Back to Podcast Index →

How to Develop Ivy League Confidence


If you were asked to create a fictional character to represent total confidence, how would you create that character? 

Most people would make this fictional character a combination of Wonder Woman (knows every language, knows everything), Superman (stronger and faster than everyone else), and Captain America (no matter how scary the situation, he has enough courage to always act without struggle). 

But know-it-alls and people like Superman or Captain America are not an accurate picture of confidence. 

In fact, confidence is not know something already. 

It is the belief that you can figure it out. 

And how do you develop this belief? 


  • Understand what confidence really is
  • Reasons why people lose confidence
  • Keys to improving your confidence
  • Learn about the "Valley of Disappointment"

     And so much more.


Ready for the Ivy League Challenge?

Take the Challenge today!


Too many people are overwhelmed, stressed out, and frustrated about college admissions prep. I created this podcast to help you build a standout college profile and boost your confidence. Enjoy!

– Steve Gardner, Founder

Listen to my podcast

Listen to other podcasts 

Success Mindset

The right mindset can ensure your success. Listen to begin building your own winning mindset now. 

Start listening

Build Your Confidence 

When everyone else is trying to fit in or go with the flow, learn how you can develop the confidence you need to blaze your own successful path. 

Start listening

Reduce Stress & Anxiety 

Stories, research, real-life examples... Listen to learn how my Harvard peers and I faced stress and overwhelm. 

Start listening

How to Stand Out 

Hard work and great test scores are not enough- but what kind of admissions prep activities will help you get in? It's not what you think... 

Start listening

Admissions Strategy 

Essays, rec. letters, curriculum choices, college visits, research, test scores, and more. Don't wear yourself out with a bad strategy.  

Start listening

Succeed In High School 

The best college prep will ensure you thrive in middle school & high school. Don't settle for stressful, unhelpful college prep advice. 

Start listening

Would you like to be notified when new episodes are launched in your favorite category?

Yes, sign me up


Let's talk about your environment. I know I've spoken before at length about the importance of the small choices that we make about how we form habits and how we create triggers to stimulate ourselves and our subconscious mind to begin taking better action throughout the day.

And truly, those things are real game changers, the choices that we make to build habits and to build routines that facilitate our success. That's a really important step towards our success, because your environment is a lot like a river flowing at times, slowly, at other times. But if you're trying to swim upstream against the river, you're going to be exhausted but get nowhere.

Meanwhile, if you're swimming with the current, you don't have to swim that heart. It kind of carries you along with your peer group and your environment at home and at school. For way too many teenagers, that environment is flowing upstream, and trying to go against the current just becomes really, really frustrating. It requires tremendous willpower and is exhausting. Instead, I want you to shape your environment and make choices now about how you create an environment that pulls you in the direction of your success. You want to PRO actively surround yourself with heroes, with people who inspire you. How many role models do you have in your life right now? How many of them are your peers or your friends? How many people consider you a role model? If you're not as much of a role model as you could be, what choices or changes could you make?

And in particular, I want you to look at your peer group. I created the Ivy League Challenge in part because so many ambitious teenagers are missing this element of their success. The river that they're swimming in forces them to swim upstream; it forces them to use willpower to create the life that they want for themselves or to try. And for way too many of them, it leads to exhaustion, it leads to discontent, and disengagement. And for way too many teenagers, like we've talked about before, it leads to wanting to escape internet flicks or YouTube or video games or some other method of escape. Instead, I created the Ivy League Challenge to give you a built-in peer group that supports you at your highest levels of ambition. I knew it would be valuable, and I knew it would be important, but I didn't realize, at least not fully, when I first created the Ivy League Challenge, just how life-changing and just how to impact full that peer group would prove to be.

Now, as I give exit interviews for every cohort that I do of the Ivy League Challenge, I'm no longer surprised when I hear the vast majority of the students talking about how the greatest impact that they experienced was working directly with their peers. After I would teach for 20 or 25 minutes in the Ivy League Challenge, I always break up the cohort into groups of two or three, or four in these small breakout rooms on zoom, and then peers, high school teens, with other high school teens that are also ambitious and like-minded from somewhere else in the world.

