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Episode 016: A Conversation on Imposter Syndrome with Neha Sampat

a conversation about imposter syndrome

Join Sarah Noll Wilson and Neha Sampat as they explore the truth behind Imposter Syndrome, and what goes into creating a culture of belonging.

About Our Guest

Neha Sampat, Esq., is CEO and founder of BelongLab, where she helps organizations create cultures of belonging into which each individual can bring more of their true and best self. Through consulting, training, speaking, and writing, she helps organizations create peak‐performance, inclusive teams by addressing hidden barriers to belonging, such as internalized bias, unconscious bias, distrust in teams, and wellness challenges. She is an internationally sought-after expert on inclusive leadership and disrupting Imposter Syndrome, and she runs the top-rated “Owning Your Value” programs to cultivate evidence-based confidence and nurture authenticity.

Neha’s insights have been featured in numerous publications, including Time Magazine, Thrive Global, ABA Journal, and News India Times. Neha holds BAs in Sociology and Political Science from University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign, obtained her JD from UC Berkeley School of Law, holds a Certificate in Graduate Applied Psychology, and is certified in Hogan Assessments. Neha works across industries, from Amazon to Pixar, and UC Berkeley to Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. Neha also relishes her role as mama to her two kiddos. You can learn more about her work at www.belonglab.com and follow her on TW/IG/FB at @belonglab and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nsampat/.

We started a new project called Box-Breakers, and we welcome everyone to check out The Box-Breakers’ Newsletter on LinkedIn. Join us as we explore how to build belonging and cultivate confidence by not just checking boxes, but by breaking them.

Resources Mentioned

Episode Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson
Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations, where each week we explore a topic that helps us have better conversations with ourselves and with other people. I’m your host, Sarah Noll Wilson, and it is- I- there- it is my absolute honor. I was going to say, I’m fangirling a bit. I’m so excited, we’ve been waiting for this conversation. So, without further ado, let me introduce our guest, Neha Sampat. Neha is a esquire- I need to give you the full, like, all of your your earnings- is the CEO and founder of BelongLab, where she helps organizations create cultures of belonging, into which each individual can bring more of their true and best self. Through consulting, training, speaking and writing, she helps organizations create peak performance inclusive teams by addressing dressing hidden barriers to belonging, such as internalized bias, unconscious bias, distrust in teams, and wellness challenges. She’s an internationally sought after expert on inclusive leadership and disrupting impostor syndrome, which we’ll be exploring today, and she runs the top rated owning your value programs to cultivate evidence-based confidence and nurture authenticity. We will put the rest of her bio so you can learn all about her, but Neha, welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome to the show.

Neha Sampat
Sarah I am like, relaxed, you can see me relaxing into my chair. I-I just love spending time with you, and I have been looking forward to this. And it’s even better than I imagined, just being in your presence and getting to dig in. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.

Sarah Noll Wilson
My cheeks hurt, people who are listening to this, you can’t see it, but my face is red and my cheeks hurt because I’m smiling so hard. So I’m going to have to massage. But I think, I think we should start with how we met, because I think that it’s a really beautiful love story. It’s not.

Neha Sampat
It is, it is.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a lovely love story. I- Neha and I met, and I can’t remember if I was already connected with you, or that was our literally our first, I think it might have been one of our first interaction-

Neha Sampat
I think it was our first interaction. But I know that I already had been- I probably was already following you. Well, that’s how I saw-

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, we were connected.

Neha Sampat
Yeah, we were connected on Twitter.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. And I, you know, I posted what was something that I’ve shared before of this idea that you don’t get to control who trusts you, I forget what the exact language was. And- or you don’t get to decide, right, if you’re trustworthy or not, other people do, and, and that, and you pushed back and offered an expansion on that, that I hadn’t offered, which was and when you’re a systemically marginalized person, trustworthiness often isn’t given to you. And I remember, you know, sometimes with, with social media content, you’re like, okay, let’s just pull from this, and we’ll post it, and, you know, like, we’ll share it, and we know that it’s resonated with people. But when you responded and pushed it back, I remember just looking at my phone going, damn, this felt like an insignificant thing to share, and suddenly, you made it seem even, like, more significant in a way that I hadn’t considered, and sat with it, processed it, Nick and I ended up having lots of conversations about that. And, and that’s where we started, was your willingness to push, push me in my language, and my perspective to consider broader than what I was considering, and I was so so grateful for you for doing that, and that’s, that’s how we met.

Neha Sampat
Yeah, I, and it’s interesting, because there’s more to that story, right? Like, for me, I found so much- gosh, I don’t even know what the word is. Honestly, some of it was a sense of relief, and some of it was reassurance and some of it was honestly, being valued, in how you responded to my expanding, right. Like, essentially what I did was say, actually, I have a different perspective, let me share you, with you a mar- a perspective from my marginalization, and for many other people’s, you know, multiple marginal marginalization. And that, that is a scary thing to put out into the world, because that isn’t all always welcome, and in fact, it’s often unwelcome. I’ve done a similar thing, as I mentioned to you, when we finally actually got on the phone and talked, I’ve done a similar thing to other people’s tweets, you know, and I’m not going after them to be like, how dare you? It’s more just like, hey, you know what, actually, let me share with you a different perspective, and I have had people block me on Twitter for just sharing a marginalized perspective, which is deeply injurious because it takes it’s personally taxing, right, to actually, like, put out that perspective that is often silenced in our society. So you were so open, you were so welcoming, wasn’t even open it was like welcoming of, of my perspective, and you valued my perspective, and you let me know that, and you publicly exclaimed that. And it moved me, it moved me. I was like, alright, you know, I already followed you. I already kind of loved what- I had a feeling I liked you, but that really solidified it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I’m glad I did something.

Neha Sampat
Yeah, yeah, you really solidified it, and, it was moving for me, not just because of that, it was like, okay, it’s worth it to speak up, right? Because sometimes it feels like it doesn’t.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Sure, and, you know, and when we- I say sure, and that, I didn’t realize until we talked how much of an act of courage that was for you. Because, for me, it was like, oh, that’s a, wow, that’s a really good point. And then, right, I went into reflection mode, and I didn’t, I hadn’t realized until we had spoken, which makes me, again, just another way that you’ve expanded my thinking, of just realizing that when, when, when somebody pushes you, especially when we’re talking about, I mean, anything related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and belonging, and, and that, that the norm is not to be curious and considerate, or to say, hey, me, this is, you know, it’s, it’s tapping into my, my big passion, which is, you know, we need to be curious, not when it’s easy and comfortable, but when it’s uncomfortable, because when I saw that, my first- you know, and we’ll be talking about doubt was like, oh, shit, like, I didn’t, ah, I hadn’t even- and then was like, okay, like, now I know, now I can start thinking about that even more. And, and also, like, what a powerful example of what’s possible when we’re willing to be courageous with each other, and to be open to it. And, and, and it’s sort of, it felt like an instant bond for me, because, I mean, you didn’t, you didn’t know how I would react, but I appreciated, I was like, I appreciated the pushback. And to me, having people who aren’t afraid to say, hey, I actually disagree, or have a different perspective, is such a big indicator for me of oh, we can have real conversations. I actually have a deeper level of trust with you because I know we can navigate this together. And so, so it was so powerful to experience that, and, you know, and in full transparency for people who are listening, this is only our second conversation. Yeah, of actually talking to each other. I mean, we’ve had a lot of interactions on social media and, and tagging and talking and, you know, texting, but there’s an intimacy now, that I think was born out of that moment. And I’m so grateful that you did that.

