Just like a movie, we all have villains in our lives who make us feel stupid, unloved, alone, and unworthy and it’s easier to turn a blind eye than face them head-on. We get overwhelmed with self-doubt that we fail to reflect on who we are and what we are really capable of. How do we build confidence in spite of this? If the imposter syndrome is getting to you, don’t miss this episode of Take Back Time as two-time bestselling author and Top 50 Keynote Speaker in the World 2022, Heather Monahan joins Penny Zenker to talk about building confidence. And how self-reflection and self-trust can help you break barriers and become your most powerful self. So listen in and learn how you can guard your space against external and internal aggressors and be able to step out and step up!
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Be Your Own Hero – How To Overcome Your Villains And Build Confidence With Heather Monahan
In this episode, we’re going to talk about some important topics like building confidence and things that help you to be more productive. There are things that we don’t necessarily think of when we think of productivity that makes all the difference for us to show up at our best. I’m super excited to have Heather Monahan with me. She is a superstar and a two-time bestselling author in this category. She’s got a new book that’s come out. She’s a top 50 keynote speaker in the world for 2022 and a podcast host, TEDx speaker, and many other things. I want you to know from her as soon as possible. Heather, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me.
People may not know you and your story. One of the bestselling books that you wrote was about confidence. The world has a challenge. Everyone has that inner feeling inside that says, “Am I enough?” I do. You talk about it and many people do. There’s imposter syndrome. What’s your story? How did this make your purpose to help people build their confidence?
It happened by accident. I grew up poor and have been working since I was nine years old. My whole focus was to make a lot of money because I didn’t want to be poor anymore. That led me to get into the radio business, which led me to ultimately becoming a C-Suite executive and named one of the most influential women in radio.
While I was ascending and collecting all these awards and paychecks, I wasn’t fulfilled with what I was doing. I started asking myself, “There’s got to be something more to all of this out there. I wonder what it is,” which ultimately led me to get fired 14 years into this one company that I’d worked for and been promoted 3 times. I ended up getting fired when the CEO I worked for became ill, and he elevated his daughter to replace him. She terminated me immediately.
I’m a type-A overachiever, so it was a big pivotal moment in my life. It ultimately led me down this new path, which was writing my first book, Confidence Creator, and sharing the blueprint on how to create confidence at any moment, launching my podcast, signing with HarperCollins Leadership, and then launching my speaking career. It led me down this different trajectory, which has been such a blessing and catapulted me into what I was meant to do from a purpose and meaningful standpoint, but I stumbled into it. It wasn’t something that I did by design.
A lot of people stumble into it. There’s this thing that people think that you know your purpose and you find it. We gather things up along the way. It’s those experiences that we have that shine a light on where we’re best needed. You didn’t have a lot of money so you were driven to build your career. When you get fired and divorced, when you talk about those types of things, it shakes your confidence. Where was your confidence level when you were building yourself over those years before you got fired? Were you super confident? What were you before the firing incident?
I believe that confidence ebbs and flows. When I first gave birth to my son, I wasn’t a confident mother. I was a rookie mother. I had no experience and I lacked confidence. My son has now grown, and I’m much more confident as a mother. It wasn’t a straight line. To look back on my life before I got fired, if I was going into a presentation for 1,000 people and I had done thousands of them, I’m super confident walking into that situation.
However, with my personal life back then, I was not confident at all. I was divorced. I doubted if I was worthy of love. I’m super confident in the gyms back then and I am still. It depends on different aspects of your life and at different times. Confidence is like a muscle that needs to be worked. The more work you put in and show up routinely and execute on that, the stronger you’re going to become. It has ebbed and flowed for me.
That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of it like it’s an ebb and flow but it is. Even as parenting and you used that as an example. Maybe you feel this way too. My kids are grown. In some ways, I feel more confident as a parent but in other ways, it’s always a new stage. As soon as you get used to that old stage, they change, and then you’ve got the next stage. There is that ebb and flow.Confidence is like a muscle that needs to be worked. The more work you put in and the more you show up routinely and execute on that, the stronger you're going to become. Click To Tweet
We change and we’re different. We have different approaches and we’re trying different things. At first, that can be challenging when we try a new strategy or something like that. You had this moment where you were fired. You were divorced. How did that shake your confidence? Divorce is common and that is a huge confidence shaker for people.
Divorce was such a gift for me. It gave me this opportunity to reevaluate my entire life to say, “How did I end up divorced with a one-year-old child?” I started asking myself those deep questions like, “Who am I that made these wrong choices? How did I come down this wrong path? How do I reconstruct things so that moving forward, I can do a better job to show up and leave my child?” That took me down a personal growth journey path that I hadn’t been as committed to before. It changed my life.
