444: Overcoming Fear, Judgment, Imposter Syndrome, and Perfection as an Entrepreneur with Sally Zimney

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A blue photograph of a woman jumping while looking at her phone and the title of Sally Zimney's episode of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Overcoming Fear, Judgement, Imposter Syndrome, and Perfection as an Entrepreneur.'

This episode is sponsored by Clariti and Raptive.

Welcome to episode 444 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Sally Zimney.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with David Lebovitz. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Overcoming Fear, Judgment, Imposter Syndrome, and Perfection as an Entrepreneur

Have you ever felt a sense of fear, judgment, imposter syndrome, or a need for perfection as a food creator? Assuming this is a rhetorical question because… who hasn’t?! That’s why we asked Sally Zimney to join us on the podcast — she’s a professional speaker with a Master’s Degree in Persuasion (!!).

In this interview, Bjork and Sally talk about the power of speaking and why it’s so important as an entrepreneur. Sally also explains how to overcome the mental barriers that might be holding you back from trying something new.

It’s a really inspiring and thought-provoking interview — we hope you enjoy it!

A photograph of a woman speaking with a quote from Sally Zimney that reads, "Speaking is brave. It's vulnerable and it's brave."

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • More about Sally’s professional journey (and how it overlapped with Bjork’s)!
  • The importance of finding your professional ‘playground.’
  • How Sally empowers people to leverage the power of speaking.
  • How she defines “speaking” (spoiler alert: you don’t need to be an extrovert to be a speaker).
  • How to overcome fear, judgment, imposter syndrome, and perfection when it comes to trying new things.
  • How and why AI might impact our desire for human connection and imperfection.


Thank you to our sponsors!

This episode is sponsored by Clariti and Raptive.

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Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode!

Sign up for Clariti today to easily organize your blog content for maximum growth and receive access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing, 50% off your first month, optimization ideas for your site content, and more!

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Thanks to Raptive for sponsoring this episode!

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Interested in working with us too? Learn more about our sponsorship opportunities and how to get started here.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

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Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti. If you’ve been frustrated trying to discover actionable insights from different analytics and keyword platforms, Clariti is your solution. Clariti helps you manage your blog content all in one place so you can find actionable insights that improve the quality of your content. Not only does it automatically sync your WordPress post data so you can find insights about broken images, broken links, and more; it can also sync with your Google Analytics and Google search console data, so you can see keyword, session, page view, and user data for each and every post.f

One of our favorite ways to use it, we can easily filter and see which of our posts have had a decrease in sessions or page views over a set period of time, and give a little extra attention to those recipes. This is especially helpful when there are Google updates or changes and search algorithms so that we can easily tell which of our recipes have been impacted the most. Listeners to the Food Blogger Pro podcast get 50% off of their first month of Clariti after signing up. To sign up, simply go to clariti.com/food. That’s C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food. Thanks again to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.

Emily Walker: Hey there. This is Emily from the Food Blogger Pro team and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. This week on the podcast, Bjork is interviewing Sally Zimney. She is a professional speaker who actually has her Master’s degree in persuasion, which is just totally fascinating to me. Bjork and Sally go back a long time, and in this interview they’re going to be chatting about lots of things, but mostly about the importance of finding your voice and how to leverage the power of speaking.

Sally defines speaking pretty broadly, so whether or not you consider yourself as a speaker currently, I imagine you’re going to find out that you actually are a speaker, and that this interview will be filled with little tips and tricks to help you improve upon your speaking and to get over some of the barriers when it comes to thinking about yourself as a speaker. Specifically, she talks about overcoming fear, judgment, imposter syndrome, and perfection as an entrepreneur, which should apply to almost everyone listening. It’s a really inspiring interview. I know you’ll enjoy it, so I’m just going to let Bjork take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Sally, welcome to the podcast.

Sally Zimney: Thank you. So excited to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: We’ve-

Sally Zimney: Bjork.

Bjork Ostrom: Out of all the guests I’ve ever had on the podcast, maybe you and I go back the furthest. I mean maybe Lindsay is the one where it’s like whenever she comes on, but we have a long-

Sally Zimney: I hope. I hope Lindsay goes farther back than me.

Bjork Ostrom: We have a long history. We work together. People who listened to this podcast for a long time have heard me talk about the nonprofit that I was at, nonprofit was called Youth Frontiers. We worked with students. We would do these retreats for the students. If people are interested in it, they can check it out. It’s a great organization.

