The Real Key to Being Confident

photo by Ryan Cryar on Unsplash

The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.

Brenee Brown

Over the summer I helped a friend of mine who is Director of College Counseling at a private high school here in Los Angeles. Stephanie (names changed) hosted a college essay writing boot camp for incoming seniors. Applying for college is stressful for myriad reasons – one of them being that a student has to submit a personal essay that gives the colleges insight into their character.

I was moved by the students’ efforts and by their stories – stories that were raw and jumbled, in some cases inchoate, and all of them real and vulnerable.

Over lunch I shared these feelings with one of the teachers. Lara smiled and said, “They haven’t learned how to bullshit vulnerability!”

I hadn’t thought of it that way – and she was right. These high school seniors haven’t figured out how to pretend to be vulnerable because they haven’t learned how to lie to themselves – yet!

As the boot camp was winding down, I had a call from Walter, an attorney whose daughter was getting married that weekend. He needed help with his toast. The outline he shared with me sounded less like a toast and more like a roast. My first reaction was – ouch!

Walter didn’t want his toast to sound “sappy” which was a lighthearted way of saying that he didn’t want to be vulnerable.

Earlier this month, at one of my workshops on public speaking, a young woman asked me how a person goes about “getting” confidence.

Since my website is “the business of confidence,” I should have a canned answer – something pithy and clever that will make people smile.

But, I don’t!

How does a person go about “getting” confidence? 

Is confidence something you get?


Is confidence something you do?

I’ve been thinking about the times I’ve been confident and the times I’ve not been confident. 

In all those situations where I felt confident, I was able to imagine the ME who I wanted to be. I was able to imagine that ME because I was willing to be vulnerable. I know it sounds counter-intuitive as confidence is often associated with cockiness.

When I think about some of my 2022 clients who have gone about the “business of confidence,” I think about Darren who became a lawyer – even though he had gotten his college degree only after being a union truck driver for thirty years.

I think about Nathan who has become the “go to” guy for his clients even though in the early days of his career he’d had difficulty starting a conversation in a Starbucks setting. 

I think about Ryan who wanted to stop being angry at his team and stop treating them with the harshness his father had treated him. And who has stopped.

What does it mean to “be confident” for each of these folks? 

Being confident is all about making peace with where you’re not confident 

Knowing that you no longer want to be uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons.

Growing in confidence where you are


Acting out in the manner that resembles who you are determined to be.

To be confident is to be willing to be uncomfortable – willing to be vulnerable.

Flip your fear. Find out what intimidates you and instead of shying away from it, be so inspired that you race towards it.

Lewis Howes


AND – you can only race toward your fear if you are vulnerable.

Confidence doesn’t guarantee success.

You could do something you had been afraid of and then discover you don’t have the skills to succeed.


What you finally do ultimately doesn’t give you what you thought you wanted.


Gives you a different kind of success.

Confidence demands that we be willing to grow from the consequences of the choices we make – from both the successes and the mistakes.

Confident people practice being vulnerable by running towards their fear.

Rummage around these questions:

·     What is it you’re really afraid of?

·     How valid is the fear?

·     In what way YES and what way NO?

·     What is your goal?

·     Is it a goal or a wish?

·     Are you willing to be vulnerable so as to make that goal come real?

·     Where is your support to cheer on your vulnerability?

I don’t think confidence is something you “get.” 

Confidence is a decision – choosing action over paralysis.

Those students I helped with their college essays did not “b.s.” their vulnerability as they only knew how to be vulnerable.

Father-of-the-bride Warren learned that the greatest gift he could give his daughter and new son-in-law was the gift of his raw emotions.

The “business of confidence” is really the business of becoming comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s only in that uncomfortableness that one lives confidently.

now THAT’s the business of confidence!

10 Ways to Telegraph to Clients You’re a Trustworthy Person



The purpose of life is not to be happy.

It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,

to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.




People hire me for my skill as a coach and trainer – BUT – they rehire me because they trust me.


At the core of my work is the belief that all of communication is about two things: Psychology + Strategy


Understand what makes you tick

Understand what makes the other person tick

Then you can develop a strategy for getting heard and understood.


In practical terms, what this means is – we all do what we do and say what we say for a reason. No one “just is.”


We communicate so as to get our needs met – every time.


THE greatest need that each one of us has is – the need to be seen.


There is no greater fear than the fear of being ignored. Dismissed. Misunderstood.


When people believe that we “see” them then they will trust us.


Trust is grounded in seeing.


While there are many ways in which to reassure folks that you “see” them, here are ten of my go-to techniques.



  1. Know your story. What are you about? Why do you love doing what you love doing? AND are you open to the stories of others? Our stories are not in competition with each other. Rather, they energize and enliven each other, so that in a real meeting, stripped of pretense, the phrases you’ll hear said repeatedly are, “That happened to you? This is what happened to me!”


  1. Look for points of shared commonality. Whenever I meet with someone for the first time, I’m looking for where their story intersects with mine. I approach expecting to be impressed. I approach with curiosity and am quick with a compliment. Being genuinely interested in someone makes you genuinely interesting. And people tend to trust interesting people.


  1. Be light-hearted for there already is so much that drags life into puddles. Humor goes a long way to making us more approachable.



  1. Don’t bash or complain. Negativity has a life of its own. If they complain about the team’s work, inquire why. Don’t play into their negativity because what good do you hope to accomplish?


