Build Your Confidence: Step Up And Own Your Path With Emily Jaenson

Penny ZenkerTake Back Time Podcast

Take Back Time | Emily Jaenson | Build Your Confidence


Confidence lets you see the mountain of success as a steady incline you can conquer with optimism and determination. But when you are not confident, you see the mountain of success as a looming giant with shrouded mists that whisper in your ears to stop you from conquering it. In this episode, Emily Jaenson, the next-level innovator and leader, shares tips to build your confidence and conquer the road to success. Her “behaviors to build confidence” will empower you to step outside your comfort zone. Remember, confidence is a muscle that strengthens with use, so take charge and start building yours today! Join Emily Jaenson in this episode. Emily Jaenson

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Build Your Confidence: Step Up And Own Your Path With Emily Jaenson

I’m always looking to have people who are going to challenge you and going to support you. They’re going to help you be at your best so that we can work smarter. We’ve all had enough of working harder. It doesn’t work. Let’s tap into some experts who can help us to work smarter in every aspect of our lives. I’m excited for this conversation. Emily Jaenson is with us. She’s praised as a next-level innovator and inspiring leader who lives to her motto, “Be so good that others won’t forget you.”

She’s had an amazing TED Talk, Six Tips for Building Your Confidence. It’s had over three million views. Pretty impressive. If anybody is aware of having that many views, it means that it went viral and people are excited about this topic. We know that you guys are excited about this. She’s worked with Fortune 500 companies, sports organizations, national conferences, and much more. She also has an amazing and highly ranked podcast Leadership is Female. She’s been featured in lots of interviews and things like that. We’re excited to get started to talk to Emily. How are you?

I’m great. Thanks for having me.

Let’s dig right in. Why does confidence have an impact or value on us working smarter? How can we get more out of life when we’re confident?

Where do I start? It is hugely instrumental in helping us to reach our goals. Whether those are in the workplace or at home in your personal life, you need the confidence to challenge yourself to exit your comfort zone and pursue your next biggest opportunity. Many of us lack confidence. Confidence is a skill.

Many believe that you were born with it or you weren’t. That’s simply not true. Confidence is a skill that you can build over time. Some people might say, “I’m confident enough. I got this.” That’s wonderful to believe that confidently in yourself. The thing with any skill is that you’re not always at an A-plus level. Even if you’re the world’s greatest golfer, you have a bad day. These confident behaviors teach you how to continuously exit your comfort zone to grow your confidence to get through hard things and challenge your next biggest goals.

I want to pop in there because there is a lot of stuff to unpack then we can continue to move on with it. What I’m hearing you say is that it’s the confidence that helps us to go outside of our comfort zone. What about day-to-day things as well? Is it just for growth and for getting to the next level or is it also for everyday interactions?

It’s for everything. It integrates into our entire life. Every morning, when you wake up, a lot of us are using our online calendars. They’re plugging into our phones. You’re checking to see what you’ve signed yourself up for. Depending on how you feel that day, that can feel energizing or it can feel like, “I’m not sure that I’m prepared. I don’t know if I’m good enough.” You can start this negative spiral pretty quickly.

If you have worked on your confidence, if you’ve prepared to be your best, then your everyday challenges become a little bit easier. I’ll give an example of a real-world scenario. Something as simple as attending a child’s birthday party. Let’s say you have a kid in preschool and they’ve been invited to their first birthday party. People who lack confidence could be incredibly overwhelmed by that situation.

We are so much more tuned in to our anxiety than we ever have been before, and new situations, new places, and new people can set us off guard. It’s important to understand, first of all, your why for this basic situation. This can be applied to attending a networking event, giving a pitch at work, going on a first date, or running a race. Understanding your why. Why did you sign yourself up to do this thing?

In the child’s birthday party situation, it’s important for my kid to make friends and see these people outside of the school environment. Maybe that’s the number one piece of your why. Maybe you also want to understand and get to know the parents so you know who your kids are hanging around. That’s another piece.

You’re like, “Now I know why I’m dedicating three hours with my Saturday to going to this thing that I maybe don’t want to do.” Once you get there, you’ve got to remember those pieces as well like, “This is why I showed up.” Rather than standing in the corner on your phone or passively engaging with only your kid, you’re getting around the room, saying hello to people, meeting those individuals, and making a useful time out of this experience. It takes confidence in yourself and knowing your why to do that.

It’s so interesting because we’ve heard connect with your why and how important it is to achieve your goals and to push yourself. It’s an interesting aspect of how it can give you more confidence. Now that you’re saying that, I can connect that because we become more connected with ourselves and it connects us with others because very often, our why isn’t just about ourselves.

