One of my favorite things to do is share good people and good work with others. Today I’m thrilled to share this interview with my amazingly gifted friend and colleague, Selena Rezvani. Selena and I had the privilege of doing our TEDx talks within days of each other and I’m forever grateful for the moral support we provided each other.
Selena is a recognized author, speaker, and consultant on leadership. Her book, Quick Confidence, was born out of a viral newsletter she started in 2020 to help people build their confidence through small actions.
I’m excited to introduce you to Selena and her work.
Cheryl: Can finding confidence really be done quickly as the title suggests?
Selena: Yes! Many of us view confidence as this quality you’re born with or not. In my book, Quick Confidence, I explain that it’s learnable and it’s actually made up of 3 elements: it’s your mindsets and beliefs, it’s your physical actions or body language, and it’s your social interactions. I share quick, bite size actions you can take to experience meaningful confidence gains on all three of these levels.
Cheryl: I loved the term you used, “selectively excellent” – it seems especially useful for recovering perfectionists like me. Can you tell us what being selectively excellent means?
Selena: It’s just like a successful business: you need to choose where you want to be particularly innovative or differentiated. So rather than trying to win at every project you touch, I coach people to think about the 1-2 areas you really want to be defined by, as a professional. Is it strategic thinking? Finance skills? Tech brilliance? Nonprofit management? Mentoring junior teammates? The idea is, taking those areas into account, how could you make exceptions to give more to those things and to give less to others? This way, you’re lining up your discretionary effort with your distinct value. The more you identify these areas, aligning them with your time and energy investment, the more you can negotiate happier outcomes with people making demands on your time. Of course this requires you to say no to tasks where investing yourself has no clear payoff!
Cheryl: With so many of us still spending our time working remotely, what’s one tip you have for enhancing our presence during virtual meetings?
Selena: You don’t need to be a Zoom maestro or tech expert to handle virtual meetings with confidence. It’s actually simple things that can make you memorable and ensure your voice is heard. First, try to make a point to introduce yourself early – for example “Hi, its Sharma Elliot, good to see everyone!”. Doing this breaks a seal and tells your brain, “I’ve already spoken so doing it more is no big deal.”
Another tip is to shoot for at least 3 interjections. You can build off someone else’s idea: “What I’m hearing from Carlos is X and what’s striking about that is…”, synthesize different ideas: “I see points A and B as related and that matters because…” or make a new connection “This is sparking ABC idea and I think we should take a look at it…”
Cheryl: How might a leader support someone on their team who struggles with confidence?
Selena: “Consider giving them a big break or opportunity. Or affirm them – tell them you think they’re capable of more than do today. Give them a chance to do local experiments where they can stretch. I also recommend introducing them with gravitas, so people start to level-up the way they see them. For example you could say, “Meg brings 12 years of experience leading XYZ and we’re excited she’s on the team…” or “Pete’s managed 4 large scale accounts just like this and I know he’ll bring a lot to our work.”
Cheryl: Your book is filled with powerful tips for showing up more boldly, which of the tips do you use regularly?
Selena: Before an important moment, I like to affirm myself with specific mantras that correspond to my insecurities, for example, “I earned my place here”, “I 400% belong,” or “If I take a wrong turn, I can right myself.” I also look in the mirror, smile, and using my favorite nickname, predict my future success. For me this sounds like, “Seleens, you’ve totally got this!”
Cheryl: Wow. Thanks for sharing such useful quick confidence tips, Selena!
You’ve got this.