We’ve all experienced it; we’ve all heard our inner voice saying, “you don’t belong here.” Turns out, imposter syndrome does not have to get the best of you.
Julia Li and Bianca Jochimsen from Google join Jenny Guy, Mediavine’s Director of Marketing, in a conversation about imposter syndrome and methods to use to overcome it.
Learn how they turn to their strengths rather than their weaknesses in their day-to-day lives at work in this episode of Teal Talk®. (Originally aired 10/22/2020)
Watch the video here or check out the transcript below.
Be a Boss and Kick Out Imposter Syndrome
[MUSIC PLAYING] JENNY GUY: It is Thursday, October 22, which means we are back with another episode of Teal Talk. I’m Jenny Guy, the Director of Marketing for Mediavine, and your host for the show, where it is my privilege, along with my team, to find experts from all corners of the content creation industry and make them talk to me for an hour.
It is a chance to interact with the outside world which in 2020 is a rare gift. Or something we were actually talking about with my guests before we started, being with you guys every other week throughout the year and every week during the Summer has certainly made a huge difference in my personal sanity. So I just wanted to say, thank you for the opportunity to be here and to be with you guys. It is a treat, and it is certainly a treat to be here with my guests for today.
It’s a big day on Teal Talk. We’ve got exciting guests covering a really huge topic for everybody. So without any further ado, like it or not, as bloggers we live in a tech world. With your ad manager, your hosting company, your site designers, you might feel you’re at a disadvantage due to a lack of technical expertise and always having to pick things up as you go.
Today we’re talking with Julia Li and Bianca Jochimsen, they’re from Google, guys. They’re both longtime, somewhat unexpected, Google employees who routinely interact with some of the best minds in the industry. And they are here to talk with us about overcoming imposter syndrome and balancing being a badass in the work space, while simultaneously building really meaningful relationships.
So let me introduce them if I can say their names. We’ll try. Julia Li is a channel partner manager. She manages a portfolio of web channel partners, who help publishers with site monetization, and leads the strategy for growing North America’s apps channel partners business. She’s been at Google for almost six years, working on both the buy side and sell side advertising teams.
In addition to being a partner manager, she is a facilitator for search inside yourself– a two day mindfulness course founded at Google. And a core member of the Greenglers sustainability team in New York. Welcome, Julia, thank you for being here.
JULIA LI: Thank you so much, Jenny. I’m so glad to be here.
JENNY GUY: Glad to have you. All right. Bianca leads the global Google Certified Publishing Partner program which certifies the most trusted partners on Google’s publisher part products. We are also one of those few GCPP.
She is originally from Germany, joined Google in 2012 in Dublin, Ireland. And in her previous roles, managed teams and programs that supported Google Ads customers. Bianca is also a career guru and an innovation coach at Google and leads innovation workshops for Google’s and NGOs and executives.
Welcome, Bianca. Thank you for being here.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Thanks for having us.
JENNY GUY: We’re so excited to talk about all of the imposter syndrome, but before we go into that and if we have time, we’ll talk about it more at the end. Guys, if you have questions for myself or Bianca or Julia, please put them in the comments. I will make sure we get to them.
But before we get to those topics, I wanted to hear a little bit more about what you do for Google because people might not understand with what I just read in your bios– what your titles mean, and what that means with what they do with their websites every day. So let’s start with Bianca, please.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Yeah, absolutely. And as Jenny mentioned, I lead the Google Certified Publishing Partner Program, very long name, and we call it GCPP. It’s basically a global group of trusted partners that we work with really closely, who in turn work with thousands of publishers globally, such as Mediavine, to help them monetize their content– who are really their trusted advisors.
So I look after everything from the day-to-day program operations, what benefits we offer to our partners, how can we bring publishers and partners together to help them all achieve their goals, and interact with great partners like Mediavine regularly to understand how we can best support them from the Google side of things.
So that’s a little bit of my day-to-day, and as Jenny mentioned, I also do a little bit of internal training and coaching, and I really enjoy that on the side as well.
JENNY GUY: On the side, because her other positions didn’t have enough to offer. Julia, same question to you, please.
JULIA LI: So as Jenny mentioned, I’m a channel partner manager at Google. So what that means is I manage a book of channel partners, Mediavine being one of them. So essentially, my day-to-day looks like ensuring that Mediavine and these other partners are successful from the Google monetization side of things. So helping them with Ad Manager strategies, letting them know about product updates, betas. Sometimes this looks like connecting them with the right teams at Google and putting them in front of the right people to grow their business and their strategy.
So it’s really, really fun. I love working with external partners. It’s great to be able to consult them on their business. And in addition to that, Google has some 20 percent time, as we call it. So like Bianca, I also do some fun things on the side, which is that mindfulness work and also the sustainability work.
JENNY GUY: And we love hearing about all that. We work very closely with Google. We’ve had the opportunity to work with Bianca and Julia. They’ve been guests at our conferences. We’ve been guests at different Google locations with them. It’s been a wonderful relationship, and we are so pleased to have them with us today.
The reason why this all came about is I knew that I wanted to have them speak. They were planning to speak in Baltimore at our conference there, but we all know what happened– it didn’t. But we were so pleased we could get a date on the calendar, talking with the both of them as I’ve had the opportunity to do and get to know them as people.
They were unexpected Google employees and getting into where they did with the business, with ad business, with all of the big words they just said, all the things that they do, was accidental and something they had to learn on the spot. And when we had a conversation talking about it, that was something that is such a valuable skill and a place to develop in the business of blogging. So we’re going to ask about that.
But audience out there listening and watching, how do you overcome imposter syndrome? Have you ever faced it? And how do you overcome it when you feel like everyone else around you is thriving, but you feel stagnant? Drop us a comment and let us know what you think about that.
But ladies, let’s kick things off as we usually do on the show. Now that you’ve told us what you do for Google, let’s start the beginning. Tell us about your backgrounds and education and how all of that led you to Google unexpectedly. And I’ll start with Bianca on that.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: As you mentioned, I think both of us are a little bit unexpected Googlers, we kind of joked about it and called it. And to start with me, I think if you had told me 10 years ago, I’d be sitting in Mountain View today about a mile from the Google campus working for Google, I probably would have just laughed and said that’s a joke.
