“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Marriage…

“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Marriage & Family Therapist Stevon Lewis

Be relentless in challenging their “Inner Bully”. The inner bully is that inner voice we all have that makes us question our abilities and self-worth. Listening to it often leads us to feel more negatively about ourselves, our futures, and our present circumstances. For example, in a relationship an inner bully might prey on our thoughts of feeling as though we don’t deserve our significant other. Often times this will cause us to act in ways that prevent intimacy and connection. We become increasingly angry, clingy, jealous, defensive, or easily offended. If our partners are less talkative on a particular day, our inner bullies get us to believe they are mad at us for something we did. We will blindly believe our inner bully instead of checking in to see if our significant other may not feel good or if there is some other rational explanation for their silence.

As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stevon Lewis. Stevon is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He earned Bachelors of Arts degrees in Psychology and Afro-Ethnic Studies from California State University, Fullerton. He also has a Master’s of Science degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University, Long Beach. Stevon began his therapy career in 2007 as a therapist at a community mental health agency in Long Beach working with the families of adolescents involved with the juvenile justice system. More recently, he served as the Director of Counseling Services at Woodbury University, a small private university in Burbank, CA. Currently, he is in private practice full-time, in Torrance, where he works with adults struggling with Impostor Syndrome, and couples experiencing difficulty in their relationships as a result of poor communication and unmet expectations. In addition, he is an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and a Past President of the Long Beach-South Bay Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Thank you so much for joining us Stevon! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I was born and raised in South Central LA. As a kid, I was part of the CHOICES program which allowed inner-city kids to attend schools outside of their area. My mom sent me to Wonderland Avenue Gifted Magnet Elementary in the Hollywood hills. It was a bit of culture shock for sure; I mean I’m a kid from the hood, and some of these guys’ parents were producers for Beverly Hills 90210 and writers for Cheers.

I can remember back as young as 5th grade always being interested in why people did the things they did. A vivid memory I have, is of a kid who was new to Wonderland. He was an African-American kid, which there weren’t many of us there, and he was getting into trouble, like being brought to school by the police trouble. This wasn’t something that was common for students at Wonderland. I was always curious about how he ended up at our school because he definitely didn’t fit in. One day he rode my bus home, not sure why, but he was picked up by an older White woman, old enough to be his grandmother. I figured he must have been in foster care or something and that his situation probably had something to do with his behavior.

My fascination with people never left. I’ve always had an ability to connect with people on an emotionally intimate level and remember being the guy that talked my friends down when they were upset, facilitated “mediation” between friends, or redirected negative behavior. It was a natural progression for me to end up as a psychotherapist. I would talk to people and connect with people even if I weren’t a therapist. After high school I took some time off from school, a year, to process as best I could, the death of my father. I took some classes at Santa Monica Community College and eventually transferred to CSU, Fullerton. After undergrad, I worked in group homes and non-public schools before enrolling in my Master’s program at CSU, Long Beach. My first job as a Trainee was at a community mental health agency in South Central LA working with the families of kids involved in the juvenile justice system. I stayed at that agency for seven years working my way up to Program Manager.

I moved on to become the Director of Counseling Services at Woodbury University, a small private college in Burbank, CA. I served as Director for 5 years and am now full-time in my private practice, in Torrance, CA.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Early in my career, while working in community mental health, I was a field therapist. That means that I would conduct therapy in my clients’ homes. Most of my clients were in South Central Los Angeles, and predominantly Black and Latino areas. I once received a referral for a family and called as I normally did to set up an appointment. The guardian of my potential client answered the phone and asked me a question I was unprepared for. They asked me if I was Black. After I acknowledged that I was they quickly indicated that I could not schedule an appointment. I had to have my supervisor at the time, a White male, to contact the family and convince them to allow me to accompany him as he met with the family. When we met with the family it turned out they were also Black, and that my potential client had been sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by Black men. This made their guardian extremely leery of Black men in general. From this experience I learned an important lesson. That is, because I may share some similarities with a potential client, I cannot allow those similarities to prevent me from doing the work to establish a rapport and getting to know their personal stories.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

As a therapist I stand out because I am a Black male. In the field of psychotherapy there aren’t many Black males. Clients often want someone that looks like them when they come to therapy. Their belief is that some things about them will not have to be explained. While this isn’t necessarily true, this belief often drives the choice in therapist for African-American clients. I’ve had many clients, Black males, that came to me as their first time ever participating in therapy. One had such a good experience that they encouraged their family member to come as well. I choose to see that as a testament to the good work we did and some change to the negative narrative that surrounds mental health services in the Black community.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’ve had several people help me along my journey and am grateful for all that they have done to assist in my maturation as a therapist. Someone that I’ve continued to lean on and seek guidance from, as my career grows, is Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis. She is a psychologist in the L.A. area and is my “go to” when I need to process career related decisions. She has helped me navigate my first few interactions with producers that wanted to meet with me about possible TV appearances.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

Impostor Phenomenon is a term coined by Dr. Pauline Clance and is more commonly known as Impostor Syndrome. Individuals that suffer from Impostor Syndrome are usually high achievers in some facet of their life, whether it be in their career, in education, or in the arts. What I have found in working with individuals that struggle with impostorism, is that that they don’t come to therapy indicating feeling like an impostor as their primary presenting problem. Most often they’ll express feelings of not living to their full potential or report a history of self-sabotaging their success. In addition, while Impostor Syndrome isn’t in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the symptoms usually develop into depression or anxiety, disorders that are diagnosable.

In peeling back the layers I’ve found some glaring commonalities:

· They had a parent(s) that was very critical of them; frequently pointing out where they needed improvement.

· Their parent(s) did not equally provide praise of their accomplishments or achievements, and often dismissed those accolades as routine or required.

· They are often the product of a childhood environment that was dysfunctional, in which they seem to be the only person from their immediate family to have experienced the overall success they have achieved.

· Expressions of love were infrequent or nonexistent.

· As adults they seem to be the “only one” in the room, as in the only person of color or only woman.

· As a result of these experiences they have developed a high level of self-doubt, are dismissive of their own abilities, are overly critical of themselves, neglectful of their needs, and fearful of future failure. For example, someone struggling with Impostor Syndrome might receive an award and say, “Oh, almost everyone got one,” or after getting an ‘A’ in a class, they might respond, “That class was easy!” Other times they may be plagued with intense fear that they are going to “screw things up” as a result of getting a promotion, becoming a parent, approaching marriage, or some other potential increase in responsibility.

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

The downsides are that individuals that struggle with Impostor Syndrome often end up with high levels of anxiety or depression. They live in constant fear of being found out as a fraud due to their continued success. They are unable to connect with their successes and often find elaborate ways to explain away their success, and when they are unable to explain away their success, they will often turn to minimizing the significance of that achievement. That is, they will say that their accomplishment wasn’t that difficult or that if anyone wanted to do what they did, they could have. In addition, Impostor Syndrome often causes people to refrain from seeking out greater opportunities due to their strong belief that they don’t have what it takes to have earned said success.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

People with Impostor Syndrome are often times the biggest cheerleaders for the accomplishments of others. They are extremely happy for the success of close friends and family. Impostor Syndrome causes people to inflate the deservedness of others. That is, it’s easy for them to see why other people deserve the success they have attained. The pitfall is that this narrative they create about the abilities and deservedness of others leads them to further negatively evaluate their own abilities and accomplishments.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

As a Black male therapist, I haven’t always had an example, per se, to follow or model myself after. In my graduate program I was the only Black male in my program the entire time I was there. I think this experience led to me questioning whether or not I knew what I was doing. I don’t have an example to follow to effectively evaluate my trajectory and therefore, enter into most opportunities questioning if I will be successful.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

I continually overcome any feelings of impostorism. I use the same techniques and skills I teach my clients. I tell myself, when exploring a new opportunity, that I’ve been successful in the past and find ways to figure out how to be successful and would continue to do so in whatever the new venture is. In addition, I tell myself I am doing a good job and remind myself of all the evidence around me that supports this belief.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Five steps someone with Impostor Syndrome can take to thrive despite their impostorism are to:

1. Be relentless in challenging their “Inner Bully”

· The inner bully is that inner voice we all have that makes us question our abilities and self-worth. Listening to it often leads us to feel more negatively about ourselves, our futures, and our present circumstances. For example, in a relationship an inner bully might prey on our thoughts of feeling as though we don’t deserve our significant other. Often times this will cause us to act in ways that prevent intimacy and connection. We become increasingly angry, clingy, jealous, defensive, or easily offended. If our partners are less talkative on a particular day, our inner bullies get us to believe they are mad at us for something we did. We will blindly believe our inner bully instead of checking in to see if our significant other may not feel good or if there is some other rational explanation for their silence.

2. Create an evidence sheet

· An evidence sheet as an actual piece of paper, or a digital notebook, where you list all of the evidence that doesn’t support your negative view of yourself as a fraud. This is not based on whether you agree with the information, as we know people that struggle with Impostor Syndrome will often explain away the evidence they receive that suggests they aren’t a fraud. The goal is to continually add to the document to show oneself that their feelings of being a fraud aren’t based in reality.

3. Stop dismissing or minimizing their accomplishments

· Individuals that struggle with Impostor Syndrome often dismiss, or minimize, their accomplishments as routine. I teach my clients to celebrate themselves by acknowledging their accomplishments. The idea is that even if their accomplishment is routine, that doesn’t that it shouldn’t be acknowledged. In addition, if we disproportionately highlight our shortfalls, while ignoring our successes we end up feeling like a failure.

4. Temper their expectations of themselves

· People that struggle with Impostor Syndrome frequently hold themselves to a standard of perfection that isn’t sustainable or achievable. Unless they are perfect, they are convinced they are failing. It would be better for them to temper expectations by using scaling techniques to evaluate their performance. For example, if they have a list of 10 things to accomplish and they accomplish 9 out of 10, it would be better to say they’ve accomplished 90% of what they wanted to do and remind themselves that 90% is an A!

5. Stop comparing themselves to others!!!

· In working with individuals that struggle with Impostor Syndrome, the most toxic behavior they exhibit is using the lives and accomplishments of others to negatively evaluate themselves. I often hear, from my clients, how others are superior in their abilities and, as a result, are more deserving of the success they have achieved. Individuals with Impostor Syndrome need to stop measuring their abilities and journey based on someone else’s model. It’s okay to take a different route to get to the same location; some people like to fly, while others would rather drive.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).

I have an idea that I want to start with children of color from less advantaged environments. I think that access to resources and appropriate guidance are two major components, within our control, that holds them back from achieving more. That being said, I would love to start an organization that sought to identify elementary school aged children and give them access to resources and guidance through college. The idea would be to get them enrolled in the best elementary schools, best middle schools, best high schools, and best colleges to give them a chance at long-term success.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-).

