Am I the only one who thinks like this? Is my difference a good or a bad thing? Do we often mistake confidence with competence? Are we allowed to bring our authentic selves to work? Are we placing our value and worth in our achievements rather than our identities?
Matt, Steph, Andy & Jared share thoughts around the topic of imposter syndrome and the feelings of displacement, measuring success and recognising self worth.
The OneSixOne Podcast
Co-founders of OneSixOne, Matt, Steph, Andy and Jared share their thoughts and conversations amidst the everyday madness of running a diverse creative agency. Recorded at The Qube, London. Produced by Tim Steemson. Theme music- ‘Lights Camera Action’ by meganeko. To keep up-to-date with the OneSixOne podcast, signup and subscribe via Spotify or Apple Music.
The Podcast Transcript
Matt Miller (00:31):
Hey friends, welcome to the OneSixOne podcast where we share things we've been talking about in the studio because we want to chat about it some more. I'm Matt Miller and in the room today, we have Steph.
Stephanie Alcaino (00:42):
Matt Miller (00:43):
We have Andy.
Andy Khatouli (00:44):
Matt Miller (00:45):
We have Mitch the plant. Hi Mitch.
Stephanie Alcaino (00:47):
Matt Miller (00:48):
And we have Jared
Jared Saar (00:49):
Matt Miller (00:50):
Did you see what I did there?
Jared Saar (00:51):
Yeah, you went the other way , which, I was a bit thrown by, but
Matt Miller (00:53):
I know you were. I could feel it.
Jared Saar (00:55):
Yeah. I was so ready to go Yahey. Then I didn't.
Andy Khatouli (00:59):
Jared Saar (01:01):
Yeah, because it threw me off. I combined two words just then.
Matt Miller (01:04):
How's everyone doing?
Stephanie Alcaino (01:06):
Yeah. Doing well.
Matt Miller (01:07):
Jared Saar (01:07):
Andy Khatouli (01:08):
I had to kit-kat for lunch.
Matt Miller (01:10):
Interesting. Why did you have a Kit-Kat?
Andy Khatouli (01:13):
I had other things, but
Matt Miller (01:16):
You said that so secretly, like you don't want people to know what you ate for your lunch.
Stephanie Alcaino (01:20):
Andy do you want to explain why you chose the Kit-Kat?
Andy Khatouli (01:23):
Yes. So Kitkat have released a new campaign, which I thought was brilliant, where they designed a calendar that had all the different segments that said zoom call, zoom call, zoom call, zoom call, zoom call. And then at some point in the day they replaced the two bars with Kit-Kats and then there was the tagline at the bottom of the poster. Have a break, have a Kit-Kat.
Matt Miller (01:44):
We're basically suckers for good advertising.
Stephanie Alcaino (01:46):
Andy Khatouli (01:48):
So Nestle, you know, hook us up.
Matt Miller (01:51):
Do we like Nestle? They've got bad press for some shady moves haven't they?
Andy Khatouli (01:54):
Right Nestle don't hook us up.
Jared Saar (01:58):
I think my grandparents say Nesles. I'm pretty sure. And every time they say, I just remember like, wanting to correct them, but the being like nah.
Matt Miller (02:06):
They are your grandparents.
Jared Saar (02:08):
Yeah. Cause they could be right. I mean, there was a factory down the road. I mean, they're probably wrong, but
Matt Miller (02:14):
Cool. Should we get into it?
Jared Saar (02:14):
Yeah, let's get into it.
Matt Miller (02:16):
All right, Cool, sweet
Matt Miller (02:21):
So this week with everything else that's been going on, the topic of imposter syndrome has come up, articles, things that we've seen, Instagram posts seems to be the thought of the week, the month, the year, maybe. But Jared, you were talking a little bit about like your experience and perspective on imposter syndrome.
Jared Saar (02:39):
Yeah. I've been thinking a lot since starting this business about my role within, in it all, because I've naturally kind of slipped into operations, but I do have an input in some of the creative side of things, you know, decisions that we make around like concepts and, you know, we always bring designs and as a team, we look at them. So I do have a voice in these rooms, which is awesome, but I've always struggled with the thought of, do I really have anything valuable to bring, because I'm quite aware that I'm starting a business with people that actually have design experience or photography experience, or even Matt, yourself architecturally. You all went to school, you all studied. I didn't go to university to study any of this. I actually didn't even do art in my final years of school. So I mean, I know a bit about music and stuff like that, but this was a different field. So I immediately, when we started this business kind of felt like the replaceable one. And I think I really struggled with the fact that do I really have something valuable to bring here? I felt like an imposter. So I did a bit of life coaching. I've kind of gone through that, but I still find to this day, whenever we're talking about ideas, I have that thing in the back of my mind going like, Oh, this could be a good idea. And straight away, it's like, ah, it's probably dumb because I feel like I don't have a right and I feel like almost like an imposter amongst the three of you to actually bring something to the table. And I know when I push past that and I come up with some stupid ideas or silly ideas, or even like sometimes really good ideas, thankfully we have the space that allows me to do that. And I do bring good ideas, but I just wanted to know like, am I the only one that thinks like this out of the four of us? And do you all have moments where you actually like, yeah, I feel like a fraud and I don't feel like I'm actually a business owner or a creative director. And then, you know, on a wider level, what's that like when you're coming into a room, like we were talking about last week, and you're not seeing someone who maybe looks like you are you they're sitting like I'm an imposter in this room, I shouldn't be here? I know we've had some of those discussions already. So I'd just love to hear your thoughts. Am I the only one that thinks like this? Or is it everyone thinks like this?
Matt Miller (04:37):
I mean, firstly, like what is imposter syndrome?
Jared Saar (04:39):
Yeah, I kind of feel like it's one of those things where it's like I'm in the room, but I shouldn't be. Like as in wow, look at all these people that are so cool and so good at what they do. Like did they make a mistake by me being in this room? Like, was it, was I like a tag along with Steph? Like Steph's the creative person and then they're like, we'll take Jared as well. Do you know what I mean? Like, it's that feeling of like, they're going to catch me out here and realise Jared's not really bringing anything that kind of impostor, but maybe it's wider than that. Maybe it's more to impostor syndrome then even I realise.
