Do you listen to this podcast because you’re pretty sure that you’re a professional fraud, and you’re hoping-hoping-hoping that you will absorb enough knowledge to stay ahead of being exposed as such? Well, stop that negative self-talk! Impostor syndrome is a very real thing, and we’ve devoted a whole show to digging into it! Julie Hoyer and Val Kroll joined Moe on this International Women’s Day episode to discuss the topic. It turns out that there has been a lot of research in the area, there ARE techniques for battling it, and it IS useful to hear how common it is!
0:00:05.8 Announcer: Welcome to The Analytics Power Hour, analytics topics covered conversationally and sometimes with explicit language. Here are your hosts, Moe, Michael and Tim.
0:00:22.1 Moe Kiss: Hi everyone. I know that guy just said you’d be hearing from Moe, Michael and Tim, but this is episode 214, and it is our International Women’s Day episode, which means we’ve got an all-women show for you. So hi, I’m Moe. It’s just me. But I’m excited to be joined by a couple of co-hosts who our loyal listeners have heard in the past and who you’ll be hearing again on some upcoming episodes while I’m out on leave. I’m especially excited to have them for today’s discussion because, well, I’m a little nervous about my thoughts on the topic. So Val Kroll, you’re an optimisation director at Search Discovery, so I assume you’re chomping at the bit to provide the authoritative take on our topic today?
0:01:06.3 Val Kroll: Well, I don’t really know how confident I’m actually feeling about this topic.
0:01:10.3 MK: Oh, perfect, I think. And we’re also joined by Julie Hoyer, who’s an analytics manager at Search Discovery. Julie, it’s great to see you again. I assume at least you’re really confident that you’re deeply qualified to participate in today’s discussion?
0:01:27.1 Julie Hoyer: Confident might be overstating it. Not too sure.
0:01:32.3 MK: So possibly we all think we’re gonna get exposed as frauds today? Well, listeners will unsubscribe from the show and overall, we’re just gonna tank. Michael and Tim will be super disappointed in me and it will be all our fault, mainly mine, right? Okay, no, I need to back up. That’s just imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head. We can do this. So speaking of imposter syndrome, that’s our topic for the show today. Time and time again, we experience it ourselves, we hear it from colleagues, that sickly feeling that the next analysis or a piece of code you write or presentation is going to expose us as being way out of our depth. So on this episode, we’re gonna dive into imposter syndrome and see what we can learn about experiencing it and how to combat it. Finally enough, in preparation of this episode, I actually asked a bunch of my colleagues how they would describe imposter syndrome, and it started quite the debate because everyone had a slightly different take on it, and it actually seems like it’s quite a personal topic. So Val, what’s your take on what exactly imposter syndrome is?
0:02:40.7 VK: Yeah, so this is actually a topic that I have done some research in in therapy in partner with a therapist, because one of the things that’s really helpful for me in processing is the ability to name it and claim it and call it what it is when it rears its ugly head. So some of the research that we found together was it all starts… This imposter syndrome cycle starts with getting assigned something like a project or a presentation, and then if you’re someone who suffers from those imposter fears related to this task, usually you’ll take one of two paths, and you’ll choose to either over-prepare in order to accomplish this task, or maybe you’ll choose to procrastinate initially, but either way, you accomplish this task and you have this brief moment of relief, you’re like, “Oh okay, we’re good. We did it.” And then any positive feedback you receive, you immediately discount it, so that positive feeling of relief is gone. So if you’re someone who over-prepared, you think, “Oh, the only reason I was successful was, it was due to all that effort I put in,” or if you were the procrastinator that ended up preparing in a frenzy manner, you say, “Whoo, I’m so lucky. I’m so thankful I lucked out, and that’s why I was successful.” And so those perceived feelings of being a fraud feeds this ugly wheel because you can never say those successes are attributed to your own abilities, and that’s why it’s so hard to hop off that hamster wheel.
0:04:00.6 MK: And it’s so funny actually because Val shared a diagram, which we will make sure to put in the show notes, at one of her presentations a few years ago. And I remember looking at this diagram, and even just like the over-preparedness and the procrastination, I do both simultaneously, where I procrastinate until the point I get to over-preparing. But what about you, Julie? What’s your take on imposter syndrome?
0:04:23.4 JH: Yeah, I will say I liked the diagram Val put up for us to look at because it did put some structure to that weird feeling. You’re like, “I know I’m feeling it, but how do I describe it?” And I think for me, it’s always the dread that like, “This is gonna be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. This is gonna be the one where I fail,” and it’s like, “This is gonna prove that I got this role too early, or I got put on the client too early, or I didn’t actually know as much as I thought I knew about a topic.” That’s in all, I mean, goes back to that thread that Val said, but it does, it’s like a very specific feeling for me. When it comes up, it’s like, “Oh, this is the one. I’m gonna fail,” so always a fun feeling.