And one of the things I did when I was there, there’s a lot of different things, but one of the things I did was I started to help out with some of the technology stuff. I was the tech guy. Somebody had an issue with the computer and I would go help and would help with the website a little bit here and there. You were also at Youth Frontiers, and that was kind of the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, but share a little bit about that. What were you doing at that time and what has that grown into now? And we’re going to talk about this book that you have and the work that you’re doing and talking a lot about speaking and how creators can do that. But take us back a little bit earlier when you and I were occasionally sitting in on staff meetings and hanging out on Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park.

Sally Zimney: Oh my gosh. It was so fun. I mean that time of my life professionally was such a creative, wonderful incubator. I really loved it. And I look back now, I’m building my own thing and you obviously have been building your own thing, but it was a beautiful, creative team incubator and I had so much fun. So when I think about Youth Frontiers, I think about you and the events that we put on and not just the retreats that we did with students where that’s where I got started truly as a speaker and a speaker coach. So, I got to work with Bjork and other staff members when they were out talking to kids, all about kindness and courage and respect, and these really important ideas that are essential that we want our young people to learn and know about, but that might be considered a little boring or like, “Oh my gosh, my mom has been talking to me about respect forever, blah, blah, blah.”

So it was an awesome challenge to figure out as a speaker and a coach, how do we take these ideas that are so important and make sure that they are compelling, engaging, interesting, and authentic? And so, it was a playground. It was a playground for me to finesse my skills as a speaker and a coach, but it was a creative playground with our event. So that’s where Bjork, I think we spent a lot of time together dreaming up, how do we create really cool videos for this and how do we make something that can feel like a typical rubber chicken dinner. Joe used to call a lot, “We don’t do rubber chicken dinner events.”

We got to really, because we had so much talent in that organization, it’s bonkers to think about how much talent we had just sitting there and we could tap it. And that’s really where I got started in doing the work that I do now. I mean I did speech and theater in high school, I suppose that was kind of really the roots of what I do now, but that was my first professional foray into it. And Joe, who led the organization, was incredibly generous with sharing my name with other people.

And so very organically, people would reach out to me and say, “Hey, I have a gig coming up,” or, “I’m speaking at this conference,” or a high stake sales presentation, “Can you come help us?” And so very slowly, I started building a book of clients and at some point there were enough clients that I realized, oh my gosh, I can do this. This is an actual thing. This is not just something that I love doing, but I can really, really do this. And so that’s when I shifted my relationship with Youth Frontiers, they became one of my clients, and that was the beginning of it. And we were talking about timeline, like maybe-

Bjork Ostrom: When was that? Yeah.

Sally Zimney: Maybe 2012, 2013. 2013 maybe.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that sounds about right, which is kind of similar. Our arc is we think of that as the time that we really started focusing on what we’re doing full time.

Sally Zimney: Yeah, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I love that you said, and I think it’s important to point out for anybody listening, and for the broader context, one of the things that I think is important to point out is I think sometimes we think of ourselves as entrepreneurs or not entrepreneurs, or pre-entrepreneur, post-entrepreneur, but I think one of the things that we try and bring up as we do these interviews as much as possible is anybody who’s been doing anything, you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’re a teacher, you’re an IT guy, you’re interested in websites, you write books. Within the context of a 9:00 to 5:00, whether it be W2, contracted, freelance, you in that phase are still entrepreneurial in that you are the CEO of you, and you have these skills that you are learning.

And I think within that, one of the things that’s really important to point out and a word that you used is playground. And that was actually work. Anybody looking outside in on what you were doing, you were working. But when you describe it, you were like, “It was a playground.” And I think it’s really important to find what are the things that you can do within the world that you consider to be playground but are also valuable for other people? And for you, that’s a very different thing than it was for me, and that’s refining the craft of speaking. And I really value clear communication, but I wouldn’t be the one to sit on the other side and help people craft that.

I have a different playground, as does Lindsay has a different playground. And so for us as creators, as entrepreneurs, as builders to be able to find that playground and build it I think is such an important thing. But also, like anything, we were talking about the stresses of doing a conference, there are things within those roles that are really difficult and hard. And so I think that’s important to point out as well. But do you feel like, generally speaking, as you’ve been refining your craft, building your thing over the years, that you still can feel like, hey, this is a playground, to some degree?

Sally Zimney: Gosh, that’s such a good question because this past year was such a big growth year for me, and I had some really ambitious goals and I did them. And there’s some play in that for sure. If it’s not fun, if there isn’t an element of that, then you’re going to ask yourself, why? What is the point? What is the point here? Because it’s going to take a lot from you to do this.

