Inside Imposter Syndrome at Work with Amber Naslund

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with Senior Manager for Marketing Solutions at Linkedin Amber Naslund on Imposter Syndrome. As someone challenged by it, she shares what she’s learned, what it feels like and how it shows up and how leadership can better support those with this issue.

A few reasons she is awesome — Keynote speaker and writer through her Brass Tack Thinking brand, she’s got 20+ years of marketing under her belt, she co-authored the book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social, and she’s got a newsletter called DEAR FUCKERS that I just never can miss.

Connect and learn more about Amber on her platforms:

PLAY AND SUBSCRIBE

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Who generally suffers from Imposter Syndrome
  • What can trigger it.
  • Culture co-existence of Imposter Syndrome vs unearned confidence
  • Amber’s thoughts on Adam Grant’s perspective on imposter syndrome from the book Think Again
  • The long term impacts of having imposter syndrome
  • Psychological safety and corporate culture’s role in addressing this issue
  • How do we reframe associated shame and guilt to move forward
  • How to start conversations with others to open the discussion on imposter syndrome

“And the damage that it does to people over time is, it’s actually like a self-fulfilling prophecy. So when you feel like you don’t measure up, you tend to not put yourself out there. You tend to not try new things because it’s uncomfortable. You tend to not be a strong advocate for yourself or a strong voice for your own career development and because you feel like you just don’t belong in the room in the first place.”

Amber Naslund, on the long-term effects of Imposter Syndrome

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW

Russel Lolacher
and on the show today, it’s Amber Naslund. And here is why she’s awesome. She’s the senior manager in marketing solutions at LinkedIn, keynote speaker, writer through her breast hack, thinking brand. She’s got 20 plus years of marketing under her belt. She co authored this book called The now revolution to improve your business. It was a beautifully time to book for me when I started down digital engagement path. So I got much love for this woman. And she’s got a newsletter called “Dear Fuckers” that doesn’t come out as much as I’d like it to, but should and if you aren’t subscribed to that, do something about it. pretty pleased. Hello, Amber.

Amber Naslund
Hi, I don’t think I was expecting a plug for Dear Fuckers. But now I have to go write one because I just called out so… cool.Thanks,

Russel Lolacher
We’ll say intermittent, we’ll say intermittent, but still very worth the read.

Amber Naslund
Thanks. That one’s a good catharsis, one for me to write, which is why it’s sporadic because it’s kind of gotta be, you know, what I’m feeling it. But I have a backlog in my head. And trust me, there’s more coming.

Russel Lolacher
Fair. So I have a question that I ask every, every guest as we go through this podcast, and I want to start, of course with you, which is what’s your best or worst employee experience that comes to mind?

Amber Naslund
Oh, my goodness, I have such a laundry list on both sides. On the side of worst was probably the CEO who threw a chair across a conference room. That was that was a moment. You know, it’s funny how like you work in, in tech for long enough, and you’ll encounter like the volatile bro types. So that was a good like, stereotypical, like, Hey, this is awesome. And generally speaking, that employee experience was very reflected in that moment, let’s say. So that was that was a was an interesting one. On the side of best, I have to say that overall, right now, my experience at LinkedIn has, has been just unbalanced. One of the best employee experiences I’ve had in my very long career, and it’s mostly because they’re very, our culture is very people first. So there’s ample room for work life balance, time off, you know, room to pursue passion projects, be involved in ERGs you know, really find ways outside of your core job to find fulfilment, professionally. So the commitment that LinkedIn overall has for their people, I think, is really stand out. And I you know, when I joined, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, I’m like, Haha, you know, I drink the Kool Aid. That’s cool. Like, when’s the reality gonna set in. And, you know, no company is perfect. And we have plenty of work to do but unbalanced, I can say I’m, I keep joking that they’re gonna have to fire or retire me, because like, they’re stuck with me. Because it really has been a pretty standout experience. And that’s, that’s something to write home about when you’ve been working as long as I have.

