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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workspace. I’m JoDee Curtis, and with me is my co-host Susan White, a national HR consultant. I’m the owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.” Susan and I released our newest book, “The JoyPowered® Team,” with five other authors. In today’s episode, we are going to talk about confidence.
So, JoDee, has confidence ever been a problem for you?
Well, you know, in my very…I started work out of college in 1985, and three months later, I had my first annual review, and a manager put on my review, “JoDee has a lot of self-confidence.” So I guess I haven’t. But I have to tell you, I was completely surprised by that comment. I would never have described myself as a confident person. I mean, when I could look back and think about roles I had in high school and college, maybe it, it seems like I did, but I never would have articulated myself with that word. But, so the partner who met with me to review my, and to go over my annual review was, she was surprised that I was surprised, and we had a long discussion about that. And I tell you ever since that day, which was in June 1985, I felt confident about being confident, because she convinced me I was confident! Self-Assurance is in my top 10 of my CliftonStrengths®, so I guess it’s just innately a part of me that I didn’t even realize.
It’s really one of the things I most admire about you, which, you know, I would never have described myself as confident. It’s just not even a word that I would use as an adjective for me. However, I do think now that I’ve gotten old, I think, I think, and I look back and the things that I have been able to accomplish, it does make me feel more confident when I come up with a new challenge. Certainly in consulting, I feel like I bring confidence because I have seen things go well, and things not go well, and I think that was what has built more confidence in me. But to this day, you know, ask me to go do something I’ve never done before, I’d probably be pretty nervous about it.
Yeah. Well, since my former boss, Roxy was her name, labeled me as being confident, I shall deem Susan White as confident.
And see if that helps you.
So today I have the pleasure of introducing our subject matter expert, Erin Fischer. Do you want to know what Erin Fischer really does?
Well, she’s a two-time author, a keynote speaker on the topic of confidence, and she has developed over 150 leadership programs for her clients. But most importantly, she and her team live by a mantra, which is, “we build and deliver anti-boring and anti-lecture training programs.” She has sat through too many presentations to know that the person in the front of the room, the one designing and delivering the message has to be thoughtful, dynamic, and prepared to fully engage with an audience. As a result, she also helps people curate phenomenal facilitation skills, which, by the way, are an art form. So meet Erin Fischer, a woman on a mission to help people get leadership right. How’s that for a confident introduction?
I feel confidence in her.
We’ve been excited to see our listenership going up a lot this last year, and now we want to learn more about you and what you think about our podcast. We’ve created a listener survey that will be open for the next few months. If you want to help us out by telling us a little bit about yourself, you can access the survey at surveymonkey.com/r/joypowered2019. We’ll also have a link to the survey on our website. If you take the survey, you’ll have the option to enter to win a set of our three JoyPowered® books, “JoyPowered®,” “The JoyPowered® Family,” and “The JoyPowered® Team.” We hope you’ll take a little time to help us make the podcast the best it can be, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Again, you can take the survey at surveymonkey.com/r/joypowered2019. Thank you so much for listening to our show.
So Erin, why is this topic so important to you, or for all of us, really?
So I have been studying the area of confidence for nine years, and I find that this piece is squishy. It’s so hard to describe, it’s so hard to train on. But the one thing is that it makes a difference in every relationship that I have, whether it’s my family members, or the team that I work with, or a client that I’m working with, they want to know that you’ve got the chops, and that does not mean that you know everything. It just means that you’re competent enough to know the work that you do, the niche that you are supposed to know in this world, that you’ve got some skill. And what I’ve always said is, can you imagine – I used to be a director at the YMCA. Can you imagine walking into a room and seeing a camp counselor not have any control over kids, or walk into a space with a preschool teacher who’s like, “I don’t know what we’re doing today,” you would be so worried. And the opposite is true. When you walk into a store, naturally, the person you’re looking for looks like they own this space. And so that piece on confidence is because we rely on them. We trust them. There’s so much complexity to it, but we also have this feeling on whether or not somebody’s got confidence and we’re attracted to it.