They meet in this virtual room on zoom, and they pour out their hearts to each other, and they reflect with each other on how they can improve. It is peers, mentoring, and working with peers. I now have no doubt that this is the most powerful mechanism to change a teen's mindset, to change a teen's ability to see themselves as someone who can and is and should be successful as someone who can and should be studying on some of the Top universities in the world. And even if they don't go to a Top university or any school at all, they'll still be just fine because they know who they are at their core. And they know how to research things. They know how to find solutions to problems, and they know how to solve those problems. The very skills that make them highly attractive to Top tier universities also happen to be the same skills that make them highly successful in life with or without a bachelor's degree.

Everyone that's attended so far has attended college or plans to. I still find it a source of pride. And very, very exciting that my students, when they finish, they no longer feel a desperation a sense of desperation around one particular university as the answer to their success pathway. Instead, they see college as an opportunity to continue expanding on the impact that they already make in their communities. They know that whichever college they choose to attend is going to be lucky to have them. They will be an absolute asset on that campus.

And after graduation, they will continue to go out into their new communities and continue to solve problems, continue to make an impact, continue to bring honor and, fame and glory back to their university. They know in their heart of hearts that is who they are. There no longer dependent on admittance to a certain university to be confident. They have that confidence already. And a big part of that is the environment that they are in. The Ivy League Challenge gives you the answer to this really important piece of the puzzle. I know that most of my listeners are teenagers, but I know that some are parents and teachers. And I want to tell you right now if your student is struggling because they don't have the kind of peer support that can open their minds, help them see the world in more positive terms, or help them understand how they do have a role to play.

Not only in their small community now but an ever-expanding role to play in this amazing world that we live in. If you have a team that is struggling because they've disengaged from school, they've disengaged from other activities. It is probably because their environment is forcing them to swim upstream, get them into an environment that allows them to go with the flow that allows them to leverage the momentum that is created from a peer group full of ambitious teens that want the best for each other, and that want to support each other.

To enroll in the Ivy League Challenge, go to tilc dot to forward slash register and do it right away. Because when we fill our cohort, we will close registration, and it will be closed until we finish this cohort.

So what we do is a little bit different from a lot of other programs. Instead of just having registration open for whoever is, is interested. Whenever they're interested, I take a group of students that I intentionally keep small, about 15 students, so that we can maintain a level of intimacy and a level of personal attention that allows them to be completely on top of things throughout the entire course of the program. The program is 12 weeks long. You have the commitment to join me once per week, each week of those 12 weeks. And we'll do amazing things together as we help your team identify their core values, identify their strengths, and interests, teach them how to explore lore, and those interests more effectively, how to reach out to professionals or professors to garner support and teach you how to begin making an impact in your community by solving a problem. That volume violates one of your core values. This entire process is life-changing, and the environment that we create that supports the teenager is what allows them to take on a mantle that's greater than they've ever imagined.

Before you become a teenager, you become the hero on a mission. You identify who you are and what you really care about, what your core values are, and what issues in your community violate those values. You identify the experts in the field that can help support you in solving that problem.

And then, I teach you how to reach out to those people and communicate in professional and effective ways so that they join your team and help you solve that problem. No other program in the world allows you to stand out in such an impressive way. And yet the whole thing is completely authentic. It is completely aligned with your own core values and who you really are. And one of the most exciting parts is we create an environment that allows you to swim downstream by surrounding you with like-minded peers, like-minded teenagers from around the world, who love your core values, love what you're doing, and support you along the way, and who inspire you, because they are also doing amazing things.

Join the Ivy League Challenge today, do not delay tilc dot to forward slash register. And let me help you create an environment that will facilitate your success; start-up up swimming upstream, exhausting yourself and exhausting your willpower; start swimming with the current, allow your environment to support you in your success, and watch how fast you go. It's an amazing journey. And I can't wait to have you with me; join the Ivy League Challenge today.