020: My journey to the corporate tech C-Suite (and why there is not one way to get there)

Are you ready for the C-Suite?

Ready to have more influence, and help make your team or organisation make better decisions? 

Are you itching to build a better way, lead more effectively and get your opinions heard in a meaningful way?

I’ve been there.

In 2016 I was desperate to make real change and have a positive influence. But I was stalled in my career. I felt stifled, and held back. 

Four years on I’ve worked in the C-Suite, led an international charity spanning 65 countries, influenced the Supercomputing industry for the better and now run my own business. And today, I’m lifting the lid on what I did to get here. Spoiler: it’s not what you might think!

So let’s dig into my story…

Show Notes

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Want to read instead of listen? Here’s the transcript:

Welcome back to the Leading Women in Tech Podcast. How are you doing this happy Tuesday? If you’re listing the day we land, but whatever day of the week it is, I hope that you’re having a fab week. And even if you’re not, I hope you’re on the up rather than down. Remember, we have more influence over our upward and downward spirals than we sometimes think we do. So I hope you’re on the up and if not, drop me a message. Let me know what’s going on, maybe I can give you a little bit of a lift up.

I have just had a fabulous week off. I’m recording this on a Sunday morning, far later than I normally do, so my team is going to be scrambling to get this out to you for Tuesday, but I’ve just had a week off, end of October. I had a day trip to see some family, socially distanced and outside, which in Scottish wet weather is an interesting experience, but we managed through it, it was a long day, lots of driving and several hours and lunch outside with some family, which was amazing because we’re fully aware that, that might be the last time that this happens this year, especially as a lot of the UK is about to go back into lockdown, so we timed that right.

So I’ve had such a good week just listening to stuff, catching up on my reading, because I’m a big reader. Lockdown, in some respects, is treating me very well because it’s given me far more excuse to read books. I have been ordering books. Yes, I’m a physical book reader. I have so many books. My husband’s the same, so we kind of need a dedicated room just for our books and library. But yeah, I’ve just been catching up, and it’s been really good. So I hope that you are also having a good end of October, and now we’re into November by the time you hear this, I hope you are having a good November so far, but I know sometimes it doesn’t feel so great. I think we all just need to lean into the fact that we do have a lot more choice than we think we might do.

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now, which is thoroughly depressing. And I don’t want to belittle that, some of us have some really tough decisions coming, but do remember you also have a choice about how you approach every single one of those decisions. You have a choice to be excited about it, take action, or you have a choice where you can be angry and frustrated. I’m actually going to talk about channeling anger, and frustration a little bit today, but I just want you to lean into that as we head into November. And for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere heading into those shorter days, in Scotland we are losing roughly 20 minutes a week right now of daylight, we’ve still got a couple of hours to go before midwinter and it can feel very much like everything’s closing in and opportunities are closing down on us and it’s not true, right? But it’s very easy to feel that way, so I want you to know you have a choice.

But anyway, lets talk a little bit about the Ditch The Self Doubt mini course, it is now live. I have had so many good comments, great comments actually, from people who’ve been through the whole five parts now, loving it, feeling really great about the outcomes they are acheiving… I’ve had one lady who reached out to me and said, “I didn’t realize that 80% of my staff were probably feeling this way. I just thought they were all procrastinating or angry,” and she’s changed her approach to leadership and it’s having an immediate impact. So even if you are not personally experiencing imposter syndrome or self-doubt, this is a great tool to help you become a better leader. So head on over to tonicollis.com/dtsd. You can also get that link in your show notes and your favorite podcast player, or also at tonicollis.com/episode20. You’ll get a copy of the show notes there as well, but head on over to tonicollis.com/dtsd. Sign up and get instant free access to the course.

