Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough to do something? Like you don’t deserve the success you’ve achieved? Well, you’re not alone. In this episode, Elizabeth Bachman sits down with media coach and marketing strategist Susan Harrow and shares with us what imposter syndrome is, how it’s becoming an epidemic, and how to actually overcome them. Tune in now and learn how to let go of those negative thoughts and start believing in yourself!
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Let Go Of Imposter Syndrome And Shine In The Media Spotlight
Before I go into the fascinating conversation with my guest in this episode, Susan Harrow, I would like to invite you to see where your presentation skills are strong by taking our free four-minute assessment at www.SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where you can see where your presentation skills are strong and where perhaps a little bit of support could help you get the results you need and the recognition that you deserve.
My guest is Susan Harrow, who is a media trainer, marketing strategist, and martial artist. She specializes in working with brilliant innovators and startups, solving the world’s most pressing problems. She has a black belt in Aikido. She’s a former tennis pro and author of the bestselling book, Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul.
For the past years, she’s run Harrow Communications Inc, which is a worldwide media consultancy where she’s trained thousands of people in verbal and nonverbal communication. Her clients include Fortune 500 CEOs, celebrity chefs, rock stars, Speakers.com millionaires, New York Times bestselling authors, and entrepreneurs. All of whom she prepares for TV, radio, panel, podcast, and print interviews to be highly desirable repeat guests who shine in the media spotlight.
She has a course called The Zen of Fame: Your Genius Gone Viral, which shows people how to promote themselves with integrity and spirit. What you might not know is that she was once almost sold into slavery for ten camels and a mule. I know you will enjoy this conversation. Let’s go to the interview with Susan Harrow.
Susan Harrow, thank you so much for joining us on the show.
I’m so happy to be here. I have been looking forward to this topic, too.
Before we get into shining in the media spotlight and all of that, which is something that we can always get information about, let me ask you, what would be your dream interview? If you were to interview someone who’s no longer with us, who would it be, what would you ask them, and who should be listening?
I would want to interview Buddha. What I would ask the Buddha is I wouldn’t ask the Buddha anything. I would want to be in the Buddha’s presence because that is the most important thing for all of us. Camou said, “Our presence is the sum of all of our experiences,” and we bring that to bear, and we’ve got our genetics and all of that.
To me, sitting in the presence of the Buddha, I would want to get the transmission of “ideas of the enlightenment.” I know that this is even more and more unlikely but to me, the presence of someone, even before they say words, and I love words, is so important. I learned that too from my martial arts teacher. I always wanted to stand right behind him and to imagine that my body was his body moving in this graceful movement when I was a beginner and certainly not moving that way. That was my spot on the mat every single time. My spot would be in front of the Buddha to transmit however that transmission comes to whatever knowledge I needed to move through the world and how to shine that best out with the gifts and talents that I came into this world with.
I must say there’s a little practical part of me that says, “I wonder if he picks his teeth. Does he have betel nuts staining his gums or things like that but that’s the practicum
People worry so much about their physical appearance, myself included but we see beyond that and the beauty of the person when they are standing in front of us, and that doesn’t matter. I believe that’s true. Even if he had stains on his teeth, we would see his spirit.
Susan, we are doing a little series about PR and getting your voice out there. Talk to us about Imposter syndrome. How do you see it, and how do you help the people you work with recognize it and deal with it when it shows up?
Imposter syndrome in women is an epidemic. It’s at epidemic proportions. Seventy-five percent of women feel Imposter syndrome, and I want to shift that because self-doubt and Imposter syndrome is natural. Let’s get that established. Everybody does. We always have doubts when we are going to the next level of our skills or experience. Accepting the fact that we are going to have self-doubt but Imposter syndrome is about chastising ourselves or being in a state of comparison and despair, and that’s different.Imposter syndrome in women is really an epidemic. 75% of women feel imposter syndrome. Click To Tweet
The first thing about Imposter syndrome is thinking about setting your intention daily. First of all, it’s setting your deepest intention of who you want to be. We are three people. We are who we are right now. We are the people in our past and future. The only thing we have control of now is our present and future. Not the past and what we wish we didn’t. Imagining who is the person you want to become and then monitoring and micromanaging every thought that comes into our mind and asking ourselves, “Is this in service to who we want to be in the world?”
