One way to fight imposter syndrome - learn from experts outside your specialization


I've been there and will be there again.

Thoughts racing as I approach the podium, enter a well-appointed boardroom or meet a thought leader I deeply admire.

The soundtrack is on heavy rotation.

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready

Do I really know what I am talking about?

Why should this CEO listen to me?

Am I giving this candidate for office the best counsel?

The dreaded imposter syndrome.

It creeps in from time to time.

Even with a passport full of stamps, multiple degrees, a library that would make Thomas Jefferson jealous, and a global network of doers and makers, it lingers in my thoughts.

One way I have found to suppress this, spend time with a cross-section of subject matter experts.

I have found having conversations with smart people about emerging issues shaping commerce and culture to be essential.

Generating knowledge from others who have unique perspectives not frequently seen in my daily life has been a fantastic tool.

It’s what you know beyond your unique skills, specialization, education, and experiences that allow you to come up with the ideas necessary to dampen the imposter syndrome and do your job.

Solid advice, good counsel, and leadership skills are most potent when applied with another discipline or two, or even better, three. 

I found engaging and speaking with subject experts in some other area - be it cardiology, cooking, sales, comedy or urban planning - helps immensely.

Pattern matching, connecting data points, and harvesting knowledge from others has helped me to be a better specialist and not an imposter.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in thought leader communications and events for senior executives working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.