“The Voice Within Wins”: Cassandra Terry, Chief Risk Officer of Security Development at IBM (Video + Transcript)

March 21, 2023

Cassandra Terry (Chief Risk Officer, Security Development at IBM) talks about how to connect with your inner voice and began to reframe the self-limiting beliefs that you discover. She introduces 5 R’s to repeat until you successfully rewrite your limiting beliefs and debug your imposter syndrome.


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Angie Chang: And with us today, we have Cassandra Terry who is Chief Risk Officer of Security Development at IBM in Texas. In addition to her work in security, she’s passionate about coaching and mentoring, and offers coaching services, vision board parties, and personal development training. We’re excited to hear about how the voice within wins. Welcome, Cassandra.

Cassandra Terry: Thank you. I have an alarming statistic, 85%. There is research that shows that 85% of the population either has, or is suffering from, low self-esteem. Let that sink in for a moment. Just think about that. On average, 85 out of every 100 of us that is enjoying this conference either does not believe that you deserve or that you can have the life that you desire. What messaging is playing in your head? That is one of the most important questions that you will ever answer, because it is the voice within that wins. After today’s session, you are gonna stop that negative messaging that’s running on autopilot, and you are gonna begin the journey with me from the 85% and we’re gonna expand that 15%, one deserving woman at a time.

Cassandra Terry: Hi, I’m Cassandra Terry, and as Angie mentioned, I’m an an employee at IBM. Last Monday was actually my 23rd anniversary as an IBMer, something that I’m very proud of and I’ve accomplished a lot while I was there. But it’s specifically the work that I do as a coach and mentor that’s bringing us together today. Much of those 23 years, I suffered from imposter syndrome and other self-limiting beliefs. I just was not able to believe or to wrap my head around the goodness, the success that was happening in my life. I’ve done a lot of work to reframe that and to step into my own power and to see my own value. And what we’re gonna do today is, I’ll share those lessons with you, so that you can begin your journey into that 15%.

Cassandra Terry: No one wants to have negative messaging playing it in their head, but it’s there. What messages are you hearing on autopilot? Our internal messages have a profound effect on how we show up in the world. I wanna do a little exercise, so bear with me. I’m gonna ask you in just a moment, if you’ll close your eyes. I’m gonna have you close your eyes and just try and just ignore everything but the sound of my voice, and what I’d like for you to do, while you’re in that state, is to really hone in on what you’re feeling, and where you’re feeling it, and what thoughts crop up, as I say these words. You ready?

Cassandra Terry: Let’s take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. One more. Close your eyes and just listen to the sound of my voice. You are worthy. You, you, you’re important. You are capable. You are innovative, and able to solve complex problems. You are special, just the way you are. You are enough. Your company is fortunate to have you.

Cassandra Terry: What’s happening? What are you feeling? Are you smiling in agreement with me because you’re like, you better believe I am? Or, are you starting to feel some discomfort? Did some of that not resonate with you? It’s okay if you are, because what you’ve discovered with that discomfort is just, where you are. Have you ever gone to the mall, and you’re trying to find the new store? What do you do? You go to the directory, and you locate the store on the map, right? Good information, but that’s only half the story. The other thing that you look for, is that star on the directory, that says you are here.

Cassandra Terry: Once you know where you are, in conjunction with where you’d like to be, now you’re ready. You’re ready to plot a good, efficient course to your destination, right? You need to know where you are and where your heart, where you’re feeling that discomfort. You may be harboring a self-limiting belief. Self-limiting beliefs can either be conscious, or they can be subconscious. They’re those little truths, that we hold about ourselves, that quietly dictate what we do, and what we don’t do. What we’re willing to try and what we wouldn’t even consider trying. They’re powerful, but you know what else else they are?They’re based in fear. Fear of failure. I don’t believe that I can really do it. Fear of success. What if I actually pull it off? Will I be able, will I really be able to handle the responsibility that comes along with it? Fear of not being enough. No one who looks like me, no one who sounds like me, no one who comes from where I come from have ever accomplished anything like this, so who do I think I am? What makes me believe for a second that I could pull it off? I’m not even going there. Or, fear of being laughed at. If they had any idea, that I wanna be CEO. If they had any idea, that I dream of running my own corporation, they would laugh me right out of the room.