My way to Google, in a lot of ways, I think, was a little bit serendipitous. As you mentioned, I was born and raised in Germany, and that’s where all my family still is. And I try to go back a couple of times a year, obviously, to see them.
But when I was really young, I fell in love with tennis and played a lot of tennis growing up competitively, nationally, but also internationally. And then over the years, I got some scholarship offers from colleges in the US which at the time– now, I think that’s a lot more common with social media and everything that happens– but at the time, was not something that happened that often. And I saw it, and I was like, this sounds really fun. I could move to the US, how amazing. I’d never been.
That’s the caveat. I’d never been to the US. My parents were not as excited. That’s probably pretty obvious, very far away for them. And yeah, I decided I’d do that and give it a try and see how it works out for me. Ended up in Boise, Idaho of all places. Played division one tennis there. I had a great time on a fantastic, very international team for my four years doing my bachelors.
And I did that in international business and marketing and traveled a lot. Saw a lot of the US. But also, I struggled with juggling school and being a student athlete. And you’d often see me running across the campus being late for class or trying to make it in time.
But I think a really good experience there in terms of learning how to be organized– which is a huge part of my job now– learning how to juggle a lot of different things at once. And as my bachelors was coming to an end, another like very serendipitous and unexpected moment, I had a conversation with my academic advisor at the time, who said to me, what are you going to do?
I was like, I don’t really know. Maybe, I’ll just go home and figure it out? And she said, well, I’m actually looking for a new grad assistant, and I think you’d be great.
And she was the head of the center for creativity and innovation at the time. And I said, OK, so what? She was like, I think you should apply.
And I applied and ended up getting that position so I stayed for another two years. I did an early career MBA, also at Boise State. I worked with her really closely on a lot of her research, which today, I’m still holding workshops in on that topic.
So I learned a ton from her. It was a really cool experience. And then after that was done, I was like, well, I think I’m ready to be closer to home. I’ve been away for six years. I moved back to Europe, I was thinking I’ll enjoy the Summer and then look for a job. I got connected with an old friend of mine, from elementary school of all places, in Germany. And he had just started at Google. So very small world.
And he was like, Oh, it’s really fun, and I’m in Dublin. It’s a great office, great place to work. You should think about applying.
And initially, I was like, yeah, Google doesn’t really hire people like me. Why should I even apply? I ended up applying because he encouraged me to do so. I got an interview in Dublin, flew out. I had never been, and I got the job. I decided to move. Just said, OK, I guess I’m moving to Dublin. I’ll take that opportunity. And I moved. And yeah, then spent my first five years in Google in Dublin, and then I moved over here to Mountain View about three years ago.
So you can see the trend there. It was all a little bit accidental and just happened on the fly. And I was ready to take on a new opportunity when it came along. And I’m very glad I did. Super thankful for, I think, a lot of the opportunities I’ve had along the way. And I’m super excited to be here now.
JENNY GUY: Brenda actually said something that I thought was a great comment that I wanted to read aloud. She said, “I suffer from imposter syndrome way too much. I think it’s easy to fall into when you’re a food blogger because there always seems to be someone else doing it better,” end quotes. Which I think is something, can happen everywhere. And is that something you’ve experienced in your career life, Bianca?
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: For sure. And to be honest with you, it’s something that I’ve definitely struggled with early in my career and coming into, as you said, an industry that I had no experience in that I was thrown into and was learning on the fly. And I think from there, a lot of imposter syndrome tends to happen– to really think about like are there other people who are doing this better than me? How can I be competitive?
And I think especially in the food blogging space. I absolutely see that. There’s a lot out there. So I think what it comes down to and what I often think about for my own career, is to really understand where your own value is and what you bring to the table because I think every single one of us has so many things we’re bringing to the table individually.
And we’re individuals, so no one else has that exact same thing to offer. So to really think about, what is that? And how can you bring that into situations where maybe you feel that imposter syndrome come up and recognizing that. And thinking about, what am I feeling? And when do I feel that come up? What are the situations?
So you can mentally recognize it for yourself when it happens. And then also, really to think about what are some ways to react to this?
So for example, something that comes to mind for me is when I was first starting in this role that I’m in now, for the GCPP program. I was brand new to the role. I had just started. I was told that I had to organize a global summit that we actually have every year that Mediavine always joins.
And at the time, I was not very familiar with programmatic advertising. I was told, oh, you have to present on stage twice. I was like, in front of a c-level audience? They know a lot more than I do. I don’t have much to contribute here.
So I talked to one of my mentors, and I mentioned this to her. And I said, I just don’t think I have anything to say or to contribute here. And she came around and said, well, look at it from a different perspective. There’s a reason you’re here. There’s a reason you were hired. There’s a lot you bring to the table. You might not have that knowledge, but you might have a lot of new perspectives or you might have great insights or a pair of fresh eyes even that you’re bringing in.
So think about what you are actually bringing to the table versus maybe what you’re lacking. And focus on that and have that confidence that there’s something for everybody else to learn from. And I think that really helped me look at it a little bit differently and think about how you can overcome some of that imposter syndrome when you can feel it creep up, I guess.
And really settle yourself and say, what am I bringing? What are my strengths, and how can I convert that into a meaningful contribution to something I’m working on?
JENNY GUY: So Julia, same question to you that I had asked Bianca before. Talk with us a little bit about your background and your education and how all of that led you unexpectedly to Google.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Sure, yeah. I’m glad to be back. I’m not sure what happened there, but this is where mindfulness comes in.
JENNY GUY: Yes. Calm.
JULIA LI: So a little bit about my story, and how I ended up at Google. I never expected to work for a tech company and honestly, never really considered myself a technical person either. So what happened was I went to college at USC University of Southern California LA. And I studied neuroscience and business in college.
So neuroscience was honestly just something that sounded really cool and was really interesting. So I didn’t really study that.
