Michelle Poler quickly cut to the chase of her Oct. 4 Club Industry Show keynote address—"What Are We So Afraid Of?"—when she beckoned the crowd to begin dancing immediately after she took the stage in the Chicago Hilton's International Ballroom.
At first, most keynote attendees blushed and hesitated to stand and sway their hips to the pop music filling the hall. So Poler hopped off the stage and danced among the crowded tables. This entirely changed the mood in the hall. An idea that had seemed scary moments just before—dancing—was now an amusing and even inviting one. Dozens of trainers, consultants and club operators clapped and joined Poler in what may have been the most spontaneous moment of the entire 2017 Club Industry Show.
The Venezuela native went on to share how she broke down her own comfort zones by, in 2015, conquering 100 fears in 100 days. This included dancing in public, jumping out of an airplane and quitting her job as an advertising agency art director in New York City. The project made her semi-famous and launched her public speaking career. Now, through speaking engagements and her Hello Fears platform, Poler has devoted her life to helping people like herself shed their insecurities and realize their full potential.
It wasn't that Poler had 100 fears, she told the crowd; she had seven. They were pain, danger, disgust, embarrassment, rejection, loneliness and control.
"After embracing this new lifestyle where daring is my first choice, I learned that the only time I fail is when I fail to try," she said.
Heights at sports stadiums — Marty McCallen, managing director
"My fear is sitting in the upper level at a huge stadium and, while walking down, slipping and falling to a serious injury or worse," McCallen said, noting he once witnessed a fan fall to his death at an NFL game. "I think of this while walking down, and it definitely makes me shakier while navigating the steps, adding to the challenge."
Using Spanish in front of fluent speakers — Pam Kufahl, director of content and engagement
"I took Spanish in high school and tried to brush up on it this past year prior to going to Spain for my first time in May," Kufahl said. "I did use some Spanish while I was in Spain, but I only did so in dire circumstances because I was not confident about my abilities. I could tell by the responses of those I spoke to that my accent was thick and my vocabulary was lacking. I am now even more hesitant than before to speak the language, but I want to overcome that because I’d like to go to more Spanish-speaking countries in the future."
Competing in an ironman triathlon — Tina Bebee, marketing manager
"It compounds multiples fears into one big excuse," Bebee said, noting she has been considering this goal for years. "I am too busy at work, and I cannot do something for myself that will take away from my responsibilities. ... I will be too slow and embarrassed by my lack of ability. I will panic in the swim, and all that training will be for nothing. [The fear] goes on and on."
Eating animal protein — Anthony Dominic, content producer
Until recently, I hadn't eaten animal protein in nearly a decade. I have been a devoted vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan, but I am now convinced animal protein—specifically elk and bison—will help me build additional muscle mass and improve my athletic performance as a runner and rock climber. I'm easing into the process, but it's very exciting. I feel like I'm learning to cook and eat all over again.