0:05:08.7 MK: Yeah, it’s funny. Mike Cannon-Brookes, who’s one of the founders of Atlassian, which is a big Aussie tech startup that most people know about because they’re banging their head against a wall when it comes to Jira. Look, I love his description because it’s so blunt, and so Mike Cannon-Brookes, of like you feel like a fraud and you’re bullshitting your way through a situation, and at any point in time someone’s gonna call you on it. So it seems like this word fraud comes up a lot. And I think the thing that surprised me, even within my own team, is like I was having catch-up with someone on my team the other week, and one of the guys was just like, “Oh, but Moe, this is the moment you’re gonna find out you shouldn’t have hired me,” and I’m like, “What are you talking about?” ‘Cause he’s just moved into a different team and he’s like, “You’re gonna work out. I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m not meant to be here.” And I was like, “Oh buddy, that’s all of us. We all feel that way.” [laughter]
0:06:01.8 VK: Well, that’s one of the other interesting things about imposter syndrome, is when it was first studied, it was amongst women, it was a women’s issue, but later studies have actually shown that it knows no boundaries based on gender, what role you have in your side of your organisation, academia, medical field. Basically, everyone feels it. I think it’s like 70% of people experience it at least once in their professional career, so it’s not just a women’s issue.
0:06:30.0 JH: I will say, I wonder almost if it’s like you know enough to know what you don’t know, and so then it creates the space for fear of like, “I know what I don’t know, therefore it’s gonna come up and I’m not gonna be good enough for whatever situation.” So I wonder if that’s why it’s such a high percentage of people and then it doesn’t really matter gender or role, like you just said.
0:06:52.9 MK: It is funny though, ’cause it does seem to affect women and people of colour, like minority groups more, but then… I don’t know. I have this hunch because… So the statistics that Val and… Or the data that Val and I both looked at, it says like 70%-75%, depending which study you look at, of people face imposter syndrome. So of course, my mind goes to like, “Well, who are the 20%-25% who never feel that way?” ‘Cause that’s interesting. And I do wonder sometimes some people are better at pretending or faking it, whereas there are some people, and maybe this is why it does affect minority groups more, like they’re less good at having that confidence that can over-compensate for it almost and trick yourself into believing it’s not happening. But this is all me just spinning shit and the things that I think about when I think about this topic.
0:07:47.4 VK: Yeah, to me, I think the faking it part, I think that’s interesting, and I think that that’s like a common… It gets really tied in with the fraudulent feeling, is like the fake it till you make it, and that’s what’s bad about it. I actually think fake it till you make it is great. What’s insidious is feeling like you’re gonna get caught or that that’s bad. So I think putting yourself out there, stepping outside of your comfort zone is definitely good for your growth, but if you have this intense fear and anxiety about always getting exposed, that’s what’s detrimental. The faking it part, I think, all about it. [laughter] Huge proponent. [laughter]
0:08:25.9 MK: Do you think it can be useful though? ‘Cause there are quite a few… I mean, it’s obviously a hot topic and lots of people talk about it now. Do you think there is a way that imposter syndrome can be useful?
0:08:37.0 JH: I don’t know if it’s useful. It feels pretty detrimental. I feel like you have to put a spin on it, like recognising when you’re having it and trying to see this situation as an opportunity instead of this scary thing. So I don’t know if I would say imposter syndrome itself could be, but maybe if you’re able to look at the situation differently, it could be.
0:09:01.4 VK: Moe, I’m curious. You said you talked to a couple of people on your team about this. Did any of them say that it had helped them in the past or motivated them to be better at their role?
0:09:11.8 MK: Yeah, it was actually really funny. Someone used the word irrational as like, whenever you have imposter syndrome, it’s always based on irrational thoughts as in like, you actually deserve this position, you deserve to be here, so it’s only when it’s irrational that it, I guess, counts as “imposter syndrome”, which is something that I’ve been ruminating on, ’cause I’m like, “Is that actually true?” I guess the reason that I started thinking a bit about this is ’cause Mike Cannon-Brookes was a founder and he was talking about his experience and the fact that imposter syndrome affects entrepreneurs and people in the tech community a lot, or maybe we just… Maybe we talk about it more, who knows? But I do think that that intersection with irrationality is important because there are times that you are genuinely out of your depth and you don’t know something, and I think sometimes that gets lumped together as imposter syndrome.
0:10:06.4 MK: So, I’ll give you an example. He was actually talking about the first time they had to deal with some HR thing and he’d never dealt with HR. Now, in my mind, I’m like, “Is that actually imposter syndrome? Because you actually don’t have experience in that area, right?” Whereas I tend to think of imposter syndrome as, “Oh, I’ve been working in analytics for over a decade,” but I’ll still be sitting in a meeting being like, “Oh, should I mention that thing? Because I don’t really know if I’m the best person around them, this qualified person.” And it’s like, hang a minute. Like you lead the team and you are actually the expert on this topic, but for some reason… So I’ve like not remotely, Val, answered your question about if it can be useful, which I think sometimes it can be. But this topic has just been pulling up a lot of thought for me about what it means when you’re not actually an expert in something versus I probably associate it more as feeling out of your depth, even though you know the topic quite well.
0:11:04.6 VK: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. So to refine my earlier comment about, I’m all about encouraging stepping out and fake it till you make it, it’s because the imposter syndrome is actually like regardless of whether or not this is something that’s out of your depth or not, it’s that fear, it’s the, I’m gonna get caught or be exposed as the fraud. So if you are out of your depth, but you don’t think that failure of the situation is attributed to you as an individual, it’s like, “Oh well, this is the first time I did it.” That feels healthy. Whereas if it’s something where you’re like, “Oh yeah, this is a really well-trodden area, I’m the expert here, and I can’t even rationalise with myself whether I should speak up in a meeting. Again, it’s the exposure part that’s really nasty, that really can get stuck in your stomach in a way that turns over. [laughter]
0:11:51.5 JH: And I like that distinction that you made a lot, Moe, of like, “I’m an expert in this area,” compared to, “No, this is new for me,” ‘Cause I think that is really key to when you think about it, ’cause yeah, if it’s a place I’ve never been to, why would I claim I know the best restaurant to go to? It just feels silly where it is, it’s almost like a safety mechanism of, “No, I recognise it is completely new for me, and yeah, maybe I can be more forgiving with myself because I’m learning,” instead of claiming, “I’m an expert,” and then being like, “Oh, but am I really an expert even though I’ve done this for so long?”
