The Remedy for Impostor Syndrome: The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

sfI have stage 5 impostor syndrome. Most of us do in some part of our lives. It tends to show up more in my professional life. After doing some research I found out some interesting stuff…. Looks like I’m not alone…..

The “Impostor Phenomenon” was first identified in the late 1970s by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Their researched showed that many high-achieving women tended to believe they were not intelligent and that they were over-evaluated by others.

People who have Impostor Syndrome “experience intense feelings that their achievements are undeserved and that they’re likely to be exposed as a fraud,” according to a report in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

Psychologists first thought that Impostor Syndrome affected only professional women, but research has proved that men and women feel it equally. The profession you’re in doesn’t matter. It’s been found in college kids, academics, managers, and medical workers. Actual success doesn’t matter either.

According to the same report, “anyone can view themselves as an impostor if they fail to internalize their success.” ( Breena Keer,Why 70% of Millennials Have Impostor Syndrome, November,15, 2015)

A quick rundown of how impostor syndrome works. (Thanks Hustle). I’ve found discerning between amateurs and professionals can be helpful. Then, Farnam Street blessed my inbox with a post about that.

  • Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.
  • Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.
  • Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand their circles of competence.
  • Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism.
  • Amateurs value isolated performance. Think about the receiver who catches the ball once on a difficult throw. Professionals value consistency. Can I catch the ball in the same situation 9 times out of 10?
  • Amateurs give up at the first sign of trouble and assume they’re failures. Professionals see failure as part of the path to growth and mastery.
  • Amateurs don’t have any idea what improves the odds of achieving good outcomes. Professionals do.
  • Amateurs show up to practice to have fun. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in games.
  • Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak.
  • Amateurs think knowledge is power. Professionals pass on wisdom and advice.
  • Amateurs focus on being right. Professionals focus on getting the best outcome.
  • Amateurs focus on first-level thinking. Professionals focus on second-level thinking.
  • Amateurs think good outcomes are the result of their brilliance. Professionals understand when outcomes are the result of luck.
  • Amateurs focus on the short term. Professionals focus on the long term.
  • Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better.
  • Amateurs make decisions in committees so there is no one person responsible if things go wrong. Professionals make decisions as individuals and accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs blame others. Professionals accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day.

For me, It comes down to celebrating all successes big and small. Another tactic I will try to make happen more often is understanding that all my successes are connected to a core set of capabilities and skills that allow for long term success. Having a bigger picture view of my capabilities and achievements will help put my impostor syndrome in check.

 

Hoarding 2.0

I have a problem. I’m a digital Hoarder. What does even that mean? Let me try and break it down for you.

I have multiple memory sticks, external hard drives, and cloud storage. They are full of pictures, movies, other videos, music, documents, books, and other random files that I don’t feel like deleting.  

I never delete my email anymore. I archive with the hope they’ll someday be useful. I’m one of those zero inbox folks but I feel like I’m cheating by archiving and not deleting.

I bookmark everything. My Chrome browser most likely has bookmarks all the way back from December 2008. If I see something that want to go back to and I want to remember, I’ll automatically save as a bookmark. Just briefly looking through…. I’ve bookmarked craigslist post that no longer exist, reference pages for hobbies, jobs, and personal projects.

I haven’t even gotten to the two most notorious apps for hoarding behavior. Evernote and Pocket allow me to take still shots of the internet (literally and figuratively speaking.). I’ve used the evernote clipping tool extension to capture posts, images, and quotes I’ll most likely never look at again. I use to go pocket crazy. I’d save an article to pocket with the hope of reading it again but pocketing the article made it more likely I wasn’t going to read it.

I archive all my texts. I rarely delete call logs. I could go on and on.

I would understand if I had similar tendencies offline. Far from it. I keep my physical possessions to a minimum. My minimalist mindset doesn’t translate to my online existence.  

How would I even go correcting my behavior? Is it something which needs to be corrected?  

Content Diet

Your time is extremely valuable. What you choose to read is even more valuable. On my end, I find subscribing to newsletters beneficial to my content diet. I often go for three types of content:

  1. Content that helps you/your company operate better.
  2. Content that helps you understand what others in your industry and sector are thinking.
  3. Content that helps you think more existentially.

Here’s a list of the top 20 newsletters I subscribe to…Its a mix of vc, startup, and randomness. They all do a bit of all three.

