Habits and Strategies to Overcome Impostor Syndrome and Create Excellency

Habits and Strategies to Overcome Impostor Syndrome and Create Excellency – Interview by Carl J. Cox – Measure Success Podcast

Carl: Susan Harrow is a media trainer marketing strategist, martial artist and author of the best-selling book Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul® from Harper Collins. She specializes in working with the wild minds who solve the world’s most pressing problems and for over 30 years she’s trained thousands of CEOs, entrepreneurs and thought leaders to appear on everything from Oprah to INC and turn their message into money using media appearances. Susan welcome to the Measure Success Podcast.

Susan: And Csaba was so helpful! I’m so grateful for him for introducing us and also he was helping me with one of my opt-in pages so I’m very grateful for that and it was brilliant, very easy to implement changes which we did immediately.

Working With Media Trainer Susan Harrow

Carl: That’s awesome! We provided some information it’s like oh you ought to consider changing it. Great! So we’re talking with him and he’s wonderful. One of the things I think you’ve learned Susan, especially when you have a business, is you shouldn’t assume you’re doing everything the right way. There’s a great book ‘It’s Who, Not How,’ sometimes right? It’s finding the right partners in the world around us. That’s one of the things I’ve loved about podcasts, is connecting with so many brilliant people so you can find some of the best people in the world at something specific when you’re tackling a new problem that you’ve never dealt with beforehand. So Susan why don’t you share a little bit more about we kind of, the kind of big picture of your bio the short bio perspective what do you do on a day-to-day basis and how you make an impact in the world today.

Susan: I was thinking about my background too because and I had to go back to my LinkedIn page to review it because I realized I have worked for two startups. So one was acquired by Sprint. I really understand kind of the chaos that can happen when you’re starting a business and all of those changes and I actually started in an account executive program that went Nationwide for one of the startups because there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and so part of what I think you asked me why do I do what I do like what makes me happy. Is that what was that the question?

Carl: Well that’s part of it but also just gaining that kind of the what you’re doing if you may, how are you actually supporting clients doing PR? Kind of talk about your day-to-day efforts that you’re working on with your clients today.

Susan: So I work on a number of levels. I work with everyone from beginners to people who are thought leaders and depending on where they are in that process, some people are working on pitching investors getting their next round funding, other people, a lot of women but men have this too, come to me because they have impostor syndrome and it is you know super common one. Stats show that 90% of us have doubt or impostor syndrome so I think it’s just it’s kind of an epidemic. But there’s a real difference between doubt and impostor syndrome I think. But I believe that whenever we start to go to the next level it’s a natural progression to start to feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and everyone else knows more than me and I don’t belong in this league. So it’s working to overcome impostor syndrome with people, ultimately on their confidence and calm to present themselves to the media in the best way that represents themselves their business and their brand, and their values.

I work with people on panels, podcasts, TV, print, LinkedIn lives or Facebook, Instagram lives any of those different mediums so what they say has the impact that they want. When I said to turn their message into money it’s not just money, it’s opportunities, it’s partnerships, it’s PR. PR can open up the whole entire world to you so we look at everything that you want in your life in your business and then we create those foundational messages and work with you as the person to deliver those messages. So it’s essentially presenting, its positioning, and polishing all of those kinds of things. So where are you in the marketplace, are you delivering the message that you have, is everything that you do, say, are, and think in alignment with what you believe and what you’re offering. Because that’s when things really start to happen, So I work on all of that. Different levels from the marketing, and strategic planning, from your words to your website all the way through how you are in presenting yourself and your business in whatever medium you choose. Does that make sense?

Overcome Impostor Syndrome: The Outright and Silent Sufferers

Carl: First of all, I’ll go back to the statistic of 90% of individuals have impostor syndrome. That’s fascinating, like how significant that is. So when you’re working with somebody to help overcome that and to help them recognize that no you actually are providing a deeper value in the world, what do you do to help them overcome their doubt of who they are?  