0:12:22.6 MK: So yeah, interestingly enough, there was a psychologist, Pauline Rose Clance, who first studied this, and it was all to do with insecurity, and the thing that she… I find this mind-boggling, is that a bunch of her students all felt like they didn’t deserve their place at university or their admission had been an error, but the thing is they were all A+ students, and that to me is the crux of it, like there is data that shows that you’re doing a good job or that you have earned your place or you’re doing well, but you still have that feeling of being a fraud or getting found out, and that to me is a really compelling or interesting space of imposter syndrome.
0:13:08.5 JH: Yeah. Actually, I was wondering, when do you guys most feel it come up, like what type of situation, or even specific stories I would love to hear, ’cause I know for me, I have a couple that it doesn’t matter how many times I run into this scenario, I still feel it.
0:13:24.6 MK: Well, go first. What is that scenario?
0:13:26.7 JH: You want me to kick it off?
0:13:27.6 MK: Yeah.
0:13:29.2 JH: My… And it’s funny, it’s such a trivial one, but when I have to introduce myself on a client call, oh my gosh, spikes through the roof. Like I have to tell you my title. I refuse to ever say my age or… Not that you’d do that in an intro, but telling people my age or how long I’ve been in the industry and saying my title and what I do, I’m like, “I feel like a child, and I should not be in this conversation.” I hate that moment so much.
0:13:54.4 MK: Oh, so I really don’t wanna get to tips and solutions yet, but at the same token, this is something that I have spent a lot of time also overcoming, and I finally got to a place where it doesn’t wig me out. And what I did was I actually pretended I was writing the intro or the blurb, like you know you have your speaker blurb, I pretended I was writing it about my sister, and then I also sent it to an amazing group of six women that are in my industry and was like, “Can everyone just QA this for me? Does it seem like I am like an egotistical asshole? Is this too much? Is this accurate? Do I actually have these skills?” And everyone’s, of course, like, “Moe, this is amazing. You crush it. Go get it.” But writing it in the third person is something that’s always really helped me. But Val, I feel like you also had a very visceral reaction.
0:14:54.0 VK: Yeah. No, I definitely felt that in my stomach when you were talking, Julie, about introducing yourself, I was like, “Oh my God, what’s the most relevant thing to say?”
0:15:01.7 MK: I know.
0:15:02.5 VK: Yeah, ’cause it’s like just cringy feelings.
0:15:07.4 MK: Nerve-racking.
0:15:07.5 VK: But actually, speaking of your sister, Moe, one of my biggest imposter syndrome stories involves her. [laughter]
0:15:12.7 MK: Stop it. Oh, this is good.
0:15:14.0 VK: Let’s get into it. Story time. Okay, so two weeks before my wedding, I spoke at eMetrics in Boston in 2014, and it was off of a dare from my therapist at the time, the therapist who I actually ended up researching imposter syndrome with. Full circle. Full circle. But earlier that year, I was a runner-up to the DAA’s Awards for Excellence, Rising Star Award, which Michelle won that year, so I was a runner-up to her, which was still an incredible honour, and so that summer, Jim Sterne gave me a call to ask if I wanted to speak at eMetrics in Boston, and I was in full body sweat just on a call with Jim Sterne, let alone responding to [laughter] his request to speak at his conference, but where we left things is, “I’ll think about it.” And thankfully, I had a therapy session later that night where we talked all about how Looney Tunes it was that Jim Sterne would ask someone who didn’t even win the Rising Star Award to speak at his conference that year. But he said, “I dare you to try it,” and so I did. And so I definitely over-prepared [laughter] for that event, but I had my second full body sweat session, actually, when I stepped into the speaker’s launch at the conference, because the only person sitting in there was none other than Mr. Tim Wilson.
0:16:29.8 VK: And I was thinking whether Tim Wilson likes it or not. My badge says that we’re in the same cohort for the next three days, and I almost just collapsed on the floor right there. [laughter] Pretty sure I had to power pause my way to say anything to him in the speaker’s lounge. But yeah, and the reason I was so nervous about that one is I was like, “If anyone’s gonna call me out as a fraud or know that I’m a fraud, it’s gonna be Tim Wilson.” But no, he was very nice and asked a really nice question during my presentation. [laughter] But that had imposter syndrome, like exclamation point, level 10 meltdown all over it. [laughter]
0:17:03.2 JH: Oh man.
0:17:03.3 MK: Yeah. It’s really funny because I definitely have had it when it comes to speaking, but I also had a deep fear of public speaking, so I had to overcome that a lot, which is funny ’cause when people see me present now, they’re like, “You wouldn’t fear public speaking,” I’m like, “Oh my God, I still wanna throw up,” and it doesn’t matter. Actually, Jim Sterne gave me some really good advice, which I constantly think about, which I think actually is almost parallel or it intersects… Parallel is the wrong word, intersects with imposter syndrome of like, I asked him once to give me some feedback. I was like, “Can you just watch really closely my presentation and give me some feedback and that sort of stuff, ’cause I’m really stressed? I suck at this.” And the thing that he said to me was, “If you are still asking for feedback and you’re still trying to improve your public speaking, then you’re a very good public speaker. It’s when you stop caring and wanting to improve in it.” And that was… I actually think that’s where imposter syndrome can be helpful, is for me, the over-preparedness actually means that I normally do a good job of it, so I actually sometimes say there’s benefit.