That’s not easy but it’s also not to micromanage the thoughts. What I mean by that is to let them come up and we go, “I’m comparing again.” It happens all the time. It happened to me on another podcast where the podcast hostee was a third-degree taekwondo martial artist, and he was going for his fourth level. I’m a lowly black belt. That’s what I was thinking, “I’m a first-degree black belt. Time out.” I started training at 56.”
I go logical. “He started way younger,” and he was way younger than I am anyway and is still going to train four hours a day to get to that next level but I had that moment of shame like, “I’m not very accomplished.” I had to consciously put that aside and said, “This is what I can do with my body, my time, and my age.” Would I like to become a third-degree black belt in Aikido? Yes, and I will need to put in that time, practice, and mental and muscle memory.
I’m going to ask you about that but this whole thing about Imposter syndrome, one of the things that I notice is that I teach people, especially women, how to get their voices heard. Presentation skills and public speaking is huge pieces of what I do. It’s the lens through which I do executive coaching. How do you show up? As a show host and as someone who talks to people who plan events, I’m talking to people all the time. It’s because of the work I do. I notice that when they’ve got a summit or a conference, it’s 95% men speaking.
I talk to show hosts and event organizers and say, “Why don’t you have more women?” Over and over, I hear, “I would love to have more women but I reached out to someone and she says, ‘I’m not ready. Ask me next year.’” By the time next year comes around, the topic is not relevant or they’ve forgotten or whatever. How do we recognize that? You were talking about Imposter syndrome coming up when you are reaching for the next level. There’s something about going for it, even if you are not fully prepared.Doubt always shows up when you are reaching for the next level. Don't let it stop you. Click To Tweet
We are never ready. I was talking to a new client of mine who’s a psychiatrist for children and adolescents. She said that the only effective therapy for anxiety now that she’s found is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s going through the experience of it. She said, “Kids don’t get better if they don’t face their fears and parents coddle them.” If you are not doing it or have actual experience with it, then you are not going to be able to do it.
Instead of not accepting it, it’s to accept everything. I love that Shonda Rhimes wrote that book where she said she had the year of saying yes, where she said yes to everything. How hard is that? It’s through facing the fears but it’s continuing to do the thing, so it gets less scary. The whole process of media training is that we role-play. We role-play everything because then you will have had the experience, and then it won’t be as scary but it’s super scary if you haven’t done it.
It’s only in doing it that it becomes less scary. For women, I say, you accept it. These are opportunities at the moment. I was training a workshop in Los Angeles, and it was a group of people media training before to prep them for TV. This woman who runs a 30 million company said that she’s at all of these marketing. She’s a great marketer. She was at all of these marketing seminars.
They were all men, and there were three women in the room. She complained to the guy, “Why don’t you have more women?” He said, “Why don’t you stand up and talk?” and she did. She stood up and talked about how some of what was going on in that room was not serving women. It was a particular male model, and it didn’t work for everyone that we need models that work for different types of people.
Women are included in that but she took that opportunity and spoke up and gave women in that audience, those three women but also men, a different perspective on marketing themselves. The more we do this and change the perspective, not only for us as women but we change the perspective of the men who are controlling all of these presentations and seminars. Not blame them but change them through the demonstration of our own experience. It’s not the only way but it is a way that things will begin to shift. We each have to do our part, and I ask each of you to stand up and do the hard thing, whatever it is. However, small to start doing it now.
I keep thinking about how we are socialized as children. Boys are socialized to try something, and if it doesn’t work, they get up and try again. “Don’t be a crybaby etc.” Girls are socialized to be careful, so if there’s 1 mistake or 1 thing that’s painful, it says, “Be careful. Don’t hurt yourself, etc.” It’s not that we are trained because I don’t think anybody does it on purpose. It’s all these subconscious societal messages that teach us these things.
“Don’t get dirty. Don’t speak up. Be nice. Don’t hurt yourself.” I remember when I was an au pair in Paris, and this one little girl was always in a dress, and I was an au pair for a little boy. We are playing in the mud, and we would ruin her dress and I’m like, “Don’t put her in a dress because we are going to do this.” The other thing is I have to say, my brother, who’s about to be eight, is not raising her that way. He is raising her to be like a daredevil, and I love that. Whatever way you are raised, because some of us, you and I, are at a certain older age where we were raised that way.
We have fallen on our faces and survived. We know that we will survive.
