5 Lessons in Career Confidence From a Female CEO

Jessica Herrin Career Confidence

We’re lucky to live in an age where there are so many talented female entrepreneurs to look up to. And earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting one of my personal inspirations, Stella & Dot CEO and founder, Jessica Herrin.

If you’re not already familiar with Jessica’s story here’s a quick highlights reel… After graduating from Stanford University, Jessica worked for two tech startups before attending Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-founding the gift-registry website WeddingChannel.com at the age of 24. Five years later she sold that company for $78 million, and in 2003 founded the jewellery and accessories brand Stella & Dot whilst she was pregnant with her eldest daughter.

Jessica Herrin is now on Forbes’ Self-Made Women to Watch list, and has just released a book on entrepreneurship called Finding Your Extraordinary. I sat down with Jessica whilst she was in London to promote her book, and asked if she would share her career confidence secrets with Coco’s Tea Party. And here’s what she had to say…

SELF-DOUBT IS NORMAL

“The most important thing to recognise is that self-doubt is normal. In my book, Find Your Extraordinary, I look at the science behind negative thinking, and those thought patterns are just part of our natural evolution. But the presence of doubt and fear doesn’t mean that you’re not capable. You can train your brain to think with more self-belief, but you have to practise – just like you make your body physically strong through exercise.”

“It’s all about recognising, ‘Okay, this self-doubt is normal. It doesn’t mean I should quit. It doesn’t mean I’m not capable. I have to feel the fear and do it anyway. I have to actively cultivate a mind that sees opportunities instead of obstacles. And I have to believe that success is not just for somebody else – success is, in fact, for me.'”

POSITIVITY TAKES PRACTISE

“I find that if I take care of myself it’s much easier to stay in a positive mindset. So I make sure I get enough sleep and eat healthy food. If I’m taking care of myself I feel in control of my life, and problems become surmountable. And it’s also important to surround yourself with positive people. There will always be naysayers and doubters in your life, so you have to be very thoughtful about how you let them influence you, and make sure you don’t look to them for validation.”


“The definition of success is happiness; and only you can find it, and only you can create it.”


Jessica Herrin Stella & Dot

TRUST YOUR GUT

“Irv Grosbeak, a very notable professor at Stanford Business School, always likened entrepreneurs to lone eagles. A lone wolf doesn’t like people and lives alone, but a lone eagle soars high and nests alone. Which means you make your own choices and don’t seek external validation. You’re not always looking left, right, up and down to say, ‘This is what I’m thinking, are you okay with that?'”

“Following your gut about who you are and what you want to do is critical. And it really takes a lot of confidence not to need approval. But it’s important to follow your own framework and ask yourself: ‘Am I living my life in accordance with my values? And am I following my true passion?'”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO LEAN IN ALL OF THE TIME

“One of the main reasons I decided to write Find Your Extraordinary is because I didn’t want the dialogue for women in the workplace to be all about, ‘You’ve got to lean in, lean in, lean in.’ Because people misinterpret that to mean, ‘I have to lean in 100% of the time? I’m going to lean in and fall over.'”

“There’s great value in the diversity of choices. It would be a bizarre dystopia if everyone wanted the same things, and success meant the same thing to everyone. Because it doesn’t. And you need to listen to what you want to do at this stage in your life.”

“Life is long. It doesn’t mean you’ll be pursuing your career at all moments. And it doesn’t mean you’ll only be dedicated to raising a family. Neither of those things are good or bad, it’s just about what’s right for you in the moment.”

SUCCESS IS ABOUT HAPPINESS

“The definition of success is happiness; and only you can find it, and only you can create it. Women should not be made to feel inferior if they’re not trying to climb a corporate ladder and have a C in their executive title. That is not the definition of success for everyone. Of course I’m all for closing up the gender gaps – and the proceeds from Find Your Extraordinary help to fund women in STEM – but the conversation around the workplace needs to include the confidence gap and the happiness gap. Because those are two factors that continue to hold women back.”

Are you inspired by Jessica Herrin? If so you can order her book, Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, on Amazon right now.

P.S. Hollywood director Nancy Myers shares her thoughts on the work/life balance

  • Funny, I just read a little snippet about Jessica in today’s Daily Mail (don’t judge, I only buy on a Monday for the beauty section!) and now this! Maybe it’s a sign!? 😉

    • cocos_tea_party

      Haha! I can forgive you. And definitely a sign. She’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, so definitely check out her book.

  • What a great interview!!
    xo
    http://www.laurajaneatelier.com

  • Definitely going to check the book out, love this intrerview!

    • cocos_tea_party

      Definitely do! I’ve just started it and it’s so inspiring.

  • What an inspiration! Some really good points xx

  • Lovely interview…happiness is so, so important x