Stephanie Alcaino (05:13):
I think to summarise the description of imposter syndrome it's actually like doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud, particularly in a work setting. So if we we're to summarise it, it really is just you doubting yourself and your abilities and what you bring to the table.
Jared Saar (05:27):
Yup. That's a hundred percent what I'm feeling
Matt Miller (05:30):
What, right now?
Jared Saar (05:30):
No, no, not right now. Now I'm quite confident that I'm holding this business together. [Laughter] But earlier I felt like an imposter.
Matt Miller (05:39):
It is quite interesting because like in the story of OneSixOne from my bubble within, we've all got like our stories where we all eventually congealed together to make this thing that we call OneSixOne.
Jared Saar (05:50):
One person I'm the arm.
Matt Miller (05:52):
I'm the arm, we're a body and I represent arm. So I had a conversation with friends, totally disconnected from this who challenged me on, why am I doing this job over here when this other thing that I'm really good at and brings value and is more in line with values I have in my life. I'm not doing and why am I not pursuing that? Which led me to them the next day have a conversation with you. We previously worked together and I sat down with you and said, Hey, can I share something with you? Like I had this conversation with my friends, you get where I'm at because we previously worked in a similar place. You could understand the context of sort of struggles and stuff I was going through. And I was like, I'm thinking of potentially going down this route, setting this thing up. And you were like, 'yep in'. And so it's an interesting one because our interaction was almost like bro, you're valid. And when I thought about, I was like, yeah, I need you. So it's interesting. Cause I think if I switched that and I was on the reciprocating end of that, if someone said, 'Matt I need you' I'd probably, maybe I think take things too literally. I'm too trusting. I'm like, I'm valid because someone's chosen me out of whatever's going on. So they clearly see they need something that I possess or bring and therefore I'm valid in part of this plan. But that wasn't the case for you?
Jared Saar (07:11):
No, definitely not. It's almost like the easy way out for me would have been okay, everyone else is really good, and my vision for my life is I'm going to support them. I mean, some people are supporters, that's fine. But I felt like it was too easy for me to say 'Oh, I'll play the supporting role here whilst everyone else lives it out.' And I think at OneSixOne, we didn't let me do that because we started asking me, 'Hey Jared, what do you think about this design?' And I was like, 'Oh, um, maybe change this?' and I started to have to learn to have an opinion, but before I met Andy, it was like, Matt and Steph were cool, they're probably going to be famous. I should help them get there. Do you know what I mean? It was that kind of, that thing of, I'm not good enough to be on their level, but I can definitely follow them and they like me. So they'll have me around. Do you know, it was that kind of imposter. I could probably be in the picture somewhere, but you know, so maybe there's more to imposter, but I mean, as I said, I went through life coaching for this, but yeah, that's the kind of thought patterns that definitely plagued me in the first year. It was all over my mind
Stephanie Alcaino (08:06):
So when you say you felt like a fraud. What was the measure that you felt like you were not living up to, that we initially had in your eyes?
Jared Saar (08:14):
I actually don't know. I think it was more the ideation and conviction you had on ideas that you thought were good. You both were like, this is cool because this, but it was coming from a whole bunch of study and research that you had done for the last 10 years. And you knew why something was good. And so for me, when I was like, 'Oh, this is cool. I like this.' It was always presenting it in a way of, maybe it sucks. I don't know, they might pick this apart. Do you know what I mean? And that was like, 'Oh, this is cool'. And it's like, 'no, it's not that cool.' It's like, 'yeah, it's not that cool is it?' [Laughter] That person in class, that doesn't really have an opinion. I mean, I've talked a lot. I'd love to know. Does anyone else think like this and specifically I feel like Matt super confident. I'd love to know Matt. Do you ever doubt yourself in a room because it doesn't feel like you ever do.
Matt Miller (09:02):
Should I answer this now? I feel like other people need to talk.
Jared Saar (09:04):
Yeah, I think that's probably the end goal I want to reach is knowing if Matt actually has these thoughts, but I'm married to Steph so obviously we have conversations at home, but Steph and Andy as well. Do you ever actually think like this?
Stephanie Alcaino (09:19):
Yeah, I think I've definitely carried a lot of that feeling that I don't belong in a space and I think like definitely touching on it a little bit last episode where my intersections really just made me feel like I didn't belong. You know, initially being second gen, I didn't feel Hispanic enough, I didn't feel Australian enough. So I didn't feel like I belonged in one cultural category. And then I'd go to school, one of the few multicultural private schools and so we used to actually get a lot of racial slurs when we, we used to play Saturday sports against the other schools because we didn't fit the default Australian mould. And then I've had a bunch of bad experiences that strip me of any sense of confidence. I had other experiences where my gender came into play, where I would be in one of my old workplaces and I had someone say to me, I only tolerate you because you're pretty. So what that really taught me is that I felt like I was the only one.There was this sense of onlyness that I carried everywhere I went where I'm like, I'm the only girl in the photographer's pit. I'm the only girl in this photo shoot as an assistant. I'm the only one who feels like I don't have the natural confidence that other people carry when they're in fashion shoots and things like that. So feeling different and what culture has kind of oppressed in us when we are different, is that suspicion against difference. And then you play it upon yourself going I'm different and that's a problem instead of saying I'm different and that's a good thing. So I think definitely, you know, throughout my career and my upbringing, I saw my feeling of onlyness and I'm alone in this place cause there's no representation of myself. And I think I attributed it to negativity that it's actually a bad thing that I don't fit the normal standard. And I say normal with quotations is, you know, at the end of the day, what is normal? And is normal actually a systemic problem that we have that everyone's trying to chase this certain mould of normal? So anyway, I think that's a little bit of my personal experiences. Yeah. I've definitely felt it.
