On November 9th, I went to a workshop at Google called #IamRemarkable for “Women in Cloud”, facilitated by Gautami Nadkarni and Naomi Klamen. The workshop is an initiative that strives to empower everyone, particularly women and underrepresented groups, to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond.
Although I typically feel a bit uneasy discussing my own accomplishments, hearing other women’s stories made me feel confident enough to share my own in a safe space.
The core of the workshop is about raising awareness and encouraging one another, focusing on the group experience of mutual sharing and support during and after the session.
I am the first to admit I tend to strive towards perfectionism, perceiving my own accomplishments as trivial. Sometimes I go so far as to not even give myself credit, and other times I tend to give others the credit I may deserve.
Accomplishments do not speak for themselves
Reading the quote, “Accomplishments don’t speak for themselves” made me realize that my reluctance to discuss my accomplishments publicly is perhaps misplaced. My mistake was thinking that talking about my achievements would make me seem less humble, but if it's true that accomplishments don’t speak for themselves, the choice is clear that we have to share them out loud. We know ourselves better than anyone else, so why shy away from sharing and promoting our accomplishments? Why wait for someone else to recognize them?
Unless you’re a famous person/public figure, no one will research or post about your accomplishments. You have to do it yourself!
As part of the #IamRemarkable workshop, all participants had to write their accomplishments down and split them into two buckets: Personal and Professional.
The idea is to start each sentence with “I am remarkable” and complete it with your accomplishments. I highly encourage you to do this exercise by yourself or in a trusted group setting. It can be empowering and motivating to be Honest about your strengths, have your accomplishments Heard, Connect with other people at a deeper level, and Get Inspired by listening to others’ stories.
Writing my accomplishments down felt liberating, and sharing them with everyone in the group was indeed empowering, just as the workshop intended. The exercise made me wonder why I had been holding back. I began to feel a sense of self-respect by recognizing what I have accomplished so far and reminding myself not to let my failures bring me down. These realizations helped me look at my accomplishments with pride instead of focusing on the negativity of setbacks. For instance, it always bothered me that my English is not perfect but looking at my accomplishments, I should be proud that I speak fluently 4 languages, and it’s ok if my English is not perfect!
So to break through for myself and anyone else that would get inspired reading this, I want to share my notes on what makes me remarkable.
“What makes me remarkable?”
- I am remarkable because I switched careers twice successfully.
- I am remarkable because I was valedictorian at Law School.
- I am remarkable because I started a marketing department from the ground up by myself.
- I am remarkable because I am a Women Techmakers Ambassador and Girl Code Ambassador and use the platform to empower other women’s careers.
- I am remarkable because I run a biweekly meetup in NYC called NYC Code & Coffee.
- I am remarkable because when I take ownership of something, I take it to the finish line. I am a doer; I don’t wait for others to do it for me.
- I am remarkable because I have lived in 3 countries and adapted easily.
- I am remarkable because I speak fluently 4 languages.
- I am remarkable because I am very handy and can fix anything.
- I am remarkable because I fostered 2 dogs and helped them get adopted.
This was not an easy exercise, and it was my first time articulating out loud the facts I am remarkable for.
My next action plan is to remember the following question and talk to myself about it as often as possible whenever I feel down.
I also invite you to share (with me, with friends/family, or on social media)
“What are you REMARKABLE for?”
A new study called The Self-Promotion Gap of more than 1,000 men and women shows that 69 percent of women would rather downplay their accomplishments than talk about them.
The more you talk about your accomplishments, what you want, what you’ve done well, and the value you’ve brought, the more you’re writing your own storyline.
It is not bragging if it is based on facts!
No one likes to be considered a show-off, but it is not boorish boasting if it is true. Here are some ways to communicate your successes and accomplishments to achieve your goals.
Self-confidence is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it gets. So, the more you practice talking passionately about yourself and your achievements, the easier it’ll be when you need to do it for real.
Got a mirror? Talk to yourself. Have a dog? Tell her why you deserve that promotion. Stuck at home in a pandemic with your significant other? Tell them why you’re so great and how lucky they have such a bright, accomplished professional. You’ll become good at it!
Don’t tell people what you can’t do; tell them what you can do. Don’t sell yourself short. You have to show up for yourself.
For example, women usually wait to apply for a job when they feel they are 100% ready and meet ALL the requirements, whereas men apply when only 60% requirements.
We have to fight against limiting beliefs, gender beliefs, and unconscious bias.
You lose 100% of shots you don’t take.
Keep a log, brag document, and kudos email folder. List things you’ve done well throughout the year so you can show them during your annual performance review.
Trust the process. Taking risks is scary for everyone, and being uncomfortable or confused is okay. You’re in the middle of a journey. Keep trying, be open to feedback, and keep improving.
It should be a collective effort.
Besides helping ourselves, we can also help others. By encouraging them to talk about themselves, share in a safe space, be a support system where they can share their accomplishments, mentor, coach, be supportive, and reflect together. Identify their authentic self and help them find things that will make them accelerate/create value in their careers.
While we know exceptional work results wouldn’t be possible without an environment of true collaboration, it is important to develop the ability to articulate individual contributions and to create an environment where people, regardless of gender and group status, feel they have a voice.
To be a true ally, one should:
- Lift others up by advocating
- Be open to everyone’s opinions, even if they differ from yours
- Seek out awareness-building opportunities within and outside your workplace
- Share growth opportunities with others
- Not view venting as a personal attack
- Recognize systematic inequalities and realize the impact of micro-aggressions
- Publicly support gender equity programs and invite others to participate
- Engage in mentoring to help expose to the challenges of inequity
- Believe in underrepresented people’s experiences, and
- Most importantly — listen, support, self-reflect & change.
Create safe spaces for others to speak. The more people feel included, the more they engage in positive behaviors.
Here were some of the ideas discussed, in case it’s helpful to reference for yourself or your teams:
- Wednesday brags: Encourage people (friends and colleagues) to express at least one of their achievements and/or strength every
- Sending manager 3–4 bullets via email at end of every month that highlights your work + aggregating it in a doc as a reference for performance review
- As a manager, encouraging the positive “tell me more” moments during 1:1s
- Water cooler moments: Use opportunities to talk about projects you are passionate about with other leaders in your organization
- For skip levels/leader 1:1’s: Come prepared to talk about where you want your professional journey to go