Susan: It’s reflection. I’ve been working with startups, since I’m near Silicon Valley. One of my startups was astrology.com a long time ago and they got acquired for 60 million. So when you’re working with startups sometimes you’re doing a lot of different things. But really I’ve worked with a lot of my clients were in the transformational space. So before mindfulness and meditation and all of that was popular I got to do the trainings for all of my clients with all of my clients so I feel like I’ve gotten this deep training and I’ve been meditating since I was a tot. I sort of discovered it by accident in church by staring at a candle and then suddenly I was in some kind of expansive state. But I got really interested in it really pretty young and in high school and started experimenting with different meditation techniques. So while that’s really kind of in the background because when somebody comes to me they’re like they want to do media and they want to express who their business is they don’t necessarily want to be trained on a meditation or tapping or whatever that is. But it’s whatever is appropriate that can shift someone’s internal barometer really quickly.

So I work on the external level which is cognitive behavioral level which is also it’s called exposure therapy which is the more that you do something the less you become afraid of it. If you have like an aggressive interviewer then I play that. I played Dan Rather for like 60 Minutes or Bill O’Reilly who’s not on the air anymore but any kind of like super aggressive, whatever the scenario is. So sometimes some people have trouble with intimacy some intimate questions you know questions that are too personal other people have trouble with being more aggressive or pointed and it triggers them.

So whatever that is for you we role play that and start to figure out is it triggered from something way back in your childhood. Was it just triggered because whatever that is we don’t always have to know the source we just want to go and say well how can I deal with this in the moment. So whatever is right for that person in the moment whatever kind of practice that is that’s what we do together to get them to a state of calm and equanimity so they can master themselves to master the media.

And by the way we don’t always know what those trigger points are until we have tapped into them. So for example, one startup actually it was pretty well developed company that was International, but they were going for their next round funding, three days with investors and the CEO knew he was triggered by this one type of sales guy and he’s like this guy gets under my skin every single time. I don’t know what to do and I said well let me play him and he’s like oh my God you’re playing him exactly. He just told me a couple of things and he’s like that’s right and so instead of trying to figure out like where did this come from which he can figure out with a therapist right we’re like okay how do you deal with this right now. I played that role with him until he felt comfortable and was no longer triggered at that same level. Why this is important? I have to imagine right is if you’re working with someone so he got it good.

Believing You Can Successfully Do PR Is The First Step

Carl: Why I bring this up and I think why I’m asking the questions is it’s hard to do PR if you don’t believe it, right? if you’re helping somebody with PR and you’re helping you believe no this is really who you are and what you do and if they don’t buy into it, it’s going to come across that way right? They’ll also feel uncomfortable and as you I think said earlier, in the beginning, they’re not going to be in alignment with all the messaging and information that goes through. So I think that’s brilliant that you’re hitting not only on what I call the tactics of what the PR should be, if you may, but also on the being side of who they are helping them recognize that they can overcome impostor syndrome since that’s so common right. So everyone is listening you ever wonder if you’re not where you feel you should be, join the club, most of us have been there in one way shape or form.

Susan: It’s also one other thing, I mean here it’s part of we used to think it was like with Malcolm Gladwell’s research we thought it was you sum somebody up in seven seconds. But no it’s called thin slicing it’s it’s a fraction of a second, we already know if we believe you and we’ll trust you and we’ll buy from you. We already know that, then we all have it and some people is more finely tuned and so once you have that initial impression then yes can you overcome it.

Yes, but we’re all automatically assessing each other that’s why presence is the most important thing and it is one of the most important things for startups too because if the investors don’t believe in you and your leadership it doesn’t matter how great you are positioned in the marketplace. Here’s your ROI, if they don’t believe that you as a leader can lead this company to success then you’re not going to get the money right. I mean end of story. So you can have the best story in the world but if you are not the best embodiment of your company and your idea than it is for naught and can you build that yes we can build character yes but you also come with your own set of circumstances and genetics and all of that. But then we build upon that. So it’s I don’t believe in faking until you make it, I believe in practicing until it’s embodied!