Neha Sampat
I- it’s so magical, that everything you just said about the meaning of that interaction, and the impact of it rings true to me from the other side of the interaction, right? Like, completely, yes, yes, yes, ditto, ditto, ditto, plus one, plus one, plus one, right. I remember our first phone conversation after that, and there was, there was a freedom I felt that I didn’t, that I don’t often, that I’m not often consciously aware of that I don’t carry around in most conversations, right. Like, I knew that I was speaking with someone who was very open and welcoming to my true self, and my true perspective, even if, you know, it may be uncomfortable for her. And that- it was like I had space. It was literally like I felt space. And in feeling that space, I recognized how, the sad part of it is I recognized how boxed in I often am as I walk through this world, you know, because it’s not how I feel around everybody, and in every interaction.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, it’s- the word that was coming up for me was disarmed. Because, like, I felt very, I, you know, felt very disarmed. And, you know, boy, this whole show is about how do we have conversations on con- like, how do we have better conversations with ourselves and other people? And, you know, while we know there’s a path we want to go today, I think that it’s a, you know, it’s a, it’s a linchpin moment for me, right, from the standpoint of, of, on multiple levels that are essentially, like, forever burned into my heart, not only with you, but just in how to continue to show up in that way. And, and also, you know, hearing you talk about just like, that, that feeling of boxed in, and how little I, it’s, we, we all are craving, craving, I feel like, that, that deeper level of connection to be really seen and to be really heard, and to feel valued, and I appreciate your language of welcoming. There was something as you were talking that, that landed differently for me from the standpoint of there’s something different, and maybe you can tease this out with me, of being open, versus being welcoming, as what was, as you’re using the- because I don’t know, there was just something about that, that that using the word welcoming, even for me was like, oh, where else, how else can I be welcoming and not just open, and also in what situations do I feel welcomed? And so I’m curious, you know, how would you, because we were talking about, like, how do we even start to dissect, like the difference of inclusion versus belonging, and this feels like a beautiful pathway in of, being open isn’t the same as being welcoming.

Neha Sampat
Yeah. Wow. Gosh, we’re already there. We’re already like, my mind is already blown. How do I even respond to that? I don’t know. I mean, let’s try to figure this out, I mean, one thing I do, I do think it’s different. And that’s why I found those words coming out of my mouth, that it wasn’t just a feeling of that knowing that you were open, it was feeling like, you were welcoming me. I think there’s something possibly about centering. Like, I think about when we welcome a guest into our home, and how we care for them with- there isn’t, there’s an assumption of caring, there are gestures of tender caring, and I think that’s different than openness. Kind of feels like this is, this is my space, you know, the doors open. Whereas welcoming is like, hey, come into my space, I want to understand you, and I want you to feel like this is your space. Does that make sense?

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, it totally, it totally does.

Neha Sampat
Because I just blurted that out, I don’t even know, I’m like, thinking out loud.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s, no, the, the, there’s an assumption of caring. There’s, there’s, there’s an assumption of, and, and also, as you were talking, you know, it made me think about and there’s, there’s an intentionality, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s a real intentionality with not just good intention, so when I say intentionality, I’m not saying good intentions, but there’s real intentional action that’s taken to say, hey, come, come into this space, and I want you to feel good, and I want you to feel comfortable, and I want you to be you. And, and I, and that, I go back to your phrase, that assumption of caring, and I, I feel, and I’m sure you see this in your work, too, that sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to get you to care for you’re- just to care for the people. Like, and I mean, that on a very human level, not just from a productivity perspective, from an output perspective, but from a deep caring, and what would it look like if we thought about creating cultures, personal or professional for that matter, that were truly, truly welcoming?

Neha Sampat
Yeah, I mean, I, I want to come back to that, but I just liked that, that thing you said about intentionality is really striking me because I almost feel that as a sense of, instead of like, hey, come in, if you want, which is like, openness, to like, I want you to come in, I want to know you. So that, that, that, that word intentionally really hit at the core of it for me. And then as far as like, how do we bring that caring in? I don’t know that I have an answer so much as I have a concern that we are tapped the eff out. You know, like, we’re all so tapped out. We are emotionally tapped out. And honestly, like, that worries me because I understand why we’re all tapped out. But I wonder what that means with regard to how much buffer do we have to care about other people, about what’s happening around us? It’s just, we’re in a different place than we were, you know, February 20- Let me just speak to the people in the United States, because it was different in February 2020 for other parts of the world, but in the US in February 2020, you know, I think we didn’t realize it, but our capacity for carrying perhaps the energy we had was different. I don’t know. What what do you think, because that-

Sarah Noll Wilson
I, I feel like I feel like in the work, it’s interesting to, to unpack this a bit. When I think about that, that capacity for caring, I especially, I’m thinking in the workplace, but I think it could apply to lots. I think there we were constrained already, from the perspective of there’s such a sense of urgency, there’s such a sixth sense of perfectionism, there’s so many fires we’re putting out, there’s so much that we’re moving so quickly in, and, and it- So coming into a time when we all got depleted and are still depleted, and, you know, and I’ll share with you one of the one of the concepts that has been really resonant for for us, personally, and when we’re working with people comes from the work of Dr. Bruce Perry from a trauma perspective of, we all have a baseline of sort, of like, our normal stress response. And when it increases, it increases, and then ideally, we come back down to the baseline. But often, if we just keep ramping up and ramping up, like, our baseline shifts, and we, we had somebody recently who was like, I don’t even know if that baseline exists anymore. I don’t know if that pre- I don’t even know if I can find that person anymore. And, and that has huge implications as you’ve connected and pointed out to our ability to care, our ability to show up, our ability- because, you know, when I think, and then, the question that’s coming up for me is, you know, what does it mean to care? What, what does that look like, that, you know, that it isn’t just- it’s holding space, it’s navigating the tough stuff, it’s, you know, being really intentional about how we show up. And when we’re already operating from empty, in, in a culture, especially from a US work culture of just hustle, hustle, hustle, and we, you know, like, we’re working at our seams, basically, constantly. It’s no wonder that there’s a lot of erosion of relationships. And, yeah.

Neha Sampat
That makes so much sense to me. And I totally agree with you that we were already at a place of being depleted before, and I think it just, you know, as we move into mental health awareness month, I just, again, like, see the dots connecting with our mental health, and how that becomes a bigger priority, not just for ourselves, which should be enough, right? Like, we were allowed to care about ourselves, but also to allow us to not be at the bottom of our barrels, right, to like, to fill up those barrels so we can then actually care more about other people and other things that in our hearts we do care about, but we just don’t have the energy to kind of express that caring, perhaps. So, you know, self care isn’t just for the self, according to how you and I have just connected the dots.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. That’s so interesting. Well, and, and so let’s, you know, I do want to shift a little bit, but it’s all connected from the standpoint of the cost of that. The cost of not having spaces that are welcoming, the cost- And, and, and knowing that we have a lot of our audiences either in the HR space or in the leadership space. I do want to, I want to take a moment and just hear from you. How you define the difference between inclusion versus belonging, which maybe, like, ties into that being open versus like the invitation versus the welcoming, inside, just like, just to ground us in that as we think about how do we, how do we truly create spaces where you can be our best selves, we can be our whole selves, we can hopefully be in a place where we’re not being depleted, or gosh, worse yet, harmed. Which I know happens.

