How to Stop Feeling Like a Fraud: 3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

If you’ve ever felt like a fraud in the marketing industry, this episode is for you. Marketing consultant and coach, Tiffany Da Silva is the guest in today’s episode. Tiffany joins the podcast to share how imposter syndrome affected her life and what she’s done to overcome those limiting beliefs.

You’ll learn tips on how to beat imposter syndrome, so you can get shit done, make an impact, and become a better marketer — and a better human.

Listen to this Episode:

We discussed:

  • The reason why so many marketers face imposter syndrome
  • How Tiffany got her start in SEO at age nine
  • What happened when she quit her job at 3 AM
  • How to identify where your problems are coming from
  • Why it’s essential to find out who the true villains are in your life
  • How to be deliberate with who you follow on social media
  • Why visualizing the future can help you fight imposter syndrome
  • Deciding what your contribution to the world is going to be
  • The unexpected first question Tiffany asked Joanne Wiebe
  • Finding your group of people to help you overcome

Resources

Full Transcript:

Louis: Bonjour, bonjour! And welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier. In today’s episode, you learn how to stop feeling like a fraud as a marketer or someone involved in marketing. Turns out that 70% of us suffer from it and I am one of them.

My guest today has 13 years of experience in all things digital marketing. She’s a full-time growth marketing consultant and founder of Flowjo.co and the Full Stack Society. She worked on over 500 websites. She managed multi-million dollar budgets. She worked at various startups, including GEO Sign Achievers and Shopify as the Head of Conversion Rate Optimization.

And she holds an MBA as well, with a focus on project management and e-commerce from Norwich University. As you can guess, my guest knows a thing or two about marketing and imposter syndrome — which is the topic of our talk today. Tiffany, welcome aboard!

Tiffany: Hello, thank you. Happy to be here.

Louis: Let’s jump in straight away into a topic that, I think, is something that we don’t talk about that much because it relates to feelings. And feelings are difficult to share amongst marketers because we all want to seem great, productive, and getting shit done. Can you describe or define rather what is imposter syndrome or this feeling to feel like a fraud, what is it exactly?

Tiffany: For sure. I will add this disclaimer, we’re about to talk about feelings and real talk and things are going to get heavy. The feeling of imposter syndrome is just plainly like feeling like a fraud. At work, at home, with your family, with your friends.

Even though we feel like a fraud, feel like everyone’s going to find us out in our workplace and you imagine this moment in your life when everyone’s just going to stop a meeting, look at you, and say like, oh my God, like how are you even here. Get out!

We have this weird idea that’s going to happen to us. But it’s a little bit deeper than that too. When I did a talk in Learn Inbound I actually listed a bunch of sentences that people with imposter syndrome tend to say a lot, and it’s not just, I’m a fraud, I shouldn’t be here.

It’s things like the only reason I got where I got was because of luck. I was in the right place at the right time. That for me is something I’ve always said. Like, thanks to this other person who believed in me, I got to where I was. Forget the 80 hours a week that I was working to get there.

Imposter syndrome encompasses all of that. All of that feeling that we’re just muddling our brains with when we’re trying to get the job done. At work, at home, with our families and friends.

Louis: What other sentences do people with imposter syndrome tend to think or tend to say?

Tiffany: They’re going to find me out. I’m just not good enough. I think that’s the basic one. I think that’s the one we say in a million different ways. I’m not good enough. Everyone thinks I’m ‘blank’. That’s never a positive thing. It’s never, everyone thinks I’m awesome. It’s everyone thinks I’m an idiot, everyone thinks I’m a dummy.

Let me think of some other ones. I literally go through these a million times a day. And people write me a million times a day being like, oh my God, that’s me. Probably with our friends, it’s, “I’m such a horrible friend. They’re going to realize it, they’re going to tell me I’m a bad friend.”

For parents, “I’m the worst mother and father ever. My kids are going to turn around and be awful and everyone’s going to find me out or people are talking bad about me.” That’s the other thing too. We think we’re the center of attention and we’re the lead star of every movie so everyone must be out there thinking that we’re horrible.

It’s all that negative thinking that encompasses, not just marketers and devs and techs. It’s everywhere. But what I found in marketing is that it’s definitely hitting everyone. I think it has something to do with the fact that everyone thinks that we’re kind of shit and everyone thinks that we’re trying to be slick oil salesman.

We’re just trying to sell and we have to keep up a certain persona when we’re marketing to fight that, right? What we do, is we put on this persona and we tell other people how great we are, how we’re great at selling.

We’re sitting in those interviews and saying, ‘I’m the best at this’. And then we walk away from that interview going, “Oh my God, if I get that job, I’m literally not going to know what I did and what I’m supposed to do on day one.”

