Meet Chardia Christophe-Garcia, 34, Marketing Director of ForbesLIVE. Chardia is poised, motivated and ready to take on the world. She credits much of her strength and success to her family, learning what it really means to hustle from her parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Guyana in South America.
But that doesn’t mean Chardia’s confidence came naturally or she always knows the right thing to do. Her self-doubt manifests through “imposter syndrome,” causing her to wonder if she’s really the best and most deserving person for the opportunities that come her way. Well, she has nothing to worry about as she’s 100% the real deal with incredible insight on how anyone can stop “imposter syndrome” from taking over and let that inner confidence soar.
Why Confidence Starts from the Inside…
“Confidence is 100% internal. When I was younger, I was really small in size—and I still am. It was always something that I struggled with, as I started getting older, especially right towards the end of college, I started realizing, ‘Who cares what everybody thinks? It’s about what’s inside.’ I decided to say, ‘Screw that—I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m too small,’ I find myself most confident when I feel like I have it together from a mental standpoint in terms of confidence at work. So, if I’m smart and I feel like I’m competent in the work that I’m doing, I usually feel confident. At work, I definitely feel a sense of confidence because I’ve prepared and done the work to go into a room and conquer it as opposed to physical things that you just can’t control. I find more strength in those scenarios—100%.”
When the Struggle is Real—Yet Empowering
“I think imposter syndrome is a real thing. I struggle with it and I’m fortunate to have such a great family support system that’s constantly rallying behind me. Even as I get in my career, imposter syndrome is still there. I did one of my first speaking engagements at a professional conference for International Women’s Day last year and before I accepted, I went back and forth in my mind, just questioning if I was good enough and if I was on the same level as all the other panelists. I struggle a lot where I know I’m good but sometimes I fail to recognize when I’m doing great. The more I read about imposter syndrome, the more it normalizes it and makes me feel it’s not just me. And, it’s not that I equated that to mean that anything was wrong with me. I just looked at it as there’s tons of people doing way more than me, so I can’t define myself as excellent because I’m not doing all of those things. Until I realized that I bring something different to the equation.
So, I try my best, even when I’m asked to do something that seems above my realm that I’ve never done before, to just go for it. Nine times out of ten, even amongst the nerves, it ends up working out and I’m always happy that I ended up doing it. I would encourage people that ever have those kinds of feelings that you never regret the decisions that you don’t make. Just go for it and see what becomes of it because sometimes that opens up so many more doors and only builds up your confidence as you go through that cycle.”
The Power of Your Inner Circle
“From a personal standpoint, I like to surround myself with really positive, boss ass chicks. I’m constantly drawing inspiration from them because they’re always challenging me to level up. I have a friend who’s pretty senior at Spectrum Communications. We went to grade school together and I’m just in awe of what she’s accomplished at such a young age. I see that with many of my friends throughout their careers. I look at them and I’m like, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’ When you constantly have people that are doing great things around you, it forces you to level up. My friend circle definitely does that for me, and they inspire me continuously. My does family too—I come from an immigrant family. My entire family is from Guyana in South America. Immigrants in general impress me because it’s the idea of leaving everything that you’ve known and moving to an entire new world just on the hope that it may bring a better life. To even make that call is super inspirational to me. And watching my parents actually it? It’s super inspiring and makes me want to work even harder to make them proud so they know that they made these sacrifices so that I could be the best. It’d be silly for me to squander that opportunity.”
Looking Your Best Helps You Do Your Best
“I know people say that looks don’t matter, but I do think that when you look your best, you feel your best. Whether you’re walking into a presentation or you’re about to see your ex-boyfriend at an event—you want to make sure that you feel vibrant and confident and some of that comes down to how you look. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive outfit but if you put on your favorite pair of jeans and your hips are looking good and your hair and nails are done? There’s something about that as a woman that makes you feel a little bit more confident. And a lot of it is just attitude. A lot of internal pep talks and there’s nothing like walking in a room and really feeling inside, ‘I got this.’ A lot of it comes down to preparation because when you know how to navigate a certain situation and have a clear vision of how you want a situation to go and you walk in with that level of confidence, you’re able to say, ‘Okay, this is how I want this to go.’ It’s creating your own destiny. You’re going to go in, you’re going to kill it, you’re going to give the best presentation because you’re prepared, look good and feel good. I think that’s something everyone should strive for in any scenario—work or personal.”
Hail Queen Beyoncé for an Instant Confidence Boost
“Beyonce’s entire soundtrack is amazing. When you listen to the words of her song ‘Flawless’—’I wake up flawless. . . post up flawless’—between the beat dropping and then the words, you put that on and it’s really powerful. Especially when I’m walking the streets of New York and I blast that before a meeting, I’m like, ‘All right, I got this—I’m flawless.’ Even when you watch any documentaries with Beyoncé, she talks about her alter ego and how she’s so quiet naturally in person, but when she comes on stage, she’s just fierce and kills every song and dance routine. It goes back full circle when you look at any of those documentaries and you see the work that she puts into every performance, every concert—no job is too small. I draw a lot of inspiration from her.”
When Everyone Knows Your Name…
“My mantra is ‘Hustle until you no longer need to introduce yourself.’ I say that because I feel like in this country, you’re in a world where if you really put everything into something and really hustle—you can become amazing. You see these kids now, especially with all the technology and platforms and social media, that literally just woke up and found a solution for something that nobody thought of before, and all of a sudden they have a million followers and they’re now getting sponsored and have million dollar deals. It’s such a strange concept, but it’s so true. If you really hustle and put your energy into being successful, it’s absolutely attainable. I love the idea of making such a name for yourself that when you leave a room, people are still talking about you in a positive way. That if you’re working on a project and people know you’re on it—they know it’s handled. That’s something I try to live by and it’s definitely something I aspire to do with everything that I’m associated with.”
Self-Care is All About the Day
“I consider myself a positive person and I’m solution-based. The moment I get to a space where I’m ‘Done, I don’t want to be here, I don’t have any solutions, I don’t have anything to bring to the table, I just don’t care’— that’s when I know I need to take a day because I am definitely not giving my best work and I’m definitely not going to motivate the people around me. I try my best to take a step back. I have someone that reports into me and I don’t ever want my bad mood or my bad feelings or frustration to ever rub off on her or my team. So, I recognize that and then I might just say, ‘Hey guys, I’m going to work from home tomorrow’ or ‘Hey guys, I need to take a day.’ Taking a day is a lot more important than working from home but sometimes working from home is a first step because you don’t have to see anybody. I can sleep in a little bit later because I don’t have to commute two hours to come to the office, and I’ll have a real breakfast and I’m going to still have my laptop. I’m going to still do my job, but I’m not going to feel that needs to be fake or look at people that I don’t want to look at for just the day. In a perfect world, I’d have a lot of money and I’d just take a long weekend to the Caribbean or Florida but obviously, I can’t do that every time I need a mental break. So honestly, just having the day to run errands or cook a meal at a decent time—just to have a normal routine where it’s not so pressed and you can breathe makes a big impact for me. I can decompress, turn the computer off, turn my phone off and not check anything. I do think that what helps me with that is having a strong team, so I feel comfortable taking a day. I do think that if you don’t have that type of support system at work, you’re never going to be able to do stuff like that. It’s so critical to your mental being and for being effective at work.”