8 Women Leaders in B2B Share How They Overcome Self Doubt
Growing up, girls are taught to be quiet and play nice. As they grow up, there is a societal expectation of women in the workplace to be presentable, soft-spoken, and warm. Yet time and time again, women in leadership have continued to share external and internal struggles with playing or breaking out of these roles. Eventually, these struggles can have a lasting impact on their mental health, careers, and confidence in overcoming challenges in the workplace.
We wanted to share how leading women in marketing are dealing with and overcoming, their moments of struggle and self-doubt. Because let’s face it, it’s all too common.
And that is exactly what the motive is behind this blog. To empower women!
The bad news is that questioning ourselves and self-doubt may never truly go away, but the good news is that we have an army of women willing to share what helps them win that fight every day. In either case, women should feel safe enough to count on one another, share their journey, and amplify each other’s voices.
Let’s get going, ladies. We got this! 💪
Lauren Alt Kishpaugh, Vice President of Marketing at Postal.io
“I don't let myself ruminate too much on situations that I cannot change. Ruminating only creates negative patterns in your brain that add to self-doubt. Instead, I allow myself a few minutes to sit with my thoughts, reflect on how I could have better handled a situation and accept the fact that I am imperfect.
If I am continuously learning and improving that's enough. At Postal, we have a 1% better mantra - try and be 1% better each day instead of strive for perfection.”
Alison Hayter, Director of Product Marketing at Loopio
“No matter how competent you are, self-doubt is always going to creep up now and then. When it does, I love to open up my "Happy Folder". It lives on my desktop, and it contains screenshots from emails, Slack messages, Zoom chats, and more. These are screenshots of interactions with people praising me for my work on a project or responding positively to a presentation I've given, or sometimes just telling me they enjoy working with me.
I'm a "Words of Affirmation" person, and I find that nothing gives me a swell of confidence faster than seeing the overwhelming evidence that I am indeed good at my job, according to the people I work with. Looking back on past successes helps to remind me that I am up to the task and will be able to handle whatever current challenge I'm facing!”
Jessica Guffey, Account Director at OH Partners
“This might be oversimplifying, but smiling and laughing tends to be the best remedy — regardless of what the source is. Sometimes it’s chatting on the phone with someone I trust; other times, it’s laughing at my favorite creators on TikTok (who tend to be farm owners with adorable animals). Seeing and hearing other perspectives — from your friends, family, or strangers on TikTok — forces you to reset a bit and break the negative self-talk loop.”
Emily (DiBrito) Brady, Creative Content Lead at Sweet Fish Media
“I once heard someone say, “Fear loses its power when you speak it out loud; it cannot live in the light.”
In a very similar way, I think self-doubt loses a lot of power when we take action instead of letting the things that scare us keep us down. For me, overcoming self-doubt looks like bringing those negative thoughts into the light and then vanquishing them with action. Once you do that, you prove to yourself that you are capable of that thing you didn’t think you could do, and you grow in confidence from there!”
Emily Sankaran (Ross), Sr. Demand Generation Manager at Planful
“Reminding myself that everyone experiences impostor syndrome has been a truly comforting revelation. If I'm nervous about going into a meeting with a senior leader or intimidating executive, I try to reframe it as a casual conversation among colleagues and friends, human to human. The longer I'm in the workforce, the more I see that the path to true confidence is in being inherently comfortable with who you are — and that you'll know you're in the right spot when you can let your most authentic self shine.”
Rachel Cottam, Director of Editorial Strategy at Clearlink
“The truth is I don't always overcome self-doubt. I don't always overcome that imposter syndrome. One of the habits that Sally Helgeson mentions that holds women back is this tendency to ruminate. And when we say something stupid, we just replay it in our head over and over again, but when we're talking about challenging issues, that's bound to happen.
And so if we're going to be the people who raise our hand and say “Hey, this isn't working” or “That was a sexist comment. Can you rephrase that?” We can't allow ourselves to ruminate on it. We're going to make mistakes and that's okay. We're in the arena, we're fighting the battle and we're taking on ourselves this responsibility to be the voice. And when we voice our concerns, it's not always going to be perfect. It's going to be messy, but I try and tell myself - Do I feel proud of that moment? Was I present? Was I coming from a place of love? And if that's the case, then I try and move on.
It doesn't always work. But we have to just lean into our strengths while acknowledging that we have gaps and that we're going to say things in not the best way.”
Catherine Dummitt, VP of Marketing at Narvar
“Self-doubt will never go away (unfortunately). As you progress in your career and life, you continuously encounter new challenges and situations that are new, exciting, and frankly scary. And, we as women, naturally will question if we’re “cut out for it.” Recently I read a great post from Kara Loewentheil, and she cited the below:
“And if a woman has spent her whole life thinking thoughts that create insecurity, anxiety, and imposter syndrome…then suddenly putting her in a board room or in a relationship or anywhere else isn’t going to change her thought process. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you get a better boss, if you get a better boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, how much society changes…if you don’t know how to get the internalized patriarchy out of your brain, it will continue holding you back in ANY set of circumstances you may experience.”
For myself, creating processes and routines have helped me stop self-doubt in its tracks. What does that look like?
- It looks like me listening to pump-up music before a big meeting, presentation, date, or wherever doubt may be staring me down (cue Cardi B).
- It looks like me stating affirmations to myself daily (Instagram has great accounts to follow like this one).
- It looks like me, standing in my apartment, inside office bathrooms, and many other locations power-posing (I prefer “The Performer” stance).
- It looks like me reviewing and reflecting on past moments of praise (hey, a little third-party validation never hurt anyone!).
- It looks like me surrounding myself with people who support, empower, challenge, and celebrate me (and vice-versa); having a supportive community is what can transform you (mentally) from good to great.
There is no single “fix” beyond setting a routine that works best for yourself; we’re all different. The one thing to remember is that Rome was not built in a day; this is a journey. It’s just like a gym regime, you won’t see results today but you will notice a drastic difference in your own ability 30 days down the road.”
Srishti Chugh, Director of Customer Success & Solutions Engineering at Opensense
“Self-doubt is normal, and everybody faces it. It's the most natural emotion/thought. I do think our minds are capable of great things and can influence change in our physical beings. Mind over matter, always! Usually, when I face self-doubt, I have to deliberately ask/tell myself the following:
- What are the worst and best-case scenarios?
- How would someone I consider an expert and look up to, handle this?
- How important is the situation to me to successfully complete?
- If I don't go for it, then how will it be successful at all? I need to try.
- "Failure is just an outcome that's different than the one I set out to achieve." - Sandler trainer Matt Saia.
Usually, after I ask/tell myself things like this, I am able to overcome the doubt and go forward. It also helps to have a strong support system, whether it's colleagues at work or family and friends in my personal life when I don't feel confident in myself. Usually, I either leave the situation having achieved the desired outcome, or having learned an important lesson. It's a win-win!”
To learn more about Srishti, follow her on LinkedIn.
There you have it!
Whatever we might want to add after these brilliant ladies would simply be redundant, so we’ll finish this article with a quote from another powerhouse lady.
“What is the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one, she’s already had everything she needed within herself. It’s the world that convinced her she did not.” - Rupi Kaur