Facing imposter syndrome head on (and hoping to not puke)

Facing imposter syndrome head on (and hoping to not puke)


This photo was taken in 2017 and shows the very first panel I was ever on.

The topic that night was “The Many Roads to Product” of which my story was highlighted for my non-linear path to product (read the recap article on Medium).

I remember that evening vividly. I stood outside the Conde Nast office door, looking up to the top of building - feeling nauseous.

My first time on a panel, beer in hand to calm my nerves

I had just quit my agency job 2 days before after wanting to quit for some time. So on this day I had been grappling with the "whats next" feelings - wondering if I made a huge mistake.

Yet I find myself here, in front of Conde-freggin-Nast, thinking WTF did I get myself into…
I worked hard to showcase my work and ideas in blogs, on YouTube, and in a This Is Product Management podcast I was on the previous fall. All those achievements got me this invite to this panel. I did deserve to be there. This is what I wanted, to share my ideas and work on my public speaking.
But still, I found myself feeling self doubt and an overwhelming feeling to vomit.

As I stood there beating myself up I felt my confidence wane. I turned around and started to leave, to run. I drafted the phony "I’m not feeling well" message and had it ready to send to the organizer, of the Meetup.

Thats when I suddenly stopped and shook myself, I said,

“Stop it! You wanted this, you wanted this challenge, now it’s here you have to do this no matter what”

I turned around and deleted the drafted text I told myself "yep you're gonna do it, even if you puke on stage, make an ass of yourself, or otherwise mess this up you have to do this and you ARE going to be better for it."

I found my way upstairs, snagged a beer to soften my nerves, and put on a full blown act that I was normal. All the while I’m screaming inside to run.

I pulled myself on stage and I got in front of those 50 or so people.
I told my story, the good and the bad.
I was honest and transparent…
and I, eventually, chilled out and just became…me.

And you know what, I wasn’t perfect but it was fine! And I didn’t puke!

The best part is a handful of people came up to me afterward to tell me how what I said encouraged or inspired them.

And to think, I almost ran away because of some pesky imposter syndrome bullshit.

Since then I have had the opportunity to speak in front of hundreds of people. Ill tell you, It never becomes “easy,” but every single time it becomes slightly less scary.
But that puke feeling has never gone away!

This is me and my friend Lindsey, with out her great coaching and editing of my talks IDK where id be.

A recent text with Lindsey remembering that day 2 years ago

Thank you to my amazing friends Lindsey and Jordan for being there for me that night. And HUGE thank you for Tremmis Skeete for giving me this opportunity.

The "Bathroom Famous" story

The "Bathroom Famous" story

Grand Central's NEW BRIGHT boards

Grand Central's NEW BRIGHT boards