A seasoned corporate executive, today’s guest, Nicole Kalil, realized she had a passion for something different from corporate life. So, she set out on her own and launched a business dedicated to helping people, especially women, become more self-confident. Join Christine McKay as she interviews Nicole about the critical elements of building confidence and dealing with the noise in our heads. Nicole shares some tips on how you can negotiate with confidence and stay aligned with your life’s purpose and be your authentic self, including the importance of embracing your failures. 

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Building Confidence through Failure with Nicole Kalil

I am excited to welcome, Nicole Kalil, to the show. I was on Nicole’s podcast and what an incredible person she is. She talks about a subject that you guys have heard me talk about over and over again. When I talk about the fact that the hardest part of any negotiation is the negotiation we have between our ears. Nicole is a specialist, an expert in how to build confidence. She worked in Fortune 500 company for a long time and was the Chief Development Officer, the first woman to hold that position in her 160-year-old company. She left Corporate America and decided to launch out on her own and start her own business. She works as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, as well as doing the speaking. She is the host of This is Woman’s Work podcast. Nicole, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate you.

It’s my pleasure, Christine. Thank you so much for having me.

Before we dive into some details, tell us a little bit more about how you came to be doing the work that you’re doing now. What brings you to this point?

I’ll try to make a very long story and thought process a little bit shorter because it wasn’t one of those, I woke up one day, decided to do it and did it. I would tell you, it is years in the making, but very specifically one year from where I had the, “I think I need to do this.” I need to leave my steady, comfortable corporate job and that is not to say that there weren’t challenges or a ton of hard work but it was challenges and hard work that I was used to and the steady compensation is nice.

I think there was a point where it was clear to me that this was the right choice for me, to walk away from that and to start my own deal, but it was probably a solid year from that decision to full execution. It involved conversations with people I trusted, mentors, my managing partner, my former firm and my husband thinking about the finances and the impact of that. My husband works and does very well for himself, but we weren’t saving my income. It was part of our lifestyle. Figuring how to navigate from going through, “I can count on this,” to “I have nothing I can count on day one,” and doing behind the scenes work. I called a lot of people who are doing similar work to what I wanted to be doing and picked their brains and asked all the questions.

Ultimately, what it boiled down to is I could have retired doing what I was doing and probably would have been successful, comfortable and happy, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror and say that I was living my purpose. I got to the point where I was like, “I can’t keep lying to myself about this.” What I’m passionate about is career equity, gender equality and more from a frame of eliminating gender expectations, both for women and for men that we can live our lives as our authentic selves and not be told we should or we shouldn’t as it relates to our deepest desires and who we are.

In a lot of the work that I do, I get a lot of questions about gender, negotiation and we’re conditioned to negotiate differently. Even though it doesn’t matter which gender you are, we’re all good negotiators and we’ve been negotiating since we’re probably about 3, 4, 5 and some still negotiate like they did when they were 3, 4 and 5.

I have a daughter and her negotiation skills could use some work.

Confidence is not inherent. It’s a skill you can master to live your purpose and become your authentic self. Click To Tweet

Tell us a little bit more about, what are some of the work that you do and how you work with people around confidence and how you see confidence coming into play from a business perspective, especially from a business owner perspective and then we’ll bring in the negotiation component to it and explore some of that.

I’ve yet to meet anybody who disagrees with the statement that your internal confidence impacts, whatever it is that you’re doing. Whether it be in negotiation or your professional life or in your relationships or in the way you talk to yourself. I think we all know that confidence is a super important skill to develop in all aspects of our life, whether it’s working individually with a client or doing it. I have a digital course called This Is Confidence. Confidence is an area that I’m super passionate about. It’s something I struggled with within my life. I have read everything I could get my hands on, experienced and observe all the things that I’ve coached. It was one of those things that I think it found me more than I found it as a passion.

