“Without a doubt, the biggest thing I’ve ever battled…is my self-confidence,” Softcat’s Paris King said as she took the stage. Computer a CRN‘s Women in Tech Festival.
Softcat’s head of cloud communications shared three self-confidence tips with the hundreds of technology and channel professionals – both women and men – who attended the day.
In the opening morning, there were keynotes from the CTO of HSBC on the importance of diversity and inclusion for growth, and the theme of representation from an age perspective from Lesley Lloyd.
Next to take the stage – albeit virtually – was Softcat’s Paris King.
King talked about how he has overcome confidence issues during his nine-year tenure at Softcat which has earned him six awards.
He learned three main lessons, namely how to treat illness effectively, how to be quiet in meetings, and how to ‘cut’ important tasks.
“In my nine years at Softcat, I’ve been honored six times. Without a doubt, the biggest thing I’ve fought for in those nine years is my self-confidence – and did not disappear. [by management and her colleagues] though. I was really looking for a way to gain confidence quickly,” he said.
Treating the disease for good
At the start of her Softcat career, King admitted that she was “the definition of a woman who wants to be good”.
“I used to say ‘yes’ to everything. I didn’t have the courage to say ‘no’. But I got to the point where no one could achieve everything I tried so hard . Many times I have lost business money because of my hard work and not being able to do it,” he said.
The first part of the solution is learning how and when to say ‘no’, explains King, something he calls the ‘core matrix’ (pictured below) – which encourages you to divide tasks into urgent/non-essential and important/not important – helped him.
“Then it comes down to how the voice of “no” tells people how to be confident and comfortable enough to do that.”
King just searched the internet for words that could explain why he couldn’t do what was asked of him.
“As I got better at saying ‘no’, it became easier and I could clean it up and repeat it. It became part of my daily routine.
“I’m not the girl who says ‘yes’ to everything…
The silence was broken
Not being able to speak regularly at meetings was another challenge that King said undermined his confidence early in his management career.
This was exacerbated by the fact that she was the youngest member of the group, the only woman, and sometimes she overruled the people she had previously mentored.
King said his path changed overnight after he was introduced to the concept of the ‘doom loop’ (a perpetual downward spiral), and how it could be broken.
“The realization of the impact of that bad faith really hit home,” he said.
“After I woke up the next morning I went into a management meeting, which was the first time in two months that I really had a chance to have a conversation.”
King said he sometimes gets overwhelmed when dealing with work challenges that seem “too big” in size.
His advice is to “cut” the work into smaller portions, to make it more palatable, as he was shown how to achieve it on the love parachute challenge he did.
“I’ve done the same thing with every serious project I’ve ever done in my career,” he said.
“I break it down into bite-sized pieces and work on each piece. That means I can delegate some work to the best people on my team who are strong in those areas. Let’s go. “
In his role, King will lead a team of technical experts, overseeing Softcat’s business with Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Computing.
“Although I still have to work on some of these things, my lack of self-confidence doesn’t consume me like it used to,” he concluded.