View as webpage, click here.
JULY 3, 2023
Good morning, Fearless Readers:

Do you struggle with confidence? For me, it has been a lifetime battle.

There is research that shows girls' confidence drops by 30% between the ages of 8 and 14. The same trend is not observed with boys.

We have lots about confidence in this week's Fearless e-newsletter.

  • Video coverage of the Fearless panel about confidence from June 22.
  • Story coverage of the Fearless panel about confidence from June 22.
  • A column I wrote about teaching your kids to be good quitters truly, it's an important business skill. Quitting sports and youth activities well in childhood can help people quit jobs appropriately as adults.
  • In the headlines: This spring, the New York Times spent time with four mothers who were then in the grips of postpartum depression.
  • A Break From the News about the Camino de Santiago and other long-distance journeys on foot.

Nicole Grundmeier, Business Record staff writer
‘Confidence is a series of experiences that build a lot of little courageous steps’
From left: Jennifer Carruthers, Angie Chaplin, Bridget Cravens-Neely and Abi Reiland participated in a Fearless forum about confidence on June 22, sharing raw personal stories about their struggles with confidence.
Confidence plays a huge role in whether women dive into challenges or deflect them.

But it goes further than that. Confidence can dictate whether a woman negotiates her salary. Confidence can determine whether or not a woman stands up against inequities, Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Business Publications Corp., told a group of more than 350 Iowa women gathered online.

De Baca moderated a Fearless Focus panel about confidence on June 22 hosted by the Business Record. This panel was the second Fearless Focus in a three-part virtual series.

The four guest panelists were:
  • Bridget Cravens-Neely, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa.
  • Jennifer Carruthers, owner/executive producer, 11 Eleven Productions.
  • Angie Chaplin, founder/owner, Mindful Leadership.
  • Abi Reiland, senior associate, Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage.

Below are personal stories from the conversation. Some responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Bridget Cravens-Neely:
Craven-Neely spent 30 years in the insurance industry. A new leader gave her uncharacteristically low marks on a performance review. She had always been a high performer and a hard worker. She said she felt devalued and crushed. The new leader couldn’t explain the low performance ratings. Their working relationship became toxic. Craven-Neely sometimes teared up in places where no one could see her.

Cravens-Neely’s own words:
“As the months went on, and this continued to happen, I dropped weight, lost confidence in myself. My family saw a complete change in me to the point where they were extremely concerned. And finally, I just hit what I consider for myself bottom and turned to my faith and prayed a lot. I also started investing in understanding my purpose and really pursuing and claiming and defining what my purpose was. And once I discovered my purpose, that is what helped rejuvenate me. That’s what helped me to reclaim my confidence, in addition to the support from family and friends, and even some colleagues who stepped in and reassured me that what I was experiencing was not the norm. I needed that reassurance in order to get my feet back on solid ground. And I made a promise to myself and I made a promise to God that I will never let anyone ever define me outside of what my purpose is and who I am here to be.”

Jennifer Carruthers:
Curruthers said she has struggled consistently with imposter syndrome. Although she has experienced success externally, she grapples internally with thoughts of feeling like a fraud or a phony. She sometimes doubts her abilities, despite receiving numerous awards and reaching substantial goals in fundraising and leadership. Carruthers said she especially struggled with confidence while trying to open a new gay bar.

Carruthers’ own words:
“I found my dream location, submitted three letters of intent. On that spot we could preserve 40 years of queer history in this specific location, and only to feel like I was never really given a chance. And what’s interesting about that is, my immediate first thought was, ‘What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Do I need to improve my business perspectives? Are the male business partners recognizing that me, as a queer female, may not be enough as it is? Which is a confidence issue on its own. Are they not enough? Have I brought the right people to the table?’ That experience has really set me back a year. I’m just now kind of getting back into it. I was feeling dejected, not worthy, not competent.

“Go for whatever you want to go after. Don’t let anyone else define what your success or what your competence is. When you’re not feeling confident, the one thing I do is lean into being courageous. It just takes courage to get over some fear. And I think confidence is a series of experiences that build a lot of little courageous steps.”