You know, like you’ve already ramped yourself up and told them how great you are and you’re like, oh dear, if I do get this job, like, I’m screwed.

Louis: Another reason why it’s happening especially for us in marketing is the fact as you said, marketers are overly sharing stuff, right? They are used to social media, used to having a website, and having all of this stuff.

So they know how to sell themselves to the outside world. I think when you compare yourself to other people, then in your world, in the marketing world, you tend to see all of those successful people. You compare yourself, you’re like, shit I’ve actually done nothing compared to them. And I think that’s also where the bias comes from.

It would be a funny subject to talk about if the consequences weren’t that bad right in a sense. I am in touch with a lot of listeners, a lot of marketers contacting me, and one of the top things I hear very often is: I have a lot of knowledge, yet I don’t know how to translate that into action.

There is a lot of reason for that. One of them is not knowing how to translate a strategy into tactics, tactics into like daily actions. But the other thing I think is happening a lot is, they don’t have the confidence to turn them into action. They know what to do, they just don’t have the confidence. And I think it’s coming mainly from what we are talking about today.

Perhaps you can share with your experience because it seems like you suffer from it — or from time to time you suffer from it — but perhaps also we can discuss how to solve it or how to find solutions for that. So that you don’t feel this way and, therefore, you can get shit done, make an impact, become a better marketer and become a better human.

Before we go into the step by step, trying to give people action, can you share your experience throughout the 30 years? Have you felt ever this way before?

Tiffany: Oh dear, yes. To give you perspective, I started doing SEO when I was nine years old. So bear with me. Please don’t think that you’re a fraud because you didn’t have my life. But I started SEO when I was nine years old.

I fell in love with creating websites. I fell in love with how search engines worked and how people can find you on these search engines. And I even created an affiliate site that made money at eleven.

But again, there was this confidence in it. As I was in school, as people were starting to tell me, oh I think you’d be better at this than that. Oh, you should probably stay within certain areas like English. Maybe you should get a career in communications, stuff like that.

It was always, “Stay away from this computer stuff.” And I started to believe that even though I had never talked to anyone else who was doing what I did, so I didn’t think it was a thing.

Fast forward. I’m at in University, I’m making choices based on that, I’m not going into engineering, I’m not going into tech, I’m going into a pop culture degree. I know, I saw you cringe. And then I landed my first job and I was a secretary at a web development company.

Just because I wanted to be around web development, not because I could do it. They were talking about a poker site one day and how to rank it. And I didn’t know what ranking meant, but I knew that if I had to get it on the search engines.

I’m listening to them talk and I’m like, guys you’re doing it all wrong. You have to do this and you have to do that. Literally, the whole room stopped, looked at me, and was like, okay, why do you know search engine optimization?

I’m like, “I don’t know what that is,” and they’re like, “it’s SEO” and I’m like, “I don’t know what that is.” And they’re like, “Okay …”

All of a sudden, it became this like “Wow, there’s something out there that I am good at, that I love doing and I can actually do this as a career.” I was super excited and suddenly I’m back in the game.

For the next few years, I had decided that I wanted to be the best Agile Marketer I could possibly be, so I did a couple of years in SEO. I did a couple of years in pay-per-click advertising. I did Facebook advertising starting the first day that it was there. I even wrote celebrity gossip and hacked Google News. It was just crazy jobs that I would have.

I could tell as I started getting better and better at my job, for some reason, instead of the ego getting big, it started to get smaller and smaller. And you become a little bit more humble in saying like, I might know this thing.

But there’s all these people. I see them speak, I see them, I’m meeting them at tech conferences who seem to know so much more about something because they may have said one sentence that I went like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”

Instead of me just kind of stopping and asking them more questions, I instead immediately put up my guard and said, “Oh God, they can’t know I don’t know that so I’m just going to nod my head and go through with it, and then feel like a moron and wish I knew more.”

This started happening. Finally, one day I get my absolute dream job. You know you have that big company that you have in your head. I got the knock on the door asking me to be part of their company and I did it.

We all take risks and this job, I was not a fit for it and I should have seen it within the first month or two, but it was just not the job for me. It was too big of a company, too much going on, too much chaos. And yet, instead of me saying to myself, “This isn’t a good fit.” I went, “I’m a disaster.”

I’ve worked so hard and this isn’t the career for me. I had, at this point, done my MBA. I had created courses. I’m mentoring people and I’m going, “Oh my God, all these people are going to realize that I don’t know what I’m doing.”

This was month 3 out of 10 at this company. I went a long time just being like, “You’re an idiot, you’re an idiot, you’re a dummy.” Not wanting to talk to people, not wanting to engage with other people. It was really lonely. Meanwhile, other people outside are saying, “Oh my God, you’re so smart. I wish I had your experience.” I’m going, “No, you don’t. This is the worst.”