Yes, instant. As soon as you click the email confirmation, you’ll get access to the first video and then the next video in the sequence every 24 hours, for five days. Awesome, right? I really want you all to step into a more healthy, sustainable leadership space. And that’s why I’ve put this free course together because I believe that everybody needs this, there shouldn’t be a barrier to knowing this stuff, so that’s why it’s out there, that’s why it’s free. One of my clients was like, “I can’t believe you’re giving this away for free.” I’m on a mission to change the world, I cannot coach everybody one-on-one, there’s just too many of you, so that’s why that’s out there. But let’s talk about today’s episode.

Today I’m talking about my journey. This has been a request from multiple people, from my clients, from some people that I used to work with who wanted to hear about my journey because I think they’ve seen parts of it, but unless you’re my husband, you don’t know the whole story. And I don’t think it’s a very big deal, and that’s one of the mistakes that we all make, is we up-level. We don’t feel like it’s a big deal because we’ve done it, and so a lot of me has imposter syndrome around sharing this with you because yes, I got to the C-Suite, but I’m like, “You could all do that,” and that’s kind of unfair on you. I happen to figure out a way to do it, but it doesn’t make it any less hard for you, right?

So I’m lifting the lid on this. I will share with you upfront that this is going to make me a little bit vulnerable, sharing all the ins and outs of my journey, but I hope that this is constructive for you and tells you some of the things that you might think you need to have or not have, or do or don’t do, on the way to the C-Suite because I very much have a very untraditional route to the C-Suite. And actually every single person that’s mentored me has had an untraditional route to their leadership role, and I think that’s the one common factor. There is actually no one way to do this, but we all think there is this perfect route, we need to have this set of experience, and I hope that by sharing this story with you today, you’re going to see that, that’s just not true. So here goes.

I started off as a physics graduate, some of you know that, but yes, I have a physics undergraduate, master’s actually, a MPhys. And I also have a physics PhD, where I did lots of simulations of why are molecular systems… Actually the precursor to what’s going on right now, when we’re stimulating molecular docking to build better vaccines. My research was kind of the precursor to that. I’m getting all into this already. But I was doing atom by atom simulation of how water interacts with our DNA and understanding how parts and fragments of our DNA stay very static. And that influences the way we then have to design things like vaccines, for example. So very relevant today, even though my PhD research is incredibly out of date now, but I did that from a physics perspective, I used chemistry, I was doing a biological system, so it was very much like I was a physicist by training, but using all of these different subjects and the beautiful thing I had to do, I had to learn how to program properly.

I had no formal training in software engineering up until this point. Physics degrees always teach programming but quite frankly, not very well, they’re taught by physicists, not by software engineers, not by computer scientists, but I realized during my PhD that what I really love with this programming… And I was very lucky, I was given the opportunity to do a master’s in high-performance computing in parallel with my PhD, which I did without really realizing how hard it is to do two degrees at the same time, not something I’d ever recommend to anybody these days, but I did a master’s and a PhD at the same time. And that was my first experience to formal computer science education, and it was about parallel programming, about how to make software work in parallel.

And so at the end of my PhD, I thought to myself, “Well, I could continue down the physics road, I could get a job as an academic, or I could go off and get a job using my physics knowledge somewhere in chemistry. I could go and work for big pharma,” there were all sorts of options open to me. Then I realized what I really loved doing was helping the physicists who didn’t have the knowledge I had about software engineering and parallelisation, parallelize their code so that they could do more science. And I was really excited about this. And so I interviewed for a supercomputing center, it was part of a university and I got the job. Part of why I got the job I think, because I think I really messed up the interview, but they still gave me the job, but I remember saying, and this sticks with me to this day, “I wanted to do this because I got brain ache thinking in parallel, and as much as physics is hard, it didn’t give me this level of brain ache.”

It sounds like a very odd thing, but I really needed that challenge. I was kind of bored of my PhD by the end of it. I mean, the end of a PhD is a lot of writing, all right. A lot of graphing, a lot of analysis, and it wasn’t really hard work, but parallelizing code, oh my goodness me, that’s hard because your brain doesn’t think in parallel. There are a lot of tools out there today to make this easier, which is part of how I got to the C-Suite. I’m kind of dropping little notes in there. But it was just so exciting to work on allowing other people, who felt limited by the tools that they had to do more science, simply because I had the knowledge of the science, I could understand what they were saying. I wasn’t an expert in what they were doing, but I had enough knowledge of the physics or the chemistry, and actually even engineers I worked with as well, to help them do the software. And that’s why I got into supercomputing as a career.