It’s no secret, that there is a gender component. Women have less confidence than men, generally speaking. That is not true across the board. We weren’t born with less confidence. This is not an inherent thing. It’s a learned thing. Men have learned to develop the skill of confidence more and better than their female counterparts. When I talk about being able to live your purpose and being your authentic self, it always takes a measure of confidence. Working with women to develop that skill is really what lights me up. That’s not the only thing I do, but it is a large part of my work.

I talk a lot about asking for more. We had a gentleman on the show and his name is LV Randolph and he’s in the Boston area. He does a lot of venture capital work. We were talking about how women in minorities and he does a lot of work with women of color in particular. Not only do we not ask for what we want, we often don’t even ask for what we need and that lack of confidence or that lack of belief in ourselves. Somebody was talking to me yesterday and they use the term self-worth and I’m not a fan of that term. I’m not a fan of it because I believe that all people have self-worth. That to me is not a confidence issue.

We are inherently valuable and worthy. All of us, as humans, have a purpose. There is no other you on the planet. There is no other you in history and there is no other you that will ever exist and to me, that implies inherent or worth. I’m with you.

Somebody told me that it’s like somebody did probability analysis. I think that each of us sitting here is a 1 in 14 trillion probability. It’s the chance of that happening. We are that unique and it’s incredible when I think about that. I talk about how the most basic step of any effective negotiation is gaining clarity on what it is that we want. What I may have found over the course of my life and my career is that those moments when I questioned myself, when I’m lacking confidence or lacking much confidence, I will essentially downsize what I want. I’ll start this internal dialogue in my head. Everybody who’s listening has had this dialogue at some point in their lives.

It’s so common, I’ve named it. I’ve heard it called the inner critic and that resonates with me. Somebody said this in my past and it resonated with me. I call it head trash.

Negotiating With Confidence: Confidence is a super important skill to develop in all aspects of your life.


It’s like, “I want this.” You want something that somebody has and it’s like, “I want this.” I should ask for it. “I can’t ask for it. What’s that person going to think of me if I ask?” We start this junk in our head and we convince ourselves that we shouldn’t ask at all. If we’re selling a product or service, it’s like, “I can’t ask them for that much money. They won’t pay me that much. That’s going to upset them. That’s going to make them mad. They’re going to go someplace else.”

I do a lot of work with what I call David and Goliath negotiations. It’s where a smaller organization is negotiating with somebody who they perceived as having more leverage and more power than they do because we convince ourselves that it happened. We have a lot of entrepreneurs that read this. What are some of the things that entrepreneurs can do when that doubt starts to creep in and they go, “I can’t do that. I’m afraid of doing that.” At the end of the day, I think fear is the big driver of that. What can entrepreneurs do to address that?

Many things are popping up in my head and I want to start by reiterating what you already said, which is the first person you negotiate with, is yourself. Being mindful as you’re preparing, which version of yourself are you negotiating with? I think of the devil and the angel kind of thing. Is it your head trash, your inner critic, the person who’s telling you all the things that could go wrong and all the reasons that you shouldn’t get are not worthy or deserving? Is it the version of yourself that’s clear about who you are and also owns who you’re not and is embracing you as a human and is more that inner voice? Sometimes people get confused.

Head trash, the voice in your head that’s never kind and very rarely true and your inner knowing are two totally different things. Which version of you are you negotiating with first? Then tactically, how do you make sure it’s the inner knowing and the version of you that knows yourself and embraces all of you? I have an exercise that I take my clients through. It’s the things I know to be true about me at this point in my life. I ask people to spend time with themselves half an hour or an hour if they can and ask yourself, “What are the things I know to be true about me at this point in my life.?” They must be the good things, the things you can count on about yourself. The things that differentiate or make you unique in a good way. The compliments that you are given consistently and the things you feel good about you.

