Confidence is the self-assurance that arises out of the trust in one’s own qualities and capabilities. It is knowing you can and will accomplish something.

An unspoken but clearly present trait, confidence is like an aura which envelops highly successful people. The courage and calm that comes from a strong sense of confidence allows us to take the calculated risks necessary to move forward without fear of failure and lead with passion. But where does confidence come from?

Intellectual competence: Knowledge and skill begin with learning from traditional formal education, and in our world this also includes product training, seminars, plant tours, technical briefings and Internet-based information. However, being intellectually competent goes beyond the scope of our job. It also means knowing and understanding what is happening in the world around us. Talk to people. Engage those in conversation whose perspectives are different from yours in order to gain a deeper understanding of why they make the choices they make and learn from them.

Experience: We also gain insight and confidence from our experiences. Both successes and failures are good teachers. Embrace the exhilaration of trying something new! Whether it is developing a new product, adopting an exercise program, establishing a new organization or taking a trip to a new destination, have the courage to take a chance. If it works, your confidence will grow exponentially. If you fail, fail gracefully and try again.

Strong relationships: Strong relationships reinforce the confidence we need to take risks and make mistakes while being true to yourself, which in turn builds more confidence. Having the freedom within these relationships to speak confidently and openly about our abilities allows the opportunity to disclose our skills without coming across as arrogant. As Mohammed Ali famously stated, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

Look the part: Confidence begins with your presentation. Strong posture, looking someone in the eye when speaking to them, dressing the part and being physically present gives your audience a clear indication you’re confident.

Respecting yourself and others: Having pride in yourself is a key to being confident. Behaving with honor and dignity in the way you conduct yourself as well as treating others with that same honor and dignity builds and projects confidence.

Achieving personal goals: Developing a personal plan and accomplishing those life goals is another means to building confidence. Fulfilling the promises you make to yourself not only makes you feel good but gives you a sense of personal accomplishment. No matter the goal you set, working toward it also gives you a great sense of purpose.

At the 2015 ASA Women in Industry conference, award-winning author and world-renowned correspondent Katty Kay left the group with a strong message: The most important thing we can do as women in any workforce is to project confidence. Research shows sending a message of confidence affords opportunities and opens doors to leadership that less-confident employees will not have despite similar or even more competence.

This article was originally titled “Confidence 101” in the June 2016 print edition of Supply House Times.

About the authors: Mary Burke (Burke Agency), Stephanie Ewing (AD), and Katie Poehling (First Supply) serve on the ASA Women in Industry Division Executive Council, a group focused on providing women in the PHCP/PVF industry with the opportunity to connect, empower, inform, educate and engage. Visit for more information.