The toe sat dehydrated, blackened, and frayed on the plate in front of me.
The man dressed as a pirate took my name and home state, then read the rules:
"Your lips must touch the toe.
The toe cannot go past your lips.
The fine is $2,500 for swallowing the toe - accident or not."
(A toe sans body is hard to come by. #SupplyAndDemand)
Then he picked up the appendage - manicured nail and all - and held it over my glass of golden Yukon Jack.
“You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe.”
I picked up the glass, threw one more look at the pirate, brought the glass to my lips, and . . .
You're probably wondering what's going on here.
I'm Hannah, award-winning journalist turned copywriter and story strategist. I am hellbent on helping female entrepreneurs share their stories and create genuine connections with their audience that lead to sales.
That story with the pirate? That was me five years ago.
I was an intern at a newspaper in Skagway, Alaska and had just followed a team of Alaskan tandem paddlers on a race across the Yukon.
They called themselves the Alfred E. Paddlers for the famous Yukon cannibal. After the race, we all ended up at a bar about to take the world-famous “Sour Toe Shot.”
(Legend goes: gold miner freezes, cuts off toe, preserves it in a jar of alcohol. Weirdo turns it into a joke at his bar. Arguably bigger weirdos travel from all over the world to take the shot.)
It was me, the Alfred E. Paddlers and our severed toe. (A+ for staying on brand, no?)
I was one of the last to take the shot. I did it (really gross – think dead fish and you’ve got the texture and temp).
In the days after, I couldn’t stop thinking about what an insane and fantastic business idea it was, and holy cow did it make for a good story.
It was genius. A little seed planted in my brain, and four years later, after I married my first husband (we’re still together but I like to remind him what’s at stake) and got pregnant with our twin daughters, I knew I wouldn’t continue working as a journalist.
But I did know I wanted to work with people who had brilliant ideas, wanted to change lives, and who were itching tell great stories.
And now you're here
Let me guess . . .
You used to have a different job. Maybe a 9-to-5, maybe as a homemaker.
And one day you decided you wanted more – more freedom, more time with your family, more time to travel, more money, more living life.
So, you started searching. And while you were searching for a job that would give you that freedom, you realized you had a skill set that could change lives.
No, it didn’t happen all at once, but you started to notice when people made the same mistakes you had.
You’d see it and think, “It doesn’t have to be like that!” or “Oh no. I did it that way and it took me years to figure out what I was doing wrong.”
You were looking at all these people who kept having the same problem you had or who were going through something that you knew you could help with. So you got brave.
I mean, yeah, you tried to talk yourself out of it a few times, but for one moment, you summoned up enough courage to start. (And heck, maybe you've been doing this for years now.)
You know you can really help your people. You've been in their shoes, you survived that situation and learned how to make the best of it.
You also know that your audience needs to hear your story. They need to know that it's possible to be where they are right now and come out on the other side. Whether it's business or weight loss or parenting or knitting – your people are stuck. And you're the one who can help them.
But sharing your story? Scary stuff.
There are days when you feel energized and ready. You write it down, you plan out how to share it, you're ready to go!
And then . . .
You start to doubt.
Your voice is different from the gurus and what they say is "the right way."
You feel like a terrible writer like everything you write comes out wrong.
You don't know how to connect all your life and work experience to your current business.
You haven't puzzled out how to write posts and content that sound like you AND lead to sales.
You secretly (deep down) fear your story isn't worthy. Isn't enough. And maybe that's because you aren't enough.
So you hit delete. It's scary to take big leaps.
Except – you’ve been here before, remember?
May I recommend a shot of courage?
(Or, you know, a glass of Yukon whiskey with a toe in it.)
And no, you don't have to do this alone.