Softcat’s Paris King shared her three self-confidence tips at the Women in Tech Festival

“Without a doubt, the biggest thing I’ve had to battle with… is my self-confidence,” said Softcat’s Paris King when she took the stage at Computing and CRNWomen in Tech Festival.

Softcat’s head of cloud alliances shared three important self-confidence tips with the hundreds of technology and channel professionals – women and men – who attended the day.

The packed agenda of the opening morning included keynotes from HSBC’s CTO on the importance of diversity and inclusion for growth, and the topic of representation from an age perspective from Lesley Lloyd.

Next to take the stage – albeit in a virtual capacity – is Softcat’s Paris King.

King opened up about how he dealt with self-confidence issues during a nine-year stint at Softcat that saw him promoted six times.

He shared three important learnings, which were curing the disease to please, knowing how to break his silence in meetings, and ‘cutting through’ multitasking.

“In my nine years at Softcat, I’ve been promoted six times. Without a doubt, the biggest thing I’ve had to fight for in those nine years is my self-confidence – and it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. [by management and her colleagues] even. I really need to find a way to be confident quickly,” he said.

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Cure illness to be happy

Early in her Softcat career, King admitted she was “the definition of a woman who needs to please”.

“I used to say ‘yes’ to everything. I didn’t have the confidence to say ‘no’. But I got to the point where it was humanly impossible to do everything I promised. And that’s when I started to drop things ball. There have been many times when I have lost money in business as a result of my overcommitment and inability to execute,” he said.

The first part of the solution is learning how and when to say ‘no’, explains King, something he calls a ‘priority matrix’ (pictured below) – which encourages you to dividing tasks into urgent / non-urgent and important / unimportant – helped him to.

Source: CRN

“Then came the aural expression of saying “no’ to people and how to be confident and comfortable doing that.

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King simply searched the internet to find phrases that enabled him to explain why he couldn’t do the things asked of him.

“The more comfortable I was with saying ‘no’, the easier it was, and I was able to wash and repeat.

“I’m no longer the girl who says ‘yes’ to everything…but I’m confident the girl who does everything she says she’s going to do.”

Breaking the silence

The inability to regularly speak in meetings was another challenge that King said compromised his confidence early in his management career.

This is exacerbated by the fact that she is often the youngest person in the meeting and the only woman, and that she sometimes manages people she previously managed.

King said his approach changed overnight after he was introduced to the concept of the ‘doom loop’ (a self-perpetuating downward spiral), and how to break it.

“The realization of the impact of negative beliefs really hit home,” he said.

“When I woke up the next morning and joined a management meeting, it was the first time in months that I actually contributed to the discussion.”

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Chunking down

King admits that he sometimes struggles when faced with the challenges of a job of “absolutely mammoth” size.

His advice is to “cut” the task into smaller, more palatable chunks, as he was shown how to achieve a charity parachuting challenge he did.

“I’ve taken the same approach to all the scary projects I’ve had in my career,” he says.

“I break it down into small parts and work on it little by little. It means I can delegate some tasks to the best people on my team who have strengths in those areas. It also means we can celebrate the small victories as we go.”

In his role, King leads a team of solution specialists, looking after Softcat’s business in Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Computing.

“While I still need to work on some of these things, my lack of self-confidence doesn’t consume me like it used to,” he concluded.

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