I’ve always said, jokingly, that if I met Oprah my life would be changed for the better. She’s such a great cheerleader of people that if she believes in you, you, in turn, will believe you can do anything. Additionally, I am a HUGE fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s work and would love to have a conversation with him. I am fascinated by how he thinks and would be excited to discuss politics with him. I listen to his podcast religiously and have read most of his books; still working on What the Dog Saw and Talking to Strangers at the time of this interview. He’s a consumer of knowledge and I see myself as having a similar thirst for understanding things.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I am most active on my Instagram and LinkedIn accounts, but for the purposes of this article I will list all of my social media handles

· Instagram — @StevonLewisMFT
· Twitter — @StevonLewisMFT
· LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevonlewis/
· Facebook — @StevonLewisLMFT

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Marriage… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Sandy Slager of Skye…

“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Sandy Slager of Skye Learning

Managing feelings of inadequacy is a part of life. I would guess most people experience moments where they feel they don’t deserve what they have. There are many tools that one can use to shake off imposter syndrome. Some tools would ideally span each day, such as mentoring. Whereas other tools are very project or task specific, but choosing the right tool for the issue is important. For instance, when I was in business school, I leaned on my mentor for guidance and occasional confidence boosts, but within the day-to-day feelings of inferiority, I found it helpful to remind myself that my experiences are different, not lesser than others in the classroom. I also clearly defined success in the classroom, which for me did not mean being at the top of the class, but rather ensuring I built positive relationships with my classmates and learned as much as I could from their unique experiences.

I had the pleasure to interview Sandy Slager. Sandy is the President of Skye Learning, and Chief Operating Officer of MindEdge Learning, founded in 1998 and based in Waltham, MA.

Thank you so much for joining us Sandy! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I have been with MindEdge Learning, and now Skye Learning, for over 20 years. In the world of edtech and online education, that’s many lifetimes. I started in the industry in 1998 and grew professionally as the company grew. These days this is a very unusual career path, but I always found new challenges, new beginnings, and new opportunities within the strategic shifts that MindEdge has executed over the years. And now, there’s never been a more exciting time in online education. I attended Union College for undergrad and Boston University for my MBA. Aside from my work at MindEdge and Skye Learning, I am a twin-mom to two girls. I love writing, cooking, and photography in my down time.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

The most interesting part of my career has, ironically, had little to do with my career. For me, the transition into being a working parent has been the most challenging and the most rewarding part of my career. Not only did it force me to address work-life balance head-on, but it also gave me a perspective on work that I never had before. I have become more efficient, more effective, and more engaged in my work since having children. This is an unexpected outcome for me, needless to say, and I’m still slowly uncovering the nuances of similarities between these two lives.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

MindEdge’s mission is to improve the way the world learns. Since our founding by Harvard and MIT educators in 1998, we have served nearly two million learners. MindEdge has been producing online courses and building relationships with professional credentialing authorities for more than twenty years. Skye Learning, a division of MindEdge, is an online learning destination helping professionals and new graduates future-proof their skillset in a changing world of work. Both MindEdge and Skye Learning approach continuous education from a unique perspective with annual surveys that deep-dive into the topics that matter most to today’s modern workforce, including the future of work, digital literacy, job burnout, and the importance of credentials. By exploring these insights, we are able to better understand employees’ challenges and desires in order to provide them with an online learning option that best fits their needs.

MindEdge and Skye operate with an extremely clear learner-first approach. Learner feedback is taken very seriously by the entire company, from senior management to editorial staff and sales team members. MindEdge’s focus on continuous improvement means that courses are reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

The current CEO of MindEdge, Jefferson Flanders, has been a steady mentor and supporter over the last 20+ years of my career. His mentoring and guidance have been instrumental in helping me overcome instances of imposter syndrome over the years. It can be incredibly beneficial to be mentored by a person who has a different background, career path, and framing on business than you do. Confirmation bias can be powerful, so ensuring that you’re approaching challenges and solutions through a different lens is an important part of individual career growth. Of course, having a mentor to remind you of your strengths during moments of failure is critical in building professional confidence.

We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

Throughout my career, I have seen many women — including myself — experience feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt despite years of experience, education, and senior titles. This pervasive issue even runs into the home as I am raising two young girls, making me a confidence ambassador for more than just colleagues. However, imposter syndrome can manifest in individuals in different ways. With this in mind, I have worked through my own techniques and methods for beating imposter syndrome over the years, and now make it a point to work with my younger staff on how to maintain an appropriate and reasonable confidence-level with all types of career successes and failures, working in personal nuance along the way.

To overcome imposter syndrome, people not only need emotional support but also a tactical set of tools to help them feel more confident in their individual skill development. Approaching imposter syndrome on a case-by-case basis helps to ensure that the support a mentor is providing to overcome it appropriately maps back to the needs of the individual.

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

Imposter Syndrome hinders a worker’s ability to feel confident about the work they are producing. An outstanding downside to this effect is how it makes hard work feel worthless, which further deteriorates a person’s motivation and can lead to job burnout. Our 2nd Annual Work Confidence Study discovered that job burnout is so widely felt that nearly 75 percent of workers experience the increasingly prevalent medical condition. More, workers are overall less confident that they’ll be able to hold on to their current jobs with just 82 percent reported they are confident they’ll still be employed in a year’s time, a number that is down from 93 percent in 2018.

Feeling insecure at work can cause a person shy away from new challenges. I believe that this feeling ultimately impacts the workplace, leaving considerable untapped potential. It behooves business leaders to coach employees through such matters with an effective approach to resolve these challenges.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

Anytime someone is feeling insecure internally, it can impact how they treat others. In some cases, you might be short or otherwise non-communicative. In other cases, you could come across as defensive or aggressive. Recognizing that you are insecure in your own right as a first step goes a long way toward equalizing your fears and even admitting it out loud. For instance, by saying out loud, “I don’t feel qualified to make this call” can only be powerful when you follow it up by actually making the call with “I don’t feel qualified to make this call, but here’s what I think anyway.” In a scenario like this, business leaders can be a critical for encouragement and reinforcement to help support employee confidence and overcome the side effects of imposter syndrome, positively impacting their entire organization.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

In my experience, imposter syndrome is not a one-time event, nor is it persistent in every day or two. I have fleeting moments where I fear I have gotten lucky or been granted promotions or accolades for reasons that are not related to my talents. One of the worst instances of imposter syndrome I felt was actually during business school. Working for a small company for my whole career, I suddenly found myself having case discussions with people whom I felt were much more experienced and much more “worthy” of sharing their expertise than I was. It affected my confidence in contributing in class and how I performed on assignments. Ultimately, I had to work twice as hard to not only complete projects and tasks but also on coach my confidence up along the way.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

Managing feelings of inadequacy is a part of life. I would guess most people experience moments where they feel they don’t deserve what they have. There are many tools that one can use to shake off imposter syndrome. Some tools would ideally span each day, such as mentoring. Whereas other tools are very project or task specific, but choosing the right tool for the issue is important. For instance, when I was in business school, I leaned on my mentor for guidance and occasional confidence boosts, but within the day-to-day feelings of inferiority, I found it helpful to remind myself that my experiences are different, not lesser than others in the classroom. I also clearly defined success in the classroom, which for me did not mean being at the top of the class, but rather ensuring I built positive relationships with my classmates and learned as much as I could from their unique experiences.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story for each.

Understanding these five statements can help a person begin to take control and reconcile with the effects of imposter syndrome:

1. You’re not superhuman, and you don’t have to be.
Setting reasonable expectations for yourself is, I believe, the first step toward self-acceptance. Anyone would or could feel like an imposter if they set the achievement bar too high to reach.

2. Seek out a mentor and become a mentor for someone else.

Mentoring from someone who knows you can be a huge confidence boost. Listening to what someone says, as they watch you from the outside, is usually very different than how you see yourself.

3. Define success at the beginning, and don’t move the goalposts.

By defining failure and success at the start of a task or project, and by not moving the goalposts you’ve set, you stand a better chance of being pleased with the outcome. This is certainly the foundation of building confidence in yourself and your work. For instance, if you decide at the start of a project that at the one-month mark you should have completed a list of five things, and you accomplish that goal, take a moment and dare to be proud of yourself.

4. Build your confidence with credentials and education.

If you have a seat at the table, it’s highly likely you’ve earned it. If you feel insecure about your knowledge or experience, shoring up your education and training is one way to help build your confidence. Leave yourself no reason to doubt you deserve to be there. I found myself deep into a career in business management with pretty fierce self-doubt, and I quickly realized I needed to get an MBA in order to build my confidence sufficiently. In other cases, it could be as simple as a certificate program or course work.

5. Remember, you’re not alone!

Imposter syndrome disproportionately affects qualified people. So, if you feel like you suffer from imposter syndrome, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. When I open up and seek feedback from colleagues, I’m always surprised at how top-of-mind these confidence issues are to those around me, too.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would inspire a climate change awareness and prevention movement via a global tree planting initiative. Planting trees is a very simple and straightforward way to curb climate change, and if everyone planted one additional tree in their yard, I think the world would breathe a theoretical sigh of relief.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?

I would love to share a meal with Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations. Secretary Albright has always been a fascinating political figure to me. She and her family immigrated from Czechoslovakia when she was 11 years old, and she eventually rose to become the first female Secretary of State for the United States. Her confidence appears to be unwavering from the outside, but I would actually love to discuss imposter syndrome with her to understand if she was ever affected and how she managed to handle it. Secretary Albright is also a twin mom of two girls, as I am, and I think we could share some laughs over what it’s like to raise twin daughters.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow me on LinkedIn.


“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Sandy Slager of Skye… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“How To Succeed And Thrive As Both A Celebrity And An Entrepreneur” With…

An Interview With Ming Zhao

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “How To Succeed And Thrive As Both A Celebrity And An Entrepreneur”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Betty Moon.

Betty Moon is a Toronto-born singer, songwriter, producer, and filmmaker. Known for her sultry voice, rock n’ roll attitude and visionary appeal, Moon is an always-evolving tour de force. Moon’s music has been featured in a variety of television shows and films including Californication, Dexter, Bounty Hunters, Walking the Dead directed by Melanie Ansley, and Last Gasp starring Robert Patrick.

Moon’s first album deal was with A&M Records, and her self-titled debut LP was released while living and touring throughout Canada. She has been nominated for four CASBY Awards including Best Album of the Year, Best Single of the Year, Best Video of the Year, and Best Artist of the Year. Moon released multiple records after her debut album, which includes Doll Machine (EMI), STIR (St. Clair), Demon Flowers and multiple releases via her label Evolver Music including Rollin’ Revolution, Amourphous and Pantomania.

In 2010, Moon relocated to Los Angeles and released her 5th album Rollin’ Revolution, which garnered airplay on famed L.A. rock radio station KROQ. In 2013, Moon was a featured artist at the Sunset Strip Music Festival, sharing the stage with Marilyn Manson, Steve Aoki and The Offspring. She continues to be a regular performer at iconic venues such as The Roxy, Whisky a Go Go, and The Viper Room in Hollywood. Her collaboration with top music industry professionals includes Kenny Aronoff, Brendan Buckley, Wes Scantlin, John Christ, and Chris Lord-Alge.

Moon’s most recent and 9th studio release ‘Hellucination’ was released on May 17th, 2019.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

Thank you for having me be a part of this interview. I grew up in Toronto Canada and music was a part of my life from a very young age. My father had a recording studio on our property and our network of musicians and friends engrained “making music” in my blood before I could even realize it. When I was a teenager I became known for my DIY work ethic and for selling 10,000 albums on my own with my first band. It helped me gain interest from major labels and eventually signed a solo deal with A&M in the 90’s. Fast forward to today, I now own and operate Evolver Music, which is a label, publisher and production company which I use to release my music and other content.