Carl: Say that again! I think that was good so can you repeat that.

Susan: I don’t believe in faking it until you make it. I believe in practicing until it is embodied. Like when I was talking about meditation and tapping, some of it is a cumulative effect, meaning you don’t suddenly become calm after a couple hours of meditation or a couple months but there are there is the build up of that kind of internal self-confidence that comes with these deep practices. It’s the same with martial arts. I’m a black belt in Aikido, I am a very ugly black belt, I’m a black belt we consider is the beginning of being teachable so my Aikido sadly because Beauty and Grace is a value of mine I am not. I’m a beautiful tennis player but I’m not a beautiful aikidoka. So what happens on the mat is the same thing that happens in media. When somebody steps onto the mat you size them up exactly where their weaknesses are and and how confident they are.

Part of stepping onto the mat is feeling that internal power and extending it out into the world before you even step on the mat so that your opponent feels it and you can begin to command yourself. It’s the same thing with media we are all nervous and I still get nervous, I still get nervous even for podcasts. I’ve eaten very little. That doesn’t go away but I love, who did I hear the other day, somebody said, ‘I choose to turn my nervousness into excitement,’ and I’m like yes! That’s not an easy choice either because when we’re nervous that’s what we’re feeling but it’s they’re very similar energies so part of that is being able to do the practices off the mat, off the media and then practicing when you are in the venue that you’re going to be in. Like if you are pitching investors you want to do that as realistically as possible so you can get the feel of it and be in studio if you’re going to do TV be on a panel do mock-ups like that so you can get the feel of it because that’s what’s sometimes missing is getting the feel in in your internal body right?

Tapping Before A Media Appearance And As A Daily Practice

Carl: I want to uh the term you put a couple times concept of tapping explain that a little bit more of the audience what does that mean and how is that being how do you practice that if you may and what you do?

Susan: Sure, it’s called Emotional Freedom Technique and what it is it’s tapping on the meridians which is the karate shot point. You start on first and typically in tapping this is to acknowledge where the issue is so you might say even though I’m feeling insecure and self-doubting and don’t think I can do this I still choose to love and honor and cherish myself. So you start with the negative first. On the karate checkpoint you do this three times, And then you start to tap through the points, first through the negatives so the points are eyebrow point. Here. So these are these are meridians and by tapping on these meridians it calms your autonomic nervous system and it starts to give just different brain messages and different messages to your body.

So the points are the eyebrow point here so I might say, “God I feel so insecure and my stomach is is rumbling I don’t know why I’m so nervous but I hate myself for it.” I mean you could even say if that’s the truth of it or why does this keep happening to me and then under under the eye. Every time I go before investors I get nervous and I and I blow it, I don’t get the money. I haven’t chosen the right people for my company. This idea is probably lousy to begin with. So it’s under the collarbone points and the last one is under here though it’s about at the bra line point then top of the head.

So you go a couple rounds of negative and then you start to switch to the positive. “I’m starting to feel like it’s possible to be a little more confident,” “I feel like I can learn what it takes to do a great presentation,” “I I feel like if I start to practice I will start to get these kind of skills.” So you go through and then you just start to do the positive. I forgot to say in the beginning you rate where you are on a scale one to ten. How much do you feel this way, how scared you are or nervous or whatever that is or how much this is bugging you and then at the end you rate yourself again after you’ve done a number of rounds of tapping. You can do as many rounds as you like you can do five minutes you can do 20 minutes depending like if nothing’s shifting.

Carl: Wow that’s cool thank you. I had not seen that in practice before so thank you and for those who are listening I encourage you to to watch us on YouTube because you’ll actually see it and of course I’m sure you could do YouTube and pull things up but I appreciate you sharing more about that solution.