Yeah. Have you always been confident?
Lord, no. Not at all. No, not at all. I grew up shy, introverted, quiet, never ever wanted to be the center of attention.
I don’t believe it.
This is, this is not pretend. But this is thoughtful, practiced introspection. Really thinking about what, how do I carry my body every single day? How do – I worked on my tone of my voice for a whole entire year because I’m a keynote speaker. I built confidence with intention.
And so what made you think I need to build confidence? Like, what was that turning point or the aha moment?
Well, I was always fascinated by that there were some people that could walk into a room and own a room, and then there are some people that were the wallflowers, never taking up any space. And, you know, to be honest, when you own a business, you have to have some form of it, and I wanted to make money, and I wanted to be successful, and I wanted to be ambitious. And part of that was also figuring out where my confidence fell in all of it.
I love it. I love it. So what are, what are four or five biggest tips that you offer to other people? I mean, you mentioned some things you did yourself, but, but what do you suggest for others to do to gain more confidence?
So my number one tip is from a TED talk that I saw by Amy Cuddy, and it’s Amy C-U-D-D-Y. If you haven’t seen that TED Talk, what Amy talks about, is really taking up space with your body, and that shows other people confidence. So for instance, when I’m doing a keynote, what I ask everybody to do is to sit back in their chair, ask them to put their arm over the chair next to them. When you’re in an interview, you want to be like the peacock at the zoo, who takes up a lot of space. And as some women feel, and some men feel like, “I don’t want to be cocky or overconfident,” and we’ll talk about that later. But this place of saying, “Listen, this is my domain, this is my space.” And she also talks about power posing, so that Wonder Woman putting your hands on your hips and owning your space, having the right body language. And she also talks about the victory pose, whereas we, when we, when we always put our arms up in the air as if we won something, and she says we should do that before any major bit of work that we do.
Ah, there you go, Susan.
I like that!
That’s a good tip for you.
I have to be honest, there’s been times I’ve been in restrooms getting ready to go make a presentation, and I did the Wonder Woman stance
You did?! I love it!
Nobody else witnessed it, but yeah! But now I think about the victory one, I’ll try it.
So another bit of advice that I have is to be in this space that I’ve coined “radically unfinished,” which means that you will arrive confident, but you know that you’re unfinished, that you’re a work in progress every single day. I think that there’s a misconception that it’s simply on some magical birthday or with a strike of lightning, that all of a sudden you will arrive and have it all together. And that’s one of the biggest myths that I talk about when I share confidence with other people. You don’t have to have it all together. You don’t have to be in a place of perfection. I am striving for excellence, but I am not trying to arrive and be like “Whoo! Today’s the day.”
“We’re gonna have it all together.” And so we look for people with confidence, but part of confidence is also knowing that you’re not, that, that you’re not perfect in any way.
Yeah. I love that.
That’s great. So Erin, why do you say that Albert Brennaman is your confidence hero?
You all, have you ever been tired, or it’s been cold on a Saturday and Sunday, and you flip on TBS, and the movie Hitch is on?
So Hitch is one of the go-to rom-coms of the early 2000s, and I love that movie. The best person in that movie is Albert Brennaman. If you remember, he’s the accountant who is falling in love with a client who’s way out of his league, so he hires Hitch to come in and give him all the tips about confidence and to find…like really how do you attract this incredible woman? Well, Hitch gives him great advice, but in the end, there are three things that happen. Number one, he has mustard on the shirt, if you remember, at the basketball game. Number two, he goes in for the first kiss and he chucks his inhaler. And, you know, at the very end of the movie, he’s the one that gets married.
He’s a mess! But he comes in with authentic confidence.
He comes in as his genuine self, and she’s way more attracted to that than any pretend fake stuff that Hitch is coaching him to do.
That’s a great example. I love that movie, and that’s a, that’s a great example. If you haven’t seen that movie and you’re interested in this concept, people should go watch Hitch.
And Hitch was Will Smith in the movie?
