Acknowledge when feelings of self-doubt creep in, but don’t stay there. Shift your focus to the positives and solutions. Solutions lead to progress, and tangible progress and accomplishments build confidence.
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Sally Beane.
Sally Beane is director of closing at Provide and has a wealth of experience spanning multiple fields. With over 10 years of experience in social service and advocacy, as well as five years in practice finance lending, Sally has a unique perspective on managing complex problems, growth, and change. A natural leader, Sally has honed her problem-solving, process optimization, and customer service skills, and is passionate about empowering her team members to reach their fullest potential and find fulfillment in their careers. In her free time, Sally is a dedicated member of the board of directors at Hand in Hand Ministries, where she channels her passion for community and giving back.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Evansville, Indiana, with a midwestern upbringing. My parents divorced and both eventually remarried, which made for lots of love, support, and siblings! I was the youngest of three initially, having an older brother and sister. My mom later gave us three younger brothers.
My parents instilled the importance of family, kindness, gratitude, and work ethic. Participation in soccer and cheerleading further shaped my view on critical life skills, such as teamwork. I went to Catholic schools, where I learned academic rigor and prepared myself for post-secondary education at Western Kentucky University and the University of Alabama.
Was I the one with the most money or the nicest car? No. Did my parents sacrifice to send me to the best school? Yes. Did I have everything I needed to become a driven, well-rounded, and good human? Absolutely.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I grew up with a passion for helping people. My career path started to take shape when I was a volunteer and intern at Hope Harbor, a small not-for-profit organization in Bowling Green, Kentucky, during my undergraduate work. It was here that I witnessed a small group of women doing incredibly important work with minimal resources to help end sexual assault and offer critical services to those affected by it.
I went on to finish my Bachelor of Arts and master’s in social work and began more than 10 years of professional employment helping those in need in the social service field in both government and non-profit settings. Whether it was assisting victims of crime through the court process, coordinating emergency and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, assisting at-risk students, or running a volunteer program, I have dedicated much of my life to helping others.
These roles exposed me to ugly truths about the world we lived in but also to enormous strength and perseverance, brilliant minds, giving hearts, and creative problem-solvers. These experiences continued to shape me and my interest in making an impact — one person, one group, or one project at a time. I later realized my toolbox was full of skills that I could lean on heavily in business, leadership, and life.
In 2016, I began what I describe as my pre-career pivot. I spent a couple of years at a small private college, which was a great experience. I worked in admissions and student services, helping empower students to start and finish an accelerated healthcare program by providing the necessary support to overcome any obstacles to reaching their fullest potential.
I view all of these years of professional contributions as a privilege and as what allowed me to identify “what lights a fire in me.” Practically speaking, though, my life circumstances and priorities had changed in several ways during these years, including motherhood and divorce. I was often working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet. I wanted and needed to continue to make an impact and be the best mom I could be while simultaneously growing and learning professionally.
This led me to hours of conversations with my sister, where she was always pushing me to consider the “what if.” I know she worried about the heaviness of my work and the personal toll it was potentially taking on me — whether I wanted to admit it or not. She has a knack for zooming out from complex situations and honing in on what could be actionable. She had found a very rewarding path in the lending industry, starting out as a loan closer and later moving to the business development side of small business lending. She kept saying to me, “I don’t know if you would like it, but you would be so great in this field.” It was her networking and connection to people at Provide (then a small San Francisco-based fintech startup company named Lendeavor) that opened a new door for me. I had the opportunity to meet with the leadership team at Provide. These conversations ultimately led to them taking a chance on me. In 2017, they offered me a spot on the small and mighty team serving dentists and veterinarians as they pursue their practice ownership dreams. I was going to learn about a new industry, build new skills, and be exposed to new things. Where that ultimately would lead, only time would tell, but it would prove to be much more than that.
For the last five years, I have been learning, stretching, and growing, both personally and alongside an incredible group of colleagues. The Provide team has grown and went from a startup to an acquired subsidiary of Fifth Third Bank. I developed an understanding of the industry and the startup world, and honed my skills as a closing officer, quarterbacking the closing process for doctors. In more recent years, I transitioned to management and am now director of closing, allowing me the opportunity to help build out Provide’s Closing team, structure, and culture, with the best team of people from all different backgrounds residing across the country providing efficient, technology-driven, high-touch, and individualized customer service.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
On the professional side:
- In recent years, I have been scaling and developing Provide’s Closing team, as well as growing loan originations overall. This year we are fine-tuning the process, collaborating with the Product team and engineers, to find ways to leverage technology on closing tasks that don’t require human interaction or problem-solving skills. The more of those lifts we have, the more time our brilliant team will have with our customers and industry partners. We are also working with our Data Analytics team to develop tools for us to monitor distribution, progress, and outcomes.
- I am also focusing on broadening my understanding and skill set in regard to leadership and managing managers, as I have begun shifting my focus from managing all individual contributors to managing managers.
On the personal side:
- I will always maintain connection and involvement in social service and non-profit work. I shifted my employment several years ago, but I did not shift away from other things that are near and dear to my heart: giving back, lending a helping hand, or empowering people to reach their fullest potential in professional and personal settings. In fact, I feel more equipped than ever with the time and resources for it.
