On a recent flight, I happened upon a documentary from HBO, “Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” with Elizabeth Holmes. I wasn’t looking for a movie to watch just something to put on as background noise as I worked during my flight. As soon as the documentary began, I became completely obsessed. For those not following the story (I wasn’t until I saw this documentary), Elizabeth built a company solely on her confidence and certainty. THERE WAS NOT AN ACTUAL WORKING PRODUCT! The concept was to create this blood testing device that was the size of desktop computer for in-home use. The need for such a device and the desire from the public was definitely there. The device would take a small vial of blood from the prick of a finger. No more long tubes of blood being drawn or the fear of needles or multiple sticks. The small amount of blood from your finger prick would then be put inside this machine that would test a wide variety of illnesses and needs. The plan was for this device to be in every home just like the personal computer.
What continued to captivate me, was how Holmes was able to pull the wool over both the board of Theranos, investors, and employees about the organization time and time again. She was willing the product to work. Her unwavering belief that they could create this device and the ability to communicate to her audience without blinking removed any doubts in the product. I literally sat on the plane and wondered what is happening here? How did no one know that the Theranos technology did not work? How was she able to secure billions of dollars in funding and financing and become the youngest Billionaire and not have a product? It was all based on her confidence will, and certainity. Now, I’m not saying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes but if someone can secure billions of dollars in financing for a non-product, imagine what you can do with an actual working product or service. However, confidence must be rooted in certainty. The certain faith that you will achieve your goals, dreams, direction is what propels you.
The foundation of certainty recently surfaced in my youngest daughter. She won a visit to Six Flags, an amusement park in Georgia. London was petrified of roller coasters … but not really. My oldest daughter, at that time, was afraid of roller coasters and planted the seed that roller coasters are scary. With this fear planted, London refused to even try them. We would get through the line and she would cry, scream, and be enveloped in fear until we carried her out of the ridiculously long line that we were standing in and leave. When we finally convinced her to ride a roller coaster, she first threw her fits, cried, and then we were off. As soon as we got off the ride, she would say, “that was really fun”. She had a fear of the unknown. Isn’t that how we are as adults? We create stories these crazy stories in our heads of what is going to be like or how it is going to happen versus trading on our own experiences and moving forward. These stories in our heads create a lack of confidence. They plant the seed of uncertainty, fear, and doubt.
I was recently asked to be part of a podcast for one my favorite organizations – Launchpad2x. The focus of the podcast was coincidentally on confidence (check it out here). As I am building my own confidence in InTandem Promotions, I have my own seeds of uncertainty. I focused the podcast around the beginning stages of my career and things that had impacted my choices and decisions. I reflected on taking the leap to a fully commissioned sales person and then again when I decided to build InTandem and become a CEO. There were also times where I have stepped out of my comfort zone to position myself and my company in board meetings, pitches, and organizational meetings. All of these stages of my career, impacted my own ability to build my confidence. All of these choices, decision points, and stepping stones have lead to my certainty in what we are building and have built at InTandem.
Confidence is power and I believe that there are a number of steps that you can take to help with your state of certainty (even if you are not feeling it):
- Believe with utmost certainty. First and foremost, you must absolutely believe with certainty in whatever “it” is. You can’t propose to someone looking down and saying, “I think, if you want too, it would be a really good idea, if we ya know, got married. We may have a good life together.” I don’t know about you, but this does not instill confidence in me about our future. Or if you are selling a product or service and say something like, “This could work for you. I don’t know if it’s going to work but it could.” I’m not buying anything from anyone that doesn’t believe in what they are selling.
- Look your audience and your listener in the eye. Many times when I am pondering, thinking of the next thing to say, brainstorming, or pulling up a story from my memory, my eyes wander to allow me a moment to reflect. Have your stories ready and have a good 10-15 of them to recall at a moments notice. These are the success stories that you have from previous clients, your major accounts, and your capabilities. By having these at the ready, you can look your listener in the eye without having to take the time to recall these stories. This instills confidence, belief, and certainty that you know what you are talking about.
- Look the part. There was a time in my career where I felt as though the only way I could be a businessperson was to wear suits. I am not only uncomfortable in them (I use big motions with my hands and they are often constrictive), I just don’t care for them. There are many women and business professionals that can totally pull them off – I’m just not one of them. Regardless of your personal preference, be you – but, make sure that you are dressing for the audience and the role that you are going after or the audience that you are presenting. This will enable you to not only exude the confidence but for your audience to match your words. Having my nails done, my shoes shined, and appearance intact all adds to my personal level of confidence. Exercise and working out are also a major contributing factor in adding to your level confidence. By managing your own self care, your confidence increases. You walk with your head higher, your state of mind increases, and your body is conditioned to handle the stress of whatever situation comes up.
- Be prepared. For any conversation, be prepared with your stories, your case studies, samples, extra swag for the unexpected attendee and your appearance. Consider yourself to be the host of the party for any meeting or interaction. What are the items that you can prepare ahead of time that the attendee does not need to know about – setting up your computer, logging into the presentation, laying out the materials, setting out food or drink, etc. Be prepared to host the conversation and alleviate any distractions from the audience. Understand the timing that it takes you to setup for an appointment and book the appropriate time necessary to make that happen. If you are disheveled, distracted, and don’t have yourself together, you lose strength, certainty, and it increases questions in your audience’s mind of your capabilities.
- Know your audience. Understanding and picking up on their cues or needs is vital. Whether you are bringing visuals, samples, examples, or printouts, have an understanding of your target audience. I work with a variety of industries and individuals in all walks of life. Understand how they like to receive information – text, email, just the facts, case studies, or samples allows me to communicate effectively for them. Each attendee is many times in need of information in multiple formats and receives information in different ways. At InTandem, we now have multiple generations in our client portfolio. How we send over one presentation may fit that client but not the others and as an organization, we need to be aware of this. Be conscious of this, confident in your approach, and leverage the cues to adjust the presentation based on your audience.
- Project your voice. Many times when we are unsure of ourselves, we lower our voices and talk in a quiet manner. For your audience to hear you, project your voice with strength and do not lessen who you are and what you are communicating.
- Do not shrink yourself. For many years, I would say a simple comment that I sell swag or I shop for a living. Truth be told, I run a multimillion dollar promotional and branding organization. With over 20 years of experience, I am knowledgeable, informed and trained.. I would lessen myself because there is so much competition in the marketplace and many people don’t understand our industry without the use of “trinkets and trash”. I was not only doing myself, but my industry, a disservice. I also dated someone in my earlier years that was shorter than I was. I stopped wearing heels. I would bend my knees in pictures to make me look shorter. I was worried about how it would make him feel. Do not shrink yourself for someone else to make them feel better. When you do that, you are not only diminishing who you are, but you are also lessening their confidence in you.
- Remember your accomplishments. Many times we forget where we have been and what we have accomplished along the way. I was taught a technique to meditate on my accomplishments and then to visualize future accomplishments. I have incorporated this method into my daily routine. Reminding myself of what I have created and built, provides me with the foundation of personal certainty that I can do whatever my goals and dreams are ahead.
Take a leap of Faith. The difference between faith and fear is that fear is imagination with no direction. Faith is belief with certainty and direction.
Confidence is power. If you don’t believe in you, your product or service, how will someone else?