Yes. Yeah. Who was the female lead? Do you remember?
I don’t remember off the top of my head. I just remember falling in love with Albert Brennaman?
Was it Gwyneth…
It was a blonde. Yeah. Anyway.
Somebody like that.
So Albert Brennaman is my hero because it’s a reminder, if you are goofy, then your authentic confidence should be goofy. If you are smart and sassy, that’s where your authentic confidence should generate from. If you are kind, mild tempered, thoughtful, that’s where you should derive all of your confidence from. So this last week, I was in Atlanta, and I was training a group of small group facilitators, about 10 of them. And I asked them the one question, “Who are you going to show up when our students arrive, our participants arrive?” Because what I find is that when we meet somebody new, we’re really weird and awkward. We are trying to put on this front that does not help, because we are like radios, people are either tuning us in or tuning us out. And so if we tune in the first time when we meet somebody, and it’s weird and awkward, it’s likely that they’re not going to be friends with us. If we come in, just as we are, to me, that’s that piece of authentic confidence. So if you’re strong and sassy, be strong and sassy, if you’re sarcastic, come in in that place, but don’t change all the time based on the people that you’re meeting, because you confuse them, right? And when you’re interviewing somebody in a workplace, you got to come in as your authentic self from the beginning. If you are supervising somebody, you have to come from that space. If you are going on a first date with somebody, come in as who you are. So that, it’s not to confuse them.
Yeah, yeah. I love it. Where have you struggled with your confidence at work? Or have you?
I struggle all the time. I have been doing this work for a really long time. So that’s writing books, keynoting, training folks in leadership skills. I still get nerves. I still worry, “Will I connect?” I still think about, “Is this my best work?” And I will tell you, I think the place that I struggled early in my career is that I was not good at giving feedback. And I was really, really bad at receiving feedback. I was the best deflector of constructive feedback of any person you have ever met in your entire life.
Give us an example. Yeah.
Somebody would give me feedback, and I’d be like, “But you don’t understand, I…like, you just don’t get where I am and why I did it this way.” And they’re like, “No, I do, and I want you to know that I need you to do it differently.” And I was like, “Yeah, no, you don’t get it.” And it was really me who did not get it. But I’ll never forget, one time my super, one of my supervisors sat down with me and she said, “When you come into a meeting, you’re not present. You are not engaged. You are working on a contract. You are working on an email. You are doing something other than being here with us.” And I said to her, “You are absolutely right. I thought I was using the competency of being effective, quick, getting things done. But really what I was doing is sending the message to everybody else, that my work was way more important than this team meeting that we had.” And when she finally gave me that feedback, it was hard to hear. But it’s the first time that I really took something in and thought, I can do better in so many areas. And I want to do better, so I have to be open to this regularly. So I teach a course on feedback now, using everything that I did wrong as the basis for that piece.
Plenty of material from me.
I have plenty of material.
And I think that’s a good example of someone I know personally very well that might be named JoDee. So that’s good advice for me, too.
That you’re a deflector?
Well, or that I’m not always present. I can deflect, but I definitely am not always present. So. I have Futuristic as one of my top five strengths, and so my mind is always ahead of where I’m at, and it’s difficult for me to stay focused in the moment. So I’m thinking about what’s next. What’s next? What’s tomorrow? What’s the next hour? What’s tonight? That’s good advice for me.
And you know what, now that everybody’s got the watches that text you or that give you an update on you need to stand up and walk. There’s so many powerful things that technology does, but one of my groups that I’m in, the Badass Women’s Council, we talk about that the most important thing is connection, that we are constantly craving that one on one, sit next to each other, have a good walk in the rain like you and I did last week. Those things are way more important, and I find that that builds my confidence more than anything, when somebody sits down and is totally invested, eyeball to eyeball with me. I can feel my body change.
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good.
So Erin, what did you learn about confidence from working for a rock star?
