Mortified: Tapping Into the Transformative Nature of Nervous Energy

I make a living off of nervous energy. As the creator of a stage show, Mortified, where people share their most embarrassing childhood writings in front of total strangers, this topic has gradually become my unusual area of expertise.
In the 10 years since I began shepherding the project, I have had the unique opportunity to witness people's two biggest terrors collide: their fear of public speaking and their memory of their teenage self. This combination has created a petri dish for people's innermost anxieties to flourish. It's been exciting watching their nerves rattle over the years, and I don't say that due to any perverse sense of schadenfreude. I say that because it's simply exciting to watch someone confront something that terrifies them, and transform because of it.
From my vantage point, as a guy standing next to them backstage in the moments before they walk to the mic, I can see the panic set into their eyes. I hear the shortness of breath. I witness the pacing. The anticipation makes them as delirious as it does nauseous, and there's something infectious about that. Thrilling, even.
They range in professions. Some of them are teachers. Others work at law firms or tech startups. Interestingly, the ones who do come from performance backgrounds—singers, stand ups, actors—are often the most freaked out by the process. Ultimately though, none of that ever matters. Because in the minutes before they're finally ready to "share the shame" with an audience of several hundred strangers, their resume inevitably dissolves. All they bring to the mic is their personality and energy. When they walk off stage after their first time, they usually can't recall what just happened. "It was a bit of blur," they say, somewhat intoxicated. "But I think they liked it."
I can't say that these moments have an impact beyond one night for them. But for me, the aggregate of watching this pattern happen all these years has been hugely transformative. I get nervous for them and feel exhilarated when those nerves are rewarded with applause. It's a rush that energizes me, and keeps me fueled for the next.

This month, challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Throughout February, we'll share ideas and resources for shrinking your household carbon footprint, so join the conversation at

via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading