We Could All Use a Boost to Our Self-Confidence, Buck Up Little Camper!

By Carrie Urban Kapraun Sep 14, 2010

A few weeks ago, I made a disturbing observation while attending a marketing industry event. The event was organized by a respected industry organization, was well attended and there seemed to be a pretty broad spectrum of people represented. I networked with a handful of people that had an assortment of backgrounds and experiences. As is true of any business-type function, many of the attendees I spoke with were looking to make contacts for future business or employment opportunities. Unfortunately, based on my interactions with some people at the event, I left feeling disheartened and helpless because of the palpable lack of self confidence and discouragement that I observed and sensed during my conversations with several attendees.

In particular, I spoke with three people at the reception that were looking for employment opportunities. All of them had previously been employed and they had varying levels of industry and non-industry related experience. Regrettably, all of them had been laid off because of the current state of our economy and had been unemployed for more than six months.

As a whole, my impression of them was that they were all outgoing, well-spoken, properly dressed, prepared, educated, inquisitive, motivated and resourceful. It seemed to me that they were taking all of the appropriate steps and using all available avenues to find career opportunities.

However, whatever prior setbacks that they had faced during their career search had obviously hurt their self-confidence and negatively skewed their self worth. In many cases, it wasn’t necessarily what they said, but their posture, tone of voice and eye contact that really conveyed their insecurities. It was apparent to me that they were losing their sense of value and from an outsider’s perspective (or at least my perspective); it was really upsetting to witness their discouragement. I was disheartened that I was unable to offer any tangible information or actionable advice to help them and could only give them superficial encouragement. I could identify with their feelings and couldn’t judge them on their lack of self-assurance, it was understandable. They were full of potential but were stymied by limited opportunities.

Even beyond people seeking employment, I think that as a whole, our collective confidence has taken a nose dive. For example, thinking about my communications with different sponsors and properties, there is an overwhelming feeling of humbleness that wasn’t there before. Experienced property sellers that used to be secure in their ability to obtain sponsors doubt their skills and approach. Emerging and inexperienced property sellers are discouraged by their challenges with establishing relationships.

Some sponsors are hesitant to engage in conversations with new properties or firmly stand behind a sponsorship program because of continuing future financial uncertainty. Brands and their agencies are trying to connect with audiences that have experienced a core shift in values and priorities. Competition everywhere is fierce. This is our current reality.

Does it help to know that we are not alone in our challenges? Maybe, it does in a small way.

Are we going to recover our self-confidence? Hopefully, we will with time, but I think it is going to be a fairly big hurdle.

Do I have any words of wisdom? Not really, but as a glass half-full kind of person, I can say that for almost every example of struggle that I see, there is an example of success. It isn’t all gloom and doom, but the uncertainty is understandable.

To close, just remember, as I always like to say, “Buck up little camper.”



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