One day I was literally awake for 48 hours. I was getting kind of crazy by that point, and I decided at 3 in the morning, I’m just going to write that letter. You know that letter that you should never, never, never write.

That’s it like, I am never walking into this company again, I’m done, this isn’t for me. Keep everything, keep the desk, I don’t even want to go back and pick up my pens and notebooks. I’m never walking in there again.

Kind of slept for an hour, woke up and went, “What did I just do?” And had a panic attack. Then I started thinking, “What do I want to do?” For the first time, even though I loved agile marketing so much, and I worked so hard in the 80 hours a week. And all the courses, I said, “This isn’t for me. I’m quitting.”

I was looking at things like I’m going to be a dog walker. I’m going to start cutting hair. I’m just going to leave this complete career and go do something so random. When I hit that rock bottom, I literally had to get help to get out of it.

I had met a meditation coach who I work with and between all this — I mean, I still stress myself out. I wish that was the rock bottom really that I had hit, but I’d gotten myself so stressed out that I had my first seizure. I became epileptic as a result — I know, it’s crazy — as a result of 80 hours a week, telling yourself you’re awful constantly and feeling like a fraud.

And I don’t usually say that because I don’t want people to think, “Oh, she had this miraculous story, this is it. Because I was feeling this way before and I should have just taken action.” If you’re feeling that way and you’re listening, just take action now. You don’t want something horrible to happen as a result.

So that happened. I go to a meditation coach and me and her start working on all these feelings and what was happening. And one of the big things that I noticed was — which I talk about in the talks that I do — number one is to get yourself off autopilot.

All day long we’re walking around and we have this script running in our head. We’re telling ourselves, you know what, I’m dumb, I’m ugly, I’m this, I’m that. It’s just all this negativity.

She would ask me, “Would you ever tell your friend this?” And I said no. I wouldn’t even tell the person I hate the most, I wouldn’t even have the balls to be like, “You know what, here are all the things that I think about you.”

I wouldn’t even think those things. That’s where we had to start. It was literally writing a list after following my brain for a week and figuring out these things that I was saying.

It wasn’t until really then that I said, “Wow, this is a problem.” When I started opening up to other people, I started realizing everyone is going through this and no one is talking about it. And we’re all sitting here having these conversations.

And it was a reason why, when I started speaking, I had to shift my focus. Because here I was standing up on stage, talking about the growth hacking tips, how I grew this company from here to here, and being like, “God, don’t believe me.”

I did it, but it was a moment out of 80 hours a week for 6 years straight that I got this moment. I don’t want people to think that it was an overnight thing. I just had to shift the conversation and I decided that it’s time for me to stand up on stage and say, “Hey, how many of you guys feel like a fraud?”

And I started noticing that, again, that 70% people stood up who felt that way. People saw everyone else standing up with them. Then I asked the speakers in the room to raise their hand. So that others could see that every speaker is literally facing this, while they’re sitting there saying, I’ll never be like this person.

They’re feeling it too. It was just kind of eye-opening. I don’t know about you if this happens to you. I mean, you run a podcast. I was afraid to get on this podcast thing like, “Oh my God, all these other guests, I’m going to be a moron.”

Louis: First off, let me backtrack a bit. Thanks so much for sharing your story this way for being 100% vulnerable because I think it’s helping a lot of people listening right now. A lot of people nodding their heads and feeling that it’s the first time they’re hearing something like this. Thanks for doing that.

I did feel this way multiple times, recently I did. And the reason why I couldn’t go to see your talk at Learn Inbound in Dublin, where I live, was because I was burning out to the point that I couldn’t see the world of marketing. I couldn’t fucking see it for two or three weeks. I was done with it.

I wouldn’t be in touch with it and so I took two weeks off. I went to the gym again. I started to train four times a week, talk to a psychologist online for a few weeks.

My thing was not necessarily imposter syndrome on its own. It was very high anxiety because I was working too much, didn’t take breaks during the day for too long, and putting massive pressure on myself.

But imposter syndrome was one of the source or one of the pilot thing that happened at the same time right. This pressure that says, we’re never going to fucking reach our goal, we’re never going to do this.

Tiffany: And if I take a break, everyone else is going to go ahead of me and they’re all going to forget I exist.

Louis: Exactly. exactly. Now, with this podcast, it’s a funny thing. I keep notes of every single e-mail, tweets, LinkedIn messages I receive of people saying this is a helpful podcast. And then when I feel like shit, I go through those. You know, the Note app on the mac? I have eight notes full of images, one note, can hold 100 images.

Tiffany: Wow.

