List your accomplishments. Make a list of all of your accomplishments and keep it somewhere accessible so you can reference it when Impostor Syndrome shows up. This list can include anything — projects, testimonials, training, obstacles you’ve overcome, etc. anything that you’re proud of. Think of it as a fun, unstructured resume you can reference at any time, and add to!
As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Delanie Fischer.
Delanie Fischer is a Simplicity Coach to entrepreneurs, business owners, and podcasters. She is a co-host of the top charting comedic self-improvement podcast with millions of downloads, Self-Helpless, and recently launched a new podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners, freelancers, and artists called E-ficionado that has been frequenting the top entrepreneur charts since episode 1. In her free time, you might find her spooning her rescue dog Maverick, rockin’ out to Tenacious D, being way too excited about a thrift store sundress, sipping hot chai tea on a patio, and taking walks with her wonderful life partner, Cam, who she enjoys making fun of for playing Fortnite with 13 year-olds.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Absolutely! I used to be knee-deep in the entertainment industry — I was a stand-up comedian for 6 ½ years, and also did a little acting, writing, improv, and producing. I wore many hats as many people tend to do in that industry. I also had a full-time job working in corporate entertainment on top of all of the gig-type work I was doing. Then, I hit the worst career burnout and case of shiny object syndrome I’d ever experienced, and I was forced to make some changes for my health. I realized I hadn’t been happy doing most of the things I had been doing for a while, and what I really wanted (and had always wanted) was to work for myself, create my own schedule, and do something creative that I enjoyed — which felt like an impossible feat at the time. This led to me launching a humorous custom art business called Dicks by Delanie (I turned people into dickartoons and put them on coffee mugs) that unexpectedly took off relatively quickly, and I was able to leave my corporate day job to run this business full-time. The whole experience was pretty nuts, pun intended. As I scaled that business, artists, entrepreneurs, and performers started asking for my help with starting and growing their dream businesses and passion projects. From that point on, I was coaching people on the side while running my business. It came to a point where both businesses got very busy and I had to choose which to focus on. I decided to dedicate my full attention to helping entrepreneurs start, scale, and simplify their businesses and passion projects — which is what I do now with my work as a Simplicity Coach.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my entrepreneurial journey is to allow things to unfold organically and be open to the possibilities of where my business might lead. I used to put so much pressure on myself to figure out what my “title” should be and felt the need to solidify what my career should look like indefinitely. The vision I had for my career changed a lot in a short period of time, and even though I enjoyed each change because it felt like I was getting closer and closer to what I truly wanted to be doing, it also felt like I was consistently having an identity crisis. I wish I would have just calmed the heck down and enjoyed the experimental ride I was on (and still am on). I went from being a stand-up comedian to essentially a gag gift business owner to a business coach within a handful of years. It was a lot of pivoting and reinventing myself. I’ve learned to take opportunities for growth as they come, instead of resist them. I have no idea what my career is going to look like in 5–10 years from now, and instead of feeling uneasy about that, I’m excited for what’s to come.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The biggest thing that made my business stand out in the beginning was the fact that we sold personalized phallic cartoons. It was a unique, humorous custom gift that people enjoyed talking about and sharing with their loved ones, so we really benefited from word-of-mouth marketing (which was very helpful since we kept getting blocked and banned and put in time-out on social media for our clever penis puns). I was also forced to think outside the box in regards to our marketing strategy since we weren’t really a “mainstream” product, and for that I’m very grateful since I learned tactics that I still use today that I wouldn’t have if our product had been appropriate for all ages. I learned a lot from running that first business, mostly the fact that I want to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to my offer, marketing, and operations. As I simplified that business, it grew, I simplified again, it grew more. This is a theme I noticed as I scaled my coaching business as well. The less quantity of things I offer, the higher the quality of my work, and therefore the higher the impact, revenue, and free time (plus, less stress!). While so many entrepreneurs, coaches, and thought leaders are encouraging people to be on alllll the platforms, have a ton of offers, and grind until you pass out — I encourage, and live by, the opposite. Utilizing a minimalist approach to business has changed my life, and my bank account. I went from working 60 hour weeks, feeling permanently burnt out, and being broke to working 16 ish hours per week, running a thriving business, and having plenty of free time for self-care and loved ones. I even left 22k organic social media followers in order to run a social media free business, which is something I’d been dreaming about for a long time. We are inundated with messages about being accessible to everybody and “staying relevant,” and I encourage my clients to dig deep and build a business that’s right for them — even if it’s something that hasn’t been done yet. My coaching is a mix of ensuring that my clients are prioritizing their enjoyment, making intentional moves that align with their values, and crafting a unique strategy to help their business or project thrive indefinitely. So, I guess what makes my mission stand out at this point in my career is the fact that I’m keeping my business simple and keeping my team small (but mighty) on purpose — I don’t want to scale just to scale. I want to maintain and grow in a direction that makes sense for the kind of life I want. This focus on simplicity is what my clients feel sets me apart — and the fact that people still remember me for the wiener stuff that kicked off my career (that’s just a bone-us, get it? I’ll see myself out).