I often say, watch for any softening or disclaimer. I had somebody say, “I’m pretty smart.” I’m like, “tell me about that.” They’re like, “I’m not the smartest person in the world.” I’m like, “Of course, you’re not but you’re smart, cross out the pretty or I’m honest to a fault, cross out, to a fault. You’re just honest.” Especially as women, we have a tendency to soften, disclaim or even apply a judgment to our strengths. It’s very important that this list is clean. I’ve found some people have a hard time coming up with more than 3 to 5 things, asking for feedback from the people who know and love you. What are my superpowers? What do you count on about me? What makes me special? If you hear from 5 people similar things, it goes on your list, so you have an opportunity to acknowledge that about yourself.

I always like to bring in as many people because I love connecting episodes together. One of my mentors is a gentleman named Blair Dunkley, and he was also on the show. He does these amazing work around mind models and how to change. It’s more than mindset. Mindset is superficial. You have to dig deeper than that. He talks about something being externally verifiable versus internally. That’s your head trash versus your inner knowing. In your inner knowing part, you can get verified externally, “What is it that other people are saying?” Those are the things that matter.

That head trash, that talk that we have that goes on in our head, it is our ego protecting us. It’s saying, “I’m alive right now. I’m good. I’m breathing my heart’s work. All the pieces and parts are going. You don’t need to do anything else. You don’t need to take any risks.” That ego is trying to protect us. When we get into those doubt moments, just like you’re saying about going out and asking people, “What makes me special? Why do you keep me around?” You can have all sorts of people in your life, “You picked me.” “Why have you picked me,” and get that external verification in order to help shore up your view of yourself.

You will have haters. You will have naysayers. You will have fear and doubt, but ultimately, choose 'you' over everything. Click To Tweet

I had a guest on one of my podcast episodes, Julie Gordon. She called it fact-checking your feelings and that resonated with me. Getting that external, not validation, but information, sometimes we don’t see about ourselves or we don’t acknowledge about ourselves can be super helpful. Again tactically, as you’re about to go into a negotiation or if you’re in any place where you’re feeling fear or doubt, I pull out my own things that I know to be true about me at this point in my life list and I read it. Hopefully, that puts me in the position where I’m negotiating with the best version of myself and coming from a place of strength and connecting to my value. I think that’s incredible, regardless of gender, to be able to come from.

Somebody asked me to talk about my clients and who my clients are. I discovered and it was not intentional that all of my clients are minority or women-owned businesses. I thought about it and I was like, “That makes sense because I’m all about leveling the playing field.” A lot of minorities and a lot of women feel that the cards are stacked against them. They find that they don’t have the confidence to ask for things. I get a lot of clients who are like, “Christine, would you do this negotiation for me because I can’t deal with it.” They outsourced their confidence to find somebody. They recognized it, but then they’re like, “I need somebody else to step in because I don’t know how to find the confidence in myself to do it for myself.”

There’s a lot in that too where I find a lot in this type of work, equity and gender. It’s a messy work. There are two seemingly opposite things that can both be true. As a minority-owned woman business owner, you might feel the cards are stacked against you and that’s a valid feeling. To say, it’s about confidence is unfair. To say that you don’t need to work on your confidence because the cards are stacked against you doesn’t help either. It’s these two and sometimes it feels conflicting, but they’re both true. To your example, that you can be confident, but you can also leverage somebody else’s confidence and that’s okay.

Speakers do that. When you speak at an event and people who are professional speakers and they speak at somebody’s event, you get credibility from the host of the event. There’s a similarity to that. There are times when you need to lean on somebody else’s credibility to help boost your own credibility. There are times when you can lean on somebody else’s confidence to boost your own confidence, “I’m much better than going the other direction.” I’d love to hear your thoughts on it because I get a lot of people who are surrounded by people who have as much faith in them. I have a saying. Somebody asked me once what has helped contribute to my own success and one of the biggest things is surrounding myself with people who believe in me more than I do at certain moments in time. What are your thoughts on that? When you’re surrounded by people who tear you down and reinforce that negative talk that we haven’t had, how do we deal with that?