Neha Sampat
Yeah. So below, I think that if you’re actually moving towards belonging, and creating a culture, workplace where people feel like they belong, you will, by definition, be being more inclusive. So, the trouble I have with the term ‘inclusion’ isn’t really the term, it’s more about how it tends to be practiced. And it tends to be practiced in a very top down way, with organizations being like, hey, we’re doing programs A, B, and C to be inclusive, yay on us! And meanwhile, the people in the organization are like, well, that’s great. You’re solving problems A, B, and C, but those aren’t my problems. My problems are X, Y, and Z. You never bothered to ask me what my problems are. That, so how inclusion tends to be practiced bothers me, because that’s where we see that disconnect between what an organization is doing, and are they actually having success and truly being more inclusive. So belonging allows for valuing the subjective, it’s, it’s about valuing as data each person’s lived experience. So belonging requires you not to assume what it’s going to take for you, Sarah, to feel like you belong with me, but to actually ask you, Sarah, you know, tell me about a time you experienced belonging. Tell me about a time you felt like you didn’t belong. I started then, you know, exercise that curiosity that you talk about a lot, and understand who you are, and understand what I need to do to help you feel like you belong. And so that’s more of a bottom up approach. So I always say, A, write like you actually have to define the pain points from the bottom up. You have to actually address the pain points from the top down, that- defining the pain points from the bottom up, that’s a belonging approach, if you are going to do that, you are going to actually achieve, and inclusion isn’t something that’s achievable. It’s something you’re always working on, but you will be on the path to inclusion. But I think part of what we struggle with, is really this idea that we have to, have social science studies that validate the ways we’re going about inclusion, and I am, I have a degree in sociology, like, I love social science studies. But let’s be honest, there’s tremendous bias in what studies are actually conducted, who is conducting those studies, which papers are published, so there’s this whole dearth of research on areas that are actually really important to marginalized people and so it’s even more imperative that we not just say, hey, we’re only going to do what the studies tell us to do, and we don’t need to talk to anybody, let’s just look at the studies and do this top down, it’s more imperative that we say I’m going to actually do a study in my organization and understand what is happening with the people in this organization. What are their experiences? What are their needs?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Hearing you talk about that, one of the things that was coming up for me, was sort of, this idea of when it’s always approached from a top down, is there’s still so much gatekeeping and parameters put on that from the standpoint of we’re going to hire, we’re going to hire more, you know, diverse, right? That’s always the like, the, the place that people jump to, like, well, we’re gonna we’re just gonna recruit, we’re gonna hire, hire more. And then, and then okay, great. Well, that being, there’s lots of issues with that. But, but then it’s like, look what we did, we brought them into the first level.

Neha Sampat
And then they leave after a year.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And then they leave, and then we don’t promote them, and we don’t invite them to be part of important conversations. And we don’t- and, and I love that language of the pain points have to be identified bottom, bottom up, and then the changes have to happen top down. I haven’t heard- you know, sometimes you hear it and it’s like, I’ve haven’t heard it phrased that way. And it’s so, so important and so powerful. Because again, like, sometimes that, that’s just not happening. The other, the other thing that was coming up for me, too, is, and hearing you talk about because you were singing to my heart when it’s like, what do you like? When do you feel included? Like, when, when have you felt like you belong somewhere, and even just using that word, because sometimes I think there’s this over tendency to want to simplify the complexity of humans, right? That it’s like, well we’re all going to take an assessment, I know you’re a red, so this is what you need, and I’m gonna show up in this way. Instead of, I’m always like, you don’t need an assessment, if you just paid attention and asked questions and listened, you can learn everything that you need about- and not only that, but holy gosh, the act of asking and listening and wanting to know that information, guess what, that’s gonna make that person feel way safer. And you’re going to build that deeper level of trust in the act of even just exploring- I hadn’t made that connection before, as I’m saying this out loud. But it’s like, oh, we’re going to take this assessment to build trust. Actually, just the act of having a conversation about needs and about all- and then meeting those needs and adjusting to it, and, hm.

Neha Sampat
I am- like, you were- another blowing my mind moment, because, yeah, I mean, I think this is tied to capitalism and how we package and try to sell, we’re gonna go there, we’re gonna go there.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh, my gosh, let’s go there, I’m here.

Neha Sampat
This bugs me, because those assessments and treatments, I use those, I’m certified.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I’ve never made that connection.

Neha Sampat
I know right?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, me too!

Neha Sampat
I’m just- right, we use those as tools, and I don’t think it’s to say they’re bad tools to use, I think we have to be strategic about how we use them, and recognize the limits of them. Because I know for a fact, these, these are not tested on like, a different- like with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion, you know, when you’re testing my personality, and you’re testing it based on like, white American standards, you know, you’re gonna see me as something different than I really am, because I’m gonna get these, like, strange scores that are sub norm, and will, I will perceive as being sub optimal, and probably the people around me will be perceived, perceive as being suboptimal. And we start to shove people into categories and say, this is good, this is bad, this is how you could be better, and, you know, I just, I don’t know, there’s so much I feel that I can’t quite articulate, but this recentering of our humanity that you just expressed, this idea that it’s as simple as a conversation, like a heart to heart conversation, that, that is it for me. That is like the light bulbs all around it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s so simple, but it’s not easy, right? I mean, and then like you add the complexity. We, you know, we just interviewed somebody, who I’m excited for you to hear, where we talked about men and intimacy and vulnerability and that front to front kind of conversations is incredibly difficult in generalizing, right? But culturally, from a US perspective is, men’s relationships are shoulder to shoulder and not necessarily front to front. And, and so there’s, there’s so much complexity-

Neha Sampat
Love that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
-to it, but it’s, it’s so powerful. And I, and it’s, you know, the thing that always, I don’t know if it surprises me, or if it gives me hope, I don’t know what my reaction is to it, but when people experience that true connection, and not just surface level, and not just, you know, we’re fitting into a chart, and we’re identifying it, but that real, like, we’re having a real conversation of just human to human, I mean, I just feel like it goes back to just human to human. There’s, there’s always this, like, oh, I think I need more of this in my life, and, and, but I don’t want to- I want to go back to the point that you are making, from the standpoint of and when you don’t fit the norm, right? And even, you know, some of those assessments will do- and this is not me. I mean, I have my opinions about those assessments, and obviously, it’s very clear, but like, there’s one that, you know, there’s a, like, big five, workplace big five, which is well known and well established. You know, but it’d be like, here’s the, here’s the recipe, if you will, for like, a leader, and it’s like, oh, no, yeah but, but, but that’s problematic.

That is so problematic. Think about how some organizations use these for hiring. It, how I, I can’t even wrap my brain around it, because I will be enraged, like, you cannot use that stuff for hiring. But yeah, yeah, I, um.

Okay. And you, and you also, and I want to come back to like, language use, which is like, if you don’t feel, if you don’t fit the pattern, or the expectations of standard US white male, you know, expectations, you use the word suboptimal. And that, that triggered, like that, that’s stuck in my ear a bit of like, it wasn’t even just like, oh, yeah, and I’m not this, but like, I’m actually less than.