Angie Chaplin:
Chaplin found herself in relationships, both personally and professionally, that affected her confidence. She realized that the manner in which she was being talked to, and the way she was being treated, were causing her own negative self-talk – something she had worked very hard to stop during her journey to sobriety. Ultimately, she learned to be fearless by walking away from experiences that no longer served her, including her first personal relationship after a divorce. It was also her first sober relationship, she said.

Chaplin’s own words:
“It wasn’t about walking away. It was about walking toward, and it allowed me to walk toward the authenticity and the integrity that keeps me grounded in my values. The same situation came up professionally, when I was able to recognize that a lot of those toxic traits from a narcissistic relationship were also very prevalent and powerful in a workplace scenario. And again, having the courage to say, ‘I value my health and my well-being more than I value fitting into the mold of what this role, or what this position, requires me to be.’ I think we continue to find ourselves in these crossroads of choosing ourselves and choosing to walk away from situations that no longer serve us or serve our need and worthiness around confidence.”

Abi Reiland:
Reiland said she attributes the confidence that she has today to the lowest moment of her life – going through a divorce and becoming a single mom. In her youth, Reiland participated in sports that were very body-focused, including gymnastics. As an adult, she struggled with disordered eating.

Reiland’s own words:
“Coming out of that relationship, I really doubted everything about myself. Did I look the way that I should? Was I doing enough professionally? Was I smart enough? Was I funny enough? Was I charming enough? All the things, and trying to date at that time was a real challenge because I didn’t even think that I was worth dating. It was really difficult to see a former partner start to explore dating as well, and again, I let it kind of crush me a bit. But one day I walked into a gym, a CrossFit gym, and I started participating. It sounds really cliche, and I think people sometimes giggle about CrossFit being a cult, but I all of a sudden was picking up weights and doing these skills that I didn’t know were even possible for me to do. I think as my body develops strength, my mentality strengthened as well. My spirit got stronger, and all of a sudden I would walk out of that room believing that I could do anything and that I was enough and I could be whoever I wanted to be.”

Hear more of these four women’s stories, conversations and advice (including why “Sometimes you just gotta smack the jelly rolls”) in a video online or below.

Teach your kids to be quitters (it’s a business skill)
As Americans, we don’t like quitting. We’re not quitters.

We sometimes even go out of our way to avoid the word “quit.”

I have coached gymnastics on and off since 2006. In 2009, I was coaching a talented gymnast who, right before the meet season started, was suddenly terrified to jump from the low bar to the high bar. It’s a common fear, especially when you are tiny.

Before practice one day, the head coach told me that the gymnast had “retired.” He didn’t use the word “quit.” He used the word “retired.” She was 9 years old. I never saw her again.

I’m a big believer that, just like a kip or a free throw or a curveball, quitting – and quitting well – is one of the essential skills that children should learn while participating in youth sports or activities.

Quitting isn’t taught. It isn’t even talked about. It should be. Your children will likely do a lot of quitting, in youth activities and then in the business world. We all do.

Americans born in the later years of the baby boom era (1957 to 1964) held an average of 12.4 jobs from ages 18 to 54, with nearly half of those jobs held before the age of 25, according to a longitudinal study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s an awful lot of quitting. And, it can be beneficial. U.S. workers who changed jobs saw higher wage growth than other workers following the COVID-19 downturn, according to the Pew Research Center.

As a coach and as a parent, I’ve learned that summer is often the time when children bring up quitting, especially as they get older. The lure of water, friends, sun and fun outside of the gym, off the field, away from the rink, etc., is hard to resist.

Here is how to teach your child to quit. These questions are also useful for adults who haven’t quite gotten the hang of it.

  1. Does the child truly want to quit?
This is often the trickiest part of the process. Everyone goes through some valleys, moments of doubts, fears. Has the child talked consistently about a desire to quit? Wanting to quit from time to time is normal. Coming home after every practice and crying or begging to quit is not normal. Another important question to ask: Is the sport or activity negatively affecting the child’s mental health, physical health, eating patterns or quality of sleep? If that is the case, the answer is probably a resounding “yes”; get ready to quit. If the child still doesn’t know where their heart is, buy the child a journal. Have the child start journaling regularly. If the child doesn’t particularly like to write, drawing is fine. What patterns emerge over time? Seeing a sports psychologist or another professional can also be helpful to children, especially high-level youth athletes.