It’s about something bigger, then we can get outside of what’s in our way and our mind like, “I don’t know these people. They’re going to judge me,” or whatever might be happening. It’s an interesting aspect. We do have strategies that are cross-contextual and work in some areas and then can work in others. This is a great example where I hadn’t thought of that, but I can see how that would strengthen somebody’s resolve and confidence, and stepping into that.

What happens afterward is what’s so important. You went and you did that thing, whether it was a networking event, the birthday party, or the pitch. You survived and you’re more adaptable after that. You’re more ready to do that the next time, which makes you more confident that you can succeed in those situations.

It’s all about getting out there, getting those reps, understanding why you’re doing it, and helping to build your confidence for the next time. You’re engaging in a public situation. You’re at that networking event, giving that pitch, and you’ve survived. The thing is our brains like to keep us in this comfort zone. Inside this comfort zone, if you don’t leave it, over time, your confidence can shrink. It can retract. You have to continue to push yourself and get uncomfortable to understand what you’re capable of. That grows your confidence. There’s a lot of research on what more confident employees can do for their businesses and also what more confident people can achieve in their lives.

We’re building a muscle. It’s interesting when you say it’s to make us uncomfortable. To me, it feels like it’s what makes us comfortable. One could look at it either way because as we step into that and connect with our why, it makes us feel more comfortable in why we’re taking action. It’s all in the perspective that you’re looking at, but stepping outside your comfort zone builds resiliency and confidence in that way to continue to do that. That’s very interesting. You said you had a couple of skills. Stepping into your why and connecting with that is one of them. What else can people do to build that skill?

Building Confidence

I’ll give you a great behavioral tip. Before we jump in, I wanted to say a little more about the discomfort piece. Getting uncomfortable leads to comfort, and then you’re in comfort again because you’ve grown.

It’s a cycle.

You’re going through this cycle of discomfort to comfort. The reason I wanted to reiterate that is so that your audience can understand that is completely normal. Sometimes, we don’t give ourselves a break to say, “Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep having these feelings or why is this so hard?” We’re all feeling that way.,

Anytime, you have to push a little bit harder, it doesn’t feel great at first, but then you learn. Be a little bit more ease. You get more confident in that situation, then you grow. It’s completely normal. That leads me to the behavior. How do you get into that area of discomfort? It’s hard. I give this example a lot of times.

Formerly, I was the general manager of a triple-A baseball team. If you know anything about baseball, it’s Major League baseball then you enter the Minors, Triple-A is the highest level of affiliated baseball and I was the GM of the team. As a woman, they’re used to seeing guys in the clubhouse on the field leading in these organizations. Things were greatly uncomfortable for me at first as I was showcasing what I could do and how I could lead this team.

There’s one instance where we were about to start a game. It was televised. It was a Thursday night. It was probably the third game in the series. I had met the manager of the opposing team. We had gotten into the groove. The homestand was going off without a hitch. I came down from my office. I was standing on the concourse and I watched the opposing team exit the clubhouse. They were wearing a uniform color that matched our team.

If you know even the basics of sports, teams have to wear opposing colors so you know who’s on what side, even in baseball. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I want to pretend I didn’t see that and go back up to my office and maybe nobody will notice. I was like, “If I want to be the GM who is a leader and who stands up for what’s right and what’s true to the game, I got to talk to this guy.”

I went down on the field and I could feel my heels sinking into the dirt on the warning track. I looked at him and I said in my head, “3, 2, 1, go.” As soon as I hit go, I started walking towards him and he saw me. There was no U-turn. That counting, “3, 2, 1, go,” got me started and the momentum kept me going. I had that uncomfortable conversation. I learned after that situation what I could do to prevent this from happening in the future. I learned that I could confront these situations and I would live through them. It grew my confidence as a GM in that operational side of the business.

There’s a reason why we count down because if we say, “1, 2, 3,” you could say, “4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.” You’re going to keep going on and on. There’s something about a countdown. I love the sports analogy because a countdown is used all over sports. You count down and you go. The game starts or you count down and the game ends. There’s this urgency to get the thing done. You can use that tactic to get through and engage in those difficult situations where you’d rather turn on your heel and run back up to your office. The next time you have to have that critical conversation, enter a networking event with cheap beer and warm wine, but there’s a person that you need to meet, “3, 2, 1, go,” add right in.

You can’t allow that space to wear that negative self-talk or whatever can creep in. I see it as if you don’t have a countdown, what happens is it’s like a rock that hits a windshield. It makes that first initial little thing. If you don’t catch it, it starts to splinter in all different directions. I see it like that. Your self-talk and stuff can get totally out of hand if you’re not staying clear on what it is that you want to follow through with. It’s in that moment. That’s a great tip, a little brain hack.