Neha Sampat
I actually want to say it even more strongly. It’s not even that you feel suboptimal. It’s that you feel subpar. It’s, you know, it’s one thing, suboptimal is like A-minus. A subpar is like C-minus, and that’s what you feel. Sorry, what was your question? I cut you off before you asked your question.

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, you’re, this- no, you’re, you’re absolutely like, you’re, you’re answering it and exploring it in the way that it needs to be explored.

Neha Sampat
Well that, this is an area that I do a lot of my work in, because we look at the impacts of bias, you know, you have to address bias from both ends. You have to stop biasing, I just made it into a word. Stop, actually, you know, directing bias at other people. Stop harming. So organizations have to build in programs, and initiatives, and policies, and procedures, and practices that are all about stopping the frickin harm. But we also have to recognize that many of us have been on the receiving end of harm for a lifetime, and we have to also then, as organizations, provide programs, have our policies, procedures, all that designed to promote healing from that harm, to give back what we took away, right, as a society, and I worry that we tend to see these things as one or the other. You know, I think there was a greater focus societally on the healing from the harm, but it came across more- it wasn’t, it wasn’t in that language or couched in those terms, or even that mindset, it was more like, fix yourselves. We’re gonna help you fix yourselves. This is what’s wrong with you, marginalized folks, you know, you’re not confident enough, right, like, this is where it ties to the imposter syndrome conversation, which is an area we do a lot of work in, you know, you’re not confident enough. You’re not this enough, you need to be more aggressive. Oh, wait, oh, um, black lady, you’re being too aggressive, right? Like all of that kind of something’s wrong with you, the problems not us. The problem is you, we’re going to be so nice to teach you how to fix the problem. And to teach you how to fix the problem, we’re going to teach you how to be like us, because we’re the successful ones, and you’re subpar. So we’re gonna bring you up to par by teaching you how to be us. Obviously, that’s not going to work, because I’m never going to teach you how to be me. You’re never going to teach me how to be you, thankfully, right? So, I have seen the conversation shift, and I think, Sarah, you and I have been part of that conversation shifting towards really pointing the finger at, at the structural root causes of a lot of the struggles that marginalized folks face. This idea that I don’t need fixing, it’s the system that needs fixing. And I am all about that the system is what’s broken, we are not broken as humans. And so I do think that we have to actually earnestly start to focus the way we should have many decades ago on fixing the system, because that’s, that’s the stop the harm part, right? Like, we can’t keep putting a bandaid on people, and then we just keep injuring them. So we have to stop the harm, we have to fix the system. However, now we’ve like, shifted our focus fully. And now it’s like a dirty word to talk about empowering people who are marginalized. I have a problem with that, I do think that, you know, people are harmed, and they deserve healing. And so we have to not just do one or the other, we actually have to stop the harm, and we have to provide healing from the harm. And when we’re providing healing from the harm, we’re on the structural end creating spaces for people to bring more of their true selves, instead of trying to squeeze them into these molds that were not created by them or for them. Stop expecting them to check all the boxes, and instead allow them to create their own, you know. Break those boxes and be who they are, there has to be that safety, but we also have to recognize that for many of us who are marginalized, and I can speak to this, I have been this person, we sometimes have a hard time figuring out who we are, because we have had to alter ourselves, assimilate, to try to get by in life. And so part of the work we get to do for our healing, is to start to see those pieces of ourselves we’ve been cutting off, to try to fit into these molds, and recognize that those pieces don’t make me less than. How I’m different doesn’t make me subpar. Actually, what’s unique about me might be what makes me the absolute perfect person for this organization for this opportunity, whatever it might be. But you can’t do each of those in a vacuum. You can’t say to someone, hey, be confident in yourself, you’re so awesome, let’s look at what’s unique about you, be bold, if there’s not a safe space for people to actually be bold and be themselves.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And also, and there’s so much, there’s so much I want to explore in everything you just shared. I gotta get my brain right, because there’s like eight different paths.

Neha Sampat
I feel ya.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Like, you know, a couple of things just to- yeah, to tease out that, and I, in full disclosure, right? I, when I first started doing some work, outside of sort of my space, I was invited to speak to women’s conferences a lot. And I, that, you know, that whole idea of like, well, women aren’t as confident- I’ll tell you this story, because you’ll appreciate it. Right? And it’s like, we can’t just choose to be confident, like confident comes from out, it’s an output, right, of us living our values, potentially taking risks, and I mean, all these things that we can, can do to to build that. So I had this, you know, like, great presentation that people responded to really powerfully. I don’t remember what shifted, but I was at, I was literally sitting in the hotel the night before. It may have been that I read Ruch- Ru- Ruchika’s article-

Neha Sampat
Ruchika Tulshyan, yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, on, on stop telling women to be more confident. I can’t remember-

Neha Sampat
“Stop Telling Women They Have Impostor Syndrome?” I think it’s something like that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That’s what it was. Yeah, yeah. Stop- we will put that in the notes. Yes, we will put it in the notes. I can’t remember if, if that was the moment that I got introduced to this idea, or if it was something else, but it made me realize like, oh, I’m literally, I’m causing harm, because I’m telling you that you’re the one who needs to be fixed, instead of the reality is, is that, no, our culture doesn’t isn’t welcoming to confident women, our culture isn’t welcoming to, you know, women who are assertive, who are direct, who are, you know, are all of that. So, I remember calling my husband and being like, oh, shit, I cannot do this presentation tomorrow. I cannot. I can’t. This, like, I- it was such a- so I ripped everything up, and I re- like, redid it and was like, let’s talk about bias. Let’s talk about the, like, the impact to it. Let’s talk about also the role we play in contributing to that bias, because it isn’t just, right?

Neha Sampat
I so appreciate you did that, because I don’t think that it’s about we shouldn’t talk about it anymore, and that’s where I worry the message is, the message has become don’t talk about impostor syndrome, is a dirty word. And like, we can argue about this, like, what’s the right words for it, but, you know, yeah, it’s not an ideal language for that. But I still think the point of it, people still experience it, right. So, so it is a real impact of bias. It is a form of the harm that has been caused. We can be angry about it, which, trust me, I am, I am mad at the system. I am mad at all those people that continue to like, call me out for owning my value, like, how arrogant of you, Neha, to talk about what you’re doing, right? This is a message that we have in our society, like, how dare I own my value? I should be humble, I should be quiet. I should make myself small.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Don’t get too big for your britches.

