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Living the Confidence Code: “You Don’t Need to Please Everyone. It’s Exhausting and Doesn’t Work Anyway.”

Living the Confidence Code: “You Don’t Need to Please Everyone. It’s Exhausting and Doesn’t Work Anyway.”

Interview: Katty Kay, Claire Shipman and JillEllyn Riley.

Katty Kay is a longtime journalist, now anchor for the BBC World News America.

Claire Shipman is a longtime journalist for outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC News, and CNN.

They're the co-authors of the New York Times bestsellers Womenomics: Work Less, Achieve More, Live Better (Amazon, Bookshop) and The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know (Amazon, Bookshop).

JillEllyn Riley is a writer and editor for fiction and non-fiction, for both children and adults.

Together, the three wrote their new book Living the Confidence Code: Real Girls. Real Stories. Real Confidence. (Amazon, Bookshop). This book was an instant New York Times bestseller, and collects stories of thirty girls pursuing their own aims.

I couldn't wait to talk to the authors about happiness, habits, and self-knowledge.

Gretchen: Which aspect of your confidence code do you struggle most with (risk more/think less/be yourself)?

Katty: Taking risks. Always hard for me.

Claire: All of it. I ruminate, which can be paralyzing, and I also really suffer from people-pleasing, which means sometimes it's hard to figure out where others end and I begin.

JillEllyn: Overthinking. I tend to catastrophize, assuming the worst and imagining disaster around every corner.

What's your favorite confidence hack?

Katty: Do it afraid. It's something we've realized only recently but I love it. It helps me with my #1 problem!

Claire: I have a phrase I say to myself, especially when I'm sending emails, reaching out to people and I'm nervous. I tell myself: who cares? Who cares whether they like it or whether there is a typo, etc. That is super-duper frightening for me, but also kind of liberating.

JillEllyn: Me to We Thinking. It gets me out of my head & helps curb my overthinking. When I focus on other people & bigger issues that I care about—it's a huge motivator.

What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

Katty: You don't need to please everyone. It's exhausting and doesn't work anyway.

Claire: I find happiness in two places I never imagined: in micro-everyday interactions and in flow, when my brain is engaged in something I find exhilarating and everything fades away.

JillEllyn: I used to think happiness was something you had to deserve, something to be worthy of having.

Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

Katty: I used to be an erratic eater, especially when I was stressed. I seem to have broken the habit—now I just eat normally, stress or no stress.

Claire: I don't talk about anything hard after 8 pm or even get on the phone. It revs me up too much. That was hard, but it's such a relief to just understand myself.

JillEllyn: I always had a tendency to step in and "fix" problems, even when nobody asks me for help. I've had to work hard to tamp that down.

Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

Katty: Questioner: I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn’t make sense, I won’t do it.

Claire: Questioner/Rebel I'm always curious, I question everything, and I like to make my own decisions. And even though I like to please, I also rebel in crazy ways—I'm an unexpected rule breaker. I've always felt like a puzzle piece that doesn't quite fit where it should.

JillEllyn: Rebel: I'm not motivated by expectations or authority, I do things in my own way, according to my values and my sense of what's right. I'm a bit of an outlier, but that's ok with me, too.

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