Hi! My name is Natasha Kogan and I am a Daring Female. (Now, say this sentence with your own name. Repeat at least once a day. And make sure to use your most convincing tone when you do.)
Ok, back to the point.
Two years ago one of my most precious, life-long, “I can't believe this is ever going to happen” dreams came true – I wrote a book and found a publisher who decided to skip the rejection letter this time and give me a shot. (To say that I was thrilled to have this happen would be an enormous understatement – I'm still in disbelief and get goose bumps when I think about it!) I titled the book The Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living and filled it with 30 Dares that I believe can help us all live fuller, more exciting and rewarding lives. I hope that you will check it out and find at least one dare that you want to take on and zap your life with some necessary energy and passion.
You might be wondering what makes me an expert on being a Daring Female. Well, I would never call myself an expert on anything, except good paper and pens (two of my quirky obsessions). But I have taken on more than a few dares in my own life and believe very strongly in the idea that doing so has allowed me to live it in a more exciting and fulfilling way. Many of my dares were disasters and I'm definitely not a happy-go-lucky gal who sees everything through pink sunglasses. But even the failed dares had a benefit of making me feel like I'm trying, I'm LIVING, and I'm experiencing every part of this crazy life, which for me, is what it's all about.
Here's a small selection of some of my biggest dares:
1. Too Old to Lose My Accent
When I was fourteen my family emigrated from Russia to the United States. We came here with six suitcases and $600. This dare was monumentally more difficult for my parents than it was for me and I'll forever respect them for the gigantic effort they put into building our new life here. After the shock of the first few weeks wore off, I decided that the only thing that was going to allow me to come out of my room and live my life was learning to speak English like a real American. I was so embarrassed of my accent and broken English that it literally hurt me to open my mouth and speak.
Everyone we met told me that there was absolutely, positively no way that I could lose my accent completely – I was simply too old to do that. Well, it was all or nothing, so I decided to go for it anyway. You'd laugh if you knew the amount of effort I poured into sounding like Samantha, on Who Is the Boss?, but it was more important to me than anything. After four years and endless embarrassment later, I did it. If you heard me today, I sound like a regular New Yorker! (Whether that's a good thing or not is another question.)
2. You're Giving Up THAT Job?
Fast forward ten years and I'm living in New York, working day and night at a big-name management consulting company (read “a company that big companies hire to tell them how to run their business even if they already know that well enough”.) It's a great firm, I get tons of perks – one of which is a nice complement for my ego, which comes from knowing that I am working at one of the most coveted companies out there – a good paycheck, and interesting work. But besides the fact that I am working day and night, I get the urge to work in a more creative environment, helping much smaller businesses grow, and maybe start my own some day.
So I decide to leave. My parents, my friends, and my colleagues decide that I've lost my mind and try to talk me out of making a terrible mistake. But I'm stubborn and I know that if I don't leave now, I won't leave later, and wake up 20 years from now with a bunch of “woulda/coulda/shoulda” thoughts in my head. I give my notice and I leave, spending the next few years working with small start-ups and being part of their devastating failures and great successes. No steady paycheck, no famous companies, no perks except for one: I'm doing something I've always wanted to do and I'm doing it on my terms. And damn, that feels good!
3. You Can't Start a Publishing Company Out of Your Apartment
Well, you can, actually. Which is what my husband I and did three years ago. I got this wacky idea to publish a series of books written by students and for students and told it to my husband. Since we are both book lovers and publishing industry junkies (we have a nice collection of rejection letters we received for many ideas we tried to turn into books) we researched what it would take to publish these books on our own and started a company to do it. Whoa! That was one of the toughest things I've ever attempted (until I gave birth to our daughter several years later and understood what “tough” was!) We plunked our life savings into the company and made tons of very costly and naïve mistakes. We worked at our regular bill-paying jobs during the day and on our publishing business all night and during weekends. We were exhausted and often intimidated, but it was so exciting to see our books come to life. We published 11 of them, found a national distributor, and finally saw them on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and many other stores. When the positive reviews and thank you letters from students started coming in, we were floating on air. If you're curious, check out the books at www.StudentsHelpingStudents.com.
That's a bit about me and my life dares that inspired me to write the Daring Female book and build a Daring Female community through this site. I'm always eager to hear from as many of you out there as possible – send me an email to natasha at daringfemale.com and let me know if something you read in my book or on this site has inspired you to take on your own dares and get more out of your life.
Oh, and if you're curious, I live in New York with my husband, Avi, and our daughter Mia. I like walking around New York, eating in Paris, writing on smooth paper with funky pens, writing and coming up with book and product ideas, watching great movies, and rolling around on the grass with my daughter. I've posted links to some of my favorite books, movies, places, people, and products in the Daring Resources section, so I hope you check it out.
If you're a member of the media, check out the For the Media section for some detailed information about me and my books, including sample downloads, press releases, and anything else I could think of to entice you to write an article and help spread the word about our Daring Female community!