October 5, 2022

Validation Is for Parking: Nicole Kalil

Hey everybody, welcome to the Author Hour Podcast. As always, I’m your host, Gunnar Rogers. I am joined today by fellow podcast host of the podcast, This Is Women’s Work, Nicole Kalil. She’s also the newly minted author of the book, Validation is for Parking: How Women Can Beat the Confidence Con. I highly recommend everybody to go check this book out, it’s discounted to 99 cents, the Kindle version is, for this week and this week alone.

But before you do that, enjoy this conversation with Nicole Kalil.

All right everybody, as I mentioned in the intro, I am super honored and excited to have this next guest on The Author Hour Podcast. She is the host of the This Is Women’s Work Podcast, she is also the newly minted author of the book, Validation is for Parking: How Women Can Beat the Confidence Con. Nicole Kalil, thank you so much for joining us today.

Nicole Kalil: Thank you so much for having me, Gunnar, I’m excited to be here.

Gunnar Rogers: We’re excited to have you and I was telling you before we hit record, I’ve been reading the book a little bit, listened to a little bit of your podcast. You’ve done some incredible things throughout your career but the message you’re putting out into the world today is so helpful and so crucial and so, I’m just really thankful for that and thankful to have you on the show today.

Really simple question first, I’ve just got to know. When and how did you come up with the title for your book because it’s just so wonderful. What is the origin of Validation is for Parking?

Nicole Kalil: Yeah. So I thought going into the book writing process and I’ve been wanting to write a book for as long as I can remember. It’s been on my bucket list since I was very young, and so I thought there was going to be this order of events and I figured, the title would be at the very beginning and to make a very long process short, the book was being written and pretty heavy into chapters being filled before that title came, and I had a partner in the process.

Spent about four hours going through, I don’t know, 672 iterations of different titles and it was at the end of that fourth hour. I just kind of blurted it out. I’m feeling kind of punch and no filter at that point in time. She was like, “I love that” and I’m like, “Really? Okay”. So, you know, the subtitle is “How Women Can Beat the Confidence Con.” The confidence con was what we were really playing with, for the most part, up until that point.

Gunnar Rogers: Yes and I almost never ask about titles on this show but yours is just so dang good and it does point to the problem that you expound upon in the book and so diving into that a little bit more, when did you first realized women are being sold the lie that confidence is something to earn, instead of something to build from within and something that they inherently can be?

Building Confidence

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, so I probably bought into that lie at a very young age unconsciously and it wasn’t until my late 20s, just about when I turned 30, that I recognized that I didn’t really know what confidence was, but I was certain I didn’t have any of it, which would have been really shocking if you would have known me at that stage in my life. I was getting promoted pretty regularly at a Fortune 100 finance company. 

I was headed towards the C-suite and people would call me and say thing like, “I wish I had your confidence” and the way that it looked on the outside didn’t match at all how it felt on the inside. It just got to the point where, for me, it was a very dark time in my life and I felt like I had to do something about it, and so that began the journey of figuring out what confidence actually is, what it isn’t, and how we go about building it.

Gunnar Rogers: For you personally, and I ask this so that women listening can know, that first step, because that’s probably the hardest one to make, what was the first step for you to step toward your confidence and it being a true confidence?

Defining Confidence

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, I think for me, it was unpacking what confidence is. I was surrounded by people in the professional world and in my life and started to think about what the difference was between being successful, and being confident, and being happy, and just sort of recognizing we throw a lot of words around but we don’t often think about what they actually mean. 

So as cheesy as this sounds, I started digging into the root of the word confidence, like the etymology and it was at that point that I recognized, what I thought was confidence was more often ego, arrogance, even success to a certain extent. I just equated all of that with being confident and it wasn’t until I learned that confidence is about trust. 

The root of the word, it’s about trusting yourself firmly and boldly, and I knew I wasn’t trusting myself firmly and boldly and I knew I wanted to, and so that was the starting point for me was really digging into what is this thing that everybody is talking about so much that seem so important to everything I want to achieve and accomplish in my life. Yeah, that was the starting point for me.

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and reading the book, I was sort of blown away by that distinction of confidence and its root is trust in yourself, and you say this line in the intro that you didn’t necessarily like yourself in that dark time but worse, you didn’t trust yourself. So then zooming out, why do you believe it was so hard for you to trust yourself but even today, why is it so hard for so many women to trust themselves?

