Please Don’t Speak For Me, Sheryl

I almost lost my mind while watching a brief clip of an interview Arianna Huffington did with Sheryl Sandberg...Then, subsequently read her New York Times piece entitled, “Speaking While Female.”... Like, I may have yelled at my computer screen in reaction to the content. In the clip and referenced article, which was embedded in a Huffington Post piece entitled, “Sheryl Sandberg: ‘It’s Still Hard to Speak In a Professional Setting As a Woman,” what I heard her say was, in order for women to feel more comfortable speaking up in Corporate America, everyone OTHER THAN WOMEN has to change. And, since the message I heard is perpetuating the notion that we, as women, are (still) victims, I would like to ask that you, Sheryl, please not speak for me. I don’t feel like a victim. I have never felt like a victim (except for when I actually was one, growing up in my crazy, dysfunctional home.) I was never scared to speak in meetings and never felt ignored. That’s not to say I haven’t been ignored, I just don’t think I took it personally and probably spoke up about it because I think it’s rude.

This is what you said that made me go a little bit crazy...

”Even with all the progress we’ve made, it’s still really hard to speak in a professional setting as a woman. Women face real barriers….As human beings, we are incredibly sensitive to people’s reactions. If you watch someone say something, you see how the person reacts...the person who’s speaking reacts. And, as women, we kind of fall in one of two paths…..either we speak out aggressively and affirmatively and are results focused and then people often think, you know, she’s not nice. I don’t like her. She’s too aggressive. OR, we’re quiet and spoken over. We’re interrupted more, we take more notes in meetings, we sit in the back more and that’s really hurting women’s ability to get to leadership.” And, then she goes on to ask that people start calling on women first “Obamastyle” (as he did when he only called on female reporters in his most recent press conference) so that women get to speak.

For reference, here are the links to the Huffington Post interview and NY Times articles:

HuffPo clip:

NY Times piece:

First let me say that, as much as I love Obama, what he did by calling, only on women, was an incredibly calculated, yet effective, PR move. I mean, it created the phrase, “Obamastyle,” for you to use to support your argument. Next, I’d like to ask...

  • Are ‘we’ as human beings all really incredibly sensitive to people’s reactions?
  • If ‘we’ are, why is it so and, what does it cost us as human beings? Maybe just some of us are somewhat sensitive and some, not at all?
  • Could ‘we’ ever include men?
  • Do ‘we’ really only fall into only two paths? Either aggressive or quiet?....That’s it?

Maybe there are some other options?

I believe the message is antiquated and not addressing the real problem at hand, which is a matter of confidence and authenticity…. period. I also believe confidence and authenticity or, the lack there of, is gender neutral.

Confidence and authenticity come from within. Both come with self-examination, self-awareness and self-acceptance. Both come from allowing ourselves to be who we are, not who we THINK we should be. Faking it, overcompensating or throwing in the towel if they are lacking, are unfortunate alternatives and glaringly obvious...even on an unconscious level.

Instead of perpetuating the notion that women are being victimized, how about offering a solution to help them help themselves? Why not have a dialogue about this, and not state it’s everyone else’s problem to fix? So, instead of speaking FOR women in a way that makes them seem like damsels in distress, why not ask: 

  • Why do some women feel this way?
  • Why use the word aggressive, not assertive?
  • Do you, Sheryl, feel uncomfortable when you speak up?
  • Did you once, but don’t anymore? And, if not, what changed? This could be helpful for women to know.
  • What are ALL of the variables that exist in these male/female scenarios? Is it not possible that, as with some men, not all questions or talking points made by all women are good points? For example, some people speak up in groups because they want attention, not because they have something relevant to say. Women AND men.
  • Why is being “liked” even an issue? It’s not for most men. (Remember that line from A League of Their Own about no crying in baseball?)
  • Is it possible that women’s feelings of self-consciousness come across when they speak up, thus making them less engaging? This must also happen when men speak too, no?
  • Do women feel the need to overcompensate for their lack of confidence by being aggressive? Is it like the 2015 equivalent to wearing shoulder pads, as women did in the 80s to appear, in physique, more like men?

And, with regard to all of these rude men…

  • Would it not be beneficial to ask them why they think it’s ok to speak over a woman when she starts to speak? There could be an overcompensation (confidence issue) there too.