0:18:08.4 MK: But it’s also the fact that you do want to improve, and that to me can be a good thing, even though the whole cycle to get there is so unhealthy for your mental health. But the place that I…
0:18:21.9 JH: Yeah, it is created… It can be a motivator.
0:18:26.0 MK: Huge motivator. But the place I feel it most is my technical skills, like hands down, any time, it has anything to do with programming or stats, and I think the reason… Yeah, I definitely had that feeling of like, “How did I trick them into giving me my job?” [laughter] I had that feeling. I had that feeling a lot. I still do now, and especially I have that feeling because I’m often working with people around me that are far more technical than me, and I’m like, “Oh.” Like I still… I feel nauseous thinking about it, about if I had to go write some code right now and I had to get another person on my team to QA it, I’d be like, “Oh my God, it’s gonna suck so bad.” I’m like, “What am I going… ” Anyway, I’m spiraling.
0:19:17.0 JH: Well, it’s funny that you bring up the code and technical part, because just today, in the past couple of days, we were trying to run a randomized control trial that I had to design while my three mentors… All three of them were out at the same time. Val, Tim and Matt Policastro at work, all gone all of them vanished at the same time for a while, and yeah, that was… I felt like a big impostor, but anyways, got through designing this pretty simple RCT and I had to send to the media agency we were partnering with to execute it, the target list, and it was like they were trying to target individuals, but we had to randomize at a geo level to make it all work out on the response variable we cared about, and we get an email back from them that the data from executing the test was ready, send it to us, we checked it and they treated every single DMA in the country, and the first thing, here’s the thing, the first thing, even though we have experience where media agencies have messed up the execution.
0:20:16.1 JH: I immediately go run to my code and check every single line, ran every single script, QA’d the exact excel that I sent over to them like five times over to prove, because I was convinced I had messed it up, that it was absolutely my fault that this test was messed up, and after a good hour and a half of convincing myself that it wasn’t, I could finally respond to the email with confidence, so yeah, the technical thing really gets me.
0:20:42.2 MK: But it’s so funny because if I had to think of someone that I would ask for advice on that topic, I would ask you, that’s the insane bid is like…
0:20:51.8 JH: I know, I know. And I just… It’s one of those things. Yeah, it’s scary or… I’ll find myself… You’ll say a statement and do you find yourself doing the qualifying thing, if someone else is on the call, they’ll kind of say, but, oh, I don’t know, what do you think, even though you were pretty confident in what you said until it came out of your mouth, and you’re like, “Oh, I should check.”
0:21:11.0 VK: And I think that so teasing that apart a little bit, that there’s been using it for good, ’cause I’ve been thinking about that ever since you’ve asked that question about Could it ever be used for good, and I think that there’s a little element of nerves or wanting to do a good job or succeed in whatever you’re doing. I think that that can be healthy and helpful and a motivator, and I also almost don’t even think that over-preparedness is necessarily negative unless that’s what you give credit to when you’re successful, and I think that that’s the difference for me in deciding, is this healthy or is this just me? Is this just the way that I tick or do I need to work on myself talk a little bit so that I can step into the next exercise as a whole person versus a shaking shell.
0:21:57.3 MK: I think it’s also about the outcome though, right? ’cause when I see that diagram, and everyone’s gonna be going crazy ’cause they can’t see this diagram, so we’ll have to put it might be ahead of the show, when I see that diagram, I have this cycle, often have the cycle of like I over-prepare for something, which often is last minute because I procrastinated to start with, and then it does go well. I actually. In lots of cases, I’m like, “Oh, okay. It did go well.” And like you said, I’m like, “Oh, it’s because I’ve over-prepared.” But what I find really concerning is when you do a good job, but you still don’t believe the evidence that you’ve done a good job, that’s the bit where I’m like… And particularly with people in my team, I don’t know if we start to get to cognitive behavioral therapy, but it’s like, what evidence do you have that it didn’t go well? Like you have this comment from the stakeholder that it went really well, you have this positive feedback from the team, someone else has asked you to share it at a different forum, like these are all pieces of evidence that you have that you did this successfully.
0:23:08.8 MK: So why do you still think that you do a crap job at it, and that’s the bit for me that I find like you kind of really have to work through with people because, yeah, everything is there that they did an awesome job, and often I’m observing it and being like, they crushed that that was phenomenal, but they still have the doubt. Is that something that you’ve both experienced.
0:23:30.7 VK: I mean. It’s almost. I don’t know, this might be stretching it too far, but it’s almost like I’ve personally have struggled with anxiety and depression, and if someone says like, “Well, don’t be sad.” It’s kind of like, well, I mean, I have to do that work, it’s not like someone can just say something to help me feel better, it really has to come from within. So even though using the evidence is part of what I use to kind of help prove to myself, as an analyst, of course, I’m used the data to prove why I shouldn’t think I’m going to be exposed as a fraud from something, especially if it’s something that is directly in my area that I’ve done time and time again, but it really is some work that you have to do yourself a lot of time, so it’s really hard to coach someone, and there’s lots of advice about how to mentor someone who is experiencing this, but I don’t know, for me personally, it really… It’s a lot of internal work, which, sitting with your own thoughts is sometimes not the most comfortable when it’s fear and anxiety and doubt, but that work is… It’s paid off.