Louis: I have 800 of those e-mails, tweets. And when I feel like shit, when I feel like quitting or anything, I read through them and it makes me feel much better. That may be one of the things that you can do to fight imposter syndrome.

But before we talk through the step by step, I want to know, so when did that happen, this period of you getting in touch with the meditation teacher and starting to take steps to solve this?

Tiffany: Three and half years ago. I still have that meditation coach, and we’re still working every week to do stuff, and I still fall off the wagon. I think one of the things when I did speak at Learn Inbound. I actually, I do the same thing that you do.

So there was four hundred and something attendees. I got a hundred e-mails or DM’s back right after raising their hand, saying this is me, and telling me their stories. And doing that, especially since I was so scared to get up on stage.

And not just scared to get up on stage with obviously a bunch of strangers, but I was in front of my friends, but Joanna Wiebe, Talia Wolf, Georgina Laudi, Claire Suellentrop. I was in front of all these people that I looked up to so much and speaking in front of them for the first time. And it was terrifying to do that.

Louis: It’s funny because all the people you mentioned, I know them quite well as well. I interview them on the podcast, I know how they feel, and they feel the exact same way that we do. Claire Suellentrop is a very, very smart girl.

She knows a shit lot about customer research and yet she is going to make you feel like she doesn’t know anything. So it’s funny. A lot of us, a lot of people connecting, a lot of marketers, a lot of people speaking, a lot of people listening to this podcast are in the same boat.

Why don’t we try to find a solution to that? And give steps for people to solve that. By the way, before I forget. If you’re listening to this and you feel like a fraud, if you feel like shit, don’t be afraid to send me an e-mail or send Tiffany as well an e-mail.

Tiffany: Yes.

Louis: Louis@everyonehatesmarketers.com and your e-mail is?

Tiffany: Tiffany@flowjo.co

Louis: Yeah, if you feel like shit, don’t be afraid to reach out. Which I think is one of the step which we should talk about. Do share your story. I will read every single e-mail and reply to them and I know Tiffany will do the same. So please do that.

Anyway, let’s go through this step by step because mental health is important right. Even though we’re going to provide step by steps to help you, there’s nothing that beats talking to a professional about this type of stuff, right?

Tiffany: Yeah, absolutely.

Louis: It’s probably the first thing. That’s what you did, that’s what I did. There is a solution called BetterHelp.com, which is online counseling. Which is great because it means you don’t have to move your arse and they have people specializing in those type of areas. Like anxiety, depression, mental health at work.

Anyway, having said all of that, what would be for you, one of the key actions to take straight away to kick the shit out of the imposter syndrome feeling?

Tiffany: Number one is just knowing what the problem is. Understanding where it’s coming from and that was that getting off auto-pilot. So that’s follow yourself around for a week. I had to put an alarm actually on my phone because my brain was so hyperactive that it was going so fast all the time. I was missing the stuff that I was saying to myself.

I put an alarm on my phone for three times during the day. Or I made sure if I was on my way to the washroom, or on my way to lunch, I would take a moment and write in my notes. The different things I was saying.

It was all the negative thoughts that I was saying in my head. Because you don’t know what the problem is and you won’t know how to fix it until you start realizing what you’re saying to yourself.

I actually showed that list in Learn Inbound which was also a scary thing. The list is there, it’s everything from I’m a moron to I don’t have friends, I don’t know why people like me, I don’t like my weight, my looks, everything. And when I saw that I just went like, “What am I saying to myself?”

You take that list and then you start creating the opposite. Instead of saying — if you really look at that sentence, like the “I am not smart.” You can look at it and go, “That was a moment in time. I am smart. I am”.

You can write a sentence that’s probably a little bit nicer than that one, but a sentence that you can say to yourself instead of that.

I started doing that and I started writing the opposite of everything that I was saying. And there was one that I talk about at Learn Inbound, which it’s embarrassing to say, but I said, I look awful naked. It was just that clear, vulnerable statement of, no, I’m embarrassed.

When I tried to say that I love my body — and it’s something the meditation coach  — she was like, you have to tell that to yourself all the time. I looked at her and go, I can’t write that. This doesn’t match with what I’m feeling. So I highlighted it.

Even though it was something that I wanted to tell myself soon. And that was the first step I took, was all the ones that I highlighted I knew I had to work on. I end up losing 45 pounds, I end up hitting the gym like you did. I did a bunch of things to be able to tell myself that.

So that’s the first step. The next step is really just trying to understand … and this was a really hard one for me. This one probably took about six months. The first one was like, ooh, like first month out of the gate. I’m awesome, you kind of get a little bit of a high from it.

The next step, I’m sure that you felt this too, is to really understand who the villains are in your life. And to understand that there are certain people in your world, whether they’re nice to you or not, that just get at you under your skin.