Andy Khatouli (11:29):
Yeah, for me, I think it's the other side of the coin with imposter syndrome where it's more based on achievement. So I think what Jared and Steph have been talking about is contribution. So knowing your place and feeling valued in being able to give or, to create. But I think on the other side, it's finding yourself in a place where you find it difficult to internalize your ability within the job or the role. So looking at my accomplishments and therefore feeling self doubt about whether I achieve that through my own scale or ability or whether that was down to sheer luck or timing, or even getting to the point where I deceived myself that actually I didn't really do that. Someone else achieved it for me. And I think in my case, I've experienced that pretty much every stage of my career. So whatever environment I'm in, whatever workplace I've been in, whatever job I've had, I've always come face to face with that challenge of my achievements. Are they my own or are they product of something else? And I think we'll probably get into this a little bit later on, but you know, a lot of that has to do with kind of these external influences, whether it's the environment that you work in or whether it's the culture and what the narrative is about your contribution or who you are or your personal identity. But yeah, I've definitely faced that over and over again at every stage, from a young designer to someone a little bit more experienced, you always have this question that's ringing in the back of your head, which is, did I actually do this? Like, you know what I'm bringing to the table? Is it good enough? Or will someone just turn around at some point and figure me out and see that I'm a fraud that, you know, he's been lucky or someone gave him a leg up. And to be honest, I think pretty much most people think that if we are honest with ourselves, I think those in senior positions probably think that too. I wouldn't be surprised if you know, most creative directors are kind of looking over their shoulders thinking, 'Oh, the other person who must be doing a better job than me. So it's only a matter of time before they figure out that I'm not doing a good enough job.' So yeah, I think there's a flip side of it, which is, it's not just about the contribution, but also the internalising of like is my ability or my skill set enough.
Jared Saar (13:26):
Going off what both of, you said you both freelance for quite a while, Steph as a photographer Andy as a graphic design and there's probably other things you freelance for. What are you feeling before you go into that job though? So Steph you're about to do a big shoot and it's the biggest shoot you've done to date. Like you've gone through that experience a few times where you're like, okay, this is the next level or Andy, you're going into a new studio you know, it's a sick studio before you walk into that door. Are you not thinking in your head like, 'Oh gosh, I don't know if I can pull this off?'
Stephanie Alcaino (13:56):
I would say probably anxiety really. I think, cause I naturally lacked a sense of confidence growing up immediately when I walked into a room, I walked in with the mindset that no one wanted to be my friend and that I wasn't to the level of everyone else. I wasn't as cool as everyone else. So naturally I pulled myself last in a room and it was only actually in therapy that my therapist had brought it up of going, why do you feel that way? Like what causes that thought pattern of going 'I immediately put everyone above me and feel second to that?' And I think I carried that thought pattern a lot. And then I think that really led into a sense of anxiety before going into a lot more like social situations, particularly photo shoots.
Jared Saar (14:45):
So going back to you, Andy, you're a freelancer you're hired for three weeks, but with a freelancer, I'm assuming, and obviously we don't want this culture in our business, but if in a week and a half you're not cutting it, they could just be like, see you later. So there's probably a very real pressure, you know, and you're feeling, am I good enough? Am I not good enough? But you've got to turn up on the day and you've got to be good. Are you internalising all those thoughts when you're going into a new job?
Andy Khatouli (15:11):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It is that mixture of feelings of you feel like you're super confident and you want to be able to achieve the best that you can, but at the same time, you're slightly anxious that maybe you underperform and so you're on show to everyone and so you're often going into places where there are other experts and you know, you're being hired in as another expert in this field. So there's an expectation on you and probably an expectation from them that what you will contribute will be to a certain level and so it can be kind of a give and take relationship where you feel like motivated to do something really well. But then the same time, you're kind of, self-doubting thinking at any point I can stuff this up and someone turns around and goes, 'right. You're not good enough for this job.' So yeah, it is a bit of a mix and I think it can help you to be in a healthy place so that, you know, there's a level of humility so you recognise your own weaknesses and you don't overexert yourself, but at the same time, it's helpful to keep a clear mind so that you know what you need to do.
Jared Saar (16:04):
Yeah interesting. Matt, do you face any of these imposter syndrome's?
Matt Miller (16:10):
Jared Saar (16:11):
I thought so [laughter]
Matt Miller (16:11):
No, I'm joking. It's really interesting. I feel like thats our catch phase. Interesting. It's really interesting, but it is interesting hearing you guys talk like that. Honestly, listening to you talk is a bit of a lesson. I can't even recall a memory like really apart from when I was really young. So as you guys are talking, I'm like, what's wrong with me?[laughter] Am I that arrogant or like? I think I've said this to you guys before. I can remember being really young and being aware that everyone around me is very good. And when I say young, I mean six or seven years old, I grew up in a musical family. And so seeing my parents be incredible at music and be confident and walk into a room and play their part and enjoy it that I guess has left an impression on me. And then through that, especially in music world, like I know a lot of musicians and stuff, I was just aware. I was like rubbish.
Jared Saar (17:09):
I remember the first time I met you. You were very happy to say to me, I am the least talented musician in my family. I was like, 'okay, nice to meet you.' And you were like 'Yeah, It's the truth.'
