“How to Battle Imposter Syndrome as a New CEO” With Sam Reese, CEO of Vistage

Listen to diverse perspectives. CEOs sometimes develop confirmation bias and seek the easy places to get answers that validate their points of view. Avoid situations where you listen to people who just tell you what you want to hear. It may make you feel smart and like you have all the right ideas, but it keeps you from seeing important pitfalls or better solutions. Good CEOs listen to contrary beliefs — both inside and outside their companies — so they understand the full picture.

As a part of our series about “How to Battle Imposter Syndrome as a New CEO”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam Reese.

Sam is the CEO of Vistage, the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. Over his 35 year career as a business leader, Reese has led large and midsize organizations and has advised CEOs and key executive of companies all over the world.

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’?

Before becoming CEO of Vistage, I was CEO of Miller Heiman for 15 years. I joined Vistage during that time and found the support to supercharge the growth of Miller Heiman while finding more balance in my personal life. Miller Heiman was sold three times while I was there, and I remained the CEO each time and was able to utilize the new partners to help take the business to new levels. While CEO, Miller Heiman grew to more than ten times the size it was from when I started, and it became one of the largest sales performance and consulting organizations. After a brief shot at retirement, I was recruited to run Vistage, and it was a real dream come true for me.

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

When I was 28, I had my first real leadership role as a district manager in a telecommunications company. I decided to interview all of my sales people and made some initial conclusions about them that unfortunately weren’t correct and lacked perspective. One of the salespersons realized our meeting didn’t go well and that I thought his success was purely based on luck or a great sales territory. He was quick to tell me that while he was not an amazing presenter, he was an extremely persistent salesman and that he would become my top salesperson. He quickly proved my initial judgment wrong and did end up being my top salesperson. I learned that managing from my gut wasn’t enough and that I had to be more discerning, use better judgement and gain more perspectives before I formed hard wired opinions. I also learned that a smart person with integrity and persistence is almost always a sure bet to being successful.

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

Our members and Chairs are what makes our company stand out. Their ability to come together and help other members in their groups problem solve to grow their businesses is truly remarkable.

One Vistage member, Curt Vander Meer, had just become the majority owner of a business, Endangered Species Chocolate, for the first time. While the business was already successful before he took over, he was aware of the responsibility to employees and customers that now rested on his shoulders. He joined Vistage, and those meetings not only helped him focus on his people, strategy and execution, but also how to have his business and personal life work together holistically. With the support of his Chair and Vistage group, he was able to prioritize family time while focusing on long term goals for his company. Since joining Vistage, Vander Meer’s company has continued to have double digit growth. Endangered Species Chocolate has also increased donations to conservation nonprofits, donating $1.4 million in 3 years.

Stories like these show the impact of the decisions that are made in Vistage groups each month. Our members really are heroes because these leaders are masters at growing their businesses while actively supporting their families and communities.

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?

During every cross country race in college, no matter how far ahead I got, my running coach would scream: “Don’t be content!” I would get frustrated with him. After a race, I once asked him if there was ever a time in life that he’d want me to be content?

“No, never be content,” he said. “Always try to improve.”

That line has stuck with me my whole life. The goal of effective CEOs is to continue to improve day after day and never be comfortable with the status quo for your company or yourself.

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?

Leading a company is a very lonely job, and everyone expects you to have all the answers. People who have Imposter Syndrome feel like they’re a fraud, especially in the early days of their first CEO role. It’s the feeling that you have fooled everyone, and that you might get found out. You may not have it all figured out, but you feel like you can’t share that with your coworkers or colleagues because as CEO you are supposed to be the one with all the answers.

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

The downsides include lacking confidence in your decisions. You may move forward too brashly or not at all, becoming paralyzed. This worry that people will discover that you don’t have it all figured out yet can prevent you from collaborating with others, building integrated teams, and asking important questions to get to the heart of challenges in your business.

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

It can affect how you relate to and connect with other people. You live in a constant fear that someone is going to find out that you are a “fraud.” As a leader this can affect how you work with your employees and other leaders in your company. We’ve discovered that many first time CEOs struggle with this feeling.

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

Many years ago, after running divisions of large Fortune 500 companies, I figured I was more than ready to be the CEO of a mid-sized consulting organization. But my first two years were not well timed, as I started in 2000 and then tried to manage the company through the dot com crash with very little success. In fact, at the end of 2002, I let the board know I was resigning because I didn’t think I was experienced enough to successfully steer the company through this turbulent time. To my surprise, the board convinced me to stay. They believed in my plan, and were patient while I worked to bring it to life. We successfully sold the company three years later, and I learned a lot about patience and building a strong foundation in the process.

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

Soon after that board meeting, I learned of Vistage, and the opportunity to surround myself with a trusted peer advisory group was the catalyst I needed to gain confidence in my decisions. That’s one reason why leading Vistage today is so special to me.

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. Listen to diverse perspectives. CEOs sometimes develop confirmation bias and seek the easy places to get answers that validate their points of view. Avoid situations where you listen to people who just tell you what you want to hear. It may make you feel smart and like you have all the right ideas, but it keeps you from seeing important pitfalls or better solutions. Good CEOs listen to contrary beliefs — both inside and outside their companies — so they understand the full picture.
  2. Embrace vulnerability. Vulnerability now is a strength that leaders want to be open about. They want to be clear about their shortcomings and their mistakes. This is important because it shows your team that you are trying to improve. A leader who thinks they must have all the answers — or else appear weak to their team — is not setting themselves up for success.
  3. Champion transparency and candor. Create an open environment where your team can celebrate the successes and learn together from the failures. You need to have one story for your team, staff and stakeholders, and the one story has to be the truth.
  4. Be clear on your company purpose. When you are clear about purpose, it invites every single employee, every customer and every supplier to make sure you’re doing what you said you’d do. And it creates a true north star that’s the foundation of integrity and trust in your business.
  5. Get comfortable delegating. Delegation can accelerate company success by creating new leaders who have the flexibility to solve complex problems themselves. It also frees the CEO up to focus on big picture items such as strategy, culture, organization and results.

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. 🙂

Author Og Mandino, had a famous saying that applied to me as an athlete and still applies to me as a leader: “Strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts, and weak is he who lets his thoughts control his actions.” In the spirit of Nike, just do it! While this can seem counter-intuitive, it is amazing how much can be accomplished by making the decision to get something done rather than continuing to contemplate a million “what if” scenarios. I often tell people to stop looking at the lake and wondering how many times you can skip the rock, and just throw the rock and see! So many people think of decisions in terms of a right one and a wrong one, when in fact there may be several right answers. The value and happiness of taking action cannot be overstated. When we take action we commit and we see things with much more clarity and consequence, and even if we make a bad decision we are in the moment and we can redirect things.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

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


“How to Battle Imposter Syndrome as a New CEO” With Sam Reese, CEO of Vistage was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Beauty: “Radiofrequency assisted lipolysis that can melt fat and tighten skin at the…

The Future Of Beauty: “Radiofrequency assisted lipolysis that can melt fat and tighten skin at the same time”, With Dr. Demetri Arnaoutakis

I am one of the few physicians in the country who offer an exciting new technology called FaceTite and Morpheus8. In fact, I was recently asked by the company to teach other physicians on how to use the devices. FaceTite uses radiofrequency assisted lipolysis to “melt fat” and tighten skin at the same time. I use it frequently for patients who do not want surgery and are looking for a “quick fix” to improve their neckline. Morpheus8 is radiofrequency microneedling which improves skin texture, tightening, acne scars and even pigment. I do around 12–15 treatments per week!

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Demetri Arnaoutakis, a Board Certified surgeon who specializes in facial plastic surgery, hair transplant procedures and injectables.

Dr. Demetri was raised in Tampa, Florida before he was recruited to Columbia University as a Division-I athlete. He was a member of the Varsity soccer team for four years. In addition, he majored in Biological Sciences and volunteered at local New York City hospitals and homeless shelters.

Following his Ivy League education from which he graduated Cum Laude, Dr. Demetri then returned home for medical school attending the University of Florida College of Medicine. As a third year medical student, he was awarded a highly competitive Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship. This allowed him to dedicate a year to research in head and neck cancer reconstruction at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital. Prior to graduating from medical school with Honors in Research, he was also awarded the George T. Singleton Prize for excellence in Head & Neck Surgery.

He then completed a five-year residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. There, he served as Chief Resident at Parkland Memorial Hospital, one of the best and busiest facial trauma centers in the country. Dr. Demetri then moved to Los Angeles for a highly coveted fellowship in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery with Dr. Andrew Frankel at the famous Lasky Clinic in Beverly Hills, CA.

Dr. Demetri is a board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and is an active member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He frequently travels to attend national conferences to perpetually advance his education and present his research. To date he has authored over 30 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters.

In addition, Dr. Demetri treats a wide variety of celebrity patients including ABC’s The Bachelor’s Lauren Bushnell, Emily and Haley Ferguson, Emelina Adams Miss Nevada USA, Sarah Rose Summers Miss USA 2018, Dessie Mitcheson Maxim USA Covergirl, Jane Slater NFL Network Reporter and many more. Known for his exceptional work in Beverly Hills, he’s been featured on Extra TV and regularly contributes to Haute Living Magazine. For more information on Dr. Demetri, click here.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am happy to share my story! I am the youngest of 3 brothers and in fact have for the most part have followed their footsteps. All 3 of us were recruited to Columbia University where we played Division I soccer. Afterwards, we all went onto medical school. My oldest brother, George, is a heart surgeon and my other brother Dean is a vascular surgeon. During my time working at Johns Hopkins Hospital, I developed a sincere passion for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. My career took off from there as I completed my training in Dallas, Texas at one of the premiere hospitals in the country. From there, I moved to Beverly Hills where I further specialized in facial plastic surgery and aesthetics. I love meeting patients from all over the country and now have offices in both Beverly Hills, CA and Tampa, FL.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

During my time as a research medical student at Johns Hopkins, I encountered so many interesting cases. However, one story in particular I will never forget. An unfortunate woman lost her left ear from an aggressive form of skin cancer. Yet, the surgeons there were able to create her a new ear by using her own rib cartilage, shaped it to match the other ear, implanted it under forearm skin for about 4 months to grow new skin and then transplanted it using microvascular surgery. It was an incredible story and felt very grateful to be there to witness it all at the time.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

My mother was a school teacher and always stressed the importance of education to me and my brothers. Success is of course a relative term. I would argue I became successful long before my medical practice flourished. To me, it was during college when I learned to balance my grades, Division I soccer and a job. Hard work always pays off. If you want something, work at it until you achieve it.