And so I’m starting 2024 actually asking myself, maybe I don’t want to have big goals this year. Maybe I just want to have more fun this year. So I think that balance or the tension between ambition and rest, between play and work, we’re always trying to find that balance, at least I am, as an entrepreneur. And so I have to really intentionally create that now. I mean it was part of our job because we worked with young people, so it was like, we have to bring the play because this is part of what we do. That was part of our work.

But now I’m like, it’s still in me. This is a really important part of how I do what I do. But if I get too far from play, I’m actually not my most creative, most engaging, probably most impactful self in what I do because they’re going to feel that, you’re going to feel when somebody is slogging versus somebody who’s really on the edge of their own creativity and their own curiosity and creating, really creating. So I’m-

Bjork Ostrom: No, that’s great. And I feel like an honest transparent answer, and I was thinking about this even for myself this morning as I was reflecting on work that I do and thinking, there’s seasons. And last year was a season of, it sounds like hustle and grind a little bit and this year… And from that, you were able to get things that are pretty beneficial, like in your case, a book. And to have that forever is going to be meaningful and impactful. And very few times do I have a conversation with somebody who’s authored a book and they’re like, “It was actually pretty easy. It wasn’t that hard and I got it done sooner than I thought I would and it was less work than I thought it was.” It is always the opposite. It’s always like, “It was super hard.” But then it gets you a thing after you get out of it.

And so I think maybe to put a bow in that conversation, for us as creators, it’s that constant balancing act between kind of heads down hustle type work when you need to, almost like War of Art. I don’t know if Steven Pressfield, if you’ve ever read War of Art where he talks about the resistance and getting through the resistance and acknowledging that, but also saying to not spend too much time away from the playground and to get back to the playground when you can, which I think is really beneficial as well. So that’s helpful and it’s fun for me to hear. And I think I’ll make a mental note for us just to sit down and have coffee because I want to hear more about your journey and what you’ve been up to.

But one of the things that you’re focusing on in the season, we talked about the conference that you did, the book that you wrote, clients that you’re working with, but you’re focusing on helping people develop their skills around speaking. Is that more or less accurate? Or how would you… I just told you what you do. Why don’t you tell me what you do?

Sally Zimney: Yeah, okay. Yeah. I mean my gift is in empowering people to leverage the power of speaking to help them grow their impact, their authority, and if they want, their revenue, because speaking can be a really potentially high-performing part of your business in terms of revenue and lead generation if you are intentional about it, if you really leverage it. And my personal belief is that it’s accessible to everyone. And some people don’t believe that, especially if you’re not somebody who has been inclined towards that. But my favorite thing to do is to convince somebody that they actually are a speaker and to show them that you can show up exactly like you are, your authentic voice, your story is the most impactful moving thing about your business. And so if you want to grow, if you want to impact more people, you actually have to embrace the idea that you are a speaker.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting, I think about Youth Frontiers and one of the most quantifiable skills that I feel like I came out of that experience from, there’s many things, but one of them was feeling confident, in our case, standing up in front of 100, 150, 200, whatever it is either fourth graders, eighth graders, seniors in high school, or educators. So you kind of had this whole spectrum of humans and through repeat exposure hundreds of times doing these retreats, feeling comfortable doing that.

And what I’m doing now, that’s one of the most important things, whether it’s on a podcast like this or one of the ways that we grew Food Blogger Pro, especially in the early years, was doing an event and it was digital, but 1,000 people would show up and we’d have an event where I would be speaking to people through a camera and a microphone. But that was such an important skill, and I look back at that as one of the important growth levers in our experience, for me in working with you while we were at Youth Frontiers and just the exposure of getting up and doing it multiple times, that was a really important skill.

So, when you think of speaking, I think some people would think like, “Oh, I’m at a conference. I get up in front of people. I have a PowerPoint and I deliver that PowerPoint in front of people.” That’s definitely one of them. But how broad is that umbrella of speaking? Because my guess is it applies in multiple different silos or genres?

Sally Zimney: For sure. Yeah. I like to think of it as context. There are a million different contexts in which you are using your voice and showing your face, or not if you’re on a podcast, but if you are amplifying your voice, your message, your ideas verbally to anyone in any context, I call that speaking. So I use it really, really broadly.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. Yeah.

