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Kitchen Side: The Ultimate Imposter Syndrome Episode

Kitchen Side: The Ultimate Imposter Syndrome Episode

People at all career levels can easily fall prey to imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can basically be defined as the psychological feeling of being inadequate for the role or task given. 

In this episode, David Khim, Alex Birkett, and Allie Decker are joined by Ryan McCready to discuss the causes, frequency, and effects of Imposter syndrome. Throughout the episode, they each give their thoughts, based on their personal experience, on how they have encountered and managed imposter syndrome before. 

If you ever feel insecure about their abilities, or you are constantly second-guessing your decisions, then this episode is for you. Tune in to learn more about the topic and know how to deal with it.


  • Gaining Skills Amidst Imposter Syndrome
  • Identifying Imposter Syndrome 
  • Fake it till you make it mentality
  • Fear of Being Wrong
  • Understand your Role
  • Does Growth Require a little bit of Imposter Syndrome?
  • Difference between being certain and being ready
  • The Impact of Taking Action when you are Uncertain
  • Identifying Imposter Syndrome in a Team Member
  • Effect of Delayed Feedback and Results in Marketing

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What is Kitchen Side?

One big benefit of running an agency or working at one is you get to see the “kitchen side” of many different businesses; their revenue, their operations, their automations, and their culture.

You understand how things look from the inside and how that differs from the outside.

You understand how the sausage is made. 

As an agency ourselves, we’re working both on growing our clients’ businesses as well as our own. This podcast is one project, but we also blog, make videos, do sales, and have quite a robust portfolio of automations and hacks to run our business.

We want to take you behind the curtain, to the kitchen side of our business, to witness our brainstorms, discussions, and internal dialogues behind the public works that we ship.

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Key Takeaways:

[03:36] Gaining Skills Amidst Imposter Syndrome

Do everything when you feel like you can’t do anything

“So I came to reforge off of a very hot streak of building my brand and getting a lot of a lot of traffic and a lot of followers and all that stuff, and just really building that foundation. And as soon as I got to reforge, I felt like I didn’t belong, because I was surrounded by all these super smart product people on these, like, marketing experts that like that built Uber that built all these massive companies. I’m like, I am from Podunk Venngage, where we built our, our SEO strategy and Google Sheets and like, I just didn’t feel super in tune with all of that. And it caused me to second guess a lot of stuff. But it also caused me to like, own a lot of things. And if you look to me, like in the notes, I put something about like, when you have such high impostor syndrome in a new role, I think you’re sometimes a little more open to take on new responsibilities. And like, weirdly, that’s what’s helped me grow so much is like saying yes to a bunch of stuff, because I don’t, because in the beginning, I didn’t feel like I’m doing anything impactful. And now I like I said, I’m touching everything. And if I wouldn’t have had that, like impostor syndrome back in the day, I’m gonna just been fine, just like hanging out.”

[05:23] Identifying Imposter Syndrome 

“Yeah, that’s kind of a hard question, but I think on it, so I would say the big capitalized capital S is just when you don’t feel super. You don’t feel like you’re making an impact in your current role. And you feel like you question all of your decisions. Even though you are technically like an expert in the field, like you’re the expert at the company, like all of the SEO stuff that I was doing in the beginning, here, there’s no SEO, plan anything. There’s no own it here. And I still would like second guess, everything. And like I said earlier, it did lead me to like double down. And like, I’ve learned so much, because I felt like I didn’t, the skills that I had weren’t, weren’t aboveboard, and it kind of made me dive into like reading a ton of Google documentation and all that stuff. So this is weird. teeter totter of like, I didn’t feel like I was good enough. So I learned more. And now I’m much better.”

[07:06] Fake it till you make it mentality

Don’t fake skills, the mask always falls off

“Um, I used to think the best way to combat that was kind of a fake it till you make it mentality, which I think everyone needs to learn at some point or another. But when it perpetuates, after you’ve quote, unquote, made it or have evidence of your skill, which I think all of us have hard evidence, whether it’s like business results, or our titles or whatever you want to call it. That’s where it turns into imposter syndrome for me of like, what do I really need? Like, what kind of proof? Do I really need to believe that I’m not faking it anymore? Like, I’m really here? Not that I’ve arrived, right? You’re always honing your skills, like even in the NFL, and you’re surrounded by pros. Once you’ve reached that level, it doesn’t really stop. So for me, it’s like, it definitely feels like the mask. Sometimes it’s not as strong. But for me, it’s definitely more just a sense of insecurity. You know, if I feel like what I’m doing isn’t good enough for what I’m doing doesn’t have the same kind of impact every day, which is natural, sometimes that wanes.”

[16:32] Fear of Being Wrong

Accept your imperfections and build on them

 “Another thing is being more comfortable. being imperfect or being wrong, because I think early in my career, I was deeply terrified that I had like the wrong take, which like now I’m like, I definitely have the wrong take. Like, I know, I’m wrong. You know, when it was especially like things like experimentation, where I felt like everybody was smarter than me and like, had like multiple, you know, advanced degrees and stuff. I’m like, I’m going to put out an article about like, one tail versus two tail, statistical tests. Like, I’m probably going to be wrong here. And that fear of being shown as wrong, I think rocked my world. But now when we talk about content when I tweet something when I post on LinkedIn, I don’t know there’s there’s some I don’t know if it’s just confidence, lesson security, but I’m pretty okay being wrong. I mean, how many times on the podcast if we said something like, if you listen to back some of these kitchen side episodes, sometimes I’m like, Why the fuck did I say that? I don’t even agree with myself, you know, but I’m, I guess I’m okay like, laying my imperfections in public now. Whereas I used to be pretty afraid of that.”