So at this point, this is early 2011, very new and fresh and just genuinely excited. I worked on projects from nuclear fusion reactors to more molecular dockings of my background, I worked in a lot of codes that were doing simulations of molecules from material simulations, through to biological systems, lots of stuff like that. And I felt really good, I felt like I was making a difference, I felt like I was changing the world and I had this brain ache and the problem solving, and it was good for a couple of years.

In parallel to this, I became acutely aware I was one of very few women, now the supercomputing center I was in was very unusual. They actually had a good number of women in it, but the projects I was on, there was one particular project, which I worked on quite early on, where it was a collaboration across eight countries, there were four of us locally at the supercomputing center I worked in, but I was the only woman, I really noticed that. The first day I really noticed that I was a woman compared to everybody else, I never thought this was a thing, was the day I turned up to work in a skirt. Actually I think it was a dress, it was a long time ago now. I normally wear trousers to work, right? That’s who I am, but I was like, “I have money, I’ve got my first job, that’s a beautiful dress, I’m going to…” I honestly can’t remember if it was a skirt or a dress, but it was beautiful so I decided to wear it.

I walked into our regular weekly meeting. All the others were already there. I walked in and they stood up and they told me it was because I was wearing a dress. They felt that it was appropriate. I have never felt so different in my life. And these people have the best of intentions, this was deliberate on their part. It was one of those unconscious behaviors that we all need to address. This is a different topic for another day, but I felt so odd. And so I looked around and I realized that the world of high-performance computing actually has a massive under-representation of women. It’s worse than the world of computer science or software engineering as a whole. It’s probably why some things like cybersecurity is debatable, because we’re not very good at collecting the data. And I thought to myself, why is this going on? When I was a physicist, I wasn’t very involved in them, but there were all of these women in physics organizations and movements and groups and activities.

I remember attending an event where an academic was telling PhD students, she was like, “Go for the grants that are for women because you won’t be labeled for getting it, because they’re actually more competitive than the standard grants. And there are so many barriers to us being women, it’s about time we took advantage of something that’s given to us.” And those kind of comments really stayed with me. And I was like, “Well, why is nothing being done in the supercomputing world?” I know this may seem like, what has this got to do with the journey to the C-Suite? I’m getting there, I promise.

So, here’s the thing, I stepped up. Well, I applied for a role as an equality and diversity coordinator. I was told I had no chance of getting it, that it only went to senior professors because the supercomputing center was in a university. And so I just went with the attitude of, “I’m really annoyed, I’m really frustrated, here are my ideas.”

That’s how I went into the interview, and I got the job. I was genuinely told before I went for this interview, I’d asked a few people, “Should I go for it? I’m kind of frustrated, I really wish that we were doing things differently.” And they were like, “Well go for it, but honestly, this always goes to professors and you’re just starting out in your career.” I didn’t know what year this was, I think it was probably 2012, it was very early on in my career. And so I applied, I went into that room, had an interview, where genuinely, I just went with the attitude of, “They just need to hear this. I do not care about the outcome, but they need to hear what I have to say.” And the reason I tell you that is one, because this was the journey to my leadership, two, that is the attitude I now love to cultivate in my clients.

It’s why I encourage everybody to do an interview for something they don’t really want or don’t really care about, or is so far beyond what they think they’re able to get. But they turn up with that attitude because once you’ve experienced it once, you can replicate it. And when you turn up with that confidence, with that clarity of that mission of, “I’m just here because I have something you really need to hear, people.” That’s when you turn up so differently and that’s how you want it to turn up for the interview that really matters. But you have to experience it once to be able to tap into that again. So that was kind of a bit of a side note, but anyway, I got this equality and diversity coordinator role. By the time I stepped down from it, a couple of years later, it had become such a big thing because I had done so much, they actually turned it into a directorship role. So I’d clearly done something positive.