Matt Miller (17:21):
It is. And especially because we were doing music at the time and then when other people meet my family, they're like, 'Oh no, Matt your really are rubbish' [laughter] 'What happened with you?' The rest of my family are very good at music. And I think I really enjoy collaboration. I honestly find people that can do things I can never do. I'd have to retrain to learn how to do what they can do in clicking their fingers. And so I've always been that person tries to know people. I didn't know it was networking at the time. I tried to know people are very good at their stuff, which is kind of positioned me to be a point person in all of that. I think the places where I felt like an imposter is probably places where I've known. I am not welcome. So if it's quite an adverse environment where I know as soon as I walk in there, I'm judged and I have to prove myself. And I'm there probably because of necessity. Cause no one would choose to be in those environments. But you know, you have to go in and you have to sway things the other way. You have to tip the seesaw the other way. So I think like I don't feel for me personally, like an anxiety around walking into a room and I don't really question do I belong here, but there's been places where I have worked where I've known that I've never been considered as who I am in that working environment. And so there, I'm probably not the most welcomed, not because everyone hates me. No one's ever had me in that space before. And so when I've walked into that room and a lot of this is hindsight reflection. Right. But I know that I find a place for me to slot in and be good at something. And so I feel like I spend a lot of energy figuring out, 'Oh, where can I Excel here?' And I've just carved out my niche there and sit there and try and do that very well. I don't think I'm fearful or anxious about all, you know, spend most of my thought process thinking about I don't belong here. Really. It's more like, okay, where can I make myself excellent in this environment? But I could be a liar. I could have buried it so deep and one day I scream 'I don't belong anywhere' [laughter] Also it's not funny to make a joke about that. I think that's me. So I think, I don't know that there's been a lot of times where I've tried to very badly give affirmations, like, 'Hey, like I need you'.
Jared Saar (19:35):
yeah you've had to do that a few times with me.
Matt Miller (19:37):
When people are like willing to admit, 'Hey, like, I don't know if I'm good at this.' I'll be the first ones to be like, no, no, no, you're in this thing cause, I don't know if anyone else needs you, but I need you. And that's the truth. And I think any team I've been a part of the people around me are excellent. I think we all know each other's networks, everyone we know is excellent creatively at what they do. We recommend people to other people. We recommend freelances every day I get a text message from someone asking, do I know this person? Or can you connect me with this person? And so I think, I don't know, it's a humbling thing, but I'm happy to be in that position really
Stephanie Alcaino (20:08):
Yeah. It's super interesting. I was actually doing some reading just to be able to articulate and understand a lot more. And I actually stumbled across this Harvard business review article, which is called 'Stop telling women they have imposter syndrome'. And what I loved most about the article is actually an unpacked, this idea of imposter syndrome and who is most likely to get affected by it. And there's three main groups that get affected by imposter syndrome most and that's women, minority groups and those who naturally lack confidence. And the first two really comes from lack of representation. You know, if you're the only one in the that's the only female or the only black person, you're again, feeling like you don't fit in that context because there's no one else that looks like you. And the second one is that Jared you've read a really interesting book about this, 'Why do so many incompetent men become leaders?' And it's because within culture, we falsely equate confidence with competence. So those who've got that natural charm, their natural selling mentality and to be quite charming, they will naturally get placed into leadership positions a lot sooner than people who are more timid who questioned themselves yet the irony of that is, is that women or people from minority groups naturally carry a lot more empathy because they've gone up against the grit of these invisible barriers that they deal with and the micro-aggressions that they might deal with at work. So they'll start to see when other people are suffering under those oppressive qualities. So naturally they are better leaders because they will think about the people and how to best serve those people then some people that carry a lot of confidence, but don't know how to relate to people on a deeper and more meaningful level. And again, that kind of really highlights the point of going, if we're feeling alone in it, the system has told us that we're the only ones and that's a bad thing, but then we're left to try and fix it ourselves as if we're the problem because we're different. And that we don't fit into that homogenous male stereotype of who is a leader and we don't see ourselves above it. So we're stuck going, okay, what do I need to do to fix myself to feel like I can belong in this setting? And the only times that I felt to some degree, I got acceptance into a room for being female was rooms that told me that I can be there because I'm a pretty face, but I can't contribute. I can't sit at the table. And that was continuously feeding into this like imposter syndrome and this lack of I don't belong here. So Jared, since you've read the book in a lot more detail, we'd love to hear your thoughts about, I guess the whole idea of why so many incompetent men become leaders and maybe unpack that a little bit more.
Jared Saar (23:00):
Yeah. I thought it was just a really good book. As soon as I saw the title. I think at that point in my life, I just had so many male leaders that I was just like, man, you are broken and you just can't see it. And you're stuffing me around. Like I got to a point where I was like, 'Oh, it's not me. It's you and you're ruining my life.' So I read this book, I think it was really interesting. I think the main point it was trying to make is it's not really just saying like men are bad leaders in general. It was saying that the path that women have to go on to become leaders is so much harder and more intense. So that by the time they're in a position of leadership, like Steph was saying, they're a lot more empathetic. They have a lot more training under their belt. They've had to prove themselves a lot more to get to that position. So generally they are better leaders. Whereas the men very confidently have come into the business and have just soared to the top. And they actually don't know what it means to look after a team. And so the answer here is not to lower the bar for women it's to raise the bar for men so that we all have to go through some more rigorous training to know what it is, to look after people and take care of people. But I think it was also making a point like we highlighting these figures in the world of these, these powerful leaders who we love looking at them because their lives are so intense and crazy. But actually the best leaders in the world are quite boring because they just do their job. They look after their team, they hit the results and it's usually people like Angela Merkel in Germany, and a lot of probably the female leaders of the world, like prime ministers and presidents who usually doing the best job. But you would never make a movie about them because basically Hollywood thinks it's too boring.
Andy Khatouli (24:36):
Not enough drama
Jared Saar (24:37):
Yeah not enough drama, but you want the man who's any sports car and he's like doing something crazy. And he's a, multi-billionaire, that's exciting. So let's look at him and let's make him a leader like that we write books about.
Stephanie Saar (24:47):
The Harvey Spectre
Matt Miller (24:49):
Hey, don't be talking about, about Harvey, come on. Shout out to Gabriel Marks if you're listening to this podcast
Jared Saar (25:01):
It's interesting what you're saying actually in the base of imposter syndrome, because you're saying I'm not seeing someone in a position of authority like me, who's questioning themselves. Who's a bit more timid. Who's a little bit more caring about emotion and feeling because all I'd seen at that point was just bulldozing men who would just, they thought they would get through to you by making you cry. That's when they thought they had hit the nail on the head when they had you in the office in tears because they had to correct your thing. And I think even now as a business owner, yeah. I feel like an imposter because I feel like I'm not a business owner in comparison to what I've seen business owners look like. So I guess it's that kind of imposter syndrome as well. But that book is really good. I'll put the link in the show notes.
