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Stop Fear in Its Tracks

    This Women’s History Month we will feature a few of Cricket’s great women leaders who will share their insights and advice for young women.


    By Suzie Nicoletti


    Fear. It’s one of the most common ailments keeping women from getting where they want to be. Fear of being wrong, fear of failure, fear of sharing a point of view, fear of speaking out of place. I see it all the time, and I’m not immune to it.


    Whether you are just starting your job, or you’re a seasoned professional, don’t let fear stop you from getting what you want. Those who take risks are the only ones with a chance of coming away with a reward. It isn’t just going to magically land in your lap one day.


    Stop apologizing: Whatever the cause of fear, it comes through when we speak. As women, we tend to look at things holistically, so we create a safety net by adding caveats to justify our statement. Too often we apologize before asking a question. I hear phrases like:

    • “I could be wrong, but…”
    • “I’m not sure, but…”
    • “This might be wrong, but I’m thinking about…”


    I know it’s difficult, but you’ve got to stop it. What you have to say is just as important as anyone else in the room. Your idea might be spot on, or at the very least, spark another idea that wouldn’t have come up without your input. Either way, it is based on the data you have.


    It’s OK to have big presence: We tend to sit, walk and move in a way that doesn’t take up too much room. We may even apologize for being in the way. Sit forward, walk with your head up, and use your hands to emphasize points. It’s not just about having good posture, it makes you stronger and more confident.


    Don’t underestimate yourself and don’t let others underestimate you either: Yes, often women are underestimated. This can be an advantage, but most often you must prove yourself. That’s true for everyone in and outside of tech. Being a part of the technology field it’s typical for women to experience being the only one in the class or on the team (or even in the department). Sometimes we are prejudged just because we are women in a male-dominated arena. Take on new assignments and challenges that force you to think and present yourself differently. You’ll surprise yourself and your naysayers.


    I will never forget what happened during one of my coding classes in college. A guy I knew from high school was struggling with the latest assignment, so I helped him. After turning in our homework, the professor called us up to the front of the class and publicly scolded me for copying my classmate’s homework. I didn’t stick up for myself, and I regret it big time. It certainly wasn’t the last instance, but over the years, I’ve gained the confidence to push back when these situations occur.


    Prioritize you and your time: The wireless industry demands so much time and energy from everyone. Each individual has the same 24 hours, and you must choose each day (and constantly refine nearly every hour) how best to spend that time. Making choices is more challenging when you try to weigh in what others expect of you. Some women have higher expectations of themselves than others have of them, which can often make them feel as if they are failing. Prioritizing yourself among the litany of everything else can be challenging.

    Remember that no one person can do it all, so saying ‘yes’ to one thing likely means you have to say ‘no’ to something else. Spending more time at your keyboard trying to finish it all can backfire. Some people won’t see you as a hero, but a recluse, which is challenging for career progression.


    Ask questions! Help yourself prioritize your time by asking questions – a lot of them. There is so much to learn from everyone, and it will help you determine what is most important. Don’t be afraid to ask a “stupid” question. All questions help the asker and receiver learn something, and those who ask questions are more successful than others.


    Ladies. Don’t be afraid to speak and move authoritatively. Don’t be afraid to smile. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t apologize. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to succeed!


    Tell us how you overcame fear to succeed by shooting us a note on Twitter at @CricketNation using the hashtag #WHM2018.


    Suzie Nicoletti is one of the top technology executives at Cricket, and she’s been excelling at software and technical gigs for nearly 30 years. Her college classmate still owes her one.