Russel Lolacher
It’s nice when the words match the actions. Because we see it enough on the posters, we see it enough at the promises of an onboarding, exercise. And then for things to actually kick in, throughout your career and journey at the organization. You’re just making me warm and fuzzy and jealous.

Amber Naslund
Well, you know, I think the thing that also stands out is we just got back from our global sales kickoff, in July. And you know, there’s, it’s like the hype machine, like, everybody’s all pumped up and fired up. And there’s like, 1000s of people in the instance, you know, all that stuff. But the thing that continually impresses me is our leadership’s commitment to like continuous improvement, they’re really listening. And I feel like they back that up with actions. So like, when the pandemic hit, we were actually quite an office focused culture, you know, people were really centralized around Metro offices, and there was very much an in office culture as much as we were flexible about it. And they just really heard people that they wanted more hybrid work options, they wanted to be able to live and work like wherever they wanted to be. And so they’re changing as, as the workforce is changing. And I think you kind of have to if you’re LinkedIn, I mean, like you are bead on the economic graph and the workforce in general, I would hope that we’re leading the charge on some of this stuff. But I like that people in our highest leadership ranks seem to be listening, lead with empathy, and paying a lot of attention to the pulse of the people in their organization, because I think they really understand that the people are what make it work. You know, and you don’t have much of a business if you don’t have people who actually want to be there. And we have this weird thing where like, we have a high boomerang population, like people who leave and go elsewhere and then come back to LinkedIn. And I we have an incredible like tenure and so in tech companies is really unheard of for people to stick around for more than a few years. And we have people that stay at LinkedIn like seven 810 years. I It just really is sort of a testament to the culture that they’ve built that people not only want to be here, but want to come back, you know, even after they’ve gone on other professional adventures, so.

Russel Lolacher
So I don’t know if you understand this, but what you’ve just done is increased the number of DMs, you’re going to be getting on LinkedIn going, do you have another job opening? Do you have any job openings?

Amber Naslund
Well, I do when I talk about, like, how much I enjoy working there, I always get people reaching out looking for stuff. And the answer is yes, there’s always something open. I can’t like grease the skids on a lot of stuff. But you can check out our careers page. Every once in a while. I can throw in an employee referral, but you got to apply first. So like, go find the job apply, and then tell me and then maybe I can help. But yeah, I mean, big organization, it’s hard for me to influence like every role that comes along. And occasionally I’m hiring. So I’ll let y’all know if I’m hiring on my team.

Russel Lolacher
So let’s get out of that topic. And get into something which I found really ironic. Putting your bio together going, like fireworks. amazingness. Look at what she’s accomplished. Oh, by the way, she’s also feeling and championing impostor syndrome. So, which is our topic today? So what I really want to start is with a baseline and maybe let’s just understand, maybe the textbook or the Amber’s definition of, of the topic.

Amber Naslund
Yeah, so imposter syndrome was originally sort of coined as a term back in the 1970s, by a couple of psychologists who women who had been studied studying it, because they were working in academic circles, and had been chatting with women around sort of that feeling of inferiority or like they were faking it, or like they were, at any moment, somebody was going to figure out and they just been winging it, and that they get called out for being like a fraud. And so they studied this and realized that not only was it pervasive, but it was it was sort of a consistent set of feelings of not just not measuring up. But feeling as though you are pulling one over on people, you know, it’s not just like, wow, I’m out of my depth. It’s also like, I feel like I’m faking it to a degree where I’m fraudulent, and people are going to find out that at any given moment, I’ve been faking this the whole time. So they coined it the imposter phenomenon, actually. So it’s not really a syndrome. And it’s not really like a condition as recognized by say, you know, the mental health textbooks or psychological textbooks. But to me, it really is just a collection of sort of experiences and feelings that we ended up having. To me, it’s more indicative of being in a growth curve, you know, being kind of out of your comfort zone. But it can be really paralyzing for people. And it is especially prevalent, you know, they used to think it was just women that felt this. But as these studies have gotten deeper and broader, they’ve realized it happens in every population. But there’s also specific concentrations in underrepresented populations. So for example, you know, black women in the workforce or indigenous populations in professional jobs, or academia, like women and academia specifically. So because I think in some ways those populations have been historically told that they don’t measure up so when they are in an environment where they’re having to meet like a white sis hat standard. There, everybody’s like, Well, wait a minute, you know, I don’t belong here, everybody’s going to believe that I’m not one of them. So it’s been really interesting to study and more depth, depth and realize how tied some of these feelings are to socio economic disparities that we have in not just professional circles, but like academic circles, and, and it really doesn’t discriminate men, women, black, white, purple, you know, it doesn’t really make a difference, except that there are certainly higher degrees of that concentrated in certain sectors or socio-economic groups because of just systemic disadvantages.

