Fail every day. When we become comfortable that our failures are measures of success, we won’t fear those failures anymore. Innovation depends upon frequent failure and trying again. Don’t let fear rule you. Like a balloon, have a little bit of growth each day and your capacity will grow. You will still be going outside of your comfort zone, but that zone will steadily increase.
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 Lynne McNamee, President, Lone Armadillo Marketing.
As founder and President of Lone Armadillo Marketing Agency, Lynne McNamee has been a professional in the marketing field for twenty years. Having directed the Avis Rent A Car®, Hewlett-Packard Company and Bank of America® accounts (among others) at Dryden Partners in Connecticut, Lynne has deep experience in both strategy and execution for Fortune 50 clients. She is recognized as a unique and creative thinker, most notably for introducing synergies among brands, products and new technologies. In 2007, she was noted by the New York Times for her innovative thinking. In 2015, Lynne and her agency relocated to the Dallas, Texas area.
She holds a B.A. from The University of Virginia and an M.A. from Boston College. Lynne is an active Rotarian…and would love to get you involved!
Lynne has a special affinity for the Learning, Talent and Human Capital Management industries and has been a presenter and panelist for The Elearning Guild, TLDChat and ATD International Conference.
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’?
Istarted off pursuing a Ph.D. to become a professor, then shifted into working at a marketing agency, which was wholly unrelated to my field of study. As an account executive, I managed client relations, customer success and worked as an overall project manager. After 8 years, I started my own agency, having learned web design, SEO, SEM, Inbound Marketing and social media. In 2015, I started as the marketing director for a company which consults for the Corporate Learning world. This shifted my focus to marketing and consulting for Learning, Talent and Human Capital Management companies.
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’m not sure if it is the most interesting, but it was definitely a ‘moment of truth.’ When I started with this consultancy, 9am the first day, we started a rebranding. One and half months later, the new brand was rolled out: logo, tag line, colors, fonts, reference language about products and services, collateral templates, and print materials and trade show booths in production. A high degree of confidence in my own abilities and knowledge were required. There was little time to waffle, yet there was a lot at stake financially for the company, in terms of reputation, market share and out of pocket expenses.
Through that process, I learned to be bold in asking questions from all levels of the organization and of partners. I learned to trust my instincts which were developed over years of experience. I also came to really value my commitment to documenting everything. With so many moving pieces, it’s hard to hold the status of everything in one’s head, or ‘who said what’ and what was the final decision.
In short, I thankfully, by that point in my career, had a reasonable sense of my strengths and weaknesses, and knew how to work with both.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Lone Armadillo is a marketing agency, but we’re focused on sales metrics. While other agencies focus on impressions and clicks, we’re focused on things like Lifetime Value of Customer, Average Deal Size and Velocity to Close. We are systems thinkers, so we look at the whole process, not just, say, on-page SEO for a website. How many salespeople are there? What are the margins on different product or service lines? What is the business priority — cash flow or market penetration?
For example, with one client, they had a very small sales team. Their time needed to be prioritized with high quality leads and support for renewing existing clients. By improving the quality of the website content, improving their marketing analytics and automation, and establishing workflows in both the marketing and sales CRMs, we improved sales metrics and saved hours of time for all involved. We looked beyond the immediate request (improved SEO) to solve the true problems the company faced.
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?
At the consultancy, there were a couple of salespeople truly willing to support marketing and sales alignment. They understood and saw the results of “if you give me this information, I can get you that many better leads.” They also helped me grow in understanding the pressures they were under and how they processed the information they received. By improving communication between sales and marketing from a place of trust, both sides benefited.
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?
Impostor Syndrome, as I think of it, is that someone with some knowledge and competency thinks and/or feels like others know so much more than they do, and that people will find out how little they actually know. It’s a fear based on a lack of trust in one’s own ability.
What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?
When we don’t trust our ability, we either stay silent for fear of being caught out…or we don’t ask questions or share our reservations, again, out of fear. When we experience it, we might not make decisions or recommendations we should, or suggest things we shouldn’t. It can also feel so overwhelming, that we stop even trying to learn more.