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

As I mentioned before, my mother played a huge role in encouraging education to me. As a physician, education is the foundation to my career. It is essential I have an advanced understanding of anatomy, physiology and technique when performing surgeries and procedures.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

Totally agree! I am one of the few physicians in the country who offer an exciting new technology called FaceTite and Morpheus8. In fact, I was recently asked by the company to teach other physicians on how to use the devices. FaceTite uses radiofrequency assisted lipolysis to “melt fat” and tighten skin at the same time. I use it frequently for patients who do not want surgery and are looking for a “quick fix” to improve their neckline. Morpheus8 is radiofrequency microneedling which improves skin texture, tightening, acne scars and even pigment. I do around 12–15 treatments per week!

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

It is essential potential patients do their homework about any provider they visit and the procedure they are considering. There are always risks to any procedure we do so it is extremely important to seek out specialists. It was an honor for me to have been nominated by InMode, the creator of FaceTite and Morpheus8, to be a trainer to other physicians.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

There is so much that excites me about our industry. I think innovation, collaboration and experience are the 3 things I am most excited about. There are always novel inventions and technologies coming out. When industry and physicians collaborate, it creates for a tremendous and peaceful patient experience.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

Smile! This lightens up your face and will even trigger happiness in your brain.

Exercise! This will help take your mind away from other stresses in your life and allow your body to rejuvenate.

Hug! Sharing intimate physical touch with family and friends will soften your soul.

Sleep! A good night sleep can help refresh your facial appearance without the need for botox or filler.

Stop smoking! Tobacco ages your skin, smells bad and overall not good for your health.

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 think we need to devote more attention to mental health in our society! So many people suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses which inhibit people from succeeding in their personal and professional lives. If we can help identify these issues earlier on, then we can help them get treatment!

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

My step father was a very successful hospital CEO for over 30 years. His life lesson to me I will never forget and always use: 5 P’s to Life

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

Prepare yourself for success!

How can our readers follow you online?

Please follow my Instagram @DrDemetri or visit our website:

www.drdemetrimd.com


The Future Of Beauty: “Radiofrequency assisted lipolysis that can melt fat and tighten skin at the… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Sergio Radovcic

Collaborate — look for equally crazy people. They’re out there and they’re looking for you too. When we wanted to compost our diapers, we found a group of dads in the Bay Area that were doing it on their own for years. We’re now partners, serving thousands of families with professional composting.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sergio Radovcic, CEO and Founder of DYPER, the first diaper subscription that is truly better for baby, planet, parent and wallet. Before DYPER, he helped launch 10 startups and has been involved in various entrepreneurship roles with 15 companies on three continents operating in real estate, lending, software, wireless and e-marketing fields. He is also the CEO and founder of STYR Labs, a leader in personalized nutrition focusing on condition specific intervention. Sergio resides in the greater Scottsdale, AZ area with his wife and 3 children. He is an avid ultra-distance runner, having completed more than 300 marathons, ultra-marathons, Ironman’s, etc. including three consecutive finishes at the infamous Badwater 135 Ultramarathon in Death Valley.

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

I am a tinkerer. From the time I can remember, I have always wondered how things work and tried taking them apart. At age 16, I started my first business and by the time I was 20 I already had an exit under my belt. Ever since then, I continued starting businesses when I felt that something could be done more efficiently. For example, in 2008, I started FitFul (a leading provider of post sporting event meals), after I ran my first marathon. I felt there was a need to feed athletes something more nutritious than a piece of pizza.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

When my daughter Mila was born, I was blown away by how many diapers I was rolling up and throwing away. Within months, half of my garbage was diapers. It made me think about what I was doing and where they ended up. I was recycling religiously, yet had no problem disposing of these pieces of plastic every day in my regular trash. It lead me to research alternative ways to make and redirect diapers from landfills. In the process, I made the world’s softest, most responsible, disposable diaper with my new company DYPER.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

We’re uniquely committed to making the diapering journey effortless and affordable for the parents, gentle for the baby and kind to the planet. You can’t do all 3 without taking massive leaps in manufacturing and in the business approach. We assure that your diapers will be there every month, on time and in the right size and quantity for a fixed price. We also offer same day 4-hour deliveries for those rough days when you run out and you simply need your emergency diapers. We made them better for the baby by avoiding prints, common chemicals, optical brighteners, perfumes and more. We made them from bamboo, not plastics to make sure they’re soft, absorbent and can be composted. And we’re closing the loop by redirecting them from landfills and collecting used diapers from your home (in some markets), in person, or via our mail-away service. We can then compost them professionally and reduce the customer’s impact. We also carbon offset the entire journey, from sourcing to manufacturing to disposal for every member, whether they compost or not.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

I’ve heard it so many times, it sort of becomes a right of passage. When I started DYPER I was told by most experienced operators in the industry that nobody can compete with a duopoly of big guys. Even if I was to make it on sales, I couldn’t make a profit or make better diapers due to raw materials costs.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

Yet, here we are, about a year later growing 10% each month with thousands of families supporting our mission to diaper more responsibly. We’re redirecting waste from thousands of households in California and scaling it up nationally. We’re rolling out in Europe and China, all while continuously innovating our products. We’re on the third generation of diapers in 12 months. That is what listening and learning looks like.

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?

You can imagine it is hard to isolate a person or two when everyone in a small team wears so many hats. However, my COO and long term partner, Paul, has helped me more than most to bring this vision to life by working tirelessly to make, deploy and deliver our diapers to so many families each month without fail.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

I grew up in Serbia, which is shrouded in rebellion. We’ve endured countless conflicts and survived so many changes, it is embedded in our DNA. We don’t take “no” for an answer and don’t mind going at it alone. I remember growing up and learning about our historic figures, most of which were celebrated not for their victories, rather for their courage despite all odds. Actually, I don’t know of another place and people that celebrate defeat more than my co-nationals.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

1. Ignore — let it be noise. It is not easy, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. I was told that plant-based diapers will never be good enough. While it wasn’t easy, we’re getting it done.

2. Outpace — move fast, then move faster. Your first mover advantage will only last so long. We launched and then kept relaunching the company every few months. Treat it as a new launch each time.

3. Collaborate — look for equally crazy people. They’re out there and they’re looking for you too. When we wanted to compost our diapers, we found a group of dads in the Bay Area that were doing it on their own for years. We’re now partners, serving thousands of families with professional composting.

4. Divide — it’s not one big challenge. It is tons of small challenges. Conquer each one like it is the only one. We looked at every problem — materials, construction, delivery, service, disposal, etc. as the only problem we had and looked for breakthroughs in each one. The sum can be great and if it isn’t, you go back and redo the exercise. When I was running 100-mile ultramarathons, I convinced myself to run one 5K at a time. Then I just repeated 33 times.

5. Track — if it can be counted, it should. Everything matters, not just the big stuff. Sometimes you won’t know why but keeping track of every metric will come in handy. When we hit bumps, and we’ve had plenty, we would tend to get discouraged. Then we would look at the data and see if it was really a problem or simply just an anomaly.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” said Carl Jung. It is so tempting to accept the inevitability of your background or experiences. Personally, I believe experience can be a major impediment to progress. We tend to look at what we survived or accomplished as the only pattern for the future when it is generally not. We’re a different person this time around and the world has changed around us.

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

I am obviously biased, but I think that the rock we live on is not looking healthy. I’ve seen it underwater as a scuba instructor and I’ve seen it in the mountains as a runner. We must reject irresponsible consumerism and adopt a responsible lifestyle that includes plastic-free and potentially animal-protein-free living. However, my personal obsession is with the formal borders, which I believe are the last truly barbaric form of legalized oppression. Being born on one side of the river does not make you a better human. We have to think about ways we can eliminate borders, reduce friction between nations and encourage personal and economic ties that are based on what makes us one and not separate. I was hoping I would see it in my lifetime, but my hopes are fading.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Certainly, although I tend to be very private. Find me on IG @sradovcic, and please follow @get.dyper to see what we are up to.

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!


Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Sergio Radovcic was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Beauty: “The ability to do virtual consultations has enabled us to respond to…

The Future Of Beauty: “The ability to do virtual consultations has enabled us to respond to patients more efficiently” With Dr. Johnny Franco

The incorporation of social media/technology has changed my practice and the face of medicine forever. I think most people don’t see social media and technology in terms of apps and videos as beauty advancements however I think this is some of the biggest leaps forward that we have made in the field in recent years.

Through Instagram and other social media outlets I truly believe that we have been able to change the perception and knowledge of plastic surgery more in the past several years that we have over the past several decades. The opportunity to educate patients about their beauty options and the process as whole has improved the conversation and understanding.

This technology has also allowed us to over virtual consultations for patients. In state like Texas there are many patients that live hours away from a specialist. This ability to do virtual consultations has made the state much smaller (don’t tell that to a Texan) in terms or access to healthcare. It also has enabled us to respond to patients more efficiently which in turn leads to better experience and care for our patients. The idea of the virtual/online consultations in going to continue to grow exponentially in all aspects of medicine.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Johnny Franco MD, FACS.

