The Story Economy Blog

Are You There Technology? It’s Me, Judi

I came of age in the 1980s, and although I wasn’t afraid of big hair, I was quite afraid of computers. Let me rephrase: I was afraid of looking stupid because I didn’t understand computers. One day in fourth grade, Ms. Topmiller told us we were so lucky because it was our day to have the school computer for an entire class period. The other kids were gleeful, eyeing the computer like the best toy in the world.

I was terrified.

Each student was to go sit at the computer and take their turn completing this little program (we didn’t have the word “app” yet). As Ms. T. reviewed the directions, I was busy planning how to strategically miss my turn by asking to go to the bathroom. I calculated how long I could be in the bathroom without raising suspicion and still successfully miss my turn. It worked: I was spared from a display of stupidity! So I just kept right on behind afraid.

I might be 37, but even today, I still catch myself being that girl, terrified of taking her turn at the computer. The list of things I used to avoid because I was afraid I wouldn’t understand is ridiculous now, things like pay-at-the-pump, double-sided collated copying, ATMs, automated car washes, scanners, drive-thrus (yes, seriously), email, and texting. Now, I love all these things (well, I still can’t quite figure out automated car washes). But I had to fight my way to them, battling against that scared girl.

 Why Do You Test Me So?

Each step I’ve taken in reinventing my business from magazine journalism to strategic copywriting has involved some sort of technology, and I’ve resisted them all (I just want to talk to people and write! Please just leave me alone and let me talk to people and write!). 1Shopping Cart (the way you get this newsletter) practically made me break out in hives, and although I admit its usefulness, “auto responder” is a horrible, unfriendly word. Setting up a merchant account, launching a new web site, working in WordPress, using Instant Teleseminar, doing a webinar, figuring out social media, and getting an iPhone: all of it has tested me.

But this week has really been the test. In a few weeks (March 19!), I’m doing a virtual conference. I will tell you all about it very soon, because I am so excited about who I’ve lined up, and that I get to interview all of these very cool, very successful people and share their stories with you! But it’s as if the technology gods wanted to throw me one final test: You seriously think you’re ready for this? You sure you don’t want to raise your hand and ask to go to the bathroom?

In preparing for my virtual conference, I’ve had to deal with the most major server crash my hosting company has had in the eight years I’ve been with them. I lost entire web site pages (not cool, I know, but they were easy to recreate), and had only intermittent access to email and my web site for three days. I had a series of stressful conversations with a tech guy at the hosting company, who thought if he just said the same thing over, I would miraculously just understand. In the midst of all of this, I also decided to add an affiliate program, because I realized the only reason I was hesitating was because I was scared of the technology of it—and that wasn’t a good enough reason not to try it.

On top of that, for some unknown reason, my voice mail decided to quit working for a week. I could only load the first 7 seconds of messages. That’s really, really fun—especially when I had clients calling me, and the only part of the message I could hear was: “Hi Judi, I’d like to talk to you about . . .” (About how you are firing me? About how much you love what I wrote? About how you want my address so you can send me a $10,000 check just for being me?).


The stuff we’re afraid of when we’re little: it just keeps coming back around. It’s imprinted into our neurons; it flows through our endocrine system, hangs around in our liver, and it circulates in our blood. Our fears are part of us. I am afraid of scary technology, and that’s okay. But I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity it provides. I already know the service I provide is solid: I write things people want to read. Technology doesn’t change that. But it does help me get the word out—and this time, I’m taking my turn and accepting that it’s completely okay if I look stupid.

(Oh, and by the way, I didn’t bury the lead regarding my virtual conference! You will hear much more about it in the coming weeks!)

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