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, so for me, it was because I had spent the bulk of my formative years being told what I should and shouldn’t do, what I should and shouldn’t be. Everybody kind of had an opinion. High school, there was a lot of gossip and all of the things that separated me from my own trust. 

Like, if I wanted to show up in this way or date this guy or do this thing and somebody had an opinion about it, and I began to care so much what other people’s opinions were, that the voices that I was listening to when I was making my decisions were not my internal one. It was everybody else’s, and then that just got expanded on in my professional life. 

At the finance industry, it is very male-dominated and so all of my mentors, all of the people who developed me, all of my coaches, everybody, I was surrounded by men and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t advocate for women at the expense of men. Having said that, what was challenging for me was I was seeing what it was to be successful professionally from almost entirely a masculine lens. 

I had, have these feminine gifts and I have a balance of both and so, I was over rotating on the masculine and ignoring and shoving aside and pretending that any of the feminine didn’t exist and that was another way where I just wasn’t trusting myself. I wasn’t showing up authentically, so that’s personal. 

I think generally speaking, for women, it starts unfortunately, at a very young age. Research shows that it’s typically in those early elementary years where we start seeing a separation and the level of confidence between little girls and little boys around eight years old as a kind of a pinpoint.

I think it’s because little girls are expected to be well behaved and polite and kind and patient and take care of others and helpful, and all of those things, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being any of these things but if a little girl is angry or messy or dirty or talks back or whatever, there is no expression like “boys will be boys” for little girls.

I think early on, it sends a message and separates us from our authenticity. We’re not showing up the way we feel, we’re showing up the way we’re told we’re supposed to.

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah and it begins to squelch that inner voice that you’ve had to learn to trust later on in life, right?

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, I was so out of practice at even hearing my inner voice, let alone trusting it, you know?

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah, I had this question written down, what was it like to learn to trust yourself? Because it really sounds like it was almost like learning not only a new voice but a completely different language, so what was it like to go through that?

Learning to Trust Your Inner Voice and Sorting Through the “Head Trash”

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, like anything amazing I’ve ever done in my life, it was empowering and scary and wonderful and joy-filled and painful and messy and like, all the stuff, right?

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah.

Nicole Kalil: It was really a combination of all of it. I just knew it was important. I knew it was worth—I was going through all those feelings anyway, right? So it’s like, I might as well go through them.

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah, might as well compile on top of it.

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, might as well go through them for the benefit of myself as opposed to creating further distance from myself.

Gunnar Rogers: What were some of the biggest distinguishers between like, the voice you had been listening to and your inner voice that you began to trust?

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, so one thing that I’ll point out is the distinctness of my own voices. So I began to realize that there is this inner knowing, right? And then, there’s this voice that I call head trash. 

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah, I love that.

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, I wanted it to make it sound as filthy as it is, right? It’s just gross, it’s disgusting, and so it’s the voice we all have inside of our own minds that says things to us about us that are never kind and very rarely true. Like, “You’re not good enough, you suck, you’re too much this, you’re not enough that, nobody’s ever going to love you, nobody’s ever going to appreciate or understand or accept you.” All the noise, right?

Gunnar Rogers: And it feels so true.

Nicole Kalil: It feels so true. That was the scary part is I thought that voice was my inner knowing and so being able to distinguish between the two, and here’s really the simplest way, if it’s mean, head trash is the bully of confidence, right? Think about it this way, if you wouldn’t say what you’re saying to yourself to your best friend, your spouse, your partner, your child, if you wouldn’t say it to somebody you love, then you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself, because we should, first and foremost, be somebody that we love, right? 

So that was the one I could catch it, like, “Oh my gosh, I would never say this out loud to somebody else, so I need to stop saying it to myself” and there’s a quote that I loved that says, “You can’t prevent a bird from flying over your head but you can prevent it from building a nest in your hair.” And so, that was the thought with head trash. 

Like, I can’t prevent a negative thought from flying, and it will, but what I can do is prevent it from festering and living inside my brain, and so the practice of identifying, this is head trash and then, replacing it with something kinder, more productive, more empowered. One thing I also want to say about distinguishing between the two is my inner knowing has very much challenged me. It has told me things that I didn’t want to hear or things I didn’t want to know. 

So, I’m not saying our inner voice has only ever nice or like sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. It can be very challenging but it is always from a place of love. In the same way that you might challenge your child or your spouse or whatever, from a loving place. You know the difference of that between when you’re just being—

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah and so like, a level of comfort you’re willing to share. What was something honest and truthful inner voice was telling you from the beginning that you didn’t want to hear?

