Actress and entrepreneur Gabrielle Union has an enviable amount of confidence. And she's certainly accomplished: She's starred in numerous hit movies and TV shows (most recently, "Breaking In"), and her 2017 book, "We're Going to Need More Wine," shot to the top of best-seller lists, with its refreshingly real approach to serious topics including color, gender and feminism. NBA star Dwyane Wade is her husband.
One might say she's #blessed or should be #grateful for it all. But that one won't be Union. In fact, she's tired of all that.
While she used to think that way, Union tells CNBC Make It that having that "lucky" or "grateful" mindset has actually done her a disservice when it comes to business.
Early on in her career, Union says, "I wanted to be chosen, and I wanted somebody to see me or see my vision or see my business opportunity as [worthy]." But at 45 she realizes, "[M]otherf-----, I'm worthy from birth."
She now operates from that mindset: "'Hashtag grateful,'" she says with sarcasm, "made it through the birth canal. I'm here."
Research has indeed found examples of women chalking up success to "luck," and studies have shown some of the most common topics used by women on social media include words like "thankful." For example, the Center for Creative Leadership analyzed leadership development interviews and found that almost half of the women interviewed attributed their success to "luck" (as opposed to just a third of men). And in 2015, the Atlantic reported that while the word "lucky" was used on Twitter 56 percent of the time by women, when looking up "lucky" in the first person, such as, 'I am lucky,' that percentage spiked to 67 percent.
For Union, feeling lucky made her "[go] with the first person that wanted to dance with me," she says, metaphorically — she took the first opportunity she was offered, or bit her tongue and didn't ask questions when she should have.
"I didn't ask the next question: Do you have a long term plan for this business? Do you have marketing dollars beyond this amount of time? Do you believe in the overall health and wellness of the brand?" she says. "Or did I feel lucky that someone responded to my dream? And I hopped at the first chance?
"I just f------ felt lucky," she adds, speaking at the BlogHer conference in New York on Aug. 8.
Later Union realized, "I'm not going to like all these dance partners, some of them are going to be off-rhythm, but somebody out there is going to be a right match, and it's probably not going to be the first person. You know? And that's okay," she says.
Union says she still struggles at times, but insists that it's important to know and respect your worth, even if it's not always easy.
"Don't panic, great ideas will have a number of suitors," she says. "Believe in yourself, don't sell yourself short because you feel lucky — 'hashtag grateful' — for the first motherf----- who pays attention to you. And that goes for everything, but in business, I keep learning that, the hard way."
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