Sally Zimney: And you are a podcaster, you are a speaker because you are amplifying your voice and you’re doing workshops, you’re doing trainings, you’re at a conference, you’re asked to do a breakout session or you’re giving a keynote. There are all kinds of ways where we can really amplify and leverage our voice if we have the confidence and the courage to say, “Actually, I do have something to say. I have a role to play here. I can do this.” And it’s not something that is…

And we tend to think speaking is for the special unicorns who are all extroverts and have a performance background and are natural storytellers or whatever, fill in the blank. There’s a lot of reasons why we tend to hold speaking off as something that other people can do and we can’t. And I just find that idea not true and really unhelpful, especially when we have, as entrepreneurs and creators, taken the risk to build something of our own. Just by doing that, you have something to say. There’s something in you that the world needs. And so, I’m sometimes referred to as a professional nudger because I’m just like-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. “Come on.”

Sally Zimney: … “You can do it. You can do it. I believe in you. Go, go, go, go, go.” Right? So, yeah, it’s just a part of what we do.

Bjork Ostrom: The phrase that you used that I think is really important for people to think about is you’re amplifying your voice. And I love that idea because the most traditional, if you go way back, you have one of those megaphones. And maybe it’s not even amplified electronically, it’s just a big megaphone from 100 years ago, 200 years ago. But what you’re doing is you’re amplifying your voice, or in a more traditional sense, you’re a speaker at a conference and you have a microphone and you go up and you’re amplifying your voice. Also right now, you and I are amplifying our voices. We’re recording it and we’re sending it out to thousands of people.

If you are doing a story on Instagram, you’re amplifying your voice. So all of those put you in the bucket of speaking. You are a speaker. What you’re doing is you’re using your voice and you’re amplifying it. And I think that’s such great context because what that does is that then tells us, if we are going to be a speaker, it’s important that we refine our craft in order to do that better. But one of the things that I heard you say is a lot of times people either don’t believe they are that or have these kind of intense fears around it. So can you talk about what you see as the primary maybe fears that people have or the primary ways that people are holding themselves back and not actually becoming a speaker, whether on Instagram or YouTube or on a stage?

Sally Zimney: Yeah. And I just want to say that these, I call them the four horsemen of the avoidance because they are often the end result are things that we want. I want to impact more people. I want to… Actually, I even want somebody to ask me to speak at their conference. I want to get on a podcast. I want to do all these things. But we have this resistance that bubbles up within us and all across the spectrum, even people who have been a “speaker” and have already embraced that idea are still going to face these resistances from time to time.

So I just want to lay that out there at the beginning that if you are challenging yourself, if you are pushing yourself through the next phase, the next level of what’s possible for you, if you aren’t facing any resistance, if you don’t have that “I want to, but” moment, I’d be like, “Are you dreaming big enough? Are you really challenging yourself here?” So let’s just put that out there, that just having these ideas does not mean that you do not belong out front. It does not mean that you don’t belong, that you don’t have something to say, that you can’t lean into this and potentially do it. So, I have to stop there.

Bjork Ostrom: I don’t know if this is from the War of Art, yeah, but I remember, I think it is. Conceptually he talks about this idea of it almost being affirmation that you’re on the right path. So it’s not that you’re on the wrong path, but if you’re feeling any of this hesitation, resistance, nervousness, fear, actually go there because that’s going, and I think this is important to talk about and would be interested in your thoughts on it, that’s going to what? That’s going to expand your world? That’s going to help you grow? If you are feeling that, what is the benefit then of leaning into it?

Sally Zimney: Yeah. Well, in my view, if you don’t have those feelings, you’re going to show up a little less prepared, not that preparation is everything, but that heart beating in your chest, the, “Oh my gosh, this is big,” it prepares us physically in some way, it prepares us mentally in some way. It sort of sharpens your focus. And so I don’t see it as a bad thing at all. Oftentimes it’s just a reframe that we need to make for ourselves about what is actually happening physically with us.

So one of the avoidances that I talk about is fear, just plain old fear. Fear creeps up for all of us if we are doing something that challenges us, or even if it’s just something that we care about, like, “Oh my gosh, this feels high stakes. I don’t want to mess this up. I really am feeling nervous about this.” Actually, what’s happening in your body is the same thing if you said, “I’m so excited. I’m so excited about this.” Physiologically it’s the same.

