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Angela Bradford On How To Thrive Despite Experiencing Impostor Syndrome

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

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 Angela Bradford.

Angela is a Senior Marketing Director with World Financial Group. Within just over six years of transitioning from the blue collar world of trucking and training horses, to the white collar world of finances and training people, she has opened multiple offices and started expansion into two countries. She has an amazing team working with her and has the goal of having a licensed agent in every state and province in North America in the next 5 years.

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’?

Thank you for having me! I came from a great family who homeschooled me and for that I am very grateful. We were also a very strict family. I grew up with lots of rules which I didn’t like. I left home as soon therefore as I turned 18 and ventured out on my own.

Horses and driving became my passion quickly and took me to different continents, states and provinces, over the course of the next 14–15 years. From there I was introduced to the financial industry and felt led to follow that change in career path. I have been running my own brokerage for about 6 years now.

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

I am sure there are lots of interesting stories but the one that I am thinking of right now was when I would get the same person’s number while out prospecting again and again. I wouldn’t remember that I had met them the week or month or whenever before and would say the same thing and get the number again. I always wondered when they didn’t remember me either if I needed to make a bigger impact!

My memory is something I am working on, but the positive part about it is that I also don’t recall “rejection” like many do, because I forget what happened!

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

I believe our company stands out because we are a brokerage. What that means is we aren’t restricted to one company or product, but instead can shop the market for the best option for our client. I’ve had clients come in that have been declined proper protection for their families from various other institutions, and I’ve been able to get them covered because I can find companies that will work with them.

It’s a fulfilling feeling to find the best option for people when they think they have no options.

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?

There are so many people who have helped shape my life. The couple that introduced me to my business stand out right now. Adam and Savannah Dawe are two of the most genuine and hardworking people I know. They care immensely for their agency and their family.

They took me in as a truck driver who didn’t show a lot of promise and were definitely instrumental in transforming me into the person I am today. Not everyone would have the patience or understanding to work with someone like me when I started in the financial industry.

I am very grateful for their leadership and also for so many others who have helped me along the journey.

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

I would define impostor syndrome as a feeling of not belonging in a certain group of people. It’s a feeling of not being good enough. It’s a feeling of not fitting in. An easy way to describe it would be wanting to be in an exclusive club but not being able to get in because of how you think about the club.

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

I believe impostor syndrome can limit people from reaching their full potential. One of the biggest tips of growth is to be around associations that help us grow, but if we feel inadequate, we will not put ourselves in those uncomfortable situations, yet this is exactly where we can expand and grow into our full potential.

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

I will speak from personal experience: when I feel impostor syndrome, I am not my usual friendly self. I go “into” myself and become very self-conscious. When you’re self-conscious you can’t be other-conscious. In other words, I am not as free to help others as I would be when I am not experiencing impostor syndrome.

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

I would be happy to share my experience! I signed up for an event called The Exchange with John Maxwell. It’s a higher end event, and going into it I didn’t feel that I was worthy to be there. I remember the first day signing up for my name tag and then sitting down by myself, feeling very nervous.

Then someone came and sat beside me and started talking to me. Her name was Debbie Bolton, and she’s one of the nicest ladies I have met. She didn’t make me feel less than anyone there. That three day event was like that the whole time. After that experience, I have been able to walk into rooms with people very much more successful than me, on lots of different levels, and not feel like I don’t belong.

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

For the most part I have been able to shake the feeling. There are times I still feel impostor syndrome, and I take a step back and realize it’s because I’m looking at myself instead of caring about others. The more I care about others, the less I think about myself.

A couple things that I have done to mitigate imposter syndrome is to continue to push myself into environments where I might feel it. The more I feel this syndrome and work through the feeling, the less it impacts me. The other thing I do is as I said above is think about others instead of myself. “Others” focus has helped me immensely.

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.

The first step that comes to mind is taking the first step. An example of this was when I went to my first high ticket priced event. Even though the price made me feel totally unsure of myself, I still signed up. I didn’t let my fear stop me from taking action. Lots of times we can let our fear stop us, and we can never get through impostor syndrome, or anything else, so exciting! without taking the steps needed to conquer it.

The second thing that comes to mind, is being honest about how you feel. It’s easy to say you aren’t experiencing imposter syndrome, but if you can’t admit it even to yourself you will never conquer it. I told people that I felt like an impostor going to these events with people that were making 10 times plus my income. The more I talked about it the less power it held over me.

The third step that comes to mind is to continue to put yourself in places where you feel imposter syndrome. In other words, keep stretching yourself and allowing yourself to be uncomfortable. In discomfort is where one can find comfort. After I went to the first event, I kept registering for other events that were similar. After a while they started to feel familiar, and then not only was I able to “level up” my thoughts, but actually my whole life started to level-up to the new circle that surrounded me.

Fourth thing that comes to mind, would be helping others when you feel this way. When we start to help others, we take our mind off of ourselves. I would make calls and tell people how amazing they were and how they deserve to be at these events, and would help them register, and that would make me feel like I deserved to be there also.

The fifth and final step in my mind would be to enjoy the feeling of “leveling up.” As you move forward, things that made you feel like an impostor no longer will. Then you have to find new things that cause you to level up. For me I signed up to go skydiving, and I’m running a podcast. I am doing little things that make me feel uncomfortable and discovering comfort in the uncomfortable. Life seems to just get better this way!

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. :-)

The movement I am working toward is empowering women to become their amazing selves and help change the world. I want to encourage and inspire women to rise up and use their voices to make the impact in the world for good that I know we can make 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 :-)

I would love to have lunch with Oprah Winfrey. I feel she is genuine and real and is making a difference in lives of women and men everywhere. I would love to learn from her and see where I can also help more people.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The easiest place to find me is Instagram at @realangelabradford as well as I also have a podcast called “One Starfish with Angela Bradford”. I look forward to connecting!

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

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.