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Dr. Charlene Walters: “Imposter syndrome”

Imposter syndrome is that feeling that you don’t really belong, aren’t worthy or have just gotten lucky when it comes to your accomplishments and opportunities. When people experience Imposter Syndrome, they feel insecure and doubt their abilities, thinking that they are inadequate or are an imposter in a situation. As a part of our series […]

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Imposter syndrome is that feeling that you don’t really belong, aren’t worthy or have just gotten lucky when it comes to your accomplishments and opportunities. When people experience Imposter Syndrome, they feel insecure and doubt their abilities, thinking that they are inadequate or are an imposter in a situation.


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 Charlene Walters.

Charlene Walters, MBA, PhDis an entrepreneurship coach, business and branding mentor, trainer and author of Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur . She serves as a mentor on Entrepreneur magazine’s “Ask an Expert” forum and through her own consulting business (Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD, LLC), is featured among other CEOs, Influencers and Celebrities on the BAM Network and was recently selected as one of 150 Marketers to Follow by Rubicly.

Charlene also wrote a memoir about overcoming tragedy/loss and moving forward in life based on her own personal experience (pre-publication). As part of that, she serves as a speaker and mentor to others, and writes and contributes to numerous publications on business and motivational topics. Charlene also writes a blog called Entrepreneurship, Life Enthusiasm & Energizing Your Brand and has taught hundreds of business, marketing and entrepreneurship courses and workshops for businesses and universities.

Charlene is also a busy single mom currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina with her two beautiful daughters.


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’?

Sure. I’d be happy to. I grew up in Connecticut and moved to Miami as soon as I graduated with an undergraduate degree in English. I started my career in sales and marketing and really enjoyed the hustle of making deals and matching customers with products which led to my growing love of business. I decided to pursue my MBA and then got another degree in Graphic Design. From there, I went on to earn my PhD in Marketing. I continued to move on professionally to other positions in marketing and higher education before eventually creating a digital entrepreneurship MBA program. I loved the energy- it was wonderful to be able to work with business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. I also began to do some mentoring with Entrepreneur’s Ask An Expert Platform.

Next, I wrote the book Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur: 10 Mindset Shifts for Women to Take Action, Unleash Creativity and Achieve Financial Success (which will be published 2/23/21) and launched my own company to work on consulting, mentoring and training full-time as an entrepreneurship coach and business and branding mentor.

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?

I think my career has had a lot of little victories that led me to other opportunities (coupled with many minor hiccups along the way too, of course). I’m of the mindset that the most interesting story is still to come! I believe the most intriguing tales related to my past, however, are those times when I faltered or when someone doubted me or my abilities. I always took those encounters as challenges and thought, “Well, I’ll show you.” I think we all have to grow that inner confidence to silence naysayers and rise to the occasion. I didn’t necessarily have that strong self-belief early on, but it grew over time.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes my company a standout is my ability to relate to people and provide what they need. I love people- meeting with them, helping them, connecting with them. I like to hear their stories, brainstorm with them and provide value, helping them to achieve their goals and excel. In today’s world where larger companies are cutting back and the service is getting spottier, this is the area where smaller startups can really shine. And communicating, providing value and building rapport are areas where my company has a competitive advantage. It has been particularly true as entrepreneurs have had to pivot in the wake of COVID-19 and I’ve been able to talk through those strategies with them- what a pleasure.

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 am the ultimate listener and thinker. I absorb everything people tell me, scrutinize it and ruminate over it. I also analyze my encounters with people- what I admire about them and what rubs me the wrong way. Similarly, I contemplate my own behavior as well. I’ve had some great leaders and mentors in my life- too many to name- but each gave me something, even if it was just a few sentences or phrases, that stuck with me over the years and added to my mental toolbox, helping to grow my expertise and confidence. I try to be like the people I admire and give back and help people when I can. After all, aren’t we the culmination of those encounters and experiences? Learning from and helping others are what makes me grateful to be alive.

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?

Imposter syndrome is that feeling that you don’t really belong, aren’t worthy or have just gotten lucky when it comes to your accomplishments and opportunities. When people experience Imposter Syndrome, they feel insecure and doubt their abilities, thinking that they are inadequate or are an imposter in a situation.

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

Imposter Syndrome can limit people because it can cause self-sabotage and prevent them from going after bigger challenges and new opportunities. Many people experience Imposter Syndrome to some degree, but it can tend to impact women to a larger extent as well as those starting new endeavors or projects.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

The experience of Imposter Syndrome can influence all of your relationships. If you don’t feel that you really belong, you won’t be secure enough to be your authentic self and may be threatened by others or not feel worthy to interact with those in your circle. It’s very damaging because it’s an inaccurate view of yourself and very limiting.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

Sure. There have been times in my life when I’ve experienced Imposter Syndrome. I remember teaching a business course shortly after I received my MBA. I was only 27 and it was the first time that I had ever taught a course and I felt completely out of place, and over-prepared and practiced to the point that it was overkill. I practically presented the whole course in an hour. The students still ended up enjoying it somehow, though. It’s funny to think of how many times I’ve taught since then and how my comfort level has grown (although I still tend to do a lot of preparation).

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

I have shaken the feeling over time. As you grow more experienced and confident, Imposter Syndrome becomes less prevalent but you can still get tinges of it here and there. Learning, practice, preparation and continuous learning can help to mitigate it and those are my go-to’s.

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. 🙂

There are so many worthy causes, and it’s difficult to narrow it down, but I am very passionate about helping women elevate themselves through entrepreneurship and education, particularly single mothers who are the sole breadwinners for their families. I understand what they go through because I have lived it myself. Women are at a disadvantage and typically have to juggle much more than their male counterparts so they would really benefit from some extra backing.

I would love to start a movement to help support these women, particularly now in the midst of COVID-19 when women are being more negatively impacted, providing them with the tools to develop the mindset and the skills that they need to be successful in business, and to foster work-life balance which is more challenging for women, and again, single mothers in particular. This movement would also benefit their children, through positive role-modeling and support, and therefore clearly impact future generations.

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 🙂

I would love to catch lunch or breakfast with Arianna Huffington. She is an amazing woman and fempreneur. What I like most about her is that she is an advocate for work-life balance which is so critical for us in our always-on society. It would be life-changing to learn from Arianna and her impressive career and dedication to making people’s lives better. Success is all about balance, and she is the master at spreading that message. Even a cup of tea with Arianna would be so awesome. I am sure that I could learn so much from her and that conversation would be very interesting. Fingers crossed.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thanks so much for learning more about me. I appreciate your time and would love to connect with readers on social:

Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | www.charlenewalters.com

Or you can read more about me in my book: Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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