The difference is the story that we are telling ourselves about what is happening in the moment, what’s happening in our bodies? What could happen potentially if we go out and take this risk and hop on that live and we’re talking to somebody that we really want to impress? Or whatever, the things that bring those fears up for ourselves. Our job is to manage that self story enough so that we say, okay, instead of, “I’m so nervous,” it’s, “I’m so excited, I’m so excited. I can do this. I’m so excited.”

Bjork Ostrom: Interesting. It’s another thing I’ve thought a lot about, what is the internal conversation you’re having with yourself? And what you said is your body is responding in a similar way, it’s just your head is interpreting it one way or the other. And in one sense it’s like, oh, no. Oh, no. Fear. Worst case scenario. Whereas what you’re saying is you could also say, “I’m so excited,” or, “This is going to be great,” or, “I can’t wait.”

It was, I forget his name, but he’s a popular Instagrammer, he’s like a mega dude, he’s a-

Sally Zimney: Okay, mega dude.

Bjork Ostrom: … man’s man, and I think he does something military related and he’s popular online. But it’s like extreme… I think he has a book called… People are going to know it at this point and they’re going to see how far off I am. It’s called Extreme Responsibility or something like that.

Sally Zimney: Oh, wow. Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: And I’ll look it up here and figure it out, but anyways, he had this thing where he was on some podcast interview and he talked about this idea of saying, even in a hard situation, saying, “Good.” That was his response. Like, “Good.” “Oh, this is really difficult. This job situation is changing.” “Good.” And I think about that-

Sally Zimney: Good. Good.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s a simple reframe and you can’t use it in every context. There’s obviously 1,000 different situations that you can’t say good to, but I think there’s also 1,000 situations where you could maybe say, “Oh, no,” or, “This is terrible news,” that you could also say good to you. You lose your job, as an example. That’s a bummer but maybe it could be good as well. And I think with speaking, you can apply that as well where it’s like, “Oh, no.” Or you could say, “Good. This is going to be a good thing and instead of feeling fear, I’m going to feel excitement.”

But I’m guessing that takes practice and practicality to actually feel that, but at least introduce that thought is what you’re saying.

Sally Zimney: Totally. Yeah. Well, and ultimately what we’re trying to move towards is a level of self-trust that you can handle what is about to happen because it’s live theater. I mean life is live theater and speaking is just regular life with an audience. And so it feels more high stakes because it can feel really, really vulnerable. And so if we can put ourselves into the situation enough, you start getting enough reps in and you start to build that level of self-trust.

So Bjork, I’m thinking about when we were out on retreats, every day was a slightly different context. There are different kids in the room, different challenges in that group, a totally different energy level, different responses to… We had a pretty standard set list. We were doing pretty much the same thing every time, but every day was different. And so we got to practice in really practical ways what it was like to respond to what was really happening in the room.

And two, to your point, say to ourselves, walk in and be like, “Okay, the bus is going to be 15 minutes late. Good. Okay, good. We’re going to figure this out. We can do it.” We’re building our level of self-trust to be able to manage that. And not that it always went super well, but we learned and we could figure it out. And then the next day our self-trust was that much greater because of it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And I think that’s the other thing as it relates to speaking, even within the context of speaking on a YouTube video or Instagram or whatever it might be, is this idea that you are developing tools in your tool belt, you’re developing a skill, and much like learning guitar, you’re not going to be really good your first time around, but if you keep at it and you try and develop that skill three, four, or five years down the line, you’re going to become pretty great at it. So I love that, fear.

By the way, the book is called Extreme Ownership by Jocko-

Sally Zimney: Oh, okay.

Bjork Ostrom: Jocko Willink.

Sally Zimney: Jocko? Okay. Wow.

Bjork Ostrom: You’ll have to look it up. Add it to your reading list.

Sally Zimney: Extreme Ownership.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Before we continue, let’s take a moment to hear from our sponsors.

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So four horsemen, we were talking about that. Fear. What’s the next one?

Sally Zimney: So judgment. And it hits me when I talk about this because whenever we are putting ourselves out there externally, publicly, in whatever context and speaking, there’s always a lot of self stories about what will people think? What will people think of me? If you’ve ever gotten some negative feedback that really hit close to home, it’s really hard to just eject that story from your head and not think about it the next time you are going to do this. So, we just have to acknowledge that judgment, we are being judged. You are being judged.

Bjork Ostrom: Can’t pretend like you’re not. Yeah.

Sally Zimney: Nope. Yep. And that is just a part of doing business. And so I know, especially in the entrepreneurial world, you’re like, “You’re not really making it until you get your first really nasty online comment.” I was like, that’s success? I guess. I don’t know. And it can be really brutal. So the reframe that I like to work with people on is just really accepting that, and what I have learned to tell myself is that people already don’t like me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, right, totally. It’s not a part of doing business. It’s a part of doing life.

