Shut up Imposter!

I didn’t know there was such a thing as Imposter Syndrome until Wednesday night. I started my 2019 eager to rejoin the Creative London circles, SheSays sent me an email…and Couching sounded good to me -so I attended their first event of the year.

the imposter syndrome

I got to Wieden+Kennedy’s London office and we headed downstairs. I was amazed by the attendance, as we had a full house. Alison Green and Fabiana Xavier, SheSays President, led the talk and here is my summary:

Imposter Syndrome is a phenomenon of self-doubt and lack of self-belief in your accomplishments, as you may assume that they are just down to luck. It is a persistent, internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud” that basically holds you back.

Perfectionism plays a significant role in Imposter Syndrome. You might think this is not the “right time” to do something, you need to be more senior to apply to that role, you need more time to do that project, you need to study more to work on that field, you put off making a phone call because you are not ready yet… Impostor Syndrome comes in all forms and you may procrastinate due to your high standards. Does that sound familiar? Welcome to the Club.

The first step to let your imposter out of the way is to admit it, and reveal it. When we did an exercise visualizing the Imposter, I couldn’t imagine mine as a monster, or a giant – sorry no Sci-fi from my side. The Imposter is just me, a tall Colombian with big glasses sitting in front of me and judging me from the outside… quite friendly though.

The next step is to know that it’s normal. Everybody has felt like that, from the new guy to Michelle Obama. And if you think it will go away as you become senior, bad news. It becomes more prevalent, rather than less.

Unfortunately, this syndrome tends to affect more women than men. We, women, tend to blame failures on our own abilities, and success due to luck. When men fail they tend to blame something else.

Imposters love new events, so every time you make a decision, think of a new project, or do something else, they appear back with its 3 annoying aspects:

  • The sense that someone’s got a view. (Everybody is judging you)
  • Someone is going to realise I’m not good enough at this. (I’m going to fail)
  • If I succeed, it’s just luck. (A bit hard on yourself)
So now it comes the good part and the final step. You can’t deny or destroy it but you can tackle the Imposter.
We don’t feel confident by thinking, only by doing. Take the next step.
It may or may not work, but take the risk.
Be open, curious and playful. Promote your strengths so you don’t lose sight of your goal. You have a unique set of skills, be clear about that.
To yourself, as you will be to somebody else – or even kinder. We tent to be super critical of ourselves.
The moral is: Imposters are self-limiting bastards. Next time you are about to do something and start hearing that voice… “better later, not now, I don’t have the tools, I will wait, not ready yet… What will you say to your Imposter?

How are you, really? By Cannes Lions

I haven’t been networking for ages. While living in London it was so easy to attend all the courses and events at least once a week. Now that I moved to Essex and after having 2 kids, escaping for 3 hours to London requires a “bit” of planning.

Anyway, I made it last week to How are you, really? an event organized by Cannes Lions See it Be it. Unlike most chats, where the speakers tell us about their jobs, case studies and success (and we end up wanting to be like them), this event was focused on us, the audience. I guess the title can tell you that, so let me tell you the rest.

How are you really

Michelle Morgan started with an honest and touching talk sharing her story about the time when she had a burnout. Yes, it can happen to anyone. She is the co-founder of Livity and despite loving her job and working in the industry for many years, one day it suddenly happened. (FYI a burnout is exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress). The talk opened the topic for mental health and depression, in the Q&A more women shared their stories and also advice on how friends and family can help. I must confess my eyes welled up with all the stories but shhhh don’t tell anyone. If you know someone going through difficult times, just be there for them, to make dinner, to change the topic and most importantly to listen. Michelle was wearing pjs, 6pm is maybe is a bit early for them but she was showing us her new venture called PJoys. Confirming that after every storm the sun always shines, and brave people like her get to move on.

Sukhvinder Pabial followed, sharing great advice on how to deal with this s*** . Pardon me! How to deal with all the stress and concerns. Basically by removing ourselves from that situation and thinking of the positive. We spend too much time worrying and don’t give permission to ask ourselves when we had a moment full of joy. I tried to write down some of the exercises so you can join the club.

1. When was the last time you felt vibrant? ____________. What do we mean by vibrant? What made you the happiest person in the world? Gratitude is a very important thing.

2. Can you think of 3 good things that happened to you today? 


Is it difficult to come up with some answers? Maybe as adults, we became too complicated. Kids have no concept of holding back, they reply immediately to this. Lastly, there is more to life than being at home or being at work. People tend to have 2 places where they spend most of his time so

3. Where is your third place?________________. Where are you taking care of yourself? What’s that thing that you do and make you feel rejuvenated? I’m not pretending to be a therapist (I’m quite far from it) but in this article maybe. Just ask yourself the simple questions. Sometimes the greatest answers are those that we are not looking for.

Then we left our seats and started dancing and singing. Yes, we are mad! Blame Dr. Amy Rachelle on stage, sharing her 6-step system for a complete mind, body and spirit workout. If you have 6 minutes a day (which I’m sure you do) use them to power yourself.  Amy remarked on the importance of putting yourself first. We seem to be busy taking care of everybody else, thinking that we have super powers with no need for a break. Although, it’s essential to take that little time to pause, clear your head of thoughts and feelings – recovering your healthy self, instead of letting your body deplete.

Just when I was thinking I was in the perfect yoga retreat, the event took us back to the ad world. Jaki Jo Hannan, Senior Art Producer at AMV BBDO gave a fantastic talk about self-care & love in a fast-paced industry. Starting with a pic of herself with braces in her teens, Jaki Jo opened the door for a conversation about confidence and self care. She shared her own experience with honesty and humour all the way; simple statements such as ‘Sleeping the hours you need, not having sugar at night, taking yourself on a date and writing as a therapy’ became relevant when you see her on stage. She is a spontaneous and thriving woman, having worked her way up from intern to integrated creative Senior Art Producer. Recently she launched EqualLens her 50|50 Photography Ambition creating new and equal opportunities for female photographers in advertising.

We are almost there, so time to breath. That was the last piece of advice by Anthony Abbagnano. How such a simple tool as your breath can be used to transform your life.

That’s it. Time to ask yourself How are you?