Category Archives: The Confidence Code

The Confidence Code in the News – Sept. 2015

Claire Shipman & Katty Kay

The Confidence Code in the News

Claire Shipman & Katty Kay

Here are a few places we’ve been happy to see The Confidence Code in the news recently:

We hope you’re all having a great spring!

The Confidence Code Q&A – No longer in the workforce?

Claire Shipman
Vintage Bicycle

Q: Will you be addressing the issues of how to achieve an improved sense of confidence when one is no longer in the workforce? Post retirement the usual reinforcements of salary, bonuses, peer recognition, etc. disappear and while volunteer service can be enjoyable all those usual reinforcements are missing. Taking classes, trying to learn or relearn things (fell off my bicycle, again, yesterday) can help but more than that seems to be in order. This must be an issue for stay at home moms too.

A: Yes—while much of our book may seem targeted for women at work, in fact, confidence is critical for all of us at all stages and places in life. In fact, one of my favorite definitions of confidence was from Sharon Salzberg, a Buddhist expert, who describes it as a kind of essential life force—a sort of energy necessary for moving towards challenges wholeheartedly.

You are right that once we are not at work, and driven by traditional motivations, life can become both richer and trickier—depending on what most drives us. it’s very important to have some understanding of our basic motivations, and to try to put ourselves in positions that make sense for us. I personally have found that as much as I hate them, or think I hate them, I absolutely require deadlines. I need some form of outside pressure. And, having spent a significant amount of time at home with my kids, I can tell you that requires incredible confidence, and much more. Interestingly—studies show women are in general more confident about parenting than men.

One resource I’d check out that I found quite useful—the VIA Institute, and their values survey.  It’s a pretty quick test—and will tell you a lot about many of your natural character strengths. That might give you unexpected information that you can actually put to use now that you have fewer boundaries. Good luck with the bike-riding! That’s on my list.


The Confidence Code Q&A – Summer reading for girls?

Claire Shipman
Female student working with laptop in a high school library

Q: I want to start a summer book read for my friends and our daughters to experience together.  My theme is confidence and each month I want to explore a different subject, for example, negative self talk, social media, etc…  Do you feel that “The Confidence Code” will resonate with our 7th-12th grade girls?  If not, do you have suggestions of books that will?

A: What a terrific question! My son Hugo, who will be going into 7th grade, has started to read the book, and he finds it fascinating. We do think it would resonate—especially because we have a lot of stories woven in—so it’s not all data.  We also think it’s quite important for young women to see the world and their place in it from different angles—in ways that may not have occurred to them. It will be so healthy for them to understand early, for example, that a drive to be perfect in everything isn’t always healthy! If you decide to go ahead with it, would you let us know how it goes over? We’d be very interested. Best, Claire

The Confidence Code Q&A – Too much confidence?

Katty Kay
Hispanic businesswoman with colleagues

Q: What makes you think that self-confidence is a good thing? I the past I have had far too many employees, both male and female, who were far more confident than their abilities warranted. It’s much easier to help and encourage people to complete a task than it is to clean up the mess they made through over-confidence.

A: We agree that a lot of over confidence is not a good thing (think 2008 financial crash) Many men tend to lean toward over confidence, Columbia Business School has found that men tend to overestimate their abilities by some 30%. The trouble is that women tend to skew toward underestimating their abilities and it is holding them back from trying new challenges. Ideally we would raise women’s perception of their abilities to be more in line with their actual abilities, that way they would feel able to apply for promotions, speak up in public and take more risks. Interestingly the many psychologists we interviewed believe that on balance of a bit of over confidence in life is better than a bit of under confidence – because it propels us to try things, to take action and to live a more fulfilled life. We were surprised by this, but the conclusion was very clear.

The Confidence Code Q&A – Do women hold each other back?

Katty Kay
Senior Business Woman Working At Office

Q: Do women also hold back because they are more fearful of other women?  I feel like women are very competitive with one another and I often hold back because I don’t feel the same support from specifically women when things are going well for me  vs. when I am down and out and my confidence is low.

A: This is such a tricky issue and yes, we’ve definitely heard tales of women not feeling they are supported by other women, particularly more senior women. In our experience however this doesn’t seem to be supported by evidence of a pattern and generally speaking women are more supportive of women than men might be. Indeed, companies with more women at the top tend to see a greater number of women rise up through the ranks.

One way to get other women to support you when things are going well might be to bring them on to your team. Make an extra effort to show you realise your success is part of a team effort and go out of your way to praise them when things go well for them. Nothing like a bit of positive attention to bring anyone, man or woman, on board!