Come listen to me, I’m a fraud! (an impostor syndrome talk)

Hey you! You’re exposed! We know you are a fraud! You don’t deserve any of the success you’ve achieved. Do you recognize the fear of being exposed as a fraud? I do. Even as I prepared and presented this talk about impostor syndrome, I feel that you’ll expose me of not being worthy of talking to you.

With fifteen years in IT and a successful career as an infrastructure engineer, a speaker at industry conferences, a blogger, analyst and technical marketing freelancer for Silicon Valley Startups and a CTO of a 1200+ infra and software engineering company, I can definitely say I suffer from impostor syndrome, and by extension, perfectionism.

And it doesn’t go away with success. The opposite seems to be true, actually. I’ve learned to harness it, spending a lot of time way out of my comfort zone to figure out how to come to terms with it and use it for good. Maybe the fact that I experience the syndrome makes me more humble, which makes me more valuable as a leader.

I’m here to show the little things I did differently every day:

  • How being kind to yourself is key. Forgive, don’t judge. Accept who you are.
  • Learn about your internal convictions and expose these to the world authenticly and honestly.
  • How complimenting yourself and others goes a long way
  • Build a case for yourself by keep notes of people saying nice things about you
  • Self-doubt is a powerful tool as a leader, if used consciously
  • Focus on (professional) relationships, not on technical merit
  • Harness feedback, even it’s scary

impostor syndrome Joep Piscaer: find a hobby: something you can be passionate about without worrying about fucking it up.

With these small, incremental improvements, I now live in a self-inflicted, perpetually non-existing comfort zone. I’m constantly in the imposter zone, because I’m constantly doing new things, learning new skills, meeting new people. And I love it! It has brought me many smaller and larger victories, a career that’s led me to new and unexpected ventures and most importantly, a network of friends and relationships I otherwise would never have had.