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I enjoy learning from a lot of different mentors and friends, whether in person or virtually, and I continue to invest in my education as an entrepreneur. In the beginning when I first started my business, it was so helpful to see my friends and co-hosts of The Self-Helpless Podcast, Kelsey Cook and Taylor Tomlinson, doing their dream jobs because witnessing that made me believe it was possible for me too. Since then, I’ve listened to so many entrepreneurial success stories and I love implementing the tips that feel right for me, and hearing about others’ experiences has inspired me to create unique systems for my own business.
The people who have inspired me the most this past year are Rachel Rodgers, Alexandra Franzen, and Paul Jarvis. I could listen to Rachel Rodgers speak all day, she’s so powerful and engaging, and I especially appreciate the way she empowers women to build wealth (and not feel guilty about it). I no longer feel bad for outsourcing things in my business (and life), and I allow myself to enjoy my success so much more because of her. Alexandra Franzen was the first entrepreneur I found evidence of who was rocking her business without social media, and discovering her made me feel less alone and confirmed that I wasn’t nuts for wanting to run a social media free business. She gave me the courage to listen to my gut and leave it completely. Paul Jarvis’ book, Company of One, felt like somebody had climbed around in my brain and put all of my thoughts about business growth onto paper that I could not present as eloquently. Reading his book gave me the permission to take the pressure off of this concept of “building an empire” that I had been consistently told I should be focused on in the entrepreneur space, and instead gave me the assurance I was seeking that it’s okay to stay small, and it’s even beneficial!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?
I would define Imposter Syndrome as the inability to recognize (and leverage) one’s own brilliance, experience, skillset, and uniqueness. When you’re experiencing Impostor Syndrome, you’re essentially feeling not good enough, or unworthy, of the success, opportunities, or lifestyle you might be living, or seeking, despite having all the ingredients that are necessary to getting the results you want.
I also want to address the very real systems of oppression that exist that prevent marginalized groups from being granted the same opportunities and access that others, including myself, have benefited from, and am in no way speaking to that experience as I share my thoughts about Impostor Syndrome. Trauma plays a significant role as someone is attempting to follow their passion or go after their dream job and that should not be downplayed. The experiences I’ll be sharing regarding Impostor Syndrome are merely common themes I’ve noticed among my clients, friends and family, and myself, throughout my career.
What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?
Impostor Syndrome can prevent people from going after what they truly want, and therefore, leaving them with feelings of unfulfillment, frustration, and/or sadness. It can keep us stuck, fearful, and avoidant. This can look like a variety of things externally like continuing to postpone a launch date of a project, undercharging for your work, not applying for the opportunity, sabotaging a relationship, etc. We must get our Impostor Syndrome in check if we want to thrive.
How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?
If you’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome, you can often create this ‘otherness,’ or separation, between how you see yourself and how you view other people. You might see other people who have attained the kind of success you want as having something you don’t have, whether it’s a special talent, money, education, the right network, etc. and this can lead to dismissing your own unique ability to achieve that kind of success as well. So, instead of feeling inspired by hearing others’ success stories and learning from their experiences, you might find yourself feeling even more discouraged. If you’re struggling with confidence due to Impostor Syndrome, you might also experience resentment towards the people who are doing what you want to be doing — especially because somewhere deep down, you know you could be doing it too if you weren’t too scared to try.
We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?
I’ve experienced Impostor Syndrome surrounding everything I’ve ever done professionally — especially when I’m new at something. It seems to improve the more experience I get and the more results I get with that particular job, task, or activity, but it definitely pops back up during certain moments or opportunities I don’t feel ready or qualified for — no matter how much experience I have.
The most recent case of significant Impostor Syndrome I experienced was when I started my coaching business. Here are just some of the thoughts that raced through my head during that time: ‘Who am I to be offering guidance, advice, and strategies on business? I’ve never even taken a business class, I still have to double-check the meaning of gross and net income, I’m still learning how to work a freakin’ iPhone! I have no “proper” education or training, my business isn’t a multi-million dollar empire, I’m a fraud. Why would anyone want to work with me when there are so many other coaches out there who probably do have business degrees and corporate marketing experience and crap loads of moola and who definitely know how to work an iPhone (and probably their remote control too), and all kinds of other sexy stuff that I don’t have to offer?’ I was completely disregarding my years of experience in a creative field, the fact that I had successfully launched and scaled a business from scratch, by myself, with the skillset and resources I had at the time — not to mention people were reaching out tome and asking for my help with their businesses. None of that evidence matters when Impostor Syndrome has its hold on you.
