This chick walked in the room with silver and turquoise rings on every finger. Her jeans were so tight, they looked like they’d been painted on.
She wore heavy makeup and her eyeshadow was so dark and dense, I wondered to myself how she got it off…or if it even came off.
Every morning, she arrived on the back of a Harley-Davidson driven by her husband. She had dark, tanned skin that looked like a leather sofa. If she was 35, I wouldn’t have been surprised, but she looked at least 50.
Her name was Tammy and she was working an administrative job for a company I was doing marketing for. I didn’t belong there and neither did she. Because of this, we quickly became friends.
What Would "Tammy the Biker Chick” Do?
Do you remember GiveIt100? It was a cool concept – a site that encouraged people to do something new for 100 days and post daily update videos.
GiveIt100 had a problem with people acting like dicks. And because of this, they allowed users to block those people.
Here's the email they sent when the "block" feature was announced:
Today we are releasing two features we wish weren't necessary: block user and report comment.
Unfortunately, there have been a handful of unwanted comments this week, and a few members have emailed us requesting to be able to block people who have made them feel uncomfortable. Starting today, you'll be able to do that.
It takes a lot of courage to put yourself - videos of yourself - on the internet. It takes even more courage to share videos of yourself when you're not at your best. But that's what GiveIt100 is about. This is where you share not just your victories - but also your bloopers, the days when you're not feeling so hot. We're all works in progress.
The internet can be a pretty scary and hateful place. If you put yourself on YouTube, be prepared to be skewered in the comments. It's easy to criticize others from behind the computer keyboard. It's hard to be the one putting yourself out there - opening your work and your dreams to the internet.
We want this to be a safe place, where you don't have to worry about any of that.
We have just one rule: GiveIt100 is a place for positive comments only.
Here's a test: will your comment make the other person feel good?
If not, best to keep it to yourself. And if you see negative comments on other's videos, please let us know by clicking "report comment," and we'll take care of it.
Use your best judgement. Teasing among friends can be okay, for example. Constructive feedback is usually okay too, if it's phrased in a considerate way.
We have a suggestion too - if you get a supportive comment on one of your videos, try paying it forward. Don't feel shy about leaving a nice comment for a total stranger. It really can make a difference for them. When we talk to people who've made it through all 100 days, almost universally they say the GiveIt100 community helped them - especially when they felt like giving up.
Personally, I've received plenty of criticism, but I've also been fortunate to get a lot of encouragement.
When I first learned to dance, I asked my teacher: how good can I get in a year? "Really good," he said. "Okay," I told him. "I'll give it a shot."
He believed in me. So I practiced my butt off. And I learned to dance in a year. That video now has 4 million views and gave us the idea to make GiveIt100.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you. It makes all the difference.
The Double-Edged Sword Of Feedback
What GiveIt100 did works for a private community, but it doesn’t work in the world that podcasters live in. If you want your podcast to be heard by as many people as possible, you can’t isolate yourself from negative people.
But here's the good news about feedback and opinion:
Not all feedback is an attempt to demoralize you. A lot of feedback is helpful and good feedback will make you better.
Sure, there are dicks out there. And this is especially bad when people can get away with giving anonymous feedback. But don’t let a few assholes keep you from getting your message out and helping people with it.
What "Tammy the Biker Chick" Would Do
Tammy was batshit crazy. By most accounts, she was a terrible role model. There was one thing she did right though – she didn't try to be somebody else.
She was who she was. She didn’t play the same game as everybody else or isolate herself in hope that nobody would say anything bad about her and how different she was. Instead, she jumped in fully, wherever she was, and didn’t hold back.
She invited others into her world. Literally. On more than a few occasions, I spent time with her and her husband at biker bars and at their home.
Isolating yourself from certain people is one way of dealing with them, and it works for some situations, but isolation won’t help you to reach a lot of people with your message.
Scarier Than Podcasting? Yes!
The irony of this story is that one of the co-founders of GiveIt100, Karen X, got her start by publishing content in a world a lot scarier than podcasting – she put her content on YouTube.
Videos like this one:
YouTube is a cesspool of negative comments. It's the equivalent of a toxic waste dump. And Karen received plenty of negative comments.
But she also got comments like this one:
The biggest rewards in podcasting go to those who take the risks.
Today, Karen X runs Butterbar, a creative agency specializing in commercials and viral videos. She's worked with brands such as Microsoft, Beats By Dre, and Apple. She's appeared in viral videos with Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Serena Williams, and Nicki Minaj.
If she can do it, you can too. But you have to put your message out.