Jackie Huba

How the weirdest thing I’ve done turned into a TED talk and a book

In November 2013, I sent out an message to my email list titled “My new project may be the weirdest thing I’ve ever done.” It had one of the biggest open rates of any email I’ve ever sent out. What weird thing was I doing?

I was studying to be a drag queen.

Drag queens are amazing performers who create fierce, fabulous female personas for the stage. I thought by learning to do drag that I could learn how to be as fearless as they are. And being fearless was something I really needed in my life back then. (BTW, women can do drag too!) I was really nervous about sending that email and revealing this wacky thing I was doing. But then I realized that whole idea of doing drag was to learn how to be fearless, so I sent the dang email. And nothing has been the same since.

After wanting to do a TED talk for years, last year I was approached to do a talk for TEDxVancouver, one of the biggest TEDx events in the world: 3,500 people in Rogers Arena, where the NHL Canucks play. They wanted me to do a talk on Lady Gaga and fan loyalty based my last book, but I convinced them that I should talk instead on how to be confident and fearless by learning from drag queens, something I had never given a talk on in my life. And well, I couldn’t talk about becoming a female drag queen without doing drag, sooooooo that’s what I did. My TED talk hit some “firsts:”

  • First TED talk done by a female drag queen.
  • First TED talk to mention RuPaul.
  • First TED talk to showcase celebrity drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race

Here’s the talk (make sure to watch ’til the end ; )

(Only the TEDx videos with lots of views get elevated to the main TED YouTube channel so please share with friends!)

While working on the TED talk, I was also working on a book on the same subject: how we can all be as fearless as drag queens in our everyday life. I just submitted the final manuscript last week. The book is called Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen. The book is a creative, playful approach to the serious problems that people, especially women, face regarding confidence and risk-taking. It’s like Lean In, but with more sequins and sass! Drawing on my experiences doing drag as the fabulous Lady Trinity, and my interviews with the world’s top drag queens, the book shares five Keys to Fierce that will help readers ignore criticism and live life more fearlessly. These Keys are rooted in well-researched concepts in psychology that will help readers become the amazing person they see inside their heads and feel in their hearts. The book will be published in August of this year. We are starting to work on the marketing and book tour now.

 

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If you are interested in helping get the word out about book, organizing a book tour events in your city, etc., please just email jackie AT jackiehuba DOT COM to be part of the Fiercely You Crew.

Here’s what I’ve learned through this experience: don’t be afraid to pursue the “weird” ideas. It’s the weird ideas that are worth doing. It’s the weird ideas that stand out and get noticed. It’s the weird ideas that get talked about. My friend Seth Godin calls it “edgecrafting” or going as far from the norm as you can to create a product that is remarkable. I want to help women, and everyone for that matter, to become their best selves, and I believe drag queens can teach us the way. This weird idea led to a TED talk and a new book. Who knows where your weird idea might lead you?

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