Christie begins boldly with her first book
Back when Bermudian Christie Hunter Arscott started looking for her first job there were lots of titles on writing a resume, and crushing job interviews. But once she entered the corporate world the self-help books fell away.
“I had suddenly been thrown into uncharted waters and was now floating in an ocean of uncertainty without a life jacket, barely keeping my head above the surface,” she said. “With a pervasive fear of failure and fear of the unknown, I clung to what I could control, or thought I could control, and too often played it safe rather than playing it smart.”
A wake-up call came when a friend wrote to her saying she needed to “woman up”. She hadn’t voiced her opinions or spoken up at all in a company meeting.
She took her friend’s advice, and started speaking out. She gradually built a name for herself in the gender inclusion sphere.
She is now a former inclusion subject matter expert within Deloitte’s US consulting practice, was named by Thinkers50 as one of the top management thinkers likely to shape the future of business, and runs her own consultancy business frequently doing career advisory work.
Last month she released her first book: Begin Boldly: How Women Can Reimagine Risk, Embrace Uncertainty, and Launch a Brilliant Career.
In the book she voices a startling conclusion: confidence is highly overrated.
“There is too much focus on confidence and not enough on courage,” Ms Hunter Arscott said. “A lot of women tell themselves they will wait until they feel more confident to make a move. And if you wait to feel more confident, you may be waiting a long time.”
Since its release on August 2, Begin Boldly has been the top seller in job related publications on Amazon.com.
It brings together 20 years of research she has done on women in the workplace.
One of the questions she has looked at is why many women leave the workforce around the age of 30.
“The answer from executives was generally that the women left to have babies,” she said. “But speaking with women, I found that babies were never the whole issue. Usually, there was some final straw that drove them out.”
She found that women without mentors were more likely to fall through the cracks.
“Not seeing visible role models in leadership positions was a factor,” she said. “You cannot be what you cannot see.”
She discovered that women faced a double bind. They are often encouraged to be both likeable and confident, but it is difficult to be both.
“At meetings they might be frequently interrupted around the table, or struggle to get their views heard,” she said. “I like to describe it as the pin doll effect. All of these micro inequities eventually cause someone to feel a lot of dissatisfaction at work.”
She decided to write a book when she noticed that many companies directed their advancement strategies at women in senior management levels.
“It was too little, too late,” she said. “I found there was a real appetite for women in earlier stages in their careers to have some level of support. I saw women lagging and losing confidence.”
In Begin Boldly she encouraged women to reimagine risk. She thought the conversation around risk could be reframed. Instead of saying, are you going to take this risk, you could say, are you going to make this bold move?
“Making bold moves is the most essential component in building a bold and brilliant career in life,” she said. “My book is about giving ourselves methods, mindsets and tools to deal with outcomes and know we can progress.”
The book is meant to be the answer to “so now what”?
“The book is super actionable,” she said. “Each chapter ends with exercises. You can almost think about it as a guide. Sometimes women aspire to take risks, but struggle to translate that into action.”
For example, women are less likely than men to apply for a job, if their resume does not tick every box.
“I wanted to put tools and methods into the hands of more people,” she said. “I view this as bringing a tool kit into the world to help people take actionable steps, reframe things, and obtain the careers that they desire.”
While the book is aimed at women just starting out, Ms Hunter Arscott felt the tools in it could be used by all genders and by people at any career level.
Ms Hunter Arscott’s research and writing have been featured in publications such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fortune, but writing a book still do not come easily to her.
“Writing is really hard,” she said. “For every ten hours of work you might get one moment where you can write a coherent sentence. And mining through all the stuff I have done over last 20 years was hard.”
A former client advised her to voice note her thoughts and get someone else to transcribe them.
“That helped a lot,” she said. “I would do that in my car waiting to pick up my son.”
To write the book she had to face her own fears and grapple with her inner critic.
“I really had to focus on my why,” she said. “I don't just want to serve people that can afford coaching. That helped me push through that fear.”
She released the book through Berrett-Koehler, an independent publisher in California.
“They were an amazing match,” she said. “Their mission is creating a world that works for all. They do a great job of focusing on books that bring different voices and inclusive strategies to the world.”
Betsy Myers, chief operating officer and senior adviser to Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, wrote the forward to Begin Boldly. “She was amazing,” Ms Hunter Arscott said.
So far, the feedback from the book has been positive.
“The best thing is when people share with me how they are using the tools,” she said. “Some people have written to say they just went in and negotiated their salary.
“People stopped me on the street to tell me how they advocated for themselves, or how they are ready to do something bolder. That feedback is so powerful.”
The book is available now in bookstores and on Amazon.com.
For more information see www.christiehunterarscott.com