Russel Lolacher
So there’s no consistency except for the fact it’s not a lot of white CIS heterosexual males?

Amber Naslund
I mean, there are plenty of those but like, think about the power structures that we have, or you know, they are like white CIS, heterosexual men are basically the baseline. So for the most part, the people who tend to feel inferior in some way is because they’re being measured against that standard, but like, there are some studies that have shown that because I mean, we could get into so much philosophical depth here but because of a you’ve probably heard the term toxic masculinity but you know, overly patriarchal standards that were Build up men as needing to be these hyper masculine alpha male, like you know that stuff. There are plenty of men too, who may be sis hat and white but also are feeling like they don’t need some kind of false masculinity toughness standard. I read that one study and particularly in the law community were men who were not these like ruthless, bloodthirsty lawyers were feeling a little bit out of their depth and like they weren’t qualified to be in law, because that was the, the prototype. So I won’t say that it never happens to bet to white men, it just happens to be that I think there’s more frequent occurrences by the data in more underrepresented populations.

Russel Lolacher
So as someone on the outside looking in at Amber Naslund, co-author successful. It seems weird for others to understand that you actually also suffer from this. So what triggered you to sort of move from “I have it” to “Oh, my goodness, I need to learn a lot more about it.”

Amber Naslund
Yeah, well, it’s also because like, I’m, I’m a late diagnosed like ADHD adult and realizing that my hyperfocus on hyperperfectionism means I need to understand things cognitively to make sense of them. So part of it was like me trying to figure out these feelings I was having all the time. I was actively in therapy, because of a few things that had happened that I can reflect on in a sec here. But so it was me trying to be like, Why, what is this? And why? Why am I feeling it. And then part of my way of getting comfortable with things that feel unfamiliar to me is to learn more about them so that I understand them. So I started to, like dive into the reading and the research around this topic, and was realizing there’s a lot of like pop psych out there about impostor syndrome. And you hear it now as kind of like a buzzword that you’ll see thrown in all the the good little like, you know, business mags and stuff. But really, there’s some pretty core like psychological studies that have been done about this. So like, it’s a legit thing. It isn’t just a label that people threw at it. But I would say that the important thing for me was about how to reframe it so that I could get unstuck from it, because it was really affecting me on every level, so I think it started for me, actually pretty, I was always an achiever as a kid. So a lot of people will identify with being like the gifted and talented kid, quote, unquote, you know, and in those classes, and we were measured as kids by academic achievement, like, Did you were you in the Honors Program? Did you get the ribbon at the field day did you? Did you make the test scores, so we are taught from a very young age that our worth is tied to what we the output of how we achieve. So I was always really kind of overly conscientious as a kid. And then I went to college, and I couldn’t finish college for a bunch of reasons. One, I was in an abusive relationship that I needed to get out of and to, financially, that became untenable for me, because my parents had set aside a certain amount of money for school, I blew through that. And then I didn’t have the means to like, keep doing that on my own. So I ended up having to drop out of college, and going into the professional world, you know, to step shy of a degree, and feeling like I was out of my element entirely, and unqualified, and back when I was entering the workforce, you know, people did still look at degrees as sort of a measure of qualifications for jobs. And we still have a little bit of that, like stuck today. But so I walked into the workforce feeling like I needed to constantly prove my worth and my value, because I didn’t have that piece of paper. So it started early for me thinking that I was like, wow, I’m really like faking this. And then my career like many people’s has been sort of a not an up into the right straight line. It’s been a meandering, messy path of fits and starts and failures and learnings. And so like I started my career in nonprofit fundraising I pivoted to I was sort of recruited into a marketing job. And I was like, Yeah, but like, I’m not a marketer. And this guy was like, Yeah, you are, you’re close, like close enough. So So I took this marketing job