If it wasn’t for building on my interests in music and business from a young age, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. It took many risks, several major failures and mistakes, moving back and forth from Canada and Los Angeles, and so much more. I could have easily quit and tried something else, but I kept evolving and pushing through barriers and celebrating victories as small as some where.. A lot of the recent success is tied to aligning myself with other talented friends, industry people and executives. The music and entertainment business is always changing, evolving and making shifts that can either be an opportunity or an exit for many people. Thankfully I’m in this for the long haul, and am positioned to pivot and grow as an entrepreneur daily.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am thankful to my husband Terry, my team at Evolver music Inc, and to my manager Gerry Young. I have been working with him for a very long time and he has helped open more doors than I can possibly remember. Not only is he one of the best in the business, but he’s also a dear friend and couldn’t do this without him. I remember back in the days of my old band Bambi he thought my whole getup was a bit over the top, but because of that he was intrigued and thankfully came to a couple shows to get to know me. I think because of his incredible background and my unique edge, we were brought together to work on this awesome relationship in music.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

Sure, I’ve made many. We can start with having my boyfriend manage me in my twenties. Disastrous on so many levels. He turned down deals I would have accepted. Then there was my first marriage to a person that was less than kind and set out to destroy my career in many ways. Followed up as one of those disastrous marriages at too young of age and a regretful decision not to move to LA sooner, all which could have sidetracked my music and business ambitions. The lesson? Stay on track and in your lane. Don’t be so distracted by people around you, especially ones that have their own self-interest at heart.

As a celebrity, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

Sometimes you have to evolve in ways that are uncomfortable, scary and even foolish in the eyes of your peers, friends and family. I would assume many that fail probably quit just before a certain level of success could be achieved, and sometimes that’s out of their control due to finances, family or other external elements. Honestly, I think there’s always a way to figure it out but it requires an open mind, taking risks and even doing something that was not aligned with your first expectations.

An example would be someone who wants to be a business owner, but after trying once or twice they cannot figure it out. Perhaps the route isn’t just A to B, and there is a different road to travel to be the business owner you dreamed about. Maybe it’s years in a different position, managing, assisting or simply paying dues in other ways until the right opportunity presents itself. What works for others you may see in your network or those you admire are most likely not the things that will work for you. Every journey is different, but half the battle is to keep evolving, learning and moving forward in the right direction for you..

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. You have been successful as both a celebrity and an entrepreneur. Most celebrities don’t make that transition successfully. We’d love to learn your secret. How do you do both?

I think that had the entrepreneurial spirit in me from an early age. Even though many of the things I did were obligatory of musicians to make it, not all people in music take an interest to business, marketing and purposely trying to “make it” in focused ways. Most musicians make a conscious decision to leave the industry once their time as a professional artist fade, and many just quit when things lose their appeal or cash flow. Thankfully, I love this stuff and was always trying to stay one step ahead of the rest. From producing records in multiple studios I’ve owned to releasing and publishing music, I learned all the skills to build and run a great business. Most importantly though, even though it’s work and takes time, it’s a lot of fun doing it. My publishing catalogue has hit over 5 million streams and well over 2 million downloads and for an independent artist, I am extremely proud of reaching these types of numbers.

In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart. You are a busy leader with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

First off, I try and avoid the word busy since pretty much anyone can say they are busy. I admittedly overused the word like most of us, but recently started focusing on the mindset of being productive and getting results. My best results in all areas of life come from a balance of focused work, relaxation, learning, travel and challenges. I say challenges since learning may come before and after the barrier, whether that be in business or the type of music I work in professionally. For self care, I make it a point to travel quarterly with my family, and weekly I have multiple fitness routines including dance, weights, yoga and cardio. I think it’s important to step away from what you’re doing a majority of the time, and during that time off you come up with the best ideas while also making time for self care, family and leisure.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

I practice a bit of meditation in the morning and just before sleep. It really helps my mind balance and get into a place of focus, compared to waking or sleeping with a million things running through my mind. The other routine would be fitness, just like with yoga when you’re in a moment that lets you access the “subconscious”, which is usually not being used when you’re caught up in daily work, stress and life. That alternative, deeper mindset helps you mentally and also brings out incredible ideas and levels of focus that can motivate you.

Can you share with us two routines that you partake in to help your heart or spiritual side to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

Even though this wouldn’t be daily or even weekly, I make it a point quarterly and on holidays to spend uninterrupted time with family and dear friends. This block of time brings out gratitude and helps with reflecting on the things that truly matter, and how the other things in life (work) help serve them. The other would be dance and yoga/meditation, these spiritually focused practices are all they are hyped up to be. They are the magic practices that get your mind focused and your ass in gear to do amazing things in life.

All of us have great days and bad days. On days when you feel like a rockstar what do you do? What does that day look like, and what did you do to get there?

I have a sanctuary by the ocean that I go to. I go there, stare at the ocean and count my blessings realizing how thankful and blessed I am. I try and up the level of gratitude and productivity on those days, especially if it’s a great day during the week and I have things on the agenda. It’s best to keep the momentum going to make even more amazing things happen, whether that be musically or in business.

In contrast, on days when you feel down, what do you do?

Put on some sad music and cry? Haha. Sometimes on those types of days it’s good to shut down the computer, grab some coffee or hit the gym to sweat out the bad ju ju vibes. Often it’s not worth putting the bad energy into the rest of the work day if you aren’t going to produce your best work. Of course, there are days with deadlines when you don’t have a choice but to push on, but if those to-do items can wait 24 hours just put it off and go back in with a fresh mind and attitude.

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

As far as books go, I would say Eckhart Tolle’s popular ‘The Power of Now’ read is a good example. It’s a great reminder to “stop and smell the roses”, as in live in the moment and enjoy everything in front of you. Life and business can be so fast paced and insane, so it reminds you to appreciate and take in the little things. I also enjoy the Tim Ferris podcast and some of his books, he shares some great ideas and much growth comes from seeing what others did right and wrong throughout their careers. Being candid and vulnerable is an awesome thing, and sharing is even more rewarding.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

I tried cupping once after moving to LA, it’s an interesting approach to alternative treatment but was curious to try it. It basically leaves a circular bruise in multiple spots and almost looks like a tattoo. While many don’t subscribe to this treatment, I’ve heard about the many benefits to trying it. I don’t think I’d do it again. I prefer eating healthy, going on hikes, walking the dog, dancing and getting to the oceanside for clean air and some playtime.

You’re a high achieving creative authority and leader, and yet, you may have family and loved ones that require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the high powered executive at the door, and become a loving caretaker at home?

I honestly don’t leave anything at home or work, my Betty Moon game is the same across the board. I enjoy being equally full of love, passion and drive and give that to both my family and business. I think it’s important to be a badass at what you do, but you also have to be a badass and give 100% with your friends and family. I’m not the kind of executive or business owner that asks like a stereotypical hollywood music exec, so I don’t walk around with a big ego. My confidence and willingness to be present in all that I do is what makes a healthy balance.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

It would be wonderful to have breakfast with Richard Branson, not only is he goal-driven like I am, but he has so much passion for business and life. I visited his new start up in Long Beach a few months ago and I’m thoroughly impressed with him. There are very few that publically come off like they have the perfect balance of business and leisure, and make the process look so fluid and easy. I think we are all looking for the secret to a life well lived, and how to build the biggest, most profitable business possible at the same time.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Please follow me on these channels

https://www.instagram.com/bettymoonmusic/
https://www.facebook.com/bettymoonmusic
https://www.linkedin.com/in/bettymoon/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you so much, I had a blast doing this interview with you!

“5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”, with Lyn Johnson of West Tenth

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

While the wage gap is certainly something we need to be concerned about, the larger issue we need to address is the wealth gap. Women are accumulating financial resources at 1/3rd the rate that men are. Which means women are more likely to find themselves in positions of economic vulnerability and are more likely to be impoverished after retiring. The wealth gap is the end result of a lifetime of wage disparity and women’s lack of access to capital. Wealth is the number to watch.

As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lyn johnson. Lyn began her career at PwC in New York in their banking and capital markets division and later became the CFO of Locus Financial, a financial advisory firm located in Santa Monica. She started West Tenth during her MBA year at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. She is the mother of three boys and an unapologetic spreadsheet geek.

Thank you so much for joining us Lyn! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

I was a CFO at a private financial advisory firm and had just had my third child when I began to feel restless — as though graduate school was calling me. So I applied to the University of Oxford and moved my family to the UK to pursue an MBA full-time there.

During my graduate studies I had the opportunity to research an issue that had been bothering me for years: the economic disadvantages that women face as they juggle sometimes impossible choices between work and caring for family. The more I researched, the more I realized that the talents women develop outside the workforce are under-utilized by our current economy. I also knew that families like mine could benefit hugely from their talents if there was an easier way to access them.

This realization planted the seeds that led to starting West Tenth instead of returning to my finance career.

I pitched the West Tenth concept — a marketplace that encourages women to market their unique, everyday talents to their local communities — in several university competitions. I was either a finalist or winner in those competitions and that gave me the confidence to bring West Tenth to life. I also met my co-founder, Andi Garavaglia, during my time at school. She joined me last year after we graduated and we’ve been building West Tenth together since then.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

The most interesting part of this startup life can be summed up in one word for me: discovery. I’ve discovered my own ability to navigate the unknown, I’ve discovered places in Los Angeles and abroad I never would have visited otherwise, and best of all I’ve discovered the talented women running home-based businesses in my own community that I didn’t know about until now. Who knew that there were women who could print edible photos on cookies literally down the street from me? Or women who could make eco-friendly travel plans for your next family vacation? The variety and vibrancy of women’s talents is surprising even me.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we first started West Tenth, I was looking for ways to recruit women with home-based businesses onto our platform. I randomly met a woman who told me she was part of a large women’s networking group and invited me to come to their next meeting, which sounded like just what I was looking for.

When it came time for the meeting, I pulled up to the address listed on the invite, looked around and began to get a little wary. I arrived at the check-in desk and realized that this was a women’s charity club made up primarily of retirees and other ‘ladies who lunch’. I was the youngest person there by about 20 years and the ladies at the desk let me know that business networking or promoting of any sort was not allowed. I started to gently excuse myself — clearly this was a rabbit hole that I didn’t mean to go down — but the lovely woman who invited me spotted me from across the room and ushered me into my seat before I knew what was happening.

The meeting lasted four hours, included a luncheon and a lesson on monarch butterflies. I was tapping my feet impatiently and responding to work messages on my phone the entire time. At the end of the meeting, my hostess turned to me with eager eyes and, as everyone at my table listened in expectantly, said, “Well, what do you think? Would you like to join our club? All you have to do is write a check.”

I thought to myself, “How did I even end up here?? I will never get these four hours of my life back.”

So I looked her straight in the eyes, smiled kindly, and without hesitation said “Sign me up!” I just could not bring myself to tell this group of sweet women ‘no’. I ended up paying an annual fee to join, donating an additional amount for their charity fund, and somehow volunteered myself to put together a tea basket for their annual auction. What a sucker.

Needless to say, I didn’t attend regularly. But a few of the women I met there ended up being some of my fiercest community advocates. The lesson to me was to embrace community — no matter where you find it — and that generosity is never wasted. I also happened to learn a great deal about monarch butterflies. 😉

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

  1. There are so many institutional forces at play that encourage everyone (including women themselves) to undervalue women’s skills. We hold collective beliefs about women that include an expectation that they will place the interests of their communities above their own interests. To that end, we expect women to dispense of their time and talents for free or at a discount — a factor that contributes immensely to the wage gap. (Note: A community mindset can be an incredibly positive force, but when juxtaposed with the expectations we have for men, which permit and encourage them to act in their own interests, we place women at a comparative disadvantage.) Couple those gendered expectations with the fact that the unpaid work of women who care for families has been assigned literally zero economic value in terms of dollars (their work is not even counted in national GDP numbers) and you have a recipe for the societal undervaluing of their skills and an undermining of their earning capabilities.
  2. Our government and societal institutions have created a ‘choice funnel’ that skew women’s decisions towards leaving the workforce after children. Without paid parental leaves or affordable childcare options, and with tax & school systems that favor one-earner married households, women’s ability to remain in the workforce and achieve a balanced family life is very constrained.
  3. A huge imbalance still exists between women and men in the allocation of domestic and caregiving work, which subverts women’s earning potential. Married women with children spend less time earning in the marketplace, less time in leisure activities, and more time in unpaid work in comparison to their male counterparts.

