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Stripping Made Me Into A Better Entrepreneur

Many of the skills it took to be successful as a dancer are the same skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur.

Workin' Girl

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

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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.

2. Have Confidence

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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.

3. Time OFF

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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.

4. Negotiation Skills

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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

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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.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

'Hustlers': Confessions Of A Former Stripper Who Hustled Investment Bankers Day & Night

What Sex Workers Need You To Know About Their Careers

I'm A Dominatrix & I Control Men's Wallets For A Living

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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