and like I learned marketing, hands on like in the trenches and got read whatever I could get my hands on studied crazily, but like, I did not go to school for marketing. So even if I’d gotten a degree, it would have been in music, not marketing. So when I landed in this field, I was like, God, like all these people with like credentials and thing is and I just was always feeling like I was somehow not measuring up and the big kick came in. So in 2011, I had been working for a startup that was acquired by Salesforce. So big exit. And that was very exciting. And then I took those successful like my my funds from my exit, and funded an entrepreneurial venture with a partner. And it turned out to be an absolute utter disaster, like the whole thing, just three years and fell apart. I nearly lost everything financially. I lost my life savings nearly lost my house, and basically had to like reassemble my career and my confidence brick by brick by brick, dig myself out of debt. And that experience was sort of one of those like, wow, I really am pretty terrible at this. So like, Yeah, I’m outside. I’m writing and blogging and publishing books and all this. And I’m putting forward an image of success and it Meanwhile in terminally, I’m, like curled up in the fetal position in a corner rocking myself going, what am I done? What have I done? What am I done? So like in 2014, when I had to go back to work, to put all these pieces together and go back into the professional workforce, and reclaim my kind of career as a marketer, I was feeling so much doubt about whether I belonged there to begin with, and whether all of my success to date had been basically a fluke, like I just been in the right place at the right time, it was a total accident. I didn’t earn any of it. And so when I was talking to my therapist, she was like, you know, this is a thing, right? Like, this is a thing, that and it has a name. And I mean, I’d heard of it before, but like, we got to talk to you about it in more depth. And so I just set off on a quest to kind of write about it, because that writing is kind of my catharsis and studying it so I could understand it. And kind of trying to put together a little bit of a framework for myself about how to dig out from underneath those feelings. And the more I was talking to people about it, people would be like, Oh, my God, you to Holy Shit, I thought it was just me, I never knew well. So then I started realizing that maybe I should share this stuff in these experiences and like, write in more depth about it. And, you know, the book itself is coming along. It’s a slog, I’m not I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a tough thing. They like get off the starting blocks. And if the irony is I think I have impostor syndrome, about writing about impostor syndrome. But it’s been a really like educational endeavor to learn a lot more about this topic and to understand it so that not only can I heal myself, but maybe help a few other people along the way.

Russel Lolacher
To get people more in the headspace of it of being in a work environment and feeling that imposter syndrome. Is there anything that sort of triggers it? Or is it just permeating throughout the DNA of your existence?

Amber Naslund
You know, I think, the more I learned about it, and the more than I’ve thought about it, I do think that it is triggered specifically by moments where our capabilities and our familiar surroundings are challenged, meaning taking out any job taking on a new project, using skills that maybe are outside of our comfort zone. So for me, I can write in my sleep, but you hand me a spreadsheet, and I want to cry. So it’s like, using skills that are not core to our comfort zone, I think absolutely triggers that. The other thing is, you know, we started off talking about employee experience and being in an environment that is very boiler Rooney, where we go back to that, like hyper achievement, hustle culture, you know, whatever you want to call it, where the idea is like, you have to move harder, faster and better in order to be worthy. That means that the mirror you’re looking at mentally all the time is if I don’t, if I’m not wired that way, I am inferior. So I think part of it is like extrinsic factors. And part of it is the intrinsic factor of feeling a little bit out of your comfort zone. And immediately start like for most people, unless you’re like a super narcissist, most of us who are conscientious want to do a good job and have high standards for ourself, immediately figure that any gap between where we are and where we want to be is our fault. So it’s like that deficit is mine. And I own that, and therefore, if I can’t get to where I want to be immediately or that feels unattainable, it must be my deficit. And so imposter syndrome sneaks in all the time when that stuff happens.