I wasn’t raised that way. I was raised with parents who said, “You need to speak up. You need to stand out, and have I paid the price for that? You bet, in a lot of different ways. Even in my dojo, it’s the advantage and disadvantages. When people want to have a question asked, and they are afraid to ask it, they come up and say, “Susan, will you ask this question?” They know I will because I’m not afraid of looking stupid.
The advantage of looking stupid is that I got more attention, and I was willing to stand in front and be not made a fool of but know that something was maybe too difficult for me and I wasn’t going to look great up there. One time my sensei pinned me with one finger, and I couldn’t move because he was very powerful. He said, “Am I hurting you?” I said, “Just my pride.” I would get the experience of the sensei. I got his training because I was willing to look foolish and to speak out.
Sensei, for those who are not familiar with the term, means master. It’s more than maestro, which is the term that I lived by for years but I worked in Japan briefly, so I learned that one.
Thank you for explaining that.
You were talking about muscle memory, and I’m wondering if that’s a way that your martial arts training has informed the way you show up.
Absolutely. One of the things that we do before we step out onto the mat or whenever anyone grabs us is to expand our energy or chi in all directions. Some people call it chi prana. It’s above, below, to the sides, and the back. Once you do that, you are extending your space into the room. Also, keep it extended the whole time, so when someone grabs you, they are not taking your center first. You want to take their center, and then we want to take them off balance and throw them.
It’s the same in a room, a meeting, and in the media. You want to have your center aligned with the host center, and then you both come to a new center, which is a mutually agreed upon center where you are both equal. In a media interview, you want to guide the information in the direction you want, no matter what the host asks. They can ask you anything, and it’s the same in a meeting. You want to be able to imagine and go with it before you change over. Another thing that women are taught is don’t go up against in a confrontation.
Sometimes we want to. Sometimes there’s a hard style but sometimes, there’s a soft move before we redirect the conversation. It’s great to have all of those in your repertoire, and the way that informs me too is when I say muscle and mental memory, it is through that you are going to be tweaking. My sensei would say, “You might make 100 throws, and 1 feels right, and remember how that feels.” It is that constant tweaking because it’s the 10,000 throws, the 10,000 media interviews or whatever that is that you start to gain your expertise but each time, you are tweaking. It’s small tweaks.
I know you have a list of the ways women give up power in interviews.
I have a list, and I have it right here because I wanted to remember them all. I wrote them down. By the way, it’s okay to have that on media. When you are doing a Zoom like this, it’s okay to have notes and glance down. If you are on a TV show and it’s cutting edge, it’s okay to have a little card with you. For cutting the statistics and things like that you can’t memorize, you are not going to be reading it but if it’s something like a statistic or important that you want, it’s okay to have that with you.
What are the ten, and then maybe I may ask you about 1 or 2 of them?
I didn’t prepare the whole time.
Tell us the ones, and otherwise, you go to her website and ask her. Go to her website and find it there, I’m sure.
Before we talk about the five ways they give up power, I want to talk about the foundation to establish the three things that you need to have that are instantly noticeable about you. The first thing we talked about presence is your, facial language, body language, verbal language, and vibe of you. If you are a musician and deal with musicians, we have a vibe. There’s a sound vibration that comes through your voice but it comes through your body. It comes through everything.
When everything is in alignment, we read you as command presence. That’s number one that you want to have. We assume your authority. As I was talking about in Ikea, we extend our key in all directions, and that’s something that you would want to do before you ever came to a meeting mentally to be able to expand your energy in all directions.
Also, I call that one the magic carpet to expand it into the room. Before you walk into the room, send out your magic carpet so that they are on your carpet, your energy, so that when you walk in, it’s your party.
When I’m in bed, I’m practicing extending it throughout the whole neighborhood down to the end of my block to, “Can I get to the end of the whole street? How far can I imagine extending it?” I practice it out on people too because we know that sometimes you are looking at somebody on the bus or the plane, and they turn around because you are focusing your energy on them. We already know how to do it.
However, you do have to practice it.
You do have to practice it because there are times when you want to pull it in and when you want to expand it out, so it is practiced. Number two is the messaging. I know that because you work with so many musicians, it’s about your tone, vocal, variety, pitch pace, pause, staccato, and being able to talk about things quickly if you need to or draw things out.
That’s what makes you interesting to listen to if you are in a meeting and you want to use your voice to emphasize whatever is important to you. You want to have that kind of vocal variety and range so you can make a point and move through whatever it is you want to communicate. I love what Luciano Pavarotti said that, “Your voice should have the sun in it, and your whole being should have the sun in it.”
That’s your energy.
That’s part of the practice as well. Now, let’s go through the things that are some of the most common things that women do. The first thing is to shrink their bodies.
Don’t shrink your body.
We slump, shrink and drop our heads. Instead, you can imagine a string coming out of your head or I also like to imagine a golden core of a beam that comes from the Heavens to the Earth. You can imagine that and practice Spreading out. It doesn’t have to be, “We are taking up so much space,” but practice spreading out a little more than is comfortable for you. I was trying to think of a time like, “Do I have an acronym?”
I came up with one, and I’m not doing it in this order but it came up with SCAD but I don’t like that. That’s a funny acronym. I will do it in order. Number two is Crumble under criticism. One of the ways that men test us and test each other is through competition. They want to see how much you can take. Deborah Tannen was the first one who started to do research on this.
It’s not to crush you. It’s to test you. “Do you have strong metal? Are you capable? Can you do this?” We might have a moment where we get pulled off center. We breathe, we come back to the center, and what you want to say is use the phrase like, “That’s interesting. I’m curious why you say that.” I heard Iyanla Vanzant in a meeting. Some man said something that was less than kind, and she said to him, “I’m curious what it is about me that you thought that I could be spoken to in that way.”
I thought that was so interesting because it showed what gap in ourselves that we need to look at that we created that opening. It’s not a criticism. We all have openings somewhere, myself included but if somebody did that or if somebody is overly friendly, “I’m I want to ask myself, not that it’s my fault but did I create an opening somehow with my face, with my body or with my intention?” It’s that kind of awareness. The A in SCAD is to Ask permission to speak or do something.
Yes. That’s the, “Hello. Hi. Can I talk?”
In a media interview, this is particularly important when you are on a panel to be able to jump in with no permission. You jump in with your idea and don’t say any kind of preamble. You don’t ever ask permission. You just do it.
It makes for better television that way.
It makes better everything that way.
Yes, it makes a better interview.
D is Don’t interrupt. You don’t interrupt others when you need to or you allow other people to interrupt you, so they don’t interrupt others.
The don’t interrupt is giving away power?
Yes, they don’t interrupt. Some people need to be interrupted. You need to learn how to interrupt people, which is not easy for us because we have been raised with a disease to please them. We have been raised that want to be polite but we do want to learn how to interrupt. We also want to learn how not to be interrupted. To be not interrupted can be simply as saying, “I’m not done.” We can do a louder pattern interrupt or a softer pattern interrupt.We have to learn how to not be interrupted. Click To Tweet
A pattern interrupt changes the energy like that. We might go, “Wait,” and we can lower our voices and drop in. You can do it either way or say, “Wait, I’m not done,” and then continue on but the key thing is to continue on and not let the person. Sometimes we have to do it. I know that in dog training, you are only supposed to give the command once. Preferably, we only need to give the command once but in some cases, we need to give the command more than once.
I would also think that it’s useful to have your comments organized so that you are not wandering off on tangents. Both men and women do this. Not wandering off on tangents but knowing what you want to say and saying it concisely because you are asking to be interrupted if you are talking like that.
I agree, and I’m 100% with you. That would make so many more meetings and happy times and places if you ask everyone, and you can do that. That’s about setting the intention of the meeting if you are the leader to say, “I would like to have everyone have their five points ready in this meeting, and we each get five minutes to be able to condense that into a conversation to set those parameters or whatever works for you. It may not need to be limited to that amount of time. I did know a management consultant who would do it in meetings when people were going on.
He would give a gesture to say, “Wrap it up.”
“We need to move forward,” and you don’t want somebody to do that to you. It’s to your advantage to prepare your soundbites or your key messages for any kind of meeting, presentation or media, so you can get out exactly what it is you want your audience to know.
Especially if it’s media, the soundbites are so important because that’s what gets quoted and broadcast. Having a concise soundbite makes you the one that shows up on the evening news as opposed to the one who’s rambling on and on.
If you are rambling on and on and it’s edited, people can splice those together and create something that you did not intend. There’s a disadvantage to editing and being live because with live, if you say something that you wish you hadn’t, then that’s forever recorded. Being edited is also a danger. When you say something really well, a reporter, a host or a producer will want to keep it and will want to keep it intact.
Susan, there’s so much I want to ask you.
We are both in this field so that we could talk forever.
I’m going to have to bring you back to ask you about the 500 other questions I have for you if there was one thing or someone who’s reading this who says, “A whole bunch of useful things. Where do I start?” What’s one thing to start with?
Start with your deepest intention. The three questions I ask every client are, “What’s your deepest intention, and how do you want to serve?” That sets the foundation for your soundbites, for your key messages. Number two is, “What do you want for yourself?” We look at that in the realm of professionally, personally, physically, financially, spiritually, and emotionally because doing PR can open up that entire world but having those intentions and walking through the world with those intentions when thinking in mind that person that you want to be. I meet people everywhere.
I met a great gal who’s the community manager for Supernatural. It’s a virtual reality exercise program on the plane and clicked. You can meet people. The third thing is, “What do you want your audience to do?” It can be changing perception but it’s also, “Do you want them to go to your website? Do you want them to donate to a charity?” Whatever that is, keep those three things in mind.
The other thing that I want to say is to collect compliments because it’s 1 in 10 or 1 in 7. When someone says a negative thing, it takes ten positive things to counteract it. The way that we want to do that is not aphorisms because you may not already believe them. It means I can’t say if I said, “I’m confident and comfortable at all times.” I don’t believe that but you can use the phrase, “I’m becoming more and more comfortable and confident every day.”When someone says a negative thing, it takes like 10 positive things to counteract it. Click To Tweet
One of my clients who came to me who’s amazing was in three areas, cybersecurity, diversity and inclusion, and management consulting. She came to me because she had lost her confidence. She was already an extraordinary speaker and had run teams of men from all different parts of the world, and was highly skilled. When we started working together, she said something shifted, and that’s not an issue anymore.
Now, we are focusing on the core messaging but not on confidence when you start to practice receiving compliments and having the internal experience of success, not the external one. Not what I’ve accomplished outwardly but inwardly. “What kind of a person am I?” Also, doing good deeds every day. There’s research now in neuroscience that even thinking about doing a good deed before and after you do it is also bolstering your neural pathways.
I love that idea. We can think about doing a good deed. We can do the good deed and have a great experience. We can think about having a great experience and start to build our internal capacity. That’s a daily practice because when we were talking about building muscle and mental memory, those are the things that are accumulative that we don’t even notice that we’ve suddenly, one day we’ve shifted in confidence. When somebody asks, “Can you speak right now on the spot?” You say yes, and maybe you are going to get a little twinge anyway but you stand up and do it.
Collecting compliments helps with the Imposter syndrome because all these people have said all these cool things about you that are true. Let it be a fact.
They are people who noticed and we noticed it. One of the things that I do, and I’ve done this in workshops for many years, is when I have people meet each other for the first time and say what their initial impression is. It’s something great about them, and it’s always 100% accurate with everyone. We already perceive who you are. Now it’s in 1/3 of a second. It’s a split second. We already know you. Take in those beautiful things that people perceive about you because they already are.
It’s not vanity. It’s standing in your power.
It’s command presence and being accepting. It’s also the process that we all have a difficult time doing of accepting ourselves.
Susan Harrow, I want to thank you so much. It took us a while to get this organized but I am glad we finally had this conversation. I’m going to have to bring you back in a couple of months to ask you some of the other 500 questions I had. If you enjoyed this, please tell your friends and subscribe. Check us out on YouTube and subscribe to the channel, and particularly rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. That’s the one that matters. This has been Speakers Who Get Results. I will see you at the next one.
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- The Zen of Fame: Your Genius Gone Viral
- Susan Harrow
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About Susan Harrow
Susan Harrow is a media trainer, marketing strategist + martial artist specializing in working with brilliant innovators + start-ups to solve the world’s most pressing problems.
She has a black belt in Aikido, and is a former tennis pro + author of the best-selling book, Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul® (HarperCollins).
For the past 32 years, she has run Harrow Communications Inc., a worldwide media consultancy where she’s trained thousands of people in verbal + non-verbal communication. Her clients include Fortune 500 CEOs, celebrity chefs, rock stars, speakers, dot com millionaires, NY Times bestselling authors + entrepreneurs whom she prepares for TV, radio, panel, podcast + print interviews to be highly desirable, repeat guests who shine in the media spotlight™.
Her course, The Zen of Fame: Your Genius Gone Viral,® shows people how to promote themselves with integrity + spirit. What you might not know about her is that she was almost sold into slavery for 10 camels + a mule.