Patty Chang Anker
Good Housekeeping "Blogger We Love", author of Some Nerve, yoga teacher, fear-tamer
Photo credit: Alison Sheehy
About Patty Chang Anker
Patty Chang Anker is the author of the memoir Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave (Riverhead Books), which Oprah.com calls “downright inspiring,” is a Parents Magazine “Mom Must-Read” and “a lesson plan in courage 101” according to Better Homes & Gardens. She blogs for PsychologyToday.com‘s Anxiety section and her own award-winning Facing Forty Upside Down. Her writing has appeared in Dr. Oz The Good Life Magazine, O Magazine, Good Housekeeping,the WallStreetJournal.com, NationalPublicRadio.org, iVillage, The Huffington Post and in numerous other publications and websites. Her essay “The Cookie Jar” is included in the Listen to Your MotherAnthology (Putnam). She has been named a Good Housekeeping “Blogger We Love” and a “Top 25 Funny Mom” on Circle of Moms.
Patty thankfully does not have a fear of public speaking (you can see her TEDx Talk here) because she loves motivating people to live fuller, more joyful lives. Her speaking credits also include keynote addresses at the World Aquatic Health Conference and Live Strong at the Rye Y Day, leading workshops for corporations and nonprofits, speaking at universities and retreats, and she frequently leads conference panels and emcees events nationwide.
Patty is not adventurous by nature. While other kids were out climbing trees and skinning knees, she was inside reading books about people climbing trees and skinning knees. (“I guess I was more of an armchair kid.”) That, plus an ingrained Chinese-American fear of failure and losing face is how she grew up never really learning how to ride a bike, do a handstand, or dive into a swimming pool. And why she started blogging Facing Forty Upside Down three days after turning 39. The mother of two and a yoga teacher, Patty realized she couldn’t expect her children and students to go outside their comfort zone if she wasn’t willing to do it herself.
“We don’t let our kids ‘opt out’ of trying new things and we don’t let them give up if it doesn’t come to them easily. I realized I was giving myself a free pass to say ‘I’m too busy or tired to do that’ when what I really was, was scared.” Patty started doing, writing, and talking about the things that frighten her, and Facing Forty Upside Down was born. It soon became apparent that she was not alone, and that many in midlife are searching for ways to live bigger, braver lives.
Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, a Books for a Better Life Award Finalist (First Book category), is an inspiring look at how ordinary people face their fears. Some Nerve draws on Patty’s interviews with teachers, therapists, coaches, and clergy to impart both practical advice and profound wisdom. Through her own journey and the stories of dozens of others (many of whom she helped to triumph over common fears), she conveys with humor and infectious exhilaration the most vital lesson of all: Fear isn’t an end point, but the point of entry to a life of incomparable joy.
Patty is a former Director of Media Relations for The New York Times and veteran book publicist for W.W. Norton, Taunton Press and Basic Books.
She is also a certified yoga teacher and Thai Yoga Bodyworker. After recently facing her fear of open water swimming, fast biking, and profuse sweating, she is also now proud to be a triathlete. When she’s not writing, speaking or facing fears, she can be found chasing her two daughters or biking with her husband across Westchester County, NY.
Becoming Brave (Or, What Are You Afraid Of?)
By facing her own fears and helping others to face theirs, Patty can speak passionately to how common everyday fears can limit our lives and what people can do to overcome them. Fears for discussion: Aging, Becoming Boring, Biking, Bullies, Chaos, Clutter, Control (loss of), Crime, Death, Driving, Exercise, Failure, Flying, Getting hurt, Heights, Letting go, Looking dumb, Math, Nature (mosquitoes, bats, sharks, the list goes on), P.E., Pleasure, Public Speaking, Public toilets, Rejection, Roller coasters, Success, Surfing, Tubing, Unemployment, Unknown, Water, Writing. And Wedgies.
Stand Up! Speak Up!
A good thing about growing up with Tiger Parents is that Patty was expected at a young age to recite Chinese poetry for company. She also grew up seeing how differently immigrants were treated depending on whether they were outspoken or shy. A media and public relations professional and a member of Toastmasters International, Patty speaks powerfully to the importance of conveying the messages that matter to you, and gives valuable techniques for working through stage fright.
Quieting the Greek Chorus of Perpetual Doubt
The Greek Chorus Patty carries in her head includes her Chinese immigrant mother, her P.E. teacher, and all the popular girls from college. That’s a lot of noise in there! Patty shows how to quiet the negative thoughts that can subvert your ability to perform at your best and enjoy life to the fullest, with techniques used by therapists, coaches, teachers and yogis.