Russel Lolacher
How can impostor syndrome, and I’m going to go to your narcissist… How can impostor syndrome exist in a world of unearned confidence? Because we certainly see it out there. We certainly see the almost the complete flip side of impostor syndrome, and yet those have to coexist in the same culture in the same organization? How do you exist?

Amber Naslund
Well, I mean, the super secret is that the real imposters don’t feel impostor syndrome. They don’t care. They’re not wired to really be have enough integrity or self awareness to care whether they’re faking it to care whether they’re putting on a front to care whether they’re like, even to the point where they’re defrauding people truly defrauding people, those people are not reflective of that they’re not sitting there thinking to themselves, like, Well, gee, I really feel like an imposter right now, like that is the grift for them. So I think one of the things that’s been fun for people to realize when I do talks about this or whatever, is like if you’re feeling impostor syndrome, almost by default, you are not. Because the ones who are are just not, they’re not they don’t feel that and they don’t, they don’t, they don’t have enough integrity or investment in the outcomes to care.

Russel Lolacher
I want to get your thought on a certain excerpt Adam Grant put out in his book, think again, if you’re familiar with this, about impostor syndrome, motivated to work harder than anyone else around them, openness to new ways of doing things and becoming a better learner thoughts?

Amber Naslund
I will “Yes and” that or “Yes, but” that in some ways, so I really respect Adam, he was a lot of times, he’s really, really, really thought provoking. But again, let’s keep in mind that he’s coming from the perspective of being like a white guy in a white guy’s world. So it’s really easy to say that the solution to impostor syndrome was just to kind of power through it and like expand your horizons and lean into that growth mindset and like, so, yes. But I think what it does is that that statement is just overly simplistic in that for people who have been mired in these kinds of feelings for a while, your neural pathways just like trauma get wired to actually familiar and comfortable thought patterns, even if they are destructive ones. So things like I’m a fraud, I don’t measure up, I don’t belong here, I’m not qualified. Somebody’s gonna find out that I’ve been faking it. People overvalue me, like those kinds of things, you can’t just flip a switch because you crack a book. And the damage that it does to people over time, is it’s actually like a self fulfilling prophecy. So when you feel like you don’t measure up, you tend to not put yourself out there, you tend to not try new things, because it’s uncomfortable, you tend to not be a strong advocate for yourself, or a strong voice for your own career development, because you feel like you just don’t belong in the room in the first place. So I think it’s overly simplistic to be like, yeah, yeah, you lean into that just like use it to fuel your learning. Yes, if you get to a point where you can heal the traumas that caused the imposter syndrome in the first place. And that’s so, so missed. I mean, we don’t talk nearly enough about occupational trauma and work trauma and the things that happen to us in our careers, that are fundamentally damaging to our confidence to our self worth and self perception, toxic work environments, abusive bosses, career failures, like the one I had, that were deeply traumatic financial trauma is a huge thing you’ve been laid off, like if you’ve ever been laid off, it is a demoralizing, devastating experience. Those things leaves scars, and you can’t just learning mindset, your way out of that shit. Like you have to actually get some healing and some work on the on the traumas itself. So that’s why like, I’m a yes and on that I think that’s all valid. And I think that in its latest flavors, impostor syndrome can be fuel and fire. But I don’t want to dismiss the very real damage that that set of feelings can do to people who have been affected at a much deeper level by Occupational trauma.

Russel Lolacher
I’m so glad you brought up operational trauma because it had been a big part of what I wanted to get into for this conversation. Because a lot of organizations when they look at their, you know, engagement scores and how employees are doing, they’re like, great, we are now starting at zero. We are now going to forget the past and move on to this bright, unattainable vision of future but not realizing that’s not how trauma works. There is so much baggage that their employees are carrying with them that are fueling things like imposter syndrome. Yep. How do you tackle that? Because I’ve seen it I’ve just had my mouth a gape going, but you don’t know how people work?