I remember before my very first coaching call with my first ever client, I was so nervous. I was pacing around my living room trying to calm myself down. The uncertainty of how the call would go was all-consuming. I was terrified. I had to remind myself that I’m just showing up to help this person as best as I can and that’s all I can do. If they aren’t happy with how it goes, I’m going to give them a full refund and profusely apologize and then crawl into the fetal position in my bed. I also took out a piece of paper and pen, and feverishly started writing down any and all accomplishments I could think of from my past so I could hopefully muster up a tad bit of confidence I desperately needed in order to get through this call (plus, I’d have this list ready if my client happened to ask what I think makes me qualified to even be doing this in the first place — which of course never happened). I kept this piece of paper on the table next to me during the entire call, just in case. The call with that first client went well, I was able to answer their questions and enjoyed every minute of it, and they mentioned that they had been so nervous before the call with me. We often forget that the other person can be just as nervous to be there as we are. It was a big relief! Cut to having a full roster of clients and now I help them with the same type of Impostor Syndrome that I had experienced that day.
Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?
I’ve shaken the feeling of Impostor Syndrome off regarding my coaching business, for the most part, due to gaining clarity with each call, client, and experience about which entrepreneurs and types of businesses I tend to enjoy working with the most. Once you’re able to get clear on who you serve, it can definitely boost your confidence because you get used to helping people with similar struggles get results, and you know you can replicate that. However, every once in a while, a client will sign with me who I might initially feel is “out of my league” due to their status or financial situation or whatever else is making me feel insecure that day, and sure enough my buddy, Impostor Syndrome, creeps back in, taps me on the shoulder, and tells me I’m probably not good enough to help that person. Then, I have to pull out all of my exercises and mindset hacks in order to vanquish Impostor Syndrome all over again! I think Impostor Syndrome is just a part of growth, and if we can accept it, we’re one step closer to managing it so we can show up and do the work that we’re meant to do.
In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- List your accomplishments. Make a list of all of your accomplishments and keep it somewhere accessible so you can reference it when Impostor Syndrome shows up. This list can include anything — projects, testimonials, training, obstacles you’ve overcome, etc. anything that you’re proud of. Think of it as a fun, unstructured resume you can reference at any time, and add to!
- Pretend you’re looking at someone else’s resume. If it’s helpful, take the list of accomplishments you created, and pretend you’re looking at someone else’s list of accomplishments in a different industry. For example, if you’re a photographer, pretend you’re looking at someone’s list who is a chef or writer or actor, and ask yourself, how would I feel if I was about to interact with this person? Would I feel they were qualified to share information about their experience or expertise? My guess is yes!
- Think about how you might feel at the end of your life. Will you wish you would have put yourself out there and followed through with the things that might scare you? Or will you be happy that you played it safe? I have a feeling all of our older, wiser selves would tell us to go after what we want, that life is short, and that they wish things like Impostor Syndrome hadn’t held us back from trying.
- Remind yourself it’s “one of many.” Whenever I’m feeling scared to move forward with a certain task or project, I like to remind myself that this is just ‘one of many’ fill in the blank: podcast episodes, collaborations, coaching calls, etc. that I will do in my lifetime. I have to work through this uncomfortable experience of being new at something in order to build confidence, and for my Impostor Syndrome, to diminish. It’s helpful to look at the big picture when your Impostor Syndrome is acting up — you might be new at something right now, but you won’t be new at that thing forever. Accept that it’s okay to be new at something and it’s okay to be nervous, and help yourself get through it anyway. Feel free to reward yourself after each new task you complete to incentivize your progress!
- Nobody gives a sh*t. Remember, nobody cares about all of the little details that you’re ruminating over as much as you do. We are all living in our own heads concerned about what other people think of us. People have jobs, kids, family members to care for, school, events to attend, grocery shopping to do, etc. they aren’t thinking about the things that are concerning you regarding your Impostor Syndrome. So take a deep breath and bask in the freedom of knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around any one person, and thank goodness for that! Bonus tip: for a little boost of confidence feel free to incorporate some kind of symbol or item in order to create some separation between the part of you that’s too scared to do something and the part of you that’s going to show up and kick ass. For example, I used to wear a jacket every time I stepped on stage as a comedian because it helped me get into character and it felt like armor that was protecting the “real” me that was terrified to be up there. So, you might help yourself out by wearing your favorite shoes during an interview, adding a powerful picture to your workspace, giving yourself a stage name, etc.!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Question everything. Look at, and think about, everything as if it’s the very first time you’re learning about the information. Question everything from — societal norms, traditions, opinions, origins of words, sources of information, etc. Look inward to see if something truly resonates with you or not. Then, dig deeper with any research that might be accessible to you. Find out where that custom originated, how this product is being made, who our actions might be harming, follow the money trail when a hot new scientific study is released, look for examples of anything you’re curious about outside of the status quo, etc. I think the greatest disservice we can do to ourselves and others is to merely go through the motions or follow a path just because it’s what we’ve been told, or shown, to do. Think for yourself and lead with compassion. I still have a lot of learning to do, but this is the practice I’m committed to personally and professionally, and it’s only enriched my life.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Rachel Rodgers, Alexandra Franzen, and Paul Jarvis for the reasons I mentioned above and more! Also, Jack Black, because he’s been my celebrity crush since I was 11.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I no longer have social media, but information about my coaching program for entrepreneurs and business owners, my podcasts Self-Helpless and E-ficionado, and some free goodies are all available on my website at delaniefischer.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!