  1. CB Insights is a company which leverages data to make sense of private markets. Its like buzzfeed for venture capital/ private equity. I’ve been rocking with them since day one. They have an awesome platform and a great newsletter.
  2. Mattermark is another data company which helps vc/private equity types capture data on the private markets. They have great newsletter content that brings unique editoral perspectives from investors, operators, and policy wonks.
  3. Pitchbook is another data company for private markets. It’s like the Bently of data companies for private markets. They’ve improved their newsletter over time but Pitchbook has always had the most technical perspective on private markets out of the data companies I’m familar with.
  4. First Round Capital, to me, has the best editorial team in the venture capital industry. They bring experts, operators, investors, and other stakeholders to the table and create super informative content for founders. I’ve learned so much from their long posts.
  5. Monday Morning Macro (Y Combinator) Good round up of information on whats going on in YC land and how they are thinking. The venture capital space is like sheep leading sheep and firms Like YC are the lead sheep so its nice to see the things they are pointing out and working on.
  6. StrictlyVC is a newsletters which has its pulse on all things funding and tech. I don’t know why this is on the list.
  7. Tomasz Tunguz is probably one of the brightest VCs in the game. He has great posts about fundraising, growing saas businesses like they are plants waiting to be harvested, and great data insights. He’s brilliant.
  8. Andreesen Horrowitz newsletter has a frontier perspective on industry and emerging technology. Ben and Marc also have interesting blog posts every once in a while with great podcasts. They could do a better job on being consistent but I believe they are busy raising money, closing deals, and supporting thier portfolio companies.
  9. Bothsides of the Table is cool because Mark Suster is an investor and founder so he brings a really interesting perspective on operational experiences but then how to communicate with investors and what he looks for.
  10. Hunter Walk’s 99% Humble, 1% Brag is a blog/newsletter focused on Hunter’s Homebrew Fund. He brings a unique perspective to a ton of things including investment, diversity, his portfolio companies. Hunter is really approachable too. Reach out to him and he’ll most likely respond back.
  11. The Plug is the “difinitive” daily newsletter highlighting the voices of black founders and business leaders in tech news from around the web. One of the few indeed. Also a really good channel to get information out.
  12. Iafrikan Newsletter is one of the still standing technology, investment, and entrepreneur news content in Africa. The are a little spotty with their newsletter but it seems they have great content on their website.
  13. Results Junkies is kept by Paul Singh. We was the MD of 1776, Founder at Disruption Corporation, and was a partner at 500 Startups. He has quick and dirty knowledge nuggets in his newsletters and has a great program where he travels the United States and works on entrepreneurship ecosystems and invests. I definitely would like to do something like this in Africa. Little known fact…. Paul is African. He was born in Kenya.
  14. Term Sheet is more for growth stage deals but is very helpful to know whats getting captial when you’re looking for it.
  15. 500 startups Distrosnack delivers a bite sized blitz scaling guide into your mailbox on a weekly basis. Super helpful
  16. Growthhackers Weekly provides a great curation of top posts from the Growthhackers website. Imagine the thoughts and posts of top “growth hackers” in one newsletter. It’s a treasure trove of tips and resources.
  17. Community.is Great Newsletter about building community. You won’t regret joinging this newsletter list. A lot of product, marketing and great community driven content.
  18. Stratechery I don’t pay for much but when I do, I pay for Stratechery daily updates from Ben Thompson. Let’s just put it this way….. Ben is fully supported and well paid by his subcription model. He’s gotten some of the best minds in the world listening and looking for what he’s got to say on a daily basis.
  19. Farnam Street I might have saved the best for second to last. I’ve gotten a majority of by book reccomendations, big picture questions, and list of people to take out to cofee. This post helps on the existential front.
  20. tiphub newsletter ? We’re re-vamping our newsletter. If you haven’t noticed, this list lacks the African/ African diaspora investor/ operator perspective. We think we can be the smart/nerdy yet cool analysis stakeholders need to be great. Let us know what you think . Like seriously, reach out to one of the partners and let us know what you’d like to see.

You are what you read…. This is what comes to my mailbox most of the time. I’d love to hear other newsletters I should sign up for.

28 Things I’ve Learned In 28 Years

So I got a year older last week. Upon some reflection, I’d like to share some life lessons I’ve learned in 28 years of existence. Hope you’ll enjoy. 🙂

  1. Eat before you go out for a drink with a good friend. Its called being prepared for whatever the night might throw at you.
  2. Have a hard reset on how you feel about people everyday when you go sleep. Don’t bring negativity into the next day.
  3. Drink for taste.
  4. This might sound counter intuitive, but enjoy the dark moments in your life. It will make the bright ones feel even better.
  5. Sometimes you accidentally burn bridges. Just take the L but don’t lose the lesson.
  6. You are not immortal. The faster you come to terms with your mortality, the better off you’ll be.
  7. Eat for taste.
  8. The size of your audience doesn’t matter. Keep up the good work.
  9. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. This is life. Life really doesn’t owe you anything so don’t expect karma to work for or against you.
  10. It’s hard but think ahead of the game. Most people are thinking about how they are going to get through the day. Think about five, ten, twenty years from now and how you’re going to get there.
  11. Appreciate people when you can. They won’t be around forever
  12. Sounds pretty cliche but fill your cup before you try to fill the cup of others.
  13. Get really good at something outside of your profession. I should have never quit the saxophone.
  14. Stay in your lane. Run your own race.
  15. Most problems in life can be prevented from communicating expectations early on.
  16. Your parents are people.
  17. Your bosses are people.
  18. You are a person not a machine.
  19. Give back to those that came before you.
  20. Fall in love with the process not the outcome.***** (MAJOR KEY ALERT)
  21. Find a mentor.
  22. Mentor someone
  23. Don’t get mad at people that aren’t in your life anymore. People have their seasons.
  24. Age does not always equal adulthood. I would say adulthood = the amount of responsibilities you take on successfully.
  25. Try to get better everyday. You’ll be surprised what 365 days of getting better can do.
  26. Take a walk in another persons shoes every now and then. Just make sure to wear socks.
  27. Have something that helps you anchor the past. I have a ton of vinyls…it helps me remember the past but also how far we’ve come.
  28. Call instead of text. It always works out better.