JENNY GUY: It does. It sounds very cool.
JULIA LI: I didn’t study that for honestly any practical reason other than the fact that I wanted to learn about this. And then business was the more practical one. So after college, I thought that I would just get a job in consulting or something like that. That’s pretty standard. And at the same time, this is also when I started learning about mindfulness through that neuroscience route and learning about the changes that can happen in your brain.
And it was in discovering a personal practice of mindfulness that I realized, wow, this is really life changing. And it just made a huge difference in my quality of life– how I was approaching the world. And I just thought, everyone needs to know this. And it was also at the time that mindfulness was starting to take off in the business space.
And so companies were starting to recognize the value of this for their employees. So one day I was reading this Time magazine article, and it was about mindfulness in the workplace and it referenced this program at Google called, Search Inside Yourself.
So at the time this was a three-day program, it was developed in-house by someone at Google. He made the program. His official title became Jolly Good Fellow, which I just thought was hilarious.
And it was so cool. I realized that there was this company out there that recognized the value of this practice and then created this program for its employees and then gave them three days paid time off essentially, to take it. And was really investing in its people.
So that was honestly the first time I had really thought about Google seriously, but I was just like, oh my gosh, that’s amazing that there’s a company out there like that. I have to work for a company like Google because I never thought I’d actually get in, and I never really saw how I would fit in.
So I actually ended up, after college, I did go work for a healthcare consulting company which sort of was related to my path. And it was also through a mutual friend, where they were already working at Google, I ended up getting referred to a couple positions through them. So I went through this actually crazy interview process of 15 interviews it was for multiple roles. It’s not normal.
JENNY GUY: How many interviews did you go through?
JULIA LI: I went through 15 interviews, yeah. It was for four different roles. So I always joked, by the time I actually got into Google, I probably had an application packet like this thick and they probably just thought, let this girl in.
So that’s how I ended up at Google, and I started out on the Google advertising team. And I think my point here is that for me, this was my foot in the door in this really cool company, but it’s because of the values of Google that really drew me here. And it was those shared values that resulted in me, I guess, having the resilience to go through all of those interviews and really wanting to work for this company.
So that’s also how I ended up in tech sort of through the serendipitous roundabout way.
JENNY GUY: You ended up in tech through mindfulness really through neuroscience and mindfulness, which is a very circuitous but also, awesome and unique way. I think that 15 interviews, no one will ever complain again, around me that they had an arduous onboarding hiring process. That’s insane but really awesome. And I’m sure the mindfulness had to come in to play when you were going through all that.
And I want to say, a lot of times I hear people say they are successful when they don’t want it so much. When they think something is a long shot or not possible, they don’t go in with as much pressure. But I can’t imagine that after 15 interviews, you did not– during that process– convert into this has got to happen. I’ve got to make happen. This is too much time. I’m going to make this through. It’s so hard.
JULIA LI: It’s sunk costs at that point. So you’re like I already did all this work. I’m definitely sneaking through, to the end.
JENNY GUY: Yes, of course. We’re very glad that it all worked out. We had a comment here from Chef Dennis, he said, “I often feel I have imposter syndrome, but I’m the imposter playing a very successful food blogger. It sometimes feels surreal to be doing as well as I am.”
And Brenda said, “I totally get this. Especially, when I talk to friends in real life who are miserable in their jobs and I’m not.” That’s an interesting perspective and something difficult. You guys made your dreams come true essentially.
A lot of our publishers are in that circumstance. And so it has to feel different, and you took a chance. So same with our guests today, bottom line you both ended up in highly coveted positions, in an industry of programmatic advertising, which you knew nothing about. You did not go to school for programmatic advertising. Neither of you went to school for tech.
So how did you walk in knowing nothing, especially, at some of those tables and those meetings that you walked into, and not just be terrified that you were going to screw up in front of the people who created the industry? I think that even just the words that you’re going to say. Can I ask a question in a way that doesn’t make me sound like, I have no idea what I’m talking about? Is that even possible?
So I would love to hear more about this from both of you, and we’ll start with Bianca here too.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: And I think it’s honestly, it’s something that I’ve thought about a lot, but you can’t just solve it once. I feel like we all struggle with this throughout our lives and career, whether that is personal or in a job-related function.
I think it’s that feeling of not being enough or not having anything to say. I think that comes back frequently, and I can absolutely relate to that. I think it’s really a continuous process of really understanding what triggers that for you, I think.
And then that’s something that I’ve been trying to do more so. And when you get into these situations, how can you make yourself feel comfortable? What is that? Is it asking some questions? Is it building a personal connection with some of these folks that are in there? And really understanding, as I said earlier, going back to this, where is your value, and what are you bringing to the table? And be really confident in that because I think there are things that we all know and that we can bring.
And there’s a lot of things we don’t know. And there’s so much out there that none of us will ever know everything. So it’s totally fair to admit things that you are not comfortable with, and you do not know, and learn and be open to that learning process as well, and the opportunity when it comes up.
So I think that’s something I’ve always tried to do is really being humble with things I don’t know and trying to bring in previous experience to then say– this is how I’ve experienced this before in the context that I’m familiar with, how does that fit into maybe the current context, or what we’re talking about here– And that often starts that process of learning, understanding, and listening.
I think it’s so important to really being open to listen and receive feedback and just take in the information that you’re receiving there. So I think those are some of the areas that I’ve been working on for myself.
JENNY GUY: I love hearing that. And putting it in a different context is not coming in defensive, not focusing on deficits. Because when you’re coming in defensive and feeling like you’re already on the back foot, you’re not going to be open. It’s going to make everything coming at you feel like an attack and feel like, they know that I’m not supposed to be here. They know. They’re trying to prove it. They’re making me look bad. That’s what’s happening.
And in shifting that mindset, and probably having to do it repeatedly, it’s not enough to just say it one time, one day, and go, oh, now, I’m not going to think of this defensibly anymore.