Sally Zimney: Yeah. Oh, for sure, for sure, for sure. The sort of added layer of challenge is that other people can see it, other people can see the rejection and see the personal comments that people might make about your appearance or your opinion or whatever. But if we can embrace the idea that nobody has liked me always ever. You know what I mean? Even though I will tell you, and you’re probably very similar, I was told for so much of my life that one of my strengths was that I was likable, that, “People just like you, Sally.” I used to hear it when I was in the speech circuit in high school all the time. “You’re so likable. People really like you,” which makes it really scary then to potentially-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, because it becomes part of your personality. It’s part of who you are.

Sally Zimney: Yeah. And if that is my gift, that’s what I’m especially good at. It’s like, oh gosh. So I’d better be likable and I’d I better not people piss off or say something wrong or whatever. So it made everything feel a little… I felt a little like, I got to be really careful here.

Well, guess what? Entrepreneurship does not really respond to staying super safe and making it okay for everybody because that’s not even possible. So for me, really I remember the day I had this realization, because I had been replaying these words in my head that somebody had said to me once and it was keeping me from literally getting on social media as much as I knew I needed to. I was just like, “Oh, I don’t want them to think this or think that.” And so one day I just realized, “Oh my gosh, this person didn’t like me before and they’re not going to like me now and they’re not going to like me going forward. Why am I bending myself backwards in order to try and appease this person who just doesn’t like me?” That’s okay. I’m not for everybody. Everybody’s not for me. So if we can just shake off the judgment-

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.

Sally Zimney: … that can be really freeing.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And there’s nobody in the world who everybody is for. It just doesn’t exist.

Sally Zimney: Right. It doesn’t.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think that one of the things I think about in this space is I feel like we all probably have some version of when we talk about things, when we interact with people, some certain percentage of like, that’s going to put off 5% of people. There’s some people who it’s like 50% of the things they say are going to be off-putting. And a lot of those people are okay with that. They just operate in that world. And I think that generally just scales. So then, if you have 100 people in your life, half of them might be like, “Oh, that person is really hard for me to jive with.” And there are people who that might be 1%, the people who would be in that likable category.

But I think it just scales. And so that’s one of the things that’s difficult for people who maybe haven’t had a lot of that in their life is that, as you do scale, it seems like exponentially that number’s going up, but it might just be 5%, but it’s 5% of 100,000. And then suddenly that feels very different, or even 5% of 1,000 or 1% of 1,000. As that number scales, it feels different. But I love what you’re saying about just acknowledging, “Hey, this is life. We are all so very different and we have different upbringings and opinions and we bring different things to the table and there are some people in the world who just don’t like anybody and you’re not going to make those people like you.” And so judgment is kind of table stakes in some ways.

Sally Zimney: It is.

Bjork Ostrom: And to be okay with that and say, “Hey, it’s just part of playing the game.”

Sally Zimney: Yeah. And on a really specific point, what I will often hear from my speakers when they’re feeling afraid of the judgment, of especially something around their appearance, like, “I just watched a video of myself and I hate my arms,” or something. Fill in the blank; “I hate my blah, blah, blah.” And my response is, “We’ve accepted your arms a long time ago because those are your arms. Those are your arms. You have feelings about them, but we’ve just accepted that this is who you are. This is already who you are.”

And so there’s part of the judgment that is just unhelpful baloney, that is really critical self-judgment and that’s never going to be helpful for us as we move on stage. And stage, I use that term really, really loosely. And it’s not that there aren’t things that we can improve upon or that maybe even needs changing, but most of the time it’s a matter of really truly accepting ourselves and allowing ourselves to be seen exactly as we are, knowing that it’s not going to work for everybody and that’s okay.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. There’s this article that Lindsay shared the other day, or talked about, and she talked about this idea, I think it kind relates to this where they did the study and they showed, I don’t know what it is, I’m making these numbers up, but it communicates the idea, 10 people an image of somebody and they’re like, “Pick out the best image of this person.” And they all picked it out and then they showed four images or whatever and then they showed it to the individual, and they talked about how different those were. Our own interpretation of ourselves versus others and how we have this distorted image of ourselves that doesn’t exist for other people, which is kind of what you’re saying, which I just thought was really interesting. I wish I knew what the article was, maybe we can find it and share it.