Susan: Nick Ortner and his family Jessica Ortner they’re really great, that’s a great introduction if you’re interested in tapping and there’s all kinds of different teachers who have like different methodologies. There was just a Tapping Summit. I love to listen to them all because they all kind of approach it in a really different way and people sometimes go through different Meridian points. There’s points on your legs and you can do all kinds of things. I think it’s super great I do it every day just because there’s so much stuff. I think we all have a lot of stuff that I wanna move through. It’s not like it ever ends, it’s not like your stuff ever ends, there’s always something new to shift.

Carl: Truth right? I think that sometimes as younger people whether they’re young adults or young entrepreneurs are like oh when I get to 40 or 50 it’s going to get easier and it’s like no you actually have just more connections and more life experiences and more challenges you’ve gone through it just gets tougher.

Susan: I think the challenges just get deeper and more subtle too. If you’ve worked through a lot of challenges it’s sort of, I have a friend who loves loves loves therapy and she’s married now and they’ve been together about four years and she’s like we just cracked a new level of intimacy in therapy that I didn’t know was possible because they were already really close. But she’s not going to therapy because of issues, she’s going to become a deeper more thoughtful more actualized person.

Carl: It just brings out when you have a conversation you end up talking about really fascinating things. I’m always curious and so I appreciate you sharing that but I think it goes into once again we try to what you do part of PR right is to help get people to a spot to a position right where they’re being perceived in a certain way. So they can sell their company or get new investing or sell a product or whatever it might be and once again though if we can’t transform ourselves right into believing that that’s true just like we said in the beginning if people who are thinking about investing if they don’t have confidence and those who are doing the investing they’re not going to invest in them right.

So finding ways right for us to find techniques to help overcome that is just as important as the outcome of the words right and the way their position, the literally their position is and what they’re saying on a consistent basis because so much of it is non-verbal communication and we’re incredible human beings that can read things before they’re said.

Often just like I said when it’s very quickly like when Malcolm Gladwell talked about in his book and so I think that’s super fascinating so let’s talk about your book a little bit. Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul® I love that title by the way, I have hired coaches to help as we’ve grown to help remind me to stay consistent with who we are, who I want to be, who I want our company to represent, how we’re making a difference in the world because it’s not worth it to me right to give it up for games. It’s not worth giving up different parts. So with, that tell us a little bit more about what that means what does this concept sell yourself without selling your soul and kind of go into what are some of the things that you have to help people out to help make sure that they’re still accomplishing it quote unquote the right way.

Susan: I wrote Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul® because I was doing a lot of teaching and speaking at that time and people kept coming up to me and saying I feel like I have to brag, beg, or whore myself to get great publicity. So if you do feel that inside and I would ask in a room how many of you feel like you’re prostituting yourself to get publicity and three quarters of the room would raise their hand and I think the other quarter is lying. So how then do we begin if we’re already in that place of really accepting our value and sharing that value and those gifts? I think a question to ask is what is mine to give? What is mine to do in the lifetime in this time that you’ve been given? And that those are not easy questions.

But when I wrote the book, because also people believe oh extroverts it’s you have to be extroverted so I wrote the book for introverts and extroverts and for people who are fast starts and and slow starts and in between starts so I really wrote it for everyone who could do it their way so you can set up. It’s everything from what publicity is to setting up a publicity campaign that suits your energy and style to the media training part which is what I do now. Which is, are you the message that you want to give? Gandhi said, “My life is my message,” and I really do believe at that core. What you were just saying the core is your core and the core of what you’re doing and who you are whether it’s a business book product service or cause comes through in every area and that’s what we’re working on every area.

So in PR, when I’m working with a company or a CEO or an entrepreneur it’s like are you the best representative of your business and brand and if not we work on that. It is deeply infused into every area of your business, both what is seen and unseen. I wanted to say one other thing about the introversion extroversion thing because I heard Andrew Grant talking about who gets more money and the myth is that extroverts do but the truth is that introverts do. In terms of because sometimes extroverts are so bubbly and passionate that they’re not taken seriously and the introverts might have more, not that they necessarily have better stats, but because they’re not so frothy they get more money.

