Series on Confidence Building – Self belief

Confidence means having belief in yourself and in your abilities. It is important that you understand your value and know what you bring to the table. Only you can stop yourself back from succeeding.

Julie Zhuo knew she had things to say but she wasn’t sure how to get heard. As a product design manager at Facebook, she had developed valuable expertise in the products she worked on. Yet, she lacked the confidence to share her ideas. She was used to being one of very few women in the room. That had been the case when she was studying computer science at Stanford and it was still true now that she was at Facebook. She knew this meant she needed to make a concerted effort to speak up. But being the minority voice wasn’t the only reason she felt unsure of herself. She says that she also suffered from “imposter syndrome,” feeling as if she hadn’t earned a right to her ideas; she had somehow ended up where she was accidently, not through hard work.

Julie was intrigued when someone in HR told her about a workshop offered at Stanford by the Op-Ed Project. After attending and getting positive feedback about her ideas, Julie tried something she had never thought to do before: write an op-ed.

Last November, she published a piece in the New York Times about the danger of anonymity in online discussions. “It was a matter of someone saying you can do it,” she explains. “It had never occurred to me that I could be published. But it actually wasn’t hard at all.” The reaction she got in the workshop and afterward back at Facebook boosted her confidence. “Since then, she’s gotten a lot of support from colleagues, which has emboldened her to speak her mind. “Of course it’s still a work in progress, but now I’m a much more confident speaker and writer,” she says.

Source: Harvard Business Review, Amy Gallo