And they’re the ones that you’re competing with. They’re the ones that say something at work and you’re like, “Why did you say that? Now I’m going to be thinking of that forever.”

It could be your family. It could be certain things that your mother says to you or you have that uncle that says something to you. It’s just all these little things right. So you need to understand who your villains are. And this is the hard part. You’re either going to take them out of your life, or you’re going to have the conversation.

This is terrifying but I can tell you that for every conversation I had, I got stronger and stronger and stronger because they became more aware of what they were saying. But also, I became a different person because I was more confident after saying it.

On the flip side of that, I also started realizing when I was a villain. And if I really paid attention to, if I’m talking to someone, did they just flinch? Or a good example was when you’re walking down the street — this is something that my cousin used to say.

When you’re walking down the street, you’re staring at someone, and they’re kind of looking at you. If you catch someone staring at you, you’re not thinking like, “Oh, they must love me.” You’re thinking, “Oh my God, I have something on my face or something going on.”

Instead of taking those two seconds, not saying anything, and letting the moment pass — just tell them what you’re thinking. Like I really like your shoes. Or you look like someone I know. Or just not being a villain when you’re walking down. Just being open to people. I think that authenticity, you’ll be known for, but also it just creates more connections. That’s the first two.

Louis: Let me go back to the number one. What was the first one you mentioned?

Tiffany: It was the coming up with the list of all the statements that you tell yourself.

Louis: Yes, thanks. As you said, a week should be enough to capture the thoughts that you have in your head. The way you did it was just you took a sheet of paper and three times a day you reminded yourself, write down what you had thought about in that few seconds or minutes. Because your brain goes very fast, Like mine.

Another thing I would recommend is I used to do morning pages. I used to do it, I’m not doing it anymore. But I will do it again. I need to. It’s such a nice practice to write three pages full of shit. Not to say shit, but things that you think right now.

No filter and you just write down, oh I’m sick of this. I’m sick of this guy, fuck that and fuck this. And you start writing it down. What happens is the first page is usually a lot of fuck, for me in particular. A lot of oh fuck this shit. The second page is a bit more thoughtful. A bit more the reasons behind the ‘fucks’ and the third one is the break of the things you need to do. The ideas.

Your brain just gets rid of all the shit, starts getting into the layers that are interesting, and that works so well for so many people I told about and a lot of people told me about I think it connects a little with what you said there. I’d recommend doing that.

The second thing you said, I also like to question whether — do you feel it’s important to identify the villains in your life when it comes to real life or do you also think it’s important to get rid of the villains in your online world? The people we follow on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all of that.

Tiffany: Oh, that’s so dangerous. Social media can be so great and I’ve met so many amazing people from it, but it can also just kill your mind. Instagram is a big one for me because I started realizing that I was following all these people just out of because it was the good thing to do.

They followed me, I’m going to follow them to and their lives were just how amazing they were. And it was these things that I didn’t have. After a while, I realized that I’m scrolling down this news feed and I’m just feeling bad about myself now. Here I am just trying to show face and be a nice person and keep them on, but it wasn’t adding any value to my life.

I scrubbed a lot and a lot of people asked me, “You’re not following a lot of people on Instagram.” Like on my private account and it’s because of that. I started putting art there. I started putting pictures of log cabins and I started following those people. Even certain meme ones I had to cut out because they were just too much and they were just too negative.

I just made my Instagram this positive place where I could be inspired, feel good, look at some nice clothes and keep the friends that I can watch every celebration that they have. And want to love everything and want to talk to everyone. If it got to that point where I didn’t feel that way, I had to get rid of them. And I can add them back on later, but for now, I had to cut that out.

And I think it’s really important because those are the ones that are in your mind deal real. Everything that’s going on in your mind is going to feel real, so they’re going to be your villain no matter what.

Louis: Yeah, you need to be as deliberate in the people you follow as with the people you don’t follow. That’s something that I’ve been doing. So just to share my personal experience on this. I used to be on every social media possible like Instagram, Snapshot, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

Now on my phone, I have none. I don’t even have e-mails. I have Reddit. That’s the only things I check but the Reddit I follow are usually like just fun stuff. I don’t compare myself to anyone there, it’s just fun shit.

On my desktop computer, I have a blocker on my browser and I can’t go on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if I’m working. Even if I go on Facebook, I have this plugin that deletes the newsfeed so even if you’re on Facebook, there’s nothing. Oh my God, that made such a big change in my life.

And I don’t want to compare myself with Seth Godin because that’s not what I’m trying to do here in the next few seconds, but Seth Godin does that very well. When it comes to picking his battles and you can see he’s not on fucking Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever.

