Are Women in Business Reluctant to Brand Themselves as Experts?

This Friday I’m speaking in LA at a women in business event put on by the California State Board of Equalization – the 2014 Connecting Women to Power Business Conference.

Do women have a hard time connecting to their power? Are women more reluctant than men to brand themselves as an expert?

I was doing a “Message of You” Workshop for women, and as we talked about our mess-to-success journeys in life, I noticed there was something we all had in common: each woman felt compelled to APOLOGIZE for her SUCCESS.  Hillary wasn’t there that day.

One woman told us about growing up in a poor family.  She was determined to go to a good college and sad that there wasn’t enough money for her to take one of those courses that all but guarantees you a better SAT score. Determined, she figured out how to improve her test taking ability on her own, got the score she needed to be accepted and then, still only in her 20’s, wrote a book on how she’d done it.

This was VERY impressive. If Hillary had been at the workshop, she certainly would have agreed. But this woman MINIMIZED her accomplishments, tossing them into the trash and saying, “And what did I do with that terrific education? Nothing.  I’m JUST a stay-at-home mom to 4 kids. So it was all for NOTHING.”

She wasn’t the only one characterizing herself as a LOSER. All the women were reluctant to OWN THEIR SUCCESSES, even though they’d run businesses while raising a family, fixed their plumbing, saved lives by getting traffic lights installed at what had been a dangerous intersection, all sorts of things that would have looked good on their permanent record…if they weren’t so quick to write them off. They felt more comfortable diminishing their accomplishments. The word I was hearing way too much was “JUST.”  “I’m JUST running a small business…I’m JUST working for someone… I JUST work with kids.”

At a previous workshop, a man was eager to launch a corporate speaking career based on his LACK of accomplishments -- he’d lost his parents, lost his marriage, and lost a million dollars. I then assumed that he was now happily married and enjoying a fat bank account, but NO! He’d been unemployed for two years, single and living in his car.  And it wasn’t a Mercedes. Yet, he saw himself as someone capable of giving advice. What were we to learn from him? “I’m a loser and follow me into the pit.” Really???

Is copping to one’s strengths and successes a GENDER issue?

DR. PHIL wrote a BEST SELLING BOOK on WEIGHT LOSS. Anyone but me notice this man is chubby? What's his next book going to be? Hair Care Tips for Men?

I’m not suggesting we take testosterone, but we would do well to access the alpha male component and give ourselves the credit we deserve. Let’s not believe because we still get paid less that we are worth less. Each day is full of us climbing out of a mess to a success -- climbing stairs or climbing out of a depression. We battle entropy, acquire new coping skills and get closer to having better relationships, whiter teeth, flatter stomachs and bigger bank accounts.  Okay, maybe not flatter stomachs.

Stop. Write the success of yesterday. Own it. It’s yours.


  1. I love this Judy! I hope you make it to Australia some day, so I can invite all my friends to see you speak. Terri.

  2. We need you in Houston, Texas too!

  3. You said: "DR. PHIL wrote a BEST SELLING BOOK on WEIGHT LOSS. Anyone but me notice this man is chubby? And aren't you the woman who suffers from depression and stress but talks about dealing with stress and depression through laughter? Hmmmm Odd how so many times you said, "your mess should be your message"...but apparently this doesn't apply to Dr Phil?

    1. Yes - in my TED talk that's what I say - we ALL base our successes on our messes including Steve Jobs AND Dr. Phil,


Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.