[18:29] Understand your Role

Know your role and be the best at it

“So when I came into one of the reasons I chose reforge, I had a lot of options. When I left Foundation, one of the reasons I chose reforge wants to work with those super smart people. And I’ve learned so much about just like operations and stuff like that. I mean, most of them are like product leaders, or very smart people and engineering or growth or something like that. So it’s not one to one where I can use some of their stuff, but just the way that they think about things has helped me so much. But I think in the beginning, what was so hard was I was comparing myself to them and try to be on their level. But what I needed to do was just be the best marketer be the best content person I can do, because that helps them so much, because they’re not content people, the stuff that they write, the stuff that they’re creating, the ideas that they have are bananas, sometimes it just discombobulated. And I could only do the best I could, I can only be the best content person. And they were so grateful for that. So it almost I don’t want to say the best on like an even playing field. But they were, I was so happy to be working with them. They were so happy to have like a guiding editor and someone who kind of turns their ideas into a piece of content. So that really helped. But it still was kind of like it still is kind of like these are really smart people like why why are they listening to me and I think that that hurt in the beginning. But now not as much like I’m very confident and like giving them advice. And I think I was a little anti controversial in the beginning because I’m like, where do I have the power to tell them that they should do XYZ but now I’m like You have to do this because we’re going for this goal. And I think having, having that, that time to kind of settle in and realize that, like, your role is this, it’s not to be on their levels to help them elevate a part of their brand or voice really helped me a lot.”

[21:23] Does Growth Require a little bit of Imposter Syndrome?

Have the courage to face your fears for there is no particular time when you will be 100% certain and ready

“Yeah, I think anymore, you need to, you need to be uncomfortable where you are, or else you’re not, you’re not going to, you’re not going to invest in getting out of that state of discomfort. Like I mean, I’m definitely a lot better than I are. My imposter syndrome is a lot lower than it used to be. But there’s still some in the back of your head, like this might be the worst thing you’ve ever done, why you do. And then I’ll research it. And be like, actually, this is a great idea because of XYZ. So it’s almost like little, little voice. It’s like, yeah, you could just stay, you can just stay where you are. But if you do this, it can help you grow even more.”

[25:58] Difference between being certain being ready

“I feel like being certain being ready are two different things. You can be certain that something’s good for you that would be beneficial for your career, and would be scary, but you know, you should do it. And then the process of being ready for that is probably maybe step two, maybe it’s more tangible readiness, or mental readiness. So that’s what struck me with the way you explained it. Because there’s plenty of things. I’m like, I should do that. And it’s taken me a while to get there. I sat on this idea to do an improv class for close to a year. And last week, I finally signed up doing improv, it’s terrifying. It took me a long time to be ready. But the minute I saw the class, I knew for certain that I wanted to do it. So I wonder how folks like manage the that like two part process or if someone is certain that they should or want to do something, they’re immediately ready. I feel like that’s just how different people operate.”

[31:03] The Impact of Taking Action when you are Uncertain

There’s gain in taking action, no loses

“That’s a tough one. I just from my mindset, but I ran into the same thing with my female friends, my sister and my girlfriend, I’m just like, not feeling like they’re ready, and or call, but I’m like, do it, why not? What’s the worst that can happen? And I think, I think as I’ve been listening to you guys talk, I think my mindset is so over the past years, what’s the worst that can happen? Like, what’s the worst that can happen? Have you been doing this? Or are you raising your hand? Are you applying? Are you whatever. And 90% of the time, it’s like, nothing’s gonna happen, like nothing changes in your life, because you raise your hand or something like that, or nothing negative happens.”

[31:45] Identifying Imposter Syndrome in a Team Member

As a manager, you should be able to spot imposter syndrome among your staff

“But when it comes to like, subordinates or like new people on the team, like I did a lot of coaching, I’ve engaged just like the writers, and save that foundation. And just like I think I think it kind of falls a little bit on them, unless you explicitly can see that they’re struggling, like, if they’re not, if they’re like, oh, I don’t want to do that I don’t feel qualified, then you might have to hype them up, might have to get them excited might be here’s where you start. Here’s a framework you can use. But if they’re just like chugging along, just acted normal, I think it’s really hard to to see the imposter syndrome because I think even when I was talking to my manager, I don’t think I don’t think anyone knew that I was feeling super out of place until I brought it up. Just because you’re executing so much.”

[47:15] Effect of Delayed Feedback and Results in Marketing

Prolonged delay of results or feedback contributes to imposter syndrome among marketers

“But why one analogy I’ve been kind of playing with in my head is like, is like marketers are like planting seeds that are going off, but they’re gonna harvest in six months. And it’s really, really smart to know anything until that seed starts to sprout a couple of weeks. So you’re just like, Well, shit, am I good at any of this? I won’t know for another six months. And that really messes with your brain. Sometimes you’re like, Oh, I’ve just worked so hard on this. No results for a month. And then you’re like, oh, wait, it actually did get and then you just continually are doing that. It’s not like you can like savor that good thing that you did. You’re like, oh, on to the next one.”

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Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.