I remember being a teen, going through puberty, sweating, stinky and pimpled. Even after I emerged on the other side of womanhood a beautiful young lady, those insecurities never fully went away. I spent high school feeling fat, ugly and undesirable. I looked in the mirror and didn’t see beautiful. I only saw faults, things to change, and what was wrong with this picture.

The experts say confidence is all mental, and that 90% of body confidence is in your head, not how you look. And I can see how that is true. I have one friend, big, bald, and sexy as hell. She enters a room and you know it, and you gravitate in her direction! She has the illusive IT factor nobody can resist. And it has nothing to do with being a size 4, because she is not. It’s being comfortable in your own skin. She owns her awesome! But how do you get there?

It’s no fun, looking in the mirror and seeing what you believe, not what’s truly shining back at you. I’ve written up with a few tips I’ve learned over the years to combat those moments when you slip back into insecurity. These are action steps, physical things you can do to prove you’re as awesome as your friends keep telling you!

Enter my unorthodox list of things to do NOW to look and feel fabulous!

1. Prepare: I’m the queen of air traffic controlling everything in my life. It all gets done, precisely when it’s due, but not before. So if I don’t have an inkling of what I am going to wear, how do I know if it still fits? I used to go into my closet, certain of the outfit I wanted to wear out, only to find that I’m bloated, or recently been waylaid by the Girl Scouts and packed on a few pounds, and must pick something else in an instant. All my well laid plans gone to waste because I didn’t have a pre-outfit check in the list of things to do today! No MORE! Now I try on all the options, do a mirror check (slightly tilted to give me a slimmer look to compensate for the “I look fat” subconscious negative self talk). Like Nike says, just do it! The certainty that you’re all set will also carry through your outing and shine through your smile.

2. Dress Well: There’s a reason that Nordstrom will custom tailor anything you buy-because it will look better, and it will also be un-returnable! But the secret that wealthy women know is that perfect fitting clothes give you confidence. No more waistbands that cut into your side, pulling seams, or worse a little camel toe! I’m a short girl, but petites are just slightly too short for me, and regulars are too long in the body. It’s a no win! So custom tailoring is usually my only choice. But, with alterations come options! Designers I could usually never wear despite their epic fashion matching my brand, now I can wear whatever I want.

3. Use Tungsten Lighting: Have you ever been out with friends or a date and went to use the ladies room, then stood at the sink, under the florescent lights and looked at yourself and thought, “ugh!” It’s not you, it’s the awful lighting. Not even supermodels look good in that lighting. So even though we can longer bypass the sink and just carry Purel in our purse, I do have another workaround… don’t just unconsciously wash your hands, focus on your hands, making sure to scrub every part, while you sing Happy Birthday twice. 🙂 Or play the game, are their any paper towels in here? And strategically plan how to exit without touching the door handle. Hopefully soon in the future we will be back to the hand sanitizer trick so we can skip the line.

4. Smile: Nothing screams confidence more than a smile. Start smiling at strangers. Compliment people you don’t know, at random, whenever you see something you like, or shoes (my personal favorite! Tangent: the only thing I learned how to say in Italian class was, “Hey baby, cute shoes.” “ciao belle scarpe carino”) I love the looks I get. And I know, sometimes my compliment is the only one they’ve had all week, or longer. You see their eyes light up and that makes you feel fantastic. You did that! You gave someone a great day.

5. Engage: Your mind is your most beautiful feature. And while you would think that talking about yourself would be the best way to show that, it’s your ability to listen and ask questions that draw your conversation partner further into the conversation that is the key to likability.

6. Be Real: You know those people who use photos 10-20 years old and when you meet them in person you have no idea who they are? Don’t be that person! Have a professional photographer take new headshots every year so they are current and look like you! Let that professional image be the image you burn into your mind, not the sideways, low light, triple chin, demon eye snapshot someone just posted on Facebook (untag yourself and ask for it to be taken down!). When you use your own photos and spread them far and wide, you tell them what to think about you, you control your personal brand. So let that be your calling card! And while you are at it, do a boudoir shoot! Trust me, 20 years ago I was young, stunning, yet still felt fat (at a size 4) and wouldn’t let one of the worlds best photographers take my picture. I wanted to lose a few pounds. Instead I missed out on the opportunity! And if I’d only done it when I was 20!!! I can’t even imagine! I was beautiful and didn’t even know it. Take the pics. You’ll look back on them later and wonder how you could have thought anything but how amazing you were! And still are!

7. Be generous: My friend Cami Walker wrote the book, “29 Gifts” and in it she revealed the remarkable healing power of giving. I have a few I give away on a regular basis. I carry protein bars and give them to homeless people. I also give blankets in winter (I collect them year round). I collect entrepreneurial education products for the Curing Unemployment Tour to create Entrepreneurial Libraries at after school programs. I’ve given away 5 cars, computers, phones, even my old engagement ring (to the then fiancee of my “executive wife”). And while it felt great to give those things of value, its the compliments, hugs, and ideas that I can give everyday that have the real power to transform.

We live in a “See it to believe it” kind of world. And I can see you, inside you, to how great you are. I believe it! So if you are having a hard time believing in yourself, just take my word for it, and go forth and slay!

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