3 Key Things Mika Brzezinski Taught Me

For the MSNBC host, it’s not just about building a personal brand — although that’s important too.

Mika Brzezinski: She’s smart and got it all together, right? And yet, she’s the first to answer: “Everything is not what it seems”

Mika is known for her insightful and (sometimes) brash role as co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and author of Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth. In reading Knowing Your Value, I immediately connected with something that has reared its ugly head to me this past year in my own career: Time and time again, Mika has been shocked to learn an acquaintance has experienced the same exact challenges as hers. She notes that women tend to be their own worst enemy as we look at others and assume everyone is doing so much better than we are.

Band together. Mika argues that women need to be honest with each other on the challenges we face to develop solutions together. As she opened about her experiences, others responded in kind. We cannot act as though there are no drawbacks to being women in business. Trying to ignore the issues we face means we only end up perpetuating them.

Stop apologizing. I share with Mika the desire to be liked. A few months ago after a long conversation with a few close friends, we all made a pact to count the number of times we said, “I’m sorry” when it was unwarranted. I was shocked at the number of times I apologized about things that either didn’t warrant an apology or were not even my fault — for example, being in someone’s way in the store or bad weather causing an issue with someone’s commute. I’ve since become more conscious of my apology crutch and am working to curtail it. I have a long way to go but am already feeling more empowered.

Cut the self doubt. Like Mika, I find it extremely difficult to speak highly of my own skills or receive praise and tend to give credit instead to others around me. Why is it so hard for us to speak highly of ourselves? Society still believes that women shouldn’t brag for fear of being called the b-word. Men are considered successful, esteemed and highly qualified when they speak of their skills and projects, whereas women are not perceived the same way and will not be until we start to assert our skills.

Indeed, at the end of a project or rough day write down the skills you learned or used that day in a journal, at the end of a month, go through and see which skills you used frequently and which you felt you didn’t use enough. Over time, you will become more confident talking about your skills in your own words with specific examples of when you used them effectively.

— Katrina Purcell


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