He has a website, he blogs every day but that’s how he’s able to deliver such amazing work all the time because he closes himself and selects what he needs to listen to. I think that’s part of stoicism.

Tiffany: And it’s not just about productivity. It’s about just making sure your mind isn’t being used up all day. Apple just came out with that screen time app that I absolutely love because it literally stops me from using my phone after seven o’clock.

At first, I’m like, oh I’m just going to add an hour here. But then you keep doing that, and you’re like, what am I doing? Just read a book. Take a walk. It started changing my patterns.

Because even though I had removed social media from my phone as well, I started finding things to do on it instead of connecting with people and having conversations. The more you do that too is the more you end up getting inside your head and starting to feel bad about yourself.

Louis: Another thing that it reminds me of about imposter syndrome and the symptoms that it could have. As you might have guessed, I’m French. Exactly, but the accent thing is important. I do receive quite a lot of e-mails, I mean not like 10 every day, but I do receive a few e-mails from French people who know I’m French and ask me, “How do you manage to have a podcast in English with your French accent and all of those kind of stuff?”

I can hear it’s the background this fear of being mocked or not being understood properly. I’m happy to think that I never had this thought before until they started to talk to me about it and so I became conscious about the fact that oh yeah, I have an accent.

But if I had thought of that before I started a podcast, I probably would have never started it, right? Never. But I never asked this question. I never asked, ‘Do you think it’s a good idea for a French person with a French accent to have a fucking podcast in English?’

I never asked myself this question. I’m glad. But others do and this is why it’s so important to talk about this stuff because we want people to do stuff, to create more stuff than they consume, right? That’s the equation we need to have for ourselves.

Tiffany: And even from me like one of the things when I speak, I try to be as simple in the clothing that I wear. I mean, I dress up from time to time, not often. But it’s wearing sneakers, the jeans, a t-shirt and walking out on stage.

I do it very thoughtfully because I remember when I would sit and watch conferences, I’d see these people that were dressed up and they looked great and I would go, ‘I could never be that person.’

But as I started speaking more, as I started hanging around with speakers more and I started looking. They’re dressed up nice and they have a certain confidence when they’re out there. Then I end up watching the video and being like, “Ah, why do you look like that? You look so sloppy, you should probably just forget your rule.”

But then I think I have to remind myself that in the beginning when I was sitting in that seat, all I wanted was someone that looked like me up on stage. That was wearing the Adidas shoes or Nike shoes just like hanging out in the sweatshirt or whatever.

I always used to say if Mark Zuckerberg can do it, so can I. But it still like even though it’s a thought that I wanted and something that I had decided early on, I still get affected by it and it still irks me sometimes. I still feel not as good as everyone else because I don’t look the same way.

So it’s weird how it gets to you because people think it’s just like a work thing, but we’re so multi-faceted and we’re constantly thinking of everything else. It was like why are you thinking of your body while you’re trying to do SEO. Imagine trying to do SEO while having this thought. You can’t focus. Figure out that part so that you can get back to work.

Louis: There is this blog post from Neil Patel, bear with me for this, he talks about how he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on clothing and why it’s such a great investment. You just debunked that because it’s complete bullshit.

I think if you really want to empathize with people in return people empathize with you and to feel some sort of a connection. I completely agree, I feel this is the right way to approach it.

You want to be seen as someone like any other because that’s the message we want to give. That’s the message I try to give in this podcast, is anyone can become the marketer and the person they want to be and it’s not just a selected few.

If you use a few marketing principles we talked about in this podcast, every episode, you will become a better marketer. And a better human and therefore this dream of being like Rand Fishkin or Seth Godin or all of those great marketers is not that crazy anymore because they are just like you and me.  It’s the last time I’m going to talk about Neil Patel I promise.

So you have another way to fight imposter syndrome and it’s more about like visualizing stuff right? Visualizing the future and where you want to be. So tell me more about this.

Tiffany: In order to start visualizing things, first you need to decide what your legacy is going to be. And this was the big question that I got from my meditation coach. Just this year. After a couple of years of doing this, she’s like, you need to decide what your contribution to the world is going to be. We had been creating goals but this kind of got me. And she’s like, in one sentence, what do you want to do?

I said I want to make marketing open to everyone. I want to make marketing so diverse that it didn’t matter if you went to university, it didn’t matter what race you were, what sexuality you were, where you’re from.

Everyone could be part of marketing because all we’re doing is selling products to people who need them. But we need to understand the person and you can’t understand the person if there isn’t someone like you sitting next to you to say, “Ah, no, you don’t do that. You don’t say that.” And we just become better people as a result.

So once I had decided that that was my legacy — and the legacy doesn’t have to be work focused. It could be I’m going to be the best mom in the world, I’m going to be the best knitter in the world. I’m going to be the best athlete, whatever it is. It doesn’t even need to be the best. It just needs to be whatever the thing that you want to be known for.