It’s a continuous process of saying, I’m coming in ready to receive. And I think that that’s something that we have to remind ourselves daily. I put Post-it notes on my laptop sometimes when I need to be reminded of things that I need to look at throughout the day.
Anyway, Julia, same question to you. How did you handle that coming in from neuroscience and business to advertising at Google?
JULIA LI: I definitely had a really intimidating start to that. So I started out just consulting small mom and pop advertising businesses. Just someone running their own small business and then looking for Google Ad strategies. But then nine months later, I moved into consulting advertising agencies.
And so at this point, I was still fairly fresh out of college and walking into the room with these CEOs who had been in the industry for decades. Some of them, probably before I’d been born which sometimes they would remind me of, and trying to consult them on their businesses, these multi-million dollar companies– and so definitely super, super intimidating.
And I remember one piece of advice that one of my mentors gave me, which I still think about to this day, which they said, you don’t have to be an expert in everything, and you won’t be an expert in everything. But your job here is to be an expert in Google products. So what you need to do is make sure that you’re learning our products to the best of your abilities so that you can match whatever it is they need for their businesses to the services that we can provide.
So I think that took a lot of weight off of my shoulders in thinking I had to be this, essentially, know-it-all about anything that could impact their business and walk in with that attitude that Bianca referenced– which is really just staying humble and being open to learning and asking them questions and showing that curiosity engagement to say, what is it that you really care about? What do your customers care about? What are the trends in the industry that are affecting you? And then coming back and thinking, OK, what do I know about Google and potentially, what can I bring to the table from there?
And I still do this a lot of times. I would say, even with Mediavine, in our conversations I ask them a lot like, what’s going on in the industry? What our publishers are asking about? Because that helps me have a better understanding as well of what our products are doing and the impacts that they’re having on clients.
But I also really want to address the comment that your viewers left because I think it’s such a good comment. This idea that on the outside it looks like that we have everything together, we’re running these successful businesses like the super successful food blogger– there’s no way I should still have imposter syndrome. But I think one thing with imposter syndrome to really remember is that it never goes away as Bianca mentioned.
And especially if you are doing something that you care passionately about, if you are pushing yourself to get to the next level, you’re always going to be coming up against imposter syndrome. In dealing with imposter syndrome, the goal is not to make it go away and to think once I achieve X, Y, Z, I won’t have to deal with that anymore, but rather in dealing with it skillfully as it continues to come up throughout the course of your life essentially forever.
And part of dealing with that skillfully, to something I’ve been working on is, really like engaging with that inner critic in my mind instead of trying to push her away or shut her down. So when she’s telling me like, you’re not doing enough in this project, or you’re doing this task way too slowly, or just other people are doing way more than you, I’ve been practicing saying, thank you to that voice and saying, thank you for showing me what I care about.
Because when she’s saying, you’re not doing this project fast enough, I can say, thank you for showing me that I care about efficiency. If it’s, you are not doing as much as the rest of your teammates. It’s, thank you for showing me that I want to be a good team, and I don’t want to let anyone down.
And then when I’m able to respond more in that way, then it gives me that space because at the end of the day imposter syndrome is honestly just this thought that creeps up in your mind. And it’s really just a false belief that we believe to be true. And so if we can almost respond to that voice in a way and have a conversation with it, then we get a little bit more perspective. And we start to realize like, OK, this isn’t the truth. This is just something that the little me part of my brain is telling me, but I can do something about it.
JENNY GUY: I love that talking back to your input, but not just engaging it in conversation, not just shutting it down. Because I think a lot of times that’s the response is to clamp it, to stop it in its tracks, to make it go away, to shove it out. And I’m sure there are moments when you do have to do that when you’re getting ready to go present to a room of people and imposter syndrome is screaming in your ear, and you’re like, no, I don’t have time to engage with you right now. So maybe after the meeting when I present. We can talk about that later– but getting in the habit of engaging it.
The other thing I was thinking about that was so interesting, how it’s a lifelong battle with imposter syndrome. If you’re not having imposter syndrome, you’re stagnating. You’re not growing. You’re not pushing yourself. You’re not finding yourself in these new rooms and these new opportunities.
So it’s a good thing when you’re experiencing imposter syndrome because it means you’re pushing yourself and finding new ground, uncharted territory. I love that. Dennis said, everyone has something they can teach you, even if sometimes it’s what not to do.
JULIA LI: Yes, that’s great.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, Julia, you just gave me an idea there too. As you were talking about like imposter syndrome and listening to your inner voice. But also addressing those comments to say, I feel like I am very successful, but maybe I don’t want to brag.
There’s actually a really cool initiative that Google has, and that’s internally, but also available externally. It’s called, I am Remarkable. And it’s basically a program that supports women and also, underrepresented groups and really anyone to openly speak about their accomplishments. Because I think we’re all, in some way, lacking a little bit and maybe not confident enough to say, I am remarkable because I did X, Y, Z and really openly expressing that. Whether it comes to performance conversation, selling yourself, maybe in an interview, or talking to folks who you believe are superior to you in some way.
So I think that’s a really interesting one to look into for anyone who’s interested. It’s available. It’s a lot of material available externally. I actually looked at the numbers. It’s 140,000 people who’ve gone through this course, and that is around the world. So really, really impactful.
Julia and I both took it. I thought it was life changing to really think about– what are my accomplishments, what am I proud of– and expressing that in front of an audience. And thinking about how you could do that regularly for yourself to make it feel more natural without feeling like you’re bragging, or like you’re talking yourself up.
And we all should do that more often because I think it helps defeat that inner critic a little bit as well if we regularly practice that for ourselves.
JULIA LI: Yeah, really this piece of owning your story, which is something Bianca and I have talked about a lot. And one of the things that they say in I am Remarkable is, it’s not bragging if it’s facts. So if it’s something that you truly did, and there’s numbers there, and you did that, like that’s not bragging. So that was really, really powerful for me in understanding and owning my accomplishments and the things I’ve done.
JENNY GUY: Love that. I love hearing that. It’s not bragging if it’s facts. I want that quilted on a sampler or on a pillow, something hanging up in my room, my office, I love that.