Beware The Ides of March

Beware The Ides of March is the original “Winter is coming” of doom and gloom. I knew it was was from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, but I never really understood the Ides part until a quick Google search gave some clarity.

” Months of the Roman Calendar were arranged around three named days – the Kalends, the Nones and the Ides- and these were reference points form which the other unnamed days were calculated

Kalends (1st day of the month)

Nones(the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in other months)

Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)”

Ides =15th of March which makes it even more depressing. Someone tells you the exact time you’re going to be assassinated? That’s rough.

Disrupting History

***Writer’s Note: 🙂 I literally was finished with this essay (2500+ words) and decided to delete it. Hopefully this will be a more concise and focused attempt.

For a majority of human history, we relied on oral delivery to bring the events of our past to life. We’d sit around a campfire and listen to stories of our forefathers adventures, unstoppable monsters, and through those stories, we’d understand a little bit more about where we came from and where we were going.

Fast forward to the present. We have so many mediums and the ability to capture history is just a click away. History went from a singular narrative to a multi layered complexity that will require a new set of research skills to truly get the big picture. Imagine your neighborhood historian developing a machine learning algorithm to sort through a bunch of tweets to use as primary documents for an event? How about developing a program that sorts through pictures on Facebook to evaluate sentiment of an event? The future historian aggregates all experiences and perspectives and tries to draw inferences. Some would say very similar to current historians. Yea sure, but the pools of information are digitally structured and maintained. There’s a whole new set of skill required to analyze that amount of information.

For the common historian ( the rest of us), we have to prepare ourselves to understand historical events have multiple narratives and view points. We should look to past events and understand there’s more to the story, they just couldn’t capture it. There’s a little boys perspective on his dad going to die in the 100 years war. There were women who had a lot to say about their husbands and sons being taken on the coast of West Africa. When we digest history, our first question should be, “whose perspective are we missing?” We should understand that history is exactly that… His story.

I hope by having a more integrated and inclusive understanding of what and who history affects, we can make sure as many people’s narratives are captured as possible. Ultimately, we’ll create a better picture of how history affected people involved, and how we can all learn to be better or different in the future.

 

 

 

Beta and Super Friends

I started investing in the US stock market my second year of business school. I thought it was just part what you do in business school; drink coffee, read Financial Times and invest in stocks. I thought I’d try to apply what I learned in class to pay back some of those student loans a little quicker. Bad idea but that isn’t the point.

In order to improve your chances of a decent return when you invest in securities like stocks, there are certain technical analysis ratios that you’re supposed to use evaluate and predict returns. Beta is one of those magical ratios.

Beta ratio gauges the volatility of a security by comparing it to the performance of a related benchmark over a period of time. To keep it simple, investors use beta to see how downside capture they can expect from an investment.

From Investopedia

The baseline number for alpha is zero (investment performed exactly to market expectations), but the baseline number for beta is one. A beta of one is an indication that the security’s price moves exactly as the market moves. If the beta is less than one, the security experiences less severe price swings than the market. Conversely, a beta above one means that the security’s price has been more volatile than the market as a whole.

While a positive alpha is always more desirable than a negative one, evaluating beta is not so black and white. Many investors – being risk-averse – prefer to have a lower beta; however, some investors are willing to target a higher beta, hoping to capture higher returns and cash in on the higher volatility.

Most of these ratios are historically leaning. They use information from past to predict future results. It’s difficult and next to impossible to find a magical ratio that can give you vision into future performance.

Well this is true most of the time. The best investors will tell you to take a long term approach in building value. However, The upside in the public market will never match the multiples on an investment when the company is private. It’s way more risky, but at the end of the day, you get in on the ground floor and are compensated come IPO. (most of the time)

I’ve found investing in relationships to be very similar to investing in companies. There’s a ton of information out on how to do them, products and services around improving both processes, and risk with both investments. And the secret to success in both is pretty similar as well.

Creating a group of friends, associates, or colleagues that are super successful doesn’t happen overnight. Actually, its pretty close to impossible to create this type of super network without putting in a lot of work early on. Yes, the secret to it all is meeting people before they are successful and supporting them on their pathway to success. It starts with some self reflection.What value to you bring to the table? What is your unique advantage?  Understanding your strengths will help evaluate what your value add is to other people’s quest to success.

Second, you’ll need a good understanding of what potential for success looks like early on in the journey. Have you met someone that has more hustle than anyone you’ve ever met? Do you know someone that seems to have the Midas touch? People give hints of greatness and are just waiting for people to believe and support them.

Lastly, give. Once you’ve identified who and how you can support, give. Think about how you can build them up through relationships and the opportunities you have access to.

To be concise; Get in early, build value, reap the rewards.