This is, I think, one of my life’s biggest takeaways. So, the person in my life who’s my Yoda, is a mentor of mine, gentleman named Rob Parker. I actually just got to spend a few days with him in Atlanta. We were working on a project together. And Rob and I’ve known each other for 10 or 12 years, and when he left some work in Indianapolis, he was offered a position to work for a band in Atlanta, and the band happened to be a country music band called The Zac Brown band. And Zac Brown had a mission before he ever knew he was going to be famous. He knew in his heart of hearts, that he wanted to build a camp for kids with special needs. And fast forward 20 years, and he did it. And so this camp that they built in Atlanta was being done and probably going to be finished sometime in this summer. But we decided, Rob and I decided that he wanted to do some beta testing of everything. He wanted to make sure that we could get some kinks out before they open the camp up to hundreds and hundreds of campers. So he kindly and sweetly asked if I would pilot some programs with them. And so for four weekends a few summers ago, a few Septembers ago, excuse me, I was down in Atlanta with this really cool team of camp counselors. And we had campers who were on the autism spectrum, who had unique abilities. physically and emotionally. Now you all, if you knew me, I cry at the drop of a hat. One tiny sweet thing somebody says, and I could sob like a baby. At camp, you all imagine this. We have a double decker ropes course, and we have a young girl with cerebral palsy who drops her crutches, and her team hoists her up a cargo net and gets her into harness, and she traverses two layers of of a double decker ropes course.
So here I am sobbing. Yeah. So what I do is, I’m cheering them on, I turn around, I cry like a baby, and then I just, like, wipe the snot off of my shirt. Well, you also, to set the stage, the band by chance happens to be playing in Indianapolis on Sunday night, the very first weekend. So Rob Parker calls me and he says, “Erin, you need to call Zac and give him the feedback,” here we go to feedback again, “You need to give him the feedback on what you learned about the first weekend.” You all, I have never been more nervous to dial a number in my entire life. So I dial this number and his mailbox is full, and I could not be more grateful.
Yay for a full mailbox on a voicemail. So we ended up going to the concert, and I get a tap on the shoulder from my Yoda, my Rob, this, the gentleman who I admire the most outside of a family member, and he said, “Zac wants to talk to you. He wants your honest feedback about what happened. He wants every detail.” So I get on the bus. I share the story. Now here’s where it all ties in. I teach confidence for a living. I get on that bus and Zac Brown says to me, “You need to take your shoes off,” and I was like, “Oh my god, how to be confident and take your shoes off!” So I flip my flip flops off, and then I’m like, “Pull it together Erin Fischer!” and I sit down on this big couch, and I do everything that I’ve learned, I lean back, I put my arm up, I take up some space. It’s not overconfidence, but it’s just saying, “I own this bit of work that you’ve asked me to do. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m owning it.” So I shared the whole entire story. At one point, all three of us are in tears, which is beautiful. And then, at the end of that, we disperse, and I get invited to just shortly stand backstage to watch out onto the audience of all of the people who are attending the concert. And something happens in that moment. I have this lightning strike, aha moment, which was really simple. In Indianapolis, there are a million people, about, that live in the area. And on that night, the ticket count was 26,000. And I thought, “Zac Brown or anybody else has played this arena is not doing the math between one million and 26,000. They’re only thinking about the 26,000 people that showed up on one given night.” And my aha moment was, is that rock stars and confident people always play to the people that buy their tickets. They don’t give a damn about the people that don’t buy their tickets, because they’re always playing to the people that sit in their front row. And it was like Zac Brown has got 26,000 people swaying in the aisles, have their lighters out with the lights down. They’re feeling every moment that he’s producing for them. He’s not thinking “Who didn’t show up tonight?”
And it switched all of my thinking, because I was the person who’s always worried, “Well, who didn’t show up? Who didn’t like my work? What are they going to write on my evaluation?” And I started thinking the opposite way, “Who’s here? Who loves this work? Who wants more of what I do?” And so…
That’s beautiful, Erin. Beautiful.
I think the piece for me is, don’t give a damn about the people don’t buy your tickets, play to the people that always sit in your front row.
Don’t give a damn about the podcast that you’re not on.
