Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough, the expert, or the right person for the job?
That any second someone was going to come up to you and tell you they’ve made a mistake and you don’t deserve to be here.
It’s the feeling that you’re not good enough, and you’re not sure you deserve to have a seat at the table.
“Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
We’ll let you in on a little secret EVERYONE FEELS this way at one point or another.
We asked eight female founders if they’ve ever felt imposter syndrome and how they combat it.
Here’s what they had to say:
“This is a very interesting question, and it is actually something that often crosses my mind. There are certain days when I wake up thinking “who have I become? Am I actually capable of doing this or am I just putting up a front?” When I’m sitting in a meeting and I have to lead my team, it just all feels so surreal, like I’m pretending to be someone I am not. But now I realize, that is the beauty of evolving.
It is human nature to grow everyday, and surrounding yourself with amazing people is how you learn and grow. If you do not know how to do something, observe those around and listen to what is going on in the industry. One by one, day by day, you will know enough and have your own thoughts about it. Combating the imposter syndrome is something that happens dynamically, it is that point when you stop pretending to be a leader and accept that you really are one!”
~ Leen Al Taher, COO & Co-Founder at House of Anesi
“Yes, I feel it every single day. It’s probably not something that people want to hear from a CEO, but frankly, knowing that you’re steering a ship of talented individuals and a platform with over three million monthly users can sometimes make me ask the question, “How did I get here? Do I even deserve to be here?”
In order to combat it, I do something that may seem counterintuitive - I close my eyes and pretend that I woke up that morning as a privileged man who’s never been told he doesn’t belong. It never fails to reset my focus, and it’s a tactic I’ve taught dozens of staffers, fellows, and mentees. Women are taught to doubt themselves - so why not switch sides when you’re in the middle of that?”
~ Laila Alawa, CEO & Founder of The Tempestt
“ALL. THE. TIME. When I started my business, I felt like an imposter parading around as a social media marketer. I thought people would find out I was an imposter because I didn’t have any formal background in marketing. The way I combatted it was by continuing to be in action. Actually, whenever imposter syndrome hit, I used that as a signal. It meant I was expanding in my leadership or business, and I was headed in the right direction. I use impostor syndrome to my advantage and keep going.”
~ Jojo Aquino, Founder Pina Social Media
“Absolutely, I have imposter syndrome and more frequently than I like. It’s surprising how many accomplished women I know that suffer from this. I got advice from a very accomplished friend and senior executive on writing down what she was feeling about when she’s hit with Imposter Syndrome and being able to see it written down has helped me get it out of my head and challenge the negative voices. I also find being able to channel a more confident person to be helpful.”
~ Chia Lin Simmons, CEO / Co-Founder LookyLoo
“I live for imposter syndrome. I think if you don’t feel like you’re an imposter, you’re not challenging yourself hard enough!”
~ Aditi Shekar, Founder & CEO Zeta
“YES YES YES. All the time. Whether it be my age, my gender, or based solely on ability. I always ask myself “Did I really deserve this? What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough?”. This added pressure we place on ourselves can be hard to overcome sometimes. I just try to tell myself “there is a reason why you’re here. If you don’t know something, it’s okay just learn and do better”.
~ Tarlon Khoubyari, Founder Is Anyone Really Listening?
“To be honest, I feel imposter syndrome every single day. It’s hard not to when I’m surrounded by so many incredible people! That said, I think there are ways to combat its negative effects. I’ll share a recent example:
A few weeks ago, I was approached to mentor founders of tech companies at the Google Launchpad Female Founders Summit. Despite everything I’ve accomplished, to date, my first thoughts were, “They must think I know a lot more than I do. There’s no way I’m qualified.” But thanks to my team’s encouragement, I decided to go for it anyways.
Fast forward to the event, and one by one, brilliant women from all fields and stages of their entrepreneurial careers sat down with me and asked for my opinions and guidance- on topics I realized I actually did know a thing or two about! I was able to provide them with perspectives on product/market fit, user acquisition, digital marketing, and growth- and I was able to point them to resources when I didn’t have the answers. I am proud to say that I walked out with a ton more confidence than I walked in with- and I realized that I WAS qualified to be there in the first place.
Ditching the imposter syndrome is easier said than done (I’m still working on it!), but I think the formula is as follows: Celebrate your wins, own your expertise, and stop comparing yourself to others. Remember that you didn’t just “get lucky” with each of your successes-- you deserve to be where you are. Remind yourself of these things over and over until you believe them.”
~ Meral Arik, Co-Founder at String
“Omg, every day. What ACTUALLY helps is hearing from others (who I trust) that what I’m doing is bringing real value. That requires not hiding, though, and doing “the thing” even if I feel like it’s good enough, even if I can’t make myself watch the video that I just posted. But get it out there anyway, and then listen closely for constructive feedback.
What also helps is remembering this is all just a game. At the end of it we die, and all these little things won’t matter at all.”