  1. When is the ideal time for the child to quit?
The answer to this question varies based on the type of sport or activity your child is doing. Typically, the best time to quit is at the end of the season, when the show is over, when the final game has been played, after the curtain closes following the concert, etc. Remind your child that their peers are likely counting on them in some way. Ask your child this question: “If you don’t come back, who will be immediately affected? Will the team/group/performance be OK without you? Are you OK with that?” Sometimes, it isn’t possible to quit at an ideal time. For example, if a child is not sleeping at night because she has so much anxiety about tennis practice the next morning, quitting immediately might be the healthier path than sticking it out until the end of the season.

  1. How should the child actually quit?
The best practice, whether in youth sports/activities or in business, is to quit in person. (As a parent, do not quit for the child over text, email, phone message, etc.) The actual quitting is one of the most important life skills. Schedule a meeting with the child’s coach or instructor. Have the child tell the adult in person. Let the child determine how long the meeting will be. If the relationship is solid, the child might want to do an extended goodbye. I recommend that both the child and the family write the child’s coach or instructor a thank-you note, as long as the words are authentic. Younger children can do drawings if they’re not comfortable writing. Tell the coach or the instructor what was learned. Tell the coach or instructor that they’re appreciated.

  1. How can the child honor and appreciate the journey?
Some children and parents might go through a grieving process after ending a sport or an activity. Others might be celebrating. All feelings are valid. My recommendation is to try to go back to the very beginning. Look back at photos, videos or other mementos from when the child started the activity. Try to focus not just on what the child has achieved, but what the child has learned. Some children and families might like to create shadow boxes, a scrapbook or other displays recognizing a child’s time in a sport or an activity. Some children might want to get rid of everything. That’s OK, too. (I’ve found that for many kids going through the process of quitting, it can be healing to donate sports uniforms, balls, gear, instruments, etc., to younger children, especially those with fewer resources.)

  1. How can the child continue relationships formed during that sport or activity?
If it is possible to plan the child’s last night with the team/group, tell your child to be mindful about future relationships. Bring treats or refreshments during the child’s last time with the group. Find a way to celebrate, if your child feels like celebrating. Exchange contact information with other parents. Mention that your child would like to stay in touch with their child.

  1. Can the child ever go back after quitting?
I’m a big believer that the answer is yes. The child’s journey with the activity might look different. For example, some former gymnasts become gymnastics coaches, judges, choreographers, physical therapists or sports journalists. Many sports and activities are lifetime pursuits. There are recreational leagues, intramurals, volunteer bands and orchestras, and community theater productions. Remember that the activity should bring the child joy. And it should help make the child a better human. Learning to quit is part of that.

Happy quitting!
Nicole Grundmeier, Business Record staff writer

(An important aside: If your child is being abused during a sport or an activity, report the abuse to the police immediately. Abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal or emotional. Do not assume the sport’s governing body or anyone else will investigate a report of abuse or hold an abuser accountable. Always go to the police first, preferably police in the city or county where the abuse occurred. More information can be found at the U.S. Center for SafeSport.)
In the headlines
This spring, the New York Times spent time with four mothers who were in the grips of postpartum depression. They offered a stark, intimate glimpse into their experiences, in their own words. There are more treatment options for postpartum depression now than ever before, including the first medication designed specifically to treat it. But factors like stigma and inadequate screening keep many mothers from getting help.

An Iowa woman is suing the man who was convicted of sexually assaulting her 47 years ago, seeking damages for the anxiety and depression caused by the event, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch. Sherri Moler of Eldridge is suing Lynn Lindaman, a former athletic trainer who, after his conviction, went on to become an orthopedic surgeon in Polk County. Moler alleges that in July 1975, when she was 14, she attended a gymnasts’ summer sports camp at the University of Iowa. Lindaman, then 24, was at the camp, working as a counselor and athletic trainer. According to the lawsuit, Lindaman sexually assaulted Moler while treating an injury to her back. Lindaman was recently charged with two counts of second-degree sexual abuse in connection with allegations that he inappropriately touched a child born in 2015, according to the Des Moines Register.