0:24:31.5 JH: Yeah, I think for me, I definitely live more on the leading up to it, part of that diagram, the over-preparing, the procrastinating and then over-preparing whatever that blend is, and it’s more the presentation of the situation where I really doubt myself, I haven’t personally struggle as much with that feedback loop of doubting it, if I get positive feedback, I feel like that is reassuring to me, but I think it also still feeds into me thinking, “Oh, it’s ’cause I over-prepared,” but I don’t think I fall as much into the totally discounting it, which I can’t imagine how difficult that is because, I think like Val said you would really have to figure out how to be able to internalize that and take that for what people say and accept that and not let any negative or mixed bag of results, like, how do you not let the negative weigh more heavily on you than the positive, ’cause that’s human nature as we know. So I think that’s really difficult, but I will say from my experience, I haven’t lived on that part of the cycle of it, as heavily as I think the front side of it.
0:25:37.3 MK: Do you think you’ve gotten better as you think about this topic more and you understand it more, ’cause it is… I feel like it’s something like when I started my career, no one really talked about impostor syndrome ever, and it’s definitely like the last five to 10 years concept. At Canva we do onboarding training, which talks about impostor syndrome now, that’s how ingrained it is when you’re a new starter, it’s like everyone who starts at Canva feels this way, they feel like they don’t deserve their place, yadi yadi yada, and they say that is one of the techniques to overcome it, but do you personally feel like you’ve had progress?
0:26:11.5 JH: I think so, but I do think it’s what you said more of the transparency, if people talk about it a lot, and like Val. You said the power of being able to give a name to something so then you can kind of better almost put it in a box, define it, understand it, feel it, and then figure out what do I need to do with this? And so I do think I have definitely improved because people talk about it, and I’ve gotten to chat with people.
0:26:36.0 VK: It being normalized for sure is helpful. I remember this DA Hub discussion years ago, that Amy Sample lead, where we talked a lot about this and Amy Sample said something to the effect of, “Oh, you felt impostor syndrome. Great, you’re a person.” like, “Good to know. It’s so normal.” And so I remember being like, “Oh, okay. This isn’t so scary.” So I think that that’s definitely been helpful, but Moe have you noticed a difference with your relationship with this over the years?
0:27:04.8 MK: So here’s the thing, I would say that I have gotten better at managing, I guess, my “impostor syndrome.” And one of the things that has been really helpful for me, particularly ’cause like I mentioned, a lot of my impostor syndrome stuff comes from feeling like inferior technically and like the truth is I know I can write code and I know that I can do those things. But I know I’m not the best at it, and I know when I buckle down, I can do a good job. But one of the things that has been helpful is to focus on what are the unique strengths that I bring, and for me, that’s kind of reframed it as instead of. And then to be honest, like I have an amazing team, I have an amazing coach who’ve been really good at helping me identify those things of like, “Yeah Moe guess what, you don’t do the same stuff as everyone else, but you do these other things, and no one else can do that.” And that for me has been very helpful. But the bit that I really struggle with is sometimes I feel like maybe I’m getting better at managing my impostor syndrome, but I equate it to I have more experience.
0:28:11.4 MK: And then I’m always like, “Okay, I have more experience, so therefore I’m better at able to handle the situation or whatever,” but what do you then do with a junior person that comes to you and is like, “I have impostor syndrome,” and you’re like, “just wait. In 20 years, you’ll feel really confident.” There isn’t a. It doesn’t result in any kind of action that you can, or recommendation you can give to someone about how they should handle it.
0:28:41.6 VK: Yeah, that actually reminds me one of my other impostor syndrome stories that really stands out to me ties into exactly this about the age and the inexperience. When I first started out of college, I was actually in market research before I got into digital analytics and optimization, and I was one of the most junior analyst doing a lot of work for Time Warner Cable, and I worked for a rock star analyst who was out sick the day after we delivered a big report where there was a lot of downward trends, and lo and behold, our client calls, wants to hop on a call to dig into the data a little bit, and she was bringing her boss, who was the CMO of Time Warner Cable. And so now I’m joining a call and dialing in to the conference bridge with myself and my boss’s boss who’s the Vice President, and as I’m dialing in and doing the pass code, the VP says, “Just so you know, I want you to lead this call ’cause you’re more aware of what’s going on with the data than me.” And I almost blacked out, I can barely. I’m glad I can remember this story to be able to tell it today. I survived it.
0:29:39.6 VK: But I had all of my printed out cross-tabs and all of my notes and my sticky notes and highlights and everything ’cause I… What do you think we did? We over-prepared, we over-prepared and I tried to anticipate what are the top 10 possible questions they could be asking? Giving us in this call. So they said, “Hey, the Midwest region really tanked. What went on?” And so, this is exactly it was like, I was like, “Well, the Midwest region experienced some outages, and so the call volume increased.” And so I proceed to tell the answer like this and as soon as I’m done my VP, mutes the line. And was like, “What the hell are you doing?” And I was like, “I don’t want them to think I’m 23 years old,” which I was at the time.