While the wage gap is certainly something we need to be concerned about, the larger issue we need to address is the wealth gap. Women are accumulating financial resources at 1/3rd the rate that men are. Which means women are more likely to find themselves in positions of economic vulnerability and are more likely to be impoverished after retiring. The wealth gap is the end result of a lifetime of wage disparity and women’s lack of access to capital. Wealth is the number to watch.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

Our startup, West Tenth, is a digital marketplace that encourages women to market their talents to their neighbors, friends, and community. We believe that women develop incredible talents in their time away from the traditional workforce and that these talents hold monetary value for their communities. We are helping unlock access to women’s skills.

Where some may see a woman with a cute hobby or a knack for a particular task, West Tenth sees a potential entrepreneur. On the West Tenth marketplace, families & individuals can find and utilize the expertise of local women to help enhance their home and personal lives.

West Tenth is also creating a low-risk, low-capital avenue for women to create businesses from their homes based on their existing skill sets. We are encouraging society to take a second look at the economic value women bring to the table and we are helping women capture more of their own import.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

1.Men need to take a more active role in the home and need to advocate for parent-friendly work policies: As a society, we need to ensure that fatherhood is regarded as highly as motherhood and that men have the opportunity to create deep and nurturing relationships with their children. When men are given the chance to fully participate in family life and women are given the chance to thrive at work with the expectation of full partnership from their partners at home, we will make big strides in reducing the wage gap.

2.Paid parental leave for mothers and fathers:

Paid maternity leave allows mothers to physically recover from childbirth and give their newborns the very intense care they need without risking financial insolvency. Paid leaves of adequate duration increase the likelihood that women will return to work, which helps reduce the wage gap in the long term. When fathers are extended paid paternity leave, not only do they get the chance to bond with their babies and care for their recovering partners, they are also more likely to take on an equal share of domestic and childcare work. Paternity leaves allow men to also become experts in family life and share in the work from day one.

3. Greater allocation of capital to women: Business ownership, although difficult, is one of the most effective ways to build wealth. Women face an extra layer of difficulty when starting businesses because they lack adequate access to capital. Only 2% of equity financing was directed towards female-founded companies in 2018. And women are extended lower levels of credit than men, which limits the types of businesses they can start. Our financial systems are literally under-investing in women.

4. Conscientious hiring and salary decisions by corporate leaders: We need people in positions of power to actively seek ways to recruit women, include them in their networks, and advocate for them to be promoted into leadership positions. We also need organizations to look deeply into their pay practices to ensure they are not systematically paying women less than their male counterparts.

5. Adjusted school schedules and tax systems to fit modern family life (as opposed to the farm life of the 19th century): Our tax systems and our public school systems were formed at a time when one-earner married households were the norm. Not only have they not kept pace with modern life, but they now serve as significant hurdles to women’s consistent labor force participation. When we start expecting our institutions to change, rather than expecting women to swim against the tide, we’ll start to see real change.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d love to witness a paradigm shift in the way we value women’s time and the strengths they bring to the marketplace.

Currently, we expect women to give away too much of their time and effort for free or at a discount — both inside and outside the workplace. We also expect women to uphold families, schools, and communities with their unpaid work. As a society we reap the rewards of women’s unpaid efforts as we simultaneously push down the risks to the individual who puts herself in an economically vulnerable position.

Instead of asking women to mold themselves to fit out-dated institutions and norms, we need to demand that institutions and social expectations change to open up more options for women and allow them to realize the full value of their own work .

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Many years ago I stumbled upon a latin phrase: Astra inclinant, sed non obligant. Translated, this means: The stars incline you, but they do not bind you.

Which is to say, the circumstances of your birth, your upbringing and the choices you’ve made up to this moment — all of those things set you upon a certain path. BUT nothing obligates you to remain on that path — another set of choices can be made, a different path can be pursued if you are bold enough to try and fail and try again.

This is particularly important to me because I was born into a conservative religious community whose message to me from a young age was that my gender was my destiny. While I deeply value the religious community I came from, this small latin phrase allowed me to see myself in terms that extend beyond others’ expectations. In fact, I began to see my own potential as both the greatest gift I have ever been given, as well as my own personal frontier — one that begged to be explored.

That latin phrase spurred me to stay in the workforce after I had my first child, and my second, and my third. It nagged at me until I applied to Oxford. And it encouraged me to take the huge risk of starting a company. Astra Inclinant: Your beginning may be written in the stars. Sed non obligant: ultimately, you are capable of altering the coordinates of your own destiny.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Melinda Gates or Michelle Obama — These two women are advocating for the value of the individual in a manner I deeply admire. They see the way that our institutions and societal systems funnel women and other large groups into suboptimal outcomes and they are committed to changing not only individual minds but entire societal systems.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.


“5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”, with Lyn Johnson of West Tenth was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap”, with Gabriela Reynaga of Holistics GRC

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Be patient with new kids on the block. Too often, an initial impression of an employee hinders their success for the duration of their time at that company. Maybe the employee isn’t staying as late as others or takes the full lunch hour while the rest of the office is hustling. It’s important to remember that you don’t know all of the circumstances of your employees. Good managers take the time to figure it out. Maybe then you’ll see that the full lunch hour or after work period was used to care for an aging family member.

As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabriela Reynaga, CRISC, CISA, GRCP. Gabriela is the founder and CEO of Holistics GRC Consultancy and member of the ISACA Board of Directors. At Holistics GRC, Reynaga offers expertise in governance, risk and compliance by providing audit and consulting services with a holistic approach and carries out risk assessments as well as addressing the convergence of technology and operations processes. Previously, she spent nearly 10 years at Deloitte in a variety of audit and risk services roles and worked as IT audit and governance director at Qualtop, as consultancy partner at Global Practice International (GPI), GRC manager at ISM, and BRS manager Salles, Sainz — Grant Thornton, S.C. Reynaga is a COBIT 5 & COBIT 2019 Accredited Trainer and a public accountant and has been actively involved with ISACA for more than seven years. In addition to her role on the Board, Reynaga is past President of ISACA’s Guadalajara, Mexico chapter and currently a member of the Board of Directors of ISACA and member of the Advisory Board of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (The GFCE). Reynaga is an international speaker with ISACA, ASIS, OAS and other organizations, and contributes articles on cybersecurity, IT and corporate governance for various publications.

Thank you so much for joining us Gabriela! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

I started professionally as a financial auditor before becoming interested in the connections between information technology and audit. I spent years working for big firms and after much dedication, I felt like it was time to take a chance on a new career path. My career was advancing much slower than I would have liked. I wasn’t reaching the positions that I could have at the pace in which I felt I should have and decided it wasn’t working for me any longer. In some ways, I felt like my career trajectory was hindered because I am a woman. I was told by my supervisor that women want families, not career success. That was the catalyst for my move to the governance compliance industry. I am a strong believer that gender is not a handicap to achieving professional goals, so I told myself I can do it. And I am! I joined ISACA and realized I’m not alone. There is a lot of information out there to support me. Now I have ISACA certifications in CISA and CRISC and became a COBIT 5 & COBIT 2019 accredited trainer. I’m living my dream by owning my own company.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

In 2010, I was working for a firm and came across a job opening for a Director of Consultancy position. I was a manager at the time and was not looking to make a move, but I spoke to my supervisor about what I could do to move into that kind of role in the future. He told me not to worry about it because women get married and have kids and then forget about their professional lives. I was shocked, but I have a strong character and took this as a sign I needed to move up and out. One month later I moved to another firm. This experience is a big reason for my success and why I’m here today.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early on in my career I was on an audit and was following my checklist of questions with a representative from the company very diligently. I was ticking off items on my list and asked a question about whether or not they were applying certain security frameworks. He responded with a framework title, but I was so focused on my checklist, I missed that the framework he cited was for a help desk, not security! Needless to say, my manager was very confused on why I said they were secure. That experience taught me an important lesson: trust but verify.

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

It is true, women are still outpaced by men in terms of earnings. ISACA recently surveyed its membership about the age and gender perception gap and the results are very interesting.

In my experience, and like that of many of the tech professionals who took the survey, women feel that the lack of female mentorship is a major factor for the gap — 56% of women respondents reported this as the main reason. Regardless of gender, professionals often reach a point in their career where they have questions and need someone to talk to. They feel stuck and don’t know what steps to take to advance their careers. This happened to me, too. I believe it’s always helpful to have someone who looks, acts and thinks like you in a position of mentorship who has successfully navigated through the same challenges. Unfortunately, there’s not enough female mentors in our industry to meet this need, yet.

Secondly, confidence is a major factor causing this gap. The ISACA survey found that 74% of women lack confidence in their ability to negotiate salaries, compared to 64% of men. This is very interesting, because we found that more of those women reported that they successfully negotiated for a salary increase in the last two years than their male colleagues. To this I say, take a chance! Start negotiating. Don’t let uncertainty be a barrier to your own success.

And the third most pressing issue is somewhat centered on my field of work. Men and women are not on the same page and it’s preventing us from closing the gap. Women are twice as likely, compared to their male counterparts, to believe that pay inequity exists between men and women in the IT sector. Men believe women don’t find technology fields appealing, while women overwhelmingly disagree. It’s these misperceptions that are perpetuating the wage disparity. We need to acknowledge these misperceptions and start to address them now.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

I am passionate about this topic. Through ISACA, I’m working to shine a light on why women are underrepresented in tech in an effort to expose the underlying issues and ultimately uncover ways in which we can bridge the gap. On a personal level, I’m sharing my story in the hopes that other women who may be facing similar challenges, feel like they can be successful too. Giving back to people in this way and through mentorship is my personal mission.

Can you recommend five things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

At a broader societal level, we need to take the following actions.

