“Watch Out for “Imposter Syndrome” Words of Wisdom with Dr. Jaime Kulaga
“I wish someone told me that successful people can sometimes feel like an imposter. There have been times that I felt like I was a fraud. I wasn’t, of course, but I felt that way. I pride myself on being honest, having integrity and practicing what I preach, so I would question why I felt like someone was going to find out I was lying about who I am. There wasn’t anything bad to find, but yet, I still felt like a fraud. The truth is, I worked really hard for where I am at. I earned it, and when I feel like an imposter, I stop to really reflect on the effort it took me to get here, all the sacrifices and sweat equity I put into things and turn my energy into instead feeling accomplished.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jaime Kulaga. Dr. Kaluga is the founder of Dr. Jaime, Inc., host of The Dr. Jaime Show and author of The SuperWoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment which is published in over 10 countries. Dr. Jaime is a motivational speaker and the go to keynote for companies, associations and organizations. She has been featured internationally, both on TV and other major media outlets, for her expertise in work life balance, goal setting and reaching succees.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Do we have 4 hours? Ha! I will begin by saying my childhood had a lot to do with what I do in life professionally, today. A story I rarely, if ever have shared in public was when my father left our family. I was 12, and I remember truly believing that no matter how bad things got, if your married, you work it out, you find a way. My world was shaken the day my father left. It changed my perception of what marriage was, men and even God. I saw my mother, suddenly forced to raise two young girls on her own, and have to find a job not having worked a day in her life and without any college education. That was the moment I knew I had to educate myself and get as much experience as I could so that when I grew up, I wouldn’t have to live this type of life, a second time.
Fast forward, I got into college at the University of Tampa, busted my ass and graduated with a BA in psychology in 3 years. I went on to get my masters and then doctorate in counseling. I got licensed in my state to be a mental health counselor and opened my own practice. I am also a professor at a major university and own a second company, Two Maids & A Mop.
Of course, I made that sound very quick, but the reality is there were a lot of corporate jobs, internships, and stress in between. I remember doing my dissertation, asking myself, “why am I doing this?” This is where I learned the importance of vision. When things get rough, that is all you can hold on to.
I remember coming home from work, my husband would pass our new son to me, and leave for the night for work. I would then nurse my son while typing out assignments to get through school. I was young, newly married and a first-time mom; it was stressful. I remember sitting in a cubicle asking God if he could find me a better way.
I remember pushing to grow my business, going to every networking event available, all while crying on my way to the event and using the A/C vent in my car to dry my tears. I worked full time, got off work to work part time at my internship, all while 8 months pregnant with baby boy #2. There were times when I lost my life balance and questioned what I was doing. But, in the back of my mind, I just knew, if I kept pushing, kept learning, and gaining experience I could live out my dream of motivating and inspiring others.
I soon found myself doing exactly “what I wanted” to do and had spent 12 years of school trying to do, mental health counseling. But suddenly, what I thought was my dream, had now led me to burn out and negativity. It was hard on me. I couldn’t believe this was happening, everything I thought I had ever wanted, now didn’t fit my personality. I remember sitting on my patio one day reading a magazine, thinking once more to myself, there has to be a better way. And, sure enough, I saw an article in the magazine on life coaching. The rest is history.
I now have my own life coaching practice both in person and virtual/phone. I get to keynote speeches and lead up workshops on balance. I can tell people, I have been there, and here are some tips to get out of the rut. I get to motivate and inspire people every day of my life to reach their goals. When clients say to me “there has to be a better way” I tell them that there truly is and I get to help guide them to that better way. I get to lead people into a path of success every day of my life and be a professional cheerleader on their sideline, I have the best job in the world!
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
Most interesting story, yes. I was at a Barnes & Noble book singing in Santa Monica, California and this lovely lady comes up and asks me about my book. I tell her about it, and in return, she tells me how she used to have such passion for riding horses but over the years, work has just consumed too much of her time to ride. She asked me what she could do. I told her, “just do it.” I told her to find a stable where she can ride, and just go do it. There really is not much more to it, than to do it.
After a few more words, we parted ways. A couple weeks later when I returned home to Florida, I had an email in my inbox from her that stated she not only was riding horses again, and overjoyed with her newfound happiness, but she bought a horse and named him, Flame. She named him Flame since he has instilled a flame and passion in her once more!
