Author and Career Coach Candace Doby Shares Pearls of Wisdom in ‘A Cool Girl's Guide to Courage'

By Gabrielle Pharms | April 5, 2022

Many of us struggled as teens to have the self-assurance of donning certain styles, let alone the lack of boldness of knowing the essence of our character. We were simply trying to survive adolescence. So, for the youth and even those young at heart, author and career coach Candace Doby wants you to take courage and own who you are without outside validation.

Today, Doby’s new book, A Cool Girl’s Guide to Courage, hit shelves – and it’s an enjoyable read and a unique journal space for young ladies striving to bolster bravery. A couple of our favorite Doby-isms found in the book are “Stop following rules that don’t exist” and “Please don’t tell me you’re trying to reach perfection; she never picks up.” Alongside catchy anecdotes is engaging journal prompts that take a soul inventory of the golden qualities that define you, the reader.

Ahead of the release, EDITION spoke to Doby about her new book, the definition of accessible courage, and the challenges she’s overcome as a Black woman in the corporate world.

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I’m excited there's a book that's catering towards mental wellness for not only young ladies but for anyone. So, what was the inspiration behind If Courage Could Talk and A Cool Girl’s Guide to Courage?

The first book, If Courage Could Talk, was a book that I self-published because I had this idea and drove that I wanted to make courage accessible, relatable, and approachable. Everything that I had seen in the marketplace about courage approaches it from a very adult point of view. When you read the books out there in the marketplace, they're kind of heavy and can be intimidating. As a speaker, I speak to a lot of emerging leaders and try to help them understand how important it is to develop courage and how important their ability or inability to do that is going to impact the people that they become. I wanted to write a book that makes courage approachable and fun and served as a great entry point into the conversation on personal courage. If Courage Could Talk was my first effort toward putting it into a book. I self-published it and got the attention of a traditional publisher. The book is coming back out. It's an expanded, revised kind of reimagined version of If Courage to Talk, and it's coming back out as A Cool Girl’s Guide to Courage.

Very cool. I think that that's excellent, especially right now, with depression being on the rise among young ladies. Was it always scheduled to come out around this time?

It was scheduled to come out in February of this year. It got pushed back to April from production, the supply, and demand of it all. It did get pushed back a couple of months. I am glad that it's lining up with the time that we're in. So many people, especially girls and young women, have a harder time with their mental health during the pandemic. Studies have shown that mental health and well-being have taken a harder hit for girls than boys. This is the time when we need to be conjuring our courage to step out and pursue our most meaningful goals and to conjure our confidence to stand true to who we are – and that's hard to do with the isolation that has come out around the pandemic. I do hope that this book can be a resource, a fun resource for girls, young women, and anybody who picks it up for them to challenge the limiting beliefs that they have about what they can do and who they can become; and interact with their inner voice of fear in a fun way.

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Love it. You know a thing or two about needing courage because you quit your corporate job a few years ago in 2018, correct?

I did. I had to conjure my own courage. I'm a speaker, and I'm a courage coach. So, I teach a lot of people about conjuring your courage so that they can unleash their possibility and step into the fullness of their possibility. I had to do that for myself. This was a moment where I had to take all the things that I helped other people do and do them for myself. I had a nice job, a six-figure salary, the company car, the frequent flyer miles, and I worked for a very well-known billion-dollar company. All of that comes with influence, instant credibility in the streets, and all of that comes with these things that I decided I would give up because the calling that I was being pulled to do was help other people. The grand vision that I had for myself was to make courage fun to talk about and easy to apply to people. So, I said, ‘I’m going to do it,’ and I prepared for it. I saved money. I made sure that I knew how to pay for health insurance and that kind of thing when I felt like I was in a place where this was as good as it’s going to get in terms of controlling for the unexpected fees. Now, I just got to do it, and I'm going to rock with whatever happens. So, I did, and here we are.

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That’s wonderful. And I'm so glad you took that leap of faith because this book is so needed. Being a woman of color myself and growing up dealing with depression, it’s a taboo topic among the Black community. So, when you brought out that you're making courage more accessible, was it from the vantage point of a Black woman or something else?

Let me think about that first. It's interesting. I do 150 percent believe that courage is universal. It’s needed for us to be able to do hard things. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve seen and come into contact with girls, young women, and young professionals who find it very difficult to ask for help. With all the challenges that the pandemic has brought on, things were not the same, but still, you have women and young girls who are afraid to ask for help because a lot of times, asking for help equates to – at least in people's minds – to incompetency, neediness, and weakness. And that's a stereotype that women constantly have to try to overcome as being needy, incompetent, or weak people.

As Black women, we're always trying to do it all. We're always trying to take care of everything and not ask for help for fear of coming across as needy or incompetent people in the workplace and our personal spaces. This book has journaling prompts with a space that girls and young women have on the page to explore some of their barriers to accessing their courage and their confidence. The book will provide them with a safe kind of environment, or when they're reading it, the pages invite them just to be chill, be themselves, be relaxed, and have fun. What I wanted to do with this book is not create something where we've got to be intimidated by what's on the page or to go down a negative spiral, but to have fun when you're considering these things. We've got enough heaviness on us with the pandemic, so there's some fun in the pages for girls and young women to think about these topics.

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Excellent point and well stated. Your book made me think of this quote I was once told: “Courage isn't the absence of fear, but it means acting despite being afraid,” or something to that effect. So, what would you say is an instance you've had to be courageous despite being a little scared?

As a speaker, I get on stage, and I talk to many different audiences about courage. When I first started speaking about courage, I spoke to primarily white audiences. I'm a Black woman who has lots of experiences raised in the South being a Black woman. I remember just really wanting to be honest with my story. I wanted to be honest about the comments that I used to get from co-workers and even my boss when I would wear my natural hair to work. I wanted to be honest about what was said to me, being called a white girl and that kind of thing. I was really afraid of being honest with my story and sharing my story in front of my audiences, and I had to conjure my courage if I was going to be the best speaker that I could be, but share the tools of courage with the people I was speaking to. It took me the courage to conjure my own courage to do that and say, ‘I know that this is probably going to make people uncomfortable,’ because whenever we talk about race, people get uncomfortable. I know that people aren't going to be able to relate specifically to my experience, but it's important that I share these tools of courage in the fullness of their power.

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I could see that being uncomfortable for both parties, as you mentioned. But, who likes to talk about race?! So, I appreciate you sharing that experience.

Truly, you can't win. I have really short hair now, but I used to have twists. I walked into my boss' office, and shortly after I walked into her office for a team meeting, she looked at me, chuckled, and told me that I looked like Buckwheat. I was 22 years old. Here's a person, 22, trying to come into her own and stay strong and confident in her look – which is different than the natural standards of beauty – and your boss tells you that you look like Buckwheat. There are so many instances like that I've shared on stage. It took me conjuring my courage to share that to an audience of primarily white people – and this is a white person who said this to me. You think, ‘Wow, will I make them uncomfortable?’ But at some point, you have to say to yourself, ‘That's not my responsibility to make them comfortable.’ My responsibility is to share my truth, my stories, and the tools of courage in the space that I'm in.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Photography by: Gianne Demeritte