Why Impostor Syndrome is *Actually* Great

published on 16 January 2022

This month, we’re doing something a bit different.

We’re going to be taking some of your guys’ questions and answer them! Thanks for sending them in — if you would like to get your questions answered next, just hit reply.

I picked these questions specifically because they’re SUPER important. Like 100% necessary for any founder to understand.

We’re going to be diving into impostor syndrome (😅), what separates meh founders from incredible ones, and a lucrative side hustle for teens.

3 super quick notes before we dive in:

We’re rolling out a cool project soon for startup and nonprofit founders. If you feel that managing your team or meetings are hard (especially remote) please hit reply sharing with us your pain points!

There are now 984 teen founders subscribers in The Lemonade Stand! Our first newsletter came out right around New Year’s so this community has grown so much in a little over 2 months. Much love <3 to anyone who liked or forwarded an email.

We recently hosted a Clubhouse Invite giveaway. The winner is Saloni Nayak, who referred 12 people 😳 We’ll be contacting Saloni with her invite! P.S. we’ll be hosting another clubhouse invite giveaway in the next few weeks 👀

Let’s go.

❓“How do I deal with things like impostor syndrome? I feel like it’s something that I can’t control” - from Ashley N. (Cupertino, CA)

I’m sure all of us have experienced impostor syndrome at one point. It’s kinda like when you’re thinking:

“how TF did I win this competition??”

“i’m literally the least qualified person in this room”

Most of the advice out there is pretty bad and tends to still paint Impostor Syndrome negatively.

But what if I told you that that feeling is good? And not only good, but necessary?

Let me explain:

You get impostor syndrome when you have achieved something great, like… winning a national debate tournament, getting a 1% percentile SAT score, or having your book published.

When you achieve something great and feel impostor syndrome, it is an EXCELLENT sign that you are surpassing your natural boundaries that you have set for yourself.

In fact, if you don’t feel impostor syndrome, that’s a really bad sign. It’s a sign that you’re staying stagnant and not progressing.

I know you’re probably thinking now: “But I really have no idea WHAT I’m doing”

That's completely normal too because nobody knows what tf they’re doing. Everyone is literally winging it. If you know exactly what to do, you’re overqualified for that club, competition, sports meet, etc.

So, because everyone is an impostor, no one is really an impostor at the end of the day.

Here’s an incredible example from David Perell (famous writer on Twitter). The video below went viral, racking 128k views.

He says that Jeff Bezos couldn’t have possibly had ALL the qualifications to run one the world’s largest e-commerce stores. It’s impossible to know if you’re qualified or not, and most of the times, there are no qualifications for that ambitious of a project. You kind of just do it and hope it works out.

❓”What are some characteristics of good startup founders?” - From Bryan C. (Toronto, Canada)

Startups can be summarized in 1 sentence:

Write code, talk to users (famous quote from YC)

It’s literally that simple. Creating a startup is hard, but if you follow those 2 steps, everything will be 100x easier.

Especially on talking to users, you should have user feedback BAKED into everything. For instance, starting a Discord group with early users to get feedback (Fiveable does this well) or having a group chat with early adopters. Anything you can do to make your customers feel comfortable giving feedback — do that.

Skip the vanity metrics

Vanity metrics are numbers that are meant to make you feel good, instead of actually creating progress. Create a habit of being brutally honest with yourself.

It does not matter if your website gets 51,670 views. Website views are a common vanity metric.

Another example is if you have 50 users. But, what if half of them are not even active? Vanity metric. Track the number of user sessions and how frequent they go on your app.

I’m going be truthful: this is hard. Really hard. It’s gut-wrenching when you realize you failed. But doing this early on is what separates meh founders with incredible founders.

Don’t have your team argue over the small stuff

Ask yourself: is this going to matter in a week? High chance this isn’t going to. So, let it go. Examples:

- Icons in a social media post

- Audio of a TikTok

- Literally 1 word in a cold email (couldn’t be me 😅)

Thanks for sending in your questions!

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