How to gain confidence

Learning to SPEAK UP and voice your opinion at school, in meetings, or  at work is a vital skill that only comes with practice. You have to practice sounding confident until you actually start believing in it.

The video below reminds me of a great quote by the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 Company, Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO or Xerox, she said:

ursula-burns-quote Read More

Black Lives Matter – Jesse Williams Speech

Jesse Williams was honored for his activism around Black Lives Matter at the BET Awards 2016 last night.

His powerful speech about justice, equality and cultural appropriation is below: If the video doesn’t play…please see below for the FULL TRANSCRIPT OF HIS AMAZING SPEECH.


“Peace. Peace. Thank you Debra. Thank you, Nate Parker. Thank you, Harry and Debbie Allen, for participating in that. Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight — I just want to thank them for being here and teaching me to focus on comprehension over career. They made sure I learned what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also, thank you to my amazing wife for changing my life.

“Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

“Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.

“Now, [standing ovation] I got more, y’all.

“Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich.
“Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012, than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.

“Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back. To put someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid with brands for our bodies. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we pay all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.

“Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight here, just a little sidenote. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”


Never lead with the negative


I ran into a colleague of mine at Starbucks last week and this was our conversation:

Her: Oh my gosh, hi Maja, I didn’t think I’d run into anyone. Ugh, I look like friggin’ shit. I haven’t even had a shower yet.

Me: [looks at watch, it’s 2:00pm?!?!] —Hi, how’s it going?

Her: Ugh, sorry I look like such total crap, I honestly was just going to pop in for a latte before going home to shower. I was running errands and then I was going to exercise this morning and then obviously shower,  but then I didn’t finish my work from last night, had a conference call….and then…….BLAH. BLAH. BLAH.

Oh. My. Goodness. What’s wrong with this conversation??

She led with the negative!!! NEVER, EVER, LEAD WITH THE NEGATIVE. 

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Amy Schumer 160lbs and sexual

Here’s Amy Schumer accepting an award at the Glamour Women of the Year event last year. It’s an older clip, but a good one. Another example showing you don’t have to be 110 pounds to have confidence, to be sexual. A reminder that bodies come in different sizes. We’re all worthy of having confidence and sexuality. And damn it, beauty shouldn’t be the #1 goal for women. What about success? What about knowledge? What about smarts?

Our self-worth shouldn’t be tied to our appearance. Our confidence shouldn’t be bound by the inches of our hips.

The reason I love Amy Schumer so much is that she’s SO smart, SO witty, and SO empowered. She’s her own boss and she’s challenging the dominant notion that women’s worth is tied to their looks. She’s also prolific and writes, produces, acts, and does stand-up at such a ferocious pace that makes me want to step up my game.

(Now I need to find other videos examples, but with non-White women……much more difficult to find on-line….which is problematic, obviously)

Control the conversation


As women we need to take the lead during conversations, because more often than not, someone is interrupting us, ignoring our input or worse, taking our ideas. Damn, can I have my microphone back?

Take the lead. When you get interrupted, don’t back down. When you get heckled or sneered at, keep going, don’t get frazzled (think like a comedienne. What would Amy Schumer do if heckled? She sure as hell wouldn’t freeze up and run off the stage). Read More

STOP self-correcting when speaking.

public speaking mistakes

Ever hear someone stop and start speaking over and over again?? It goes something like this:

Today I will discuss how fear leads women to make poor decisions. Well, I don’t mean to say that fear–OK, let me start again. It’s not that I’m saying all women make poor decisions. It’s just that some people because of fear, or maybe it’s not fear all the time…..Even though men make fear based decisions, I’m just speaking about women. I guess I could have included more details about men, but since this is a conference for women…..maybe that’s something we can look into for next time.

What are you talking about??  No one really knows.  whats your point Read More

TMI……you can’t hit delete with public speaking.


Whether you’re speaking in front of an audience, during a conference call, on Skype or in a meeting, giving your audience too much information (too much unnecessary, pointless information) is a career mistake. This mistake can definitely change how people view you and your capabilities.

I know so many intelligent women who give such egregious amounts of TMI that even though I know them and know they’re smart, I secretly start believing they are idiots. I convince myself they’re incompetent simply by how unprofessional they sound. Read More

Vocal Fry —anti-feminist way of speaking??

vocal fry

Vocal fry is a form of crackling or vibrating tone infamous with reality television stars.

The latest research from Duke University suggests that women who use vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less intelligent and less trustworthy. Women who use vocal fry are deemed less hireable!  

It’s usually employed as a way to appear sexy and seductive, but really it’s just super annoying to everyone else, especially your potential employer. Read More


Body language

Before your next public speaking engagement (whether it’s in front of 4 people at the office or 450 in a lecture hall), you need to rehearse, practice & ASK FOR FEEDBACK.

In my ALL IN Social Club on campus, I hand out this chart so that everyone can evaluate each other objectively.

Use this chart yourself and ask your colleagues to circle your problem areas.  Read More

Women I love – Fortune Feimster

I love that the Conan show always showcases such great comedic talent, veterans, newcomers, women (yes, women are FUNNY!).

I’ve seen this clip about 32 times. Every time I need a break from my work, I take 4 minutes and watch Fortune. I can basically recite her entire set.

Here is Fortune Feimster performing on the Conan O’Brien show February 2014.

Example of a Poor Opening Statement – Alicia Silverstone

Here is an example of a poor opening statement.  I’m not hating on this speaker….I just want to show you an example of some of the things I’ve been speaking about regarding weak opening statements.

This is the actress Alicia Silverstone speaking about her book “The Kind Diet” (which I own, by the way).

Start watching at the 0.40 second mark until 1:28.

You’ll notice she does many opening statement mistakes.

  • She looks a little frazzled 
  • She starts by “thanking” everyone.
  • She tells everyone how “honored” she is to be here.
  • She mentions she’s “excited
  • She plays with her hair.
  • She walks away to get a drink of water.
  • She starts speaking, then stops and back tracks, then begins again…….