Top 20 Interview questions

Think like a Queen: 10 Mindset Shifts

1. No one is unbeatable 

I’ve worked with a lot of clients who lost their pageant before they walked in the door. That is because they put other contestants on a pedestal. If you do not believe that you can carry out a performance that scores higher than other contestants, then you will not carry out a performance that scores higher. Why? Because you do not possess the confidence required to receive the top score. The first step to overcoming this is understanding that no one is unbeatable. Consider the numerous historic upsets in sports history. Those upsets prove that an underdog can win. YOU can win, but first you must believe it’s possible that you can win. 

2. She is not your competition

In 2009, when I won the National American Miss California Teen title, my first runner up congratulated me and shared words of wisdom I’ll never forget. She said “iron sharpens iron.” Those words changed everything for me. I realized that the reason I performed so well at the competition was because I was aware of her reputation as a competitor. I knew that if I were to have a chance at the title that I would need to be focused on being my absolute best. This allowed me to understand that no contestant is your competition, she is a bench mark. The element of competition, and scoring standards, give you something to reach for. Change your mindset from viewing other contestants as competition, start seeing them as motivators. If you do this, you’ll increase your confidence while being open to one of the other priceless benefits of pageantry, friendship. 

3. No one has it all

A common lie we tell ourself is that we have to possess every positive quality of a titleholder in order to win. But, the truth is that perfect titleholders don’t exist. We all have strengths as well as weaknesses. Accepting that I will never “have it all” was a huge mindset shift that I learned from the book The Confidence Code. It was there that I learned about a study between men and women. A higher percentage of men will apply for jobs even if they do not possess all the skills listed in the job description. But, only a small percentage of women will apply for a job if they do not possess every skill listed on a job description. In order to achieve my goals, I had to accept that I have many qualities of a titleholder, but not every quality, and that’s okay. 

4. Authenticity over originality

If you are avoiding leaning into your authentic self because you have things in common with another contestant, or because you haven’t fully accepted who you are, you’re doing yourself a disservice. For example, let’s imagine that you are one of two college cheerleaders in a pageant and for the sake of being original you decide not to share anything about your cheerleading experience. This may be a big mistake. Even though being a cheerleader will not make you unique to the judges, your personal experiences will. You are an entirely different person than the other contestant. You walked different paths and have different strengths. So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to share something with the judges that really excites you, all because you are trying to be 100% unique. I can assure you, you don’t have to try to be unique, you already are.

5. Accept imperfection

If you haven’t already figured this one out, it’s about time you knew that perfection does not exist. When I surrendered to the idea that nothing would ever be perfect, two things happened: 1) it removed all pressure to meet an impossible standard and 2) it allowed me to pivot during practices and performances when things didn’t go as I’d planned. The perfect example of this was when I blanked out during a state spokesmodel competition. In a split second I realized, “I can’t remember what line comes next!!” But, because I always practiced my speeches, removed from expectation of perfection, I quickly decided to skip ahead to a sentence I could remember in the speech. Fortunately, no one noticed I skipped ahead because they didn’t know my speech. I was able to qualify for finals and recompete for a top 5 placement. During finals, I recited the speech as it was written and took home the state trophy. 

6. Everyone experiences doubt

You need to understand that every person you admire, every person you’ve ever looked up to, has experienced doubt. There’s always a moment before you achieve your dream when you face uncertainty. Doubts are practically unavoidable and they have the power to diminish your confidence, which in turn affects your performances. But, the great news is that your mind has the ability to combat doubt and eliminate it from your mindset. Combating doubt is a mindset skill that takes time to acquire. This ability is like strengthening a muscle. The more times you redirect your mind towards positive and encouraging thoughts, when you face doubt, the easier the doubt is to eliminate. So remember, everyone experiences doubt, but your mindset determines who wins out in the end. Will you conquer your doubt, or will you let doubt overcome you?

7. Not everything us up to chance

Great competitors know that 90% of an interview is within your control. You do not win a pageant interview in the present moment, you win the in the months and weeks leading up to the competition. There are few questions you cannot prepare for. What you need to understand is that the success of your interview is within your hands. It is determined by the answers that you provide and what you have decided to share about yourself prior to walking in the interview room. If you know yourself better than anyone else in the room, then you’ll never be stumped by an interview question. Take time in your preparation to revisit your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, proudest moments, moments you wish you could do over, and even the timeline of your life’s highlights. 

8. Prepare to win

In her Bottom Line interview Catriona Gray was asked about what she’d do if she didn’t Miss Universe. With a very likable reaction, Catriona looked shocked then went on to share that she does not prepare to lose. The idea of losing isn’t even in her mind. That is the type of unshakeable confidence that carries into competition. Every contestant understands that the odds are against her when she enters a pageant. Statistically speaking you’re more likely to lose than win. But, that reality doesn’t mean that you cannot approach the competition as if you can’t lose. If you can do that, you’re more likely to carry yourself like the titleholder you want to become, and the product of a performance like that is most often a crown. 

9. It’s not a job

I feel like we’ve done contestants a disservice by sharing the common phrase in pageantry, “a title is a job.” I disagree. A job is a career that spans the course of years or decades. No one would go to school for four years to apply for a job if it only lasted one year. That doesn’t make any sense at all. For this reason, I believe that titles are more similar to internships. If you can understand that, it’s going to change how you view the entire experience and how you prepare for it. If the value you place on a title is being able to reflect 10 years from now and say, “I was Miss Fill-in-the-blank” then you’re competing for the wrong reasons. The point of pageantry is not obtaining a temporary title and rhinestone crown. Its purpose lies in its mission to equip young women with life skills and opportunities they might not other wise have. That is the real power of pageantry. With that said, I encourage you to look beyond the crown and find your purpose, your real reason for entering a pageant. Identify what you desire for yourself post-pageantry, and share those goals with the judges.

10. Think like a queen

The last thing I’m going to share is to think like a queen. If you think like a queen you’re more likely to behave as a queen would, and naturally step into the role. But, before doing that, you must define what a queen is to you. The definition of a titleholder varies from person to person, so before you can set goals to think and act like a queen, you must first decide what being a queen means. Once you’ve define that role, you can begin to take action towards becoming the queen you desire to be. I feel like a lot of contestants have an idea, that they may have never said out loud, which is that being selected as a queen will validate their confidence, and once they are confident they will step into the role of being a queen. But, in reality the opposite is true. In order for you to be crowned, judges must recognize that you already possess characteristics of a queen. So, start thinking like the queen you want to become. Step into her shoes everyday until it’s finally time for you to wear the crown. 

Client Love

Salena Pham

Salena Pham, Miss Northern Utah USA 2021

"Dani completely changed how I interview, in the best way possible. She was clear, concise, and constructive in her feedback and always made sure I understood how to apply what she taught me. Not only is she extremely knowledge, but is also kind and encouraging. I truly cannot thank her enough for her help and guidance."

Kristen Brooks, NAM Miss New York 2019

"Dani is beyond knowledgeable and sweet! She’s an absolute dream to work with.”

Kaitlyn Matherne, NAM Louisiana Teen 2017

"Dani is an incredible person, as well as the most encouraging mentor I have ever had. My dreams would not have become reality without her love and help!"

Cheyenne Paige, International United Miss 2017-18

"Dani made me feel so comfortable performing my first High Fashion Runway routine. With her help I had the highest score in my division and won the International title."

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