Cassandra Terry: After today, I believe that you’ll say, let ’em laugh. I’m gonna be laughing right along with them, because as I obliterate my goals one by one, I am going to be so giddy, that I will let be laughing just as hard as they are. Self-limiting beliefs.

self limiting behaviors imposter syndrome covering shrinking flip flopping people pleasing cassandra terry

Cassandra Terry: Which of these self-limiting beliefs is a growth opportunity for you? Does any of these resonate? Put some thought into that. But regardless of whichever one you choose, if it’s left unchecked in our minds, it will become not only a belief, but it can expand into a self-limiting behavior, and self-limiting behavior shows up in many ways. These are just a few. I alluded to imposter syndrome a little bit during my intro.

Cassandra Terry: When you’re suffering with imposter syndrome, you are convinced that everyone thinks that you know more than what you actually know. You believe that you have to be so careful, because the slightest mistake, the slightest blunder, and you’ll be found out as the imposter that you really are. You’ve got ’em all fooled.

Cassandra Terry: But the truth of the matter is, the only person that you have fooled is you. You fooled yourself. Everyone else is operating off the evidence. They’re operating off of your results. They can actually see you, and your value, but because of the messaging that’s playing unchecked in your head, regardless of how much success you experience, you’re not able to tap into it. Self-limiting belief, imposter syndrome, it’s a big one. There’s also covering. Covering is an interesting one, because unlike imposter syndrome, it’s based in some fact, there’s something about you that you’re concerned about. If they knew this thing about you, it may have a negative effect in your environment, in your workplace, in your community, whatever the case may be.

Cassandra Terry: I’ll give you an example. I had a well-meaning executive a few years back tell me that I may wanna tone down the grandma thought. Well, anybody who really knows me know that my grandchildren are my absolutely the apple of my eye. They are my most favorite thing, hands down. I talk about them a lot. I’ve got pictures and videos galore of those kids. When me and my coworkers are talking, or I could be in any environment, it’s not uncommon that I would mention my grandchildren. So he pulled me aside one day and he said, “I just got a little bit of advice for you. No one looking at, you would think that you’re a grandmother. You don’t look like a grandmother. So you may wanna tone the grandmother talk down. You can talk about the kids, but you don’t necessarily have to say they’re your grandkids, because when people start to hear you talking about being a grandmother, they may start to make some assumptions. They may assume you’re on your way out, that, that you’re looking for retirement, that you’re not gonna be as productive as you were a few years ago. You just might wanna think about that and tone that down.” Now, his intentions were well-meaning, but it wasn’t good advice.

Cassandra Terry: There’s a lot of research that shows that when we show up in any environment as less than our authentic self, that we’re not as productive. We don’t form as good of relationships, we are less satisfied in that environment. So because of that research, lots of companies, and you may have noticed it at yours, they they’re talking about showing up as your in as your authentic self because they know that if they get the real you, if they get all of you, that they’re gonna get a more productive, a more loyal, a happier employee.

Cassandra Terry: Covering is a big one, especially in the workplace, and then there’s shrinking. When you find yourself shrinking, you’re in the room, but you don’t necessarily want anyone to notice. You don’t want the spotlight. You’re gonna let everyone else answer the questions. You may know better. You may know the answer, but you’re not likely to speak up. There’s something inside of you that hasn’t let go, that hasn’t allowed you to trust yourself enough to speak up, and let your voice be heard. So you shrink, and you make yourself smaller. You give the spotlight to everyone else.

Cassandra Terry:And then, flip flopping. That’s my technical term. I don’t think you’ll find it in any <laugh> psychology research paper or anything like that. But I use flip flopping to describe someone who can’t stand in their point of view. You may have a point of view for a moment, but as soon as someone opposes it, then you start to, instead of defending your point of view or trying to talk through it, you just give up on it, and take on the point of view of the other person.

Cassandra Terry: You can imagine how difficult of a situation that is if there’s two points of view and the two people are each trying to bring you to their side. You’re swaying and moving back and forth with the conversation, but to actually stand on it, to actually have an opinion and to be solid in that opinion, is very difficult. If you don’t have good self-esteem, you don’t trust yourself enough to land on an opinion and defend it. And then there’s people pleasing. I was at one point in my life, the poster, girl, you should have looked up “people pleasing” and here you go, this is what you should have seen.