Oh, I love that too. So. So what is the difference between under, over, and authentic confidence?
How many of you have been in the space with somebody who’s overconfident?
Oh, gosh, me.
I think Susan sits next to one frequently, because I feel like I, I don’t know if I suffer or are blessed with overconfidence.
So most people who have overconfidence, though, they come from a different place than you do. Most people that have overconfidence are cocky or arrogant or have to be right all the time, and I know you well enough to know that that’s not you.
Yeah, I don’t think that’s me.
That’s not you.
How many of you have ever been in a room with somebody who’s underconfident? How do you feel when you’re with somebody who’s underconfident?
Oh, you feel bad for them.
All the time.
And you feel like you’re constantly coaching them or raising them up. To me, the middle spot, the sweet spot is what I call authentic confidence. It’s knowing what you know, and knowing what you don’t know, and knowing the difference. It’s saying, “I own my space, and I also can allow you to own your space, and we can mutually have the spotlight on us at the same time.” It is being in this place of saying, “I support women, I support team members, I support students, I support my clients so much that I can turn my confidence and give it back to them. I don’t have to be the center of attention all the time. I know that my confidence is good,” no matter where you are.
Yeah, I like that. I like that. I’ve always felt like I was a bit overconfident, yet I’m not, I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” or, “I haven’t done that before,” or that, I never feel like I know everything. I just don’t really get nervous, hardly ever.
I know. I think that’s a blessing. She never does. But you’re never arrogant, so I think that’s, I think you’re in that sweet spot. I really do.
Well, alright, good.
Thank you. Well, that is fantastic. I have to tell you, I never thought, except for the fact that I worried that I was too overconfident. I never thought about all of the things that you just told us and about ways that we can, can practice or control that confidence level in ourselves. So that was good, good tips for our listeners.
One of the things I want to share, particularly as it relates to the workplace, is this piece on experience. The number one thing that breeds confidence is experience. So, yesterday, I went golfing at Top Golf for the first time. You all, my confidence on golfing could not be any lower than it is right now. But when you are in the workplace and you get a new job, or you get promoted to being the supervisor, or you’re put on assignments that is so different than what you’ve been doing, your confidence tends to dip significantly, because it’s new work. And I think what really smart people with authentic confidence do is say, “I’ve got it in other areas, I’m gonna have to lean on that for a little bit because in this particular area, my confidence is going to ebb and flow a lot, and then I’m going to get to the top again and figure something out and then I’m going to get a new assignment, I’m gonna have to start over.” But the experience of doing something like golfing, or like creating brand new content, or putting together a new pharmaceutical drug that you’ve never done, your confidence is always at the very lowest at the beginning of everything. And so practice it, get good at it, do it differently. That’s what gets you in the area of confidence again.
I love it. Erin, you asked me an interesting question a couple of weeks ago about where did I, where did I get my confidence? What kind of answers, or what do you hear most commonly when you ask people that question, or is there a common answer?
Usually, it is either a parent or a partner that sparks that initial piece. I’ve had some folks say that a bad relationship has really diminished, either personal relationship or professional relationship, has really diminished somebody’s confidence, and that people have had to work for years to regain it. But usually it’s a parent or partner for, for whatever reason, that is the starting point. When somebody puts you on the ledge, encourages you to fly, thinks you’re the cat’s meow and nobody’s better than you, then that gives that first level of joy and perpetual confidence.
I was picturing that parent that put the kid on the ledge, told them they’re the cat’s meow, and then gave them a little push. When they’re ready, right? Yeah.
Y’all, that’s my dad.
Yeah, every job, when my supervisor would move on, he’s like, “You’re ready for this.” And I’d be like, “I’m not ready.” And he, every day, would say, “Oh, yes, you are. You’re totally fine. Go and do it.”
And sometimes they would take his advice, and sometimes I wouldn’t.
That was my initial answer to Erin, by the way, was my mom. That I had gotten that from my mom. So.
What a gift.
So Erin, what else do we need to know?