Andy Khatouli (25:43):
Yeah. I want to jump off on what you mentioned there about kind of the comparison thing, because I think for myself I've felt imposter syndrome, like pretty much throughout my career. So I've had some good time to reflect on it and to speak to others and to, I guess in some way from get counselling over that. And I guess, process that internalise it. And I think in my time, I guess, sort of 10 years of being a graphic designer, creative director, whatever you want to say the thing that has stood out to me most about imposter syndrome or whatever you want to call it is that it really is an identity issue more than anything. So we do have these external factors that will influence how you feel or think, but primarily it's about what you think of yourself. And so the place I came to and be able to understand where I was at with my thoughts and my feelings was that I was equating my self worth and my value in my achievements. So I was essentially shooting myself in the foot every time, because I think the psychologists call it a self-perpetuating cycle where basically by putting my value and worth in my achievements and not being able to achieve those standards, I was ridding myself a value and worth. So I was in this vicious cycle where I constantly felt like I needed to achieve something in order to feel valuable because I wasn't achieving that. I didn't feel valuable. And so I didn't feel like I could achieve what I wanted. Do you get what I mean? So you just get in this horrible cycle. And so for me, what I needed to do was be able to see that I'm intrinsically valuable and I'm intrinsically worth something, regardless of what I achieve. Otherwise, I will always be shooting myself in the foot because it's inevitable, you are going to make a mistake. It's inevitable that you will fail at something. And to be honest, I'm not scared of that anymore. I'm quite happy to take that hit on the chin because I know I can learn from those things, but also those things don't define me at the end of the day. If you are like a creative going into these spaces where you feel the pressure of 'this person's looking at my work' or, 'what will they think of my abilities or my achievements?' Then you're always going to be living in fear. You're never going to feel free to create and feel free to just be yourself. I think that was one of the hard lessons I had to really learn was because I kept going into all these various places or at least some of the places I worked full time. You had these directors or these line managers who had these strict set rules that you had to meet. And every time you didn't meet, you felt like you were a fraud. You were like, well, they're going to fire me any week now. And what I had to realise was that everyone is growing. Everyone is on this journey. Even the people above me will be feeling this. And actually it's a detriment to myself to think that actually my contribution is the way that I get worth and value in life. And that's silly because I'm just going to hurt myself. Every time I go in, I heard a really great quote from a music artist called Lecrae Moore. And he said that if you live for people's approval, you will die from their rejection, which I thought was just hit the nail on the head. Really. Like if I go into workplaces hoping to gain people's approval by my achievements, whenever they don't give that, I'm going to feel crushed. I can't live my life like that, I can't base all my value and worth on that structure. It's sad because I've been in workplaces where I've had creative directors sit me down and say, when you come in every day, your aim should be to gain the director's approval or attention, which is ridiculous because if you live in like that, you're just going to make the same mistake every single day. And it's not freeing and it's not liberating. And so for me, what I realised is that it really is an identity issue. And I need to ask myself, what do I believe about who I am? Where do I gain my value and worth? Is it in the things I do and achieve? And if I can't do that, do I still have value and worth?
Matt Miller (29:49):
I mean, it's an interesting one as well. Cause like we're living in a time where, especially as creatives, right? We have all these platforms where we have to declare who we are. So we have social media, right? And you have a bio and on your bio, you have to say what you do, who you are. You know, some of them like, even on our friend, Instagram has categories for where you have to place yourself. So you have to put, you know, if you're a photographer, I'm a photographer, I'm an art director, I'm a designer, I'm this. And so every day you are bombarded with a feed of other people's work who have the same thing, but like putting on their stories, all their successes, like the stuff that designing who they're working with, the lifestyle they're living, and then there's you with the same thing, not getting as many likes and your photos not got as many followers. You're definitely not shooting something. Some mad campaign in the Bahamas, with your family You're definitely not designing so-and-so's album cover or you're definitely not working on the latest rebrand for whatever. It's a minefield. Like how do you navigate personally, as a creative or even a business owner or entrepreneur that starting up something, you know, and it's all about the results. And you have to go to networking events and you have to say who you are. And you know, there's new emerging platforms like clubhouse, where everyone's just putting their CV of fortune 500 companies they've worked with.
Jared Saar (31:07):
Two time personal chef
Matt Miller (31:08):
You know what I mean? [laughter] Two time personal chef? I'm choking. Two time personal chef?
Jared Saar (31:08):
It's on a video of a, guy showing how to make a three cheese blend for a pizza. It's about 20 seconds, but he starts with hi, I'm so-and-so and I'm a two time personal chef.
Matt Miller (31:32):
So, earlier last week, that's a weird phrase earlier last week. I mentioned that clip Jim Carey, is it golden globes where he comes out on stage and the introducer says, two time award winning actor, Jim Carrey, and he goes up to the stage and everyone's waiting for him to speak. He kind of has this parody, this kind of thing, where he talks about it, doesn't go to dream at night and just dream any dream, but dreams about becoming three time award winning actor, Jim Carrey, because then he'd be enough. That whole clip is like, is actually brilliant. And so illuminating at an award ceremony where they're handing out honours It's an interesting thing that we're highlighting here, imposter syndrome and value, the question of personal identity as well. I'm probably the wrong person to be asking this question, but like, you're right. When we think of our friends and whatever, who are like 'Oh, I'm not sure if I should be in that room,' how do we combat this thing?
Jared Saar (32:34):
Well, I think it might be worth asking what happens if you listen to that voice, 'I'm an impostor'. What does that do for your work? Because that might be worth asking like before you even solve it, is there a downside to going 'I'm an impostor?'