So we have fear, we have judgment. What’s number three?

Sally Zimney: Yeah. Imposter syndrome. And this comes along with big dreams and new visions and trying things that you haven’t done before at any point in your entrepreneurial journey, I feel like imposter syndrome becomes a thing unfortunately. And yet to me, imposter syndrome is just a reflection of you trying new things. So, one of my speakers actually talks a lot about imposter syndrome herself. That’s kind of her specialty. And she just talks about, we are braving. We are braving. And if you can just be brave enough to try before you feel ready, then that’s how we can push through your imposter syndrome.

So I talked about you’re ready enough. We’re never really ready, but you’re ready enough if we can believe that you want this because it’s in you. You’ve identified this thing that you are going to do, that you’ve said yes to for whatever reason, you’re going on a podcast, you’re hopping on stage, or whatever context, it’s in you. And if you can just trust yourself to brave through that process, you can move through that.

But imposter syndrome is one of those things that it creeps up a lot for a lot of people and there’s something particular about speaking where it creeps up a lot. A lot. And so we talk a lot about imposter syndrome in my world with my speakers because it just goes hand in hand with dreaming big I think. And speaking is brave, it’s vulnerable and it’s brave. So we’re ready enough. You’re ready enough.

Bjork Ostrom: Ready enough. And one of the phrases I’ve used in the past, and let me know if this relates to ready enough, but expert enough. And I think sometimes one of the things that we’ve found to be true is that people feel like, “I’m not the ultimate expert on this.” And I like to talk about people being expert enough.

Well, you’re maybe not the doctoral degree expert in vegan eating, but you’ve been doing it for four years and in some ways, that person who’s been doing it for four years might be able to speak to somebody who’s new and speak to their problems better than somebody who grew up in a vegan family and has been doing it for 30 years.

Sally Zimney: Totally.

Bjork Ostrom: And I would think maybe the same can apply to speaking where you might think you need to be the ultimate expert, but a lot of times you’re expert enough for the people that you’re speaking to. Maybe the one disclaimer with that would be understanding the audience that you’re speaking to. Does that feel accurate? Or are you saying the imposter syndrome, the idea of ready enough isn’t even about subject matter expertise, it’s just about the skill of speaking itself?

Sally Zimney: I think it’s both. I think it really relates to both. Especially, to me one of the powerful differentiators of speaking is that it comes from you. It comes from your experiences, your stories, your point of view. Your lived experience is what makes it interesting. It’s why you’re speaking, because we were talking about this a little bit before; people can find the information online for free right now. You are not the only source of this information. And there are other people talking about the same thing that you’re talking about topically.

And so the differentiator and the thing that is going to bring people along with you are the exact things that make you you. And so it is about whether you’ve been eating vegan for four years, the stories, your experiences, what didn’t work, what did work. Those are the things that you want to bring with you to your audience. And it has nothing to do with what we often think is required or needed in order to belong out front. So it’s really about trusting that you have it within you and that your life experience, as it is, is worthy of sharing, that there is somebody who needs to hear what you have to say.

It’s hard to get there sometimes because we tend to look from the outside in at anybody who is on stage as like, “Oh, I need a book in order to do that.” “Oh,” like you said, “I need the doctorate and to have worked in a restaurant,” or whatever the qualifiers are that we think we need in order to do this. If you can imagine yourself sitting in an audience, it’s the person who relates. It’s the person who is the most human. That’s when we go, “Oh, yeah, thank you. Thank you for bringing your full self into this moment.” And it’s less about impressing people and it is more really truly about connecting with them.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. And I love that idea of there’s somebody out there. For anybody listening who has those hesitations around producing or putting something into the world, I think sometimes what it takes is that one person who then follows up after you’ve said something that has made a difference in their life and holding onto that to see, “I did a thing and it made a difference in somebody’s life.” And we, as a team, have a channel where we just share, “Hey, here are the things that people are saying,” regarding how things that we’re doing in the world is making a difference in their life.

So imposter syndrome is number three. And then how about number four to wrap things up?

Sally Zimney: Perfection. Perfection. And perfection tends to rear its ugly head for all of us at different times, and especially when we are thinking about all of the above avoidances, when we’re thinking about fear or judgment or imposter syndrome, perfection is sort of the perfect Venn diagram, perfect storm avoidance technique is. “Well once it’s like this, then I can do this. Once I’ve got this figured out, then I can do that.” And so really allowing for yourself to show up a little messy, to show up real. That who you are and your stories and your challenges are actually not just something that we want to polish away, but actually what is needed. We need your real, imperfect self in order to feel like we can do it too.