Amber Naslund
Yeah, so tackling this is a simple answer, but not an easy one. And I’ll ask sum it up in the term psychological safety, which is one that has become more prevalent in the last few years. And I’m so glad because it’s finally getting at the real roots of like, culture. And I’ll say culture with a capital C, because culture is not just like your snacks in the break room and your ping pong tables and your you know, extra days off around the holidays. Culture is how you handle difficult conversations. Culture is how hard you work to dip like to create diversity, inclusion and belonging in your workforce environment. Culture is how you take care of new parents, people who are going through grief, how you foster the environment where people can come whole self, including the difficult moments and realize that our work life, the work life balance idea is a myth. Because we can’t keep the peace from touching the mashed potatoes. Like if we’re not okay, professionally, we’re not okay, personally, and vice versa. So those things are really intertwined. And the organizations that can help people kind of work through and heal from occupational trauma are the ones that allow people process that both in whatever ways are healing to them, but they need the opposite experiences in their workforces in order to start relearning new mental patterns. And that starts with people who provide the environment for people to be messy for people to not be okay for people to bring their challenges to the table and go, I don’t know how to do this, I am scared and I am out of my depth, I need help. Rather than treating those people as deficient in some way, because they are not, you know, firing on all cylinders at all times, and creating enough space to realize that people’s jobs should not be their identity. So when you create environments that are just how many hours you put in, whether your butt is in seat in the office, did you clock in at eight and clock out at six? You know, did you log your time off down to the 30 minute mark, like that kind of stuff, perpetuates all of the things that we talked about that are so damaging, hustle culture, performance, culture, over achievement culture. And a lot of those are unique to like white collar environments. But you think too, about like, technical trades, or labor trades, like we don’t create a lot of environments in those types of occupations, where there is room to have psychological help support and openness, because it really is focused on people’s output. So we’ve just got to rethink in general, the way that we sent her human beings in the business world and realize that the output that humans are capable of, is directly proportional to the investments we make in them psychologically, emotionally and otherwise. And that is part of the responsibility of people who are in a world where they’re trying to extract labor, whether it’s knowledge or physical labor, from a workforce, you can’t just get out all the stuff and put nothing back in to heal people and to help them and to fulfill them. And that’s why I think that like, Yeah, it’s fine. If you do your employee voice survey, we do those quarterly. But people need to see meaningful action against the things that are problematic. So it’s like, oh, okay, so we don’t have enough women in leadership, we better fix that. And like, take some actions in order to demonstrate that we’re committed to that change. Because Talk is cheap. And one of the reasons the corporate world quote, unquote, has the reputation that it does is because it’s famous for like talking a lot of talk, and not doing a lot of do. So nobody’s gonna get it perfect. And nobody, that’s the attempt is so important. The communication is so important. And the psychological safe environment of people to show up whole, including not in their best moments is critical.

Russel Lolacher
You posted a great question on LinkedIn, quite a ways back, but I wanted to bring it up here because hey, if we get the answer to this, we fixed everything, Amber. I don’t know if you know this.

Amber Naslund
Sounds great.

Russel Lolacher
How do we reframe the shame, guilt, anger or other feelings that go with imposter syndrome to get ourselves back on our feet and move forward?