This is not probably going to be a popular statement, but I believe in order for us to do big things, we must outgrow some of the people in our lives. If you’re trying to go this way and somebody keeps pulling you down this way, then you have to decide what’s more important, the goal or the person. It’s so much easier and more obvious from the outside looking in because of all the emotions and all that aren’t attached to it. In my personal opinion, I have a quote in my office. It’s basically to the effect of you will have haters, naysayers, fear and doubt but ultimately, it’s like choose you over everything. I don’t have friends in my life. I have different relationships with family members and it’s who I believe I am put here to be, requires that I’m very mindful about my environment, as I would imagine is true for you and anybody.

I’ve gotten better about not allowing much space or time for people who are pulling my energy in the opposite direction and not giving me feedback from a position of caring about me. I’m not suggesting that everybody agrees with me all the time or they don’t challenge me. That is quite the opposite. I feel loved when people challenge me and give me feedback because it’s uncomfortable to give somebody feedback. You feel like you’re risking something. In order for them to love me so much, that they’re willing to get uncomfortable themselves to give me feedback about something I might be doing that isn’t working. It always comes from a place of love and it always comes from a place of believing that I can get where I want to go. If those two things don’t exist and as I’ve gotten older, this has gotten more obvious and easier for me. I’m at the point in my life where it’s like, “I don’t have space for that.”

I appreciate that. I’m bringing it into the business. I tell the story about how I bought two cars for the price of one. If I had told a lot of people, “I’m going to go to a car dealership and try to buy two cars for the price of one.” Most people would have said, “You’re out of your mind. You can’t do that.” They would’ve come up with all sorts of stories about why I couldn’t do it, but I didn’t have anybody in my world that was telling me, “That’s impossible. You’re this kind of a person for even asking that.” I did it and I came up with that approach and decided to do that based on data and research and analysis.

IVZ 4 | Negotiating With Confidence
Negotiating With Confidence: There is no other you on the planet, there is no other you in history, and there is no other you that will ever exist, and that implies inherent worth.


When I got to the dealership and I asked if that was a possibility, though they weren’t necessarily happy with me to start with, it turned out that it was possible given that particular situation. In negotiation, if you want something and I say this all the time in small business, large business negotiation, where someone will tell you, “You can’t ask for that. They’ll never do that. That big company will never agree to do that.” They told me that they don’t negotiate the contract. That’s not true.

They tell you that so that they don’t have to deal with negotiations.

They don’t want to spend the time. They want to make their life easy. Since I started my company, my relationship with my mother has changed because she’s not supportive. I’m like, “Okay,” but I have to pull back that relationship. I have to change it. It causes me stress when I talk to her because I know she’s going to be passing judgment because she doesn’t understand. I also know she loves me and she wants me to be safe and all those kinds of things. I appreciate her very much for that, but I can’t talk to her all the time and have that negative energy in my world because I’m fighting the negative energy in my head. Because we’re all doing that all the time, when you’re in a negotiation, it’s also situational. It’s general, who you surround yourself with, but it’s also situational. Who is going to tell you and maybe in the car situation or in a selling business that somebody had told me, nobody will ever buy that? Push back on it from a strategic perspective, but don’t sit and say, “You can’t do that.” That’s not helpful. What’s the rationale for that?

I have a quote on a book and I have it in my office. It’s my favorite. It says, “You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people.” I think about that so much, especially as an entrepreneur. I have this thing that I do when fear and doubt start kicking up for me, which it inevitably does, as much as I’m focused on confidence. If anybody tells you that they’re confident in all aspects of their life at all times, they’re full of it. Don’t believe them about anything anymore because confidence is very much a journey and there are an ebb and flow for all of us.

When fear and doubt kick up for me, I do this, “I only need 0.01% of the population to like me and to care about what I do.” Because if you do the math, the population of the United States is about 330 million people. If I got 1%, that’d be 33 million people. If each of those people only gave me $50, I’d be a billionaire. 99.9% of the population doesn’t need to get me. They don’t need to like me. They don’t need to believe me. They don’t need to agree with me. In order for me to be authentic and also to be successful, I only need to capture 0.01% of the population. I’m still a millionaire. I have that thing that I do when somebody says no or when I go into negotiation for a contract and they’re asking for less than what I’m willing to do, and I have that, “I shouldn’t walk away from this. I should take it. It’s better than nothing.”