Nicole Kalil: I don’t know if it—well, God, I could give you so many. Like I mean, the men that I was dating was a really personal and big example. I went from one bad relationship to the other and I just kept repeating the same pattern of picking men that were emotionally unavailable and a lot of fun, and all of that. I spent abnormal amounts of time and energy trying to prove myself to them and then you know, it was all about getting them to see me in a certain way. 

Ultimately, what I begin to realize when I began to listen to myself a little bit more is that it wasn’t healthy. Those men weren’t meant for me, I wasn’t meant for them. I was seeking validation externally outside of myself. I was waiting for the person of my dreams to come along and make me feel valued and worthy, and the problem was it wasn’t any of those men’s jobs to do that for me other than me, and so beginning to see my value and my worth and, like that expression, “You complete me,” that makes me nauseous.

I am not a half-human, right? I don’t need anybody that complete me and I have a phenomenal loving relationship with my now-husband that I am so incredibly grateful for. I don’t think I would have ever found that relationship. I am certain I would have never seen him and he would not have been impressed with me until we — like I had done the work for myself, within myself, to create space for somebody like that to be in my life. So that’s one example, I could give you career example. I mean, there are—

Gunnar Rogers: So many examples. 

Nicole Kalil: Yes. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and congrats on the nuptials by the way, that’s amazing. 

Nicole Kalil: Thank you, yeah.

Gunnar Rogers: You know, along the way, along that journey, you talk about boundaries and drawing boundaries and you share some tips on how to draw boundaries, and it is so much easier said than done. So to share with our audience and to help them on their journey, what was the hardest boundary for you to draw and to hold when building your confidence from the inside out? 

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, so for me the hardest boundary was, and frankly still is, not saying yes to too many things. I think, and I don’t know if this is just a woman thing, but I worked so frequently with women and such a common conversation that I know this is impacting so many women is we have this default yes, right? You want to pick up this extra project at work, can you do this for your kid, can you be present in the PTA, can you drop of something for some friend in need? 

It’s like yes-yes-yes-yes and at some point, we end up burnt out and exhausted. I mean, women are exhausted right now after COVID and all of that, and so for me, it was understanding when I actually want to say yes, when I actually want to say no, and then how to do that, and then leaving some space for that stuff in the middle where it’s like, “I am not sure yet.” This could be a yes. It could be a no.

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah like “I don’t know” is an okay answer. 

Nicole Kalil: Yes or like, “Hey, give me a week to think about whether or not I have capacity for this right now” because if I am going to do it, I want to do it right and I’d be doing everybody a disservice if I said yes right now because I am not sure if I have capacity to do it right now. 

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah, I love that and then you also mentioned five derailers and so I was wondering for you, what is the derailer out of the five that you struggle with the most?

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, I am a recovering perfectionist. So perfectionism is the enemy of confidence and I still feel like unconsciously fall into the trap of thinking I am supposed to be it all, do it all, have it all and look good while doing it, right? I hold myself and often times other people to these standards that are unachievable, unattainable because as we know, perfection is not an achievable goal, right? Nobody is perfect. 

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah, not even possible. 

Nicole Kalil: So it is such a dumb thing if you think about it like, I am holding myself to this unattainable, unachievable standard and then having the audacity to beat myself up for falling short, which is the only possible conclusion. 

Gunnar Rogers: How has that derailer reared its head a little bit while writing this book? 

Nicole Kalil: Oh my gosh. So you know of course even starting to write the book. I kind of had the, “I have to achieve this, I have to accomplish that, I have to check off all of these boxes, I have to be ready.” So there is this element to perfectionism and overthinking in combination that delayed me doing something I knew I wanted to do, probably a few years longer than I wanted to do it. 

Then you know, overthinking the words and the chapters. I mean, there are chapters two and three I think were rewritten definitely multiple times, and having to tell myself that my job or my opportunity was to write the best book I could, given where I’m at, at this stage in my life and understanding that even now, a week from now, a year from now, ten years from now I am going to look back and go, “I wish I would have done that differently” or “I wish I would have added this or deleted that or focused here” or maybe I’ll learn something where I’ll look back and go, “You know what? I’m not sure that’s totally accurate anymore.” 