  1. We need to start thinking about hiring talent for their qualifications. They’re there because they think they can do it and their work history shows they can do it. Treat them with the respect that their experiences deserve and ultimately, give equal compensation for equal work.
  2. Be patient with new kids on the block. Too often, an initial impression of an employee hinders their success for the duration of their time at that company. Maybe the employee isn’t staying as late as others or takes the full lunch hour while the rest of the office is hustling. It’s important to remember that you don’t know all of the circumstances of your employees. Good managers take the time to figure it out. Maybe then you’ll see that the full lunch hour or after work period was used to care for an aging family member.
  3. I don’t believe in the saying “fake it until you make it.” I don’t think it’s ethical. My motto is simple: prepare. Studies show that women apply for positions only if they accomplish 100% of the requirements listed in the job description, but men apply even though they don’t fulfill all of the requirements. I think this practice is in bad faith and promotes unequal competition. If you don’t know it, learn it. Don’t say you know how to do it when you don’t. If we can all be honest, then we can begin better addressing the wage disparity.
  4. Be a mentor. We need more female role models in decision making positions, and in the tech industry at large. By sharing your experiences with others, women early on in their careers can learn from them and take better advantage of the opportunities that come their way.
  5. Finally, you’ve done all of the work to find diverse applicants that make your company better, but your strict policies are working against your female employees. Make it easier for women to stay at work by creating policies that allow them to take on the role of mother and career woman. Take the time to understand what challenges women are facing as they work to balance these roles, and together you can brainstorm ways to overcome them. By giving women more flexibility to do their jobs, while maintaining quality performance, we can limit the need for women to put a pause on their careers for motherhood and get more women in top jobs.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire more people to mentor others. If you learn something, I urge you to share it into the world. Giving back to those who have had less opportunity or are new to their respective fields of work is an important way to bring up a more diverse workforce and offer more people greater chances.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My role model is my dad. He raised me, my sister and brother as a single father after my mother passed when I was young. He taught me one of the most important life lessons when I grew up riding horses with him. One time, I was crying because I kept falling off the horse. My dad said to me, “If you don’t want to fall, don’t ride.” He knew the reward for riding the horses was greater than the fear that I’d fall again. That’s how I learned that I need to challenge myself and be willing to take risks to succeed and do the things I want to do in life.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I could have a whole party! If I had to narrow it down, I would share a meal with businessman Warren Buffet, philanthropist and female role model Melinda Gates and philosopher Yuval Noah Hariri, separately of course. It would be hard to have a conversation with all three of them at the same time, so I would start with Yuval and then chat with Melinda and finally end the meal with Warren Buffet.

There are a lot of things that we as a greater society need to discuss in order to optimize the use of technology and not abuse it. I would have that conversation with Yuval. As a result of that conversation, I’m sure I will have a bunch of ideas, so I’ll chat with Melinda about creating a plan. Her influence, interest in supporting minorities and passion for helping others would be invaluable. Then, from both of these conversations, I’d sit down with Warren to talk about putting that plan into action. It would be a long but fruitful meal. ?

Thank you for all of these great insights!


“Five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap”, with Gabriela Reynaga of Holistics GRC was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Mike Hondorp of Whalar

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Lean into what makes you uncomfortable. If I hadn’t said yes to meeting up with a colleague after a chance encounter on an elevator, I may not have had the career I’ve had.

As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Hondorp. Mike is Chief Marketing Officer at Whalar, the global creative content and influencer marketing solution. An industry veteran with over 15 years of experience, Mike has managed brand strategy, business development, and marketing for global brands including Instagram, Bonobos, and Ralph Lauren. Prior to joining Whalar, he spent seven years at Facebook, Inc. There, Mike was a key member of the Instagram Brand Development team, which launched Instagram’s business solutions globally. At Instagram, he also led the CPG and retail category product strategy, and provided platform guidance and insights to CPG and retail marketers.

Thank you so much for joining us Mike! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I’ve been in the technology and marketing industry for more than 15 years, and have managed brand strategy, business development, and marketing for global brands including Instagram, Bonobos, and Ralph Lauren, before I joined my current company, Whalar. Before Whalar, I spent seven years at Facebook, where I was a member of the Instagram Brand Development team, which launched Instagram’s business solutions globally.

I grew up in Michigan, and now live in Austin, Texas by way of New York and London. I have always loved storytelling and performing. As a young child, I loved being on stage, presenting, and sharing, and was a singer and actor. I would never have predicted I’d draw on these same skills in my career, but it does seem to make sense in hindsight. The passion was there!

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I like to say that my career at Instagram started because I was in the right elevator at the right time. Years ago, I worked at Facebook in London and was just getting ready to move back to the US. While in San Francisco for a conference, I walked into the elevator of the hotel where I was staying and ran into Dan Habashi, who at the time was just putting together a nascent Instagram team. We had known each other from various projects over the years and got along great, so it was a fun surprise to see him there in the elevator. On the way up, he asked how I was doing and what I was doing there, and I told him I was moving back to the US. He immediately said, “You have to apply for this job on my team.” My first reaction was, “there’s a team?” Instagram was still new then, having just been acquired by Facebook. I wasn’t sure what the role even was or what it meant, but as Dan walked out of the elevator on his floor he suggested we grab a drink and talk more. I was exhausted from meetings and my first inclination was to make some excuse so I could just return to my room and catch up on work. But something about this chance encounter pushed me to email him and make a plan, and an hour later we were meeting in the hotel bar to discuss the role and how I could help. I ultimately got the job, after passing muster with a very tenured Facebook legend, Matt Jacobson.

The lesson for me was that great things and great growth can come from taking a chance, pushing outside of your comfort zone and not just doing what you always do. In this instance, it certainly would have been more comfortable for me to say “no” to a meeting that I hadn’t planned on having with an old colleague, simply because I was focused on other things and drained from a busy week. But grabbing that drink opened the door to an incredible next chapter of my career.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What I love about Whalar is that we’re all about democratizing creativity. We stand out because we disrupt traditional creative and production models, but even more importantly, we’re empowering more creative voices who haven’t always been a part of the creative conversation, connecting them with brands they love and creating truly smart, beautiful campaigns. Bringing new and different voices into the creative conversations for brands opens up new kinds of thinking and new kinds of outputs, which is really exciting.

One recent campaign I’m really proud of is the award-winning work we did earlier this year to support the United Nations and galvanize global support for UN member nations to address climate change. With Sir David Attenborough as the leading figure, we activated our global creative community to collect social data from around the world. This campaign went on to reach a total of 1.3 billion people worldwide, ensuring the UN’s climate conference COP24 was the top of the global media agenda. The summit ended with global leaders signing up to aims to deliver the Paris agreements goal of limiting global temperature rises to below 2C. It’s so rewarding to work with an organization that is driving change both in our industry and also on global issues that affect us all.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m incredibly grateful to have a strong, core group of former Instagram colleagues that are still friends, mentors and supporters today. In the beginning, there were six of us on the Instagram team who were building and growing something brand-new, and as young people ourselves, we went through this incredible time of learning and growth together. Through those trials, we have an indelible bond, and today we’re “the squad”, and remain close as we’ve each gone on to our next chapters. We are constantly messaging and calling each other as a group for advice, support, celebrations — everything from “how would you present this to a client?” to “hey I’m separating from my partner” — we’re constantly coaching each other personally and professionally.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

For me, Imposter Syndrome is that feeling of being surrounded by people far more experienced than you, but somehow you have a more senior or at least sought after opinion. You don’t trust that you’re the right person to answer, or even that your opinion should count, because everyone around you is so smart and qualified. For me, it’s that feeling of insecurity and like you don’t belong.

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

Imposter Syndrome has many downsides, including crippling anxiety and constant fear of being found out. Feeling this way can mean you focus on the wrong things — for example, pain and fear avoidance instead of creativity and trying new things.

And when you feel insecure, you don’t want to make hard decisions or be unpopular. Unfortunately, a lot of leadership is all about having those hard conversations and sticking to your guns even if it’s not what people want to hear. It’s hard to lead without addressing the affects of Imposter Syndrome, even if you never overcome it entirely.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

I think Imposter Syndrome can make you more empathetic. Because you’re so attuned to your own feelings and the work environment around you, you strive even harder to create psychological safety for those around you. For me, I try to lead with vulnerability and transparency, and openly share tough moments so that they’re learning moments not just for me, but for my team.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

I really started to feel like an imposter as my job grew at Facebook. Facebook was a place for crazy smart, high-achieving, really young people. To go from more traditional corporate jobs to a fast-growing and boundary-breaking tech company turned the traditional corporate hierarchy on its head, and suddenly I wasn’t sure if I could measure up. It was humbling to feel like I wasn’t qualified enough to even be in the room with some of these people.

In my role, I was meeting with the heads of marketing for big, global companies, and even though I had far fewer years of experience than they did, they would listen so attentively to your counsel about Instagram because the platform was so new, and they trusted you to guide them through it. But I didn’t know what I had done to earn that trust, I just felt like I was there.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

For me, it never goes away, and it never feels like I’m achieving enough. I minimize this by continuing to prove my value and focusing on the work itself. I also try to redefine what a C-level executive does and how they behave, to make it more authentic and approachable than people can sometimes think of senior leadership being. For example, I really like relating to people on a human level — it’s fun to understand what motivates people, what their home life is like, what music they’re into, and just be fun and silly sometimes. That’s how we build connections with each other.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Know your material/subject, and over-prepare. For example, last month we launched our 2020 influencer marketing trends report with a big event for clients in New York, which I hosted. I had been living in the research for three months, so I was also confident that I knew my stuff. The event was a huge success.
  2. Lean into what makes you uncomfortable. If I hadn’t said yes to meeting up with a colleague after a chance encounter on an elevator, I may not have had the career I’ve had.
  3. Be vulnerable and transparent. It builds trust immediately and builds psychological safety. For example, I was speaking at a conference last year and mistakenly misgendered a creator I featured in a presentation to hundreds. I was mortified, and while I apologized profusely, I felt terrible for my error and any discomfort it caused them. Rather than ignore it or try to forget it, after the event I shared what had happened with my team, so that it was a learning moment not just for me, but for all of us.
  4. Understand that you’ll never truly get over it, and that’s OK. It’s part of who you are. I think about my Imposter Syndrome constantly, but I also know I can’t let it hold me back.
  5. Try channeling the anxiety for good — put it to use in your own way and let it motivate you. For me, I use these feelings to both fuel my ambition for great work that makes a difference, as well as remind me that everyone needs to feel comfortable to do their best work.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

For me, two of my biggest concerns are the climate crisis and ensuring equal human rights on a local level. Every human is worthy of respect, safety, and equity. These are quite personal to me; I live in a state where it’s legal to fire employees because of their sexuality, so I strive to support human rights and equality every day.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

There are so many! Whitney Houston — I love her talent, one of her songs was my husband’s and my first dance at our wedding. Michelle Obama — a human rights campaigner, she is inspiring and real. I relate to her transparency and vulnerability, and that she owns who she is.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram @hondorp

LinkedIn

Thank you for all of these great insights!


“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Mike Hondorp of Whalar was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”, with Tracey Smith of Numerical Insights

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

The overall wage gap of a company or population does not take into account whether men and women are in similar job roles. Only in similar job roles goes comparing salaries make sense since each job role can have a very different market value. Do we expect a brain surgeon to be paid the same as an hourly fast food worker? Of course not. It makes no sense to compare salaries of everyone together. To measure equity, we need to conduct an apples-to-apples comparison within specific job roles. Only then, can you measure fairness across gender.

As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the gender wage gap” I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracey Smith. Tracey Smith is regarded as a thought leader and strategic adviser in the field of analytics. She has over 25 years of experience applying mathematics, statistics and data analysis to business problems. Tracey is the President of Numerical Insights LLC, a boutique analytics company serving large and medium-sized companies. She holds degrees in Applied Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering and Business from well-recognized universities in Canada and the U.S. Her career spans the areas of mechanical engineering, supply chain and human resources. Tracey has been recognized as one of the “Top 50 Global Influencers in HR Analytics” and one of the “Top 15 HR Analytics Experts to Follow.” She is also CPSM certified through the Institute for Supply Management. Tracey is the author of several books and hundreds of articles published in industry magazines and online web sites.

Thank you so much for joining us Tracey! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

My career began in engineering 25 years ago. My job role was to use data analysis to predict the performance of automotive components. Throughout the years, I expanded the areas where I applied data analysis to business situations which led me into the areas of supply chain inventory analysis and human resources analytics. It was in the area of human resources that I began to extensively study gender-related data inside global companies. At the same time, I began to read scientific gender studies that had been conducted over the past few decades.