I do that mental thing. I did that with a client that I did a lot of work within 2020. I enjoyed working with them, but they wanted me to do something here in 2021 at 25% of what I typically charge for. It’s not from a bad place. I would love working with them and I enjoy working with them, but I had to do the “This isn’t my people or this isn’t the right situation for me right now.” I had to go through that in my brain.

One of my favorite words and especially in negotiation and a word that a lot of people don’t use effectively enough especially women is a short little word. When my kids were little, I would say, “Is it the N, the O, or the combination of the two that you’re struggling with, because no is no.” In negotiation, I often say this, “Except, in sex, it does not apply to sex. No is no in sex.” In pretty much everything else, no is an invitation to ask different questions because no is a reaction and a response to the question that you are asking. Maybe there’s a different way of solving the problem or a different solution. Maybe you need to be more creative about how you’re thinking about the problem and asking different questions in order to get to a different outcome. Except in sex, no is an invitation to ask different questions. It’s not the exact same question but ask different questions.

This is somewhat related, but a different version of that is I often say to myself, “No is my second favorite answer.” I love the yeses if I’m negotiating, but it’s the maybes that kill me. It’s the people that are dragging out for forever and you’re wasting more time than the contract is worth trying to negotiate the contract. The follow-up with me in six months and that’s the seventh time I’ve heard that. It’s the maybes that kill me. No is my second favorite answer because it’s an answer. I wouldn’t take the first no asking questions but it allows me to move on and find the yeses.

Your internal confidence impacts whatever it is that you're doing. Click To Tweet

I want to ask you. One of the things that I hear a lot of people talk about when it comes to building confidence is how immediate action will help you build confidence even the smallest thing. Can you talk about that? You hear lots of big-name speakers’ talk about that. Entrepreneurs will find themselves in a situation where they’re lacking confidence and they’re going, “I’m taking action and it’s not doing it.” What are your thoughts on that?

First, for the record, I agree completely. All of the research, the experience and the observation, as it relates to my work with confidence. To me, it is the number one confidence builder. I think there are five key confidence builders. There are others, but those are the key ones and action is number one. I agree and I don’t always like that. I agree because sometimes it’d be nicer if there was some other way to do it. Action is the key to building confidence. I think where it messes with people’s heads is when we think about something that you might be working on or something that you are looking to build your confidence towards.

“I want to go for that promotion. I want to start a business. I want to get in that relationship or walk away from that one.” It’s a very big thing from wherever we’re at to get to that point, seems like a big gap. I often ask the question, “How do you climb Mount Everest?” It’s a very big mountain. If you’re standing at the bottom of it and looking up. It’s one step at a time. It’s action. You can’t think your way to the top of the mountain. You can prepare, but even in the preparation, it requires action. I think it’s breaking down that big thing that you’re working towards into bite-sized action steps. That to me is where action builds confidence. The second confidence builder, I often talk about which shocks people is a failure. Failure builds confidence if you choose it.

The format that he has is very counterintuitive. Most people are like, “I can’t fail in a cycle.” Trust me, you’re going to fail. Tell me more about that.

Any successful person will tell you that failures are the requirement of success. If we say, there is no successful person out there that hasn’t failed. We’ve all heard the story about the amount of shots Michael Jordan missed and that Oprah got fired from her first TV job and JK Rowling got rejected by 19 publishers before Harry Potter. We all know that failure and rejection are part of success. The problem is we don’t like feeling it. Typically, what we hear about are people’s failures once they’ve achieved. It’s hindsight failures. We don’t get to experience or see the pain when they’re in it. We see the, “I’m so successful and I’m swimming in my money bath, but I failed in the past,” version. The reason failure builds confidence if you let it and this was a hard thing for me to wrap my brain around. It still when I’m in it, but failure is neutral. It’s a neutral event that we are bringing meaning to. The reason we know that is we could take one of my failures and you might not see it as a failure or you might see it as a small failure where I see it as a big one or vice versa.