I had to create space for that and then let me also say one other area that I have really been working on myself is reviews. I, of course, want all the five-star reviews and everybody who gives me one gets a spot in my blanket fort, you know like the whole deal but I am not really preparing myself for my goal in writing this book was to impact people, maybe more specifically to impact people who identify as women. 

I hope I get some one-star and two-star reviews because I hope there is some things that make people feel uncomfortable, that make people disagree, that have people hate everything I stand for because every time you do something big or stand for something worthwhile, there is going to be somebody who disagrees. There is going to be somebody who believes the polar opposite and so I am not going as far as to say I’m going to love getting a one-star and two-star review but I am preparing myself knowing my perfectionist tendencies to really think about it from a different lens. 

Gunnar Rogers: Yeah, if you try and challenge yourself, I think you’ve set yourself up here. That’s awesome and then you know, zooming in to the audience for this book, people who identify as women, if you could share only one message from this book with the woman who needs to hear it most, what would that message be?

Message to Women

Nicole Kalil: I mean, simple, trust yourself. Everything you need to know, everything that’s meant for you, everything you know, your worth, your value, it’s all living there inside of you and no matter how connected or disconnected you feel from that, you have the opportunity to rebuild and repair that connection because it didn’t go anywhere. I promise, I always think like there’s two tracks running at the same time. 

Those are inner knowing or that inner truth and then head trash and all the other noise. The problem with our inner knowing and inner truth is that that can be very quiet but it’s still there and that track is still running and so it might be quieting the noise or taking the space or the time or just putting one foot in front of the other towards listening for it. Then the thing I would add too is I just think about this sometimes, like you are the only you there has ever been or will ever be. 

There is no other you in history, there will never be another you in the future, and that is the sure sign to me that we all have inherent worth and value, and we’re all here, not necessarily for one purpose, but we all have a purpose. 

Gunnar Rogers: Yes, I love that. I believe I think it’s Oscar Wilde who said, “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.” 

Nicole Kalil: Everybody else is already taken, yeah, it is one of my favorite quotes. I have it hanging in my office. 

Gunnar Rogers: I actually too, I am looking at it right now actually. 

Nicole Kalil: I love that. 

Gunnar Rogers: That’s awesome and so the book is going to help so many people but I am sure there is some next steps that people have to take once they read it. So after everybody puts this conversation down and goes and purchases their copy of Validation is for Parking: How Women Can Beat the Confidence Con, what is the next steps they can take? 

Nicole Kalil: Yes, so there are a lot of tactical exercises within the book. I would say, pick the confidence derailer or the builder that resonated with you the most when you were reading it, going like, “Oh gosh, this is totally me” and find the exercise and just you know, test it out, or if there is any of the exercises that really resonates with you in the book, go for it. I will share that I did create a 40-plus page workbook companion to the book. 

Gunnar Rogers: Share it, where can we find that? 

Nicole Kalil: Yes, so if you go to nicolekalil.com and go to the shop, it will be there but it should also be on a pop-up or I mean, it will be everywhere all over my website, right? You can download that for yourself and that’s just a good, you can print it or put it on your computer and just, you will read this in the book, action builds confidence. So it is one little risk built up on top of the other leads to big confidence one action step, one test, one foot in front of the other, so. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and so they can go check out that workbook companion at your website. How else can our listeners follow you and how can they engage with you? 

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, so nicolekalil.com has pretty much everything. Of course, there is the podcast, This is Woman’s Work. I am on LinkedIn, you can follow me professionally there. I am also on Instagram @nicolemkalil. I always say you can follow me with cursing that is where I’m like no holds barred, no filter version of myself on a—

Gunnar Rogers: That’s the more fun page. 

Nicole Kalil: Yeah, LinkedIn is the more professional but in that page, you know, as it should be. 

Gunnar Rogers: Awesome. Well, Nicole, thank you not just for your time but thank you for doing the hard work yourself of learning to trust yourself of learning to build confidence, and now encouraging and empowering so many women to do the same. The book is called, Validation is for Parking: How Women Can Beat the Confidence Con. It is on sale on Amazon today, you can get the Kindle version for 99 cents. 

Nicole, I just can’t say it enough, thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you’re doing. We really appreciate you. 

Nicole Kalil: Thank you so much for having me and for letting me share about my book. It was an honor and I am so excited and scared out of my mind but mostly excited. 

Gunnar Rogers: Okay, it’s good to be both. It’s good to be both. 

Nicole Kalil: Yeah. Right.