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

First, it is important to understand the wage gap measurement because it has been incorrectly interpreted as a measure of equality. It does not measure fairness or equity and the creators of this measurement admit his… but you have to go three levels deep on their web site to find this admission.

Inside any company or a population of people, the wage gap is the difference between the median salary of men and the median salary for women. The median is nothing more than the middle salary value if you were to list everyone’s salary from lowest to highest. The value that lands in the middle of this list is the median. This is what is done to determine the median value for male and female salaries. The wage gap is the difference between these two values.

The overall wage gap of a company or population does not take into account whether men and women are in similar job roles. Only in similar job roles goes comparing salaries make sense since each job role can have a very different market value. Do we expect a brain surgeon to be paid the same as an hourly fast food worker? Of course not. It makes no sense to compare salaries of everyone together. To measure equity, we need to conduct an apples-to-apples comparison within specific job roles. Only then, can you measure fairness across gender.

For example, a highly technical job commands a higher salary on the market. Non-technical jobs tend to have a lower salary value in the job market. Unless an equal number of men and women choose these technical professions, and we know this is not the case from examining graduating university classes, there will automatically be a gender gap in technical and scientific companies merely as a result of the choices men and women made regarding their university area of focus. I underline choices to emphasize that it is what men and women choose to do that impacts the gender gap measurement. It isn’t something that companies did. The choices impacting the gender gap happen long before anyone enters the corporate world. Blaming companies for the gender gap is incorrect.

That said, there are a few things companies can to do encourage the choices that men and women make in the work world. I have analyzed human resources data for several global companies to measure the fairness of hiring and promotions across gender. I have never seen a bias against women in the hiring or promotions process. For example, if 50 men and 50 women choose to apply for a management position, we expect that roughly 50% of promotions would go to men and 50% of promotions would go to women. In all of the data I’ve analyzed, this is exactly the case.

What I have seen in corporate data though, is that as women approach the management levels, they are less likely to apply for an internal promotion into management. We do not see 50 men and 50 women applying for the management position I mentioned above. We likely see 30 women and 50 men apply.

The reasons for this are several. Most people assume that entering the management level requires longer work hours and greater amounts of travel. For women with young children, they may choose to delay entering the management levels to keep their time free for family commitments. Additionally, studies have shown that the wording used in job descriptions can impact the proportion of men and women that choose to apply. If the wording uses more aggressive terms like “go-getter,” it can yield more male applicants. If the job description uses less aggressive words and is described as collaborative, it can yield an increased number of female applicants. Based on gender studies, large companies are now adjusting the wording in their job descriptions and explicitly stating when a job role will have minimal travel associated with it.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

My work is about educating people on how to accurately measure fairness for men and women. I take company data and use statistically analysis to analyze the fairness of hiring and promotions. I also use data to provide insight into whether a company is seeing a reduced number of female applicants for internal promotions and providing suggesting on how that can be improved.

My role outside of corporations is to educate the general population on how badly misrepresented the gender gap measurement is. Women do not “make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.” Women have predominantly chosen professions that command a lower salary on the job market. To alter the gender gap value, more women need to choose a career path that has a higher market value such as those in the areas of engineering, science, technology and math (STEM). These choices are made when women are very young and this is why we have seen a large number of events, conducted by educational institutions in partnership with corporations, to introduce girls as young as the age of 8 to technology.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Understand why the gender wage gap measurement isn’t a measure of gender equity.
  2. Encourage women to apply for management roles.
  3. Introduce your daughters to technology.
  4. Ensure young girls participate in activities that boost their confidence.
  5. Educate young people, regardless of gender, on how career choices impact their future financial success.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.


“5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”, with Tracey Smith of Numerical Insights was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Imposter Syndrome” With Author Mike Kitko

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Dive deep inside of yourself and see what’s in there. The chaos that I experienced was a direct result of living a life driven by what was going on in my outside world. I lived an unconscious life based on what I could see, hear, taste, and touch. I spent time trying to avoid the most valuable sense — feeling.

As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Kitko. Mike Kitko is an executive coach and speaker. In October he published his first book, “The Imposter In Charge,” about his rise and fall in his life and career from the imposter syndrome. He found external success in the world through powerful titles, incomes, and material possessions, and ultimately fell into depression, alcoholism, and the near collapse of his family before he began a journey of internal happiness. Mike now coaches executive leaders to feel as powerful on the inside as they appear to those they lead.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

During my childhood, my time in the Marine Corps, and in my rise and fall in corporate America, I never felt adequate. I always exceeded expectations and found success, but I never felt good enough. I lived a life of inadequacy and insecurity, just waiting for it all to fall apart — and eventually, it did. I lost my career and almost lost my life and family. After losing my second executive position in 20 months, I figured out that I had nothing figured out, and I began a journey of self-discovery and self-mastery.

I rebuilt my belief system, health, relationship with myself, relationship with my family, and decided to never do anything I dislike ever again. The only thing I’ve ever enjoyed in leadership roles was growing high-performing people and high-performing teams. Now I get to do that full-time, and I find adequacy and security inside of myself — not in my titles, income, or possessions.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I was the Plant Manager of an operating plant in Portland, Oregon, for Stanley Black & Decker. I took over an underperforming plant and built a team capable of outperforming just about every other facility and team in the business. We executed an amazing turnaround, and our financial and operational performance was best-in-class. I would put that team up against any other team on the planet.

Once my team and plant were in place and performing, I felt useless. My inadequacy and insecurity kicked in and I felt like it was just a matter of time before I was pulled into a conference room and fired for being excess baggage, because my team did all the work. I just hired, trained, and led them. I didn’t value myself or my talents, so it felt like I was unnecessary and a burden to the business. I started looking for another job so I could leave before I was fired. I was looking to escape because I wasn’t self-aware enough to know that I was talented and a valuable resource in the corporation.

I did escape and my family began fracturing from years of personal and relational neglect. We relocated to Missouri for a corporate move, and I was fired twice over the next few years. You never outrun the imposter syndrome until you look inside to find what’s real, uncovering stories that had been made up and healing them as you go.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I bring the intensity and courage of my Marine Corps training, my business acumen from years in corporate leadership positions, and new life skills and awareness to leaders and teams. I often find myself coaching the leaders on how to create a sound, strategic objective aligned with their talents and visions, hold them accountable for their physical, mental, and emotional health, and help them connect more deeply with their spouses in the same session. My coaching business is not just about excelling as a leader but empowering the leader within each individual to ensure that we can create a life well lived.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Definitely my wife, Angie. I spent years thinking that as the alpha male in the house that I was the courage, strength, and power in our family. Not true. I am powerful in my words, actions, and in the fire and wisdom I bring to the boardroom and my coaching, but I am not all of that at home. My wife has battled and overcome an abusive childhood, rape, neglect, addiction, and the lack of leadership in her youth. She left home at 13 and was legally emancipated at 15.

Angie and I spent years battling inside of an abusive relationship because I was a 50’s-style husband with strong egoic role identity and gender posturing. Angie has taken leadership over our family and demonstrated that she is the leader of the family, and she is the fuel for my passion and success.

Without recognizing that she is my power, courage, and strength, I definitely wouldn’t have built a coaching business as quickly as I have.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Imposter Syndrome. How would you define Imposter Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

My experience with the imposter syndrome is absolute self-rejection. When I was in deep in the chaos of the imposter syndrome, I felt like I held no value or worth in the world, and that I was just disposable. I was handed accolade after accolade, and reward after reward throughout my entire life — starting from 4 years old on. I felt none of it. I just felt like I was always in the right place at the right time, they were recognizing me out of pity and sympathy, or that I just had an unfair advantage. No matter how hard I worked or how much I knew or performed or achieved, I always felt on the cusp of complete and absolute failure.

My life was exhausting because I felt like everyone was valuable except for me. Looking back at it, it seems impossible, but I felt I was just taking up space and had nothing to offer anyone. I was just a nuisance.

I spent my entire life trying to not be found out. I hid who I was, my fears, and my weaknesses. I played roles and pretended that I had it all figured out. I shape-shifted to be who I thought I needed to be in order to be accepted and valued. I wore masks, and I eventually came close to sticking a gun in my mouth. At that point I knew I was missing something.

What are the downsides of Imposter Syndrome? How can it limit people?

People with the imposter syndrome feel they can’t be themselves and succeed. They don’t feel good enough. One of the pieces of advice we’re taught — “fake it until you make it” — is the imposter syndrome spoken out loud. The expression says human beings need to be perfect and have it all figured out all the time. Imposters become paralyzed if someone finds out they are not perfect or there’s something they don’t know or have.

I remember sitting in conference rooms making almost $200,000 per year hoping to not be exposed as a fraud. Being exposed meant not knowing the answer to a question. It’s like we need to be all things all the time to be relevant. Of course, that’s impossible, so we spend all of our time hiding in the shadows, and, in my case, people kept promoting me and praising me. It was complete chaos.

The imposter syndrome simply takes away your ability to feel like you matter, and that you can just show up as yourself, as you are in that moment. You need to be something you’re not to be valuable.

How can the experience of Imposter Syndrome impact how one treats others?

I was abusive at home. I intimidated my teams. My intensity, tone, and aggressive nature increased to protect myself when someone challenged me. It was all self-protection, because I was afraid that I’d be found out to be imperfect or a fraud. I hurt people and pushed people away to maintain the false façade. I lied to those who mattered to me because I felt that the truth made me less than I already felt, and I already felt disposable.

Different people react in different ways. More introverted people might react by remaining more quiet. I have a current client who goes into a shell even more when his inadequacy is triggered. I would become more outspoken and aggressive to try to prove myself or to try to regain control. You focus on deflecting attention away from what you don’t know or the parts of yourself that feel broken and incomplete.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Imposter Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

In my book “The Imposter In Charge,” I shared a story from my childhood. I went to a baseball tryout when I was very young. I remember riding home in the car with my dad feeling like I absolutely tanked. I felt like I’d be lucky to get picked at all.

When I received the call I was the first overall pick in the draft. Not only had I not tanked, but I had excelled.

This type of performance, self-assessment, and results showed up over and over in my life, and it was so confusing. I just always compared what I didn’t do well to what others did well. I compared my weaknesses to their strengths, and I overlooked their weaknesses. I couldn’t see their imperfections, but mine were my entire focus.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

I did shake it off, after I lost my career and income, came close to taking my own life, and came close to losing my family. I had to do a complete reset. My physical, mental, and emotional states were all in complete chaos. I had neglected my own needs for decades. I began a massive search for a new perspective because I knew there were some disconnects in how I processed life.

My childhood was traumatic with abandonment, neglect, and molestation, so I dove into those headfirst and began to recognize why I felt disposable. My beliefs began to shift to healthier ones as I found out deeper and healthier truths about spirituality and being human. I set out to heal every disconnected aspect of my life and being, and I found that the journey never ends. Inadequacy and insecurity still surface, but I have a better understanding of how to relate and manage them instead of trying to hide them away. I have learned to love and appreciate exactly who I am, and that fuels a desire and willingness to continue to grow and evolve. This self-love and self-appreciation has created a deeper sense of love and appreciation for everyone in my life.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Imposter Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Imposter”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Dive deep inside of yourself and see what’s in there.

