female leader, women leading the way featured

Why not me?

Article by Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify

female leader, women leading the wayAs a young girl growing up in Newfoundland, I received the typical societal messages around gender differences and capabilities.

Luckily, I had a very strong foundation of equality at home to drown some of that noise out. My parents weren’t entrepreneurs - they had more traditional 9-5 jobs - but my mother was a strong woman. Both she and my father gave me the space to think differently about what my career could be and permission to ignore barriers and go for what I wanted.

Ask yourself the right questions

That said, I didn’t start my career as an entrepreneur – nor did I start out in tech. I spent five years working as a chartered accountant for a large corporation. And, despite being intrinsically driven to do my best work, I certainly suffered from imposter syndrome in the early days. I had his perpetual feeling that someone was going to realise that I didn’t know what I was doing; that I would be “found out.”

But then one day I had an epiphany that changed everything. After many experiences sitting in meetings with very senior people who boasted long careers and big titles, I found that I could very clearly see what was and wasn’t going to work out with their decisions. So, one morning I woke and rather than asking ‘Why Me?’, I said to myself: ‘Why not me?’

Any notion of imposter syndrome disappeared that day and it never returned.  And I never looked back, going on to successfully run four tech businesses, the most recent of which is Axonify.

Fifteen years ago, a tech leader asked me why I was the only local female tech CEO in Waterloo, Canada, where Axonify is based. I told him to just wait and give it time. Happily, I was right. And I was glad to do my part to enable more women to lead in tech and rise through the ranks.

My co-founder, Christine Tutssel, is also a woman and after almost 10 years in business we have 180 employees, half of whom are women. That’s not to say that I lean hard into supporting women over men—I always choose the best person for the job. And I strongly believe in trusting people to show up every day and do their best work, giving them the support they need and the space to try things without fear.

Fear is extremely paralysing, to people and businesses

My advice to any woman reading this is to stop fearing the things you don’t know.

Early in your career, you think everyone is smart and you’re afraid to speak up. Don’t fall into that trap. Be yourself. Work hard and ask lots of questions along the way.

Insatiable curiosity is one of the characteristics of any great leader. And don’t be fearful of making the wrong choices. There are no wrong choices, because even if you end up doing something you don’t love for a little while, the experience is meaningful because it showed you more clearly what you don’t want to do. It sets you on your right path. Lose the fear and the caring too much about what people think and you’ll free up so much mental energy that you can channel into doing amazing things.

There’s never been a better time for women to get into tech

The evidence is strong that women are changing tech for the better and providing great ROI to investors. There are so many jobs beyond traditional engineering now, and the industry could use more confident female role models.

Women everywhere just need to muzzle the fear, shed the imposter syndrome and ask themselves the same simple question that I asked myself one morning 15 years ago: Why not me?


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


WeAreTheCity and Huddle event | Imposter syndrome is normal and so are you

“Every person that comes out of every womb has imposter syndrome. It is normal and so are you,” said Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna, during a WeAreTheCity and Huddle event recently.

WeAreTheCity recently partnered with Huddle to hold an event entitled You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome. 100 ladies gathered at Huddle’s offices, in London, to overcome their own worries about feeling like a fake in the workplace.

During the event Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna, (pictured below) led an interactive workshop on how to overcome imposter syndrome.

Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna delivers her session on Imposter syndrome

She explained: “I was an actress in Los Angeles and I trained to become a psychotherapist and later became a coach to help businesses.

“I was sat in black wooly tights, Doc Martins and denim skirts and I sat with high up people during meetings and they’d lean over to me and say: ‘I’m frightened I’m going to get busted and found out.’ I was amazed that people so accomplished and earning so many zeros could feel that way.”

Gornick admitted that she still suffers from imposter syndrome herself: “After working with such companies and taking all those notes on the subject, I’m still suffering from it.

“I’ve read a lot and sat down and looked at my own imposter syndrome and I have experienced it through board members too, but I know the pain you feel and I know the talent I don’t own.”

She noted that many perfectionists are frightened of following through on plans, because they do not own their own talents: “Procrastination is down to perfection and architects live in crap houses because the one they designed in their head is a phenomenal.

“90% of success is showing up. Perfectionists forget to show up.”

Locus of Control

Gornick continued: “It was thought for a long time that only women suffered imposter syndrome, but men suffer it too. Locus of Control is where we feel Guest strike a power pose to overcome Imposter Syndrome

we have control over our lives and influence our own destiny.”

“Women have an external Locus of Control, which means if they want to apply for a role, internally in a company, and they think the role is great but they’ll get in early and leave late and will wait to be asked to apply. Whereas a man has an internal Locus of Control and will see the ad, will feel it’s not right for him but will apply anyway. Both places are terrifying if you’re not owning your talent.”

She stressed how it is important to own your talents and to know that when you succeed that it was not through good luck but through your own hard work: “Being in this world requires lots of courage and that means vulnerability. We think we achieve things with luck. Luck is what happened to Cinderella. Hard work leads to preparation and that leads to opportunity.”

“We don’t take our vitamins when we’re given praise. We deflect it instead of saying thank you and taking the vitamin.”

She finished her interactive workshop by saying: “Know that you’re normal. Stay present. Take your vitamins. Every person that comes out of every womb has imposter syndrome. It is normal and so are you.”