0:30:18.1 VK: And she’s like, “Cut the crap. You sound like you’re in witness protection.” And no one knows this data better than you, you’ve been swimming in it for the past two weeks putting together this report, buck up and just answer the question. So I proceeded to act like a normal person for the rest of that call, but and I mean definite impostor syndrome happening here. But the other thing that I was thinking about is, I’m also in this moment responding to a world where there’s a perception that young women don’t hold as much value in the workplace as anyone else who was on that call, and that’s a reality that we’re living in as well, so I empathize with those junior analyst Moe that are going to with that because, man, that was real. That was really real.
0:31:03.0 JH: Yeah, well can I tell another story? ‘Cause this one, cracks me up, I had been working for 15 months, 15 fresh months. And Val Kroll comes to me right before Christmas, I think, and she proposes to me that I speak with her at Adobe Summit, and I almost passed out. I remember being so floored like, “Are you sure you’re asking the right person? I think you got the wrong number. There’s no way. Why Val? Why would you want me to speak with you? What do you want me to do? Like click the slides to move, what would I possibly say?” And I remember kind of feeling like Val when your therapist dared you kind of that same situation where I was like, “Um, I don’t know, I’m not sure,” and Val’s like, “Oh, come on, you can do it. We’ll prepare. We got this, come to New York, we’ll prep in person.” She totally sold me on it and I was like, “Okay, I can’t say no to her I’m just gonna say yes and really hope that I don’t fail.”
0:31:56.5 JH: And I have never prepared for something more in my life and then COVID hit and it didn’t happen, but that was like… That was crazy. And I look back and I’ve done multiple talks now with Val, and it’s just funny because I’m still that nervous if Val were to be like, “Hey, you wanna do Adobe Summit.” I’d still be that nervous, but we made it through and that one… That cracks me up Val. I was at 15 months Val, why are you asking me to talk about anything. How am I qualified at all?
0:32:24.4 MK: But it does seem like exposure helps, and so it’s funny actually, I keep saying like, “Let’s not get to the tips and the how to… ” But I have this rule, I call it the Say Yes rule, and it’s actually because as a kid, I was an oil brat we moved every three years, and I would find moving really hard and making new friends, and so I had this rule. Any time you move somewhere new or like you start somewhere new, you just say yes to everything, you say yes to every invite you get, every opportunity to meet people, if it’s to join a team, even if you don’t know how to play that sport, figure it out like a yes person. And I’ve started when I decided to start overcoming my fear of public speaking, that was the other… I was like, “I’m going to adopt my yes rule for work stuff, any opportunity I get, I’m gonna say yes to no matter how much it terrifies the shit out of me.” And that has been one of the ways that I have overcome it. And it’s funny actually, there’s a guy at work who does actually listen to this show, so he’s probably gonna hear this, and he got a really amazing opportunity to step up into a leadership role recently, and he kinda came to me and he was like, “But Moe, I don’t have enough experience, I don’t know if I should do it.”
0:33:34.9 MK: And I’m like, “Yes, you say yes. You say yes, you will figure it out.” And the nice thing about the Say Yes rule is it takes the decision away from you ’cause you’re like, “I’ve committed to saying, yes, this thing has come up, I’m not going to to and fro it, I’m just gonna commit and then I’m gonna figure out how to execute on it later.”
0:33:58.2 VK: I love that.
0:34:00.3 JH: I love that rule, but I do feel like it almost feels like… And this is not backed by any research, this is just from our conversation today, it’s interesting to hear that it started off looking at high performers, I believe that research of impostor syndrome, and I do feel like when you talk to people who you think are amazing at their job, they feel it. And I do wonder if a part of it is like if you push yourself to say yes to things because you want to have the opportunity, you want to grow, you feel loyalty to say yes, whatever it may be, I feel like you kind of are already nudging into that high performer area, it makes sense to me that those would be correlated that you’re saying yes to all these things, or you feel like you can’t say no, but then you’re also willing to push yourself into them, but then immediately I could see where you fall into impostor syndrome, right? Of like, “Oh, I don’t know if I can actually do this,” but then you have it in you to do the over-preparing or procrastinate and over-prepare and get it done. So I do wonder how intertwined those things are.
0:35:00.3 MK: So Val, what are your ways of managing it? What do you do other than waiting for your therapist to dare you.
0:35:07.3 VK: Yeah, shout out to my therapist. I think, again, going back to using the evidence to say, Here’s why I was even offered this opportunity, there’s a vote of confidence that someone has to assign this task to me or to ask me to do whatever the thing is, and so I have to trust in those people, especially the people that I trust, that they’re putting something in my lap that I can handle before I jump off the what if cliff and say, You know, “Hey, if this episode goes wrong, Michael and Tim are gonna be mad and everyone’s gonna unsubscribe.” Like you opened the show with. [laughter]
0:35:47.3 MK: Yeah.
0:35:50.4 VK: But I also think that the other thing, especially when it’s work-related and it’s like a presentation or a pitch that you have upcoming, is to find a trusted advisor or a mentor or someone that you really appreciate their feedback and just get them to put a set of eyes on what you’re doing or hey just would love five minutes to pitch where I’m at on this decision, just so that someone can kinda give you that little high five, I find myself very extrinsically, motivated, so if I have other people saying like, “Yeah, hi five, you got this, and I really love the way you’re heading or here’s something you can consider.” That’s really helpful for me. So an external voice from a trusted advisor is helpful when I find myself in that hamster wheel cycle.