Failure is a neutral event. We’re the ones bringing meaning to it. If that’s true, then how do we bring a different meaning to it? I’ll give an example. I don’t enjoy my feelings around when I feel like I’m in failure, but I can work myself out of it by saying, “This is neutral. I know this I’m bringing meaning to it. What’s a different meaning I could bring? This is a lesson. This is a gift. This is an opportunity to grow so forth and so on.” Because what failure also does is it sometimes steers us in a different direction or it teaches us what not to do or it reveals something that we didn’t know before that we can apply going forward. If you frame it in that way for yourself, it’s confidence building. I have the information I didn’t have before. I know things about what doesn’t work, which means now I can eliminate doing that and go more towards what does work.

The other thing is the gift of recovering from our failures is one of the biggest confidence builders. The fact that I’m still here, that I’m still breathing. It means that my failures haven’t got me yet. There’s that knowingness that I am able to recover that builds confidence, not to get too far into it, but you hear a lot about teenagers, the suicide rate is up. They don’t have coping skills. There isn’t that confidence that I can recover from this feeling or I can recover from this situation. It is so important that we allow our children and ourselves to experience failures while neutral because it gives us the gift of learning, that internal knowing that we can get on the other side of it and we can come out better.

IVZ 4 | Negotiating With Confidence
Negotiating With Confidence: Failure builds confidence if you choose it, if you let it. Recovering from our failures is one of the biggest confidence builders.


The other thing too, is there are failures when we worry, when we think and we over the process and think about what we’re about to do. The worst-case scenario we come up with it in our brains is very rarely what actually happens. It’s never a worst-case scenario. Even our failures, if we move into action, are very rarely as bad as we think that they are. The last thing I want to share is typically one of the things that get in the way of action as it relates to confidence is overthinking. Inevitably the problem is that overthinking leads to inaction, which is why overthinking is a big confidence derailer. It chips away at confidence. Inaction ultimately leads to regrets.

Talk to any successful person about their biggest regrets. Talk to somebody later in life, as they look back and ask them what their biggest regrets are. More often than not, you’re going to hear about the things they didn’t do. The risks they didn’t take, the dreams they didn’t chase, the conversations they didn’t have, the forgiveness they didn’t ask for and the forgiveness they didn’t give. It’s the step that we don’t do that typically creates the greatest regret, which is another reason why action builds confidence because it’s the things that we do.

I had not ever thought of that, but that makes so much sense to me. It gives all the audience and myself a different way. When Nicole and I sat down because I like to be transparent, I said to her that I need this topic now. I’m being very selfish in the questions I’m asking. I know that somebody else who’s reading right now needs to learn the same things. I hadn’t thought about that. Meghan Gardner was a guest on the show and she does hospice work. She was the guest on the show because she has a company called Guard Up that does a live-action role-playing for kids and for companies. She’s got some great stuff that she’s doing, but she’s also heavily involved in hospice work.

She said something similar and she and I are good friends. We’ve talked many times in her hospice work the things that she has learned is exactly what you said. People rarely go to their grave regretting the things that they’ve done but there are some cases and a lot of times more about what they didn’t do, the chance that they didn’t take on themselves and wished that they did. I think that is important. When it comes to negotiation, that’s huge because if you aren’t willing to take that risk on you, why is your counterpart going to do it?

Also, on that and to start it really quickly. You’d said this and it reminded me of a former colleague of mine who used to say and I learned this from her. I’m forever grateful. The answer is always no, unless you ask anyway. If you don’t even ask, if you don’t go, you’re not getting a no. You’re creating a no for yourself. Even an asking, you give yourself that 50-50 shot. If you think about it from an odds perspective and that’s been helpful for me because there has been a lot of times where I’m like, “I shouldn’t ask. This is too much. They told me not to,” and I do. Even if the answer is, no, I always tell myself, “At least I gave myself the shot.”

