Do you think you belong in your role?

Do you feel qualified and empowered to move up the ladder?

Are you ever your biggest critic? Or your own biggest roadblock?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his or her accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Are you suffering from it? Well good news, because there is a banishing spell for imposter syndrome coming right up. 

On May 21st, I attended Seattle Business Magazine’s Daring Women event. It was an amazing gathering of over 400 powerful and impressive women from a variety of industries.

Daring Women is a half-day conference that featured panel discussions and talks by executives on diversity and inclusion, owning your leadership style, cultivating a balanced culture and challenging standards.

For those who are interested in the highlights, I’d highly recommend following the hashtag #daringwomensea or checkout @daringwomensea.  Reading back through gave me all the good feels!

There were several speakers and panels with incredible women sharing their stories. One major topic that came up time and time again was imposter syndrome. As it turns out, it’s a big subject and several of the presenters and panelists touched up on it. We’ve talked about this on the Think Tank before with Podcast #8: Building Your Confidence with Dr. Dorian Hunter.

Several of the impressive and powerful women admitted to having it despite all evidence to the contrary.

So often this idea that we’re not enough or we’re not qualified is all in our own heads.

“Imposter syndrome is often a reflection of where you think you stand compared to other people.” Marilyn Strickland, President and CEO of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

The keynote speaker and MC of the show was Dona Sarkar. Dona is the engineering leader of the Windows Insider Program at Microsoft; a multi-published author; a fashion designer; co-founder of Fibonacci Sequins (a style blog devoted to showcasing awesome people in STEM); and a public speaker.

And Dona had a powerful message on banishing imposter syndrome that I thought needed to be shared with the Think Tank community.

Imposter syndrome isn’t just a woman thing. It’s a human thing.

Dona shared that men suffer from imposter syndrome too. She told stories of Howard Shultz and Neil Armstrong feeling like imposters or fakes.

So often, we feel like at any moment someone is going to realize that we aren’t really supposed to be here. But the great news, Dona reminds us, is that the imposter police don’t exist. There is no credential checking happening. If you’re in a role, chances are you’re qualified to be there.


One of my favorite elements of Dona’s presentation was her 12 step plan. I love this idea that when you get struck by a feeling, you’ve got a clear way to work through it. She calls it her Imposter Syndrome Banishing Spell.

  1. What are you feeling unqualified to do? What are the realistic expectations?
  2. What will you lose out on? Will you be better off?
  3. What will others lose out on?
  4. Break it down. Which parts are you specifically are you qualified to do?
  5. Which are you not qualified to do?
  6. Who is qualified to do what you are not?
  7. How do they learn?
  8. Who can you ask to help/partner? Experts love to share their knowledge.
  9. How can you do a small experiment?
  10. What advice would you give a friend? Write it down. Do that.
  11. Gather imposter squad. Text often.
  12. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn. Either way, it’s a great story.

By going through this process, you can really break down the feeling of being an imposter and focus on taking action.


Do you have a system you use when you feel imposter syndrome hit?


Also calling all daring women! If you’ve got an idea or a fantastic woman in mind for the Think Tank of Three podcast shoot us a note!


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash