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The Fraud Police are Coming


What is imposter syndrome?

It's a failure to internalize your accomplishments. It's the nagging feeling you don't know enough, haven't done enough, don't have enough experience to do your job, land a new account, publish a new paper. It's feeling like a fraud and that you're about to be found out. The term was coined in a study by Pauline Rose Clance & Suzanne Imes in 1978 having to do with the habits and behaviors of high-achieving women, but it's recently become a hot topic in tech and career conversations - with good reason.

Who does it affect?

Originally a phenomenon studied among women in academic fields, studies (and anecdotal evidence) have shown it affects just about everyone. Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, and Maya Angelou have all commented about their own experiences with imposter syndrome. After we've asked, so have most of our friends and colleagues. We combine research with personal experience to provide the Big Six signs you might have imposter syndrome, so you can recognize the symptoms in yourself.

How is it affecting me?

Imposter syndrome can make us feel like we need to be super-people, adding and adding to our goals each day, with no end in sight. It means we might be less likely to raise our hands for new projects because we don't think we know enough. It might keep us from speaking up in meetings, seeking promotions, or talking at conferences. It can bring feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, fear, alienation, isolation, shame or despair. It can be paralyzing to a person's career.

Does it get better?

Thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know. When combined with the imposter syndrome associated with increasing achievements over time, it usually gets worse.

But...there's good news.

Through identifying specific components of imposter syndrome, you can sort out what's a real area for improvement and what's mostly anxiety. Dealing with imposter syndrome is often part of the price of doing new, exciting things. We can help you figure out to cope. This talk will also help you recognize imposter syndrome in friends, colleagues, and employees, and we'll help you think about how to best support them. (Hint: responding with compliments does more harm than good.) By the end of our talk, you'll to learn how you can leverage the feelings of imposter syndrome to become a better leader, colleague and human.


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