One of the things that popped into my head as you were talking about failure and now it is a competence builder. One of the things it can do is clear the deck for better opportunities. You may be focusing on something that’s not the right thing to focus on. Maybe your head is telling you something. I was talking to somebody and she was showing me something she goes, “What do you think about this?” I said, “The fact that you’re asking me tells me what you think about it.” It was something that she didn’t like and she didn’t want to do. I’m like, “You’re looking for an external validation on something that you internally know what’s the right thing to do.”

I also think too. It’s funny who you ask is a good indication of what you’re looking for. Sometimes people will come to me or coaching clients and they’ll be thinking about something, I’m like, “The fact that you’re asking me, that you came to me to ask, makes it very clear what you’re trying to accomplish. You want to do this thing. You’re looking for support to get you an action or to get you to take that risk because you wouldn’t be asking me if you wanted to play it safe.”

Action is the key to building confidence. Click To Tweet

That’s interesting because as like I said, my mom, is not hugely supportive of my business. If want to know, I’m more inclined to ask her versus my husband, who’s incredibly supportive and he’s always going to say, “Yes, do what you need to do.” You are breaking that down into a simplistic, who do you look through when you’re looking for that validation and encouragement to move forward or that honest feedback that says, “No, I don’t think this is the right thing,” but you know that you’re going to get that honest feedback from that person because I think that’s important.

As small business owners, we’re often in a negotiation by ourselves or maybe one or two other people, but in a big company, something simple, which is like big company procurement terms, three bids, and a buy. I need to go buy something. I’m calling up three companies. Who’s got the best price or who do I have the best relationship with? Even that is not a sole individual’s decision. They are always asking and getting feedback from within the organization to get to that outcome.

As small business owners, if you’re the owner, you’re it, the buck stops with you. How do you create that opportunity to have others that you can bounce things off of and get ideas and test your negotiation and the strategy that you’re taking? Tests whether the contract that company is providing you is the right one or not, because you need that because you are going to either doubt yourself and put a deal in jeopardy because of that doubt or you’re going to go do something blindly. That overexuberance is going to cause you the same issue. Confidence versus hubris. There’s a point of confidence and then there’s a point of hubris where ego comes in and it’s the exact opposite of a lack of confidence.

I think this happens with a lot of things, but confidence for sure where there are a lot of words that people shoved together to mean the same thing, but they don’t mean the same thing at all. I’ve had people ask the opposite, “How can you be confident and be humble?” I think these are all very different things. Hubris, arrogance and ego, that is not confidence. More often than not, it is a demonstration of insecurity. It’s a demonstration that we’re not as familiar with when we associate with the word insecurity. I think you can absolutely be confident and be humble. In fact, I would imagine those go more hand-in-hand than confident and arrogance or anything like that.

Confidence in my definition is an internal thing. It’s an inside out. I think a lot of times, we have confused confidence as an outside in because certain things make us feel confident temporarily like validation and compliments. In social media, getting enough likes or comments, promotions and compensation. We think if we get these, then we’ll feel confident. If we make a million dollars, then we’ll feel confident. If we get this client, then we’ll feel confident. I’m not suggesting that those things don’t make you feel confident. They can, but it’s a temporary feeling. If that’s what you’re using to define confidence, you’re going to go chasing more of that. You then end up running around being an absolute junkie for validation, compliments, achievement or whatever it might be.

Confidence for me is a very much an inside-out thing. Because of that, I’ve experienced that arrogance is loud, confidence is quiet. I don’t mean that you can’t speak loudly or that you can’t stand up for yourself or whatever. Confident people don’t run around showing and telling you they’re confident. That’s a proving thing. That’s how hubris plays out. Again, that more comes from insecurities and typically that confidence being an outside, “Let me tell you and show you all the great things and prove to you how awesome I am.” If you think about it logically from an outside looking in, it doesn’t even sound like confidence, let alone look like it.