At the same time, I think it was late 2013, there was a discussion in my group that forming something called Women in High-performance Computing would be a good thing. And so in late 2013, I attended international Supercomputing Conference, well, it’s just supercomputing, that’s in the U.S. every November. It was my first time in that conference. The SC13 conference in Denver, very memorable to me. I’ve been back to Denver many times since, but that one will always stand out because I felt like I’d found my mission. I turned up, I attended the conference and quite frankly, I was appalled. I went there, I’d got a grant to attend by saying I was working on improving diversity, and so I went there ostensibly to check out, how diverse was the community internationally? Was this just a Scottish problem? Was this just a problem with the people that we collaborated with? What was going on here?

And honestly, I was appalled. I was damn excited by the technology, but I was appalled by the lack of effort being made by the community. So I went back home and launched Women in High Performance Computing with a couple of colleagues. And so in April, 2014, we had the official launch in Edinburgh. Long story short, by the following November in 2014, it had gone global. There was such a need for this, it immediately went global. And I was the face of it, I initially was not comfortable with the face of it, but we were global. In parallel, back at home, I was taking on more management responsibilities. I actively approached management differently.

I remember taking on a project and the person I was taking over from said, “Well, these team members are tough. They’re just so difficult. They won’t do what you ask.” So I just sat down with them and had an honest conversation, like, “What do you want? What do you want to do?” And I worked with them so that they got to do what they wanted, but at the same time they did the work I needed them to do as their project manager. And I was able to get stuff out of people who apparently never did the right work. And I was like, “There’s a better way to do this.” Now, I also at the same time as building Women in High Performance Computing and of running a team of volunteers, which by the time I stepped down, early this summer, I was running a team of about 65 volunteers, and if anybody has managed volunteers, you know that they are the hardest group of people to manage.

They may well be very committed. Some of them are, some of them are there because it looks good, but while they’re there, quite often they got over-committed to projects and things, and their ability to participate fluctuates. You cannot demand the volunteers in the same way you can of a paid member of staff. So throughout all of this, with my stepping up as a manager and my supercomputing center, I’m running Women in High Performance Computing. I was learning a different way to be a leader, to be a manager, which has served me so well since, and some of the stuff I now teach, and mentor and coach my clients in. And then I was told that despite the fact that I was doing all of this management, and by this point I was doing quite a lot, I was frustrated because I wasn’t influencing as much change as I wanted, but I was told I wouldn’t get promoted. I was told I wasn’t technical enough.

Now I felt that was superbly unfair because I felt that I was taking on all these management responsibilities because I’d been asked to, and I was excited to do it, so don’t take me wrong, I definitely stepped up for this, but of course you have less time for the technical work. And that’s something I now talk a lot with my clients about, of this thing of there’s a perception that the only valid work is the technical work. And it’s held a lot of us back because we keep doing all the doing work, not the strategic work. I didn’t have that problem, I had the problem instead that the person who had a lot of control over my future, thought you have to remain technical. And so I was told I wouldn’t get promoted, even though I was doing the job of somebody in a much higher salary range than I was.

And honestly, this lit this fire inside me. I wouldn’t say I was angry per se, because I definitely take an attitude of, “Anger doesn’t serve a purpose at work.” I have actively reduced my outward anger for a long time now. I have once lost my temper at work and honestly it backfired, and I’ve seen so many other people losing their temper and portraying anger at work. And it never achieves anything. In the short-term it might get your quick win, but long-term it does far more damage with anxiety and resentment. But I was incredibly frustrated. I was having, by this point, an international impact, yet at home, I felt like I was just not achieving what I was meant to be achieving. I lived for my travel, even though I’m a natural hermit, I didn’t sleep well in hotel rooms ever, I’m an introvert more than you’d possibly imagine.

