By Tara Bozick The Virginian-Pilot
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) With a background as a human resources professional, Comedian Allison Moore finds she can tailor her message to the workplace or professional development. She ties her personal story to business development and shows that when obstacles come into your life, you can retool.
The Virginian Pilot
A Hampton mom who left her corporate career to become a full-time comedian is finding a niche as a business event and conference speaker.
Known for her clean, profanity-free performances, Allison Moore is finding that event organizers want to hire her as a morning speaker that can "wake up" attendees for better workshop participation.
"Laughter helps people feel more comfortable," Moore said.
In her comedic motivational speaking, the 36-year-old opens up about her personal experiences to bring home humorous, but heartfelt messages.
For instance, she turns a difficult time for her family of five into a story of resiliency and not allowing herself to change her mind about self-employment.
With permission from her teenage son, she jokes about him cooking $180,000 french fries for his siblings when their kitchen and house caught fire in June last year. Fortunately, everyone got out safely, but the family was displaced for about a year.
Personally, the fire was traumatic and Moore lost irreplaceable family mementos -- particularly heart-wrenching because both her parents had previously died.
The fire halted her production of a "Misdeal" comedy web series on YouTube. She questioned whether she needed to go back to work for an employer or if she could still make her dream work. At the time, she felt tired, deflated and depressed.
Insurance helped pay for their home to be rebuilt, and now the house looks freshly remodeled.
"But I'm happy now. 'Cause I look at it now, you know what? My son didn't burn down my house, my son bought me a brand new house," she told the audience of a comedy night to raise money for scholarships through the Andrew Williams Sr. Foundation on Aug. 16.
She shared the dialogue she had with her son after the fire when she asked what he did and he told her, "Nothin', mom ... I ran 'cause you said, 'If you can't take the heat, get out the kitchen.'"
With a background as a human resources professional, Moore finds she can tailor her message to the workplace or professional development to deliver a more meaningful performance. In stand-up, she doesn't know who her audience will be.
Moore can relate to both employees and executives or managers. She attributes a lot of her professional success to Canon, where she discovered she loved people-related work like training. The Norfolk State University alum earned a master's degree in education and human development from George Washington University.
She's open about not being ready for a management position at a different employer at 30 years old, when she kept waiting on other people to come up with the plans before she realized that was her job. Her blunt honesty also gets her laughs.
"I quit my job ... I mean I got fired," Moore told the fundraiser audience.
Now with the maturity she's gained as an entrepreneur, Moore can say she would have fired herself, too. Yet, she needed that push to branch out. By then, she had two years of comedy as a hobby under her belt.
The full-time focus even led her to selling tickets and getting sponsors to bring famous TV comedian Sinbad to perform at Norfolk State in 2017 so she could be his opening act.
Moore said she spent the first few years of her comedic career trying to figure out her target audience and how to market herself. That's when taking advice from Erica Spencer, the minority business coordinator for Hampton's economic development office, paid off.
Spencer, a former colleague, kept following Moore on Facebook and would share info about business seminars or workshops with her. When Spencer wanted to showcase as many Hampton businesses as possible for the state's "Grow Your Sales" small business conference at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in June, she asked Moore to kick it off in the morning.
From Spencer's experience, not many speakers wanted to do mornings, but she wanted to solve the problem of attendees dragging their feet at 7:30 a.m. She thought Moore's energy could set the tone for the day. In essence, Moore would be the attendees' coffee, she said.
Plus, Moore fit in as an example of someone launching their own business.
"And it worked," Spencer said. "People were cracking up laughing."
And it just so happened that a sponsor and organizer of the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council watched Moore perform there and wanted her to "wake up" folks for its business opportunity conference in Virginia Beach in August, said Council President and CEO Dominique Milton.
Moore tied her personal story to business development and showed how when obstacles come into your life, it's time to retool, Milton said. She said she thought Moore tweaking her comedy to market herself as the person who kicks off events to create more opportunities for herself was clever.
"She got everybody going," Milton said.
Moore said she benefited from conference events too and made some more connections for her next business idea: launching a coffee brand that can tie in to her morning engagements. In fact, she brought coffee cups with a "Black please" logo to the Virginia Beach conference.
"Her tenacity is contagious," said Gladys Henderson-Williams, president of the scholarship foundation and business coach. "It inspires me to not give up, to constantly strive."
For more information, visit MooreLaughing.com. ___
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