Amber Naslund
Well, the reframing for me is again, the idea of recognizing that you are on a growth curve, that those feelings when they come up, if you can really label them as like, wow, okay, this is my up leveling moment. Like this is the moment now where I’m recognizing this is really painful and uncomfortable. That means I’m doing some things that either scare me or are intimidating to me for any number of reasons. And realizing that a I need support in this moment because I am I don’t have all of the resources and the faculties is around me to like do this on my own. And be that that is a signal that you are about to level up. And for me, it was really important to reframe it as not a, like a limiting function, but an acceleration function. I think that’s kind of what Adam was trying to get at. And his his quote is about like, yeah, use that as fuel. And with the caveat of like, recognizing that there are traumas usually at the root of some of these things. For me, it was really important for me to be like, Okay, this is normal. This is pretty typical of someone who is about to embark on something that they don’t know. So a feeling less alone in that set of feelings, be I have the tools and resources to do this, because I, if I look back, have survived all of my hardest challenges so far, still here to talk about it, which means that I probably have the tools and resources to get through this difficult moment. And three that like this is a sign that I am growing. And stagnation is the enemy, usually in life, like we don’t want to just sort of rest on our laurels. And most of us, I think, don’t just want to be comfortable forever. And so using that as an opportunity, I guess, to sort of face down the things that are scary for me was an important reframe. And it turned those moments, they weren’t less scary. But if you start like you’ve probably heard the trope about fear and excitement are like the same brain chemicals. I don’t actually know scientifically if that’s true or not. So don’t quote me on that. But I liked that concept of that because I can go back into my brain and go instead of using this as a reason to activate my fight or flight rocket like instinct and go hide, I’m going to use it as I’m excited. Because there’s like stuff to anticipate. And there’s lots of unknowns and trying to look at that as an exciting thing versus a scary thing. It’s not easy. It’s not easy. But I think it’s an important way to keep teaching ourselves that impostor syndrome is really normal, and very common. And it’s also like temporary.

Russel Lolacher
How do you have the tools, and I’m using this more as a recommendation of what you’d give for other people that have recognized they have impostor syndrome, everything you’re talking about is just hitting all the buttons. And absolutely, yes, recognizing ourselves, how do you start those conversations with others in your culture with other employees, to champion yourself because not everybody is an extrovert, not everybody feels comfortable having those conversations?

Amber Naslund
Yeah, that’s so I think you can only lead the horse and provide the resources and you have to respect the fact that everybody cognitively and intellectually is like wired differently. It comes as a surprise to a lot of people that I’m like, by psychological terms, I’m an introvert, which means that I can be very outgoing, but I’m very drained by like interpersonal interaction, it takes all of me. And so I need space for time and reflection. So I think part of it is, especially if you’re in a position like me, where you’re in a leadership role, and you have teams around you, taking the time to ask people, What do you need? Like, how can I be most supportive to you? Is it time and space on your own? to process things? Are there are you a reader? Can I give you like a budget for a half a dozen books that you can like read and that are helpful to you? Would you like a mentor? Is there like a peer network that you want to be part of? Do you want like a leader outside of me that would represents a skill set that you aspire to that I can make connections for you to talk to that person? Do you need more time off to spend with your family so you can recalibrate your like mental headspace to be more in the trenches when it is hard? So it’s not just about like training people, I really get really frustrated when people are like, what the deficit? Here’s a skill one. So like, let’s throw 87 training courses at this person so they can get better at impostor syndrome. It’s like, no, no, no, no. Start asking questions about what and stay curious about what actually helps people. So some things that helped me having like a, what I call my committee of champions, and these are not like people who just stuck out to me all the time. But they’re also not people. I am very sensitive hypersensitive to like critical feedback. So I didn’t want tough love tough love to me feels like cruelty. So I wanted people who were going to be the right balance of like, build me up, but like nudge me outside my comfort zone. So I curated a very like small group of people that I trusted to give it to me the way that I like giving real feedback in a way that was psychologically safe for me. I did a lot of writing and inventorying what I am good at, like sit down and write down your inventory of truth of like, what have I accomplished and what have I done so that I can use that as a touchstone when I’m doubting my myself and go back and go, Yeah, but see, like in black and white, I actually like did some shit. So finding those tools, but it’s going to be very different for everyone. And for the love of all that’s holy workforces please make mental health benefits part of your health care, like mental health is health. And we do a terrible job of banking, access to that, a standard and we we like we do with so much healthier unfortunately, we wait to treat the crisis instead of thinking of it as preventative. And mental health care and therapy and access to mental health support resources for yourself and for your families is so critical. And workforces I think, think of that as a nice to have, but if you want a psychologically healthy team, you had better help them get access to mental health resources. So you know, it’s not the same, isn’t it, there’s no template, unfortunately, to follow. But you have to have the intent to want to know how to best help people. And that can’t necessarily always be within the bounds of a job description.