It reminds me whenever I hear that. Mel Robbins talks about the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, so the five-second rule. Very similar type of thought. It makes me think of a rocket launch. It’s ready to go, like do that thing. I like that. That’s an action-packed tip for people to do. What do you find is the biggest challenge? As you said earlier, somebody might say, “I’m confident.” Maybe we’re confident in certain environments and not in others, or in some contexts and not others. How do we play with that so as not to get caught in the “I’m confident” trap and not prepare ourselves for those types of situations where we’re not?

Take Back Time | Emily Jaenson | Build Your Confidence

Build Your Confidence: We’re confident in some environments but not in other contexts.


I see it all the time when I go out and speak. I’m at a convention, a corporate event, or a woman in a group, and the room is filled with leaders. These people have achieved a certain level of success in their lives and their roles in the workplace. They should be celebrating their success constantly. They should be supporting those around them. They should be feeling like they can take over the world. They do in some instances, but every single person lacks confidence in some area of their life. It’s universal.

What I find is that when I’m speaking to these people or when we’re talking and we’re diving into confidence, they start to think about the areas in their life where they’re not as secure and begin to think about, “What would happen if I addressed that? How much farther could I go? If I thought about and worked on those limiting beliefs, could I get to that next level? Could I have a stronger connection at home with my family? Could I learn to say no and use my vacation time? How could it affect my life?”

There are so many different implications for that. It is universal that we are not wholeheartedly confident 100% of the time in a 100% of the situation. It’s hard. My challenge is to think about what are those areas in your life where you don’t feel as confident. What would happen if you worked on it? I’ll give a great example from my personal life.

I was raised in a small town. My family was super hardworking. My dad was a blue-collar guy, but he had 10X his life from growing up in poverty. My mom as well. We were in a small town and had a great life, but it wasn’t flash. We weren’t at that level. We’re nowhere close. I was taught my whole life, “Save and pinch your pennies.” My money from my birthday cards was rolled up in my sock drawer. I wouldn’t spend a dime.

I had all these limiting beliefs around money. I would try not to spend a lot and I never looked at my expenses. I knew what the money was in my bank account. I tried to make it incrementally larger. I was not confident when it came to dealing with and understanding what money my money could do for me if I paid more attention. It wasn’t until I had this breakthrough moment with my husband.

He was asking me some questions about finances. We’re trying to get things squared away with our different investment accounts. I had a break. I was like, “I can’t talk about it.” I freaked out. I’m like, “Why did I do that? Why did I have that reaction?” When I allowed myself to think about it and get uncomfortable, I was like, “I have no confidence in money. I don’t know anything about this.”

It’s time to get curious and explore a little more, build my confidence, ask some questions, and get uncomfortable, and I did. I have spent a lot of time getting more comfortable with finances, how to grow money, how to create wealth, and what to do in these situations. All because I recognize that if I don’t do something about this area, I’m going to stay here forever. I’m going to only think about how I should save my way to success and not open up my ideas on how I could grow in this department.

That’s a great example because I’m sure as I’m talking about this, people’s lack of confidence might not exist in the finance arena, but they might be thinking like, “I have that feeling about this.” I can tell you that when I started to work on it. You get, “3, 2, 1, go. Emily, open up the credit card statement and see where you spent your money. Open up whatever your banking and investment app is of choice.” Read some of the blogs that they’re putting out and understand what could happen with your money.

“I learned a little bit. I’m going to take that information and I’m going to talk to somebody about it. I’m going to talk to my friend about it.” Start to build up your confidence in these areas where you’re lacking and see what happens. It is wild when we can excel in those areas we’re good at, but what feeds into that if you did a little bit more? Could you get on that rocket ship?

Take Back Time | Emily Jaenson | Build Your Confidence

Build Your Confidence: We can excel in those areas we’re good at, but what’s feeding into that if you did a little more? Could you get on that rocket ship?


It’s important. You explained it like when you realized, “Why did I react that way?” I call these things reset moments because they make us so hyper-aware, except me. Why didn’t I act that way? You got some new awareness and a new perspective from it because you were able to allow yourself at the moment in a way to reset to take on a new perspective. I wrote down something for myself. I don’t know if there’s anything else you want to say on that, but it triggered something that I wanted to ask you. Is there anything else that you want to say about that piece?

No, let’s go to the next question.

What came up for me, as you mentioned something also about work and you said the ability to say no, like not work on vacation because this is your time. That’s a huge problem where people don’t have confidence. You’ve said if there’s one area, for some people it might be finances. For some people, it might be their need to please everyone else and not to say no. I’d love for us to open up that conversation a little bit and give people some tips on how they can be more confident in saying no holding their boundaries and being confident in the boundaries that they set and to set them. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking is on that.