A graduate of Beloit College with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Dr. Franco earned his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Dr. Franco has traveled the world during his training. After completing his plastic surgery residency at St. Louis University he traveled to Chan Gung Hospital in Taiwan, then Gent University Hospital in Belgium and Miami Florida for an aesthetic fellowship.

He is currently Clinical Faculty at The University of Texas Dell Medical School. He also is a reviewer for the Aesthetic Journal and Annals of Plastic Surgery where he reviews the articles for publication from other plastic surgeons around the world. He is an active member of the Austin Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. He is also an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeon and American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

Dr. Franco has been featured in magazines such as Miami Shoot and the Miami Herald for his expertise in aesthetic surgery while in Miami. Since returning to Texas he has been featured on the Dana Cortez Show on 98.5 the Beat multiple times and on the Billy the Kid show on 96.7.

Dr. Franco also currently serves on the advisory board for Realself in an effort to implement new social media trends into their site.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up on a small pecan orchard in New Mexico. Since I was a small child working on the farm every weekend I always wanted to do something that would change the world while interacting with people in very intimate manor. I initially thought I wanted to do transplant surgery as this seemed to have an incredible impact in people’s life. Surgery its self was always attractive to me as it is this unique combination of expertise, manual labor and passion.

I was fortunate to be able to spend some time at the Mayo Clinic doing an internship doing transplant research. It was there that I found out that Joseph Murry is the only plastic surgeon to ever win the Noble prize for his working during the first kidney transplant. It was then that I decided to be a plastic surgeon as it allowed me this artistic flexibility with the expertise and precision of other surgical specialties. I am still working toward being the second plastic surgeon to win the Noble prize! Stay Tuned.

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

I did my medical school in Texas and always wanted to move back as I loved my time here. After being in practice in Miami for several years I had the opportunity to move back to Austin Texas. When I first moved here someone asked me what my specialty is in the aesthetic world. I told them that butt augmentation is the number one procedure that I performed in Miami. They said well that will change as no one wants that done here in Texas. I responded “we will see.” I stayed true to what I believe in and within 6 months we were scheduled out four months, and to this day butt augmentation is still the number one procedure I perform.

It was not that people didn’t want the procedure, there were not people offering the procedure in a safe and effective manner. For me it was a life lesson that you have to do what you truly believe in and the rest will take care of itself.

Are you able to identify a tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

This is an interesting questions as success is often difficult to measure and often very successful individuals keep moving the goal post of success to keep themselves motivated. However, a huge tipping point in my career happened when I fully incorporated social media as an education tool for patients into my practice.

Social media has allowed me to turn plastic surgery from this mysterious black box for the rich and famous to something that is real for individuals. This has allowed me to share information with my patients and patients around the world that don’t know where to start or what might be available to them.

Through our social media outlets patients have been able to learn about various procedures, me as a plastic surgeon and our office. This gives patients an entirely new open perspective on plastic surgery and my approach.

I never could have imagined how well received the incorporation of social media has been for our practice from our patients.

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

When I was an undergraduate student I was at a conference and walking back to my hotel room at the end of the day. This tall elderly gentleman walking in the same direction as I sees my badge and starts asking me questions about the conference and about myself. We talked for about five minutes until it was time to go our separate ways. Before he went in a separate direction he reached into his pocket and handed me his card, told me if I ever needed anything to reach out to him and walked off without saying another word. I looked down at the card and it said “Vice President Graduate School at the Mayo Clinic.”

I reached out to him several weeks later and the following summer I had an internship at the world famous Mayo Clinic doing transplant surgery research.

This interaction has always stood out in my memory as it was a random act of kindness from a complete stranger that has had an effect on my career more that he could have ever imagined.

Ok super. Lets now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

The incorporation of social media/technology has changed my practice and the face of medicine forever. I think most people don’t see social media and technology in terms of apps and videos as beauty advancements however I think this is some of the biggest leaps forward that we have made in the field in recent years.

Through Instagram and other social media outlets I truly believe that we have been able to change the perception and knowledge of plastic surgery more in the past several years that we have over the past several decades. The opportunity to educate patients about their beauty options and the process as whole has improved the conversation and understanding.

This technology has also allowed us to over virtual consultations for patients. In state like Texas there are many patients that live hours away from a specialist. This ability to do virtual consultations has made the state much smaller (don’t tell that to a Texan) in terms or access to healthcare. It also has enabled us to respond to patients more efficiently which in turn leads to better experience and care for our patients. The idea of the virtual/online consultations in going to continue to grow exponentially in all aspects of medicine.

Keeping Black Mirror” and the Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Social media has expanded the way information is shared across the world. However, it can be difficult for people to navigate all of this information. It can be information overload which leads to difficulty differentiating fact from fiction.

It is also important for physicians and providers to make sure that we are providing content that is educational for patients. It is our job as board certified plastic surgeons to help guide patients to realistic and safe aesthetic options to help them reach their aesthetic goals.

The other concern with social media is that there is this misconception of reality. I think it is easy for patients to look at pictures and videos that have been airbrushed or taken at different angles to improve the overall appearance. This can give people an unreal perception of beauty. As a plastic surgeon we have duty to help guide people through this difficult journey and explain what is realistic for each individual person.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the beauty-tech” industry?

  1. Social media has opened up the mysterious black box of plastic surgery
  2. The ability to educate people about the various plastic surgery advancements and treatments has grown exponentially over the past several years. This will only continue to grow and allow patients the opportunity to make better informed decisions.
  3. Virtual consultations have improved access for patients to specialists
  4. Virtual consultations are concept where patients across the country or world can connect with physicians or providers that may have specialized skills. In a state such as Texas it has allowed patients in rural areas to do consultations with specialized physicians without driving six hours for every appointment. This is truly a huge step in the direction of providing efficient and specialized care to patients no matter where in the world they live.
  5. Virtual Reality will continue to enhance patients vision of their results.
  6. One of the most common questions is how am I going to look after this procedure. As technology continues to improve so does our ability to share information with patients about their procedure and the their outcome. Technology has allowed us to create 3D virtual imaging so that patients will have a better understanding of what their results will be after surgery.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Patient safety

  1. Plastic surgery has become such a hot topic that a variety of people have wanted to start performing procedures. Many patients don’t realize that currently laws don’t limit who can perform plastic surgery procedures. There are many people around the country that are not board certified plastic surgeons that are operating on individuals. It can be very confusing to people that physicians that are not Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons can perform plastic surgery. In the near future there needs to continue to be reform that limits who performs aesthetic procedures to protect patients.
  2. Patients have to be careful that they are not led astray by someone who has a great website or social media account but has not been properly trained. Currently the majority of social media posts are done by non-plastic surgeons. This means that the majority of information being distributed to individuals is coming from providers that were not actually trained in plastic surgery.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Beauty Insider Tips:

  1. Confidence is beauty — Our exterior is just and extension of what is on the inside. The more confidence and positive outlook you have the more you are going to radiate.
  2. Embrace your individual beauty traits — Our uniqueness is what makes all of us sexy!
  3. Sunscreen — Everyone should use a good sunscreen (this is an easy one)!
  4. Surround yourself with positive people that are going to help you be the best version of yourself.
  5. Plastic Surgery- make sure if you are considering undergoing plastic surgery you are doing it for the right reasons. It should always be something that you want to do. Also ask your plastic surgeon questions. Often there is small things in the office that you can do that will make a big difference in refreshing your appearance.

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 for everyone to embrace their individual beauty. I think it is easy to forget that our individual difference that makes the world interesting. If we all looked exactly the same life would be boring.

I would love for everyone post something on their favorite social media outlet something that makes them unique. Once we start to embrace our individuality, I truly believe people will have a better understanding of how amazing the they are as a person.

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

If you really look closely, most overnight success took a long time” — Steve Jobs

This is a great quote as I believe people can get discouraged when they are trying to reach their dreams and they keep encountering obstacles in their path. The road to your dreams is not easy or short. Understanding that it is a marathon and not sprint is important to your success and to enjoying the ride along the way!

How can our readers follow you online?

Website: www.austinplasticsurgeon.com

Instagram: @austinplasticsurgeon

Snapchat: @austinsurgeon

Podcast: Plastic Surgery Untold

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Of Beauty: “The ability to do virtual consultations has enabled us to respond to… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Beauty: “A needleless way of introducing liquids through the skin without pain”…

The Future Of Beauty: “A needleless way of introducing liquids through the skin without pain” With Dr. Gary Linkov

I am working with the JetPeel machine which is a needleless way of introducing liquids through the skin without pain. I am specifically using it for hair restoration. Also, I have a new machine called the Mamba Trivellini for hair transplant surgery that allows a much more sophisticated way to remove hairs for transplant.

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Gary Linkov.

The City Facial Plastics Founder has a dual-Ivy league background and a foundation in psychology. This allows Dr. Linkov fuses medical knowledge with a compassionate nature. His desire to bring the most optimal, natural-looking results ensures that he’s constantly perfecting and innovating his approach to cosmetic surgery. He even trademarked his unique version of the rising lip lift trend, “The Elelyft”! This procedure restores symmetry between the nose and mouth and creates a natural fullness to the upper lip. He also takes the lead as a true hair expert, with City Facial Plastics being one of the only practices in the country that specializes in body hair transplants. Additionally, he offers all cosmetic and reconstructive facial procedures, along with non-invasive treatments like botox, fillers and PRP.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I originally was interested in head and neck anatomy and did a residency in head and neck surgery. But my artistic interests brought me to a subfield of head and neck surgery which is facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. I later also did additional training in hair transplant surgery.

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

I was doing an eyebrow hair transplant and the patient started telling me and the team about how he was working with a new company that allowed a new form of delivery of platelet rich plasma, which we were combining with the transplant for the patient. This new delivery method did not involve needles he said, which at first sounded absurd. Fast forward a year and I did the first research study on this new delivery method and was featured on the Dr.Oz show with it.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

In my practice it has been quite gradual. I don’t think there was a tipping point. Putting out content in today’s social media craze is important for increased growth, especially as word-of-mouth exposure builds.

