17 Pieces of Career and Confidence Advice2020-07-23
So this July we’re focusing on the ins, outs, ups, and downs of finding and building confidence. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see interviews with women we admire, opportunities to get involved and give back, and much more.
Our team is forever grateful for the passionate, intelligent women in our networks. Whether longtime colleagues or new acquaintances, each has a unique perspective on her own career journey—and the confidence she's nurtured along the way.
As we center our conversations around confidence this month—how it comes to be, how you work through moments of self-doubt, and more—we asked some to share their stories. Get extra content from additional women on our Instagram Story Highlights.
Shilpa Prabhakar Nadella (Fashion Editor and Brand Consultant): "Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it" is a motto I live by. This is truly something that has gotten me through times when I felt I needed that push to achieve what I wanted. It can be difficult to find the confidence to make your voice heard, or to complete a task you might not have the most experience with. But it's important to remember that it takes practice to accomplish those difficult things and the more practice you have, the easier it becomes to take on new projects and tasks that once seemed daunting.
Kristen Blandon (Vice President, Marketing at L’Oreal): There are two different approaches I take in the moments when I need a confidence boost. I either visualize myself successfully completing whatever task is in front of me, or I tap into moments in the past where I have been successful. Both approaches boost my confidence and give me courage and reassurance.
Over the years I’ve also become less and less afraid of what I used to call "failure." Now I see them as moments for learning, and I'm not afraid or nervous. As I’ve repositioned "failure" as something more positive, I’ve also noticed that my confidence has been positively affected as well.
Dr. Zelana Montminy (Behavioral Scientist & Positive Psychologist): I often think about Eleanor Roosevelt's quote: "What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?" We are capable of anything we put our mind to. It won't be easy, it won't always be pleasant, but the growth and strength we acquire in the process will always be worth the effort.
Lauren Alexis Fisher (Fashion Editor, Digital Strategist, & Creative Consultant): I spent the first few years of my career dealing with a severe case of imposter syndrome; I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough. It took years—and I sometimes still struggle with it to this day—but I finally realized that I was an extremely hard worker, kind and good to people, and always working to make things around me better for everyone.
Those may seem like simple things, but that kind of energy and work ethic deserves to be in any room. Those are the core pieces of the puzzle you need to succeed; everything else can be learned. If you start with that simple basis, you can do anything. Realizing that really changed my outlook on life and boosted my confidence in myself.
Kristen Blandon: Over the years I’ve had several on a smaller scale—a successful product launch, helping a member of my team get promoted, influencing management to believe in my vision, etc. But I would say I had two major moments, both last year, that really resonate: I was selected to be part of the 2019 class of 40 under 40 honorees for The Network Journal, and I was part of Essence magazine’s “Inspiring Black Beauty Executives” feature. To be among such powerful, inspirational women who are shaping the face of the beauty industry made me feel empowered and even more confident.
Dr. Zelana Montminy: I don't think there's one pivotal moment but many—sometimes we tend to forget what we're capable of. When I signed my book deal for 21 Days to Resilience was a pivotal moment, knowing something I had wanted all my life and worked so hard for was coming to fruition; right after a speaking engagement with a full audience; when I gave birth to my children...so many moments!
Shilpa Prabhakar Nadella: Taking a chance on yourself and actually believing that you can accomplish what others see in you is very important. When I was an assistant, I was lucky enough to have a boss that really pushed me. She would throw projects at me that I felt I was far too inexperienced to lead and let me liaise with very senior-level executives that others in my position were not speaking and/or emailing with on a daily basis. She also instilled in me the confidence to ask for what I felt I deserved. From an early point in my career, and personal life, I realized that you will always be your biggest advocate and therefore it's important for you to push yourself and also fight for yourself.
Shilpa Prabhakar Nadella: I am fairly transparent when networking. I find that if you can't be honest about what you want or are looking for, it makes it harder for someone else to help you. There's definitely a fine balance between asking for help and expecting the help. People are busy and have a million things on their plate so you don't want to waste their time and you also want to make sure you are catching them at the right moment.
I find email is the best way to approach someone. It allows them to get back to you on their own time and also doesn't put them directly on the spot. And it's important not to be discouraged if someone doesn't get back to you right away—just make sure you allow the right amount of time before following up.
Lauren Alexis Fisher: Now, more than ever, most of my networking happens on social media and via email. I find it’s the most efficient way to touch base with people, reach out to those who I would maybe be too shy to reach out to in real life, and ask more meaningful questions that I might not have the opportunity to ask at an event or setting with other people.
A lot of people reach out to me for advice via DM on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and I’m always happy to have that conversation. I know it would have been so helpful to have someone in the industry who I could’ve emailed or reached out to for advice when I was starting out, so I will forever be open to giving advice to anyone and everyone. I think the best way to approach anyone for that conversation is to just be honest, introduce yourself and explain why you are interested in the person and their career journey; say you’d love to ask them a few questions if they have the time.
Dr. Zelana Montminy: I think the best way to network is to not really "network" but rather be yourself, share your ideas and gifts, and see where it leads the relationship. Otherwise, be direct with your requests and needs.
Kristen Blandon: I am pretty bold about networking which has led to some awkward moments in the past, but as I gained more experience, I realized that I didn't need to try so hard. I am confident in my value, what I bring to the table, and my ability to read cues and connect with people. I receive many messages via LinkedIn, through the UVA and Emory networks requesting career advice (generally and also specific to beauty), or through connections in the beauty industry. I’m always happy to spend the time to respond and share my experience.
Lauren Alexis Fisher: I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to stop worrying so much because that really hinders your confidence without you even realizing it. Everything will work out if you stick to it, and just because you don’t achieve instant success doesn’t mean you’re not qualified or good enough. When you have confidence in yourself, other people will have confidence in you as well!
Dr. Zelana Montminy: I would tell my younger self to be kind and compassionate not just toward others, but also to myself as I grow and evolve. Take time to enjoy your life; just have fun and confidence will grow. Be proud of who you are, imperfections and all, and who you are becoming.
Kristen Blandon: “Self…you got this!” I would tell my younger self that confidence comes from within, and that every single experience I have, whether successful or a "moment for learning," will help me to be even more confident and courageous.
Shilpa Prabhakar Nadella: It’s ok to ask for help. No one will think less of you because you can’t do it all. I think innately at some point we feel that we should be able to do it all and do it well. Even after over a decade in my career, there are still times I need help and having the confidence to ask for it is super important. It's important that we support each other and help each other achieve our goals.