The Biggest Smile of Your Life (Or, "I Can't Believe This is Me!")
When was the last time you did something you thought you couldn’t do? When you did something completely out of character? That was probably when you smiled the biggest smile of your life. For Patty, the biggest surprise of facing her fears was how often it led directly to pure, unadulterated joy. “I had expected to feel terrified and miserable while doing the thing I feared and then relieved when it was over. I didn’t expect to feel terrified and happy at the same time!” In watching adults learn to ride a bike, tread water, drive a car, and give a speech, Patty saw again and again how the thrill of the unknown, pride, and accomplishment filled people with a sense of being alive. Sometimes, this requires shedding an old story in order to try something new. A daughter of Chinese immigrants, Patty can speak to how one’s genes, upbringing, culture, and history can shape one’s views but how much power we have to become the heroines of our own stories going forward.
Facing Forty Upside Down: Making Changes in Midlife
Patty went from a decade-long career in public relations to a decade of full time parenting and teaching yoga to becoming a professional writer and blogger. She features stories of midlife change at Facing Forty Upside Down and can speak to the challenges and rewards experienced by those who do.
One Small Step
Many people say they don’t have time or energy to face a fear. It’s a hop, skip and jump from there to the belief “it’s too late. I’ll never learn.” One small step, though, is all it takes to see the potential we have for change. In three seconds, a person can put their face in the water, in ten steps dive off a diving board. In one minute you can propose a toast, in two you can cross a tightrope. In an afternoon – which would otherwise spend doing what? – you can learn to ride a bike. In a matter of minutes you can dispel a lifetime of fear. So why don’t more people do it? In this talk, Patty addresses the emotional fears that hold us back, shows how to remove the obstacles we put in our own way, and shines a path to the one small step each of us can take that could lead to a whole new life.
How to Get a Friend to Face a Fear
Praise for Patty Chang Anker
When Patty Chang Anker spoke at Women At Woodstock 2015, she was not just a speaker at the front of the room. She was a member of our retreat; a sister we could relate to. An instant friend at her comedic best. An eloquent writer. A serious advisor. A role model who has slain the beast. A motivator, saying not just “You can do it!” but “Here’s how” and “Do it now.”
Patty was all of the above, and she enthralled, engaged, and energized every woman in the room. We couldn’t have had a better keynote speaker and workshop leader this year.— Women At Woodstock, Producer
Patty recently gave a wonderful talk at our campus in Brooklyn. She energized our students with her discussion of ways to overcome fears that interfere with their success in college and in life. Her stories of growing up with traditional Chinese parents especially resonated with the many immigrant students in our school. I would highly recommend Patty as a speaker for college students (particularly freshmen) to inspire them and give them practical advice on dealing with the pressures of student life.— Long Island University, Brooklyn, Professor of English
Patty Chang Anker is a change agent in this world. I loved the seminars she presented at Amscan and recommend her to any company that wants employees to thrive. She has a positive and inspiring message that ignited a spark and more people need to hear it. And personally, I’ve found the nerve to start swim lessons and start to face my fears head on!— Amscan, Inc., Wellness Coordinator
Patty spoke at our Conferences for Women series this year, leading three panels of professional women who gathered to discuss risk-taking and her “lessons learned while becoming brave”. Her insight and research challenged our audience members to think differently about themselves and what they are capable of. And the realness and humor with which she presents encourages women to recognize their fears and be more confident in their decision making. She was inspiring on a mass scale, giving 110% to audiences of 500-1500 women. In addition, she’s a complete pleasure to work with.— Conference for Women, Program Director
I wanted to extend my personal thanks to you for your thoughtful and inspiring message for our cancer survivors – truly the bravest of the brave. Your keynote “Why Fear Wedgies when We’re Already Naked?” was very well received by everyone, and all the feedback was SO POSITIVE!! You made our LiveSTRONG at the YMCA Day a very special experience for everyone. I look forward to working with you on future projects.— Rye YMCA, Senior Director of Healthy Living
I wanted to write to let you know how pleased I was with Patty Chang Anker, who was a keynote speaker for the 2014 World Aquatic Health Conference (WAHC) on October 9, 2014.
