Beyond the Cubicle: Gaining the Courage to Compete in a Corporate Pageant

In 2015, I made one bold decision that changed my entire life: I decide to compete in the Ms. Corporate America pageant.

But it wasn’t an easy decision.

I kept going back and forth wondering “should I do it?”

I was so nervous and kept talking myself out of it (those darn doubts).

Then I realized “what am I scared of??? I only have one life so I need to make it my best life. I’ll never have to wonder what would have happened if I just do it.”

Soooooo…I did it!

I went to and submitted my application. Then I started telling the world that I was competing in a pageant…AGAIN.

Yeah, I had competed in 4 pageants prior to 2015 and never even placed in one pageant.

It was pretty embarrassing.

Every time someone would ask me “how did the pageant go?”, I could only tell them about my learning opportunities and only imagine the day that I would win a crown.

And there is this one time I will never forget.

I was competing for a state title in Illinois and there were only six other contestants. Now I knew that I was going to win this time. The odds were in my favor and I saved up  my money to buy some pretty amazing attire. Plus, I was a Certified Public Accountant, Project Management Professional, and Certified Fraud Examiner. Why wouldn’t the judges be impressed with my sexy new certifications?

To top it off, I even made sure my speaking skills were more mesmerizing than Harold’s Chicken. I took my speaking goals to the next level by becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster – the highest speaking and leadership designation that anyone can achieve in Toastmasters International. I was going to win the judges over with my words.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

The emcee started to announce the top 4 contestants (out of 6) and I couldn’t believe my ears.

My name was not called.

There were only 6 contestants and I still was NOT a top contestant.

It hurt. It was my fourth pageant. And I was starting to believe pageantry was NOT for me even though I loved the experience sooooo much.


I started reading about the corporate leaders and entrepreneurs who competed and won the Ms. Corporate America pageant.

These women were unlike any other pageant contestants I had ever seen before. They were MBAs, authors, speakers, professionals, and so much more.

What was so compelling about their journey is that their message was bigger than them. Every time they spoke, they were giving other women permission to live their dreams.

I wanted to be a part of that.

So I decided to compete in my 5th pageant.

And guess what????

I won the title of Ms. Corporate America 2015!!

And everything changed….

I left my 7- year career in financial services, started speaking all over the United States, traveled around the world on a 6-month tour to Bermuda, Mexico, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium…

And life just kept producing beautiful surprises.

It all happened because I decided to say yes and give myself permission to live my dreams…even when I was scared stiff.

What’s even more exciting is that you can do it too and surpass everything that I’ve done❤

All it takes is courage. Need courage? Say these affirmations every day.

1. I love who I am, and I am excited about who I am becoming.

Jim Rohn once said, “You want to set a goal that is big enough that in the process of achieving that goal you become someone worth becoming.”

Think about it. How will the process of competing in a pageant enhance your life? You’ll pay more attention to your health, do what it takes to become a competent communicator, build valuable relationships, learn how to brand yourself, and stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world.

Aren’t these skills that would be useful on your success journey? You’ll be ahead of the game!

2.  I give myself permission to create opportunities that align with my passion and purpose.

Most people don’t realize the power they have. They do what has always been done or wait for permission in order to live the life they want. When you compete in a pageant, you learn how to listen to that voice inside of you that directs you on your journey.

3. I have the courage to go after what I really want.

Say it out loud and be proud. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing to be successful. You can find career success doing what you love. You can create your own definition of career success.

I left my 7-year career in financial services and started dancing around the world. When I returned to Chicago, I created a freelance writing business and worked on the set of the most popular TV shows. I must admit that I was pretty happy and excited about the life I was living. All I had to do was decide what I wanted to do.

4. I am tapping into more of my potential every day.

You never know what you can do unless you do what you have never done before. And when you are competing in a corporate pageant, you’ll probably do a lot of things you’ve never done before.

For example, you may have to dance on stage, learn how to walk in 6-in heels, participate in a panel interview, answer a random question, talk about your platform on video, or deliver a 30 second pitch on why someone should sponsor you. You just never know what you will be called to do. But every opportunity provides a unique chance to tap into more of the potential that is inside of you.

5. I will succeed because I am the type of person who never gives up.

Most people sit on the sidelines in life because they are afraid of failure.


You have to change how you see failure. I like to look at failure as feedback. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Stop making a big deal out of losing. It is NOT the end of the world. I lost 4 pageants and my life still went on. Just try again.

What are you waiting for?

Apply today!

Let me know if you have questions. Click here to like the Ms. Corporate America page and follow the journey of the current queens.

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Bio: After becoming the first Certified Public Accountant to win the title of Ms. Corporate America 2015 in a pageant held in Orlando, Fl, Charlene created the Career Goddess Academy. She shares her money, health, travel, and career advice all over the web as a contributor for the Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, The Path Mag, Women on Business, Ms. Career Girl, and other sites. In 2015, she was recognized as the Illinois CPA Young Professional Leader of the Year. 

Charlene now works on the set of the most popular TV shows, including EMPIRE, Chicago PD, Chicago Med and Chicago Fire.

Do you need a guest speaker? Contact Charlene at 

Charlene Rhinehart

I’m Charlene - International Speaker, Published Writer, & Career Strategist. I help women skip the most common career mistakes, move from fear to confidence, and enhance their professional profile so that they can create a life that is better than their dreams.

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