Stephanie Saar (32:48):
Matt and Andy you've like touched on this. I think competition between, do you seek the work and the accreditation for your ability? Or are you saying, well, this is me and that's okay? This is my value. This is what I bring to the table. And the reason why I say that there's like this tension between the two is with social media is it's constantly forcing us to present social proof that we are good at our work. So someone who's got a Nike campaign in their Instagram feed as a photographer, you were like, ''Oh my gosh, like he is a photographer. She is a photographer', as opposed to someone who might have 32 followers, but really works from a personal level and deeply shares a message within their work. You know, are we actually only acknowledging those that actually have the right exposure and have the right stuff within their books? And do we ignore what others have to say because they don't have that social proof. And I've seen it with clubhouse, for example, you know, the moderators are usually the ones that are like, you know, either writing for Forbes or they're part of a fortune 500 business. And like, they've got all this clout on their account, as well as you go into their social media and they're hitting home the social proof of why they're the best cause they've got to all in their book. So there is that pressure that you feel that you have to perform and almost have proof that you are good at what you do. And now the problem with that is that you are chasing the work and you forget yourself along the way. And I've really only learnt in the last few years that my value actually comes from who I am and understanding my identity as Andy said, is so important. I used to question my identity. Now I've learnt to understand it. And by understanding it, I've learned to know what my value is. And when I walk into a room, what I can bring to the table while before I didn't know what that was. So I would let other people step all over me. And then I would come home crying to Jared cause I had an awful day because people took advantage of my shyness and my kindness while now I'm like, okay, if I were in those situations again, I'd walk out because it's not worth losing my self esteem. It's not worth losing my value in who I am for a pay-check at the end of the day. And it really is that switch between the two of going instead of questioning my identity, I need to fully embrace it and go, I know what I can bring. And if you don't value it, that's okay. I'll take it somewhere else.
Andy Khatouli (35:27):
You know, one of the values that we have at OSO is that we're not aiming to be perfectionists, but we're aiming to produce excellent work. And there's a real distinction between the two. I know some might say that's the same thing, but for a lot of people who want to aim for perfection, what inevitably happens is that there's a restlessness in the person that they're not content with, what they're creating and usually what they've done is they've set a goal for them that is unreachable or at least is based off someone else's ability rather than accepting what they're able to do or where they can grow into. Whereas the other side of it, which is excellence is being able to say, okay, what are my strengths or where can I go? And how can I make sure that I achieve those things? And so what we try to do is to instill that in the creatives, in our space is that to say, we're not expecting something from you that we know that you can't achieve, but what we are expecting from you is that you go to the complete max of what you can do. Like how can you be ultimately fulfilled in what you're bringing to the table? And I think that's a healthy way of being able to say, right, how can I measure success? How can I measure success in, in what I create and what I do so that I no longer feel like I'm a fraud when I contribute. And I find that that's a really good measuring stick to be able to say, right, whatever I've put on the table here, is this my best? Not, is this Matt's best? Or is this Jared's best? Or is this Steph's best? Because inevitably there will always be someone who might be better or stronger than you in some area. But what you have to offer is unique and different. And so, you know, for instance, one day I might only be able to give 70% of what I can do because of other contributing factors. Maybe I'm tired. Maybe it's been a long week, maybe I'm stressed or whatever, but then someone else in the studio might be able to give a hundred percent, you know, I shouldn't be sitting there thinking, well, they're obviously much, much better than me. And my contribution is invalid. Well, it's no, it's just saying, did I achieve the best that I can? And that's how I'm going to measure success. So, you know, for me, success is not like a shelf lined up with trophies. If I never get an award or trophy in my life, but I know that I worked hard and I did a good job. Then I know I'm successful. Like for me, that's the measure of success. So I think that is one of the things that needs to be spoken about is that often in society, as Steph mentioned, is that we can have these unrealistic expectations of what successful is. And as well as trying to encourage people, motivate people to go to great heights, it can also be quite a flattening experience and it can de-motivate you, because you feel that you're never able to achieve, you know, what this person can do. Society has imposed on us unrealistic expectations of what perfection is and it's not nurturing people into an understanding of like, what is the best that I can achieve or what's my full potential? And how can I reach that instead?
Stephanie Saar (38:17):
I think of the basis of that. I've got a question for you guys when we're talking about like embracing your identity and understanding that that's where your value comes from. Have you ever gone into a space where they've told you, bring your authentic self, but then you've been told off for your authentic self?
Andy Khatouli (38:37):
Jared Saar (38:38):
Why are you laughing?
Matt Miller (38:41):
Because I think we know that I have. Where they're like, 'we love you. We value you. You know, we're so happy we have you on the team, so happy to do this.' And then you do something and they're like 'can we have a word?' [laughter] 'Um, that thing that you do, can you not do that please?' [laughter]
Stephanie Alcaino (39:07):
From that question I was watching this Ted talk called, 'why you should not bring your authentic self to work' by Jodi-Ann Burey and it's a great video. And she discusses so concisely some of the problems about when we say bring your authentic self. And she says 'being authentic, privileges those already a part of the dominant culture. It is it much easier to be who you are when, who you are, is all around you coming just as we are when we're the first, the only different or one of the few came prove too risky.' So is the problem when we bring our authentic selves to work, but we don't fit that dominant culture. Is that detrimental to our identity? Is it only really reserved for the dominant culture?
Jared Saar (39:53):
I think that is a really good question. Cause I think I was so close to just saying, 'Just bring yourself to work' I agree with you Steph. It's a really good point because when I was going through coaching and talking about specifically these things, I think we've all touched on a part of what could be an answer to imposter syndrome. Like you're asking Matt, which is knowing your value and knowing your worth. But then also on the flip side, it's being confident of what you're not. So, you know, you don't have to bring a certain something that you can't do and that you're happy for someone else to bring. So you're like, I'm not Matt. I don't have to be creative director that thinks like him, I'm going to appreciate that he thinks like him, and I'm going to just inject my part and Steph's going to see something I can't see and that's okay. She's trained her eye. So I think that was a little bit of discussion on that, but thank goodness. I didn't say bring your authentic self to work because actually I think you just mentioning that is, yeah, I can see why that would be a problem too, because we're talking about a really ideal environment for people to come to. And I think OneSixOne at this point, I feel we've started something really special that we're allowed to bring our authentic selves to work, but you know, we've got to really make sure that's there in 5, 10 years when we build a big company. But it's a really good point, I don't know the answer to that because that's what the problem is we're asking is how does a freelancer go into a place where they have no authority and bring their authentic selves? Kind of made me question what I thought I was going to say.