JULIA LI: It’s a great mantra.
JENNY GUY: Beautiful. Amber said, that’s a great point Julia. If we’re pushing forward into new and uncharted territory, we’re opening ourselves up to that feeling of not knowing what we’re doing because we don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re going to fail.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Sorry, one last piece to add. I think even talking about failure, I think that’s another piece that many of us often have in the back of our minds is, what if I fail? What if this doesn’t work out?
And I think we need to give ourselves a little bit of that permission to fail. That comes back from my innovation background and talking about that a lot. It’s so important sometimes, for us to fail because there’s learnings. And we can understand why we fell short, or maybe why we didn’t care about something, and which path we should go on next, or what we should try.
And I think the failing aspects of life is something that we often look at from a negative angle. But there’s so much opportunity in it that if we take advantage of it and give ourselves permission to fail, I think that’s a powerful thing to do.
JENNY GUY: In addition, it gives us a perspective and an empathy when engaging with other human beings that there is failure. Even if you’re succeeding now, you know you’ve been failing before. So there’s both sides of that coin in that dichotomy to be a well-rounded human being.
I love this conversation. This is going great. So just to drill down a little more specifically, any strategies when we’re specifically talking to people that we feel have an expertise that we don’t have? For instance, if you’re a website owner and you’re talking to your hosting company, and you’re discussing a specific tech specs. Or you’re talking about managed hosting versus unmanaged hosting. Or you’re talking to your designer, and you’re discussing specific design choices that you don’t know anything about. Do you have any pieces of advice or strategies for asking questions that help you not sound ignorant? And we’ll start with Julia on this one.
JULIA LI: Yeah, sure. Great question. And I think it echoes the earlier point that we mentioned, which is leaning on what you do know and then being willing to learn about what you don’t. So I think, for example, as a blogger if you’re working with someone that’s helping you with your website specs, you know what your website should look like. You know that goal that you’re trying to achieve, the overall layout of it. You know what your audience is going to want. You probably have this vision in your mind of what it is, what you want the end state to look like. And then you’ve hired this person to help you get there.
And so it’s you’re walking into this room already knowing all of that, and now, you’re leaning on this expert’s advice. And so I think maybe asking any questions in a way, where it’s, hey, like, here’s what I’m trying to achieve. I want X,Y, and Z. And how do you think I can get there based on your expertise? Because then it also makes that other person like understand that they’re there to help you.
JENNY GUY: Empowering them. Giving them what people are saying, I am leaning on you. I am relying on what you know.
JULIA LI: And again, you don’t have to learn everything that they already know. Maybe if you wanted to learn a bit on your own, just the vocabulary or the basics of it to help you feel a little bit more comfortable in that conversation that can potentially help as well. But there’s no need to be on their level just to have that conversation with them.
JENNY GUY: I love that. I love leaning on what you know and coming in and then just relying on their expertise which you’re paying them for. So coming in, but nobody knows your site like you do, obviously, there’s no way. You know that you own that knowledge. Bianca, same question to you.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: I think, great point by Julia to really understand what you want to achieve in that conversation and then how they can support you. I think, I would definitely second that.
And I think another way to think about this, I briefly touched on this earlier, is to really think about some of the experience that you have. And whether that is with your users, whether that is with previous hosting companies that you’ve worked with, and bringing that in and saying, based on my previous experience X,Y, Z has happened. Or maybe, this has been a concern.
And then asking questions related to that and really showing them that you have thought about it beforehand.
And whether that is in the exact same language that they’re using, is not even that relevant. I think it’s more so showing that you’re invested in it, and that you trust them and their opinion as an expert to support you on that.
JENNY GUY: I love that. And I love relying on past experience and not necessarily expecting– I don’t think that your designer would expect you to come in fully as a designer with all of the correct terminology. They’re not going to care if your site is drawn on a napkin. That’s your vision.
They don’t have to speak the same language. You don’t have to feel at a disadvantage to accomplish– you know what you know. I love that.
Amber said, yes, failure is OK. Failure is how we learn. Dennis mentioned Disney. I always point out that Mickey Mouse wouldn’t exist if Walt hadn’t failed and lost Oswald the rabbit. Can we imagine life without Mickey Mouse? Heck no.
Dennis came in and said my philosophy is, if no one saw it but me, I didn’t fail, and I try again. And Noreen Rogers said, I think we should all look at failure as a positive rather than a negative. We know for a fact that most successful people have failed at one point or another. It’s such a great learning tool towards reaching your goals. This such a great conversation, loving it.
We love that you’re here, Noreen. Thank you.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: That’s great. And I think on the failure part, something that is really interesting, when I lead a lot of the innovation workshops internally or also externally, I use it for NGOs or executives, we often talk about failure and how often companies actually fail but then come back and end up with a much better product. Or how the cycle of failure and failing really early, actually leads to a lot more successes.
So there’s been a lot of research that’s shown that the earlier you fail, and the more often you fail, the more successes you actually have as a result. So I think it’s something to think about. And it’s a little bit of that mindset shift to say, it’s, OK, to fail. I’ll learn a ton from it. And I’ll be a lot more successful down the line because I have a lot of these learnings that I can apply.
So I absolutely agree with that comment. Great, great insights.
JENNY GUY: I’ll say something that Amber always says to me. She’s my boss here. She always says, the only people who aren’t making mistakes are the people who aren’t trying.
And I think that that’s very true. When you’re staying safe and not making movements and not trying to do anything new, it’s easy to be very safe in your choices and in your decisions, and you don’t make mistakes. You also don’t go anywhere or grow.
All right, this is naturally going to segue into the larger topic of imposter syndrome, which as we’ve talked about already, we all experience from time to time. Sometimes more time, sometimes less times.
But how has imposter syndrome played a role in each of your lives and careers? And we’ve gone a little bit into this, but I’d love to hear more detail on how this has manifested itself in your lives, and how you’re actively overcoming it to this day. And I’ll start with Julia on this one.
JULIA LI: Let’s see, there’s so much to talk about here. It’s like, where do I want to start?