- Within the last year, I joined the board of directors for Hand in Hand Ministries a non-profit I initially became involved with in 2017. This small but mighty organization has operations locally in West Louisville, Kentucky, as well as in Appalachia, Kentucky, and the countries of Belize and Nicaragua. I have participated in a number of immersion trips, building homes (Belize) or wheelchair ramps (Louisville), as well as completing home repairs (Appalachia). I have helped spread the word about their incredible work, as well as recruited volunteers and raised money. As a member of the board, I have stepped up my involvement in helping support their important mission of building strong communities through access to housing, education, and healthcare. I am scheduled to return to Belize in July to build a home for a family in need. I haven’t been able to go since pre-COVID-19, so it’s a long time coming, and I couldn’t be happier to have this on the books.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Generally, I place great importance on awareness of and willingness to own up to my mistakes. Doesn’t mean it’s fun, but we all make them from time to time, and it’s what you do with it that means more. I ask myself, “Can I change it, what could I have done differently, and what did I learn?” Then I make myself move on and apply those learnings in the future. I have gotten better at this over the years, but it’s a work in progress.
On the serious side: Two of the areas I have faltered and learned from include, but are not limited to, coming across as defensive when a problem that’s being discussed feels personal when it isn’t (this isn’t productive or a good look), and rolling out a new process or change without having adequate alignment from all stakeholders (resulting in unnecessary confusion or frustration).
On the funny side: I recently learned I routinely fail to manage the volume of my voice on calls and Zoom meetings. My teammates jokingly shared recently that I am well known in their households for my loud talking, to which my daughter wholeheartedly agreed. While they are resourceful in turning down their volume, I am trying to be more mindful of this!
Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
How you feel about yourself is, on some level, reflected in all you do — for better or worse. It impacts how you feel day-to-day and how you carry yourself in life, which is bound to impact outcomes. The more you work on that foundation of self-belief — not to be confused with perfectionism — the positive domino effect will be felt.
When I took the leap of faith for the opportunity at Provide, I was beyond nervous. For me, that was all the more reason to do it and grow from it. I believed that if I put my mind to something, worked hard, relentlessly asked questions, and was met with great teammates and mentors who were willing to invest in my learning and development, I could do it. Sometimes others see strengths in you before you see them in yourself — LEAN into that. When I was approached about managing the Closing team, it was an example of someone else believing in me or seeing something in me before I may have even seen it myself. I later realized the combination of my new skill set and my people skills from social work positioned me well for leading and managing. I knew I could help foster and align with Provide’s people-centered culture.
I have a strong, smart, and beautiful 13-year-old daughter who has been watching me, and her takeaways and learnings matter. Has she seen me in some rough moments? Yes. Has she also seen me figure it out, stumble, and get back up? Yes. Has she seen me push past my comfort zone? Yes. And has she always encouraged me to do so, as I do her? Yes.
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself?
Believing in yourself, to me, means you recognize you have value. This may mean value in relationships, the workplace, the community, projects, sports, or all of the above. You may not be great at everything (yet), but you bring 100% of yourself to the table in all you do.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Have I gone into new experiences feeling nervous, uncertain, or inadequate? Absolutely. Have I told myself negative narratives that have exacerbated those feelings? Absolutely. Do I think that’s normal? Absolutely! Pushing and challenging yourself in new situations is bound to cause some discomfort, and that’s okay. Admittedly, I have let this stop me from stepping out of my comfort zone in the past when trying something new, applying for a job, or speaking as an expert on something. The good news is that I have recognized this as an opportunity for me to grow and have been committed to pushing through those feelings of discomfort in the next situation. Otherwise, we miss out on a lot of opportunities for growth. Lastly, I truly believe this is a journey and a work in progress.
At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
Being a part of a small startup taught me that things can (and will) move and change quickly. You must remain thoughtful, but also decisive and agile. We tried new things, and if they went well, we did more of them; if they didn’t go as expected, we re-collaborated with a different approach. That environment grows knowledge and fosters leveling up in self-belief if you want to stay on the growth trajectory. It also helped me combat my perfectionist tendencies, which I think also promoted self-belief and growth.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
- Stay grounded in who you are and what you stand for — even when we fumble, we can lean on our core values to get us back on track.
- Challenge yourself and embrace new experiences — stepping out of your comfort zone is where you will stretch, (perhaps) stumble, get back up, and, most importantly, grow.
- Find time for self-care — we only get one body and mind — we have to take care of them. What are you doing to fill your cup and feed your soul? The better I feel, the more productive I am and the better outcomes I have — whether it’s through exercise, time with friends and family, enjoying nature, volunteering, etc.
- Acknowledge when feelings of self-doubt creep in, but don’t stay there. Shift your focus to the positives and solutions. Solutions lead to progress, and tangible progress and accomplishments build confidence.
- Pep talks — have a plan in place to combat the times when negative self-talk or thoughts creep into your mind. Stop and reflect on what are facts versus negative narratives you are telling yourself. Have your trusted person on speed dial for those times when you need to talk through it. Sometimes all it takes is reflective moments, an outside perspective, or a reminder of our strengths to give us the nudge and reset we need.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Being self-confident doesn’t mean you know everything. It doesn’t mean you’re the smartest person in the room or perfect. It means you recognize that you have value.
You can believe in yourself and strive for your own growth while simultaneously offering support to others on their path. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
Normalize, challenge the thinking/reframe, share your story, and offer encouragement.
This is a real and common thing, especially in high-growth environments where you are challenging yourself. I have experience with this, too. Most importantly, let’s talk through all the reasons you DO deserve to be in this role, where you are, and doing this work.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?
Share your time, talents, and/or resources with those in need, and encourage others to do the same. Find a local non-profit with a mission that is meaningful to you, and see how you can help. Every little bit counts. There is so much negativity and division in the world, but let’s pool our resources and make a difference one person at a time.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.