How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?
Fear often comes out as anger, so when someone challenges us if we are suffering from Impostor Syndrome, we can respond disproportionately, as a defensive mechanism. We can misalign our trust in the wrong people, because their positions are comforting and reassuring, versus challenging us to grow or admit where we are wrong or outdated with our thinking.
At the same time, it should be noted that there are people who are Impostors who don’t seem to suffer from this…or they cover it by acting very confident in their knowledge, which when others hear them, makes one second guess themselves, even though the listeners truly know more than the boasters.
We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?
Marketing is a field that is changing daily. Hourly. New apps, new strategies, new influencers, etc. It is impossible to stay on to of it all…so feeling like an impostor is pretty much a given. In addition, because I have been doing marketing for so many years, I just assumed everyone knew most of the things I knew, which were so familiar to me like breathing, so what unique knowledge did I have to offer?
Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?
I finally got over the feeling of Impostor Syndrome when I started sharing my expertise in the Corporate Learning arena. By writing articles, submitting — and being accepted — to present at some major trade industry conferences, I was able to hear from people I respected that I was offering new and valuable information.
Once I had that affirmation from this external group, I had more confidence within my industry to hear conversations differently. Now, when I heard things that seemed wrong or outdated to me, I spoke up and offered what I believed was the correct or better option. I no longer assumed I was in the wrong.
By having my expertise acknowledged in a different industry, it gave me some confidence to be bolder in my own.
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.
- Schedule and Document your Learning
Have daily, monthly and yearly goals of what you want to learn. Have outcomes that you want and work towards those, such as certified in Inbound Marketing, how to retouch photos without having to keep looking up the instructions, etc. Be deliberate and schedule time each day to learn some knew information and to practice. Keep a log so you can see evidence of your efforts. Pay yourself first by protecting the time allotted for learning.
- Fail every day
When we become comfortable that our failures are measures of success, we won’t fear those failures anymore. Innovation depends upon frequent failure and trying again. Don’t let fear rule you. Like a balloon, have a little bit of growth each day and your capacity will grow. You will still be going outside of your comfort zone, but that zone will steadily increase.
- Stretch projects/ Volunteer
As a volunteer, sometimes there are opportunities to try new things that your regular job might not allow. This will give you the chance to test out your new skills and gain some experience. In addition, you’ll have the chance to interact with a new set of potential mentors. Because you are giving of yourself, when you ask for advice and instruction, there is a sense of mutuality and people will be more eager to give you input.
- Ask questions
Everyone else knows something you don’t. That’s a given. If you know an area where you feel insecure, find people who are obvious experts and read what they write. If questions remain, ask particular questions if it’s their area of passion. Or connect with someone else who follows the same individuals and who, maybe, comments thoughtfully on the expert’s profile. Perhaps you can ask that person, if the main expert isn’t available.
- Act as If
When I do event planning, this is our motto…if we don’t tell people it’s supposed to be a different way, they won’t know that reality wasn’t the plan. Similarly, act as if you know enough to do what you’re currently doing, but humble enough to know you need to learn more to do the next step. Don’t broadcast your weaknesses, but rather use them as a point to connect with others and let them share their weaknesses with you, too. The world is populated with a lot of people with different skills. We need each other. Be the brave one who steps forth and says, I can do X, but I can’t do Y. Can you teach me?
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. 🙂
It’s already been invented — Rotary! This global service and networking organization is changing communities around the world by uniting people with different skills and resources to address: child and maternal health; water, sanitation and hygiene; literacy; disease eradication and prevention; economic development; peace and conflict resolution and supporting the environment. Join an existing club or start a new one! For high school, college and professional age adults, this diverse and inclusive organization is looking for you! (Contact me if you are interested)
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 🙂
Tony Robbins — For several reasons, but largely to say “thank you” for the many meals his donated and contributions to many great causes, in addition to his guidance to so many to decide and act.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Best is LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lynnemcnamee/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!