Who builds your confidence?

Who builds your confidence?

Kate Healy | March 4, 2019

I was sitting on a plane last week (shocking, I know) and since I've seen pretty much all the movies on United, I pulled out my calendar to start planning ahead for the next month. I noticed that International Women's Day was fast approaching and it got me thinking about how I can better support the women around me — my colleagues, family and those I don't even know (yet).

It also made me begin to think about the support I've received over the years and who has helped me. And so many names came to mind. From teachers to coaches to bosses to Girl Scout leaders and of course my family. I started thinking about how they helped me.

What did they do that helped make me who I am today?

As you can expect, there were lots of lessons recalled. The importance of hard work, teamwork, integrity, loyalty, faith and giving back. Those lessons and that support has helped me advance my career, and is something I believe we should all be thinking about.

And thinking about giving back, a career as a financial planner is a perfect way to do that. Especially for women — who bring a unique skill set to the career.

Based on survey data, we know that typically women don't consider becoming financial planners because they are not familiar with the profession and because they have misconceptions about what it's all about.1

But once they know about it, they get it.

Over 90 percent of women in the CFP® Professional Community believe that financial planning requires strong communication and listening skills, and a holistic approach to clients' finances.2 A perfect fit for women, am I right? Plus there's flexibility and earnings power.

The best way to clear up misconceptions about the profession is to talk about it. Tell everyone what you do. Tell everyone how you do it, how it makes you feel, how you make a good living while you help others. You can't be what you can't see, so be visible.

I also started thinking about what's happened since I've become more visible. I feel like my “tribe" has gotten bigger. Now there are people I can learn from that I've met on social media, or at conferences, or on the committees and boards I serve. Who I certainly didn't think I would know when I was growing up in an unpronounceable town in NJ.

So I started reminiscing about the kick ass women I've had the privilege to introduce and/or interview in my career. Which isn't as a media personality. Go figure.

Just last month at our National LINC conference, I got to introduce Jenny Fleiss, founder of Rent the Runway and JetBlack. She was awesome. We got to catch up in the green room, and she was nice, and funny, and human. She talked about accepting the speaking engagement and not realizing it was the day before her young son's birthday. So she made it work by having her family all fly out to go to LegoLand after the conference. I'd say: Best. Birthday. (Mom.) Ever.

Last year, Viola Davis, award-winning actress of film, television and theater. Oh be still my heart. I can still see and hear her telling her powerful story — you could hear a pin drop. And I often quote her wisdom as we think about how to support and develop the next generation. “You never know where someone started their race". A little empathy and acknowledgement goes a long way. So ask to hear someone's story. It will likely be much different than yours.

I think about The Skimm ladies, as I like to call ‎Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, who I had the pleasure to interview at the Barron's Top Independent Women Advisors Summit. They created a news source for millennial women to quickly get up to speed on world happenings. Guess what? I was introduced to it two years before I met them, by a millennial. And I love the fast-paced opportunity to catch up on important news in literally minutes a day. And hearing about their journey from start-up founders to business owners was impressive.

© LILA PHOTO

And how can I not talk about the first one: Condoleezza Rice. So many things to talk about here. 1. The confidence of my boss in letting me interview her, on stage, in front of 3,000 people when I swear he had never heard me speak in public. 2. I only found out I got to interview her three weeks before the event. Talk about cramming to prep — I watched every speech video and read every book she wrote, and prepared to make my main stage debut. Did I mention the 3,000 people?

Here's what helped me. I knew that Condoleezza was one of those women who would absolutely help another woman rise. She wasn't going to let me look bad on stage, so she was going to be supportive of me. And she was so great. I just went for it — my first question pointed out the audience and talked about the diversity we needed. And we just went from there. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life.

So those are the famous ones. But to the women who have been my strongest supporters, allies, cheerleaders and straight-talkers since birth, 1st grade, my first job and still today, I have been lucky to know and surround myself with the most awesome women, especially when I'm not on stage. I can't think of any better way to celebrate International Women's Day than to thank my mom, my sisters, my BFFs, coaches, accountability partners and colleagues who have helped me keep growing and climbing. I can only hope to pay back everything they have given me.

So I want to leave you with this question: Who's your tribe?

 

1 The WIN survey data indicates that among individuals who do not consider themselves financial planners, women are less than half as likely than men to report being “very familiar" with the role of a financial planner (22 percent versus 53 percent). CFP Board whitepaper, MAKING MORE ROOM FOR WOMEN IN THE FINANCIAL PLANNING PROFESSION, 2014

2 Includes CFP ® professionals, students in CFP Board-Registered Programs, and program directors