The chaos that I experienced was a direct result of living a life driven by what was going on in my outside world. I lived an unconscious life based on what I could see, hear, taste, and touch. I spent time trying to avoid the most valuable sense — feeling. I tried to avoid physical, mental, and emotional pain in my life, and this caused even more fear, alcoholism, abuse, neglect, self-rejection, and crushing pain. When you finally realize all of the pain and suffering that is present inside, you can finally begin to heal the painful traumas showing up in your daily life.

We live in a culture that values sedation, avoidance, and escape from our internal suffering. Facing the suffering and pain inside of you will help you resolve it, and you’ll no longer fear having those conditions triggered. What you feel heals. I ran from my pain for so long that it shaped my world. You can reshape your world at any time by facing your internal torment.

The first time I dove into my emotional scars and wounds, and faced my childhood abuse, I cried like a baby. I kept feeling the pain of my abuse and cried for so long I became numb. This emotional work released and healed so much pain that I actually felt lighter. This was the first time, and I’ve done similar work daily from that day forward.

We all have pain and suffering trapped inside. Facing it helps you find the freedom your mind has convinced you that you can find in sedation, avoidance, and escape. You’ve got to feel it to heal it.

2. Fully embrace yourself.

You are perfectly imperfect, just like the rest of us. You are not broken — you have just convinced yourself that you are. We all have trauma, pain, and suffering inside. We have all made missteps and mistakes, and we all have done and experienced things that create guilt and shame inside of us. You’re just like the rest of us, so why not embrace and accept yourself? No one is making you hold yourself in the captivity of your past, and you can give yourself permission to release yourself at any time. If there’s anyone who uses your past against you, or uses guilt and shame as a weapon, eliminate them from your life. You deserve better. Guilt and shame are the weapons of the weak.

You have the same material composition as any other human being. There’s nothing that separates you from everyone else except for your relationship with yourself. Please understand that you’re perfectly imperfect — just like everyone else.

I have a client, and we’ll call him Ken. Ken is a high-powered C-suite executive who is highly talented. He had a checkered past and did some things when he was 13 that do not make him proud. This past experience involved manipulating and influencing someone to do something they didn’t want to do, for his benefit. Ken convinced them against their will. He never told anyone before he told me. When he revealed some of the things he had done, tears and shame showed up everywhere. I allowed him to vent, because he had been holding these in for too long.

When he reached a critical point and collected himself, I asked him what he learned from his shameful experience. He said that he has not repeated the behavior since and makes sure he avoids any circumstances that could put him back into a similar situation. He said he wanted to help people, not manipulate them. I helped him understand that his childhood experience, which created guilt and shame for a long time, created a heart of gold. Because he recognized who he didn’t want to be, he chose to be better the rest of his life.

At that point, Ken decided to embrace himself and his past, and his guilt and shame were released that day. You were born perfectly imperfect, and there’s not one single person on this planet of 7.7 billion who hasn’t made a mistake. Forgive yourself. Embrace yourself. Accept yourself fully and watch your entire life begin to feel more free and peaceful. Rejecting yourself hasn’t created peace, has it?

3. Fully embrace others.

When you finally forgive yourself for missteps and mistakes, and when you fully accept yourself, you begin to do the same for others. When you finally stop holding yourself captive, or cease holding yourself accountable for perfection, you begin to release others from those same expectations. Not one person is perfect, but yet we hold others accountable for perfection, too.

One great acronym that changed my life is L.O.V.E. — letting others voluntarily evolve. When we allow others to be perfectly imperfect just like us, we begin to embrace, love, and appreciate who they are instead of our own image of who they should be.

I was driving on the highway one day when I was nearly cut off by a person who didn’t bother looking before changing lanes. I honked my horn, I got super angry, and sped up to let them know that I wasn’t pleased. They sped away because they knew what they had done. I slowed down and cooled off.

A few miles down the road, I was still thinking about the audacity of the person almost hitting me. I put my right blinker on to change lanes to exit the highway and began to change lanes. I heard a loud car horn from the right lane, and I realized that I didn’t look around fully before I started my lane change.

That day I realized that the only time we can judge someone or reject someone’s actions, behaviors, or choices is when we are perfect. Until then, we can only L.O.V.E. them.

4. Decide what you want to be in your life and be it.

If you feel like an imposter, then it’s because you are not fully aligned with your natural gifts and talents. You are putting yourself in a place where you feel you need to be. You have rejected the notion that you get to do what you enjoy in order to preserve your lifestyle or achieve your desires. If you don’t wake up excited to embrace the day, where you will go, what you will do, or who you work with, realize that you’re missing out on the best part of life — living a life designed by you, for you.

I saw a speaker one time talk about how when he was chasing money, he would do anything his clients asked him to do. When he realized that he didn’t have money and he was miserable, he decided to stop doing things that didn’t excite him. He decided there was only one business problem that he would solve, and he tripled his prices. Since he was excited about that thing, he became excited about showing up for his clients, and because he loved doing that thing, the product he created was top quality. His customers began to refer others to him, and his business skyrocketed. He raised prices to slow demand.

In this life, you get to decide what you want to be, and you get to be it. To feel unaligned in your work and life brings suffering and pain to your daily activities. This gives the imposter syndrome free reign to kick in. Rejecting yourself is a key catalyst — and symptom — of the imposter syndrome.

You’ll never feel like a fraud if you are honest with yourself, honest with others, and just show up and do what you love.

5. Surround yourself with those who support your vision for your life.

Not everyone will cheerlead you on to success. Not everyone wants you to live the life of your dreams. Sometimes these people could be family or friends who are also settling for less than they desire. It’s critical to only surround yourself with cheerleaders and supporters instead of people who pull you down.

When my life collapsed, I joined a local mastermind. In that mastermind, I was the only one who was in transition, and there were a few successful millionaire entrepreneurs. I watched how they carried themselves, and it was different from unsuccessful people. They used different words and language, held different beliefs about money, and saw life and business much differently than anyone I had ever been around.

I listened and learned, and naturally my beliefs and approach to life began to shift. I heard how they saw the world, and that opened me up to new possibilities and opportunities. Where I had experienced lack, they saw opportunities. Where I saw roadblocks, they saw challenges and growth.

I’ve been in that mastermind for over 3 years, and my life has changed as result. That group of people changed the way that I perceive everything. I now coach one of those successful millionaires’ businesses. I also help him with life challenges. Things have shifted radically.

Who you invite into your life matters. If they are not for you, they are passively (or actively) working against you. If you surround yourself with unsuccessful people, it’s just a matter of time before you become unsuccessful. Surround yourself with those you wish to emulate, and it’s just a matter of time before you are just like them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would move humanity to realize that they never need to be or appear to be someone they’re not. I would inspire them to see that when they are not excited about life, it’s because they are living life on someone else’s terms, or they’re living someone else’s vision or dream. I find that so many people are living a life they hate to appease someone they love, or they are doing things that do not inspire them for the sake of outcomes that will not create the happiness they expect.

I would move people everywhere to realize that when you finally decide to show up as yourself, for yourself, and in a state of stewardship for society, you feel a sense of purpose, significance, and value that is unimaginable outside of that unique, authentic alignment.

When we all just show up as ourselves, for ourselves, there’ll be nothing left to hide, and we all can start living soul-out, and stop chasing the illusion of happiness that’s infiltrated our inauthentic society.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Bill Gates. I would love to sit down and learn from the guy who never shied away from who he is, fully embraced his strengths, weaknesses, and desires, created a huge vision, worked tirelessly to materialize that vision, and now continues to be himself while he solves the deeply embedded problems in the world. Bill Gates is the epitome of genius, authenticity, power, and love all wrapped up in an amazing human being.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can connect with my website at www.mikekitko.com, my LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikekitko/, my Facebook business page at https://www.facebook.com/mikekitkocoaching/, and my Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/mike_kitko/.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thanks for the opportunity! Live powerfully, inside and out!


“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Imposter Syndrome” With Author Mike Kitko was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Ricky Joshi of The…

“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Ricky Joshi of The Saatva Company

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Believe in your talents. Always look at your talent as the base rather than focusing on the task. If you know you can achieve something because of past experiences, then keep that at the forefront of your mind.

As a part of our series about how very accomplished leaders were able to succeed despite experiencing Imposter Syndrome, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ricky Joshi. Ricky Joshi is the co-founder and CEO of The Saatva Company. The Saatva Company sells luxury, affordable, and organic mattresses online, made with sustainable materials in the USA.

Thank you so much for joining us Ricky! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I, along with my business partner Rod Rudzin, created Saatva when we saw a need for a more eco-friendly and sustainable mattress in the luxury bedding space. My background wasn’t in bedding and lifestyle, though. I started in the agency world, but I saw a lot of potential in lifestyle as it merged a lot of my interests.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

As with any company, when you start out, you can feel like a little bit of an imposter in a new space. This was true for myself and colleagues because our backgrounds were in business. Though we were interested in lifestyle, we still had a lot to learn. We had several meetings and lots of back and forth where we just tried to nail down what our vision and mission statement should be. My biggest takeaway from those meetings is to always rely on your team. Business is not a solitary avenue; you will always need good people around you who can bring new ideas.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our company stands out because of our extremely competitive pricing. We are the highest rated and best priced luxury mattress online. We truly believe that sustainability doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality or pay an astronomical amount.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m grateful to Ron for his vision and his tenacity. Especially in the early days, I felt like there were many times I hit a wall and couldn’t pass through it. Ron is an idea guy — he’s great at thinking outside the box and I’m really grateful to be working on this venture together.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the experience of Impostor Syndrome. How would you define Impostor Syndrome? What do people with Imposter Syndrome feel?

I would define imposter syndrome as feeling like you don’t belong in a place where you’ve earned recognition. We don’t feel imposter syndrome about things we aren’t good at, but for some reason, we feel it strongly about things we’ve strived towards. People with imposter syndrome feel dejected, as if they do not deserve an award or promotion or praise for an accomplishment.

What are the downsides of Impostor Syndrome? How can it limit people?

The biggest downside is a lack of morale and motivation. If someone does not feel like they deserve something, they will act as if they don’t, and this is a huge disservice to talented workers who are making significant strides in their career. It limits the mind, and because of that, a person’s productivity and determination at work can suffer.

How can the experience of Impostor Syndrome impact how one treats others?

If you don’t have faith in your abilities or you continue to see yourself as lesser than in the spaces you occupy, then it will be hard for you to feel like the people in your workplace are your equals. As it affects your self-esteem, it will affect your work output and work relationships.

We would love to hear your story about your experience with Impostor Syndrome. Would you be able to share that with us?

Absolutely! Like I mentioned before, coming from the agency world meant I was well-versed in business. My interest in lifestyle was strong, but as I worked on the business model, attended events, and met other professionals, there were definitely times where I felt like I did not know what I was doing. While I knew intrinsically that I was competent, I found difficulty in navigating this new space with my new company. That’s what’s so tricky about imposter syndrome: you know you’re good, but it doesn’t always show.

Did you ever shake the feeling off? If yes, what have you done to mitigate it or eliminate it?

Yes, through consistency, I was able to work my way out of it. Every time I accomplished something, I would remind myself that it was because of my talents and perseverance, and that I deserved to be there.

