An informal speech by Congressman Keith Ellison, Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee

My good friends Michael Turner, Robin Varghese, Maeve Adams, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, and my sister Azra Raza, hosted a fundraiser for Keith Ellison at my sister's home in Manhattan. Here is a video of the event with opening remarks by my sister and Michael Turner (he and Robin have proposed some original ideas for legislation to the congressman who has responded very positively—more on that in the near future) followed by some wonderfully optimistic and level-headed remarks by Keith Ellison. And a bit of Q&A at the end.

Video length: 59:53

Misunderstanding Confidence

by Max Sirak

(On the go? Listen instead of read!)

We have it all wrong. Confidence isn't what we think it is and it doesn't come from where we think it does. And that's alright. Because with some help from my friends, I'm going to set the record straight.


Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, called confidence contagious.

While I can appreciate the disease model of confidence, especially in the context of trying to inspire a team to achieve a goal, it's a bit misleading. Confidence isn't a germ. It's not transferred through contact with bodily fluids and it most certainly doesn't come from someone else.

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand writes, "Confidence is the practical form of being true to one's own consciousness."

Her definition is more helpful than the hatted hero of Green Bay's. Although, being true to yourself falls more in line with what a lot of us would call honesty, integrity, coherence, or actualization.

Democritus, the pre-Socratic philosopher from BCE (Before the Common Era), said confidence "is a mind devoid of fear."

Of all the descriptions of confidence so far, this is the one which hits closest to home. Most of us walk around believing confidence is an antidote. If we have enough of it then eventually we'll be free from the feelings of fear.

Democritus was on to something. There is definitely an inverse relationship between confidence and fear, the more of one the less of the other. However, with the ancient Greek paying no mind to his order of operations, I'd like to offer my own definition.

Confidence is a hot shower.

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