There is nothing better in my mind than being wrapped up at home in a blanket with a good book. So travel really shouldn’t sit with me very well, but I realized I only lit up when I was traveling. I was on multiple boards, I was influencing change. I was on advisory committees, internationally, ostensibly for my equity, diversity and inclusion knowledge, but by being on these boards, I was able to influence the technical stuff too. And I was excited, I was having an impact, but then I’d come back to my day job and sit at my desk. I’d feel so frustrated with the lack of progress I was making. So this fire was now thoroughly burning away in me and I realized it was time for a change. Now, in reality, I wish I’d realized that two years earlier, but hey, up until that point, I saw a future for myself. It definitely had the two body problem, my husband was working in the same city and moving both of us was kind of a difficult deal.

This is why I totally get the two body problem. By the way, COVID has made that so much easier because it’s so much easier now to get a remote job, than it ever has been. So I leaned into my network, by this point, I had built an extensive network. As I said, I was on all these boards and advisory committees, I’d had to learn how to fundraise, I had been nominated for various awards and won the 2016 HPCwire leadership award, that’s voted on by all of the HPCwire readers. So the community recognized something inside me, as much as I had huge imposter syndrome that this wasn’t what I was really about, but people were seeing me.

So I leaned into my network. I had friends and coaches and mentors who were able to help me realize that I had so much available to me. At this point I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted influence, I knew I wanted to change things. I was so frustrated at the lack of progress in improving equity, diversity and inclusion across the high performance computing sector, so that kind of lit a fire in me, but I was like, “Well, do I want to do that permanently?” So I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what my future was going to look like. I was approached by quite a few people, but honestly, nothing that they were saying was exciting to me.

And I was talking to a friend who needed some help understanding some technical job and a new client of hers, a small company who she was working with. They were sharing all this technical stuff with her and she was like, “I’m not technical. Can you sit down and help me understand?” I was like, “Sure.” This is one of the things to do, by the way, as a networker, is help people out, and it starts with your friends. So we sat down and honestly, as I was explaining to her what they were saying, I got damn excited about this company’s products. I was like, “Well, if they did this, they could do this, and this, and this.” They were looking to shake up and change the way we approach parallelisation of software. This was my jam. This was about democratizing access to supercomputers so that more people could use it, more people could do incredible science, more people could influence change and make the world a better place. And if you’ve been around here long enough, you’ll know that I’m here to change the world, that has been inside me for a very long time.

So the idea of a company doing something that helps more people positively change the world, I was like, “Hell yeah.” So I was telling my friend this, and she suggested to me that I meet this business owner. So we had dinner, my friend, the business owner and the co-founder and me. We had dinner, we just talked for hours. It just went on and on and on. Now at this point, the politics of this community, and this is something I know many of us struggle with, is how to navigate the politics of leadership and management. It doesn’t have to be icky. Politics has a very bad reputation these days, both Politics with a capital P, and politics in the workplace, with a lowercase P, but it doesn’t have to be icky, but I did understand it. I understand how we need to operate in those situations.

The beautiful thing is I could bring that to this small business. And I was talking to them about what they did and didn’t like, what was working, what was not working, what would be needed to make that product successful, and so I shared this with them. I asked questions and provided solutions. And this is the key to networking, have an honest, excited conversation about what they’re struggling with. I painted a picture of what this would look like, of if they did these things, what it would look like. Now, some people would argue I was giving everything away, but here’s the thing, the next day I have a coffee, because I think we were at a conference. I was asked if I would join the company because even though I gave away all this free value, and this is something that I talk about over and over again with everybody I speak to is, don’t be scared of giving stuff away because at the end of the day, unless you’re giving away proprietary secrets… And also we have to be careful of those things.