I think if you look at thought leaders today and you look at people in the culture it really is a mix. But the introverts are the loudest chirpiest voices right so we tend to notice them more but there’s people who are deep thinkers. If we look at celebrities and musicians and all of that there are plenty of them who are even though they’re on stage because a lot of people are on stage are introverts, my brother’s one he’s a musician, but he’s an introvert too. You’d never know it right. I consider myself a trained extrovert, I’m an introvert as well, my parents trained us very well I think.

imposter syndrome

Carl: No, it can be trained and to teach people once again to communicate what they want. To naturally hold within if you may because they’re natural strengths. But good to great all 11 leaders were all introverts have the greatest companies in the world based in the study that they did the 15 years of study they identified that no it’s actually all of them, all the more it was really fascinating and now you’re saying another stat. Not only were they the most successful they raised more money right they had the capabilities and I think there is often there’s this confusion right between success right it’s not about necessarily vocalizing and communicating on a consistent basis it’s um it’s more about being

Susan: Or entertaining yes.

Carl: Yes!

Susan: But also there’s a study, it was done by Cornell, about the top leaders. Were they 50 million dollar companies? 50 million and above. They did a study of the leaders and the number one quality that stood out that made them great leaders was self-awareness. And that’s why when you and I are talking about being self-aware, knowing what your triggers are, or being open to discovering what those are will help you be not only a better leader and a better business owner and an entrepreneur, but person.

Carl: Good stuff, really good stuff. Okay, so in the business of what you do, how are you imagining success?

Susan: And I know you asked me that question to think about it and I have so many answers. For me peace of mind and equanimity. No matter what’s going on in the outside is the most important thing to me. I have a male and female BFF and my female BFF just said I’m gonna make this the year where, and she is a lawyer and a therapist, but she said I want to make this year of joy and adventure. And I thought those are such great things and I think that for me living a life of joy is super important.

There’s a the Buddhist tradition called calling yourself a wish fulfilling jewel. I see myself as a wish fulfilling jewel and there’s sort of a beautiful visualization of seeing like a diamond in your heart and shining it out to all beings and that’s what I mean. Yes I have all of this work that I do but that’s what I really want, I want to be like that shining glorious radiant thing that just makes people feel better when they’re near me. I think that part of that is like if I were to say what’s underneath my work is really believing in that anything is possible and that people are all capable beyond measure of what they believe. And that if you do want to do something you can do it.

That being said, like I’m 5’2, I’m not going to be a great basketball player right or whatever. But we would within our capabilities our physical bodies and what we were given I think that anything is possible that someone aspires to and I and I believe that in people because I’ve seen it so many times too. I believed it before I thought it.

I was teaching tennis long long before when I was in high school and so I remember you know like this one gal who owns a very famous winery and said to me, she was a C player, not good, and she said, “do you think that I could ever be good,’ and I think I was about 17 at the time and I said absolutely if you work at it, go do the ball machine, hit thousands of balls, hit ten thousands of balls, if you work on it and this is what you want, because she really wanted to be good, but she was a C player, there’s a wide way to get to the A player. Will she ever get to be an A player? Maybe not, but maybe she could get to be a B. But I remember telling her absolutely and believing it.

Carl: It’s a fascinating once again our self-limiting beliefs right that prevent ourselves from being more successful.

Susan: And that’s what I think. I was raised playing classical piano, not gifted. I was raised playing tennis, I picked it up, not gifted, but persistent and I wanted to get good at it and I went to a tennis camp, I was just like crazy for tennis. I played like 10 hours a day and the camp asked me to come back and teach. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I was 16. I came back to teach my peers right. But it was because I was so devoted because I loved it so much but not because I was great. I wasn’t ever great and I’m not great but I was good and I was devoted to getting better and hitting those tens of thousands of balls and that’s what I think it takes also for someone to be a thought leader. It’s the practice and the iteration that is not ten thousand hours it’s tenth hour. Hours of iteration that each can do something. You do it a little differently and you make it a little bit better and you continue to get better and better and better until you reach the level of mastery that’s possible.

