Can a dazzling crown lead to a dynamic career?
Yes! Many people see the final product of the women who compete in pageants but do not see the behind the scenes work that takes place in order for them to achieve success on stage and beyond.
I interviewed some of the most accomplished pageant queens who have been featured on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge, inspired audiences all over the world as motivational speakers, created nonprofit organizations, climbed the career ladder as managers, and used their gifts to inspire other women to take the leap as entrepreneurs.
These queens all prove one thing: If you are willing to invest in yourself, doors that you never knew existed will open.
Pageants can lead to success beyond what you have imagined. That’s why I decided to ask 9 national and state pageant-winners the following question:
How has pageantry helped you to win in the workplace and entrepreneurship?
Joanne B. Brown Mrs. International 2000
I was a wife, mother and well into my career as a trial lawyer when I entered my first pageant. Public speaking, poise and presence were skills I possessed in my professional tool kit. However, pageantry sharpened those tools and brought them to another level!
Going on to win a national title and Mrs. International 2000 intensified me to become a stronger advocate; one that could address not just a judge and jury but also one that could speak directly into the lives of the people I meet every day. There is a “switch” that is clicked on when one competes in pageantry that I believe sets us apart. We know how to engage with large and small groups alike. We embody poise and grace that causes others to take notice. These are great skills to have in any work place.
In my current position in the world of independent school admissions, the ability to connect with families is critical. Setting my school apart is important, and I am able to do that in part due to the skills I developed in pageantry. However, there are also unexpected benefits to pageantry! Who knew that learning how to navigate stairs in an evening gown would come in handy while hiking in the rainforests of Madagascar? True story! My point is that when you fully engage your mind, body and spirit into your pageant preparation and performance, you will develop and sharpen skills that will forever stay with you.
Anna Huf Miss Wisconsin USA 2006
I entered my first pageant when I was 18 years old, and it was one of the best decisions I could have made. One of the best skills that I learned through pageants, and one that I can truly say that has propelled my career into what it is today, is the skill of interviewing. My career has revolved around public speaking, interviewing, and coaching, and my countless hours of pageant prepping really served as the ground work for what I’m doing today.
I started my career as a motivation speaker, taking the stage and giving lectures about stress management, living your dreams, and heathy habits. When I landed my first recruiting role, I discovered very quickly, that to be a successful Recruiter you need to be able to network, communicate well, be driven, and be able to coach candidates to nail the interview. I could do all of that because of my experience in pageants. I quickly moved my way up to a management role, and am now the Director of Recruitment for a Software Company.
On top of being in management, I am also a philanthropy leader and a wellness committee member. Pageants have not only taught me necessary skills like interviewing, and networking, but they’ve also taught me the importance of living a healthy life style and giving back to your community.
Kylah Johnson Mrs. Corporate America 2016
Pageantry is more than a competition based on beauty. It’s the ultimate challenge of being the best you can be from the inside out. Competing in pageants has abundantly enriched my business skills by teaching me how to assess my strengths and seek opportunities for improvement. I gained new business skills and polished those that were underutilized, such as strategic planning, project management, communication and marketing.
Pageantry has taught me to use lateral thinking to create innovative strategies that require excellent project management, program planning, decision-making, and problem solving skills. As a result, I have spoken on platforms for many national organizations on topics such as: confidence, teambuilding, networking, career advancement, entrepreneurship and leadership.
I learned how to communicate effectively and market myself in a creative, value-driven and authentic manner so that I could stand out and be memorable. It was about making my words count with a cause, meaning, and authority coupled with poise and grace. After competing, I was contacted by Orange County Government to develop a professional development program for women preparing for career advancement.
There is power in pageantry! All it takes a positive attitude, strategy, and the ability to take calculated risks to stand out.
Hannah Bohn Miss Illinois 2011
Whenever I tell people that I served as Miss Illinois 2011 and finished in the Top Ten at the 2012 Miss America Pageant, it’s always entertaining to hear their “pageant theories” about what they think the experience was about. At the young age of 19, I interviewed in front of celebrity judges, I spoke at the Illinois State Capitol Building about my platform of “Distracted Driving” and I addressed hundreds of student bodies on the dangers of texting while driving. These experiences more than prepared me for my current career and business goals. I earned over $20,000 of scholarship money with the Miss America Organization, which enabled me to go to school debt free. The invaluable interviewing skills that I obtained have given me the confidence to walk into a room and address an audience of any kind. As a Product Specialist for the International Auto Show, I now travel throughout the country and make presentations in front of crowds of all sizes. Also, with my developing business as a nutrition and fitness coach, I am able to effectively relate to my clientele. I am very thankful for my pageant experiences and the valuable traits that I learned from them.
Ocielia Gibson Miss Black U.S.A 2011
To experience success in your career after pageantry, you must begin with the end in mind. You should find ways to strategically align your platform, online image, and appearances with your business aspirations. Many young women miss this step – not taking into account how their pageant participation impacts their career goals. If you’re passionate about our dream career – after some soul-searching you’ll quickly discover ways to align your activities with the end goal.