It gets better. Several months after that, she took this “just do it” attitude to the max. Her dream was to ride horses in Kenya. So, she booked a trip to Kenya, rode horses with the people of this country and sent me photos. It gets even better! She is a fashion designer and she designed and brought to Kenya the most beautiful silk red dress with diamonds going down the back that you could imagine. She put it on and danced by the fire with the people of Kenya! I can’t make this up. This story is one of the many reasons I do what I do and feel like I am living the dream.
Yitzi: 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 two people who have helped me get to where I am now. First, my mom. There are two things that she showed me, and I don’t know if she really knew she was teaching me this at the time. As a woman, you better make sure you are educated and experienced. It is okay to depend on someone, but you must also have a separate identity and ability to be independent. She also taught me to not give up. There is no story of my mother becoming a millionaire and remarrying a prince charming after all she went through, but I can tell you she raised two great daughters and has the ability to overcome anything thrown at her and that came from her ability to rise again no matter how many times she was pushed down. She taught me resiliency.
The second person who influenced me was my mentor and supervisor for licensure. Her name is Cyndy Brissenden. She told me one thing that has stayed with me for years and will continue to. “Jaime, you can’t choose your first family, but you are completely in charge of creating your second.” Every day I keep this in mind as I make decisions for my family (husband and two boys). I have the ability and control to shape and grow my family just how I have always dreamed a family should be. And, to be honest, for the record, I have a pretty damn awesome family.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I get to help people achieve goals, minimize self-doubt, build confidence, have more balance and overall life happiness & fulfillment through coaching, news outlets & my book. That’s a pretty big deal to me. My book, The SuperWoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment, Step by Step Strategies to Create Work Life Balance is published in over 10 countries & in various languages. How amazing, that there is someone in China, or the Maldives, who I have never met, in a place I have never physically been to, in which perhaps, my words have inspired them to speak up, have confidence or start a dream they never thought possible. That’s amazing to me.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Speak up- I wish I would have known to speak up early on because I would have advanced and gained confidence more quickly. I used to think people would just “see” my progress and then reward me for that. Reality check, no one is keeping tabs on your success except you. You will have to ask for what you want. Good news is, most people say yes- the trick is just asking.
2. Don’t be a “Jack of all trades”- I wish I would have known this so I didn’t spread myself so thin, increase my stress and not be great at anything. I am successful and am an expert at what I do because I don’t try to do it all. Early on I would do anything for business. I would stretch my skillset and take on jobs I didn’t want to do, just for the business. I realized you can’t be good at everything, but you can be really, really damn great at a few things. I am a really, really damn great life coach.
3. Know your Value- I wish someone would have told me to see my own value that I have to offer the world. There were times when I settled professionally and monetarily. I was just as good, if not better than the next man/woman in line. In my own eyes, I was still just young Jaime, and forgot my years of growth and the value I now had to offer. It’s a fabulous feeling knowing my value and what I can offer this world.
4. To watch out for “Imposter Syndrome.” I wish someone told me that successful people can sometimes feel like an imposter. There have been times that I felt like I was a fraud. I wasn’t, of course, but I felt that way. I pride myself on being honest, having integrity and practicing what I preach, so I would question why I felt like someone was going to find out I was lying about who I am. There wasn’t anything bad to find, but yet, I still felt like a fraud. The truth is, I worked really hard for where I am at. I earned it, and when I feel like an imposter, I stop to really reflect on the effort it took me to get here, all the sacrifices and sweat equity I put into things and turn my energy into instead feeling accomplished.
5. You can’t do it Alone. I wish someone would have told me to be a great leader you find great supports. When I first started out, I wanted to be able to say, “I did it all on my own.” I soon learned that if you want to fail, do it on your own. There is not one super successful person out there who has done it alone. We need mentors, guidance, educators, supporters and/or heroes along our journey. It is good to have these types of people in your life because they help you to not step in puddles then once stepped in and they force you to think outside of the box and to think from different perspectives. You need supports, and that is not a weakness- it is a great strength of the best leaders.
Yitzi: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Okay, so I really want to have lunch with Sara Blakely. In fact, I want her on my Dr. Jaime Show to tell her story. She was the first person of influence I got the courage to send my book to when it was published. I remember waiting and waiting for weeks to see if she would write me back, comment on the book, really, just anything at all. Then, I went to my PO Box one day and the book was returned to sender for an address that no longer existing- uh! Yep, she never received it.
Sara if you are reading this, I love your story. I love how you never gave up when people rejected your business ideas early on. I feel like I can relate to that story and her story of persistence and resilience.
Yitzi: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!