In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone who is experiencing Impostor Syndrome can take to move forward despite feeling like an “Impostor”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Believe in your talents. Always look at your talent as the base rather than focusing on the task. If you know you can achieve something because of past experiences, then keep that at the forefront of your mind.
  2. Ask for help. I was fortunate enough to have Ron through this journey, but friends and colleagues are a great support system when you need a reminder.
  3. Start small. If something seems too daunting, make sure that you scale back and start with something small and manageable. Once you conquer that, it’ll be easier for you to conquer future, larger tasks.
  4. Visualize your success. Keep your eye on the prize and look forward to what you want to achieve rather than playing into your doubts.
  5. Prepare for disappointment. This is key. It does not mean anticipate failure; it means come up with a plan in case of failure. How will you move forward after the fact? Putting these in place early can help you navigate tricky personal feelings.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d love to see less plastic in packaging when it comes to bedding.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow us at @SaatvaMattress on Twitter for updates.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


“How I Was Able To Thrive Despite First Experiencing Impostor Syndrome” With Ricky Joshi of The… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”, with Megan McCann, CEO of McCann Partners

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Recommend women for internal career opportunities — Studies show that women are less likely to apply for a position if they don’t feel like they qualify or haven’t completed all the requirements. Internal business leaders need to keep this in mind and remember to recommend qualified women when positions open. It’s a win-win approach, as the company gets to keep valuable internal talent with less time needed to recruit and/or onboard, and women get a better shot at competing for leadership roles.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Megan McCann. Megan is an established IT recruitment and technology services leader known for building and leading highly successful IT services firms, and for the work she does to advance diversity and cultivate talent across the technology industry. Megan is the CEO of leading IT recruitment firm McCann Partners, which she founded in 2011. Megan and her team continue to expand their reach and influence, working with a growing portfolio of diverse and innovative organizations — from Chicago-based startups to companies with a global footprint. Prior to McCann Partners, Megan co-founded and helped build Geneva Technical Services (GTS), and was a strategic force in growing SelecTech — both premier IT recruitment firms. Megan’s impact on the tech community far exceeds her day-to-day work as CEO of her own firm. Passionate about attracting, retaining, and advancing women in technology, Megan is a proud co-founder of ARA, a national organization that seeks to promote women in technology and leadership through mentorship, networking, and open discussion. She is also a founding partner of the Chicago Executive Women’s Networking Group, and was recently recognized as a 2018 Enterprising Woman of the Year, a Midwest Women in Tech Awards finalist, and an Illinois Technology Association CityLIGHTS award finalist.

Thank you so much for joining us Megan! Can you tell us the “backstory” that brought you to this career path?

Prior to starting my own business, McCann Partners, I co-founded and helped build Geneva Technical Services (GTS), and was a strategic force in growing SelecTech — both premier IT recruitment firms. I was also the Director of International Recruitment and Assistant Dean of Admission at Wittenberg University, my alma mater.

The catalyst for founding McCann Partners was a desire to open doors for others. That continues to be the company’s guiding principle and daily inspiration. I like to come back to the idea that If I am opening doors for others to opportunity, challenge, innovation, creativity, and success, I am doing something important. The IT recruitment market is a crowded space, but my firm prides itself on being different. With a focus on creating meaningful connections and mindful solutions, we don’t just place talent. We take a deep interest in what matters most to the people and businesses we work with to help them grow and prosper.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

About 18 months ago, I decided to do something I had never truly done before. Turn off my phone, go completely off the grid (yes, from email, social media — everything!) and take a journey of self-exploration and reflection. I headed halfway around the globe to Bali, Indonesia, for a retreat that level-set my professional and personal sides in the most profound way possible. As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult for me to unplug. I have always been fearful about how my time away will impact both my team and the business. This fear led me to put myself on the back burner. After two weeks away and a lot of (a lot!) of time spent meditating, I learned that the magic of putting yourself first is remarkable. It reminded me that to create meaningful change and impact, no matter what your profession or avocation, you have to put yourself first. The shift has not been easy for me: it takes commitment and consistency. The experience inspired and enlightened me, and is certainly one of the most interesting journeys I’ve taken in my career.

Can you share a story about the funniest or most interesting mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This falls more on the “interesting” side of the spectrum, but about five years after I started my own company, I almost made the mistake of letting fear decide my future. McCann Partners experienced a perfect storm where everything that could go wrong, did. I felt paralyzed watching all the great work my team had helped me achieve go down the drain. I couldn’t see the positives, and it felt as if I was looking for a way out. I almost walked away.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t quit. But I almost did. Reflecting, one of the most profound lessons I learned from this near mistake is that the temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed. Because I finally was able to look myself in the mirror and face the fear, I’ve bounced back. I wish I could say I did it all with grace and strength, but it was a messy process. To this day, I keep this experience top of mind, and it even inspired me to create a list of mantras I keep near to help quell the fear when it starts to ebb.

Ok let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. Even in 2019, women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. Can you explain three of the main factors that are causing the wage gap?

The gender pay gap is a complicated issue, and varies greatly depending on race, socioeconomic status, and location.

Of the many factors contributing to the pay gap, here are three of them:

  1. Occupational segregation — Male-dominated industries tend to have higher wages than industries and occupations made up mostly of female workers.
  2. Bias against working mothers — Without flexible options to have time to care for family and pursue professional goals, women, more often than men, tend to choose to work part-time after having children. This often affects a woman’s long-term ability to earn as much as men.
  3. Direct pay discrimination — Simply put, statistics show that when men and women interview for the same job and have the same experience, men are offered more. According to AAUW research, in a comparison of occupations with at least 50,000 men and 50,000 women in 2017, 107 out of 114 had statistically significant gaps in pay that favored men; six occupations had no significant gap; and just one had a gap favoring women.

Regardless of the facts that frame the conversation, we all need be transparent about the wage gap and take action. That means women and their male allies coming together and shining a light on the issue, especially at the leadership level. For example, when hiring, companies should be mindful of the discrepancies in compensation at their organization, and fix accordingly.

Can you share with our readers what your work is doing to help close the gender wage gap?

As the owner of my own IT recruitment firm, McCann Partners, I’m in a unique position to observe the impact of the gender wage gap on the women we recruit each and every day. I see first-hand how they earn less than men in virtually every category, with minorities at the greatest disadvantage. I also see how moving up the corporate ladder can make the disparity even greater. As part of my work, I help women confront these realities and provide them with strategies for mitigating the effects. In addition, I spend a lot of time coaching women — industry peers, colleagues, mentees, and more — to do their research. There are a variety of tools available to ensure they’re equipped with facts (vs. fiction) that empower their personal advocacy. With my client partners, I often frankly discuss the cost of hiring — and retention — and the importance of not only pay equity in that conversation, but building programs to support women in the workforce as they advance.

I’m also actively involved with addressing the gender wage gap as co-founder of ARA (Attract, Retain, and Advance women in tech), a national organization that has reached more than 6,000 people in seven cities across the country. Finally, I’m an ongoing mentor in the Chicago Innovation Women’s Mentoring Co-Op.

Can you recommend 5 things that need to be done on a broader societal level to close the gender wage gap. Please share a story or example for each.

Here are five things I’ve identified for closing the gender wage gap:

  1. Eliminate base pay discrepancies — Simply put, offer the same salaries for base pay regardless of gender. That’s it. It seems obvious, but we’re not doing this enough as business leaders. Level out the playing field right from the get-go. Transparency within an organization is key here, and leadership needs to play an active role in educating their teams and hiring managers on pay equity.
  2. Teach women negotiating tactics — I strongly believe we can do more for young women, especially those just starting out their careers, when it comes to negotiating tactics. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from women that have never countered a salary offer, whether as part of a raise or as part of an initial job offer. If negotiating isn’t learned at an early stage, then women are already playing catch up right out of the gate! This is something we can begin to introduce earlier to give women and girls to educate them about the issue and how to take matters into their own hands. In the past few years, the Girl Scouts have added badges for STEM activities like coding and space science. I’d love to see one on salary negotiation!
  3. Provide them with mentors (both female and male) — This is one I’m especially passionate about as a co-founder of ARA (Attract, Retain, and Advance women in tech) and as an ongoing mentor in the Chicago Innovation Women’s Mentoring Co-Op. Mentorship. It is more important now than ever for men and women to come together to forge valuable relationships that are essential to career growth. A mentor provides insight into the complicated nature of corporate structures and relationships because they’ve “been there.” This type of input is invaluable, regardless of gender, and this transfer of knowledge is key to closing the wage gap. As a mentor, I am passionate about opening doors, creating connections, and empowering future generations. I also aspire to be an advocate and role model so my niece, goddaughter, mentees, peers, and colleagues, can stand tall and achieve in ways we’ve never seen before. I like to think of it as being a daring tribe together — forging stronger ties to help advance other women and impact future generations.
  4. Recommend women for internal career opportunities — Studies show that women are less likely to apply for a position if they don’t feel like they qualify or haven’t completed all the requirements. Internal business leaders need to keep this in mind and remember to recommend qualified women when positions open. It’s a win-win approach, as the company gets to keep valuable internal talent with less time needed to recruit and/or onboard, and women get a better shot at competing for leadership roles. I’ve recently wrote about a successful diversity and inclusion program that Groupon recently created called GREAT (Groupon’s Resource for Emerging and Aspiring Talent). It provides resources and opportunities to the company’s high performing, under-represented employees. By helping develop women, and other under-represented groups, into future internal leaders they’re creating change within their own ranks.
  5. Provide flexible work arrangements— Flexible work, such as telecommuting or shifting work hours, means that women with caregiving responsibilities can hold jobs in higher-paying industries and companies. It makes it more realistic for talented women who have children or are caring for a relative to find meaningful work in a job that otherwise wouldn’t be a fit for them. Even if a company doesn’t offer a formal flexible work policy, I often encourage women to speak up and ask about options. Some departments and/or managers may be able to make flexible arrangements for their teams, and it’s the start of a compelling (and very timely) conversation. In the end, it may be something that ends up changing throughout the organization.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, it would be one of equality for women and girls in our society, not only in the United States, but around the globe. It spans politics, sports, the workplace, family life, and so much more. And, while wage equity is vitally important, it is one piece of the puzzle. For generations, women have pushed boundaries and created change. Are we done? Not even close, especially when it comes to women in lesser developed nations. To be at the forefront of a movement for true equality for women worldwide would be an accomplishment for the ages. Even if my voice and actions don’t result in monumental change on that level, I am hopeful that stepping up in the ways that I do and working to make a difference will help create more cracks in the ever-present glass ceiling.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you don’t ask, you won’t give someone the opportunity to say yes.” This is one of the mantras I developed for myself after almost letting my fear get the best of me early on after starting my own business. Whether it’s reaching out to a prospect, asking an industry colleague to speak at an event or negotiating a contract, this is one of my cornerstones. It is an especially helpful outlook if you’re asking for a raise or negotiating a job offer, and this attitude is helpful in battling imposter syndrome. Don’t hold back in asking the question even if you feel like you don’t belong, shouldn’t ask or should remain quiet. As I tell my mentees, and myself, the worst you’ll get is a no, and you’ll have the clarity that you spoke up for what you deserved.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Because it takes more than one person to make sustainable change, I’d like to propose another scenario: a dinner party for MANY. I would invite those who have come before from who I can (and have) learned and those of the future, like my niece, nephew, and godchildren who will be tasked with carrying this mission forward.

If I had to limit it to one individual, I’d invite Melinda Gates. Not only is her recent announcement to commit $10 billion over the next 10 years to expand women’s power beyond impressive, but the way she consistently uses her voice to advocate for women across the globe is incredibly inspiring.

Thank you for all of these great insights!


“5 Things We Need To Do To Close The Gender Wage Gap”, with Megan McCann, CEO of McCann Partners was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.