Then it’s about really visualizing that. You’re in it. And a good way to visualize between that — I have this thing called the Shine Crew and it’s people that I keep in my life that understand what my legacy is. That are there to help bring me from A to Z.

To give perspective one of the first times I ever spoke at a conference, I was sitting at the speakers’ dinner, which is a big deal because you get to be around all these people that you look up to. And I had Joanna one side, I had Angie on another.

I had all these people around me that I just looked up to. They’re talking about their last case study, how they did this amazing thing, and I’m just feeling like I’m not even going to speak. I have not done anything great in the world, not like these people.

Finally, I look over at Joanna at one point because she saw that I was kinda quiet. She was trying to get me part of the conversation and I said I just have a question — and I was like her biggest fan. I’d bought every ebook. I was like, this is not the thing you’re supposed to say to your hero. But I was like, “Do you ever feel like you’re really bad at your job?”

Louis: The first question you asked. The first thing. First sentence.

Tiffany: Do you ever feel like a complete fraud? She looked at me and went, “Absolutely, every day.” Then all these people from the table started going like, what are you guys talking about? We just ended up having this group of people that we just, we had this whole amazing conversation.

When we walked away from that, I had said to Joanna, there’s this theory called the Shine Theory by the girls that do the podcasts, ‘Call Your Girlfriends’, and it was the only way that women were ever going to succeed is if we help each other out.

If we’re the ones that bring people into the room and help each other get different gigs. And so we decided at that point, okay let’s call the group. I had decided let’s call the group Shine Crew so we can remember, we can remind ourselves of that.

And what’s so funny about that is this year we had International Women’s Day and I wrote a story about how we got together and how we created our Shine Crew and as I’m writing it. I’m saying it’s Joanna that came up with that. Joanna had to remind me, “No, you came up with the name of the group. You brought us together.”

I had forgot. I literally didn’t even remember it. And it’s that kind of idea of, oh they were so great, I couldn’t possibly. But during the last five years that we’ve been doing this, I could never have gotten where I did — and this is not a fraud thing — without someone pushing me and saying you’re better than this.

You need to do this. They knew my legacy. Each of them were at different stages in their lives doing different things. You’re good at some of the things that they’re not and you push each other.

And then you have to visualize and you have to see yourself doing it. I had actually the worst homework I’ve ever been given by my life coach this week actually. I’ve been stressing about it. I’m single, so we were talking about being in romantic relationships and she goes, “I want you to write what it would be like to be in the perfect day with someone.”

And I literally sat there going, I don’t know. No, I don’t want to do this. I actually slinked down in my chair right to the floor going, “No, let’s do this tomorrow.” I spent a week writing exactly what you did. That stream of consciousness writing.

What I found when I did that was somewhere along of me writing. She said write what the perfect day is, but also write what you’re thinking while you’re writing. And it was so the perfect day, I would wake up, “God I don’t want to do this, this is awful, my insides hurt.” I wake up and I’m next to someone. Okay, but knowing me that probably won’t happen. It was just all of that.

I got to read it, take out all the gross bits, and then read it over and over again. I could use that now as my visualization technique. I can say that this was the perfect day. Even though it as so uncomfortable to write, there was good parts in there that I needed to remember. Just listening to things that push you.

I show the new Nike ad that just came out about visualizing and being the best at what you do. It’s just surrounding yourself with that kind of great stuff that make you rethink. And also making sure you can say ‘no’ to things that don’t fit with your visualizing because you’re just going to feel worse.

Like you, you had that burn out, and it’s because you were trying to do all these things at once. Probably not all of them had to do with the contribution that you want to put into the world, but you feel like you have to do everything else as well as your legacy.

We have to learn how to say no. Look so far into the future and make those little steps every day to get there. It’s not like me making marketing a more diverse place, it’s like oh okay, I’ll do that tomorrow before my morning coffee.

It’s like, no, that’s a lifelong achievement. But I’ll read books for today. I’ll read about different cultures. I’ll read about different races. I’ll read about the problems that people are facing and then slowly start working and volunteering and getting to the place where I need to get.

It’s about creating your legacy, finding your group of people that are going to help you through it, and visualizing it.

Louis: When I started in my business three and a half years ago, I printed an A4 piece of paper with a few pictures. One of them was a typical house I’d like to have one day, another one was a car I think. Not a big car, just a decent car.

A picture of my wife and fiance at the time, pictures of my brothers and sister. And that was a way for me to remind myself, to visualize as well, why I was working so hard for. Why I created the business in the first place.

