Self-Doubt and Creativity: How to Overcome The Fear of Putting Yourself Out There
The memory of my first “real” marketing job interview remains crystal clear to this day. Applicants were asked to do a presentation on how they would market the Top Gear Festival – a world-renowned motoring event – in Durban, South Africa. The big day had finally arrived and I was ready for my moment in the sun, to prove to my soon-to-be Marketing Manager that I was indeed the forward-thinking, innovative strategic young marketer she’s been seeking.
You have more to offer than you think
As I eagerly awaited my turn, I noticed that the applicant before me, leaving the daunting, fate-determining presentation room, carried a new Apple Mac laptop from which to present. At that moment, to my despair I mentally exclaimed, “Oh my God. My presentation is on an A1 sheet of cardboard with an active imagination poured all over it in the form of a spider diagram. A colourful one at that. Great.”
There were many thoughts that rushed into my 21-year-old brain at that point. The first of which was, “Head for the door! They’ll never know you were here!”. My first instinct was certainly panic, followed by some embarrassment, and then probably some anger, “How could I be so silly?”. Regardless, as soon as I heard, “Tash-Mika. Please come in, it’s lovely to meet you”, I gulped but knew with all certainty it was time to get in there and own that A1 sheet of cardboard as if Steve Jobs himself put his signature on it.
Focus less on Insecurities
And so I did. I focused less on my insecurities and poured my ambitious young-adult soul into my hand-drawn presentation, articulating with precision my thought-processes and rationale of the strategy at hand. I made it “mine”, because it was. It was differently and uniquely, mine. In that moment of confidently owning my bona fide approach, I was proud of my presentation and decided never to be fearful of putting myself – my true, authentic self – out there.
Months later, after getting the job, my then-Marketing Manager confessed that it was indeed the good old spider diagram that captured her attention. In all its old-fashioned, nostalgia-drenched glory, it stood out from the crowd and cut through the clutter of even technologically superior, more modern executions. I had more to offer than I thought.
Aspire to steer your strategic approach in the direction of authenticity
To be clear, I’m certainly not encouraging anyone to take ten steps back in life and abandon technology entirely to land your message. I definitely do, however, aspire to steer your strategic approach in the direction of authenticity. I strongly encourage you – whether entrepreneur or career professional – to embrace your creativity, uniqueness and charisma when approaching a task and put it out into the world without prioritizing your fear of judgement. In the now seemingly cliché but relevant words of Tom Hopkins, “You are your greatest asset”, there is no one else out there quite like you – own it.
Since my spectacularly exciting time with Top Gear, I’ve worked in various industries as a Marketer and Brand Manager, namely; Cross-Category Consumer Research, Alcohol and Skin Care. I learned along the way that your tertiary qualifications tend to count less than two things – the experience you’ve gained, and your charisma. My interview experiences have shown me that interviewers respond best to confidence. This includes confident answers (always prepare accordingly) and confidence within oneself. I’m referring to the kind of confidence that that beams undeniably from within and reflects in your smile, mannerisms and gestures with enthusiasm.
Unlock your charismatic potential
Often, it will be your charisma that serves you whilst you are feeling like an A1 sheet of cardboard paper amid a sea of expensive Apple Mac laptops. The key to unlocking your charismatic potential is a willingness to get out there no matter how intimidating it may be. Present yourself, your passion and an immense willingness to learn. Charisma goes a mighty long way, and you may just find that it’s your trump card.
For me, charisma, along with a bit of luck, has been the driving force that’s taken me out of the comfort-zone of my home town and into the boardrooms of multi-national companies. It’s brought me into the lives of many inspiring career women (and men) and has proven time and time again to be my greatest asset.
Be resourceful to achieve your goals
2018 was the year I found myself tasked with the exciting opportunity to expand the reach of two small craft spirit brands in South Africa. With a rather miniscule Marketing budget that could not afford me the luxury of above-the-line marketing, I soon realized that I would have to be resourceful to achieve my marketing goals of awareness and reach. It was at this point of my career that I began to truly understand the power of networking.
It takes a significant amount of courage to approach big companies, big brands and ‘big people’ with your seemingly tiny ideas. I found myself meeting with top SA entrepreneurs and publishing houses in Johannesburg, influencers, event’s organisers, top restaurant and bar owners, local celebrities and even mingling at Universal Music Studios in my quest to grow my brands. Did something come of every single one of those interactions? No. Did I gain partnerships, influencer support and free editorial features in a top SA newspaper and in-flight magazine? Yes. Was this accomplished with little to no budget and whole lot of effort and energy? Also, yes.
I kept my interactions with people genuine, sincere and energetic. In doing so, I formed strong bonds with those I authentically connected with, created excitement and in turn encouraged a desire for people to want to support me, regardless of what I was selling.
ADOPT AN ENTREPRENEURIAL APPROACH
In this particular marketing role I did not have a defined job spec. My job simply required me to ‘create awareness and move product’ with a microscopic budget. As the Marketing Manager (and sole member of the Marketing team), I took it upon myself to assume the role of a rep, a PR agent, events planner, social media manager, brand ambassador and even a product trainer from time to time. I adopted an entrepreneurial approach, embracing the vulnerability that comes with ‘putting yourself out there’ whilst taking initiative to achieve the goals at hand.
lessons that helped me overcome fear
At the core of overcoming your fear of putting yourself out there, is the whole-hearted belief and understanding that change awaits you on the other side of self-doubt. Through this personal evolution you could meet your potential business partner, a mentor, a future employer, or a like-minded friend.
To overcome your fear, I hope you will remember some of the key lessons I learned along my journey:
- You have more to offer than you think – even when you’re feeling like an old-school, hand drawn spider diagram on a sheet of cardboard.
- Charisma goes a long way – your uniqueness is your greatest asset.
- Networking can create magic – keep your interactions meaningful and genuine to gain the support of not only your products, but you as an individual.
- Take entrepreneurial initiative – Don’t be afraid to assume multiple roles if and where necessary, if your passion is truly to achieve the goals at hand.
Fear should not be placed at the forefront of your decision-making. It’s served me well to embrace fear, like any other emotion, and let it go as I deep dive into the unknown – holding on tightly to the security of who I am and what I have to offer. Whether its leaving your hometown, applying for a position you feel is out of your league or starting your own business, begin with understanding that you are your ultimate asset…and take the plunge.
Tash-Mika is a Marketing and Communications Professional based in Cape Town. Currently the International Brand Manager at a premium skin care company, she has a passion for brand strategy, ethnography and human behavior. In order to be good at what she does for a living, she believes understanding people is important! Tash-Mika feels a strong affiliation toward the Future Females movement as it is an embodiment of a powerful community. She loves that through this platform, women are able to feel empowered as opposed to intimidated – as they often are in a world where men still dominate the business landscape. She wants to share her experiences with like-minded ambitious women and form meaningful connections.