Russel Lolacher
And I love how you highlighted the fact that it is the responsibility of not only those employees, but also the organization to take care of their employees. Because you’ll hear a lot of people going well, you don’t really have impostor syndrome, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, it’s just in your head, keep working, you’ll be fine. It’s very old school, very pre world of great resignations, and quiet quitting, all those rebranded problems we’ve had for, you know, decades.

Amber Naslund
Like we could rant for another whole hour on the quiet quitting thing. Finally, HBR came out with an article I think today even that, like quiet, quitting isn’t a reflection of bad employees, it’s a reflection of bad bosses. And I would go so far as to say toxic organizations, you know, like we have to, we have to care about the soft stuff. Because it like the human condition is not one of like input and output, we as humans are not generally fulfilled by, like, I go to work, I put in my eight hours i i output this much, quote unquote, productivity, and therefore my soul is fulfilled. And I don’t care how tough you think you are like that as a human need, the human need to belong, to feel worthy to feel valid to feel like your existence means something is like as fundamental as it takes, isn’t it as it is, we’ve created a corporate culture over the last, like the industrial era, that our worth, as humans is about our productivity and like how much we can output for somebody else’s game. And I think it’s so short sighted for organizations to not realize that they It is a privilege to have people who want to exchange their either knowledge or physical labor for you in exchange for compensation. But that compensation doesn’t stop at a paycheck. And we have generations of people, especially probably, like our parents age, that were damaged by the idea that the only thing that they had value in was like how much money they took home. Like, man, how many, how many generations of people did we fuck up? Because we looked at like, wow, well, they bought the house and the car and the picket fence and had the 2.5 kids, so they’re worthy. And we’re getting smarter about that now, but like companies have got to realize that when we when we talk about like people are our greatest assets, most show me that, you know, like, you can’t just you can’t just pay them and think that that is enough of an investment in these people. So like, I look at it as my job as a leader to genuinely try to as one of my, like, peers and mentors at work would say leave people better than they found. And then I found them. You know, like, it is a privilege for me to have these talented human beings on my team. And I want to make sure that they’re rewarded more than just financially for showing up and giving me their all every day. Because I view that as not just my job but my responsibility.

Russel Lolacher
Well, I want to leave it hopeful, Amber, so I’m going to leave that with one more question. And here. Thanks again for talking about impostor syndrome. appreciate so much. What’s the one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Amber Naslund
Oh my gosh, this is another one of those like dead simple, but not always easy. Go ask somebody genuinely and mean it. How they are like, how are you? How are you doing? And then shut up? Stop talking. genuinely want to hear the answer. And don’t feel like you have to fix don’t feel like you have to solve don’t feel like you have to be in that conversation because you have to do something. Give people the space to believe that you actually care how they are. Because I try really hard to make sure that I’m always leading In my relationships at work with how I show up for people as a human first, our job is secondary and jobs, change jobs, count jobs, go, you’re expendable, no matter how much you want to believe it, you know, at the end of the day, and so the only thing that I can really impact is the emotional aftertaste. I leave with people that I leave them feeling like I actually genuinely care about their well being. And if you want your relationships at work to thrive, start there because it always, always, always pays off.

Russel Lolacher
That is Amber Naslund. She is a senior manager for marketing solutions in LinkedIn. She’s been doing this for a couple of decades. And one of these days you might see another dear fuckers newsletter in your email inbox. Thank you, Amber so much for being here.

Amber Naslund
It’s my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Russel Lolacher

Russel Lolacher

Digital Communication Director, speaker, advocate for healthier workplace cultures and kind candour. Host of the Relationships at Work podcast.