Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve decided to come clean about something that I’ve kept quiet over the years fearing it would damage my credibility as a media savvy professional. I held the title of Miss North Carolina 1989 and competed in the Miss America Pageant (not to be confused with Miss USA which does not include a talent portion). I figured I had enough stereotypes to fight as a blonde, single mom running a PR firm headquartered in Tennessee, without adding pageant contestant to the list.
I come from a modest upbringing in western North Carolina and growing up, I was more interested in mud pies and football than sequin evening gowns. My life was about as far from Toddlers & Tiaras as you can get. Yet when I discovered I had a gift for music, the Miss America stage became a dream of mine. The Miss America Pageant was THE original TV reality show what with a network viewership paralleling the Super Bowl. Every aspiring performer dreamed of gracing the stage in Atlantic City and snagging her first big break. The Miss America Organization continues to navigate changes and controversy, struggling to remain relevant in the fast-paced world of reality TV and social media.
Recently, I’ve decided to wear my Miss A experience like a badge of courage; right alongside my age. So when I discovered that this year’s Miss A Pageant fell on my 44th birthday, a mere 23 years after I pranced down a steep flight of stairs in 4” stilettos , sang an Andrew Lloyd Weber song, answered a question, and lost…. I knew the stars had aligned.
I now realize that the lessons I learned competing in the Miss America system have played a large role in developing my character. Those experiences helped me to become disciplined, self-sufficient, confident, and most importantly, resilient.
On that note, here are 5 critical lessons I learned that are helping me in business:
Miss A Rule #1—IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…pull your boot straps up and try again. It took two long years for me to become Miss North Carolina. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed since I founded FletcherPR in 2008 yet the lessons I learned on the road to Miss America have served me well.
Miss A Rule #2—THE LAW OF SCARCITY IS A FARCE. There is enough success to go around. The friendships I gained while competing are still very dear to me today. Believe me, it’s okay to be friendly with your competitors.
Miss A Rule #3–VISUALIZATION MATTERS. I learned to visualize success through competition. Now I visualize the day FletcherPR will be known as the foremost expert on marketing to women in the country. If you can visualize it, you can achieve it.
Miss A Rule #4–DRESS LIKE YOU MEAN BUSINESS. Just as I would never show up to Miss America in potato sack, I’ve learned to dress for the position to which I aspire. That doesn’t mean I never have “leggings and UGG days,” but dressing up on the outside makes me more confident on the inside.
And finally, Miss A Rule #5—PITY PARTIES MAX OUT AT 24 HOURS. Through competition, I learned how to lose. Losing hurts. I hate to lose anything whether it be time, clients, pitches, or a football game. So I throw myself a pity party but when the clock strikes 24 hours later, the pity party is over and its time to let go and move on.