Do you perform and pretend? Promise Phelon does, and raises millions while she’s at it.
The instantly engaging CEO of Boulder’s TapInfluence rocked the crowd of over 200 entrepreneurs, executives and creatives at June’s Power Night Boulder. And though there’s nothing quite as electric as feeling the feminine power flow from the stage in person, we hope you enjoy EW’s recap of her magnetic performance:
Promise Phelon gets real the second she steps on stage.
“There are a lot of things that you can learn about me on Google,” she says. “Lots of billions and millions being thrown around. But what Google won’t tell you is that I’ve pretended and performed my whole life to get here.”
For 7 years, Promise Phelon thought of herself as a stutterer. She avoided speaking in public and hid herself and her feelings because of feelings of inadequacy. Her whole perspective changed when a teacher told her, “You are not a stutterer, you stutter. Pretend through the fear. Start getting over it. Don’t make it pathological.”
This advice changed her life, but it didn’t evaporate her fear. “When I wake up,” Promise says, “the first thing I think is How’s my hair? and the second is Will I stutter today?” But visioning allows her the confidence to get over it. If you can visualize the outcomes, it’s easy to act because the scary stuff has already happened and it turned out okay.
While working toward her 3 degrees at Southern Methodist University, Promise was fascinated by the sorority girls she passed on campus. They smiled and bounced when they walked, they waterskied on weekends, they partied and networked. They had BMWs and pearl earrings, and Promise had a Ford Escort so crappy that she abandoned it on the side of the road when it broke down. But she wanted to know what it was like. She wanted to be elite. So she became the first African American in that all-white sorority.
She had to pretend to be a part of something she wasn’t because she wanted the opportunities that they had. She needed proximity to the people who were going to influence her growth and success.
“We’re all guilty of micro-analyzing too little info, and extrapolating too much from it,” Promise says.
When she first began pitching to raise $5 million, she was met with a wall of no’s. And after each rejection, she would “Molly Ringwald” – Promise’s term for crying in the parking lot of her husband’s work about how terribly everything was going. Her husband asked her, “How many meetings can you have if after each one you have a breakdown? What if you didn’t analyze every meeting, you didn’t decide it was about you, and you just went meeting to meeting to meeting. Would that make it faster to raise the money?”
400 meetings later, Promise had raised $5.9 million.
“Start pretending into the communities that you feel that you’re not allowed,” Promise says. “It is time to get out of criticizing ourselves and each other. It’s time to stop overanalyzing situations. It’s time to WIN.”
Want to experience the real thing for yourself? Join Promise Phelon and the whole Inner Circle at Emerging Women Live 2015, featuring Jane Goodall, Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Tererai Trent and more.