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

Definitely my uncle and his decision to build out a wellness space in NYC. That gave me the ability to focus on outfitting a private operating room and start my practice in a brand-new space.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

I am working with the JetPeel machine which is a needleless way of introducing liquids through the skin without pain. I am specifically using it for hair restoration. Also, I have a new machine called the Mamba Trivellini for hair transplant surgery that allows a much more sophisticated way to remove hairs for transplant.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

New technology in general has its risks. Just being it is new does not mean it’s better or safer than existing techniques and technologies. Another misconception is that surgery is surgery and techniques do not change, rather surgery is also becoming more advanced as we analyze our outcomes.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

-Less-invasive methods of achieving results with less downtime

-Safer machines and techniques

-Miniaturization of machines to fit into smaller spaces

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

-Less experienced providers offering treatment with real risks that they cannot handle or recognize

-People promoting procedures that do not really work in place of more well studied procedures that do work

-Misinformation being spread online and providers misrepresenting themselves and their skillsets that fool patients

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
-Skin care is important, starting with sun screen and Vit C/E for antioxidant effects.

-Nutraceuticals (vitamins) can help strengthen hair for men and women

-Proper makeup can do a lot to cover up imperfections and to avoid doing more invasive things

-Feeling beautiful involves being in a great state of mind, so relaxation and taking care of one’s mental health is super important

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. 🙂

Giving back through charity is critical to help those less fortunate. I am in the process of starting a program that will give money to a hair loss non-profit for every hair transplant that I do.

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

Treat everyone with respect. I treat the cleaning woman in the office with the same respect as a VIP patient. I think the cosmos tend to reward those who spread positivity and make those around them feel appreciated.

How can our readers follow you online?

Website: https://cityfacialplastics.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drgarynyc/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cityfp/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Of Beauty: “A needleless way of introducing liquids through the skin without pain”… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dreamers: “They told me it was impossible and I did it anyway” With Melanie Hartmann

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Select no more than three goals to focus on at one time. Ideally, focusing only on one at a time. It’s important to write these goals down every single day. I do not currently do this but try to most days. Doing so allows you to check-in with your goal(s) and yourself to make sure that what you are working towards continues to align with your values and what you want out of life.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie Hartmann, owner of Creo Home Buyers, a house-buying company in Maryland.

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

Well, I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. Having grown up in Baltimore, I knew there was so much good there and I felt that the best way for me to make a positive impact was to work in that school system. Through lots of trials and tribulations, I became a school psychologist and landed a job in that district. Unfortunately, after several years, I realized that while I loved much of what I did, the career was ultimately not a good fit for me. While I no longer actively work in the field of school psychology, it still holds a very dear place in my heart. I now own and operate a house-buying company in Baltimore, MD.

As our business grows, the more we will be able to work on our mission of supporting disadvantaged youth by supporting academic interventions in schools, job training, and scholarships for college.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on establishing the credibility of our company and the visibility of our website so that we can reach more people that might need to or benefit from selling their property in a non-traditional way. The more the business grows, the more value we provide to others, makes achieving our mission and our vision of helping others more of a reality.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

Honesty. Genuine

and a genuine desire to help others. Yes, I am in this business with the goal to make a profit on every single deal we do. However, our underlying mission drives us forward and our plan is to begin actively focusing on this mission in 2020. As our company grows, so will the positive impact that we will be able to make in the lives of others who might have had the odds stacked against them as I did growing up. I want to be able to provide that support to those who want it and need it. I know that without outside help and support I likely would not have made it nearly as far as I did.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

I honestly don’t remember exactly when the idea of investing in real estate first popped into my head, but I believe it may have been when I was about 19 or 20. I remember when my mother purchased her first house and her realtor showed us a chart that detailed exactly how much money she had “thrown away” on rent over the years. It was shocking to me. That chart showed me the value of owning rental properties and I just knew that investing in real estate was ultimately something that I wanted to do.

Money of course was needed, as was a secure and steady job so that I could afford to purchase these properties. Well, I checked off all of those boxes and had saved up for a down payment on a rental property. By the time I was ready to buy, the market had begun to pick up again and what I had saved was no longer enough. I looked for almost a year, but I had no properties to show for it. I researched how other investors acquired their properties and I decided to leave my relatively safe and steady full-time career as a school psychologist, a career that I had worked so incredibly hard to obtain, to jump all in into real estate investing full-time. Many people cautioned me not to but I came to realize that if you want things you’ve never had, you must do things you’ve never done. Yes, the possibility of failure was and is very real. Businesses go under every day! However, I just knew this was something I needed and truly wanted for myself. Ultimately, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

It was in 2018 that I made the decision to leave my career as a school psychologist to start a company that buys houses in Baltimore, MD. The day I made that decision I posted the idea on BiggerPockets, a website for networking and learning about real estate investing. The outpour of naysayers was shocking to me. I expected it from my friends and family, but I naively assumed that of all places, BiggerPockets would be the most supportive forum to express my dream of pursuing real estate investing. Though, looking back at and reading my initial post, I can understand where those naysayers were coming from. My closest friends and family all expressed their concerns about my decision, and understandably so, but ultimately stated they’d support whichever direction I decided to take. However, I knew deep down that this was what I wanted to do, and I was going to go after it. It was a crazy idea and I was fully aware that it may not work out. I also knew that if I only dipped my toe in rather than jumping in full-time, I wouldn’t give it my all, so I went all-in.

To minimize the naysayers in my life, I didn’t bring up my dream or what I was doing to most people outside of the real estate world. If you aren’t actively investing in real estate and don’t want to be, it is more than a little intimidating. Just about everyone knows at least one person who “failed” at it in some way or another and are more than happy to share those horror stories with you. I was fully aware that most people who pursue real estate investing end up giving up before they really ever get started. If I had quit after 1 month, 2 months, or even 5 months, I wouldn’t have closed on my first deal. If I had quit, I would have been just another statistic that didn’t make it. I was determined to prove to myself that I could do this and so I bore down and kept pushing.

To say that my first year in business was difficult would be an understatement. I had minimal experience in real estate, next to no connections in the real estate industry, and so many other things that were stacked against me. It was much more difficult than I anticipated but I knew it was possible even if others didn’t believe. I realized early on that in order to be successful I had to surround myself with people who were doing what I wanted to do.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

From the day I decided to leave my career to start a house-buying company, it took me almost six months before I closed on my first deal. Six months! And the little amount I made certainly did not come close to covering the expenses I had incurred over those six months. However, even though it was small, it was with that closed deal that I proved to myself that my dream was possible. Once that happened, I knew it would become easier to ignore or dismiss any naysayer that came my way. A few months and a few deals later I bought a property in cash that needed to be torn down. I ended up selling it to a builder and invested the vast majority of those profits back into my business. A few more deals later, and now we are rehabbing our first house of 2020 in Baltimore, MD. It’s still amazing to me to think that just two years ago how completely different my life was. Never in a million years would I have thought I would leave my career to pursue real estate investing full-time and that I’d be in the middle of rehabbing houses in Baltimore or writing an article about it such as this one.

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?

Other than my husband, my best friends, and the family I have who have always supported me, the first person that came to mind is Jerryll Noorden. What’s even funnier is that I have yet to meet this individual in person but his influence on my real estate journey simply cannot be denied. He was there on BiggerPockets actively defending my decision against the naysayers. Why? Well, he had been there and done that himself and is now widely successful. He is a robotics scientist who used to work for NASA. He left his lucrative career to pursue real estate investing full-time without really knowing what he was doing before-hand, similar to me. He was there on BiggerPockets to put some wind in my sails. His support meant a lot to me, probably more than he will ever know. Leaving my career wasn’t the “wise” or “safe” decision but seeing someone else who had done this, struggled through it but was determined to be successful (and ultimately was) was and is truly an inspiration to me. I’m working with him now to further grow my business and I can’t wait to see what the year 2020 and beyond will bring!

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

My mother and I moved around a lot so I never really felt like I had a place to call home. We had many eviction scares during my childhood. I got into the habit of saving any money I received to cover any shortages in rent so we wouldn’t lose our place. As soon I was old enough to be employed, I got a job partially for this very reason. Many things were stacked against me growing up but the one thing I knew was that once I had the ability to control what happened in my life, I would not live that way as an adult. I wanted a better life for myself and any children that I might have. That was my drive early on. I just wanted to get as far away from that life as I possibly could. It took me a while to find my path but I never stopped working and searching for it. Looking back, every single thing that I have truly ever wanted in my life I have achieved or obtained through hard work and a determination not to quit. This is not to boast or brag, but it was a truth that helped me stick with this real estate journey, especially in the beginning when at times it all seemed nearly impossible. You have to believe in yourself and your mission or the slightest thing will knock you down and keep you down. Instead of saying, “I can’t” ask yourself, “How can I?” It’s truly amazing the possibilities that your brain will come up with when you remove “not” and insert “how.”

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Select no more than three goals to focus on at one time. Ideally, focusing only on one at a time. It’s important to write these goals down every single day. I do not currently do this but try to most days. Doing so allows you to check-in with your goal(s) and yourself to make sure that what you are working towards continues to align with your values and what you want out of life.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are doing the things that you want to do. If you are always the most experienced person in the room, you need to find yourself a new room to hang out in. Yes, it’s intimidating but once you show that you are serious those who are more experienced are often more than happy to help you move on to the next level. You just have to find the right people.
  3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Growth and change is uncomfortable but it’s simply a part of the process. In fact, if you are not uncomfortable in your pursuits then you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. If you want change, you have to get out of your comfort zone. There’s no other way around it. Eventually, your comfort zone will expand and what was once scary is scary no longer, pushing you to new areas of growth.
  4. Know that there will be challenges but they don’t mean you are on the wrong path. If you are going after and working towards something that you truly desire, you must believe that it will be worth it. Even if you have to change course and try a different path, as long as you are working towards your goal, it will all be worth it in the end.
  5. If you are going after something big or something that is drastically different than anything you have ever done, you must build your support network. Yes, you will find that even among the most well-meaning of your friends and family there will be a never-ending supply of naysayers. Your support network must include people who truly want to see you succeed and who will push you to keep going even when times are challenging. If you surround yourself with people who have “been there, done that” it’s a heck of a lot easier to ride out all of the storms that will inevitably arise.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

ADD A JOKE OR REMOVE THIS FROM EARLIER. If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done. The pull towards a goal must be greater than the desire to remain the same, otherwise it will be too easy to give up once the challenges start piling on.

