Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Speaking at SXSW is always an honor and a privilege. This year, I got the opportunity to speak at a co-branded event between SXSW & General Assembly, on “Overcoming Impostor Syndrome.” Impostor Syndrome is often encountered purely internal feelings of inadequacy in high performers. There are a number of great resources out there on Impostor Syndrome, that I won’t even try to duplicate, but this post is an anchor providing my slides and resources for those researching Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome Takeaways

  1. Impostor Syndrome explained visuallyYou’ve got to name and claim the Impostor Syndrome feelings you’re having. By knowing what you’re dealing with, you can begin to explore the way out.
  2. Document your successes and return to them when you feel vulnerable. This list of success will help you remember the value you provide.
  3. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Create a virtuous cycle of successes, instead of a downward spiral of fear and feelings of inadequacy.
  4. Use the GROW model to get moving and documenting your progress. Mapping out your goal, realities, options and the way forward will help you figure out the next first step to getting unstuck.
  5. Reference your personal board of directors to gather great advice. Collecting some mentors who’ll listen to your fears and┬áspeak truth in love to you.

My Impostor Story

Because it’s not covered well in the slides, I’m taking a moment and being vulnerable that I’ve experienced Impostor Syndrome many times.

  • Driving home in 2007 with a newborn, feeling like I couldn’t possibly be qualified to remove him from the safety of the hospital.
  • Moving into engineering management in 2010 and suddenly being thrust into managing people who were my peers the day before. I was immediately terrified that I wasn’t the right person to lead them forward.
  • Moving my family to NYC in 2011 to start the Bazaarvoice NYC office from scratch with no connections. Feeling like I couldn’t be the right person to start this team.
  • Even speaking at SXSW on Impostor Syndrome itself I felt wholly unqualified.