Here's 5 Major Keys For Confidently Sharing Your Achievements

I wondered how many times we have both underestimated, undervalued and underrated our achievements. Just two weeks later, I went to a...

Workin' Girl

My friend Jessica is three years younger than me and as much as she watched me maneuver my way out of Tennessee to New York City, I, too, kept tabs on her trajectory to success in Chicago.

So on New Year's Eve we met up to laugh, cry and candidly share our wins with one another. During our dinner she revealed to me that she met up with some of her former high school classmates who made her feel bad for successfully "making it out" of Tennessee and having a fruitful career. She admitted to downplaying her experiences so that her former classmates would feel comfortable around her instead of the usual intimidation and jealously. It was disheartening to me that she felt the need to dim her light to spare someone else's feelings, and I wondered how many times we have both underestimated, undervalued and underrated our achievements.

Just two weeks later, I went to a networking event where I circled the room trying to connect with other professionals. As I began to introduce myself to some of the attendees, my friend, Stephanie interrupted one of my conversations and started to continue telling this person all of the small achievements that I've had in my career thus far. It was amazing that she could introduce me better than I could speak for myself. Afterwards, Stephanie pulled me to the side and asked me why I downplayed my achievements. Maybe I didn't think it was relevant, maybe I didn't think it was important, but I didn't know why I decided not to share my wins with this stranger.

I learned two important things from those encounters:

  1. First, I needed go back to the drawing board and rework the contents of my elevator pitch.
  2. Secondly, I needed to work on being bold and unafraid to let my achievements shine.

If I could master those two things, I could achieve the goals that I set for myself this year.

According to The Atlantic,

"Men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both, even though there's no difference in the quality of their performance."

Whether it's a promotion, negotiating salary, dating or even being able to confidently share our success with friends, women downplay their achievements in many ways. Communications professional and ex-Hill staffer Safiya Jafari Simmons was stunned when she came across the stats about the confidence gap between men and women. She decided to do something about the way women project their confidence in and out of the boardroom by founding Leap Executives Strategies.

I recently attended her Leap Luncheon in Brooklyn where she shared some major keys for confidently sharing your achievements in order to win:

Own Who You Are

Women are so often judged, labeled and categorized that it can feel very overwhelming and intimidating to imagine being completely and authentically ourselves when the consequences of such boldness are unknown. We must contend with so many different opinions of what is proper that we often prioritize the comfort of others over that of ourselves to "keep the peace" or to benefit the greater good. So we shrink; we make ourselves, our personalities and our skills smaller so as to be less infringing on others, less intimidating to others and to not rock the boat. From my purple Mohawk, to my colorful clothing and my unashamed devotion to Christ, I'm prayerfully and loudly leading a charge to encourage women -- especially women of color -- to own themselves, validate their own goals and chart their own course. We only live this one life. I'm not wasting mine building someone else's dream or watching others shutter their own.

Don't Shrink Or Diminish Your Achievements

Each of us is created to do something that no other person on this planet can do. Yes, there may be one million women in the arena you want to get into, but no one else will perceive, process or attack the problem the way you will.

My boldness is anchored in my faith and in the Word of God that says that He didn't give us a spirit of timidity. So I glorify my Creator when I share with others what I've been able to accomplish because of Him. I want to encourage as many women as possible to get that truth as well: it doesn't benefit anyone when we shrink or diminish our successes. It negatively impacts the lives of those attached to us, those watching us and those we're helping to groom. If fear holds you back from being bold, then do it to the glory of the One who created and purposed you. How can we influence a new generation of entrepreneurs, CEOs, thought leaders and game changers if we don't own our successes, accomplishments and advancements? How do we show to those coming up behind us what power they have if we don't model it for them? I want women of all ages and stations to see me -- loud, purple hair, bright clothes and joyfully declaring what I will and won't accept in my life and career -- and know that they can do and have the same and more.

Balance Humility With Confidence

It's imperative that we do two things in all of those scenarios. First, we enter the scenarios with a mission to hear and truly listen. Second, that we enter the scenarios strategically, knowing that we're a value-add and that we deserve good things. In networking situations, many women avoid strategically approaching and interacting with established, successful or celebrity folks because they don't want to be categorized as pushy, or they don't know what to say. Most often, if we'd make the first move - just approach, introduce ourselves and extend our hand for a handshake - what follows will flow naturally. We must get better with strategically growing our networks.

If we want to climb the ladder in the industry we're in, or jump into a new arena or land a new client, think about the people who are farther along than we are in the area and then set to the business of making them a part of our network. In interviewing and negotiating, we have to balance humility with confidence. Yes, we want potential employers to think we're a good catch, but we also have to have the mindset that we're evaluating whether a potential employer is good enough for us. Is that company good enough for your skill set? Will they complement your interests and talents and boundaries? Will they stretch you and develop you in the areas you need and want? Interviewing is a two-way street and negotiating is not giving away your skill set.

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches must be a few things: clear, compelling, concise and pithy. You literally have seconds to introduce yourself, explain what you're doing, and tell your audience why they should care. Talk confidently about who you are, what you're talented at, and how that/those talents could benefit your audience. I worked with an amazing coach, Suezette Robotham at Go Higher and Hire LLC, to craft mine because the language is so specific. I'm a huge fan of soliciting help with these types of things - résumés, cover letters, and LinkedIn pages as well - because first impressions are priceless!

Be Mindful Of Your Audience

I always tell the women at my Leap Luncheons and who I interact with in general to be discerning about with whom they discuss their ideas, wins and plans. Not everyone knows how to support us when we win, especially when our victories don't look like what everyone else is doing. Things like starting a new business, pursuing a second career or starting over in a new industry can look very scary to people for whom that is not their purpose. Very often it isn't that they aren't happy for us, but their fear -- founded in their desire that we succeed and their love for us -- ends up looking like disdain or even envy or judgement. Be thoughtful about who you share that information with and show grace to friends and family who don't respond in the way you expected.

Sometimes it isn't that they aren't happy for you, it's that they love you so much that they don't know how to show anything but concern.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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