I get so passionate about helping people that ask for more of what they want. To do that, you have to have clarity in what it is you want and then have the confidence to ask for it. It comes from having clarity. You’ll never be certain about anything. There’s no such thing as certainty. If 2020 didn’t prove that to you, I don’t know what. I am grateful to 2020 for reminding me that there is nothing in life that is certain, but I can have clarity. When I am clear on what I want out of a situation, out of a negotiation, I can stand in that clarity and it gives me power and strength in order to be able to ask, then take action and move forward.

What you’re saying really aligns with my definition of confidence. I no longer remember what Webster’s says confidence is. My definition of confidence is this, “When you know who you are, you own who you’re not, and you choose to embrace all of it.” I think that connecting with that version of yourself, building that level of confidence, when you go into negotiation, knowing who you are and the implications there are what you bring to the table, your value, what makes you unique and special? What makes you irreplaceable but also owning who you’re not. Not being silly about that you’re perfect, or that you have it and then choosing to embrace all of it. The way to demonstrate confidence is action. You got to ask.

Negotiating With Confidence: Overthinking leads to inaction, which is why overthinking is a big confidence derailer.


How do people find you? I know that you have a gift for our audience too. Tell us how we find you. How do people work with you? You’ve given some amazing stuff, Nicole. I appreciate it.

Thank you, Christine. I have my doubts, my fears and my, “What am I doing days,” and all of that. The best way to find me is probably my website. Its NicoleKalil.com. It has all the stuff about the different ways that I work and ways to connect with me. As you mentioned, I also have a podcast called This is Woman’s Work. As you might imagine, a lot of women listen to it, but 11% of our listeners are men, which I love. Whoever those brave and courageous men are, thank you for listening. That’s a good option. On Instagram, I’m @NicoleMKalil. Those are the best places for now.

You have a confidence course.

Yes, I have developed a digital course that’s called This Is Confidence. It walks you through the five confidence builders, two of which we talked about, the five confidence derailers, one of which we talked about, the overthinking. It also helps you to create the things I know to be true about me lists and walks you through an exercise to help on those tough and challenging days and reconnect with your confidence quickly. There are two options. You can take the course as self-paced or you can take it facilitated by me as a group.

If you are interested in taking Nicole’s course, you can get $100 off of that for reading. It’s a gift from Nicole to you and you can use the promo code 100 Off Confidence Course. I hope this has been a good experience for you. Thank you for being on the show. It’s been a great honor to have you here.

Thank you for inviting me. I could talk with you all day long. This has been awesome. Thank you.

To everybody who’s reading, thank you so much and stay tuned. We’ll have more episodes of the show coming your way, where we are focused on helping you, the small business owner level the playing field, asked for more of what you want and get it. In fact, I was pulling up a quick quote by one of my favorite authors on the planet, Maya Angelou, “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” Take that into your next negotiation. Thank you for joining us. We will see you next time.

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About Nicole Kalil

IVZ 4 | Negotiating With ConfidenceNicole Kalil is more than slightly obsessed with confidence and what it takes to both build and keep it. She spent the bulk of her professional life with a Fortune 500 company, where her passion for leadership and her commitment to building her own confidence led her to become the first female Chief Development Officer in 160-year company history.

Since starting her own company, Nicole has coached hundreds of executives and entrepreneurs, consults with Fortune 500 companies, hosts the “This Is Woman’s Work” Podcast, and speaks to leaders across the country about the “not-so-secret” secrets of Confidence.

Both of Nicole’s parents immigrated to the United States, her father from Mexico and her mother from Germany, making her a first-generation American. She credits her father in teaching her strong work ethic, confidence, and willingness to take risks. Her mother taught her the organizational skills and effective time management that allows for her to excel in complex and challenging roles.

Her values are Commitment, Courage, Authenticity, and (you guessed it) Confidence, and she is focused on demonstrating these on a daily basis. Maintaining harmony in her different roles of mother, wife, and business owner successfully is an ongoing challenge, and choice management is a much more important skill today than it ever was.

She is a self-admitted “foodie” and enjoys wine tasting and reading in whatever free time she has!