By Emily Blobaum, Fearless editor

Last month, Business Record Editor Emily Barske spoke with LaNisha Cassell, executive director of the African American Museum of Iowa, about the topic of confidence.

Below are highlights.

On what confidence means: “For me it’s understanding and valuing what my strengths and capabilities are and making sure I boldly walk in them. It’s understanding what my worth is.”

On why confidence is more of a struggle for women than it is for men: “We’re used to gender roles. Women have traditionally been tasked with wearing so many hats, you almost feel like you can’t do everything great, even though that’s not the case.”

On how we can support others in building their confidence: “Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Seek understanding. We have to remind ourselves that we are at the table because we belong there, we deserve to be there, we’ve put the work in and that we have a voice that we can use when necessary.”

On often being the only person of a particular identity in a room: “I think a lot of people of color in a place like Iowa … we are used to being in those situations. I am often cast in the role of trying to make other people feel more comfortable about my presence versus me feeling comfortable. We shouldn’t have to do that, but I think that’s often a necessity so you can be an active participant. I try to have personal conversations. Let people know that you have the right to be there and you have a voice.”

On what you can do to make sure all voices are being heard: “Take the opportunity to include other voices. Maybe it’s making sure that I hear from every voice in the room and not just call on the person of color just to say that I called on the person of color. As a leader, it’s our responsibility to include all voices at the table.”

On how people can build the worth they see in themselves: “Take advantage of opportunities for growth. We also have to see ourselves where we want to be, not where we are right now.  I try to surround myself with other women who are going to be encouraging. Not people who are going to lie, but people who are going to tell you the truth in love and transparency so you can be better. Read books on professional development and growth, surround yourself with other professionals who are successful. You won’t grow if you’re not challenged.”

Categories: Confidence


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