What else do you need to know, I think is that there are a lot of myths and truths about confidence. And the ultimate truth is that everybody is looking for it regularly. And that we see people who are smart, funny, tall, have a little money, have the right friends, are driving the right car, and we presume and assume that they’ve got authentic confidence. And that is a big blind spot we have in this area. Just because you’re funny, or you’re on reality TV, or you’re driving the latest car, does not mean – there’s zero link to confidence and those things at all. Confidence is an inside game, and the only way I can know that you have it is that if I spend quality time with you, and I really get to know you.
Excellent. So Erin, how can our listeners reach out to you if they want to know more about this topic or other, several other topics that you teach and train and speak on?
So we were going for the longest URL on the planet when we put our business together. So it’s theleadershipandtrainingstudio.com.
Okay, and we’ll include that in our show notes as well. So listeners can find it there.
For sure. Yeah, that, we’ve got all sorts of cool new projects that we’re working on right now for team members. We’re doing everything from supervision, training for folks, to building competency cards so you can have interview questions and sort for the right competency for a job description and use it for training and development and coaching. And we’ve written a couple books.
Yeah, what are your books? I’m embarrassed to admit, I don’t even have your books, Erin.
I’ll bring them down.
The first one is called “The Freshman Project,” which was the gift to my oldest nephew, Kyle. Kyle was going into college and he didn’t have what I thought were the right questions to ask about the experience, and so I invited 25 of my higher ed professionals to get together and do three pages of the best advice that they have. And so we compiled all of that into one book called “The Freshman Project.” And then, of course, the second book is called “Radically Unfinished: One Woman’s Journey to Find Authentic Confidence”
So all my personal stories that have embarrassed me over the years in one spot.
Our listeners can reach Erin at theleadershipandtrainingstudio.com.
The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast is sponsored by our new book, “The JoyPowered® Team.” JoDee and I wrote this book with five of our colleagues, and we can’t wait for you to read it. “The JoyPowered® Team” challenges you to choose joy for yourself and your teammates. Learn how to build inclusive teams, navigate workplace challenges, revitalize teams who falter, and thrive as teams evolve. Joy starts with you, whatever your role, industry, or area of expertise. Learn more about our new book and how to buy it at www.getjoypowered.com/books. That’s W-W-W dot G-E-T J-O-Y-P-O-W-E-R-E-D dot com slash B-O-O-K-S.
JoDee, we have a listener question. “My company is struggling with a lot of negative reviews on several different job sites. How should we address this?”
I’m going to tell you that does surprised me. I would have thought people who posted something negative about a company isn’t expecting the company to respond, but it looks like that’s not what the professionals are telling us.
Yeah, that’s what they say. Personally, I do believe that most people who write reviews do so because they have something to complain about, and when we have a positive experience, we don’t always think to share it, so don’t hesitate to ask current or former employees to share a review as well. However, be careful not to incent them to do so, that might not come across as as being authentic. If it’s a serious issue, seek legal counsel, and if the comments are accurate, of course create and execute a strategy for improvement.
In our in the news section today, in a June article of Employee Benefit News, they reported the following statistics on benefits that I felt were particularly interesting. The stats represent employers of all sizes. 41% of companies offer paid maternity leave. That’s up 2% from two years ago. 32% offer paid paternity leave, which is up 8%. 21% offer paid adoption leave, and other family-friendly perks that have increased at least 5% are 529 plans, those participating in taking your child to work day, resource and referral services for childcare, and dependent care flexible spending accounts.
You know, interestingly, JoDee, I was looking at the company called HireVue, which we talked about before because they do digital pre-screening interviews and whatnot. One of their benefits that they are really proud of that I’m impressed with is granternity leave. So I don’t know how many companies are doing this, but if you have a grandchild, you actually get paid time off.
Oh, I love that.
So I don’t have any grandchildren, but if I did, I’m telling you, I’d take, I would absolutely take them up on that leave.
I would too. I love, I have not heard of that, and I think that’s beautiful. I hope I get granternity leave one day.
Kids, are you listening?
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