0:36:33.5 MK: I think it’s also important though, to become your own trusted advisor/champion, and I know I mentioned this a little bit already about the third person thing, but I was taking the team through promotion applications recently, and I was like, “Pretend you’re writing about your best friend or your favorite teammate, your most well respected teammate,” and it’s actually a technique, and I’m pretty sure I saw it in like a TED Talk or something, but when I was trying to overcome my public speaking, before I would go on stage… Yes, I believe in a power pose, even if the evidence has been partially debunk now, I still love a power pose, I don’t know why it makes me feel good, but the other thing I would do is I would talk to myself before I went on stage in third person, I’d be like, “Moe has got this. Moe is gonna do an amazing job and yes, you sound nuts, but it’s all in my head, so it’s fine.” That is the definition of insanity, but anyway. But it’s something about framing it as instead of like, “I’ve got this Moe’s got this, it actually helps you believe it more because it sounds like it’s coming from. Yeah, a trusted advisor or something like that.”
0:37:41.0 VK: I love that so much. I’m absolutely going to try that.
0:37:44.6 MK: What about you, Julie?
0:37:48.2 JH: Yeah, one of the things that I do is, well, I almost… Well two things I guess, I’ll mention. So if we go back to when I mentioned my three trusted advisors were all gone at the same time, I did have to learn to rely on that inner voice and start to develop it. It is not perfect. I will not take it over talking to my trusted advisors at this point. But it was a big pivotal moment. I feel like in my own confidence and like way to work through imposter syndrome when I had to practice that. But Moe, I love what you said, because I think I want to utilize that, like the third person part of it, I think will really strengthen it. Because yeah, when you don’t have those people to rely on, I was pretending, you know, what would they say? Or what have they said to me in the past, right? Like, I’ve come to them with similar situations. And what did they say, like, let me kind of pull on that past experience with them. And it really did help me in moments when I was feeling like an imposter.
0:38:41.9 JH: And the other one, I think along similar lines is, when I’m feeling really out of my depth, I like to think back to the last time I felt out of my depth. And like, “What did I do to not feel that way? How did it go? What was some of the positive feedback I got? “And I kind of start to use it as like a book of evidence. And I start to think of it as like stepping stones or my favorite thing to do is like, “What did I know six months ago? Or didn’t I know six months ago that I know now.” Like, “How have I changed in six months?” And that like, retrospective of myself has been very empowering and is actually like, started to instill some more confidence in myself. And I’ve probably done that, moreso just the last year. But it’s been a real big help for me.
0:39:22.9 VK: I love that. And you know, what’s so funny, Julie is like, that actually helps me even frame out. You know, when you pull up a presentation that you put together like a year ago, and you’re like, “What is this? [laughter] I can’t believe I talked like that.” Like, “What was I even thinking?” And it’s like a great moment to be like, “Man, I’ve grown even in just that six months or that one year’s time.” So I like that tip too. That’s another great one.
0:39:51.7 MK: You know the funniest thing, my case of like, the biggest imposter syndrome I’ve probably ever had, was actually getting asked to be a co-host on this podcast. Like, honestly, it was like, I am like, “Did they fuck up?” Like, “Did they call the wrong person?” Like, I had a pro con list. And the biggest fear actually, Val, that I did, I’m pretty sure like, I chatted to my sister about it. And I chatted to about… Another friend in the analytics industry here in Sydney about it. And the thing that I was most worried about was like, “Well what if I say something stupid, and someone listens to an episode from a few years ago, and like, I’ve since learned something new or whatever. And it’s like, it’s gonna be on record that I said this stupid thing, like three years ago.” And there’s one particular episode where I can think of something stupid that I did say a few years ago, and I’m like, “Argh.” But I’ve tried to reframe it as like, “Okay.”
0:40:39.3 MK: But like, you’re growing and you’re learning new shit. And it’s probably a good thing if you are changing your mind, or you’re looking back on previous things and being like, “Oh, look how far I’ve come.” That’s not an easy thing to do. But like, to be honest, as you both know, I also get very stressed about this episode every year. It is like the most stressful episode for me because I’m always like, “Oh, but everyone listens to the podcast because of Michael and Tim.” Like, “Helbs has got the radio voice and he keeps everything on track and he’s funny.” And like, “Tim is the smart one.” And like, yeah, and I still years later, I’m like, “Why do people listen? Because I clearly,” yeah, it’s, yeah.
0:41:24.5 JH: Moe I love listening to you on the episodes. One of my favorite things is your candid reactions, by the way. When I hear your candid reaction in a episode, I feel that so deeply because I’m like doing that audibly myself while listening. So I love that you have those. And then you always have the best questions, I think.
0:41:41.6 MK: Aw, thank you. But yeah, it’s just funny how like, even something that you do for years and years and years, you do still have that feeling. And I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable with it. But it’s, yeah, it doesn’t go away. So I do feel like we could talk about this topic for hours. And the truth of the matter is, I’m sure the next time I catch up with Julie or Val, hopefully over a wine or something fun, we probably will end up reminiscing and chatting about this topic again. It does seem like a big part of overcoming imposter syndrome is actually recognizing it and starting to talk about it. And like I said, my work does a really good job of actually like naming it. And there’s been lots of tips and also great stories too. But we do need to wrap. So I’m going to go around and get everyone to share a last call. Val, do you want to kick us off?
0:42:34.2 VK: Certainly. So here’s a place where I feel imposter syndrome as well. I mean, again, let’s just keep the thread going. So I’m like, this is good. It tells a lot about you, like what you picked for your last call. But this is where I landed because this is, I was like, “Oh, man.”
