Our Article writer Olivia Church shares her thoughts on success. 

On holiday a couple of years ago, I swapped the greyness of the UK for cobbled streets, tapas and sun in southern Spain. University life back home during first year is one that often contributes to high stress and trepidation, which is why travelling abroad was an ultimate escape route. While some may soak up their new surroundings like a sponge, just for once I wanted to block out any possibility of being inspired and just enjoy the holiday like any awkward British tourist. A plan that, soon enough, failed miserably. It was in the hotel room that, after forever scrolling through a plethora of TV shows that you could never get in the UK, I landed on a news programme that was in English and wasn’t discussing bad news. Considering I was only a couple of channels away from Al Jazeera TV and adult content, I thought it would be wise to stay on the channel that was on.


The interview was being conducted by a Talk Asia journalist and the other seat was filled by fashion designer Calvin Klein. Eye-roll all you want but Klein has undeniably had a rocket-like launch to success in the fashion world. A mix of a global branding, male and female lovers and controversial advertising of course made for good watching. Part of the interview also gave an insight in to his work with educating others and passing on words of wisdom and experience. The questions he was asked most often related to how he became successful in the first place and created a vast global market. His response was both impressive and unexpected:

“One of the things that I always tell everyone is act as if you’re so confident – if you believe in something but you’re not totally sure, you must convince people that you are sure…You can’t know everything, as long as you know more than what you don’t know, you’re ahead of the game.” – Calvin Klein


‘You must convince people that you are sure’. Klein knows that we’ve all done a bit of pretending. In our tutorials trying to explain your work to course staff after scowling furiously at it for hours; in critiques when everyone tenses that little bit more, it happens. It takes a lot to go in to a room and attempt to enthuse others about your work even when you aren’t completely certain yourself. Being honest when you aren’t sure is one thing, but faking confidence is a skill so well done you if you’ve already become an expert at this! It puts extra focus on your abilities to communicate: adapting language, tone and register go hand-in-hand in order to persuade others to see eye to eye with you, just because you seem to believe in something without being fully convinced yourself. Emma Stone in ‘La La Land’ said ‘people love what other people are passionate about’ and faking even a little bit of confidence can massively enhance your lying skills.


On the other hand, it’s possible that this isn’t news to you. Should we really be enthralled by a white rich businessman who feels he has to impart knowledge on to others? Are we yet again being lectured by a powerful individual whose wealth somehow makes his knowledge and expertise prized more than others? Perhaps this is a bit overdramatic. Lying implies that we deliberately choose to deceive others – say one thing, mean another. It seems that what Klein is hinting at is it is acceptable to be nervous and conscious of how other people might see you and your work. This can be a real make or break and we all want to be accepted and regarded in a positive light. If our ideas are not well-received, this can directly impact our self-confidence. What matters is that you are passionate enough about it to prove that it is worth pushing forward even if you have the odd jitter.


So I say lie as much as you have to! It can’t do much damage to give yourself a bit of a false confidence boost. Arguably, a lack of confidence sometimes comes with a lack of experience so we look to others to guide us when we feel a little lost. Again, this is fine too. Knowing when to stop the lying and literally say that you are unsure as to what you are doing is equally important. Klein said that ‘you can’t know everything’ which is a realistic approach considering how competitive the creative sector is nowadays. If one of us manages to lie effectively and fake enough confidence and remain grounded at the same time and get a little taste of, then we all can.


The link to the interview: CNN, Calvin Klein: Building a global brand, http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2016/04/07/talk-asia-calvin-klein-spc-b.cnn/video/playlists/talk-asia-video-collection/