I’m just a dumb, blonde, gold-digging housewife
Alright, now that I’ve gotten your attention, I should clarify that I’m not actually any of those things, but I’m well aware that people think these things of me when they first meet me. How do I know that? Well, because people have legitimately said these things to my face.
And, what’s more, for every person that labels me to my face, there are probably five other people that think these things but keep their opinions to themselves. This is a harsh reality that I’ve had to learn to accept over the last several years as I’ve gone from a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed college student to President of a successful business that makes millions of dollars in revenue.
Today, I’m okay with people thinking these things about me — in fact, I let it motivate me to prove them wrong! — but, there was a point in my life and my career where those comments and thoughts really weighed on me to a point where I questioned if all the work I was doing was really worth it. I remember thinking to myself, “Why would I put all this time and energy into my career when everyone that meets me is just going to think I married for money or I was handed my job solely because I’m family, anyway?”
It certainly would have been easier to just give in to those stereotypes and become those things that everyone thinks of me regardless, but, when I hit a breaking point, I chose the uphill battle of acceptance, and it’s a big part of who I am today, as a leader, a wife, and a successful business owner.
The breaking point of stereotypes
Whether you realize it or not, everyone has unconscious biases that push them into making snap decisions about you and placing sometimes untrue or unfair labels on you. And the more you encounter these labels in your everyday life, the closer you get to that make-or-break moment where you can choose to overcome labels or let them define you, even if that’s not who you are or who you want to be.
For me, that breaking point came early on in Brandon’s and my relationship when I realized that, by choosing to love this man, I was going to be placed in a dozen different boxes that weren’t accurate descriptions of me and my potential. And, to make matters worse, it felt like there was nothing I could do about it.
But, instead of letting labels break me, I decided to let them make me. I let them trigger a necessary turning point in my life where I had to be more intentional about self-reflection and deciding who I could be and who I wanted to be. Had I not started early having these tough conversations with myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Tips for overcoming labels and taking control of the narrative
Overcoming labels and stereotypes that others place on you can be emotionally draining and requires a ton of discipline. It’s not like you can just shut off your emotions and expect to suddenly not care what other people think of you — that would make life a little too easy!
Instead, I, like so many women in business, have had to put in the work to get to where I am today: accepting of my labels and ready to help others tackle their own.
The first step on the journey to overcoming labels is reflection. In order to truly evaluate the labels that others place on you and why, you need to be comfortable with who you are and what you have the potential to become.
What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What are your weaknesses? What’s your dream, and what’s the path look like to get there?
By establishing your unique truth and having a strong grasp on who you are, it becomes much easier to face stereotypes head-on and stay focused on what’s true to you and what’s an irrelevant external opinion of you.
Another key piece of this reflection step is to better understand why and how labels are affecting you. Why does someone thinking you didn’t actually work for your success hurt your feelings? Whenever I ask myself this question, the answer is almost always, “Because that’s not who I am or who I want to be,” and since I know that to be my truth, I’m able to push that negative self-talk far out of my head and refocus on overcoming the labels instead of letting them define me.
I like to think of this first step as building the foundation of a house. You need this foundation in order to build up the walls, and, if that foundation isn’t strong enough, your house will crumble under the first exposure to pressure. But, build a strong foundation, and you can build the biggest house in your neighborhood.
With a grasp on who you are and what your potential is, you can then start building your case against labels that are placed on you. This really comes down to examples and statistics that prove stereotypes wrong and, therefore, change others’ opinions of you in the process.
Part of the reason why it was so hard for me to overcome labels early on was that I didn’t feel like I had the track record required to show people anything other than their first impression. I hadn’t succeeded enough yet, and I didn’t have any data to back up my success. I knew what I wanted to accomplish and what needed to be done to accomplish those things, but it was still just a dream at that point, and I had little to show for my work.
But, through founding and starting Cardone Ventures with Grant and Brandon, I now have the data to back up my identity. We just surpassed $100 million, and I’ve hired dozens of like-minded people along the way to help us on the path to building a billion-dollar company.
No one can argue with data, so always think about those data points in your own life and your own accomplishments, and, once you’ve built up your case, step three is simple: share it!
Proactively tell everyone that will listen about your accomplishments and the examples that got you there. For me, that’s rooted in the business I run, the people I’ve hired, and the leadership qualities that people admire about me. And I’m still building that portfolio of statistics to support who I am and who I want to be. It’s an ongoing, never-ending process that starts with acceptance and ends, well, pretty much never.
You control the narrative of your own story
It’s taken me a long time to be comfortable sharing this with the world, but now that I’m so confident in who I am and have the statistics to back it up, I know that I can channel my learnings into something that will help others and potentially change the world, and I’m excited to keep creating content around this topic.
If you’re struggling with labels, I hope you find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. This is something that every successful person has to deal with at some point in their lives, and knowing how to tackle it methodically and confidently will put you in a great position to chase your dreams.
Let’s overcome labels together! You can subscribe to my blog below for exclusive content and get notified about new posts or check out my podcast.