Those lessons that we get build our confidence. We learn how to be more resilient. Resilience is a muscle too. Maybe confidence and resilience come hand in hand. The more we let the two of them work together, the more we grow and feel comfortable with the uncertainty so that we can be confident even in uncertain situations. Would you agree with that?
In your book, you talk about a blueprint for confidence. Do you want to share a couple of tips for people who might be reading that say, “Look at you, you’re a beautiful woman, and have all this going for you, but I don’t?” What would you say to somebody who’s in a place with shaken confidence and could use 1 tip or 2?
Looking at somebody on the outside and forming your story about what their life is like and what is easy for them is a complete and total cop-out. I’d say number one, get real.
It’s a cop-out but it’s common. We create stories and make assumptions and excuses so that we don’t have to take the risk.
The work is to pause every time you catch yourself doing that and say, “Is this helping to develop my highest good?” It’s not. The answer is always to look in the mirror and not to look outside and think, “What is it about me?” If you see someone in your sphere attributing all their success to whatever you think that they have, there’s some resistance there that you need to say to yourself, “Am I jealous that I don’t have the success, or am I trying to come with excuses? If so, what is the next step that I can take to do something different?”
My first book, Confidence Creator, is all about the different steps people can implement in their life to form confidence, no matter what their situation is and where they are. I share a tremendous amount of low moments in my life when my confidence was wiped out and how I brought it back. Some of the different tactics in the book, the sneaky one that had haunted me for a long time, was self-deprecating humor.
In business, I had become very successful but I was still making jokes publicly about my blonde hair or blonde moment. I’m putting myself down. Ultimately, I share a story of a coworker of mine pulling me aside after and saying, “Do you realize you’re teaching people how to treat you? When you show up and put yourself down all the time, even though you think you’re doing it tongue in cheek being funny, you’re not earning any favor. You’re telling people to go ahead and put you down as well.” That was a big eye-opener for me.Data doesn't lie. Whether people like social media or not, it offers data and feedback for you. Click To Tweet
I also want to touch a little bit on your new book and where that’s headed. How did you go from confidence to the topic of overcoming your villains? They’re hand-in-hand, but what was the bridge for you to move to that?
Data doesn’t lie. I’m always looking at the data and social media. Whether people like social media or not, it offers data and feedback for you. After having launched my first book, I was getting a tremendous amount of DMs from people on social media saying, “What happened next?” My first book ends with me getting fired. My second book begins with me getting fired and talks about that journey from getting fired from Corporate America and then reinventing yourself and the challenges you need to overcome.
To your point, that confidence and overcoming your villains do go hand in hand. It’s so clear to me the importance of getting rid of the negative people in your life to become your most powerful and confident self. This isn’t something that I had embraced when I was younger. Instead, I had seen it the other way. I thought, “I’m working side by side with a woman who doesn’t like me, ignores me, and doesn’t treat me well.”
I turn a blind eye to her and continue on my path. I’m my best self. What I didn’t realize is when you turn a blind eye to bad behavior, it starts weakening you over time and you become a lesser version of yourself. You’ll never be your most confident, powerful self as long as you allow negative people who are trying to hold you back in your space. I kept getting questions about that. All the data was leading me to this need to write my second book, Overcome Your Villains.
That two-parter in the inner growth and look in the mirror, looking around you in the environment that you’re creating, and seeing that you’re creating an environment with the right people that are supporting you to bring out the best in you and helping you to move forward.
A big part of the book is sometimes the villain is ultimately you. For me, I had to get rid of the villains around me to discover that the biggest villain I was dealing with was the one within me. A lot of people share that. When you have a lot of villains around you, you’re too busy trying to deflect, protect yourself, and keep things on course.
You don’t have that reflective time to say, “Let me sit down for a minute and see what I’m thinking.” You’re always reacting to everybody around you. Once I cleared the deck and got rid of those villains, that’s when I had those first moments to say, “I’m getting a lot of negative feedback from me. I’m my biggest villain. I’ve got to figure out how I can overcome that.”
It’s easy to blame other people around us. If you eliminate those people, there’s only one to blame that’s left which is you for what is holding you back. That makes sense. What are 1 or 2 things that you’d like to share from your new book that may support people on their personal growth journey?
The new book, Overcome Your Villains, details a three-step process to overcome any adversity in business and life. I’ll share that process. It’s called BAK, which is Belief, Action, and Knowledge. I’ll use the example of when I got fired because it’s pretty relatable. The day that I got fired, I walked out of that woman’s office and kept saying, “I’ve lost everything.” Those are the moments where you have to stop and identify what simple shred of fact is within this belief that you’re holding.
