Have you ever had an experience of meeting someone for the first time and realizing instantly that your life is about to change? Well, that’s what happened when I met Tara Mohr last August. Since we’re both solopreneurs and have a shared mission to help as many people flourish in their careers (and life) as possible, it created a wonderful bond. Every single interaction I’ve had with her since has been full of learning, growing, and laughing (she’s very funny). Basically, she’s a rad chick. Her teachings and body of work inspire me so much that I asked her if she’d be willing to let me interview her and share it with you. Being the generous soul that she is, she said yes!
A little background…Tara is an expert on women’s leadership and well-being. Her work helps women play bigger in their work and in their lives. She is the creator of the global Playing Big leadership program for women. Her writing on women’s leadership and careers has been featured on The Today Show and in Harvard Business Review, The Financial Times, ForbesWoman, CNN.com, and in numerous other publications. She is also a columnist for the Huffington Post. Tara received her MBA from Stanford University and her undergraduate degree in English literature from Yale.
See, I told you. Pretty rad, right? Oh yes!
Get ready to be blown away by her insightful, amazing advice to women who are yearning to play bigger in this world but aren’t quite sure how to do it.
Kelly: You have coached tons of brilliant, talented, dedicated women. Yet, you've noticed a common theme that most of them don't see their own brilliance, are more attuned to what they aren't qualified for than what they are, and are waiting to be promoted, validated, or discovered. Can you share with us the first step you would recommend women take to shift this viewpoint and enable them to tap into their own brilliance?
Tara: The big first step is recognizing for oneself, 1) “Oh, I’ve got a voice inside called the inner critic” 2) believing that the inner critic is a liar and 3) realizing it’s not all of you, it’s not your best thinking- it’s just one voice within. When women start recognizing that irrational, repetitive, extremist, neurotic negative voice inside and realizing it’s not the real voice of their best thinking, they can say, “Oh, that’s just my inner critic talking,” and they have a choice about whether to listen to that voice or not. That little space of choice is the beginning of acting in spite of the inner critic critic, rather than taking direction from it.
Kelly: I love your 10 Rules for Brilliant Women workbook. I personally reference it all the time, especially when I'm feeling scared to put myself out there in a bigger way. Admittedly though, it can be hard to remember all 10 things. If you could only choose three of your rules to recommend implementing, which ones do you believe are the "must dos"?
Tara: Oh, that’s great to hear that it is making a difference in your life. Here are three of my favorite rules:
- Question the voice that says “I’m not ready yet.” We’ve all got that voice inside but again and again I’ve seen that brilliant women are just not very good at assessing what they are and aren’t ready for. We underestimate ourselves. My recommendation is to set aside the question, “Am I ready for that?” and replace it with the question, “Is this opportunity in alignment with my dreams for my life and career?” If the answer to that question is yes, say yes, whether you feel ready or not.
- Get a thick skin. This one isn’t so much about “toughening up” or “acting like a guy” but about realizing that if you are saying or doing anything important, anything innovative, you will draw both praise and criticism. This tends to be the opposite of how we are conditioned in school, where there is typically only a single authority figure (the teacher) on the work we produce. We can really benefit from reframing criticism from being a sign that we’ve done something wrong to being a sign that we are doing something important.
- Filter advice. Brilliant women are often very collaborative and we love the part of any process that involves talking with people and getting their opinions and advice. But we often forget to filter advice - to take the advice that resonates and leave aside the advice that doesn’t. Particularly when women are innovating, leading, and shaking up the status quo in their organizations, industries or communities, they will get lots of advice they shouldn’t take - advice from people feel threatened or who don’t understand what is being discussed - because it’s ahead of the times.
Kelly: What is your definition of "personal brand" and what impact do you think it has on a woman's ability to play bigger in her career and life?
Tara: Well, I think it’s important that we remember that the concept of a brand was invented for products. It had to do with giving a product a coherent personality - something people already have. In that sense, you don’t ever need to create a personal brand. You need to access and communicate your brand, and the more you are being *you* the more you will do that. Express your unique style, share your unique ideas, let your voice come through in your work, and that will communicate a strong brand. Playing big and having a strong personal brand both come from continually moving closer, closer, closer to your original ideas and individual contribution.
Kelly: Can you share a personal story of a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone in order to play bigger? What did you learn from the experience that surprised you most?
Tara: The first time I was booked to appear on the The Today Show to talk about my work, I was certain that I “wasn’t ready yet.” I was certain I needed to hone my message more, appear on more local TV to practice, get a media coach, etc. Yet because of the work I’ve done with women around their inner critics, I knew that that voice of self-doubt was not a reliable one to listen to, and I moved forward in going on the show, trusting that if I had been asked to appear, that meant I was indeed ready. That turned out to be true - I did just fine! What surprised me most is how true the most looney kinds of self-doubt feel when we are in that place of fear.
Kelly: You are the creator of an extraordinary 6-month program called "Playing Big" which will be starting again this April. Who is this course best suited for and what could they expect to get out of it?
Tara: Yes, this is really my passion and a big part of how I work on my calling to unleash women’s voices in the world. Time and time again I came across women who had the sense that they were playing small - both in their careers and in their life choices. They knew they were playing small, being more loyal to their fears than to their dreams, but they didn’t quite know how to change it. I created a course that has the tools, ideas, and secrets that truly help women play bigger and it’s been making a difference in hundreds of women’s lives since I started teaching it a few years ago. The course is for any woman who wants to play bigger. They’ll get clear on what playing big looks like for them, stop being held back by self-doubt and fear, learn how to become less beholden to praise and less sensitive to criticism, learn how to communicate and negotiate more powerfully, and become connected to a supportive community of like-minded women from all around the world.
Amazing, right? If you’d like to learn more about her upcoming Playing Big program, jump on over to her site and sign up to get more details. It’s a life changing program and worth serious consideration if you’re ready to shine brighter and experience success and fulfillment on a whole new level. It’s never too late to begin.
What do you think of Tara’s philosophy? What is one thing you’re willing to commit to today to start playing bigger tomorrow? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.