Cassandra Terry: People pleasing is definitely rooted in fear, fear of abandonment fear of rejection. Those are paramount in someone who’s operating from a people pleasing point of view, you just can’t say no. You’re not comfortable saying, no, you’re not comfortable making someone uncomfortable because you don’t trust the relationship. You don’t believe that they’re in it with you just because you believe that they’re only dealing with you because of how you make them feel. You may be the class clown, make everyone laugh, or because of what you do for them, your fear is that as soon as you say no, as soon as you put yourself first, that the relationship is over. People who are people pleasers rarely put themselves first. They have a hard time with self-care because they’re saying,”yes” to everything, their plate’s always full, and you’re ripping and running and just trying to keep everybody happy. Everybody except for you.

Cassandra Terry: Which of these self-limiting behaviors is a growth opportunity for you? Think about that. And while these experiences can be debilitating, they don’t have to be permanent. No one wants to have negative messages playing in their head, and while realizing that they’re there is important, that’s just the beginning. You have to realize that you’ve got the control. You are the author of your story, and you have to start to rewrite those negative messages. And I’ve got five steps to help you get there.

five ways to subdue your inner critic cassandra terry manifesting miracle makers

Cassandra Terry: I call them the five ways to subdue your inner critic. Step one is to realize everything begins with it – awareness. You first have to become an observer of your thoughts and feelings, so that you can realize that that negative message is actually playing in your head. Step one, you’ve gotta hear it. That’s why it’s so important that you don’t judge it. You don’t try to push it away. You just allow it to be. You tune into it, and you take notes. You get really clear about what’s being said, because then, you can begin to do some work. You can begin to change some things.

Cassandra Terry: The second step is to recognize, now our inner critic sounds like a bad thing. It can be debilitating if it’s left unchecked, but it’s there for a reason. It was actually born out of some sort of self-protection, something in your past, something in your history said that this is not safe. This stove is hot. I better not touch it. And so every time you see a stove, you back away. But we know that that’s only for our toddlers in the very beginning. As we get older, we teach them how to properly use the stove, so that the heat doesn’t burn you, but it gives you what you need, so those self-limiting beliefs will actually become a burden. They were born to protect you, but they become a burden, and stop you from blossoming, if you don’t work with them, if you don’t realize that they’re there, recognize that they’re there for a purpose.

Cassandra Terry: Try to understand how, where they came from, because your real work starts with reassuring them. You wanna reassure that message that you’re okay, and this is where it may start to get difficult for some people, because you have to get comfortable talking to yourself. You have to hear that message, and then you have to talk back to it. And you have to tell it, “Everything is okay. I’m not fighting with the message. I’m not denying the message. I am reassuring the message that there’s nothing that you need to really protect me from. Everything is okay.”

Cassandra Terry: You say things like, “I trust myself. I am capable of getting through this. I have a lifetime of success, that I can draw on, that can help me get through this situation as well. You literally talk back to it, and try and feel yourself, start to calm down and be a bit less anxious about that situation. And after you’ve reassured it, now it’s time to reframe it. You actually have to rewrite the message, and it’s a good idea to grab pen and paper or keyboard and a notepad and actually rewrite it, hear the message for what it is, and then rewrite it, flip it on its head so that it becomes something that serves you and moves you towards your goals instead of shackles you to your past and keeps you from being able to move forward. Let me see if I can think of an example.

Cassandra Terry: Math. I talked about math this morning. I grew up believing that I wasn’t good at math. Now, I’m an honor student. My whole life, always made straight A’s would even eat them out in math, but math was hard. My entire life, up until probably almost 30 years old, I just had that playing in my head – I’m not good at math. Because I went into the situation with that mindset, it was always a little bit more difficult than what it needed to be, because I was anxious, I was uptight, I was stressed. What I learned from Carol Dweck and her growth mindset, and from others is really small word, three letters – “yet”

Cassandra Terry: If I could have known back then what I knew now, life would’ve been so much easier getting through my classes. I could have said,” I don’t understand how to solve this problem, yet.” As long as that “yet” is there, I’m still hopeful. I’m still planning for success. I still have a path forward, but if I just can’t do it, I’m stuck right there. There’s nowhere to go. It that’s the end. And so learning “yet”, and tagging that on to the end of some of these some of these messages, will really help you continue to think, and call on your innovation, and get solution-focused, and plan your way out of a difficult situation.