If you’re giving away ideas, they need somebody to implement those ideas. The best person to implement the ideas is the person that came up with them. And that’s what this company saw in me. So long story short, after three months of negotiation, I landed a job as chief business development officer, at the double of my salary, and negotiated working remotely because they wanted me to move countries initially, I was like, “No, no. Can’t do that, two body problem going on here.” There were other perks too, but one of the things I had to do was to negotiate a package that worked for me. And again, this is something you need as a skill if you’re going to get to the C-Suite, you’re going to get to the decision-making table, you need to be able to negotiate, not just on your own behalf, but on behalf of your team, on behalf of your coworkers, on behalf of your company.

And I actually remember my new boss saying to me, one of the things that really impressed him was my negotiating tools because to be in the C-Suite, you need to be able to negotiate. Now, it wasn’t icky, it wasn’t uncomfortable, it was a genuine, “Here’s what’s available to you.” And I was prepared to walk away, I knew where my red lines were. So those years of leading Women in High Performance Computing were finally paying off. Negotiation, networking, influencing positive change, they’d started with my mission of improving the representation of women in my community, and getting stuff done with the hardest group to lead, the volunteers. But finally, finally I was at the C-Suite.

So there you have it. There’s nothing more complicated about it than that. That’s my journey to the C-Suite no MBA’s not even a computer science or software engineering degree, despite the usual requirements for that type of role in that sort of company, including everyone else that they hired. Right? I got to write my own job description. This is one of the great things about networking your way to a job, is you can build your own job description that sits around your skillsets, sits around what you’re passionate about.

If you don’t then fit, you shouldn’t be working there anyway. None of us want to do a job where 60% of what we do is stuff we hate doing, right? So I was able to encourage them to see that there was a different way of doing this, and write my own job description. And this is something I see all of the most successful people I work with do. Applying for jobs will only get you get you so far. Sometimes you learn something amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the best jobs, the ones that really work, the ones that are, “This is meant for me,” are the ones that you create.

It takes time, it takes networking. That’s why during November I am talking about networking because it is your number one skillset, not just for elevating your career, but doing your job as well. And I also just want to remind you that you do not need to have the perfect set of experiences. I have worked with people who’ve pivoted throughout their career. Somebody I work with has moved into product management, even though a year ago she was told there is no way she’d do product management because she didn’t have the experience, and she’s not leading project management in a team. And this is all possible for all of us. When people are telling you they can’t do it, they just don’t have the imagination, I genuinely believe in that now, it took me such a long time to get there, but no doors are closed to us, despite what people will say.

I’ve had people tell me that all sorts of things weren’t possible for me and over and over again, I’ve ended up doing them, quite a lot of the time accidentally. And now when somebody says, “No, that’s not possible.” I’m like, “Well, do I want to do it? I’ll figure out a way to get there.” Sometimes I don’t want to do these things, fine, but if I want to do something, there is always a road. Other people are great for elevating you and are great for giving you insights, but you’ve got to remember that is one set of experiences they’re building on, you are your own unique person.

Now, I eventually left that company because they were pivoting away from HPC, and I was as excited about that. My role had shifted and I also, at the same time, had been realizing that what I love doing is what I now do. I love coaching and nurturing women, getting them to the C-Suite, getting to the leadership table. I was doing it voluntarily and I was like, “You know what? Now is the time.” So as that business was pivoting, I stepped back and set up my own business. And that’s where I am today, and I have never been as happy as I am today. But all of this is possible for you too, I want you to know that.

Wherever you want to go, whatever change you want to make in the world, there is a road and there is no one way to get there, there is no perfect track record that you need in order to get that. The only thing holding you back is your confidence. Yes. And that’s why I wanted to share earlier on in that story about how I turned up for that interview, the equality and diversity coordinator, with an attitude of, “You just need to hear that,” because I learned what confidence should feel like.