Neha Sampat
Yeah, don’t get too big for your britches. But, you know, you know, the truth is it has caus- caused injury. So I’m all about get mad, but also, like, recognize that it’s real, like, the messages that have been sent to you that you’re not good enough. That’s the fiction.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I’m so glad you’re going there. Yes. I’m so glad you’re gonna say- okay, I-

Neha Sampat
Yeah. The messages are the fiction. The experience of self doubt that you have, that is not fiction. That is fact. And I worry that when we, when we recognize that the messages are fiction, I worry that some people think that that means that how they, the self doubt they feel, they shouldn’t feel it, there’s something wrong with them, and they’re irrelevant. We’re finding the experience of imposter syndrome being relegated back to the shadows. And I’m not sure that was the intention. I have no idea what Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey, I want to give both of them props for the article, I don’t know what their their take is on that, but what I see happening is like, I literally see people putting on Twitter, like, don’t bring in an imposter syndrome talk for Women’s History Month. And I saw it happen. Like, I had tons of talks last year, this year was like, crickets. And it worries me, because we can’t say that the harm, the experienced harm isn’t real and we need to continue to provide healing from the harm while also addressing it at a systemic level.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, it’s- I’m so- I had it as a mental note to- because that was, one of your posts recently was just so powerfully stated, of you being told you’re not good enough, is fiction. How you feel as a result of that, that’s fact, and that harm is real. And that’s the, that’s the reframe, right, is that we need to talk about it. And, and there’s such-

Neha Sampat
We need to talk more about it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
We need to talk more about it, and we need to talk more about through the lens of why I think that. That, that has been an evolution for me on my own journey. It’s been an evolution, you know, even Nick and I, we talk about this, right, of like, gender roles, and working with people like, working with teams and thinking about it through an inter- what do I- what’s my, why is my brain glitching right now? The-

Neha Sampat
Intersectional? No.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Thank you! Yeah. That’s the word that I know and I was just writing about it, and thank you. No, we get 10 points for that. Okay. But, no- but yeah, the intersectionality of race, of your immigrant status, of the language, all of that, and, and they’re realizing that so much of the doubt, comes from the fact that you don’t fit the norm-

Neha Sampat
Exactly.

Sarah Noll Wilson
-was so profound. It’s still like, it gives me goosebumps, and it makes me so sangry. I’m sad and angry, right? Like,

Neha Sampat
Oh, I love that. I don’t love that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I don’t love that, but like, right.

Neha Sampat
I love the term.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And, but, but you’re right, the cost is real. And, and it’s not as simple as just like, we’ll reclaim, you know, like, it is a process because you literally can- I’ll speak from my own experience. Like, every time I get clear about who I am, every time I own and go I know that’s what you want me to do, but this is what I’m going to do, and how I’m going to show up, every step we’re hitting up against this. It’s like a container we’re in, right? We’re coming up against it, and I hadn’t thought about that before until we’re talking about this right now. But, but that reframe of- because a lot of, you know, a lot of, and I actually know quite a few companies who, bigger global companies that they spend a lot of time trying to normalize impostor syndrome, and like, hey, like, it’s normal. But, but it is so often through the lens of there’s something wrong with you instead of no, this, this, the system is telling you there’s something wrong with you. And I just want to reiterate that point that you make so powerfully of healing.

Neha Sampat
Yeah, it’s healing. And I think about this even kind of coming full circle to our first interaction. Sarah, I would never, I was not the person 10-15 years ago, who would have replied to your tweet and shared my perspective, because 10-15 years ago, I was struggling a lot more with impostor syndrome. I- you know, which makes you question your own judgment. You know, I would have had this feeling like something sitting wrong with me about what that person tweeted, there’s something that’s off, but I must be just misunderstanding. Let me just, you know, I’m, I’m not an expert, I’m not an expert, it must be me. I’m not an expert, right? Who am I to question that person? That, that’s the voice of self doubt, right? Call it what you want, call it impostor syndrome, call it self doubt, call it internalized bias, which it’s all of those things to me, I wouldn’t have spoken up. And if I hadn’t spoken up- I did not have the confidence to speak up, I didn’t have the confidence in my voice in my perspective, by busting through my self doubt, I developed that confidence, which has allowed me to make a comment like that to you, which allowed us to, which allowed me to find you, my soul sister in ways, right.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, it let me find you.

Neha Sampat
And I can’t imagine all the times I’ve missed that, I’m not going to worry too much about that, I’m going to instead treasure the many connections that have fed my soul, that come out of me having the confidence to amplify my voice. And what I realized once I started to disrupt my self-doubt is that I shake up the system in all sorts of ways. I’m a much better ally and advocate when I see something happen, when I see someone direct bias against someone else. I don’t do what I used to do, with great shame now, right? Looking back, like, oh, my gosh, wait, did that really happen? Did that person really say that to that person? Should I? Oh, gosh, should I say something? Oh, no. Wh- What if then they direct something at me? And I just missed that opportunity to do what’s right. Now, I don’t miss that opportunity, because I trust my judgment, and I have the confidence in my voice, and my perspective, and my skills to speak up. So when we are actually building, cultivating evidence based confidence in individuals, regardless of whether they’re marginalized, multiply marginalized or not, we’re actually empowering people to be a part of disrupting, shaking up the system. So I see, I see the ripple effects of that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That, yeah, that- boy. Neha. I don’t even know what to- my, my brain is like, it hurts because it’s working so hard. It like, like seeing the interconnectedness between, hey, when we do this work on an individual level, that actually helps us to also do the work on the systemic level. And, and I want to go, you know, I really appreciate it, your language of I’m going to disrupt my self-doubt, like, I’m gonna interrupt it, and I just- that, that was really resonating for me, and, you know, one of the things that I’ve, I’ve learned on my journey of, you know, truly of just even like, trying to reclaim, you know, and that- and I say this from a place of privilege, like, I’m a white woman in Midwest, so I am the, I’m- not only am I the dominant on multiple levels, but like, within, within my geographic location. And, and I am still working on reclaiming who, who am I though, like, how do I want to show up? And, you know, and even, gosh, even you know, the route through the lens of like, as simple as making choices for the company or whatever, like, I think I should do this, but I really want this. And one of the things that I’ve learned, and I’ve continued to learn, and try to stay connected to it to anchor me in those moments that are hard, where you are just like, oh, should I, shouldn’t I, or it’s just like, when we get real clear, when we get clarity, that leads to conviction, and when we have that conviction, it gives us the courage, and-

Neha Sampat
Woah, woah, woah can you say that again please, for me? Because I need to just marinate in that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, you like this? My- when we have clarity around what’s important to us, it gives us a stronger sense of conviction. And when we have that conviction, it gives us the courage to say no, which you just shared an article, you know, about how, you know, women need to say no more, and it was like, no, we say no plenty, we’re just not received.

Neha Sampat
Exactly.

Sarah Noll Wilson
But that’s a conversation perhaps for another day.

Neha Sampat
Yeah, Dr. Arin Reeves, I think, wrote that article. Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, and- but it gives us that courage and, and, and it is, boy, it’s a, it’s an endurance game, but it does feel like every moment when you step into and own that like, nope, this is who I am. This is how I’m going to show up. It’s, I don’t know if it’s like, I don’t know what the right image is. It’s not like, it’s not a sculptor chipping away, but maybe it is like, if we’re putting these blocks and it’s like slowly revealing like, who we are, or shedding, I mean, there’s like, a shedding of, I mean, a theme that comes up a lot in these conversations are, right, the masks we wear, and the costumes, and all of that, but it does give you that that courage, and I find that that’s where, and then that’s where the confidence comes in. But, but it’s so-

Neha Sampat
Yeah-

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, go ahead. Yeah.

Neha Sampat
No, please, please. I’m holding on to my thought. Please go ahead.

Sarah Noll Wilson
But, and, and, you know, somebody, somebody wants, well, I’ve been told a lot, like, you’re so authentic and I, and I said, you know, part of, part of me being able to step into my authenticity, is I’ve been rewarded for my authenticity. Like, building my company, I have been rewarded. People have acknowledged it, I have reaped benefits from it. If I’m in a culture where I’m not rewarded for my authenticity, it’s not going to shine brighter. It’s gonna go dimmer, you know.

