Jennifer DaSilva. President of Berlin Cameron and the 2020 honoree of Campaign US’ Female Frontier "Fearless Pioneer" award.
The marketing hero was recognized for her work pushing equality across the advertising industry during a ceremony in New York City last week.
DaSilva gave an impassioned speech about how to use fear as fuel to propel yourself to uncharted territories.
Here are her words:
It’s a word that’s plagued me all my life.
When I was a little girl I used to think that superstitions would get me beyond my fears -- if I keep my hand under the blankets all night no one would come snatch me out of my bed.
When I went to college I hid my fear behind my suit of armor -- a ribbed gap turtleneck, my perfect bob (which I spent hours getting just right) and my coldness.
When I was just starting at Berlin Cameron over 17 years ago, I hid my fear in the shadows for years supporting like a champion, but not completely shining.
So to be called fearless somewhat makes me chuckle.
I still get a nervous stomach.
I still get night sweats. (I’m telling you all my secrets now)
I am still afraid that people wont think I’m enough.
I’m still wary that if I plan an event that people won’t show.
But today this fearful girl and now woman is being called "fearless?!"
Fearlessness isn’t the lack of fears—it’s the ability to push beyond them. The ability to redirect your fears and channel them into energy to conquer a challenge.
Fear is actually what got me up on this stage today. I was afraid that things might stay the same -- for women leaders, for women founders, and for myself and Berlin Cameron.
With two percent of VC funding going to female founders, I feared that founders might struggle to get the recognition and amplification they need to succeed.
I was afraid that women would continue to do the same thing by pushing up the corporate ladder while knocking other women down a few rungs.
I was afraid that my story and the Berlin Cameron would lose relevancy.
And that fear drove me to change. It drove me to start our division Girl Brands that lifts up women-owned companies through connections and creativity. It drove me to research to understand the challenge behind why women helping women isn’t always easy and develop tactics to create actionable change and connections. It drove me to be vulnerable. It drove me to share my story. And it drove my creativity. And mostly it just drove action.
So be fearful, but don’t let it hold you back. Let it move you forward. Channel it into the energy you need to take action for yourself, your client, your agency.
Fearlessness is a state that I’ll never reach, but I’m going to continue to use my fears as fuel.