My company, More Than a Pretty Face International, was first my platform. As a platform, I organized it as a nonprofit organization with four components: 1) mentoring, 2) educational workshops, 3) social media presence, and 4) empowerment events for girls. Due to the foundation that was laid during my years of pageantry, I established More Than a Pretty Face as a business that has now served clients with spiritual and social empowerment throughout the US and Kenya. Something that was important to me as titleholder was managing my image and maximizing the relationships I developed so I would put myself in the best position to garner positive opportunities.
Maggi Thorne Mrs. International 2014
Entering into the International Pageant System shapes me in and out by being able to focus on how to better serve my platform; Soles4Souls, and continually improves my business skills. A pageant title is a job, and you learn how to be 100% ready all the time to represent an entity.
Having worked with the media since when I was a teenager, it expanded my ability to speak on the spot with purpose and engage with the media on a global level. In addition, I loved the opportunity to understand other cultures on a deeper level; traveling 100,000 miles during my time as Mrs. International. This gave me further direction on how I want to continue to serve others in the future and the best practices to do so.
You will be rewarded for the hard work and dedication you put into a pageant or any endeavor in general. Do the work it takes because ultimately, it will give the best opportunity to the platform you have been entrusted to represent. The harder you work, the more you make positive impacts for people to learn from. Pageantry is the amazing platform that enables you to put on the uniform of a sash and crown; touching lives globally. I am forever grateful to have been Mrs. International 2014 and working alongside Executive Director Mary Richardson and her world class team. Surround yourself with goal driven people who exhibit positive attitude towards everyday if you really want to succeed in any pursuit.
Khalena Knox Miss Florida International 2014
Of all the skills that I have gained from knowing how to answer virtually any question without missing a beat to knowing how to apply the butt glue, there are two skills that have frequently placed me ahead of my competition in my professional life.
(1) Always Present a Polished Look.
Tennis great, Arthur Ashe, once said “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” Once you have confidence in yourself the next battle is gaining the confidence of others. Oddly enough, people believe what they see. I learned very quickly that having an overall poised and polished presentation in some cases can be as important as experience.
(2) Strike While the Iron is Hot.
While attending a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Lupus Foundation of Florida, I was asked to speak on behalf of the organization for an on camera interview. Post the conclusion of the interview, I determined the journalist not only owned the footage that I wished to obtain but, he also owned and operated one of the most popular television shows in the area. I politely expressed my interest in journalism and shortly thereafter, was offered an on camera position on that show. Although, I could not have been certain of the outcome, I made it a point to express my interest in a field that the journalist was thriving in, if for nothing else, great advice. Because I rose to the occasion, I landed my first television -hosting job on Fox.
Caitlyn McCabe Miss Illinois International 2007
It’s funny; I was just out to lunch two days ago with a good friend who is also a former pageant winner. We both work in similar industries and were dining with a fellow customer. Somehow we got onto the topic of pageantry.
This man we were at lunch with had no idea either of us had ever participated in, let alone won some impressive titles in our days. When the topic came up, I immediately felt shy and became quiet. My friend continued to talk about all the opportunities pageantry had brought her and doors it had opened. Once I realized this man was not judging us for our time spent competing in pageants, but rather commending us, I too jumped in on the conversation. I am always hesitant at first because not everyone understands what pageantry is all about. I realized that the young formative years I spent in pageantry really helped to shape and define who I would become.
I competed in pageants from ages 18-24; they kept me grounded and responsible during college and the subsequent years. My hobbies naturally became volunteering, public speaking, and leading a healthy lifestyle. From this, I was led into a career that so far has spanned modeling, on camera hosting, live presentations, and medical sales. I certainly would have never had the drive or skills necessary to make it in those industries without pageantry in my background. My confidence, presence, and interview skills have won me every position to date.
Caprice Smith Mrs. Corporate America 2014
I used to be a police detective for several years and upon retirement was gifted with many opportunities to empower women while traveling throughout the country. Having the opportunity to serve as Ms. Corporate America was one of those opportunities that I never envisioned for my life, but I will cherish it for a lifetime because it forced me to focus on developing my mental agility.
If you want to win in pageantry or in business, you have to dream BIG. I challenge you to find three words that will become your mantra and life’s motto. These are the three words that will guide your success in everything you do. My words are “I am uncuffed.”
Now that you are equipped with a clear mind and mantra, challenge yourself. As a corporate queen, I have learned the importance of stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone in order to tap into opportunities that can propel your business. Have you heard of the Miss Corporate America Pageant? Compete against women from all over the country who are winning, leading and redefining their success? Before you get that perfect dress or get ready for the on stage question, think about the networking possibilities. A woman in business knows that a valuable network will increase her net worth. Enter the pageant with excitement, knowing that you will gain a sisterhood for a lifetime that will support you. Go for it, remember your recipe for success when you compete, be memorable, interesting and ready.
Are you ready to position yourself for your next big opportunity? What do you need in order to make the leap towards your dreams? Do you need to find a compelling way to tell your story during an interview? Download The Ultimate Interview Success Kit here!