When I did that, I realized I hadn’t lost my health, business expertise, network, business acumen, all my experiences, friends, or anything. The one thing I did lose was a paycheck. When I had dialed it down to that simple shred of fact, it suddenly wasn’t so overwhelming. I received many different paychecks from many different companies across my career. Suddenly, it was much more manageable than the idea of losing everything. That’s step one, dial that belief down to the most simple shred of fact.Get rid of the negative people in your life in order to become your most powerful and competent self. Click To Tweet
Step two is immediately you want to take action. My action step was I posted to social media, “I’ve been fired. If I’ve ever done anything to help you, I need to hear from you now.” That post went viral and landed me on the Elvis Duran show, which is step three, knowledge, be intentional about who you’re accessing knowledge.
Elvis Duran was light years ahead of me and had 10 million listeners a day listening to the show. Halfway through that interview, he looks at me and says, “Heather, you’re writing a book.” I wasn’t writing a book at that time but someone that was so far ahead of where I wanted to be, spoke of truth and belief into me. I was able to grab hold of that belief and run with it. Number 1) Dial belief down to the most simple shred of fact, 2) Immediately take some type of action and, 3) Be intentional about the knowledge that you seek and surround yourself with moving through the challenging time.
Maybe share with us one of the challenges that you had along that process. I’m always the devil’s advocate for people who are reading. They’re like, “It sounds like it came easy to you to write a book and fall into these next steps.” I’m sure that wasn’t the case. To put some more context and relativity to it, what was one of the biggest challenges that you had to overcome during that period as you were discovering those three steps? It’s not all of a sudden you were like, “I’ve got these three steps. I’m going to do them.” It’s in retrospect that you’re saying, “Here’s what supported you.” What were 1 or 2 of those challenges that people can relate to?
I had found success in Corporate America and a lot of people relate to this. You start thinking, “Maybe I’m successful because of the company, industry, title, or my team.” You start attributing your success to all these things outside of you and questioning, “Could I be successful if I didn’t have those things?” I went through this identity struggle of, “Who am I without that industry that I’ve been in for 25 years, without that team, company, paycheck, and title? Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was.”
Make the decision to abandon the labels. Drop the labels, blow up the lanes, and say, “I’m going to take my unique skills and talents wherever I want to go and go for it.” Start to become a little bit more comfortable living in that unknown because that’s where all the magic happens and the creativity, the book ideas, the podcast ideas, or the evolution to who you’re becoming come from. You allow for all of that when you do drop the labels and lanes and start showing up as yourself.
The magic happens in that uncertainty and unknown. Otherwise, we’re not getting creative. We’re stuck in old beliefs or ways of looking at things or what is versus what could be. That’s powerful. This show is about taking back time and productivity. I want to make the link. People are like, “Why are you talking about all this stuff about confidence, taking yourself forward, and personal growth?” How do you link that to productivity? Maybe first, we’ll start with what’s your definition of productivity and why and then what you do, what you teach, and how that links to productivity.
To me, productivity is tied back to passion and purpose in life. You can be productive at work doing the job that you have ahead of you. If you’re not committed or tied to that from some passion or bigger purpose level, what does it matter? What does it mean to me? I didn’t live my whole life like this. When I was younger, I used to think to get into work, get the job done, hit the KPIs, and get out of there. I realize life is so much more important than that. The legacy that you leave behind is what productivity is about. The message and the teachings for your children, the generations to come after you, and how you can impact and inspire others and do good in the world, to me, that’s what real productivity is about. It’s about legacy.
I agree that it’s passion and purpose. You might have some people who are thinking, “I’m not in a place where I can create a legacy.” Maybe they’re not yet practicing bigger thinking or thinking of potential. I used to take karate with my kids. They would sit us down and give a ten-minute thing at the end of the session about different types of leadership. One of them was about how every day we leave a legacy. In every person that we come in contact with and every interaction that we have, we’re leaving a legacy.
We’re touching people all the time, whether you’re a parent, a child at school helping another child, or whatever it is. That switched something for me on what it means to create a legacy. I wanted to maybe bring that up to see what your thoughts are on that and also have the readers maybe see another perspective around what they might have defined legacy as.
Like anything, it’s important to start asking yourself those questions. What is that legacy that you want to leave behind? It doesn’t have to be the biggest thing in the world but if you start thinking about those questions, that’s what can take you down a path to open up those possibilities and where you’re meant to be and go.Drop the labels and take your unique skills and talents wherever you want to go and go for it. Click To Tweet
It reminds me of a story that I tell sometimes when I’m talking about connecting to our purpose. People are doing their jobs day in and day out. They get caught up a lot of times with the minutiae and not with what the higher purpose is of what they’re doing and how it supports the organization. For instance, there was this man who was down on himself. He came into the doctor’s office. He was depressed talking about how he was worthless. He’s a hand worker who works for the Department of Transportation. My friend is a doctor who saw him when he came in. He said to him, “You save lives.”