In your book, you asked women to lean in. Did you ask women to ask themselves why they don’t? In your NY Times piece, you cited studies that support your argument but, what about studies on the importance and effectiveness of confidence?

I am entirely for equality, across the board, and for getting rid of discrimination. I absolutely believe that the equal pay issue needs to be resolved. However, I don’t think attaching women’s feelings of inadequacies and self-judgment helps this issue. In fact, I believe it is harmful in that it promotes the idea that it is not in our (women’s) power to help ourselves. Everyone is scared of something. Everyone struggles with limiting beliefs about themselves and life in general. Why not figure out a way to bring these internal struggles to light? Don’t just lean in, start to work from within.

Danielle Gibson works with people who want to "speak up." That is, they want to have the ability to be more direct/straight forward. She believes confidence, authenticity, good communication skills and paying attention to one's intuition are essential components. And, they serve as some important focal points in her coaching practice. To contact Danielle, please email:

International Youth Development - Self Confidence & Belief

Rod’s client was 13. He had been adopted in Ethiopia and moved to Albania and Macedonia when his father’s work changed. Being the only person of African origin in either country made him highly visible and prone to attention. Alex struggled with his identity – who he was and where he was from.

Coming to terms with life outside of Ethiopia and in cultures very different became a major challenge for him. Between languages, cultural and educational differences Alex felt great pressure to fit in as well as finding himself. There was a time when it looked like he would be unable to do either. 


Rod's objectives were to increase his young client's self confidence and belief. To reconnect him with his identity whilst embracing his passion for performing arts and music, putting him on track for a successful and fulfilling life.  


Rod's first challenge was to get his clients' respect. After he'd achieved this he took his client through a number of NLP exercises to help him explore and connect to who he was and what was important to him. 

As his clients confidence started to grow Rod changed his coaching to focus on helping his client develop a number of success strategies to survive and thrive in different cultures. This let to coaching his client in how to model effective performing arts strategies. 


The results were evident immediately. No longer the ‘odd man out’, Alex had become the centre of attention and a social magnet. Rather than seeing himself as second or third class he projected a confident and first class image which others reflected back to him. In a matter of weeks which led to months his client experimented with different things.

He went on bungee jumps, para sailing and glider pilot lessons. In short he expanded his own beliefs and started to live his life to the full. 

And so

Two years later Alex has created music DVD’s been on multiple television programs around Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Italy, Canada and many others. His videos record 120,000 + views and he is now studying in college performing arts and creative dance. His has a plan for his future and carrying out steps towards achieving it on a daily basis. 

For more than 30 years, Rod Beau has been an internationally sought-after education and management consultant and keynote speaker. His practical, real-world business experience and career have been in educational leadership, relocation consulting and executive and leadership coaching. As a Senior Consultant and Master Executive Coach, Rod is also an Accredited ANLP Trainer - specializing in Executive and Leadership Coaching. To learn more about Rod Beau, please visit


Inspiring A Young Boxer


Rod's client was a 19 year old who had previously been a successful junior champion amateur boxer. However lately he had dropped out of college and been unable to get a job. He had turned himself from competition and local society by going into drinking and minor drug use. If he continued as he was he was heading to become unemployable as well as putting his health in danger.


Rod's objective was to help him reconnect him with his passion of competitive boxing, create a vision and take action to win senior boxing titles, and in doing so create a direction for his life. 


Rod's first action was to do what was necessary to build a relationship of mutual respect and trust. When he achieved this he took his client through a series of mental and physical exercises to reconnect to his inner purpose and strength. He then acted as a role model, mentor and guide to help his client restart  training and work on his diet and health.

He then taught his client to be his own coach, so Rod was able to reduce his sessions from weekly, to every two weeks and then once a month.


The results were evident not only to his client but also his friends and family. Within a matter of weeks he was less dependent on alcohol and drugs, increasing self confidence, looking better and coming over better and fitter. He was training five out of seven days and getting himself ready for a series of fights.

And so

Two years later James has become successful boxer – no longer dependent on alcohol and drugs, he has a healthy diet, healthy body, and trains every day. He is now winning his fights at local, regional and international level. His self confidence has increased dramatically. He has secured a part time job at Tesco which allows him the time to train for boxing. 