We knew the topic about overcoming fear (of water) very closely aligned with our effort to help more people to live healthier lives through aquatic activity. However, one never knows how a speaker will tailor their presentation to the audience and connect with our guests. Patty was exceptional! She was warm, funny and easily established rapport. She balanced the reality of how limiting fear can be with hope and good humor. Patty exceeded my expectations and was an inspiration to me.— National Swimming Pool Foundation, CEO
Thanks to Patty’s webinar for Mothers & More, we had several members dare to face their fears. She was inspiring and relatable and the webinar provided a sense of hope to many.— Mothers & More, Executive Director
The Rye YMCA invited Patty to speak to our members and broader community about “Embracing Your Future.” Patty captivated the diverse audience, which included executives, parents, triathletes and people who are struggling on the path to health and wellness. Her warmth, her sense of humor and her personal stories inspired many in the audience to share their own fears and to take the Some Nerve challenge to heart. Patty’s ability to articulate what so many of us are afraid to voice is a real gift.— Rye YMCA, Director of Community Impact and Social Responsibility
The National Association of Asian American Professionals in San Francisco was very blessed to have Patty emcee our “Gateway to Leadership” Conference Awards Luncheon. Since it was our first ever regional conference, Patty’s role was crucial for the success of the event. She was funny, down-to-earth, and totally knew how to relate to the audience. She sprinkled in witty banter with the speakers and kept the audience continuously engaged. Saying that we were wildly happy in choosing Patty as our emcee would be an tremendous understatement!— UBS Financial Services and Chairman of the Board for the National Association of Asian American Professionals – San Francisco, VP of Wealth Management
Patty Chang Anker was a superb emcee for NAAAP-SF’s Gateway to Leadership Conference 2012. Not only was she funny, thoughtful, and witty, but in a line-up of all male keynote speakers, it was great to have her transitions, feminine insight, and warm appeal. It is said that to be a good leader, you must be a good speaker. Patty embodies just the kind of enthusiastic energy and strength needed to encourage and motivate leadership in others. It was great to have Patty there as a role model to other women (including myself), who watched as she took the stage to speak about leadership and taking risks. We hope to have Patty back for one of our events again one day (sooner than later)!— Community Partnership for the National Association of Asian American Professionals – San Francisco, Vice President
Patty Chang Anker led an interactive workshop with Asian Women In Business on Facing Fears: Harnessing the Power Within. Her practical advice, gentle guidance and contagious enthusiasm had participants motivated and even excited to tackle the fears that were holding them back. Patty’s inspirational stories (including her own experiences) of overcoming fears resonated with participants. Her break-out exercises helped participants make a plan of attack to deal with their own fears. Patty clearly cared about the workshop participants and even kept in touch with them to hold them accountable to their action plans. We couldn’t have asked for a better (or funnier) workshop facilitator.— Asian Women in Business – New York, President
With candidness, insight, and humor, Patty Chang Anker got a group of strong, accomplished women laughing and sharing about what makes them lose their nerve. Her life-tested wisdom, gift for meaningful storytelling, boundless enthusiasm, and unwavering belief in the ability of people to wrangle fear into submission are galvanizing to her audience. Anyone would be lucky to have Patty in their corner–and that is how you feel when you attend her workshop.— Women’s Media Group, Co-president
Praise for Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave
A hilarious and instructive romp sure to inspire the most faint of heart to venture forth and discover what it is to be truly alive.— American Way
Patty Chang Anker[’s]… first book blends memoir and journalism in her quest to understand and conquer fear… Anker grounds her observations in her own generous, warm world view. She’s at her wisest, funniest best when describing conversations with her two daughters, capturing both their fears and their fierce, childish courage.— Boston Globe
...Must Read— Parents.com
...Downright inspiring— Oprah.com (featured Book That Will Make You More Confident, Happy and Spontaneous)
Books by Patty Chang Anker
Media About Patty Chang Anker
- 212 572-2013
- Patty Chang Anker travels from Westchester, NY
FEARS INCLUDE: Aging, Becoming Boring, Biking, Breaking bones, Bullies, Chaos, Clutter, Cold, Control (loss of), Crime, Death, Driving, Exercise, Failure, Flying, Heights, Letting go, Looking dumb, Math, Nature (esp. sharks), P.E., Pleasure, Public Speaking, Public toilets, Rejection, Roller coasters, Success, Surfing, Tubing, Unemployment, Unknown, Water, Writing. And Wedgies.
"[Patty] tells a compelling story of everyday courage-one that is sure to touch and help countless other people like her, like me, like all of us who have made worry into an art form. She proves that it's not too late, that we can truly change ourselves and enlarge our worlds as a result." – Elizabeth Gilbert, author Eat, Pray, Love