Taking Charge of Your Career: A Creative’s Perspective
July 16th | 2015
by Laura Nelli

I’m generally not one to shy away from the spotlight, so when a colleague at Zeus Jones asked me to be part of a panel on confidence for an upcoming Mad Women Minneapolis event, I was immediately in!

Speaking in front of 50 or 60 people seemed totally doable. But little did I know that there’d actually be an audience of 300 – with a 200-person waiting list and a livestream – and that it would, in fact, be one of the largest events that Minneapolis Mad Women had ever thrown. As soon as I found out, a mean case of the panic sweats started to set in. I was definitely out of my comfort zone. But that’s when I remembered what was awesome about speaking on a panel – you’re not alone! With five other strong women on the panel with me, I had an automatic support system to get me through my pre-event fear. Luckily, my fellow speakers were a group of brilliant and funny women who knew a thing or two about helping those around them dig deep for their awesome.

In my presentation, I let people know that they have control over their careers and reflected on how I created my own opportunity to do the type of work that inspired me. And when that path no longer served me, I re-evaluated my interests, redirecting myself into my current position as a Creative at Zeus Jones. There were some key realizations I had during my career transitions that helped me take charge of my career, and that’s what I shared with the Mad Women audience.

  1. When trying to take your career in a new direction, you need to develop a support system—your own personal fan club. During my transition from entrepreneur to employed creative I encountered a lot of people who doubted my abilities – and that shit started to rub off on me. I began doubting both myself and the value of what I’d done. Thank God for my fan club. They were there to remind me of my awesome and give me the pep talks I needed to keep going—their love and support effectively rebuilt my shaken confidence.
  2. You get to define who you are and what you’re good at. As I met with people across the industry, I was looking for them to tell me what I was good at and where I might fit in. Big mistake! After one particularly ruthless meeting with a recruiter, I realized that I was the one who got to define myself. It was foolish of me to give that right to anyone else. Nobody knows me better than me.
  3. Don’t diminish yourself. I’ve always struggled with how to talk about Nelle and my experiences when entering a new work environment. If I come in too hot, it’s a total turn off and can close doors rather than opening them. But, if I come in too cold, people don’t know what I’m capable of. Here’s the deal: when we make our life experiences seem small, we give our power away. When we do that, we’re saying that what we’ve done and what we’ve learned has no value – and that destroys not just the confidence we have in ourselves, but also the confidence that others have in us.

When I made my last two points, they really seemed to resonate with younger members of the audience – and I, in turn, felt inspired by their motivation and energy. What with all the panelists and audience participants sharing “life knowledge” with one another, we spent the evening effectively creating a tidal wave of confidence.

I tip my invisible hat to all the women who spoke with me that night – your positivity and kick-ass personalities made this one of my favorite life moments, so thank you all.

If you missed the event you can see the wisdom bombs from the other panelists here. The presentation from yours truly starts right around the 11 minute mark. Thank you to MadWomenMpls for giving women in the industry a platform and to Space150 for hosting such a dynamic event.