Though I think one of the big mistakes people make when they think about speaking is,“ I can only share everything that’s gone really well. I can only share my very best stuff because then people will admire me and then they will follow me.” And the truth is they want to know that your human experience looks kind of like theirs, even if you’re very different people, they want to recognize your humanity and say, “Okay, if she can do it, if he can do it, if they can do it, then I can do it too.” And so bringing ourself off the pedestal that we think we need to stand on in order to connect, to really connect with people. And so, yeah, allowing yourself to make mistakes, allowing yourself… And then to share your mistakes too is so, so powerful.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.

Sally Zimney: And needed.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I love that. So almost don’t avoid… Lean into your imperfectness. It’s not about being perfect. It’s using it as your advantage as you craft your story-

Sally Zimney: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think we were talking about AI and this world of everything being, I don’t know, actually just served up to us in some way. The more and more that happens, I think the more and more we’re going to be craving people to be people and really human and bringing your full self out front. I think we’re already seeing it, from what I can tell in terms of trends and what’s working and what isn’t working. And I think it’s going to be more and more of that. So, as AI grows, the need and desire for a real human imperfect person.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. I love that. And a great note to end on. For those who want to take the next step, let’s say this resonated with people that are like, “I really want to refine this craft and do better.” Your book is coming out, so this podcast will go out before the book is released, but can you talk a little bit about where people can pick that up? Because I’m guessing you talk a lot about that in the book. And then also, if people want to work with you professionally, one-on-one or in a group setting, if that’s something that they can do as well, if you could talk about that.

Sally Zimney: Sure. Yeah. Okay, so the book, it’s called Speaking Story. I’m just so excited about it. What we’ve been talking about on this show is really about the stories that we tell ourselves in advance of telling stories to other people. And they’re both really, really important because before we can show up and speak a story, we’ve got to really think about the stories that we’re telling ourselves.

So Speaking Story is truly about once you feel like, “Okay, I want to,” and you might be in an “I want to, but” place with it. “I want to lean into my speaking, but I’m not quite sure how, but I need to build my confidence and the clarity around my message and really lean into how to do this well,” then Speaking Story is going to help you do that. I kind of think of it as the guidebook for how to really leverage the magic of storytelling in your speaking.

Storytelling is the persuasive tool to connect with and really move your audience. So you can go to SpeakingStory.com to grab the book, but also to grab what I call a Story Kit. And your Story Kit is going to give you all kinds of fun tools to help you do that. One of which is called the Show Up Anyway Challenge. And the Show Up Anyway Challenge is going to walk you through your four horsemen of the avoidance and really help you figure out what’s the thing that’s holding you back so that you can show your face, use your voice, and lean into stories to connect more powerfully with your audience.

So if you go to SpeakingStory.com, you can grab the book, grab the Story Kit, and connect with me as well, because I do work with people one-on-one, I do some group coaching programs to help people, especially if you are ready to leverage speaking as a revenue and lead generation tool in your business.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Sally, it’s so fun to connect with you. Thanks for coming on, for sharing your story, helping people share their story. I know, for me as we’ve been on our journey, have had a big impact in our time working together and excited to hear from other people who connect with you, whether it’s reading your book or working with you directly. So thanks so much for coming on, Sally.

Sally Zimney: Yeah, thanks Bjork. It was so fun.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hey there, Alexa here. Thanks for tuning into this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We hope you enjoyed it. And if you are sitting there thinking, “Man, someday I’m going to start my own food blog,” or maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “I just started my food blog and I have no idea what to do next.” Don’t worry, we’ve all been there and we actually have a free ebook just for you, and it’s called The Food Blogger Starter Kit and it’s full of different resources just to help you along the journey as you’re getting up and running with your very own food blog. So you’ll get access to our free course all about setting up your food blog, some of our favorite podcast episode recommendations, some tips about plugins and photography, and then just some other ways to continuously learn and get a tiny bit better every day.

If you’re interested in downloading that ebook for free, just go to FoodBloggerPro.com/podcast-start, and you can download it right there for free. We’ll have a link to it in the show notes as well, so you can easily click on that there. Otherwise, you can just go to that URL, FoodBloggerPro.com/podcast-start to download that Food Blogger Starter Kit PDF for free. So we’ll see you next time. Thanks for tuning in again. And until then, make it a great week.

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