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

NO MORE HUMBLE BEGININGS. Our mission is to give back to our local community through academic and career supports. I’m not yet sure what that will entail but it will be on a small scale in 2020. In 2021, we have plans to grow and expand the charitable side of our business. If we could eventually expand our efforts nationwide, well, that would truly be another dream come true!

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Yes, we haven’t been as active on social media as of yet but we plan to expand that side of our business in 2020 as well. You can follow us on Twitter

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!


Dreamers: “They told me it was impossible and I did it anyway” With Melanie Hartmann was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Jill Stanton of Screw The Nine…

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Jill Stanton of Screw The Nine To Five

So often people focus on what they think they have to DO in order to get what they want, but that’s backwards. Instead, you need to determine who you need to BE — the beliefs you need to live by, the habits you need to have, the characteristics you need to embody and the identity you need to maintain to achieve what you want to achieve. For example, if you want to be an entrepreneur and start a business you have to be driven by a desire to serve people, you need to be consistent, comfortable with the uncomfortable, a risk taker, self-motivated, unfazed by other people’s opinions and self aware…to name a few.

However, what most people do is think they need to operate from a place of pure push and grit in order to create what they want. Yet most of the time that simply ends in frustration and burnout because grit and hustle will only take you so far. It’s the ways of BE’ing that will carry you through moments of failure, stress and uncertainty and help you create everything you say you want.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jill Stanton.

Jill Stanton is the co-founder of Screw The Nine To Five where she helps unsatisfied employees quit their jobs and start online businesses. Coined by Forbes as “a destination for up-and-coming online entrepreneurs,” Screw The Nine To Five has inspired tens of thousands of new entrepreneurs to quit their jobs, build thriving businesses, and live lives of meaning and purpose.

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

Our story begins back in 2009 in Toronto, Canada where we met on a blind date. The rest is history, and we’ve been traveling the world (having lived in 14 countries together so far), running our businesses and raising our little guy from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.

Speaking of businesses…

We started our first business together in 2012 on a whim when Josh pitched me the idea of starting a skincare affiliate site together as a way of replacing the income we were each making from our individual businesses at that time. We soon had over 30 websites in different niches from skin care to weight loss to supplements to personal hygiene to high heels.

In December 2012 we were in Costa Rica for our wedding. We were sitting on our balcony, having a quiet moment before welcoming our guests and we started talking about starting ANOTHER website. This time though our site would share our story and everything we had learned building these sites while traveling the world, and Screw the Nine to Five was born.

The only problem was, we had never built a personal brand before or put our names and faces “out there” in any kind of “expert” capacity. Our first online course launch sold precisely ZERO and while that nearly took us out of the game (because we felt SO defeated), it was one of the best lessons we learned because it taught us the importance of teaching what you know. We pivoted our business to start teaching affiliate marketing, had our first successful launch (a whopping $8,400!) and then our second ($38,000), started a podcast, a free FB group (which grew to over 45,000 members) and then kicked the doors open to a monthly membership community we affectionately called, Screw U.

And to think it all started on a blind date.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We sure are, and the inspiration for it came after taking a bold leap in our business and shutting down every piece of it that no longer lined up with our core values.

Because of that we were able to have the mental white space to dream up our next moves in our business and how it will serve our audience.

It’s called Shift To Six and it will be a 3 month program and live event experience designed to help online course creators, coaches and membership site owners cross the $100,000/year threshold in their business.

The reason we believe in it so hard is because after working with thousands of up-and-coming entrepreneurs over the last 7 years we’ve realized that when they cross the six-figure mark, something shifts in them.

It’s almost like their eyes are opened up to even more possibilities, they build an exciting amount of confidence and they start dreaming bigger dreams.

So, our big 10 year vision is to help 100,000 entrepreneurs cross the $100,000/year mark — which is a ripple effect of $10 billion generated!

And honestly, we find that goal insanely exciting (and kinda scary) to chase…so we’re going for it!

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

I believe what makes Screw The Nine To Five stand out is our commitment to transparency and honesty, even when it feels scary.

There are SO many brands in our space that paint this unrealistic rosey picture of what entrepreneurship looks like (hot chicks + fast cars, anyone?) and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

We’re committed to pulling back the veil and showing the real side of entrepreneurship — the challenging parts, the fulfilling parts, the exciting parts, the stresses, the successes and how it helps you become the best version of yourself.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

Hands down it has to be the moment we decided to shut down every single piece of our business that was no longer serving us.

We had a membership program called Screw U that helped put Screw The Nine To Five on the map, made us more money than we had ever made at that point ($332,000/year) and gave us the opportunity to serve thousands of die-hard members. For 3 years we served that community day in and day out. We would host coaching calls, create courses, host an annual members-only live event and even created a virtual co-working space where members could hang out online and co-work together.

And then our son was born in February 2018 and all of a sudden things started feeling “off”. We no longer felt aligned with the business we had built or the work we were doing; which caused us a ton of stress because we couldn’t figure out WHY we were feeling this way.

Fast-forward to July 2018 and we finally had a breakthrough moment of clarity and realized (or gave ourselves the permission to admit) we no longer wanted to run Screw The Nine To Five the way it was built. We didn’t want our membership site anymore….or our courses, our coaching services or even our free Facebook Group! I wish I could properly convey how stressful (yet, oddly liberating) this realization was for us at this time.

So we did the only thing we could think of: We told everyone inside our membership, our courses and our free community that as of December 31, 2018 we would be shutting down every single piece of our business that no longer aligned with our values, who we wanted to be and what we wanted to create inside Screw The Nine To Five.

What’s even crazier about this story is we actually told our members in person at our members-only live event. The reason we did that is because it felt like the best way to stay in integrity with them, be honest with them and give them the respect they deserved. After all, a big portion of our members had been in the community since Day 1! So we didn’t want to hide anything or take the easy route and tell them online where we could hide behind our computers and not tell them to their face.

Their reaction though was unlike anything we expected — and a true example of how amazing these humans were! 98 percent of them were overwhelmingly encouraging and understanding; some even crying or coming up to give us hugs.

One member even told us that this felt like a moment where “the kids are moving out of the house”, a touching metaphor since our members called themselves “Scramily” (a.k.a. Screw Family).

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong?

Sure, there were some people who didn’t like the decision (and 3 people who kicked up a little bit of a fuss), but out of over 650+ members, I think that is a pretty amazing ratio and we will forever be grateful for the time we got to spend with them.

In fact, a lot of them are still in our worlds and found ways to work with us in 2019 through different promotions we were running, live events we were hosting and quite a few have mentioned that they will be the first ones to join Shift To Six.

It’s now just slightly more than one year after making that decision and our business is more successful than it’s ever been (we even surpassed 2018’s revenue in the first 8 months of 2019), we’re happier than we’ve ever been and our vision for our mission is clearer than it’s ever been.

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 know this is going to sound so cheesy and cliche, but it’s my husband, Josh. He’s been on this entrepreneurial journey with me for the last 8 years. He’s been in the ring with me, going the rounds with me, wading through the uncertainty with me, navigating the ups and downs with me, celebrating the wins with me, pouring me a tall glass of wine when things feel challenging, and building this movement with me. He’s taught me so much about managing and leading a team, creating the right business systems and structure, and the importance of always reinvesting in yourself as an entrepreneur.

He’s been my greatest teacher and mentor, and is one of the smartest and most talented entrepreneurs I know.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

I’m going to take us back to my high school years to a time when I was talking to the school’s Guidance Counselor. She had brought me in to talk about my post-secondary plans and I mentioned that I had my eye on a few schools that had Radio and Television Broadcast programs.

I had told her that for years I dreamt of doing something that made an impact on people. Something that would light up their screens and bring joy into their lives AND wouldn’t have me clocking hours upon hours at a drab corporate job I hated.

She looked me dead in the face, with a faint look of disbelief and just said “Jill, sweetie, I think it’s time to start considering a more realistic path. What about a communications degree? Those kind of degrees are what lead to real careers.”.

Fortunately, I was a stubborn (and slightly sassy) teenager who always knew deep down that a “real career” wasn’t the path for me. So I nodded my way through that 20 minute “career counselling” session, thanked her for her guidance, took the stack of brochures she handed me, walked out, turned down another hallway and threw them all out.

That was a pivotal (and memorable) moment for me because it made me realize that I would never choose a conventional path for my life. And while my small screen ambitions took me down many paths (landing me various commercials, small TV gigs, a stint on Deal Or No Deal, 2 web TV shows and now into the very, VERY early planning phases of a docuseries), the real lesson I took away from that day (which took me years to realize) is we need to be aware of who we are taking advice from.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Get clear on what you want.

It sounds crazy, but most of us are REALLY good at knowing what we DON’T want, yet we rarely give ourselves the permission to dream big and admit what we DO want. From my experience that’s typically because we’re nervous about what people will think or say if we dream big and have the guts to go after them!

It’s also because most of us tend to measure what we could LOSE by “going for it” (because that’s easy to measure and is typically related to past experiences) instead of imagining everything we could gain by going after what we really want, because it’s hard to even fathom or predict how awesome things could be if we put ourselves out there. And that behavior is typically what keeps people stuck and rooted in the “what if’s”.