Now, I won’t tell you that I haven’t had huge imposter syndrome throughout my career, I have, as I’ve told you at the beginning of this episode, but what I’m able to now do is channel that feeling I have, that genuine confidence of, “Really folks, you just need to hear this.” And that is how I’ve got to where I am. I’m able to channel that, I’m able to turn up to networking and just have an excited conversation. There is no pressure on it for me to get something. I’m able to stand on stage in front of thousands of people and just be passionate about the subject I’m talking about. And now I’m able to run a podcast. You wouldn’t believe how much imposter syndrome I had about launching a podcast, truckloads, but you know what? I leaned into that feeling of confidence and realize it’s just what I need to do.

So, let’s finish off with a leadership mindset moment. It’s still relevant, even when I’m talking about my story, because confidence, yes, you guessed it. In case you’re new around here, a leadership mindset moment is an actionable tip to help adjust how you act or think, to make it easier to up-level on the topic of today’s podcast, which today is all about my journey to the C-Suite and therefore your journey to the C-Suite, more influence and more change. Because it doesn’t have to be the C-Suite by the way, right? That’s just where I ended up, but I know I could have had a massive influence and change in multiple routes and the bigger the company is, the less high up you have to go to have that level of influence and change, potentially, not always. Sometimes you have to go all the way to the top. There is no limit, my love. Do not put artificial limits on yourself.

So here’s the thing, the mindset I want you to cultivate today is belief. I managed this at every stage because I had belief in the need for change. And that lent me the belief I needed in myself because I was lacking belief in myself. My husband, who is a techie too, Lee, is able to really let me borrow his belief in me. He’s the first person I met, where I really trusted his belief in me because he knows the technical side of things, I would say, he’s the best software programmer I’ve ever met, I may be slightly biased. But he had belief in me, and so I was able to borrow a bit of that, but I realized that to really, really up-level I need to believe in myself. And that’s really hard to get, but you can learn to nurture almost… Fake belief isn’t quite the right word, but you can borrow belief from your future.

And the way I do that is, I’m here to make a difference. That feeling I had when I walked into that interview thinking, “I’ll never get the job, but they just need to hear this,” I borrowed the need, the belief, to turn up to that interview, by needing change. I was so frustrated, I channeled that frustration into belief and confidence. A lot of my early work and action was from frustration. It’s enabled me to move past my imposter syndrome, it’s a tactic that’s worked really well. Now I have better confidence and better control over my self-doubt, which by the way, go to tonicollis.com/dtsd to get yourself insights into all that self-doubt work I did earlier on, which I didn’t have a framework for, I just figured it out the slow way, so shortcut your way to success, my love. Go and get that course.

But in the beginning, we can definitely lean into frustration, even anger, to give us the action we need to overcome the self-doubt, because confidence comes after we have proof of success. We have to do something to get confidence. This is something I really get annoyed about, when people are like, “You can build confidence by doing all of this stuff.” It’s not actually true. What they’re building is action, because the reality is that building confidence is a misnomer, we can borrow confidence from action, from frustration, from anger and from others. But to really have confidence, takes action, stepping out of comfort zone and into the growth zone. So you have to, first of all, take action, then you’ll get confidence. So lean into frustration and anger to give you what you need, that belief to step out of your comfort zone and step into the growth zone, where exciting things happen.

Lean into it, use it, channel it into action. If frustration and anger is consuming you and you’re lying awake at night and irritated, leverage that, channel it and say, “What am I going to do with this? What action am I going to take?” And actively use it to take the action you’re procrastinating over. That’s your mindset moment is time, and I would say that’s the number one thing I’ve done other than networking to get myself to where I am today.

That’s it for today’s episode, if you love this, of course, go and check out that Ditch The Self Doubt mini free training over at tonicollis.com/dtsd. And if you enjoyed it, then please do go and share it with anybody else you think might benefit. I’ve put it out there for free for a reason, because I really want all of us to up-level. If you love this, share today’s episode with anyone who you think might enjoy a listen. I’ll be back next week, as we talk more about networking. For the whole of November, I am on a mission to help you use your networking to get you where you want to be. I will see you next week. Until next time, remember to stay on your tech leadership game, and follow your dreams because the world really does need that uniqueness you bring as a leading woman in tech.


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