Neha Sampat
And there are spaces, I’m sure you’ve experienced, where you haven’t been as welcomed to be your authentic self, right?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Oh, a hundred percent.

Neha Sampat
It’s interesting, because I, it’s coming back even more to that point I was thinking about making, which was that revealing that that word you used about kind of chipping away and revealing? What I’ve found, since I started my business, and really, mostly through my writing, is that, whether it’s like actually writing an essay and publishing it, or it’s even like posting on LinkedIn, or other social media, that sometimes the thing that is the scariest to say, that I feel the most vulnerable saying, is that reveal, and when, when, when people can see more of who I am, they actually recognize that, they recognize that part of me that is also part of them. And they feel so relieved. You know, I’m thinking about when I, around when I started my business, I wrote this personal essay called, oh, gosh, no, I’ve forgotten the name of it. Growing up, “Growing Up Brown in America When Every Day is Halloween,” I think that’s what it’s called. And it was deeply personal. It was about covering, it had the metaphor of costume, it expressed a lot of stories of my experience growing up, being bullied racially and how I dealt with it in the legal profession, and the barriers I faced, and it was scary thing to even acknowledge for myself, it was like, it just kind of came out of me and I was like, holy crap, I didn’t realize what I’ve been through. And then I put it out into the world. And I kind of had a sense that this is a well written piece. I was like, oh, you got this one, Neha. But I did not realize how it would personally impact people. Like, I had people contacting me, random strangers, Neha, I am sobbing as I read this, oh my gosh, this, like, I relate so much to it, like, those courageous, what felt like courage to me at the time, those courageous reveals, those chipping away, in some circumstances, people will recognize you better, and they will recognize themselves in you. And I’ve built relationships based on that essay, my business, if I trace back, like, oh, this person heard of me through that, that person hired me through that, that person actually found me through that personal essay about “Everyday is Halloween.” Like, so much of my work currently, and the success of my business, is rooted in that moment of reveal. And I’m not saying that it’s always paid off. Because as the essay states, it’s actually burned me a lot of times, to reveal. But I think there are some strategy we can employ about how and where we express ourselves, and push ourselves to do it. Because by writing that, and I’ve had the same thing happened to me where other people have written something, I’m like, I see myself in this, it was the unspoken thing. And, oh my gosh, and it fires me up. And I’m like, yes, I deserve better. And I become that champion, right? And so we can fire one another up in that way without realizing that we’re having that impact, I think.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, it- people recognize you better. I am damn near- and gets me misty thinking about it.

Neha Sampat
Me too.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean, it’s, yeah. Like, and from the standpoint of, yeah, that’s like walking around in a fog that’s not clear, like, the, the vision of us isn’t clear. But when people see you better, it’s, it’s clear. And also, no, oh, no. So there’s some clarity around who you’re right for and who you’re not, and who are your people, and who aren’t you? Right? I mean, I know that, you know, as a fellow business owner, it’s not, you’re not for everyone. We’re not for everyone. And, and, but the clearer people can see me, the clearer, right, that they can- but also that almost like, I don’t want to use the word “giving permission,” but a little bit of like, I know, for me, there are times when it’s like, oh, because you took that step of courage, because you own that, it’s, it like gives me permission, or it makes it feel safer for me to take that risk to say, oh, me too, or I hadn’t thought about it, or to share it. And so there’s something so powerful.

Neha Sampat
Oh, I’m silently clapping, because I take that very seriously. Like, that is actually a driving motivator for me, this idea of what am I modeling, right? Like, what boxes am I breaking? And how am I, by breaking these boxes creating a path for the people that come after us to be more of who they are? So, for example, you know, with self promotion, and because I kind of tease that a little bit, this idea of let me tell you about how awesome I am, let me post on LinkedIn about this program I did that I feel really good about her. Let me just say, hey, I’m a really great public speaker, you know, and that is something that really makes people uncomfortable, because women are not supposed to say they’re great at something. And certainly, like, brown women are not supposed to say they’re great at something. And I get a lot of flack for it. But I will, I am in a position of privilege, like, if I had done that 15 years ago, first of all, I wouldn’t have been able to say that I was a very effective public speaker, because I had massive impostor syndrome about it. But if I had said anything about what I was good at back then, the price would have been bigger for me to pay. If I were a black woman, a black queer woman, the price is bigger for me to pay, right. And so I recognize my privilege, but I also recognize that I can afford to take the risk now, I can afford to lose more people and still sustain a business. So I damn well better take that risk, to bust those, like, break those boxes, and build new models of what it means to be a brown woman, for people to understand and normalize that, guess what, brown women can be experts, and say they’re experts at X, Y, or Z. You know, that’s normal. So I really appreciate that point. And I think that I do hold us all accountable to use our privilege in those ways to kind of break those boxes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And just like that, that question of, what am I modeling? And, you know, and in where else could there be bigger risks? That’s what’s coming up for me personally, it’s just like, where can I take, where can I take bigger risks, because I can afford to? Like, I’m in a place where it’s like, because, because I can afford to, and what is that? And what does that look like? When you are, you know, when you are working with an individual, or you’re working with a group, because I’m sure there, I imagine there are people who are listening to this right now going, holy shit. Like, just like, you’re going holy, just like, yeah, like, just like me, like we’re doing that too. But, because I know that any time, when, when I talk about the idea of imposter syndrome now, and I go, so let’s pause a second, so I just, let’s name, let’s name what is actually causing the doubt. Because the doubt isn’t because you’re terrible, the, the doubt is because who you are isn’t what’s expected or accepted.

Because people have told you you’re terrible.

Because- right, right.

Neha Sampat
It’s not your voice. It’s the voice of other people that have infiltrated your brain.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Those saboteur voices. Yeah. And then, and then when it’s, when I’ve positioned that, like, yeah, it’s- the doubt comes because you’re, you’re different than the norm. You’re diff- and then people are just like, what, like, I never thought about that. So, when you, so for people who are listening, who are going, wow, where can I start my healing? You know, like, I, the system, yes, the system needs to change. And now I understand that it’s not that I’m broken, but I understand that the, the harm and the hurt is very real. Where, where would you point people to start that journey of healing?

Neha Sampat
I think building, I mean, there’s so many different tools and tactics, so you’re like having me try to choose a favorite-

Sarah Noll Wilson
I know, I know.

Neha Sampat
-like, favorite child. Yeah. But I will say, I think a more, one of the easier ones that you can create into a habit, and we know habits are really the key, is creating a ta-da list. Reserving time at, and I’m really looking at empowering the individual at this point, or like, the healing from the harm. And I will give another tip on the kind of leader-centric side –

Thank you, I was gonna ask about that.