And I also came across this resource. Actually, Seth Godin recommended the book and I’m not going to remember the name — I will put that in the show notes. But they talk about writing a letter to yourself in one year. Basically, you take the position of, you are in one years time, and you write it as if you’ve accomplished all the stuff you want.

You say, today is the 21st of November 2019, 20. In one year, whatever. That’s this year. I have published a book, I have done that, I have done that. The way then that really makes you, the clarity starts to happen and as you said, it’s easier to say no.

It’s easier to know who shouldn’t follow and who you should follow. It’s easier to identify the right people to hang out with. Everything gets easier. It’s a bit like marketing when it comes to understanding your customers exactly who they are. It gets easier then because you know exactly what to do marketing-wise, what you shouldn’t do.

Thanks so much for sharing all of that. I’ve told you before we started the interview the official recording, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, listeners love that. You went above and beyond that and I really, really appreciate it personally. I know that people listening right now feel the same, so thanks for doing that.

Before I let you go, I have a few questions I always ask my guests. Switching gears to something a bit less personal, a bit more with marketing, what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years and 50 years?

Tiffany: I think learning to put your guard down. Because the marketing that people are open to receiving and the marketing that people don’t feel like is just gross, is authentic. It’s the having honest conversations.

It’s speaking to your customers and showing the kind of problems that they’re having. Not like, canned problems, it’s really understanding the things that they’re facing before they’re even aware of it really.

Also, by looking around in the room with you as a marketer and saying, is everyone being represented here? If I’m trying to sell to a certain target person, and that target person is not in the room, I need to bring them in.

Not only as someone that we interview but also someone that should be on our side marketing as well. I think that we forget that sometimes. We say, because of our imposter syndrome, we say no, I can handle this. I can all figure it out. And there’s no need. We really should be asking for more help and we’ll end up connecting with people a lot more and being better at our jobs as a result.

Louis: Makes a lot of sense. What are the top three resources you’d recommend listeners to work with. It could be a book, podcast, conference, anything?

Tiffany: For sure. I’m in the middle of Joanna Wiebe’s Copy School. I’m doing 10x launches right now and I’m absolutely loving it. Another course that I took this year was Ben Angel’s. He did like a Facebook advertising course that I took a lot from.

I do a lot of these but I always get really excited when I see ones that I love. On the imposter syndrome side, since we talked about it, anything by Brené Brown. I would start by going to her Ted Talk and as I did, watching it and saying, ah yeah, that’s me.

Or for women specifically, The Confidence Code is an amazing book. And the first book that got me out of this feeling that I was feeling and realizing that other people felt it too. Those are probably the three best ones. And if you’re ever in Dublin, go to Learn Inbound because it’s fun.

Louis: Yeah, I don’t know how many times we actually mentioned this conference now in the podcast, maybe five or six times already so, giving them good publicity which is great.

Tiffany: Yes.

Louis: It’s probably one of the best marketing conferences out there. But I know there is room for other types of conferences. We’ll talk about that later. Where can listeners connect with you, learn more from you, email you about their imposter syndrome stories?

Tiffany: I talk a lot about imposter syndrome on my Instagram account thetiffdasilva, or you can follow Flowjoco, so F-L-O-W-J-O-C-O on Instagram. I’m also bellastone on Twitter and Tiffany@flowjo.co

For all of you guys, I will be giving you a discount code for 25% off of the growth hacking box, which is a box I’m creating. As well as it will be useful for a box that’s coming out in two weeks called ‘The Couple’s Bucket List”.

For people that want to just learn how to reconnect with their significant others and there’s a self-care one coming up soon too to help with some of this imposter syndrome and what to do with ourselves to make ourselves feel better. All of that you can get, I’ll give you a discount code that you can get.

Louis: And where can you go get it?

Tiffany: That’s on Flowjo.co.

Louis: And to be clear because we are recording this episode in advance at the time you are listening to this, the toolbox is already live, right?

Tiffany: Yes, yes, yes.

Louis: We’ll send the discount codes in the e-mail and we’ll put that in the show notes on EveryoneHatesMarketers.com. Tiffany, once again, thank you so much for being so open, transparent, vulnerable and all of that. I know for sure that listeners enjoyed it. And I wish you all the best.

Tiffany: Thank you so much.

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Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.

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1 thought on “How to Stop Feeling Like a Fraud: 3 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome”

  1. SEO at 9 years old? Whaaaat. Super impressive.
    (I also did a minor in ‘Pop Culture’ @ University ;))

    Thanks Tiffany for your honesty and your insights. So true about being mindful when telling yourself things, and talking to yourself as you would talk to others.

    Thanks to you Louis for prioritizing and focussing in on this important – and common – issue and also sharing your story. Especially helpful, when just starting my new amazing job only 3 or so weeks ago!

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