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Phase 2: Building Confidence

Before we engage, let’s ensure we are fully present and prepared to be fully present! Back in 1999, I learned the following techniques from Laurie Macpherson, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Masagung Graduate School of Management at the University of San Francisco. She called them the Four Tools of the Creative Hero and they have served me and many other professionals well over the years. In short, this networking and mentoring model and process takes courage and there is a community that will help support you as you build your confidence through practice.

Four Tools of the Creative Hero

  • Have faith in your own voice.
  • You are awesome and the world needs your involvement! Suspend negative judgment.
  • Turn off the negative! And don’t be held back by the imposter syndrome, an internal doubt of one’s accomplishments! You belong and your perspectives and ideas are needed. Practice precise observation.
  • Listen, watch, seek to fully understand. BE PRESENT! Ask penetrating questions, After understanding, connect ideas and needs with questions.

This model takes time and repetition. Practice it TODAY. Practice it TOMORROW. Add to it, change it, and make it your own as you move forward in your next transition and in your career.


“Before reading this guide, I had never encountered the Four Tools of the Creative Hero, but they resonated strongly with me as I thought about my own story of developing my network and finding community. As an autistic individual with an anxiety disorder, I did not really start building my networking skills until I found these tools although I came to them through experience rather than education. I had to learn to accept the social communication and speech ‘mistakes’ I inevitably make in conversation with others and even embrace them as part of my voice.

Instead of obsessing about how I was communicating, I learned to focus on why I was communicating and to view that focus as a strength. I keep practicing the things I’m not as good at (like breaking into a group conversation to share a connection), knowing that I can also use alternative methods that are more appropriate for me to achieve the same thing (like listening actively to others’ words and actions and then following-up later with an insight).

Finally, developing my ability to ask thoughtful questions designed to build understanding and connection with another was far more valuable for relationship-building than any attempt I made to develop skills at small talk or understanding nonverbal social cues.“

– Kim Elmore, Former DREAM Coordinator

Tip: Employers seek fresh perspectives which will require faith in your own voice and confidence to share your perspectives. Bring your enthusiasm and interests and help others feel good. Recognize that your engagement enables fresh perspectives to be learned and this is reverse/reciprocal mentoring! With this in mind, it’s time to move forward in the model.


“Being confident doesn’t mean you have all the answers. Great questions, show great knowledge.”

Picture of Derek with Diego and Andy

– Diego Mariscal, Founder, CEO and Chief Disabled Office of 2Together International

Phase 2: Build Confidence Activities

Think about what you have accomplished. I received the below BRAG LIST from Paul Hippolitus, formerly of the World Institute on Disability (WID). The list is from BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus, Warner Books, ©2003. Review and complete to help create a self-evaluation profile. If you do not have a job/ career, please substitute volunteer or school activities for your work history.

BRAG! “Take-12” Self-Evaluation Questionnaire Professionals

  1. What would you and others say are five of your personality pluses?
  2. What are the ten most interesting things you have done or that have happened to you?
  3. Whatdoyoudoforalivingandhowdidyouendupdoingit?
  4. What do you like/love about your current job/career?
  5. How does your job/career use your skills and talents, and what projects are you working on right now that best showcase them?
  6. What career successes are you most proud of having accomplished (from the current position and past jobs)?
  7. Whatnewskillshaveyoulearnedinthelastyear?
  8. What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today both professionally and personally, and what essential lessons have you learned from some of your mistakes?
  9. What training/education have you completed and what did you gain from those experiences?
  10. What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways member, board, treasurer, or the like?
  11. How do you spend your time outside of work, including hobbies, interests, sports, family, and volunteer activities?
  12. In what ways are you making a difference in people’s lives?

From the list above, filter this to capture your Top 5 accomplishments:


Build these into your communications. Share these with your networks. If this makes you uncomfortable, which it will for many individuals, learn about the imposter syndrome (as brought up earlier) and talk about it with a friend of a colleague: the imposter syndrome.


My Dream Job: On the Importance of Networking
By Alec Frazier of Autistic Reality. The full post, My Dream Job: On the Importance of Networking, is available online.

“I finally found a job that provides me with stability and everything I need to succeed. Want to know how many times I applied? The answer is zero. Networking got me this position.

It is my firm opinion that at least 50 percent of gaining employment is networking. Below are some of my best networking tips:

  • Do you know of a conference for people in your industry? Go! It might help to set aside a small budget to pay attendance fees, although a number of them are free.
  • Does someone you know, know someone in “the business”? Inquire about them and try to get that person’s business card.
  • Follow up regularly on business contacts and potential business contacts.
  • Consider getting your own business card. There are services that can provide you with a number of free formats to choose from, and you will only have to pay printing and shipping. There are also more expensive cards, which are more customizable.
  • Are you good at social networking? Consider creating a page for your business. Make sure it is a page, however, and not a group.
  • Find out more about LinkedIn and join it, and regularly update your profile! It can be helpful with almost all of the ancillary parts of seeking a job, including resume building, networking, and staying apprised of current situations in your industry.
  • Is there somebody you want to get to know? Someone you want to be aware of your work? Schedule a lunch date with them! People often have lunch hours free from work and would be glad to get to know you during that time.
  • Is there an agency that governs your industry? Follow it!
  • Do you have viewpoints that you wish to share with the public? Start a blog! Platforms like Blogger are more professional and less redundant.
  • Is there an association of people in your business? Join!
  • Think you’re ready for the next step? Start a website! Make sure to trademark a catchy, unforgettable URL!”
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