That’s hard. It’s hard because if you’re someone who’s an achiever and going after your goals, you’ve got to the point of success in your life and with your family because you have said yes. You’ve said yes to promotion and extra work. You said yes when they asked you to move and take on a new role. We’ve been built in this capacity to say yes and accept more to achieve more, so when you’re asked to then, “You’re at this level,” let’s put that switch. You have to start operating with no. How do we do that?

Do you think it’s a certain level like you have to say yes to a certain point, then you need to recognize where you need to start saying no?

I do think that early in your career or when you’re starting something new, you have to open yourself up for opportunity. That means saying yes. Those opportunities are where you can build your confidence to be better at your job and better manage your employees. You have to do the work to have the privilege to say no and the privilege to set those boundaries.

You have to continue to push yourself and get uncomfortable to understand what you're capable of and grow your confidence. Click To Tweet

I’m talking about like in the workplace. There are plenty of personal boundaries that you should be setting your entire life. I’m speaking specifically about that trajectory inside the workplace. There’s a certain point where you get to this level where you’re in charge or maybe you’re managing a group of people or running the company or in a leadership role, and you have to start flexing your knowledge.

This is incredibly important because you have a very valuable skillset. If you’re asked to spread yourself too thin, the reason you got to where you are, that circle of genius is going to be deployed, let’s say 20% of the time and 80% of the time, you’re going to be doing all this other stuff. You got to where you were because you have this 20%. What if you could flip that and do 80% of the time and 20% of the other stuff?

You have to think about a boundary around your skillsets and what you’ve been hired to do. Learning to say no to the extra can give other people opportunities. When you have a hard time with yourself, I always recommend making it other-focused. If I say no, what does that mean for other people? If I say no to this project but I can give it to this junior on my team, what can you do for that person to work more independently? If I’m on vacation and I say, “I’m not taking meetings. I’m putting up my out-of-office. I’ll talk to you guys in two weeks or whatever it is. Team, this is what I need you to do while I’m gone. I have the confidence and the trust in you that you can get it done,” and go.

Saying no like that, what does that do for your team? You’re not micromanaging. You’re not checking in and skipping all of the tasks in between then micromanaging when a decision has been made. You’re letting them do the work. There are ways that you can start to use no and set those boundaries that are beneficial for you, but also beneficial for the people around you. When you’re having difficulty with those boundaries, think other-focused. Think about the other people and what your no could provide for somebody else.

Do the work to have the privilege to say no and to set those boundaries. Click To Tweet

It’s so true that it’s a win-win when some of those should be easy noes. We’re holding on to it and it’s a benefit to somebody else for us to let go and it’s been for us too. We’re coming to the end of the show. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you feel is important to share before I give you a chance to share your details so people can reach you?

In 2023, I have been working on a book, Let’s Go! A Guide to Increasing Your Confidence that comes out in May 2024. When I’m the one behind the keyboard or behind the microphone giving advice on confidence, people think, “It must be nice to have all that confidence.” I want to address to the audience that I still use all the strategies that I talk about.

Confidence In Setting Boundaries

Writing a book was totally getting outside my comfort zone. Every time I get on stage, I still get nervous because I care. I care about delivering for the audience. There’s a difference between caring about what people think of me because if I cared all the time and worried all the time about what other people think, it’s hard to grow my confidence. You’re never ever going to please everybody. My nerves and sometimes my confidence starts to waver when I’m like, “I wanted to deliver or this is important to me. It’s important to them. I want to make an impact. Can I do it?”

I use those strategies to say, “Here’s how you get out on stage, 3, 2, 1, go.” Remember, reflect back on all the success you had before. The last keynote that made an impact, you’ve made these talks before. You’ve practiced, you put in the work, and you can do it. I’m still using those reminders to pop myself up. It’s normal that we’re not going to get to one level and stay there forever. That’s why it’s important to know these skillsets like what I teach in the book and what I talk about on the Leadership is Female podcast.

Where can people get a hold of you?

It’s It’s the same name on social media. I’d be so delighted to connect. Thank you.

Thank you so much for being here.

My pleasure.

Thank you all for being here. All you need to take away is 1 or 2 things, 1 or 2 areas that you can work on that you can say, “Let’s go, 3, 2, 1,” and plow through it and connect with why you’re doing something so that you can stand in your confidence. We heard some great strategies. Build your confidence. Your confidence is going to be the basis of your personal growth, professional growth, and even the depth and meaning in your relationships and in your life. Go to it. My name is Penny Zenker, and this is Take Back Time. We’ll see you in the next episode.


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