For more than 30 years, Rod Beau has been an internationally sought-after education and management consultant and keynote speaker. His practical, real-world business experience and career have been in educational leadership, relocation consulting and executive and leadership coaching. As a Senior Consultant and Master Executive Coach, Rod is also an Accredited ANLP Trainer - specializing in Executive and Leadership Coaching. To learn more about Rod Beau, please visit


What To Do When Your Own Worst Enemy Is You

 A year or so ago, I went to a friend’s 50th birthday party. This is someone I have known for over a decade and who I consider myself relatively close to.

I have been to parties he has thrown before, and they are generally your typical cocktail party where the guests stand around eating, drinking and socializing. So it was a great shock to me on this occasion when my friend announced he had rented a karaoke machine and wanted everyone to perform at some point.

This was a side of my friend that I had never seen in all the years I had known him. And at this event, one that he threw for himself to celebrate himself, I learned two important things about him. The first is that he has a terrible voice and that I will never be hiring him to sing at an event I am throwing. The second, and more important by far, was that he had the ability to throw caution to the wind and simply enjoy the activity without the worry of what people might think of him.

I refused to perform that day no matter how many times he asked me, but still, I instinctively knew I needed to be open to the idea letting go of some of my inhibitions. I left that party in awe of my friend and vowed that I would work on developing a little of that carefree attitude for myself.

The funny thing is, for someone who gets very nervous about making a fool of himself, my long term career goal is to become a public speaker in my field of coaching. I want to give presentations, be invited to be part of discussion panels, facilitate workshops and the likes.

I have some experience talking in front of people and as long as I feel perfectly comfortable with my subject matter, I do fairly well. But one thing I realize is that I will never get really good until I can let go of my self-consciousness.

Entering into my coach training program has really pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone in this area. For one of my class projects, I chose to give a presentation in front of my peers. And although it went relatively well, I really survived it by going into this sort of out of body experience; one where I found myself almost completely disconnected to what was going on. When I finished the presentation, I found myself needing to come back to reality. My classmates were saying really nice things to me, but I wasn’t really present to take them in.

A little over a year ago one of my fellow coaching students, and someone I am proud to call my friend, launched the Life Coach Radio Networks and asked me participate. I have certainly never done radio before, but I knew that if I wanted to become a public speaker, I needed to pursue every avenue presented to me that gave me the chance to speak publically. And thankfully the radio show has given me this one avenue.

After doing my very first show, my instinct was to avoid listening to myself. I have never liked the sound of my own voice and really resisted the idea of forcing myself to do it now. But after a couple of more times on air, I decided that the only way I was going to get better was to listen for areas that need improvement. And the only way to do that was to listen to myself. Eventually I have gotten used to my voice and I don’t cringe when I hear it.

Over the last week or so, I have begun the process of the next phase in putting myself out there. I have written the concept and script for my very first video presentation.

Today I began doing some testing on the logistics of recording myself and I have to admit it was uncomfortable to the point that I just had to quit. Watching myself on the playback, even that paltry 30 seconds I was recording in different ways, brought up the deepest fears I have about myself.

In my coach training I was introduced to the concept of a gremlin. Recently, I heard Dr. Brene Brown use the same term. In each case, the term gremlin refers to the deepest, darkest voice we all have whose entire purpose is to keep us small.

Growing up gay in a small midwestern town in the 70s and 80s, I always knew I was different and I knew that it wasn’t the good kind of different. I became hypersensitive about how people perceived me. I was no different that any other kid in the sense that I just wanted to fit in. So I essentially did what I did while giving my class presentation; I went into my own little mental shell. I didn’t really accept myself for who I was; I simply went into a state of denial.

My friend, and founder of the radio network, Russ Terry, recently quoted me in one of his videos. He used something that I heard over 20 years ago, something that profoundly changed my life. The quote was, “Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.”

In many ways I have taken that concept to heart and it has allowed me to become far more comfortable in my own skin than I really ever imagined possible for myself. But seeing myself on video today, seeing the mannerisms that I had worked so hard to deny existed, stare me back in the face was truly gut wrenching.