However, if we can release the “what if’s” and step into the uncertainty of going after what we want, no matter what, then we have the potential to create a life that is beyond our wildest dreams and expectations. But it all starts with giving yourself the permission to get clear on what YOU really want.

2 . Decide who you need to be to achieve the impossible

So often people focus on what they think they have to DO in order to get what they want, but that’s backwards. Instead, you need to determine who you need to BE — the beliefs you need to live by, the habits you need to have, the characteristics you need to embody and the identity you need to maintain to achieve what you want to achieve. For example, if you want to be an entrepreneur and start a business you have to be driven by a desire to serve people, you need to be consistent, comfortable with the uncomfortable, a risk taker, self-motivated, unfazed by other people’s opinions and self aware…to name a few.

However, what most people do is think they need to operate from a place of pure push and grit in order to create what they want. Yet most of the time that simply ends in frustration and burnout because grit and hustle will only take you so far. It’s the ways of BE’ing that will carry you through moments of failure, stress and uncertainty and help you create everything you say you want.

3 . Invest in yourself

I know this seems cliche, but if you want to do the impossible you are going to need to invest in yourself, your skills, and the mentor(s) who can guide you along the path. This is what separates those who achieve the impossible from those who say they WANT to, but never do.

If you want something you’ve never had, you typically have to do things you’ve never done and most of the time that comes with some form of investment — whether that is time, money or energy.

4 . Build your business from a place of alignment and ease (and create something that serves YOU as the founder)

If someone is not in the ring with you, taking the punches with you, fighting for a dream with you, creating the uncreated with you and wading through the uncertainty with you, they don’t get to tell you what you are (or are not) capable of; what you can or cannot achieve.

That is for YOU to determine and as long as you have a clear vision for what you want your life to look and feel like, and you are detached from how (or when) you get there, then you can create magic in your life and achieve the impossible.

5 . Surround yourself with people who match your future (not your past) and are where you want to be

Surround yourself with people who live and breathe the way that you want to be. The reason this is so key is because people who have achieved greatness or success in their life have typically done that by overcoming obstacles and viewing challenges as mere stumbling blocks that help them become better versions of themselves.

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

The reason I love this quote so much is because all of my biggest wins, successes and personal achievements have all come about because I waded through times of crushing uncertainty and fear.

And it’s that willingness to embrace uncertainty (when most people shy, hell, RUN away from it) that makes life so rich, shows you what you’re made of and transforms you into the best version of yourself.

It’s also what separates those who create their reality and achieve their dreams from those who simply let life happen to them.

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

I love this question because I believe we ARE building a movement. Our mission with Screw The Nine To Five is to help unsatisfied employees quit their jobs, build online business and get them past the $100,000/year threshold so they never look back.

We do this because we know there are millions of people who feel trapped (and absolutely miserable) in their jobs and if we can give the ones who want to change their lives the tools to do so, they can create something that gives them the financial freedom, time freedom, location freedom and personal freedom they crave.

And while entrepreneurship definitely has its challenging moments, it also transforms you into the best version of yourself as you learn more about yourself, the way you think, the value you’re offering, the impact you’re creating, the lives you’re affecting and the wealth you’re building. All of these lessons, skills and traits stack upon each other to create a life that is dripping with meaning and purpose. THAT is the movement we are building!

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Here are our top 3 platforms we hang out on most:

  • On IG: Instagram.com/screwtheninetofive
  • On FB: facebook.com/saynotoninetofive
  • Podcast: thescrewshow.com


Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Jill Stanton of Screw The Nine… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Beauty: “Combining price transparency with lead generation” With Dr. Jonathan Kaplan

To take advantage of this new generation of younger patients that are “starting early and staying longer,” our contribution to technology in this space isn’t new devices. It’s to improve the customer service experience and capture more loyal patients. How do we do this? One of the most oft-asked questions about any cosmetic procedure (or healthcare service in general) is how much does it cost? Doctors and med spas are very reluctant to reveal price ahead of time for various reasons. My office on the other hand, allows consumers to check our prices but in a way that is mutually beneficial. They can check pricing on our Price Estimator and receive an instant, automated email estimate after they provide their contact information. So we’re combining price transparency (a huge buzzword and impetus behind a recent Executive Order) with lead generation. The consumer doesn’t have to search in vain for the price and the healthcare provider receives a lead in return!

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing… Jonathan Kaplan MD, MPH

Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod Health, a price transparency-lead generation platform.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From the age of 11, I had the opportunity to watch my father, a general surgeon, operate in the operating room at the local hospital. During one of these trips when I was 16, I went in to watch a plastic surgeon remove a skin cancer from a patient’s leg and close the wound using skin from their wrinkly neck. When taking the skin from the neck, the surgeon made sure to do it in such a way that the final incision would be hidden within a neck crease. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a plastic surgeon — not because I saw some glamorous facelift or boob job!

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

During the beginning of my plastic surgery career, I did a lot of reconstructive surgery, before the time of social media. Now that I’ve moved from Louisiana to San Francisco to do primarily cosmetic surgery, many of the patients from my past now share and post my reconstructive work on social media! You can see an example here.

It’s just fascinating to live these experiences initially in real time, and then relive them years later in social media time!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Very early on in my career, I noticed patients always calling and asking about the cost of cosmetic procedures since they’re paid out of pocket. Telling the patient they had to come in for a consult to determine price was very frustrating to the patient and giving them all of the pricing information over the phone took way too much time. I figured there had to be a way to check pricing online — but there wasn’t. That’s when I had an epiphany and created a price transparency platform, BuildMyBod Health. But to make it more palatable to healthcare providers, who are reluctant to post pricing, I “linked” price transparency to lead generation. So now, consumers can check pricing on cosmetic and medically necessary services that will be paid out of pocket because a deductible hasn’t been met on our patented Price Estimator that’s embedded into doctor’s website and the doctor gets the consumer’s contact info in return. It’s for all consumers and doctors — not just cosmetics. We work with bariatric surgeons, ObGyns, dermatologists, medspas, dentists, etc. (see links). We now have over 250 healthcare providers using our Price Estimator to provide pricing info to consumers and generating leads in return. Even though providers were reluctant to offer pricing, I kept pushing this idea because I knew it worked in my practice and could work in others.

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

When I had this idea for a price transparency platform, we started with building an app for it. But I needed help with coding. My girlfriend at the time, now my wife, mentioned that she had friends from high school in Connecticut that knew how to code. I figured these were probably guys that just played World of Warcraft! But she connected us and it was a perfect fit. They’re now our technical cofounders. You can see the whole story here.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

To take advantage of this new generation of younger patients that are “starting early and staying longer,” our contribution to technology in this space isn’t new devices. It’s to improve the customer service experience and capture more loyal patients. How do we do this?

One of the most oft-asked questions about any cosmetic procedure (or healthcare service in general) is how much does it cost? Doctors and med spas are very reluctant to reveal price ahead of time for various reasons. My office on the other hand, allows consumers to check our prices but in a way that is mutually beneficial. They can check pricing on our Price Estimator and receive an instant, automated email estimate after they provide their contact information.

So we’re combining price transparency (a huge buzzword and impetus behind a recent Executive Order) with lead generation. The consumer doesn’t have to search in vain for the price and the healthcare provider receives a lead in return!

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

One major risk, and also why doctors are worried about showing pricing, is that consumers could just go to the cheapest doctor without regard to quality. That’s already happening because consumers call around, taking up the front office staff’s time asking about pricing, then hang up and call the next doctor. All in an effort to find the cheapest doctor. With a Price Estimator, they can check pricing on the doctor’s website without wasting front office staff’s time. Plus, with the common use of review sites, it will quickly become apparent if a doctor is cheap but not good.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

It’s 1) becoming less taboo, 2) more people are talking about it, 3) more people are doing it, 4) doing it early, 5) doing it longer and 6) sharing their experiences on social media!

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

There’s a great deal of medical information based on dogma. People keep repeating the same information even though it’s not true. A perfect example is with Botox. So many ill-informed practitioners tell patients not to work out or lay down after Botox treatment. It’s nonsense! It’s not like sauce in a saucepan — it doesn’t slosh around! These misconceptions are more common now that more non-cosmetic trained doctors enter the industry. In other words, because the insurance-based method of practicing medicine is becoming so difficult for doctors, you have ER doctors, ObGyns, intermal medicine doctors, etc entering the cosmetics field and offering Botox and other non-surgical services. It’s not illegal but they weren’t trained during a residency or fellowship on these treatments. But I can educate the public in three different ways: through price transparency so they understand what they’re paying for.. The other is through social media — I broadcast my operations on Snapchat and Instagram Stories @RealDrBae. Third, I am constantly creating video and blog content to further educate the public.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Simple treatments like Botox to the upper lip to treat a gummy smile. It’s inexpensive and patients love the result! Gives them a “lip flip”
  2. Makeup to highlight cheekbones and avoid fillers
  3. If a patient is uncomfortable in bathing suits or has difficulty finding clothes to fit because of breasts that are too big or “too small,” a breast reduction or a small implant, respectively, can help so much. Too much shaming about patients getting breast augmentation. No one said they had to be huge!
  4. Lip fillers: use one syringe and STOP! No one has to have overfilled lips. You can stop!
  5. For men, there’s no shame in hair restoration. The techniques are so much improved and avoid the big ugly horizontal scar across the back of the scalp.

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. 🙂

Clearly it’s price transparency. The knowledge of how much healthcare costs before you get the bill is a no brainer and can help patients plan financially ahead of time. And by introducing competition into commodity services like X-rays and blood tests, this will make outpatient healthcare less expensive.

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

From the plastic surgery perspective, good plastic surgery ain’t cheap and cheap plastic surgery ain’t good!