  1. Know how to describe and characterize your professional hallmark. “This is my approach” – can you make that assertion with confidence, surety and pride? People are drawn to another person’s self-awareness when it is grounded in humility and not arrogance.


  1. Call a person by their name. There is no sweeter sound.


  1. Demonstrate how you personalize your work with and for them. Let them know that you’re not simply performing a “routine.” Let them know you understand and “see” their need.


  1. Play off of energy. Pay attention to the different energies in a meeting or an encounter. Bring your own unique branded energy by asking questions. Ask, “What are you thinking?” all the while being patient.


  1. Don’t be desperate. Know that you’re not right for everyone. It’s not personal. It’s not rejection – it’s a matter of style preferring style.



  1. Offer gratitude. Develop ways to telegraph gratitude that reassures people you value their value.



Now THIS is the business of confidence!




Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:




How To Break Through Fear


Your life is what your thoughts make it.




Recently I Zoomed with Jasmin (names changed), a new client who wants to learn how to engage and not repel people. She claims she turns off people because she has a hard time making eye contact and gets nervous when talking, especially with people she doesn’t know and so doesn’t trust.


Because Jasmin has a great smile and friendly energy I was puzzled – what is she telling herself that makes her feel so uneasy that her unease becomes off-putting?


Jasmin eventually revealed she’s afraid people are going to hurt her – not physically, but emotionally.


When I asked when was the last time someone had intentionally or unintentionally hurt her, to her surprise, she couldn’t recall!


Her fear has as much validity as the fear of getting hit by lightning on a clear day. While she recognizes her fear is bogus, it still paralyzes her.


Facing down fear, no matter how irrational, is hard because it requires that we  change and we can’t change until we acknowledge the fear is irrational. 


There’s more. . .


The truth is – the only person who likes change is a wet baby!


Before any change can take place, we have to recognize the sneakiness of our resistance

what are we truly afraid of? 


Jasmin isn’t afraid of people. She’s afraid of being hurt by people. Or more accurately, she’s afraid of the possibility of people hurting her.


Change is not about a personality makeover.


However, only when we decide to do something new can we then resolve to manage our self-sabotaging behavior.

We can resolve we’re not going to continue to be entrapped by our old, fear-induced rituals. 


Managing our self-sabotaging behavior is ALL about learning how not to screw things up for our own self.


Here are four steps to take so as not to get in your own way. 


First – when a fear kicks in, stop and ask yourself, “Am I simply reacting out of habit?” 


Jasmin revealed that when she goes into a work meeting, virtual or in-person, she gets nervous because she’s afraid of getting hurt. But there’s no one in that meeting who will hurt her without her permission.


Since she knows she works with good people, getting nervous is just her default setting.


Second – ask yourself, “Is there another way of doing this?” 


I urged Jasmin to take a moment before entering a meeting room and say to herself, “I’m entering a room where no one wants to hurt me.” She must talk down the fear of the irrational lie that people want to hurt her.


Third – be present – commit to showing-up in the moment. Stay present.


Don’t get caught up in psychodrama of your own creating.


Fourth – celebrate the win for “change.”


At some later point, take a moment to acknowledge that you resisted caving in to the power of whatever lie you’ve been telling yourself. Power comes from and in acknowledgement.


Our self-sabotaging lies become the air we breathe.


With practice we can reduce their power and break through to a new way of being and doing.


now THAT is the business of confidence. . .



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:


A Brave Act of One’s Own


The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Last weekend I met Marie at a housewarming party. She is the motherly neighbor of my friends who hosted the party. When she learned that I officiate weddings and coach communications, she maneuvered me to a table and proceeded to tell me about her daughter, Clarice, who had filed for divorce just six months after her wedding. Marie asked if I would meet with her.


I doubted Clarice wanted some stranger to “reason” with her; but I felt sorry for Marie and agreed. Out of respect for her mother, Clarice, who had moved back in with her mom, also agreed.


When I stopped by the next day, I reassured Clarice that I had no intention of trying to talk her out of her decision. I admitted it was none of my business, but just out of curiosity, I wondered what had happened in the span of six months to want her to dissolve her marriage.


Embarrassed, Clarice told me that she and her husband Frank had dated since high school. They continued on through college. Everyone just presumed that some day they would marry and once out of college, the pressure was on.


She then told me something that initially shocked me: “We didn’t want to disappoint our families and so we decided to get married and we just got caught-up in it all.”


Then one day, some six months later, they realized that while they loved each other, they had no desire to spend the rest of their lives with each other.


Once again, I was reminded that life can get very whack-a-doo!


The self-help guru from the 1980’s, Leo Buscaglia, maintained that,

Not very many of us are really, in the real sense of the word, alive and living fully. I’m certain that as long as you leave your life in the hands of other people, you’ll never live. You have to take the responsibility for choosing and defining your own life.


As odd as Clarice’s story first sounded, I later realized that she really wasn’t any more “stupid” than most of us are at one time or another in our lives – and I say that respectfully.


I think most of us can be sloppy when caring for our lives, going along with decisions made by others because we don’t want to hurt feelings or accept the consequences of hard decisions.


Ironically, Clarice and Frank deciding to divorce was the kindest and bravest thing they could do for each other because finally, they were choosing and defining their own lives.


What about you? 

What kind, brave thing do you need to do for yourself?


Do you want to learn how to confidently live your life without worrying about what “THEY” will think?


To explore how life-skills coaching can help you present you

with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me