-because I think you’ve got to do both, you got to do both. So, one for the individual, we are not, many of us who are marginalized in a lot of different ways, are not allowed to, and even in our capitalist society, I think are not allowed to sit with our accomplishments. We’re striving, we’re always on to the next thing, right? Did that, move on. What’s next, right? That is part of the problem. That is why when we face a situation that feels new to us, we think we are not qualified for it. We feel unqualified because we haven’t marinated in our past successes, or been thoughtful and intentional about connecting the dots between our skill sets and our perspectives, our recipes for success from those past successes that actually are transferable into this quote unquote new area. So we have to build better habits. Pushing back, it takes pushback on society, because society does not want you to do this, especially if you’re a woman, for example, or melanated, for example, right? Like, it does not want you to sit with your accomplishments and own them. So you got to be bold and do it, and so one kind of habitual way to do that is, I’m going to make this super easy, like reserve 10 minutes every Friday afternoon and ask yourself, what is one ta-da from this week, what is one thing I have accomplished this week, don’t look at your to do list and find a ta-da from there, because often our greatest ta-da’s are things that came out of nowhere and were never on our to-do lists. Put that to-do list away. Just blank sheet of paper, blank Word document, whatever. In the cloud, in your notes, whatever. What is one ta-da that you’re proud of. It can be personal, it can be professional, can be tiny, it can be something you were lauded for, something no one else noticed, just one ta-da. You can’t stop there, though, because the gold is really what comes next, which is what were your skill- unique skills, perspectives, and experiences that led to that ta-da. That’s how you start to build a bank of your unique qualifications. And when you have those moments of self doubt, one, you will have less moments of self doubt, because you will just naturally feel more qualified. But, you know, we, we never get rid of self doubt. So in those moments where self doubt creeps in, you go back to your bank, and you’re like, let me look at all my unique qualifications. Oh, actually, this, if I could leverage this to- in this situation, I may feel unqualified in this situation, but look, I’m actually uniquely qualified in this situation. I didn’t take the path well traveled. I don’t fit that mold. But I’m going to come at this from my unique way, and that’s how the magic happens. So I think, you know, I’ve kind of really distilled it and simplified it. But I think literally just add to that list and asking yourself, what, what about me led to that ta-da, building a habit of that, you’re naturally going to start to see your self doubt, be mitigated. And then on that kind of –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Wait, wait, yeah, hold on. Like, let’s, let’s pause on there, because we got we got time, we’ll get, we’ll get to the structural in a moment. I, I’ve never made the connection between doubt and striving, the capitalistic striving, right? And that, and I’m sure Nick is listening to this, like, I’m thinking about a conversation you and I had on Tuesday night, Sarah, when your doubt was real, you know, big, and, and he asked me, he said, how, like, how often do you actually listen and pay attention to the good feedback? And I, I made the comment, and it made me really heartbroken to say it out loud. I said, I feel like recently, I’ve just become numb to it. Because I’m just constantly like, what’s next? Or what do we need to move, you know what I mean? And it’s not that I don’t, it’s not because I take it for granted. It’s not because I go, oh, yeah, of course. That’s not it. But I’m not slowing down enough to actually go, we should celebrate that. That was big. And, and I, and I hadn’t, I hadn’t made the connection of just that like, culture of striving and constantly doing better, and constantly, and, you know, we even had a moment as the team, we were, we were on a call with a potential client, and I was having a low, right? I mean, I’m human, like this has just been a, it’s just been a it’s been a tender week for, for my doubt’s been high. And we were talking and halfway through she goes, I’m sorry. Like, are you, are you hiring? I would literally come and just sweep the floors to just be part of it. Part of what you all are doing and part of-

Neha Sampat
Oh my gosh.

Sarah Noll Wilson
-your conversations. And it was so sweet. And it was so easy to be like, oh, no, that’s like, actually we might be posting or, you know, whatever, but thank you. And then it was like, as soon as we got off the call, it was okay, what do we need to do, and dadadadada, and like, we went into task mode. And I was just like, can we just celebrate for a second, that moment? Like, I mean, because we don’t. And you’re right that like, it becomes such an important anchor of, of getting us through the doubt, ’cause we can’t remove it, right. But we can hopefully, like, quiet it and get through it faster. That, I feels like that’s always my goal-

Neha Sampat
Oh, yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
-is how can I get through it faster and not have to have it pull me down. So I just wanted to pause on that, because I just, when you talked about striving I was like, oh god, she’s talking about me right now, like, this is very real for me.

Neha Sampat
What’s so interesting is the seminal study on impostor syndrome, done by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, was about impostor syndrome and high achieving women. There is a connection between high achievement and impostor syndrome, which seems like that, that’s ironic, like, what? But, you can see it, right. We, we high achievers set our own bars so dang high, and we surround ourselves with a bunch of high achievers, that, you know, we- it’s hard, we’re human, we can’t keep meeting that bar, and then we feel subpar when we don’t bring our A plus game to everything, because we’re human, and we can’t. And also, our success, like, our outcomes in life are not just a result of what we bring to the situation. It’s a combination of what we bring to the situation and a bunch of things that are outside of our control, and we forget about that piece of it. And then the other thing I was thinking about, with accomplishment is we high achievers, right, are like constantly striving. That is what has led to achievement, right? Like, do you see that connection there with how it feeds our imposter syndrome? And I just want to suggest things if you aren’t already doing this, because you so vulnerably shared that example. You just shared a ta-da. So I would ask you to dig deeper on why do you think that person, you could do this with compliments, right? Like, that was a compliment, that you receive that as a compliment, what that person said, why do you think that person feels that way? What is it about you, not your team, there are probably things about your team you could say-

Sarah Noll Wilson
I’m so uncomfortable right now, and I’m like-

Neha Sampat
I know, right?

Sarah Noll Wilson
-I’m always, and I’m always just, you know, like, oh, no, no, no, like, accept the compliment. And, and all, I mean, all the juices are coming up in my body of like, okay, she’s gonna make you answer it, and you should, and I will.

Neha Sampat
Yeah, I’m gonna make you answer. And you’re right, like, you’re okay. There’s nothing wrong with you, and feeling that discomfort because you have been told by society, not to ever take- Be humble, be humble, be humble, be humble, be humble. So there’s that cognitive dissonance, right? And so, yes, but we have to fight that. So can you tell me, one by one, right now, one thing about you that you think led to that person expressing what they did to you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I, given the context, I think that, I think that what creates a space for something, you know, for somebody to, in that moment, was being very human, and having a ton of humility, also having deep care, acknowledging her struggles in a very real way. She’s in a tough spot, and just sitting with her in that tough spot and not trying to, to fix it. We’ve developed a lot of, when I say we, my colleagues and I, we have such a deep respect for each other and trust, that it’s not uncommon that people are like, I just want to be friends with you all. Because we care, and we care deeply. It’s not about the sale, like, the sale will come if it’s the right, but. I, I’m, I’m, I can tell that I’m intellectuall- intellectualizing my response right now, Neha.

Neha Sampat
No, you’re, you’re doing, I mean, I think you’re doing a fantastic job. There’s- you named like, probably six things that you need to put into your bank of unique qualifications. And you brought up the term “we,” which I love because it indicates that it’s, this is, there are other people who deserve credit. But you didn’t say they, which I think a lot of people will say, because it’s more comfortable to be like, oh, well, my-

Sure.