From the price transparency perspective, only when the consumer is in control of their healthcare and healthcare finances, only then will they be free to plan for their future.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m @realdrbae on Snap, IG and TikTok and @BuildMyBod on Twitter and LinkedIn. www.buildmybod.com and www.RealDrBae.com

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Of Beauty: “Combining price transparency with lead generation” With Dr. Jonathan Kaplan 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 Rob Cross, CEO of Muru

Check the evidence — consider what evidence you have that really proves you’re not capable of doing the role. For the COO, there wasn’t a single shred of evidence that proved it. He was highly regarded. Yes, there were a few projects that hadn’t gone to plan, but that’s not uncommon. His boss and the board loved him. The evidence he was relying on to reinforce his insecurity was just what he was creating for himself

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 Rob Cross.

Rob is the founder and CEO of Muru — a next generation leadership coaching and development consultancy that aims to debunk redundant models of what it means to be a leader, and help individuals, teams and groups unlock their true potential.

20% psychologist, 10% agony aunt, 30% motivational speaker, 40% bullshit detector and 100% Dad and Husband, Rob’s no-nonsense approach to life and business makes him a refreshingly human leadership expert and mentor in today’s ever evolving and changing business landscape.

Bringing together his 20 years of hands on leadership, and practical experience of developing others, Rob researched, designed and launched Muru Leadership and ‘The 3 Questions’ ™. In today’s age of acceleration, where the classic definitions of being a leader are no longer working, ‘The 3 Questions’ ™ methodology helps individuals and teams build greater courage and conviction in their own leadership, empowering them to lead and achieve higher levels of success and fulfillment both at work, and in life.

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’?

Born in the UK, but raised in a small country town in Victoria, Australia, my passion for understanding people and leadership started at an early age.

A big believer that variety and diversity maketh a ‘more rounded individual’, I began my career in the Australian Air Force as a civil engineer. I quickly seemed to rankle many of my senior officers as I worked my way up through the ranks at pace. Dealing with resistance and the conflict this caused was my first foray into the true hurdles and politics of leadership, and the psychological issues at play that can create great teams or send them toppling into chaos.

An injury literally left me grounded, so with my RAF days behind me I moved to the UK and into the big blue-chip corporate world working with the likes of BT, LexisNexis, SIG and the Prudential. Quite a different kind of politics, but no less cut throat.

At this time, I experienced the tragic loss of my best friend. This profound event opened my eyes to the fact that ‘life happens’ to everyone — even leaders — so why do we put pressure on ourselves to lead as though nothing else impacts our lives and our ability to manage?

The next profound event in my life was the moment I became a father. This was my light bulb moment. I started seeing the patterns and failures of traditional leadership models that don’t allow for the fact that leaders are humans too — and shouldn’t have to be unrealistically devoid of emotion or super-human performance.

Cue a refocus of priorities and a career change. Bringing together my 20 years of hands on leadership, and practical experience of developing others, I took the plunge and launched Muru Leadership in 2018.

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?

In May 2019 I was in the middle of a major culture change programme that I was delivering for a client organisation. As part of my regular catch up with the sponsors I went for a coffee with the global COO. As we walked out of the office, I asked him how he was doing. He took a deep breath and said that things were ok, but that he was struggling.

“How so?” I asked.

“I feel like I’m waiting to be found out,” he replied. “I feel like an imposter.”

I was a little taken aback by this response. Even though this guy had been in his role with the company for five years and was really highly regarded, he still felt as though at any minute someone would burst through the door to ‘out’ him as not being incompetent.

More on that story later, but it was at this moment I recognised I had the ability to help more people appreciate their worth and true potential, and the seed was planted for my future business. Increasingly, I have found the experience of this particular COO, is actually quite common across senior leaders. They function day to day focusing on delivering their job, all the time feeling insecure that they are going to be revealed as frauds.

The key takeout for me is that ultimately though we may try to keep it well hidden, regardless of how senior and experienced we are, we are all humans with the same weaknesses and insecurities.

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

The focus of Muru Leadership is twofold. Firstly, we help people understand the true drivers of our human behaviour, our human dilemmas. These are the inescapable aspects that sit below our beliefs and values, which make us human.

We then use these drivers to help leaders find greater courage and conviction in their identity, their purpose and ultimately how they practice and show leadership. The goal of our coaching is to help individuals identify the personal story they have to tell that defines them, and from which they can draw strength, and reset their mindset to recognise that we are all human beings leading other human beings.

How does this work in practise? Continuing the story of the COO I mentioned earlier, after a deeper conversation than we both planned over that coffee, and with some pretty direct challenge and support from me, the COO learned to transform the energy that was driving his insecurity and Imposter Syndrome. Instead, he re-focused his strengths on the contribution he was making to others. He developed a bunch of new habits including mindfulness, going to the gym and learning to say no, all of which gave him greater energy to do his job and be the great leader he was capable of being. The ultimate outcome of this is that he no longer feels like an imposter, and instead feels comfortable in his own skin as the leader he wants to be, rather than trying to be the leader he felt he should be.

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 some incredible mentors throughout my career, all of whom have helped me develop and define my identity, purpose and practice as a leader.

When I first joined the Australian Air Force in 2000, there was a senior leader called Steve Richards who took me under his wing and helped me make the shift from being a purely logical and rational technical engineer into someone that deeply understood people and how to get the best out of them. He helped me pause to consider what was really going on with my team, helping me to understand there is a human behind every professional. This was a profound moment for me and has gone on to shape my profession, my career and my business.

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?

Fundamentally, Imposter Syndrome is that dreaded feeling that you will be caught out as a fraud. It’s that anxiety inducing niggling self-doubt that seeps in that you are incapable of delivering the role you are appointed to do, and that at any moment you’re going to be exposed.

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

People who experience Imposter Syndrome feel a high degree of insecurity, which makes them work incredibly hard, but limits their full potential.

What I mean by this is they focus on volume rather than value, putting in long hours, saying yes to every task they are set, and putting themselves and their teams under pressure to often deliver against unrealistically tough targets and deadlines.

The rationale for this, is they feel like they need to over achieve to prove their worth. This can limit individuals from being great leaders as they are so busy delivering the day to day that they fail to recognize that challenging the status quo is sometimes the greatest value they are capable of offering.

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

Individuals with Imposter Syndrome find it hard to say no as they feel it shows signs of weakness, and evidence they are not capable of delivering. This can have a detrimental impact on their ability to communicate well with peers and colleagues.

This manifests with the teams they work with in two ways. They are either too accommodating or can come across as short, and sometimes abrasive. The two are intertwined. The inability to say no, often directed at senior team members they want to please, results in peers and the teams they manage suffering the consequences. Individuals with IP are often over worked, stressed and too exhausted to recognise the cause and effect of their actions.

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

In my previous corporate roles I’ve often felt like an imposter. I would find myself committing to things that I just didn’t have time to do as I was fearful of being judged as incapable. But I learnt pretty quickly I was on the road to burnout.

It was tough at first, but I dropped the act and soon began to appreciate the strength of being able to say no. This not only helped me get more focused at work and deliver better results, but I also lived with less worry and anxiety. Ultimately I then achieved more and got noticed more, which also helped to accelerate my career.

It’s these same skills that I help people learn through my training and to appreciate that putting yourself first isn’t a sign of weakness, its actually incredibly powerful and the quickfire surest way to get the best results out of you and your team.

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

I don’t think you ever fully shake off the feeling, and to be honest I think that’s a good thing, we just need to learn how to channel the energy that comes with feeling like an imposter to our advantage. As humans we need to feel a little insecure and experience some pressure so that we don’t become complacent. Imposter syndrome can actually be helpful to us if used in the right way. When we are overcome with those feelings of self doubt, instead of dwelling on it try channeling that associated energy into considering how you can be more valuable to your team and the business around you to make a bigger and better difference. It certainly worked for me and that COO.

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. Realise you’re not alone — over the last 20 years I’ve not met a single leader across the globe who hasn’t or doesn’t feel like an imposter at some stage in their career. We all experience this fear, so give yourself a break, and quit thinking it’s just you.
  2. Check the evidence — consider what evidence you have that really proves you’re not capable of doing the role. For the COO, there wasn’t a single shred of evidence that proved it. He was highly regarded. Yes, there were a few projects that hadn’t gone to plan, but that’s not uncommon. His boss and the board loved him. The evidence he was relying on to reinforce his insecurity was just what he was creating for himself.
  3. Change your story — when we feel like an imposter the story we tell ourselves is all about feeling like a fraud. Once we’ve checked our evidence and found there’s no facts that back up our story, we need to create a new one. This story shouldn’t be one that tries to over compensate. It should instead help us focus on our strengths and the true impact we’re making. It should also focus on who we want to be as our true authentic self. The COO didn’t suddenly go “I’m now the world’s best COO”. Instead he started to build a story that was based on the evidence; “I’m a well regarded, focused professional who delivers the results for the company and for the people. I make a difference through what I do.”
  4. Use your energy positively — as our new story unfolds we should start to shift our energy from maintaining our old story to serving our new one. It frees us up to redirect our efforts away from trying to avoid being found out, to focus on the even greater contribution we can make through our actions. The COO recognised that whilst feeling like an imposter he was constantly tired as he invested all his energy in his old story and trying to avoid being ‘found out’.

Once he created a new story, how he directed that energy shifted dramatically. He invested his energy in things both in work and in his personal life that gave him even more energy to focus on not only delivering his job, but hobbies and activities outside of work that gave him pleasure and improved his physical and mental wellbeing.

  1. Focus beyond self — when we feel like an imposter our focus is on ourselves and is driven by the negative fight mode of fear. As we let go of this belief, we stop focusing on ourselves and instead focus on the contribution we can make to others. With this new focus it’s no longer solely about the person in the mirror. Instead, it’s about how the person in the mirror can make a more positive contribution to the world around 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. 🙂

Too much of what we are doing in society today is about celebrating difference. Though in many respects this has driven positive change and acceptance in society of groups of individuals that have experienced discrimination or marginalisation, it can also be the trigger for polarisation and a return to protective ‘tribalism’ driven by self preservation, fear and sometimes hate. We just need to witness the global rise of right wing populist parties in politics, and call out how social media has been weaponised or used in a mailcious way by individuals and organisations to spread misinformation.