JENNY GUY: It’s a big topic.
JULIA LI: Well, I think to bring up something that Bianca mentioned earlier. Noticing where your triggers are for imposter syndrome. Because I don’t think it’s there all the time every day. Some days I have really good days. I’m like, yeah, I got this. And some days it’s like, oh my god, I have no idea what I’m doing.
So knowing where your triggers are and just then that allows you to be on the lookout for it. So that instead of– again, that critic sneaking in, and then you’re like, I’m believing everything that it’s saying. You’re like, oh, no, my inner critic is showing up because of this situation that I’m in.
And so for me, one thing that I’ve noticed is Google has these biannual performance review cycles, and so it’s always when we get to that performance review cycle time that my imposter syndrome starts kicking in extra because you know that you’re being compared to other people. And you’re like, oh my god, what have I really done over the past six months? I don’t know.
And so again, just recognizing, OK, this situation is causing my imposter syndrome to come up. Sort of like the, I am Remarkable things. Writing down your accomplishments, I think that helps. So over the course of the six months, what I’m writing down– this is what I’ve done. Here are the milestones that I’ve achieved– and then when you look at that list that’s a very actionable way of accounting for that.
I think one other way that imposter syndrome shows up is that when we’re scared to fail, and when we’re scared to feel like a failure, it can stop us from acting. And so it puts us into this freeze state. And so one way to get over imposter syndrome is simply to do something.
So there’s this concept that we have, where we think that we have to feel emotionally inspired, and then we feel motivated, and then we act. And the issue is that imposter syndrome prevents you from feeling emotionally inspired. We actually start with acting, and then we feel emotionally inspired, and then we continue to feel motivated.
And the reason for that is because we have more control over our actions than we do actually over our emotional states or our thoughts. So that’s something that I come back to a lot where if I want to do something, and I’m feeling really scared, and I feel like I can’t do it, then the thing to do is just to take that first step.
So one example of this, that’s come up recently is last year I really wanted to start writing a sustainability newsletter at Google because I was learning a lot about it. And I was like, this is something I want to learn about, and I think there is a way for others to learn through this as well.
I wouldn’t consider myself a good writer. I’m really not that good at writing, and so that was stopping me for a really long time until I finally was like, I’m just going to launch this. I just have to start. I talked to a couple people, got their advice, and I was like, I just have to start.
And so I’ve been doing this for almost a year. And each newsletter I write takes me a really long time, but at the end I feel so proud. And I always think of that, and I’m like, OK, because I’m acting, I’m then feeling emotionally inspired.
And then this year for three months, it started in July, I was like I’ll take a week off for 4th of July, it’s the holidays. And then I just didn’t do it the week after, and I didn’t do the week after. And it turned into three months of where I just completely fell off writing this. And so my imposter syndrome really kicked in.
I was like, I’m a failure. I can’t even keep up with my own projects and all of that. And I just wondered like, when am I am I ever going to do this? Or did it just disappear for forever? And so three months went by, and eventually, I was like, OK, I’m just going to write another newsletter.
And I was wondering what to write about, and I ended up writing about imposter syndrome, actually, and how it applies. Not imposter syndrome directly, but a little bit of just like fatigue, and how that applies to your sustainability work, and all of your work, and just about picking yourself back up and starting over again.
And actually, it was the most responses I’ve ever gotten on a newsletter, which I was surprised about. So I think it just goes to show that everyone experiences this. We think it’s always just a thing that we have in our own head. But when we’re able to talk about it openly with other people, it reminds you that you’re not alone and reminds other people that they’re not alone.
And so that’s been a huge piece in dealing with imposter syndrome too was like leaning on that community piece. Leaning on your community to have a safe space to discuss this. And then also, your community– when you really feel like, I don’t know what I’ve done, and I feel like an imposter– maybe having someone else there who could lift you back up and remind you of all the reasons why you are amazing, and you deserve to be here, and you totally are doing a great job.
JENNY GUY: I love everything you just said. I’m going to get a Post-it, Julia, about that. You feel like you need to feel motivated in order to do something, but that’s not true. Doing something will motivate you.
And I think that so often in life where we wait for the perfect time, or we wait to feel like we’re going to do something– we need to do something before we do it. That’s not a thing that happens. There is no perfect time. There is no perfect scenario that’s going to come together. And that can just freeze us.
There’s never a good time, and that’s something I love. I love all of what you said. And the same thing to you. Bianca, same question to you.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: I was just thinking, as Julia was mentioning that support system that’s so important, I feel like that’s something that has always played a very important role in my life when it came to imposter syndrome. It’s so important, I think, to have almost like a group of “cheerleaders,” I’ll just call it, who are there and who remind you and say, you’re actually pretty awesome. You have a lot of things going for you. Encourage you. Lift you up. And really are there in those moments when imposter syndrome creeps up, and you really feel like, this is something I need to do.
And actually something that I was just thinking about as Julia and I were, obviously, in touch with all of you about this talk. We had a few moments where we’re going back and forth, should we really do this? Do we have anything to say? Do people actually care?
And then as we were talking about some of these topics, we’re like, we have some stories to share, and I think it’s something that’s not being talked about enough, so let’s do that. And we encouraged each other to do this and to say, yeah, let’s join, and let’s put this together.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Oh, sorry go ahead.
JULIA LI: Well, it was just funny because the way that it was happening for Bianca and I, is you guys asked us to do this talk. And I was like, I really don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t think I have anything to say. I don’t know. I don’t think I want to do it.
And Bianca said, no, no, let’s do it. I think this will be great. And I really believed in Bianca, so I was like, OK, she thinks we can do it, let’s definitely do it.
And then it was a couple weeks later when we were preparing for the talk, and Bianca was having one of those days. She was like, I don’t feel like I have anything to say. I’m so tired today. All this stuff.