Andrew Khatouli (41:24):
One of the things that stands out to me is that in popular culture, we have this individualistic mindset and out of that is born this self determining absolutes. Like in my mind, I decide what is right and wrong. And so if you have that filtering through society and we're unaware of it, what inevitably happens is that people are going to butt heads at some point and go, wait a second. Actually, I don't agree with you. And from what we understand is that society is portrayed as this tolerant place that, you know, everyone's free to bring their own expressions or opinions until you disagree with me. And then actually we're going to alienate you and we're going to make you an enemy because you don't fit into the majority. So actually society, isn't very tolerant as a whole. I'm talking about Western society here, where we're located in London is that people are encouraged to be themselves as long as that's the right be yourself. So many people are being taught the right answers or the right self that you can be. But whereas in fact, if we really live out that expression, that means you're going to come against people that you really don't like, and you really don't agree with. And that's the real test. Are you tolerant? And then can you accept that your neighbour is probably the complete opposite of you?
Stephanie Saar (42:43):
Yeah. Is it better to maintain the status quo as opposed to challenging it and having to change?
Andrew Khatouli (42:49):
Jared Saar (42:50):
That sounds quite sad though. It's true. It's true. But I just feel we can't leave this without telling people how do we come up against this? What do we do?
Matt Miller (43:02):
Do you know what I actually think on a personal level, accountability is quite helpful. Everyone has this kind of nice picture of being surrounded by friends that love and support you and encourage you. But actually some of the things that we've shared are actually quite objective things, right? Like mindset things. It's important to have someone that you really trust. It Doesn't even have to be someone that's shared your lived experience. It doesn't have to be someone that's further in the game than you. It could just be someone very trustworthy. And what I mean by trustworthy, I don't mean that you can just offload everything and expect them not to tell anyone, but that someone who, when they speak to you and tell you what they see you believe that, you know, that that is probably right. Always been weighed up well or is very wise. So I think it's important that actually to be able to share some of these feelings with someone that you trust, who, when they say back to you, is that really how it is this mindset is there truth to this mindset? And if there is then how can we move forward? How can we work on some of this stuff? I think for some people, you know, therapy and counselling, different parts of life is really helpful having that impartial voice that isn't biased, but is there to kind of listen to you and share and feedback. But I think actually having friends or people that you know will support you. So even if you're being your worst in that accountability, by not being accountable, they will check in and be like, Hey, how is work? Okay. How are you feeling at work? Okay. How productive have you been recently? Okay, what's the highest, what's the lows. You know, someone you can actually be vulnerable with that will help you reframe some of this mindset stuff when you do set foot in these rooms. So I think it's a very simple thing. Isn't it? We talk about accountability. Relationships are often the place where, whether it's stories or whether it's people that speak into our lives that actually are able to help us grow and shape reality is when we face difficult circumstances
Andy Khatouli (44:55):
I think as well, it's a responsibility for the leaders to ensure that those who are working with them or under them, or however you want to see it are feeling supported. So, you know, one of the encouraging stories, I heard Eddie Jones, you know, England rugby manager, speak about how, when he took over the team, he sat down with every single player and asked them what they wanted to achieve in life, not on the pitch, what they wanted to achieve in life. And so he catered their training, their scheduling, their mentality, their goals in order to be able to achieve those things. Because he realised that if they're happy off the pitch, they're happy on the pitch. And so it's a responsibility for leaders to be able to sit down with those who they're working with and say, okay, what is it that you want to achieve in life? Not just here in this office or here in this workspace. And then by doing that, we'll be able to create the infrastructures that are missing the things that will help support them and make them feel valuable. So when they do come to work and when people do contribute, they don't feel like an imposter because they know exactly what they're doing and how it's being used.
Stephanie Saar (45:54):
Lastly, to add onto that as much as we need the accountability, I think we also personally need to know what our boundaries look like, where we draw the line. Where's the line in a toxic workplace? Is it when your mental health has completely deteriorated? Or is it a lot sooner because knowing where your boundaries are, you start to create accountable flag points of going, okay, this environment is toxic and it's not benefiting me in any single way. And it's all right to walk away from this. I personally wished I had more boundaries when I was younger. Cause there was a few sets that I wish I walked away from.
Jared Saar (46:32):
Took you years to move on.
Stephanie Saar (46:33):
Yeah. It took me years to actually get my self-esteem back from that. And that's why I'm a big advocate that no pay-check is worth losing your value over and your self esteem. But I think it's definitely important to have an idea of where the line is.
Andrew Khatouli (46:47):
Matt Miller (46:55):
We've got a letter. We invited the world participate and the world spoke back. We have our very first bit of, it's not fan mail. It's like, I guess it is. I don't know.
Andrew Khatouli (47:11):
It's fan mail. We need a little jingle for it. [sings] Fan mail.
Matt Miller (47:24):
So we got a letter. I know who this from.
Andrew Khatouli (47:29):
Are we going to say their name?
Matt Miller (47:30):
Oh, I don't know if we should say their name,
Stephanie Saar (47:34):
We could say first name but that's it
Jared Saar (47:37):
Or we could just say 'you know who you are'
Andy Khatouli (47:39):
They're the winner of the prize though.
Matt Miller (47:44):
Well, we know we can send them the prize.
Jared Saar (47:45):
But we haven't asked them for permission.
Matt Miller (47:47):
Yeah. Jared on ops. Yeah. Sorry if this person wanted the world to know who they are. I'm sorry. We're not going to do that to you, but you know who you are. Yeah. So we got a letter it's addressed very well,
Jared Saar (47:58):
What's the standard to be addressed very well?
Matt Miller (48:01):
As in, it's like in full on letter format.
Stephanie Saar (48:03):
Wow. I mean, that's super impressive. I sometimes forget what letter format looks like. Cause I never write letters.
