in all walks of life, and in all business sectors. Small business owners who weren’t earning half of their potential. Candidates who were failing job interviews even though they had the best qualifications and experience. Women who were getting passed over for promotion because of how they dressed. Attorneys whose client base seemed stuck at a certain level and who couldn’t work out why they always failed to attract the bigger clients.
It was that inspiration that ultimately led me to become an expert in etiquette and image and to develop the Grace and Charm system. Because the first stage in being able to communicate with someone is feeling confident. You have to know how to behave, and how to present yourself. It may seem trivial, but if you’re worried about which fork to use at a formal business dinner, how can you successfully present yourself as a potential business partner? You’re concerned about yourself, while you should be thinking about what the other person needs and how you can fulfill those needs. I provide people with the social skills to forget about themselves in company so they can really focus on the other person.
I have developed techniques, tips and tools that people can use immediately for immediate results. I show people how to break down the barriers around them, to move easily in all social circles and to interact with people who can really make a difference to them, both professionally and personally. If you can make people comfortable in your presence, then you have an opportunity to really connect with them. And in today’s shallow world, a genuine connection is such a rare thing that it – and you – will be remembered.
I get immense pleasure from sharing these techniques. I’ve even started programs for girls so that they can learn how to overcome their shyness and insecurity. I feel that it’s extremely important to give back to the community, and what better way than to teach the next generation the skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace?
Ideal Girl Global is a personal development program for girls between the ages of 8 and 18, and My Dreams Do Come True provides donated prom gowns to girls who would not otherwise have been able to afford to attend, and who might have dropped out of school as a result. The pride I get when I see these girls, all dressed up in what might be their first ever dress, is incredible.
And it all stems from that terrible night when I sat there in that restaurant and wanted the earth to swallow me up. Looking back, and looking at what I’ve achieved as a result, I think that maybe it wasn’t such a terrible night after all!
Stay away from the dream sealers; they come as friends, family, and co workers.
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