I remember the feeling of not being able to breathe like it was yesterday even though it has been over 20 years. In the late 90’s I worked in Silicon Valley in a tiny, top secret back building but it remains one of my all-time favorite jobs - I was a financial analyst supporting sub-micron development in a Silicon Valley hardware company. For me the job was exciting because I learned so much, was surrounded by engineers (who have always been some of my favorite people in the world) and we were working on cutting edge technology which was amazing. I loved the day to day work but absolutely dreaded the quarterly meetings with the Finance Executive Team to report on both the actual spending of my group and the future spending plans. The meetings took place in a conference room on executive row at a huge mahogany table in the awe inspiring and regal corporate office. We would sit there taking turns presenting and with each passing minute I would get more and more nervous until it was my turn. Since the team I supported was development and future focused there understandable skepticism about the huge amount of dollars that we were requesting so I often had to answer detailed and pointed questions about future engineering plans or explain why we were putting a $10M deposit on equipment that wouldn’t even be available as a prototype for 5 years.
I vividly recall leaving the first few meetings feeling like I had been subjected to the inquisition, stumbled through my answers (even though I was well prepared and knowledgeable on the subject) and that ultimately, I had failed the group that I supported. I would get so stressed and intimidated before the meeting that I knew that I wasn’t serving the organization well.
After the third meeting I decided that I couldn’t continue being so worried about the questions from the executives, so I came up with my own personal plan to survive my insecurity.
How to Never be Intimidated Again:
I made sure that I knew the technology and details so well that I would be able to answer any question that was asked. I became the subject matter expert in finance for the development of our future (and sometimes aspirational) products.
Choose the 4 qualities about yourself that you are the most confident in.
I chose smart, rich, beautiful and fun (please keep in mind this was 25+ years ago).
Decide that you will only be intimated by people that beat you at all 4 of those qualities.
When I start to get intimidated, I ask myself-
Are they smarter than me?
Are they richer than me?
Are they prettier than me?
Are they more fun than me?
While over the years many, many, many people get 3- I have never met a single person that beats me at all 4.
While the qualities have always been a joke in order to get me to relax and not take myself so seriously, the steps have honestly helped me over the years in professional and personal situations. It reminds me that nobody is better than me at everything and while there are so many people in my life that deserve respect, admiration and kindness there is not a single person out there that should intimidate me.
Have you ever felt intimidated?
Next time try the steps. It works- I am not even kidding!!