Cassandra Terry: And then the last step is repeat. We repeat in a couple of ways. One of the ways is repeating the new message that you’ve reframed over and over again until you believe it. Every time that negative message comes up, you repeat it, you repeat the new message until eventually it takes the place of the old. And that positive message is what comes to mind first.

Cassandra Terry: And then the other way you repeat is the five steps. As new messages appear, and you observe another negative message, you wanna run through these five steps every time, and so that you can continue to do the work and clear the path, because the thing that stands between us and the life we desire more than anything, is us. It’s internal. It’s not external. There’s a lot of external stuff out there, but we can handle it, if we believe that we can handle it, right? All right, so knowing that those messages are there, doing the work to reframe them, working your way through the five steps, and you are well on your way.

Cassandra Terry: Which of these five steps do you think would have the biggest impact on your life? We’ve walked through them. You know the five steps, and now we wanna look at how do we maintain this new mindset? Think of affirmations, positive affirmations, as your maintenance. I’ve put a few here, four that I like, that I repeat on occasion over myself, but what would work for you? It’s very personal. One of the things that I have on my mirror in my bathroom at about eye level is a little note card with some affirmation on it. It’s called habit stacking. I brush my teeth every morning like clockwork. I’m gonna do it when I get outta bed. That’s a habit that I already have ever since I’ve had teeth. To get a new habit, you wanna stack it on an existing habit. I put those affirmations right there quite some time ago, so that I remember to say them.

Cassandra Terry: I began my day and I end my day with positive self-talk. I do affirmations. I I think about what I’m grateful for, and I set intentions for my day, so that I am not just going through my day on autopilot, but I’ve already told my brain, I have told myself, how this day is gonna shape up. And because I start my day in a positive mindset, if things do start to go awry, I’m in a better position, a better head space, to think about a solution, instead of getting bogged down, with the emotions of what’s going on.

Cassandra Terry: All right, we talked about a lot. And before we end our time together, let’s do a quick review. There are three things out of everything I said. If you grab these three, then I think our time together would’ve <inaudible> Starting with, how you think affects how you feel, and how you think and feel, affects what you do. That’s why it all begins with the mind. And then I hope if that you learned today, that you have way more control than you may have realized before.

Cassandra Terry: You are the author of your story. Write your story so that it is uplifting and moving you forward towards your goals, and not holding you back. And use those five steps to do that rewrite. Realize, recognize, reassure, reframe, and repeat. Before we talk about what’s next, I wanna take a minute to thank the girl geek community. This is a awesome opportunity and I so appreciate being chosen to be able to share with you guys. But more than that, I appreciate your mission. You guys are out there building the leaders, the next women leaders in STEM, and you’re preparing them for that journey.

Cassandra Terry: I’m so grateful to be connected with you and be able and being able to participate in that in any way that I can. I have another 85% statistic for you. 85% of people who attend conferences, workshops, classes, what have you, do absolutely nothing with the information that they received. Please don’t let that be you. I’ve got a course that can help you along the way. It’s a free online course. Go ahead and take your phones and scan the code. I’ll put it up again at the end. It’s called “Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Advocate.” Your inner critic is really what we’ve been talking about all day. It’s those negative messages that are on autopilot, and this course, it’s a short mini course that reinforces the things that we’ve talked about today, and gives the opportunity to continue to practice it.

Cassandra Terry: I look forward to you doing that, and I really wanna hear from you guys and hear how, what your experience was like with the course, and if you have any suggestions for it. Connecting with me is definitely not a problem. Scan whichever platform is your preferred way, and by all means, let’s stay in touch. Let’s get in touch after the conference, and I really would like to hear your feedback in all sincerity. All right. It is decision time.

Cassandra Terry:You have to decide now if you are going to join me in moving from that 85% to expanding the 15%. You’ve gotta decide that you are gonna take those negative messages. You’re gonna move them off of autopilot. You’re gonna tap in, hear them for what they are, and run through those five Rs as many times as it takes to rewrite them. Because if you didn’t know before today, you know now it is the voice within that wins. Thank you so much.

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