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Connect with Paleo Gluten-Free Guy
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Don has been cooking and baking for almost 20 years and went Paleo/gluten-free 8 years ago. He started his blog 10 months ago to help people get in the kitchen and make delicious anti-inflammatory foods for themselves and others. Don wants everyone to enjoy food without regretting their choices later.


Episode #045: Combat Imposter Syndrome

  • Fun fact: The summer after graduating from high school, Don was a dancer for the music video for the opening theme song for the Oprah show. Oprah sang her own theme song. 

  • Imposter Syndrome – (from the Harvard Business Review) Is a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. Imposters suffer from chronic self-doubt, any sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feeling of success or proof of competence. 

  • Don has enjoyed cooking and baking for many years but only had a blog for about 10 months. He had developed his own style, his own tips and shortcuts for making the recipes he was putting together. But when he started to think about starting a blog, he had doubts because there are so many successful food blogs that exist, that are successful and have large followings that he wondered if he should even bother. But he really was interested in sharing all he’s learned and how he prepares his food so he went for it.

  • As Don began his blogging journey, he constantly looked to other food bloggers for advice and inspiration. There’s so many successful bloggers out there who have been doing this a lot longer than him that he wondered if he should even bother.

  • Even beyond the blog, Don grew up the youngest of four kids, 3 overachievers, alas, he was not an overachiever himself. So he knew what it was like to constantly be compared unfavorably to others and the self-reflection that inspired. This also speaks to how our personal lives and history can affect our blogging.

  • Imposter syndrome can get worse as you get more successful which seems counter-intuitive but its common. When you gain traction, you ask, do I deserve this? Why do I feel inadequate?

  • Let this imposter syndrome help you reflect on what you can offer and why you aren’t a fraud. So how do you take that information and build a business plan? Let your blog serve a specific audience that needs your expertise. It can motivate you to truly reflect on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, who you’re doing it for and what makes you different from all the other bloggers out there. These are things you should do anyway but not everyone does! It can force you to come up with a solid business plan that therefore alleviates some of your insecurities from Imposter syndrome.

  • What contributes to imposter syndrome?

    • Different personalities

    • Perfectionists because they set high standards and they assume others want that high standard from them too

    • If you have difficulty asking for help, this contributes to you feeling overwhelmed

  • This phenomenon has been around since the 70’s and has ramped up since the internet got accessible. Then you add social media to the mix and it makes people inspired as well as feeling inadequate. 

  • Ways to handle this –

    • Utilize your community

    • Find facebook groups

    • Outsource help!

  • Who’s prone to this? 

    • Super woman/man – the one who saves the day and is on top of everything. This comes from a great place. 

  • How do we work to get past this?

    • Acknowledge this is happening – recognize anxieties and fear you have. Don’t bear it alone. Remind yourself that is it is so common. This helps to de-stigmatize the feeling because it can be paralyzing. This helps you to focus in the moment and do what you want to do vs shutting down in fear. Get back to what is important to you.

    • This helps break it down specifically into more manageable pieces. It might feel big and broad. Are you applying to everything in your life? Is it the copy or the blog post or the photography? Is it a specific recipe that its stemming from? Make a plan rather than applying it to everything so you can figure out how to handle the issue.

    • What is it that’s not making you feel good enough? Resolve that with practical help. Get help!

  • Talk to someone you trust, even if they aren’t in the blogging world. Check in with them so they can remind you of your qualifications and why you do what you do. Think about it on the other foot; what if your friend was thinking the same about themselves? It’s really easy to think about lifting up and showing compassion to others but be really hard on ourselves. 

  • Reduce stress in your life as much as you can. Treat yourself well. The thoughts about yourself will get more positive. 

  • Arthur Ash says, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you have.” This advice has been helpful to Don. Look ahead, because that’s what a journey is. Remember, everyone else is doing the same. 

  • You might wonder if the world needs yet another chocolate chip cookie recipe. But if it didn’t, no one would have bothered after the first one. Did the world need the 487th version, or the 899th version? Nope, but someone put their version of the recipe out there anyway and that recipe could end up being someone’s favorite that they recommend to everyone they know. It could become a family favorite that gets passed down through generations, becoming a part of celebrations, important milestones, intimate conversations and bonding moments. Your version could do the same. Someone’s going to connect with your recipe.

  • If you develop a connection with your audience, they’ll want that recipe from you regardless if Google wants that recipe from you. 

  • It can be helpful to remember that NO ONE is reinventing the wheel with their recipes. Very, very few recipes actually feel like game-changers that way (sweet potato toast, maybe? That 2-ingredient Nutella brownie recipe that swept the internet a few years ago?). So if others are doing it, why can’t you? There is room for all of us.

  • Everyone had to start somewhere. That blogger with 400k followers? At some point they had 400.

  • Don feels he can speak to all of this not because he’s conquered Imposter syndrome but because he still struggles with it! It’s because he’s been working on this that he can be a resource for others. There’s something comforting about hearing someone addressing an issue that’s still a work in progress for them. You’re down in the trenches with them, both fighting your way out side by side.

  • Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlights reel. 

  • If you work at believing in yourself, that can remind you to keep trying and pushing forward. 

  • You can do everything you want to do, even while you’re experiencing Imposter syndrome. You don’t have to let it shut you down. Keep working while you’re going through it, feeling it. The work itself can adjust your focus and then you’ll realize this didn’t hold you back. 

  • Let these encouraging words from Don sink in: “Start where you are, do what you can.”

Helpful references from the episode: – multiple articles about I.S., the blog focuses on workplace issues but these posts definitely apply to everyone

– “Do You Suffer From Impostor Syndrome?” Huffpost, Olivia Fox Cabane

– This list of highly accomplished people who have admitted to feeling Imposter Syndrome:

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