Panel of imposters

To finish the evening Huddle invited a panel of industry experts (pictured right) to share their own experiences of imposter syndrome.

On the panel Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director and CEO of WeAreTheCity, said: “I was in a job when I thought I was not worth my salary and that HR would come in one day and tell me that they had made a mistake.”

Ian Cooper, Head of Architecture at Huddle, said: “I have thought that other employees are better than me or have questioned why am I here. I reacted badly to this and overcompensated by coming across as too pushy and in your face.”

Vanesa Vallely, Managing Director of WeAreTheCity; Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna; Rosemary Cooper Clark, International Executive Coach and Management Consultant; Ian Cooper, Head of Architecture at Huddle discuss their own experiences of Imposter Syndrome

He advised: “Have a support system – someone that you know well enough and can say to them that you’re worried and you’re really not for this role. A support system can help silence those voices.”

Rosemary Cooper Clark, International Executive Coach and Management Consultant, said: “I was headhunted so I hadn’t been through an interview process for a while. I remember candidates talking about their degrees. I didn’t go to university until I was a mature student, so I used to wake up at 3am thinking they haven’t found me out yet.

“You should talk to yourself as if you would to your best friend. We talk terribly to ourselves sometimes.”

Vallely agreed and added: “I didn’t go to university so I feel out of my comfort zone when people are knowledgeable with a posh accent. But I know that is my problem not theirs.”

Gornick said: “After 32 years of coaching imposter syndrome and the only time I don’t suffer it is when I’m with the person I love. I am a trained actor so I know what to do with my body, to breath and to make eye contact. But I suffer it every day.”

“When you think or know that someone has imposter syndrome be open and warm to them.”

Vallely said: “Everyone has a persona that they’re trying to get across. When I think of imposter syndrome I think of someone that looks like a rabbit in the headlights, but they do not look like that because they are hiding it.

“If you never take praise or always say it wasn’t you then people will start to believe it. Just have a polka face and say thank you.”

 


WeAreTheCity and Huddle event | You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome | In Pictures

WeAreTheCity recently partnered with Huddle to hold an event entitled You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome.

Led by Executive and Board-level coach, Deena Gornick, and featuring a panel of business leaders, attendees learnt how to overcome Imposter Syndrome, how to increase confidence and better celebrate their successes. Guests left feeling empowered and able to properly take credit for and acknowledge their successes.

100 ladies gathered at Huddle's offices, in London, to overcome their own worries about feeling like a fake in the workplace.

To realise your full potential you not only need to have the skills, you need to be confident in them – to not only succeed, but to take ownership for this success. And yet, for the 70% of people that suffer from Imposter Syndrome this is much easier said than done.

“I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people,” John Steinbeck wrote in his diary in 1938. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said, "There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud."

Deena Gornick

Executive and Board-level coach Deena has over 20 years’ experience in coaching both men and women to help them with confidence, presence and communication. Deena will give a short introduction to the subject of the Impostor Syndrome, then she will run 3 sessions that have the aim of enabling attendees to stand by their achievements and to be able to articulate them to others clearly without feeling like a fraud.

You can find pictures from the  Imposter Syndrome event below.

 


25/05/2016: You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome

You are not an imposter event.png NEW
FULLY BOOKED: You are not an imposter: Getting ahead isn’t just about being the best, it’s about believing it.

To realise your full potential you not only need to have the skills, you need to be confident in them – to not only succeed, but to take ownership for this success. And yet, for the 70% of people that suffer from Imposter Syndrome this is much easier said than done.

“I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people,” John Steinbeck wrote in his diary in 1938. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said, "There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud."

On Wednesday the 25th of May in partnership with WeAreTheCityHuddle will host an interactive evening aimed at conquering Imposter Syndrome.

Lead by Executive and Board-level coach, Deena Gornick, and featuring a panel of business leaders, attendees will learn how to increase confidence and better celebrate their success. Guests will leave feeling empowered and able to properly take credit for and acknowledge their achievements.

Please join us for an evening of presentations, workshops, networking and refreshments. All are welcome at this free event, we encourage both men and women to join however space is limited so register early! THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED

When: Wednesday, 25th May, registration at 6:15pm

Where: Huddle Offices

2 Leman Street
2nd Floor Aldgate Tower
London, E1 8FA

Our Speaker:

Deena Gornick

Executive and Board-level coach Deena has over 20 years’ experience in coaching both men and women to help them with confidence, presence and communication. Deena will give a short introduction to the subject of the Imposter Syndrome, then she will run 3 sessions that have the aim of enabling attendees to stand by their achievements and to be able to articulate them to others clearly without feeling like a fraud.

Panel: 

To be confirmed, stay tuned for updates!

Agenda:

Registration & Refreshments from 6:15pm - 6:40pm

Start &Welcome: 6:40pm - 6:50pm

Deena Gornick Avoiding Imposter Syndrome: 6:50pm - 8:00pm

Panel Discussion: 8:00pm - 8:30pm

Close: 8:30pm - 8:35pm

Network & Refreshments: 8:35pm – 9:00pm

EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED

When: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 6:15 PM to 9:00 PM (BST) - Add to Calendar

Where: 2 Leman Street 2nd Floor Aldgate Tower, London E1 8FA, United Kingdom - View Map

**Huddle is the most trusted solution for secure collaboration and project management.