Naomi Hirabayashi is the co-founder of a new text program that seeks to boost user confidence on the daily.
We got to sit down with her to discuss her passions in the women empowerment community and her work at Shine. To join Shine, visit the Shine website or text “SHINE” to 30644.
What is Shine and why is it awesome?
Naomi Hirabayashi: Shine is an SMS product helping people reach their work and life milestones through intentional living, mindfulness and daily habits.
We started Shine because of the confidence gap for women, but we quickly discovered everyone can use Shine in their day to day; currently, 30% of our list is men.
Shine is awesome because:
- We’re reaching users in a trusted medium: text messaging
- We’re elevating conversations around the tough issues like imposter syndrome, trying to negotiate a raise, gender bias, and more
- We’re helping professionals across the country start their morning with intentionality, focus and positivity
According to the Shine website, “50% of women experience self-doubt about their performance and careers – compared to just 31% of men.” Why do you think this inconsistency is?
NH: We could talk all day about why the confidence gap exists (gender studies happy hour soon?) but the two big drivers we often talk about at Shine are:
- We need to see more people that look like us (read: women, women of color, minorities) in leadership positions. It’s hard to imagine being something you don’t see.
- We’re socialized to be caretakers. From an early age, women are encouraged to be caretakers, to make people feel comfortable, to please. While we’re all for kindness (hell, yes), the traits that typically help you thrive at the executive level – direct, unapologetic, brazen – often conflict with how women are raised to behave and interact.
How has self-doubt affected your professional life, and why is confidence important in terms of personal achievement?
NH: My dealings with self-doubt are probably consistent with how a lot of professionals feel. Self-doubt and confidence are both active players in my day to day and my professional journey.
There are days I leave a meeting feeling incredibly confident and I think to myself, “NAILED IT!” and there are days I’ve walk away from a meeting feeling like a complete failure. The frequency of highs and lows are what people rarely talk about. As a society, we love redemption stories. We love the story of the struggle, the character arc, and the build up to the win.
But life is more messy.
We need to be reminded that it’s okay to struggle with both, to some days feel like you got it, and other days to question yourself. What I’m most interested in is the conversation surrounding those emotions and the strength in vulnerability that comes from talking about this stuff.
What are your hopes for your future and the future of Shine?
For the future of Shine, we want to be reaching millions of professionals and through the use of Shine, we’re helping to close the confidence gap and the wage gap for women in the workplace.
Is there something specific that sparked your interest in the female empowerment space?
I’ve been surrounded by strong, empowering and amazing women my whole life.
I’m the daughter of a single mother, granddaughter to two forces of nature in the great generation, I’m best friends with the same group of girls I went to high-school with, I worked at a not-for-profit with two amazing back to back female CEOs and I founded Shine with the amazing Marah Lidey who was the first in her family to go to college and an advocate for issues facing women of color in the workplace.
People say choose something that doesn’t feel like work (if you have the privilege to). Supporting women in the workplace, elevating pressing gender issues, and spending my day thinking about how all this comes together and is scalable through tech feels like my calling.
What words of wisdom would you give to other women who suffer from self-doubt and have missed out on big opportunities because of it?
To quote the AMAZING Mindy Kaling, when you are struggling with going after what you want, a new job opening, leading a project at work, etc. ask yourself, “Why not me?”
Someone is going to take that job, someone is going to lead that project, why shouldn’t it be you? All those seemingly small things add up to women seeing other women taking bigger risks, going after what they want, and being unapologetic for wanting it.
Can you describe one of your proudest moments since starting Shine?
The proudest moments come from the responses and testimonials we get everyday from our users.
From “Shine changes the course of my day” to “I used Shine to help ask for a raise” to “You always know exactly what I’m thinking about for work” the proudest moments truly are the user affirmations in building a product people need, a product people love, and a product that elevates issues people are facing every day at work.