It shifted his entire demeanor for him to understand that he was missing the higher purpose. He’s helping other people to get home to their families safely. That makes a whole big difference. We can look at whatever we do in a much connecting with a higher purpose or we can get caught up in the little thing. It’s important that we remember that no matter where we are in our lives and our abilities to create impact. I don’t know if you have any of those types of stories that come up for you that might also help some people who were thinking about, “How do I think bigger and connect what I’m doing with something greater that makes a higher meaning?”
I remember a mentor when I was younger who said to me, “Is this it? You just want to be in Corporate America, get to the highest level, and make the most money?” I said, “That’s a fair question. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s something more out there but I don’t know what that is.” He said, “Keep asking yourself the question.” That was something I would write on my to-do list every day. What is it that’s bigger out there?
Start asking those questions and be willing to receive those answers. Ultimately, that landed me on a board seat for a charity. I started doing a lot of charity work. I was working with City Year Miami for many years. That opportunity to get in and start doing charity work opened up my eyes to how much joy I received from giving back and helping others. That led me to stages.
I started emceeing, hosting our events, and getting great feedback. It led me down a different path that I would never have found if I wasn’t asking those questions, to begin with, which then comes full circle to what I do. It starts with being willing to ask the question and be willing to receive the signs that are going to show up for you.
Do you have a guiding question?
When I fumble or stumble, I ask myself, “What would God do in this situation?” I’m looking beyond myself, trying to take me back to a place of kindness and love, and doing good in the world. That’s ultimately finding joy in every moment. What does that look like? How can I find that at this moment?
Recognize our guiding question. If it’s like, “Why me?” or something that’s not creating positivity and having us look at things positively, over time you’ve come up with this question. It’s valuable for people to look at what questions are they constantly asking themselves. If it’s not a good one, we can change it. I’ve loved having you, hearing your story, and all that you have to offer. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you wish that I had asked you?
With my podcast, Creating Confidence, I dropped two episodes every week. We dive into so many different topics around how to get to the next level, how to challenge yourself to think bigger, and get yourself to go bigger. If anyone’s interested in learning more about those topics, check out the show, Creating Confidence with Heather Monahan.
What is a great website for them to go to? Where else can they reach you?
Thank you so much for being here, Heather.
Thanks for having me.
You realized that productivity is so much more. It’s not about time management. Time has nothing to do at the end, whether or not you were going to be productive. You see that these topics that we dive into are deeper and go into how you show up and look at the world from a different perspective. Work smarter, not harder. That’s the goal of this show. Thank you for being here. Make sure that you drop Heather a DM. Go check out her podcast. Subscribe to this show whether it’s Apple, Spotify or wherever you’re reading this. Go ahead and leave us a review. We’ll see you in the next episode.
- Heather Monahan
- Confidence Creator
- Podcast – Creating Confidence
- Overcome Your Villains
- City Year Miami
- @HeatherMonahan – Instagram
- Apple Podcasts – Take Back Time
- Spotify – Take Back Time
About Heather Monahan
Heather Monahan is a best-selling author X2, Top 50 Keynote Speaker in the World 2022, Podcast Host of Creating Confidence, TedX speaker and has most recently been appointed to the Board of Directors of Healthlynked Corp. Having successfully climbed the corporate ladder for nearly 20 years, Heather Monahan is one of the few women to break the glass ceiling and claim her spot in the C-suite.
As a Chief Revenue Officer in Media, Heather Monahan is a Glass Ceiling Award winner, named one of the most Influential Women in Radio in 2017, Thrive Global named her a Limit Breaking Female Founder in 2018 and in 2021 Girls Club named her the Thought Leader of the Year.
Heather’s book Confidence Creator shot to #1 on Amazon’s Business Biographies and Business Motivation lists the first week it debuted on Amazon. Forbes named Confidence Creator one of the 5 must have books for women in business in 2021.
Heather’s show, Creating Confidence, debuted on the Top 200 shows on Apple podcast. Her guests include Sara Blakely, Gary Vaynerchuck, Ryan Serhant, Kaitlyn Bristowe among many other noteworthy celebrities and entrepreneurs.
Heather was named one of the Top 40 Female Keynote Speakers in 2020 and Top 50 Keynote Speakers for 2022 by Real Leaders. Her TedX talk was promoted to TED and translated into 6 languages. Harper Collins Leadership published her new book Overcome Your Villains in November 2021.
Heather’s has been featured in USA Today, CNN, Forbes, Fast Company, Gary V’s Audio Experience and The Steve Harvey Show. Heather and her son Dylan reside in Miami.