-two blah blah, blah, blah, blah, right, you have to recognize that you are a part of that, and by saying we, that was awesome that you were able to be like, I’m a part of it. So, my suggestion, and this actually gets to the structural aspect, you can actually make this part of the structure, is that you build, well, first of all, one on one, we can build this in because I feel the same way. As an entrepreneur, we do not have people to celebrate our wins with so much, and we’re leading companies. So we’re just go, go, go, go, go. When you and I have our walk and talks, we need to make time to each share a ta-da, and celebrate, celebrate that, right? So, let’s build that in on a one on one basis. And then, for your team, like, what would it look like to, I don’t know if you have a periodic meeting with the team, but maybe even just one person each time, share a ta-da, so you’re not taking up the whole time, but everyone gets a chance meeting after meeting, like, you know, within X number of meetings, everyone’s gotten the chance. But that’s how you weave something into a system, right? It becomes part of the norm. By creat- by creating that, and your st- you’re going to hear from people things that you didn’t even realize were their skill set, because they’re going to be like, this today happened and what does that, what does that indicate about who I am, and what I’m capable, I’m blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I’m a really effective communicator. You know, when I was in high school, blah, blah, blah happened, and this is how I dealt with it. And you’re going to learn things about your coworkers that are going to blow your mind. And you are then going to be- that, that box is, that mold is being broken, right? You’re like wow, you’re, you’re surprising me. And that element of surprise, and creating that safe space for surprise is what the structural aspect is about.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. I- So that’s such a gift that you’ve given, because I think that I’ve been a part of teams, and we work to, to identify our celebrations. I think that that’s something that I, you know, give huge props to Amy and Teresa, and I tried to catch it myself. It’s easier for me to catch it when I’m with them than it is by myself, though. Like, that’s, that’s the push for me. And, and to realize like, oh, and it’s uncomfortable because literally in my DNA is don’t, don’t get too big for your britches. Like, you need to stay humble, and, and, and that’s something that’s still a journey. I mean, I, you know, I was, I had, I had a client who was like, I know we hired you for a keynote, but like, how do you feel just ad libbing? And I just took a moment, I go, I am at my best. I am literally at my best, without a doubt, in the moment, following the learning. And she- I said, without question. And she said, I kind of thought, and like, but, but Sarah 10 years ago sure as hell wouldn’t have said yeah. But, but I love that, that, that practice of, of- and who am I? And what was I capable, like, what did I do that contributed to it? And even the language of like, what are your unique skills, and perspectives, and experiences that brought, and I think that sometimes is, I am just speaking from experience, is that’s the piece that’s missing. But that’s, that’s where we start to build a new foundation, that’s where we start breaking those, and I think that’s such a powerful practice. That’s such a, it’s such a gift.

Neha Sampat
And I think it’s important to not just do it about what skills, because we’re so, we define ourselves based on our output skills, skills, quote, unquote. But what about our experiences? Our experiences matter, our marginalization matters, our perspectives matter. All of those are part of that recipe for success. And I don’t think that we have, as a society, seeing that as broadly, and valued one another and ourselves in that more broader way. We tend to value ourselves, again, we’re, this is just going to be, like, a dump on capitalism, but like, value ourselves based on our output and our skills. You know, but our lives that we’ve lived offer so much richness to what we’re able to contribute in this world.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That’s, that’s just the mic drop right there. I mean, that’s the, yeah. And how, yeah, yeah. We need to have you back. And we need to explore all of this in more. Neha, I? Well, I’ll love on you here in a minute, but this this has been such a rich, and even richer conversation than I think- I mean, I was so looking forward to this conversation with you, but I- I’m just, I’m sitting with the, this, like, physical feeling of deep expansiveness in my chest, in my heart right now, of just like, what did we just create space? Like, I feel like this conversation created space for something to be welcomed in again. We always ask our guest a final question, so I’m curious to offer this up to you, and that is what, what is a conversation that you’ve had with yourself or with someone else that was transformative?

Neha Sampat
I think we already hit it. It was that, you know, there have been many, but we talked about the conversation you and I had over Twitter, and for me, much of the impact that I feel emotional, honestly, even talking about this. For me, a lot of the impact was, I literally might start crying, was giving me hope in a time that felt very dark, you know, we’ve lived through, you know, these are heavy times, these are heavy, heavy times, and working as a woman of color in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, it has been taxing in a different way over these past two years. It often feels like walking a minefield, and we’re constantly reminded of how little power we have. And that is triggering, right, to us, and deeply injured, deeply injurious, and our interaction and how you welcomed my perspective gave me hope, and reminded me that I’m not always going to be shut down, right? Th- it’s worth taking the chance of finding my voice and amplifying it because there are people out there who want to hear it, and will not just hear it, but will offer back their perspective, and share themselves with me, reveal themselves to me in a way that I find, this, you know, amazing community that sustains my hope. So I am deeply grateful to you, Sarah. I’m deeply, deeply grateful to you. I’m deeply grateful to us and how we handled that conversation.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Thank you. And yeah, I am, I’m just gonna say I’m here with my tears, and my gratitude, and my heart pounding out of my chest love for you, and appreciation, and, and it’s worth, I think saying and reminding that that moment of courage fundamentally changed me, and changed us, and also has continued to have a huge ripple effect because it triggered a conversation in my husband and I afterwards about how, one, the bar is so low for us white people and how we continue to benefit even when we’re trying to do the right stuff. And the, the rip- like the continued ripple. And also the continued deepening is, you know, it’s not just like the, but it’s also like, a deepening and a deepening, and I can feel it even just in talking this out loud of, you know, as somebody who’s continuing to work on being more courageous myself in those moments, and using my power differently, and all, I mean, just all of that, and I’m not, I’m not flippant, when- I’m not flippant, that’s not the word I want to say, like, I, I simply adore you, and I love you so much. Like, I have such deep respect and admiration for you. And, and, and I don’t say that lightly. And, and literally we’re here because of you. So, thank you.

Neha Sampat
Sarah. I’m feeling it. I am believing it. I’m so grateful for that, and I also am sending that back to you. I’m so grateful the ripple effects you just mentioned, some of them, like, I could probably mention like, a bazillion more that I see. And I think there are so many we don’t see yet, of that conversation, how is that gonna- like it’s changed my life because I know you now, and I wouldn’t even like- I have your book, I get to benefit from your book, like, there’s just so many ripple effects just to be able to kind of root back in that conversation. Deeply appreciate you, I love you, I love your work, and yeah, we’re making it happen. Let’s keep making it happen.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I love it. Thank you, Neha. Our guest this week has been Neha Sampat. There’s a number of things I’m taking away. One that I circled, I’ve starred, is this idea of the assumption of caring that anchored our conversation. And that question of what am I role modeling right now? And so I’d love to hear what resonated for you. So, send us a message at Podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. We want to hear from you, so what resonated, what are you curious about, what is your ta-da? Please share with us. Also, my DMs are always open on social media, and if you’d like to find out more about our work and how we can help you or your team have conversations that matter, check us out at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. You can also pick up a copy of my latest book, “Don’t Feed the Elephants,” wherever books are sold. And if you’d like to support the show, please consider becoming a patron. You can visit Patreon dot com slash Conversations on Conversations, where not only your financial support will sustain this podcast and our amazing team that makes it possible, but you’ll also get access to some pretty great benefits, like swag, and Patreon-only content and events. And if you haven’t already, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show. You can do so on iTunes, Spotify or other podcast platforms. This helps us get the word out and continue to bring on amazing guests each week. Thank you to our incredible team who makes this podcast possible. To our producer Nick Wilson, sound editor, Drew Noll, transcriptionist, Olivia Reinert, and marketing consultant Kaitlyn Summitt-Nelson. And a whole hearted deep breath thank you to our guest, Neha Sampat. She’s incredible. I know that I am leaving our conversation different, and I hope that you are as well. This has been Conversations on Conversations. Thank you so much for listening, and remember that when we can change the conversations we have with ourselves and others, we can change the world. So take care, please make sure you rest, and rehydrate, and we’ll see you again next week.

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