That little gremlin, the one that tells me that I am different in a way that people won’t accept, the one that tells me I will always be judged negatively and the one that tells me that I am inherently unlikeable, screamed loud and clear today. It reminded me that it is almost never other people who get in the way of my success; it is usually me.

So what do you do when you realize your own worst enemy is you? You have courage. You face the fears and do it anyway.

For me, I will get back to testing the best ways for me to create this video that is the first in a planned series of five. I will do what I need to do overcome my self-doubt and my self-criticism. I will surround myself with energy and people who will encourage me and help me succeed. I will simply just keep at it.

For the thing is, although I am often my own worst enemy, I am also my greatest hope. I just have to decide which aspect of myself I wish to tap into.


Tim Billiter

Tim Billiter

Tim Billiter, owner of DIY for Your Soul (, is a Certified Life/Life Purpose Coach on a mission is to assist people in creating the life of their dreams by helping them understand that they must first build a strong foundation on which to construct that life. His role as a coach is helping his clients develop new thought processes and skills to create the life they desire, but more importantly, to show them that much of what they think they lack is, and always was, right inside of them.

Is Your Co-Worker Really A Vampire? How YOU can protect yourself & others!

One of our popular past radio shows was the around the topic of positive energy and how you can raise the levels in your life to feel invigorated and motivated to accomplish your goals.  It provided great insight on how the community around you could be holding you back from your highest potentials!

How typical is a Monday morning involving your snooze alarm?  There’s an epidemic that has been created by this magical button that gives us the gift of another 5 or 10 minutes to put off the rest of the day a little bit longer.  So my question is WHY?  Why aren't we leaping out of bed in the morning? Why are we putting off going to the gym in lieu of more sleep?  Where is this drainage coming from?

A big part of it is the people and surroundings that we interact with on a daily basis.  It is unconsciously draining you of your internal resources!  The widespread community of people are also known as ENERGY VAMPIRES!  These aren't the sexy Eric Northman types from True Blood, they are the people around you that are literally sucking you dry.  We all know the type; it’s the person that wears you down and no one else wants to be around.  You’re probably thinking in your head “must escape” as soon as they come your way!  It also thrives on the atmosphere we are in, such as a noisy city with lights and sirens or a crowded mall with angry customers and long lines.

Is the solution to slay everything in your path a la Buffy?  Not necessarily… There are other ways to spot the energy vampires in your life and defend yourself from being completely depleted of your vitality!  Read on.

Step One: Self Care.  Any good soldier knows that in order to prepare for battle, they must train first.  Same goes for you.  When we aren’t at our best mentally and physically, we are already more vulnerable right from the start.  Be sure to get enough sleep, exercise, and nutrient rich foods, as well as cut back your hours at work.  Remember you are your own best ally and should be treated with respect.

Step Two:  Establish Boundaries.  Find your baseline and break the cycle!  Vampires do not understand the limits of overstepping; therefore you have to set the tone for you both.  Think about the ways you can reduce contact and shield your energy.  Be vocal if need be.  The more you practice and develop your own personal space, the stronger you will become and the energy vampires will be less attracted to you.

Step Three:  Be Empathetic.  To a point that is.  Try to cut the other person some slack and maybe see it from their point of view.  Sometimes we make assumptions about a situation without really researching if it’s true or not.  The thing is, you may never really find out; and as such shouldn't draw conclusions on just a possibility.  Alternatively, send that other person some love and be on your way.  In turn you will make that person feel better and it also keeps you in a healthy state.

For even more about the types of energy vampires and how you can boost your liveliness to start off the day right, listen to my show on demand now at Blog Talk Radio!  Just click the link below and you are on your way!

Did you try out one of the methods discussed or have your own tactics for dealing with negative energy?  Comment and share your thoughts!


Danielle Mercurio

Danielle Mercurio

The “New You City Chat” with Danielle Mercurio is on the Featured Life Coach Radio Network every first and third Tuesday of every month at 8:00 PM/EST.  Much of the show's focus is on centering yourself in an overwhelming city environment, building confidence and creating the look and feel of the hot body you desire!  Danielle Mercurio is a lifestyle coach who provides group or individual coaching, facilitates workships, and is a motivational speaker.  You can contact Danielle directly at or go to