Ex-stripper and showgirl who learned the art of burlesque during her start up has created an unorthodox guide for business. 

Paulina Tenner is the co-founder and CEO of GrantTree UK, a UK-based financial service firm. She began her training as a burlesque performer in London, after feeling ‘exhausted’ by the 24-hour pace she experienced as an entrepreneur.  

‘I desperately needed a creative outlet – the more outrageous, the better,’ she recalls in her book, Laid Bare: What the Business Leader Learnt from the Stripper.

‘During one of my lowest points, I remember walking from Piccadilly Circus towards Charing Cross in London (most likely to another business meeting) and getting a glimpse of a fabulous burlesque show rehearsal through the door of Café de Paris, a well known cabaret establishment, which I passed on my way. I realized with shocking clarity that I had to be a professional stripper.

Paulina burlesqued across the three continents over a period of two years, creating a variety of shows that teased and enticed audiences.    

‘Being a stripper taught me more lessons than I could possibly imagine, a lot of which I’ve been able to apply to my business life,’ she continues. 

It also helped me to develop as a leader. I was able to regain a new way of connecting with my feminine side and, therefore, a completely different way of living and acting in this world. It helped me become more open-minded, and also made me feel more complete as an individual.

FEMAIL shares with you some of Paulina’s eye-opening suggestions in her book. 

Paulina Tenner, founder of UK-based financial services firm GrantTree, trained as a burlesque dancer in London (pictured on stage) after becoming 'exhausted' by the 24/7 pace of her early years as an entrepreneur. She shares her advice in an unorthodox guide to business

Paulina Tenner (pictured in London) is the founder and CEO of GrantTree UK. After becoming exhausted by her entrepreneurial early years, she trained as a burlesque performer. This is her unconventional guide to business. 

‘Company culture is like a stripper’s a**s’ 

‘In many ways company culture, no matter how evolved, is like a stripper’s a**e – pretty and exciting if shown in the right light and framed by sexy or desirable objects,’ Paulina writes. 

Like a performer who shimmies their pert derrière on stage, only a business owner knows exactly how much work has gone into honing and crafting a company culture.

They present an additional challenge because they can be difficult to maintain a healthy weight as they grow. 

She continues: ‘Well-cut underwear is essential as it can do your a**e a big favour (quite literally saving your a**e!) Its shortcomings are not highlighted. 

Many strippers are seen wearing a Gstring, with straps of sequins (or silk or lace), around the buttocks. The final reveal will show all their curves. 

‘Some strippers wear barely-there nude fishnet tights which don’t come off underneath stockings or other garments which do. 

‘All in all, there are quite a few tricks one can use and a company with a good culture, just like a good a**e, can remain attractive as it gets bigger.’

In a two-year period, Paulina, pictured, performed burlesque across three continents, developing a number of acts that tantalised and teased audiences

Paulina was able to perform burlesque over three continents in a span of just two years. She created a range of shows that teased the audience and entertained them with her unique acts.

Being flat-chested doesn’t make you look bad.     

A stripper with a ‘swell set-up’ is one with a curvaceous figure who looks ‘stunning in a wide variety of get-ups and outfits’, Paulina writes. 

There are many benefits to having a flat chest or an athlete physique like she. It helps you stand out. 

She continues: ‘The same goes for entrepreneurship or building a brand in business – not being afraid to stick out from the crowd really counts. 

“A great stripper doesn’t have to be a one-trick pony, just as the top companies.”

Paulina writes, “During my burlesque careers, I created about ten acts. One or two could be staged at a single show, while the other was performed across three continents. 

‘This is likely to be one of the most fulfilling factors of a successful stripping career – it takes you places, both physically and mentally. 

“You can learn to understand different audiences just as an entrepreneur may discover and learn about different markets. 

‘You then adjust your acts according to both what’s in the demand but also, and even more importantly, which parts of you you want to showcase, celebrate, or have a good laugh at.’

Similar to a leader in a company, the business must also be open to change and grow with changing market conditions. 

“Startups that make it to the top are able to be noticed and remembered by their fans and others. 

This kind of courage can be a key ingredient in being an innovator or disruptor within any given industry. Some businesses can cause enough storms around their product and activity to make a market appear out of the blue. 

“Nude is the best – whether at work or on stage”      

‘Obviously, as a showgirl you’re absolutely guaranteed to get more enthusiasm sporting it,’ writes Paulina. In business, nude can be just as appealing. 

Paulina states that the idea of being “nude in business” requires an internal transparency, both financial and otherwise, to achieve this. 

Her words are: “In other terms, everyone within the company has access to everything, including payroll, financial forecasts, and cash in company accounts, in real time.” 

‘After all, if you expect your people to handle important decisions to do with clients, culture and even the company’s future, why wouldn’t you give them access to all the information they can possibly have? 

Nude is the belief that humans are wired for great things if given enough time and trust. As such it’s the purest form of open culture.’

Nude, despite its apparent advantages, is a scary prospect for many companies. 

She continues, “A lot of leaders are afraid for their reports to learn too much. This is mostly because they have access to exclusive information which helps them retain more power.” 

“If you are in this situation and want to create open culture principles, empower your people.

Paulina, pictured, told how lessons she learned as a stripper are helpful to business leaders

Paulina (pictured) shared the lessons that she learned from being a stripper and how they can be useful to business leaders

“Learn how to pay your salary like a showgirl” 

Paulina was a showgirl and a new cabaret act, so she received little in return for her skills when she first started. 

But, over time showgirls with an “impeccable brand” can earn wages comparable to what they believe they deserve.  

Paulina, at GrantTree has used a similar approach. 

She explained that GrantTree employees are expected to decide the value of their work on a daily basis. Ever since Daniel and myself read Maverick, we have aimed to create self-selected pay within the company. by Ricardo Semler.

“We are now able to show financial transparency with around 40 employees, just like many businesses all over the globe. 

‘This means it’s clear how financial decisions are made, what resources the company has, how they are deployed and exactly who is accountable for exactly what. 

“This can be supported by holacracy which makes it simple to see what role people have and the responsibilities they are given.

Laid Bare: What the Business Leader Learnt from the Stripper, £12.99, John Hunt Publishing, by Paulina Tenner, is out now