And I was like, no, no, Bianca. You have a lot to say. And so it’s really great to see that support go both ways, and that’s how a community should work. It’s been a fun learning experience for us, living this, in this process of preparing for this talk.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Absolutely. And I think in the day-to-day of work as well, I was recently reminded by one of my mentors, actually, of a situation where that happened. Where I was basically putting myself forward, which is not something that any of us like to do for a project. And in the conversation, the person who was in charge of this, basically said, I don’t know if you have the right qualifications or the right experience. So maybe we can do this at a later point in time.
And in my head I was thinking, I guess I have a little bit of this in terms of experience. But maybe that person is right, and I just need to sit on this for a little bit and get some more experience. And I left that room. And like an hour later, I was really mad at myself because I was like, why didn’t I stand up and say, hey, I actually have experience X, Y, Z. I think I could make an impact here.
And I talked to one of my mentors about it. And they were saying, but you have all of this. Why didn’t you say anything? I was like, I just froze. I feel like I just said, OK, that’s fine. Maybe I don’t have that, and that’s OK.
And my mentor actually encouraged me to go back, and they said, you need to set up a meeting with that person, and you need to go back and say, I kind of froze. I should have said that I have experience in these things.
And that was before my current role. So they actually didn’t know that. They had no way of knowing that I had that experience. And so I went back, had that conversation. It’s a really awkward thing to do, but I was so glad afterwards that I had somebody who encouraged me to do that and said, you need to go back. You did not represent yourself correctly here and let that person know that you thought about this.
And I think those people are so key– to find them and to have them lift you up when you need it.
JENNY GUY: Definitely, I think that that’s one of the most beautiful things about having a team and building a team and having a team at work. And then a personal team that when one of you is having a struggle-bus day, another person can be off the struggle bus and pull you with them into a different place, into a different mindset. As long as you can do that for each other, I think that that is such a huge, huge asset in your life and in your career.
Ben, he said, it’s important to know that despite our weaknesses and failures, we can still do good things. No one is perfect. We’re all trying to improve.
All true. So talking about needing to be picked back up. Speaking of that topic, I think that 2020 has been a doozy for everyone, literally everyone. No one escaped unscathed from 2020’s impact. It’s hit everyone in different ways. Some definitely more harshly than others. But for sure, everyone has had to do some pivoting in 2020.
And I would love to hear from both of you, how you might be experiencing some need to redirect, some need to pivot. What have you learned throughout this very bizarre singular year? I will start with Bianca.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: It’s a doozy is probably a really good way to put this, Jenny. I think, it’s been definitely an interesting year. I don’t think anybody expected this. We were just talking about this before we went live. The three of us were sitting in Dublin, in early February, before all the lockdowns happened at a conference. And we had some drinks, and we’re having fun. And about two weeks later, the world shut down which is fascinating to me to think back to that time.
And I think over the course of this year, one of the realizations that I had, and this is more of a recent development, actually, for myself that I acknowledge that is, I need to give myself some permission to just not always do anything.
I think during this time now, there’s so much pressure to compare yourself with others. And like, oh, this person is starting a new business, or this person is remodeling their house, or they’re getting a degree, or whatever it is– because people have more time or have more time on their hands, especially during the lockdown.
And it’s, I think, OK for all of us to also say, there’s a lot going on right now. I don’t always need to be on the go. It’s a lot to take in. For example, I travel a lot for work, and I’m missing that. And it’s thrown off my routine. And I’m at home all the time, which is also great, but it’s very different.
And so I decided for myself in the last few weeks, I need to give myself permission to just take it in, deal with what I have on my plate, whether that’s work, whether that’s personal, and then if I want to do anything else that’s great, and I can do it.
But I don’t have to feel that constant pressure of just because things may have slowed down in some areas, or we can’t do as much in our personal time, I need to pick up new hobbies and do all of these things. Because I think the world is a crazy place, and it’s a lot to take in and process. And it’s OK to do that.
JENNY GUY: It’s OK that you didn’t learn the ukulele over this time.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: There we go.
JENNY GUY: That’s fine. It was not a prerequisite for your 2020 goals to pick up an instrument. That’s OK.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Correct.
JENNY GUY: New question to you, Julia.
JULIA LI: I love that. Not a prerequisite for your 2020 goals because any prerequisites that were there just thrown out the window.
JENNY GUY: It’s the truth. We were talking about how– I was sitting in Heathrow, discussing, what’s that weird, what’s that thing called? It’s called Coronavirus. It’s what?
And that was at the end of January, beginning February. I did not know that it would become the most said word, the most in everyone’s common parlance. That’s all we talk about. So who knew. Same question to you, Julia. How has your year been, and what have you potentially learned?
JULIA LI: I think one thing that 2020 has taught me to be more comfortable with is this idea of uncertainty and not having everything planned out. Because I had this whole life plan that was like starting at the end of 2021. I was like, well, I’m going to go travel the world for a year. Then I’m going to go to grad school. And then I’m going to find another job and all this.
And now, I’m like, I don’t know if I can travel in 2021. I don’t know if I want to go to grad school, especially in a virtual environment. And it just went out the window and like even on a minor scale, we were supposed to go to Japan in September this year. I was so excited. First international vacation in a while, and that obviously didn’t happen.
And so it’s just asking you to then reconsider what can you do in the face of this uncertainty? And I always think of that metaphor, if one door is closing then the other is opening. It’s a little bit cheesy, but in the Japan example, because we couldn’t go to Japan for two weeks, we just took a week off and camped in upstate New York, which is something that I never would have done without that time off. But really just exploring our beautiful backyard here. That was amazing.
And it’s similar to my approach to imposter syndrome, but this idea of like, how could you make uncertainty your friend instead of your enemy? And so I’ve really been working on celebrating this idea of uncertainty because if you don’t know what’s coming next, then anything that comes up is a surprise. And so there’s a ton of opportunity there. And so there might be some really exciting things that come out of that we just have no idea.
So that’s been one, my little saying here is around, I celebrate uncertainty. And so I just try and remind myself of that. And then, I think the second thing has taught me just to be really grateful for the little things. And I think it’s taught a lot of people this over quarantine.
I think I saw something the other day, was like a funny joke where it said, thank god quarantine happened in 2020 and we had Netflix instead of in 1999 where we just had to play snake on a T-Mobile or something.