Jolien Boumkwo regularly competes in track and field’s strength events — the shot put, hammer throw and discus — but on June 24 at the European Team Championships in Krakow, Poland, Belgium needed a hurdler. Any hurdler. The two that Belgium had brought to the meet were injured, and if Belgium did not send a runner to the starting line in the 100 hurdles, its team would be disqualified. When it became clear there were no other candidates to step in, Boumkwo volunteered, according to the New York Times. She said she told herself: “If I’m going to do this, I want to make the best of it and try to enjoy it."

Abortion is still legal in Iowa a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to terminate a pregnancy. But just like this time last year, it’s not clear how long that will last, according to Iowa Public Radio.
Worth checking out
Gymnastics star Simone Biles returning to competition in August in first meet since 2021 Olympics (Associated Press). Barbie, her house, and the American dream (New York Times). Explore the world of Willa Cather in her Nebraska hometown (Smithsonian Magazine). The umpire on on the cusp of a watershed moment for baseball: 'I think she's going to do it' (The Athletic).
Here are some more takeaways from our Fearless panel on confidence:

  • Why not me? Why not now?
  • Walk away from what no longer serves us.
  • Instead of walking away, walk toward.
  • I have learned that what I did yesterday, I may not be able to do today. This doesn’t mean I failed, it just means I need to take a breath and try again tomorrow.
  • Focus on things I am good at rather than the things I’m not so good at, and realize they don’t always influence each other.
  • Invite the quiet in.
  • Equanimity (noun): mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper. Especially in a difficult situation.
  • As long as you’re trying, you’re doing it right.
  • Fall often, succeed sooner.
  • Starting is the hardest part.
  • It’s OK not to know how to do things.
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway.
  • Fear is a liar.
  • Setbacks and setups are for comebacks.
  • Fear and failure are the next steps to the right step.
  • I’m not intimidating, this person is intimidated.
  • Embrace the "and."
  • Others’ perceptions of us should not dictate our perception of ourselves.
  • Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. (Oscar Wilde)
  • If you’re not in the arena, I’m not interested in your opinion. (Brene Brown)
  • People are entitled to their opinions. Their thoughts aren’t your truth.
Is 2023 the year of the long walk?
When I was an intern at the Prague Post in 2006, my roommate came home from work and told me he had come to an important decision: After his own internship at Radio Prague was over, he was going to walk across Spain.

Wait, what?

As a devout Catholic who was fluent in Spanish, my roommate was planning to walk the 500-mile Camino de Santiago.

I was, admittedly, a less devout Catholic with flat feet. I stayed in Prague.

The Camino de Santiago tempted me, but I doubted my ability to complete it. I was scared of failure. I lacked confidence in myself and my abilities. Over the years, headlines about the walk constantly bombarded me. Are more people on the Camino de Santiago? Or are more people just sharing their stories about it on social media? Perhaps I was mad at myself for not attempting the walk in 2006 when I was young, healthy and had not yet developed severe asthma.

This recent travel story from the New York Times caught my attention. It's not just the Camino de Santiago that is popular. Apparently, within the last few years, these pilgrimage-style walks have sprung up all over the world.

As a longtime fan of "Anne of Green Gables," a long trek on Prince Edward Island sounds especially appealing.

Where will you walk this summer, Fearless readers?

-- Nicole Grundmeier, Business Record staff writer

Be fearless with us
At its core, Fearless exists to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. We believe that everyone has a story to share and that we cannot progress as a society unless we know about one another. We share stories through featuring women in our reporting, featuring guest contributions and speakers at our events.

We are always looking for new stories to share and people to feature. Get in touch with us!

Like this newsletter? Please forward to a friend!
Did someone share this newsletter with you? Sign up here.

Business Publications Corporation Inc.

515.288.3336  |

Contact the group publisher of BPC:
Contact Fearless staff writer:
Submit press release:
Advertising info:
Membership info:

Copyright © BPC 2023, All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is strictly prohibited.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign