I am a horrible employee. It's not my fault. I blame a decade of stripping.
Just the thought of giving someone sixty-plus hours of my life for what employers are willing to pay doesn't make sense to me. I don't think that working a job is bad. Predictable income and health benefits are nothing to turn one's nose up at. I just know that for me, being an entrepreneur is good and it never crossed my mind that I could even be one until I started dancing.
Strippers are, in essence, independent contractors. Many of the skills it took to be successful as a dancer are the same skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur. I could fill an entire book about the life skills I learned as a stripper that I still use to win in life today. In fact, I did.
Here are 5 of the ways that stripping specifically prepared me for a life of entrepreneurial adventure.
1.Take Risks & Take Action
No one risk-averse can be a successful entrepreneur and being a stripper was a big risk. It could have destroyed my biggest goal of being a professional performer, in my mind. There was a chance that I'd never be taken seriously if people found out I was a stripper; I could be shunned. However, taking that risk allowed me to earn the income I needed to build a residual earning income stream. I heavily depend on this stream of income to this day. This risk allowed me to pursue it without making a cent for two years.
Jumping into action and taking risks is what strippers do every single night. We have to somehow devise whether to go in for the sale right away or let the connection simmer and soft sell; the latter kills the precious time of your shift. If it works out, it was worth it, but other times, all it nets is wasted time. The only way to know which way it will go is to take the risk. As an entrepreneur, there is no time for endless stalling by trying to gain perfection. Every night strippers and sex workers of all forms take risks on many personal and professional levels. Therefore, in life and entrepreneurship, stripping gave plenty of practice in taking the calculated risk.
As a teen actor, I once had an agent say, "Confidence books!" as I headed out to an audition. I booked that job. I always kept this in the back of my mind. Spiritual and mental survival in a strip club takes an unwavering belief in oneself. Any of us would be hard-pressed to find a successful entrepreneur that is not confident. Entrepreneurship takes an absolute belief in ourselves or our products.
Anything that brings growth, is initially uncomfortable. Asking person after person for 6-12 hours a night in 8-inch heels takes the ability to be unshaken no matter what is said to you, no matter who likes you, no matter who insults you, no matter who finds you horrific, no matter who compliments you, no matter who thinks you're the hottest one in the club. This is a transferable skill useful in many facets of life. Suffice it to say, making an income in a strip club is heavily incumbent upon self-confidence and feeling worthy. Stripping is insufferable otherwise.
Entrepreneurs work way more than 9 am - 5 pm. In fact, it's easy for entrepreneurs to work until the point of burnout. Stripping is more mentally taxing than it is physically taxing. Time-off should be mandatory in any profession. As a dancer, I could work as many or as few days as I wished. There were weeks I worked 6 days, there were weeks I worked 2 days. Or I'd work 10 days in a row. No matter what, I made time to go on vacation every quarter.
Time off, time to decompress, time to commune with silence, time to do nothing is just as important as time grinding (pun intended). Entrepreneurs benefit from time-off just as much as they do from hustling hard. Amazing ideas happen during time off. Solutions present themselves during time off. The habit of taking time off helps me be a better entrepreneur because entrepreneurs never know what will be thrown at them from day-to-day.
A peaceful mind focuses better on the important tasks at hand. Every fire isn't a cause for annoyance. Being calm enough to shake off a challenge and get to the solution is priceless. Taking time off allows for this ability to strengthen. Grind culture and the "sleep when I die" mentality will kill us. Taking time off is like closing all the tabs on our computers and plugging into the charger, except within our own minds.
Nothing grinds my gears more than knowing how many women are uncomfortable asking for their full price, full value, full worth. I am eternally thankful for my experiences on strip club floors negotiating money. I got really comfortable talking about money, whereas society says the topic is gauche. One of my favorite on the floor negotiations were getting customers to pay for your time on the floor. They avoid all the extra room fees. We still make the same. Win-Win!
There was no way for us to avoid talking about money. It's part of the gig. Either you get really comfortable asking for money or you find another gig. That stomach curling feeling of discomfort when a conversation about pay arises has got to go. Many entrepreneurs do their own negotiating, initially. Until you get large enough to have reps, you need to be able to ask for your worth. Not doing so affects the quality of work you are able to do. I replaced five jobs with one that made more than all five combined.
Imagine doing one thing that pays you well versus having to make up for low costs in volume aka running all over the place. It's insanity. Ask for what you need so that you can provide the best experience for your clients. It's a win-win. Working below your value is not a win for anyone involved. Neither you nor your clients get the best of you when you undercharge.
5.Follow Up, Follow Thru
Do what you silently say to yourself you're going to do. It's like having the manners to tell yourself you're not going to make the meeting. The more you keep the silent promises you make to yourself, the more confidence you build in yourself. It spills out into many facets of life. A decade of hearing: Come back later. Maybe later. Waiting for the Blonde (that's a whole other article). It doesn't matter if I hear "no". In fact, dealing with me you should say "no" because my happy-go-lucky self will keep on coming back until you either say "yes" or pay me to go away.
Taking that kind of follow up into business dealings leads to success. We live in an "I'll text you tomorrow," versus a "Let's meet at 4 pm on Wednesday," world. Something as simple as following through puts you out ahead of the herd. Start with yourself first. Then inbox me on IG and tell me how it went.
From the outside looking in, it's very easy to incorrectly assess what is actually going on in strip clubs. Humans have a herd mentality that automatically go searching for social cues. We are great at being part of the herd. Strippers, ba! Got it. Herd accepted, behavior confirmed. As a society, we are not great at being the black sheep. Strippers, just human? Cue heads turning left and right to see what's acceptable. Could this be true? No.
However, on the edges beyond social cues is where the most growth happens and often faster than in the safety zone. Anyone who has worked in sales knows that it takes an incredible amount of self-development to win sales.
I once heard someone say "quotas are for people who don't make quotas". A stripping comparison to quotas would be house fees. House fees are the money strippers pay the club to "rent" the space as an independent contractor each shift. On the low-end, they can be $0-$60. On the high-end, it can cost $200-$300 a night to dance at a club. Similarly to quotas, high house fees are high to strippers who don't make much more after covering house fee costs. The scared and risk-averse dancers get weeded out. The macrocosm mimics the microcosm.
I was lucky that when I first began, a more experienced dancer taught me how to run dancing like a business. Goals were written down. The know-how to maneuver expenses with an unpredictable income was achieved. One of the biggest things that halt most potential entrepreneurs is fear of rejection. Keep learning with books like S.T.R.I.P.: A Stripper's 20 Life Winning Lessons to learn more skills.
With the skill of not fearing rejection alone, life as an entrepreneur is an easier pivot. And pivot you will as an entrepreneur. Gotta keep moving and asking for the proverbial next dance because shift time is a terrible thing to waste. And so is the time spent not applying these transferable skills to building up every entrepreneurial pursuit.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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