So it’s the little–
JENNY GUY: We would have all died of sourdough bread consumption had there not been anything to defer. There was enough sourdough bread. God.
JULIA LI: So you know all these things we take for granted like the roof over a head or just having a job or having earnings or having more time with our family and friends that before we didn’t. So to Bianca’s point like slowing down and then just being grateful for that free time and for all of the little things that make up your quality of life. Are the main things for me out of 2020.
JENNY GUY: I think those are all fantastic, and we are almost out of time, which is a real bummer because I could keep talking to you guys all day and learning from you. But I want to close like we always do with action items.
And I would love for each of you to give two or three.
They can relate to overcoming imposter syndrome or turning disappointments or critiques into teachable moments, community building, or really anything else that you think our audience would benefit from. And if I could start with Bianca.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: I think going back to, this goes way back to the beginning of the talk, I think, the serendipitous moments for me is really one of these things that I keep reflecting on in my personal life. And I think it’s almost having this attitude of not planning everything out, and being open that when these moments and opportunities come up, to just say, hey, this is kind of cool. I’m just going to do this. Maybe this wasn’t my plan– kind of to what Julia just said too– but I’m going to take advantage of this.
And I think, I’m personally, I’m somebody who plans a lot. It’s part of my role. It’s part of my job. So in my personal life too, I plan. And I feel like the moments where I maybe was a little bit more open to those serendipitous moments and didn’t stick to my defined plan, were actually the ones that defined my life the most.
And that really brought me to where I am today. And I think that’s one thing. My husband is not a planner, so he’s actually been a really good influence on me that he always says, you don’t need to plan this. Just go with the flow. And so I think like we complement each other very well on that front. I’m learning a lot. And I think that’s one piece. And especially in the time that we live in, so important.
I think the other piece is going back to having that trusted group of people around you to encourage you– we talked a good amount about that I think– who know your strengths, where you can be vulnerable, but that also can lift you up, and they can encourage you to really see you for who you are, and for who they see you as.
Because I think sometimes we have this image in our head of who we are, but once you see it through somebody else’s eyes who is a friend or who admires, you get a very different image of yourself. And sometimes it’s really important that somebody holds up the mirror and says, hey, this is how I see you, and you’re pretty amazing, and you should know that.
And then the last piece, that goes back to my tennis times is being resilient. And that’s something that I’ve carried on throughout my life is when I play tennis, I could lose a match in the morning and maybe an hour or two later, I have to go back on the court, and I’d have to compete.
So you have to really quickly bounce back and say, I’m leaving this behind and going back out and starting over. And that’s something I think that happens to all of us throughout our life. Whether that’s personal or professional, and especially, in today’s environment, having that capability to start over and being open to doing so when you have to– I think is so important.
JENNY GUY: Love that resiliency and a baseball mentality. You struck out, get right back up. Got to do it again. Can’t be thinking about the last one. Love all of that. Same question to you, Julia.
JULIA LI: So I think the first one, and this is around building community and supporting your community. Something I’ve been practicing– on this idea of random acts of kindness. So when I’m having a crappy day, which we know there’s probably been quite a few more of those in 2020, when I’m just feeling really down, or let’s say, even if imposter syndrome is really hitting you one day, practicing this thing called the “random acts of kindness” which is just doing something nice for someone else.
So I think the easiest way is just texting a friend and let them know that you’re thinking of them, especially, in these times. We’re all isolated and separated. Or like getting out for a walk, and I don’t know, smiling with your eyes at a stranger. Or something like that. You’ve got the mask on. Just like doing something small and nice for someone else. And it’s the easiest way to get you out of your own head and remind you that the world is bigger than you. So that’s one.
And then the second thing is actually it’s inspired by this Harvard Business Review article that I recently read, so I would recommend it to anyone. But it’s called, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less that’s based on this book called Essentialism. And essentially, what it talks about is this idea that success can actually lead to failure. And it’s a paradox.
And the reason for that is because when you are really clear on your purpose, it leads you to success. And then when you’re successful, it leads to more opportunities. And when you have more opportunities that you’re pursuing, then it leads to you spreading your efforts over a broad range of things. And then all of these diffute efforts then lead you to undermining that very clarity of purpose that you had in the first place.
And so I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially as I have more control over my work time when I’m working from home. And I think, for anyone else who works for themselves as well, time management is huge. Really being clear about what am I spending my time on, how am I prioritizing my day. And if I’m saying yes to everything, then I’m saying no to something. So what is it that I actually really want to say yes to so that I’m comfortable saying no to these other things.
So this idea of essentialism, really what is that priority that you have? Because if everything is a priority, nothing’s a priority. And then the last one, I think, is just wrapping up everything I said. It’s just getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Making that your friend and welcoming it and just knowing it’s a part of your experience in life.
JENNY GUY: Guys this has been– I just wanted to read a couple comments really quickly. Noreen says, thank you, ladies, for taking the time to do this wonderful Teal Talk, so needed. Brenda says this has been a great conversation. Thank you so much.
They said the words that I would want to say to you. This has been incredible and very inspirational. Something that you can come back and listen to anytime you need a pick me up, when you’re feeling a little bit unmoored as we all have been in 2020. Thank you.
And also thank you for being vulnerable and telling us that even Googlers feel the things that everyone else feels all the time, imposter syndrome and lesser then. So thank you. I’m going to quickly make an announcement.
Guys, this has been wonderful. The next Teal Talk is in two weeks. Thursday, November 5, 3:00 PM Eastern, we have Gee Nonterah coming back of my online biz journey, and The Create and Prosper Show. She’s going to talk about story selling and email marketing. We’re very excited to have her back.
And please like us on Facebook. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. And follow us all of the places, so you don’t have to miss anything or any wonderful conversations like we just had with Julia and Bianca. All right, ladies. Thank you so much. We’re going to sign off.
JULIA LI: Thank you.
BIANCA JOCHIMSEN: Bye.
JENNY GUY: Bye.
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