0:42:47.2 JH: I’m like now I’ve got stress about it. [laughter]
0:42:51.2 VK: You’re like, I wasn’t feeling bad about it until you said something. So thank you for that suggestion. No, this is very like in the moment for me right now. So hopefully it can be valuable, helpful, or at least interesting. So I actually came across, I was targeted for some ads for what’s called the Dashboard Deskpad, which is a notepad by Ink+Volt. That is a way to track like weekly themes and goals and highlights. And you can like color it with all beautiful, pretty colors, but allows you to like set your priorities and focus areas. Now here’s the reason I like it.
0:43:24.8 VK: I use Google Keep for my personal tasks. I use Todoist for my work tasks. I have a Trello board for household management with my husband. And I love Digital, but they’re all in three places. And I’m one resource. So this pad has turned into like my scrum of scrums. Because this is like regardless of if I’m work Val, mom Val, or Val that has some things on my Todoist. These are my priorities and has really like helped me focus and like set goals and not feel like I’m constantly choosing what I’m going to prioritize in the moment, which is something that I’m struggling with as a new mom, I’m trying to be everything to everyone, right. So this pad, it’s not on a spiral, like you rip off the sheets. And so even if you have a bad week where you don’t meet your goals, or you have to like scratch a bunch of things off, you like rip that piece of paper off, and you just recycle it, and you start fresh in the new week. So it’s been awesome. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now. And I like my scrum of scrum notepads by Ink+volt.
0:44:22.6 MK: Does sound like a lot of lists though, which, yeah, that scares me. That’s four lists. All right, Julie, what about you?
0:44:33.4 JH: I almost thought Val was gonna take mine, but I’m glad mine falls in a different realm slightly. So Val, I love yours for looking forward. Mine is actually one about looking back kind of actually along the lines of what one of the last tips I had talked about was, I have been doing this for a couple of years now. And I feel like part of it came from like, you’re just running every day or running every week, can you get to the end and you’re like, “I don’t even know what I had for lunch, let alone like everything I accomplished.” You know, and people then ask you if it’s for a promotion, or if you’re going in to talk to your boss about something and you need evidence, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t remember what I did a month ago, or what were the big three things or Oh, is that big enough? I don’t know.”
0:45:10.9 JH: So at the end of every week, just as like part of my morning routine on Fridays, I try to take a moment to think back like, what were some big things I accomplished? And maybe big isn’t even the right word. Like, what am I proud of that I did? What’s something that I felt like was a little above and beyond or something I put in my yay me folder in my email, right, or good feedback, or something went really well with a client, like any of those under the sun things, I try to just document. And so I have this running Excel sheet. And I’ve broken mine up for like different areas of the business specific to like what our company looks at. And it’s like three different categories. But I think you could kind of structure it however it works for you or what your company looks at. But just the fact of like reflecting each week and jotting those down, I feel like it’s made such a difference when I’m feeling like an imposter or when I’m asked to pull together evidence for myself, like I already have that list created. And I don’t have to stress so much about thinking back six months of like, what have I done over the past six months that proves I deserve like XYZ. So that has kind of helped with my imposter syndrome and anxiety about that. So I suggest anyone try it out.
0:46:23.0 MK: I love that I actually like I tell everyone on my team to have like a yay me folder or I have it in notes, where I’ll like screenshot like positive feedback and I literally dump it into a like a note. And we’ll put like what it was in reference to and the date and whatever. But the bit I think that is such a lovely addition is the reflection because then it’s also you not, you’re not just like passively putting feedback somewhere, you’re actually reflecting on what were you proud of as well. And I think that’s such a good habit to get into.
0:46:54.4 JH: And then, Moe, what about yours?
0:46:54.5 MK: Well, I’m glad you both had great last calls because mine is completely ridiculous. However, I have been saving this for months and months and months and months because at some point I’m like, imposter syndrome is going to come up. I’m going to share a TikTok video. Snoop Dogg has done a very entertaining song about imposter syndrome. And so I’m going to share a link to that and you can all sing along and just laugh because it has been on my list forever. All right, we did it. Happy International Women’s Day to all of the incredible women in the data community. Julie, Val, thank you so much for joining me. I always love hanging out with both of you. And listeners just know that you’ll be hearing from both of these absolutely brilliant non imposters, total badass experts in the next upcoming shows.
0:47:44.0 MK: As always, if you’re feeling like an imposter, or if you just want to reach out, you can find us on LinkedIn, Measure Slack and Twitter, we’d always love to hear from you. Now, no show would be complete without a shout out to Josh Crowhurst, our incredible producer, who’s fought through his own imposter syndrome to fill in for me on our last episode. And he’ll also be filling in a bit more while I’m out on leave. So thank you, Josh ahead of time. And as for you, dear listeners, keep fighting through that imposter syndrome. You’re smart, you’re doing incredible work. And as you should always keep analyzing.
0:48:23.4 Announcer: Thanks for listening. Let’s keep the conversation going with your comments, suggestions and questions on Twitter, at @analyticshour, on the web at analyticshour.io, our LinkedIn group, and the Measure Chat Slack group. Music for the podcast by Josh Crowhurst.
0:48:39.5 Charles Barkley: So smart guys want to fit in. So they made up a term called analytics. Analytics don’t work.
0:48:48.5 Kamala Harris: I love Venn diagrams. It’s just something about those three circles and the analysis about where there is the intersection, right.
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