Matt Miller (48:09):
I mean, I can't pronounce where it's from this place, but anyway, 'Dear speakers from the OneSixOne podcast and then in brackets, Matt, Steph, Andy and Jared' sorry, Jared. So there's is like, there is a.
Jared Saar (48:21):
There's a hierarchy [laughter]
Matt Miller (48:28):
'I just wanted to say how much I value what you've shared with the world. I felt comforted, encouraged and inspired by listening to your conversations. I thought I'd take this time to ask you a question or a few.' I feel like this is an episode we're going to have to respond to this,
Andy Khatouli (48:45):
We'll respond to this in the next episode
Matt Miller (48:46):
Okay. Okay. So let's think we're going to definitely going to have to put an episode together for this one. All right. Cool. Okay. 'So on reflection, is there anything you've had to unlearn in life?'.
Stephanie Saar (48:56):
Yeah, that's a good question.
Jared Saar (48:57):
For Matt, he needs to make storage space in his brain. He needs to delete old programs. Anyway, go on.
Matt Miller (49:08):
'If so, what prompted you to unlearn? by unlearning? What difference if any, have you noticed, and if you could give any advice to your younger self, what would it be?'.
Jared Saar (49:19):
Oh, this is a good one.
Matt Miller (49:20):
So thats a whole thing.
Andy Khatouli (49:24):
Is the advice based off what you unlearned? Is that it?
Matt Miller (49:27):
Yeah, I think so. I think in summary of those points. Do you know what I think we actually need to invite someone in to talk on this as well?
Jared Saar (49:33):
Matt Miller (49:34):
Exactly let's save it. 'Also more of a suggestion than a question. May I suggest you do a Q and a, at some point. I'd listened to it of course.'
Jared Saar (49:44):
Yeah. We can. We can call people as well on this thing.
Andy Khatouli (49:50):
So we're sending a prize to this individual, because we did say they would get a prize. Definitely you will get a prize in the post and we haven't chosen what that is yet.
Jared Saar (50:03):
I hope you like balloons, There's a 20 pack coming your way.
Matt Miller (50:09):
You can tag us on social media platforms and then the world can know what the prize was, keep it that way.
Andrew Khatouli (50:14):
But please do keep sending in your questions. We'd love to answer them and they can continue from the discussions that we have on the podcast.
Jared Saar (50:21):
And not specifically, just this one, listener other listeners, we don't want to put the pressure on this one person to keep sending their questions.
Stephanie Saar (50:31):
I mean, those questions are great.
Jared Saar (50:33):
Thank you very much.
Matt Miller (50:35):
Okay. Sweet. So we're going to put together an episode for that and yeah, keep sending in questions because I think a Q and A thing would be great.
Matt Miller (50:46):
So we're at that point in the podcast where we talk about things on our radar, things that we're experiencing enjoy and recommendations, shout outs, things that we're enjoying. So Steph,
Stephanie Saar (50:57):
All right. So my one is clubhouse. It took me a while to get into it. And I think it's because the platform, it felt it was more catered to, I guess, American culture until like a thing in the last few weeks, I've started finding a few more groups that are UK based or a mixture of different places with different people. I'm not naturally one to network or to just pull myself into circles and have conversations. But I found this one quite interesting because you are able to, in real time, listen to people have discussions around cultural narratives. And for me, I just find that absolutely fascinating. And you know, like I've said before, just being able to expose yourself to new perspectives and different ways of thinking in different cultures. I love that clubhouse is a space where people can come and share those opinions and those perspectives. Obviously there are elements of clubhouse that's not working too well in regards to some oppression that can be happening on the platform. But overall, I'm actually finding a very interesting how people not only talk about cultural narratives, but how they even articulate that within language itself. What are the words they using? How are they articulating that? So, yeah, that's my one.
Andrew Khatouli (52:12):
I'm taking a page out of Steph's book and I'm reading a book. Yeah, I do read. [laughter] I've tried to focus my reading on particular subjects. So I'm reading 'designers art' by Bruno Munari. I hope I've pronounced that well and so far so good. He's unpacking the importance of design and art being connected to human life and function shouldn't be divorced from aesthetic. I recommend it, it seems like a good book.
Jared Saar (52:45):
Nice for me, I'm going to recommend a program. So basically I've been trying to teach myself some new skills and I talked about it before, but I got to shout out Udemy, U D E M Y. It's just great. It's got so many courses on there and they're actually really, really, really good. So I'm going to throw it out there. If you want to learn something specific, they've probably got it on there and it's really cheap and they're always doing sales, but it's amazing. So if you want to learn something, Udemy.
Matt Miller (53:26):
Yeah. So my one is, it's a simple shout out actually. It's something that we all know in the room, but I think credit where credit is due, I'm going to shout out Chan photographic. They are a photography developing and printing lab based in East London, Bethnal green, Shoreditch way. And they're just great. They're consistent. The service is super professional. They've got facilities. So you can do your own darkroom printing and colour printing, enlargements, scanning, but also just simply to develop and process film. It's great. And you can ask them anything. There's no additional hidden charges to push or pull film. You can have contact sheets printed, in terms of doing everything that you would want to allow you to be creative and deliver great results. They are in my opinion, second to none, especially compared to high street and things like that. And they've just done a great job during COVID as well, where you can send in your film, sending things and get it delivered and they'll even return it back to you via email as well. So Chan photographic. Our homies out there. Yeah. So I think that's it for this week guys, yeah, great episode. We're still here.
Andrew Khatouli (54:43):
We really need Mitch to contribute at some point.
Jared Saar (54:44):
Here he is he is going to say something.
Mitch The Plant (54:46):
Jared Saar (54:53):
Wow. I didn't think he'd have such strong language. We're going to have to put explicit on the episode.
Jared Saar (54:59):
See you later
The OneSixOne podcast was recorded at the Qube, edited by Tim Steemson, music by Meganeko, and you can find us online at onesixone.com. Follow us on instagram @onesixone.co. Thanks for listening.