Susan’s Habits for Success

Carl: All right. One of our final questions and you’ve shared a few of them already today that you do but what are some habits that you do that have helped you help have excellent performance on a consistent basis.

Susan: So one of them is just that, like when I was doing Aikido and was so bad I went four days a week two hours a day consistent training practice. Worst kid on the mat like really, really. I mean you can’t even imagine, people would run away from me I was so bad. I do like, before I get out of bed I do cat petting meditation. I pet my two cats [Laughter] it’s so soothing and their purring and they’re there waiting for their food.

So that, but I also do I do a series of meditations before I get out of bed and I also do some, I have a prayer that I say. I think you’d call it a prayer. I say that every single day. Which is: open my path before me and grant me the opportunity to be of greatest good in the world. So I say that every day to open up those possibilities because I don’t know what they are. I have like a series in the morning, I have a series in the evening and I have sort of the series in between the day.

Aikido training

And what I often recommend to my clients is if you want to start gaining control over your mind, every hour stop and just breathe and clear your mind for a minute because then you can do it on command. You can start to clear your mind on command because our minds are so busy and we’re so stuffed with pings and dings and what we have to do, but if you just clear your mind for one minute every hour you’ll start to have that kind of command over your own mind which is Mind and Body, the whole thing. So those are a couple of things, but I have a pretty extensive practice and I walk every day and I do different things walking as well.

So sometimes I devote it to prayer and I’m not saying in traditional way like what I was taught as a Catholic, which I thought but I got the idea like I was taught as a Catholic, like I could say like the Hail Mary’s as fast as you could and then dole them out because that’s how I was taught right. So that’s how I started like just at night I would say a gazillion prayers and give them to people. That’s not what I do anymore but I do extend goodwill to all beings and then to specific people as well so that’s a practice that I do daily too. Those are a few.

Carl: Thank you! Now a book that you’d recommend to our audience. Not one of your own books of course. Of course, I do recommend people to pick up yours, Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul®, but what is a book that really inspired you that you would love to share with others?

Susan: The one that we read every year is called Path of The Sacred Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa. It’s an old one. He’s dead, but it’s really about developing internal fearlessness. Which by the way I’m so far away from. I’m such a little warrior about so many things that’s why I do so many practices too because I’m pretty high strung and have a lot of anxiety. So I do all of this stuff to manage that. I love that book because he was an amazing character, also a horrible womanizer, and a smoker, and like had all the foibles. He was a monk but he didn’t take all of those as seriously as people.

It was not in the confines of what we think but I love that he had this zest for life. I think that’s one of the most important things, is to follow your Gypsy Spirit, have the zest for life and he really expresses that in that book. I think that’s at the essence of it is having that zest and following your own Gypsy spirit and I think that book really embodies that for me because it doesn’t matter what you do after that if you have that spirit.

Create Your Signature Story With This Easy Template

Carl: Susan how can people connect and learn more about you?

Susan: They can go to PR secrets.com like public relations Secrets but then s.com and I have all kinds of great free things. I’ve got free videos, free special reports, free master classes. So you can get everything. One thing that I would recommend for all of your people who everybody needs to have a signature story. If you’re going to do any kind of PR and any kind of fundraising of any sort. So that’s at PR secrets.com forward slash sigpod like signature story podcast so I would recommend that. You get five templates that I’ve created for you that you can do in five minutes. Everybody can get the bones of their Signature Story down. The five most that I have dissected and reverse-engineered are the most common signature story types. There’s plenty more but those will give you a great start.  

Carl: That’s perfect thank you so much Susan it has been an absolute pleasure to have you as a guest.

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Hi, I'm Susan

I’m a media coach, martial artist + marketing strategist who helps you communicate your values, mission + message during media interviews to multiply your revenue while building your brand + business. I believe that you don’t need to brag, beg or whore yourself to get the publicity you want. Nor do you need to be an axe murderer, a shamed sports star, or be involved in a sex scandal. There is another way…

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