It’s stopping us accept that in spite of all our differences, at our very core one thing unites us all; we are human beings. Regardless of your age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs, as human beings we are magnificent and vulnerable creatures that all have a story which defines us. If we could each spend a little more time focusing on the unifying thread that we are all human beings, perhaps we could stop allowing our differences to define us. This would mean that we’d also stop feeling insecure that others are better than us, and instead recognise that as humans we each have skills and capabilities that we can use to make a greater difference to all those around us. So whilst I don’t think we should stop celebrating difference, we should at the same time celebrate the humanity that binds us all together.

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 🙂

Barack Obama would be my №1 choice. In spite of whether you agree or disagree with his policies, I believe he was a very human leader which we have much to learn from.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow us at:

Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rob-cross-65bb0b2/and https://www.linkedin.com/company/muru-leadership/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MuruLeadership/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MuruLeadership

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


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

Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Dr. Rhonda Kalasho

My goal in life has always been to limit the suffering of others. I believe that if everyone’s mission was the same than the world would run of sugar canes and fairy dust. Many great minds feel the same like Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, or Neil Degrass Tyson, all of whom have at one point spoken on the topic of suffering. Human suffering and the suffering you can bring to your self can all be diminished if you try, and imagine how amazing the world would be, if every person creed was to the limit the suffering of themselves and their neighbors.

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, DDS of GLO Modern Dental.

Dr. Rhonda Kalasho was born in a country where bomb raids and corrupt government were bigger threats than tooth decay and gum disease. She arrived to the United States in the nineties on an E-1 visa where her father opened a series of small businesses in California. Her family were Iraqi expatriates who left everything they knew and started fresh. Dr. Rhonda Kalasho remembers the morning she left Baghdad, with all of her toys still on her bedroom floor, tea on the kettle, clothes in the dryer, cars in the driveway, her family’s business was running per normal hours, and she remembers leaving it all behind to give the illusion they would be back. You see, Dr. Kalasho and her family could not just leave, or at least not leave the country permanently. A few weeks prior to leaving Rhonda’s father was arrested at his business in Baghdad city for not contributing a percentage of his income to the Ba’ath Party, which was expected of business owners who earned a considerable living. He was beaten and imprisoned for several weeks, and his release was contingent on paying 300,000 American dollars. When they released her father, Rhonda’s parents packed all six of her children, including Rhonda, no different than if she was making a trip to the grocery store. They told no one, not even other family members, neighbors or friends.

Dr. Kalasho experienced what a lot may not have had the privilege to; losing everything, and starting fresh. Children who experience creating something exceptional out of self will, who have felt true hunger, who understand loss, gain a superpower. The story of her life is not of woes, nor one of episcopal burden, but of a series of unfortunate circumstances that built up high enough to reach for the stars.

Now, Dr. Rhonda Kalasho is LA’s go to Dentist. She is a double board-certified Dentist who is highly regarded for her aesthetic and surgical workmanship. She is one of a handful of dentists who has completed an advanced residency training in full mouth reconstruction and hospital dentistry.

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

I grew up in San Diego California after my family emigrated from Iraq in 1992. When we arrived in California we purchased a Pizza restaurant from a family acquaintance. Funny thing is, we never tasted or even knew what a Pizza looked like, but all five siblings and I worked the restaurant. Weekends and after school were dedicated to cleaning the floors, bathrooms, stocking the fridge, and doing homework in between. We made the dough, cut the toppings, delivered the pizzas, answered the calls, it didn’t matter that I could not see over the counter, my father and mother’s philosophy was success through hard work and we surely lived by that creed.

When I was ten years old I experienced one of the worst pains of my life, dental pain. I felt it in my ear, in my throat, it radiated throughout my body, I could barely open my mouth. I was eight years old. My mom took to see a local dentist, and he seeing the pain I was in and the condition of my mouth, lamented to say it was “child abuse”, but little did he know that we simply just had no idea about oral care. We did not have fluoride in the drinking water where we were from, let alone floss. Oral hygiene knowledge was rudimentary. I remember him showing me a piece of floss and asked, do you use this. I remember being so excited and enthusiastically saying “yes!, my mom has that connected to her sewing machine.” After the treatment, I was liberated from the excruciating pain, and from then on, I was obsessed with good oral care. I knew from then I wanted to be dentist.

I purchased my first office when I turned twenty-eight, partnering up with an older dentist who was looking to sell his share as he got closer to retirement. However, his practice, mentality, and his older less technically savvy way of practicing felt mundane. I realized quickly that modernity in dentistry was the way to go. Dentistry, like any other avenue of medicine, only advances with time, therefore behavior management, biomaterials, techniques were all advancing, but my older partner refused to change. I wanted to be a part of this new age of dentistry, the 3D milling, digital scanning, layered ceramics, bonded resins, age of dentistry. I sold my share, and went solo at twenty-nine. By age thirty I had a booming top rated West Hollywood practice, with state of the art dental technology. My five star practice abides by the mission of patient comfort and quality of care above all else. I am the sole dentist with a team of eight, which includes two ceramists, who help create beautifully fabricated well adapted restorations using 3D printing technology. My team and I constantly expand in our dental proficiency through continuing education courses, bringing new advancements in the field and integrating it in our oral care. The rare times I am not at work, I spend it teaching burgeoning dental students treatment techniques, as well as practice management.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently, I have my hands in development, creating an advanced mouth rinse to help combat gum disease based on clinical controlled data. The formulation is currently undergoing clinical trials and its showing incredible abilities in the treatment and prevention of severe cases of gum disease. Many people lose their teeth as they get older, and a large percentage of Americans go into partials or dentures by the age of sixty-five, I am hoping that my formulation proves itself to be a medicament that not only preserves the longevity of teeth and gums, but the youthfulness of many smiles.

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

My dental office is an all female owed and operated office, or at least it started that way. Taking on the name GLO Modern Dental, GLO which was an acronym for Great Ladies of Modern Dentistry which is a dental practice with the reputation among the community that far exceeds the rest. We are most acclaimed for our genuinity in care, professionalism, nurturing demeanors, and our high quality of treatment. All members of my company are constantly honing in on their skill sets and advancing in their methodologies. All members are required, and encouraged to take continuing education courses to expand on what they know, and learn what they do not. Any patient treated by our team immediately shares the same sentiment, that they can feel the happiness among the team, that their treatment was exceptional, and the enthusiasm for the field is palpable.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

I worked several dental practices, both in the private and corporate sector. Every dental office generally operated the same way, and each one, that I came across at least, lacked ingenuity, dentists locked in the old world of dental materials and techniques. I wanted to be a sole practice owner, with a completely modern practice. I wanted to own a thriving practice in West Hollywood. Many from my hometown thought it was too competitive an area to be successful in, especially without a business partner, or any finances for that matter. The overhead was high in the building I set my sites on, and there were three dentists in the building before me. Many banks would not fund my practice, especially because the previous owner had lost the practice, but I showed over 13 different banks that I was resilient. I brought my business plan to each and every one, and after months of searching for funding, one bank came through.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

I managed to get funding as well as a working capital for the first few months of operations, luckily, I did not use the working capital, and my business plan of an all modern, female run and operated, multidisciplinary dental office proved a success. People felt the difference in care and treatment quality, which drove in more patients, and referrals. I guess all those banks that denied funding, and all those that said I could not compete in the high demand market of West Hollywood, were indeed, wrong.

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 was once asked for by a paper covering young entrepreneurs who inspires me, but it was never just one person, or one thing, what inspires me is seeing what actually precipitates from self-drive, dedication, and hard work. I witness this truth through my families trajectory. We started an entirely new life, every single one of us. We had this urge to exist comfortably, to gain what we lost, and seek the things we never had. Humans are fascinating, and our willingness to thrive is incredible. I simply love what I do and immerse myself in my passions everyday, and subsequently there lies the success.

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

Nothing should fuel your drive more than negativity. I used to have a strong accent when I was younger, learning English, and I remember getting made fun and bullied for it. I went home and watched and rewatched every episode of Full House, and mimicked the way the pronounced words, and inflections. I did this for weeks. What I got out of it was an ability to not only recite entire Uncle Jesse and Joey monologues, but the realization that if I tried hard enough at anything, at the very least, I surprise myself with how far I can success, but for the most part, I actually do what I intended.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

  1. Choose a Goal
  2. Try your hardest to achieve that goal
  3. Do not fear failure, but do not remain contempt with failure
  4. Learn to hit your personal marks
  5. Use the Naysayers chants of negativity as a driving force to your victory

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

“You cannot be protected from the things that frighten you and hurt you, but if you identify with the part of your being that is responsible for transformation, then you are always the equal, or more than the equal of the things that frighten you.”

― Jordan B. Peterson

I love this quote by Jordan Peterson, who is a fantastic writer, clinical psychologist, and speaker. The quote is where I derived my third strategy for success, which is to not fear failure, as fear is incredibly debilitating and limiting. You must face your fear, and tell your fear to bring it on, and you will soon see that your fear can actually be a great influence.

It reminds me of what my father’s dogma, to always take the road that makes your feet tired, because that will be the road that defines your resilience the most.

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

My goal in life has always been to limit the suffering of others. I believe that if everyone’s mission was the same than the world would run of sugar canes and fairy dust. Many great minds feel the same like Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, or Neil Degrass Tyson, all of whom have at one point spoken on the topic of suffering. Human suffering and the suffering you can bring to your self can all be diminished if you try, and imagine how amazing the world would be, if every person creed was to the limit the suffering of themselves and their neighbors.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Absolutely, my social media page is @dr.rhondakalasho We certainly look forward to hearing your questions and answering any questions you may have.

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!


Dreamers: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” With Dr. Rhonda Kalasho was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.