Posts tagged hustle
Impostor syndrome vs. "fake it 'til you make it"
Dylan Menges of Menges Design is someone who’s not faking it

Dylan Menges of Menges Design is someone who’s not faking it

We all feel like frauds from time to time. We strive for a level of excellence in our craft or profession. Occasionally we will reach the mountaintop. More often than not the best outcomes – which is not to be confused with our valiant efforts – will elude us.

Am I really any good at my craft?”

If my clients or colleagues only knew...”

I’m not measuring up to her work or his work; I don’t know why I keep at this.

I feel like a fraud, a total fake.”

These are the lies we tell ourselves. This is the impostor syndrome in its full glory. But consider the lies you’re telling others if you actually embrace the fake it ‘til you make it approach.

Simple question: do you want to be on the receiving end of some who is faking it?

Now more than ever we crave leaders and makers who can be vulnerable, show a level of transparency, and own the idea that they — and their work — will always be a work in progress. The humanizing aspect of that kind of vulnerability is no longer a weakness, it’s a strength. That doesn’t imply it’s not good, somehow unworthy, or that it’s not the right idea at the right time. It’s more about the continuous improvement of our work and our growth as a leader or maker.


If you’re faking it — or felt compelled to fake it — you have to ask yourself: why am I faking it? Why put more effort into appearing great (e.g., think —> over-hyped web content, making big promises, taking credit for work that isn’t fully yours) instead of focusing on actually becoming great at what you do?

I have a trusted friend who runs a consulting business, and for the better part of 20 years he’s asked tough questions of himself. Am I adding value? Is this where I need to focus my efforts? Who do I really want to impact? He’s no impostor in his field, but he thoughtfully questions how he’s making a difference. If he finds that he needs to pivot, he pivots. That takes serious introspection and a willingness to disrupt the business model. He builds upon a strong base of knowledge and experience and then adds new dimensions to it through intensive learning. For him, to keep doing something that didn’t provide value or meaning for his clients would just be another form of faking it.

My JOY VENTURE colleague Jeremy Slagle is one of the more talented designers I know, and he’ll be the first to tell you he doesn’t have a college degree from a prestigious design school. Instead, he went straight to work and refined a childhood passion into a career. He logged his 10,000 hours early in his career — and it shows. He’s not faking it.

And neither is Dylan Menges. That image of him above is part of a brief & vulnerable video clip on his Instagram account where this highly accomplished designer confronts the lies and embraces the truth through his unique illustration and lettering style. We can benefit from more of this kind of truth telling — to ourselves and with others.


Most people would agree that in business or art, the whole idea of a fake, a phony or a fraud is strong repellent. So how is it this fake it ‘til you make it saying becomes a mantra for the modern-day hustler and their hustle? Do they not see how disingenuous is while also dismissing those who make the commitment to quietly put their heads down, lean in and learn, figure things out, and then strategically move forward? 

Admittedly, I have a like-hate relationship with the concept of hustle. I know some people who hustle hard and in a genuine way. They are makers and doers who are exceptionally strong at their craft, fighting uphill battles daily to do what they love and spread their joy. And I cheer them on.

But too often the image that comes to mind is that of the hustler who places emphasis on the win and to be seen as a winner in all the right places. This is the impostor syndrome rearing its head again, this time with massive doses of overcompensation. Even if the hustler scores a win, there’s this pesky thing called ‘the work’ that still has to happen. Where is the joy in such pretense? How can their be joy in receiving (accolades) if there was no giving (doing the work)? Deception is the opposite of spreading joy. 



Our radars are too keen and well-tuned to sniff out what isn’t authentic.

So keep it real.

Stay humble.

And ignore that voice in your head that says you’re not good enough.

That, friend, is how you will make it.


Don't quit your day job...yet

Four important considerations before embarking on your life-changing pivot

quit 2.jpg

Have you ever felt frustrated with your employer, your current role or your work environment? Perhaps your ire stems from a difficult boss, colleagues who aren’t collegial, or a support staff that doesn’t do that support stuff so well.

If that’s you, then you’re not alone.   

We’ve all experienced work scenarios that lead us down a path of fantasizing about the green grass elsewhere. And maybe you’ve heard the comeback line to that idea, too:

Want greener grass? Water your own lawn.

A helpful mindset? Yes.

Is it actionable? Perhaps.

Will it solve your problems? Not always.

As we meet with individuals who have paved a new road for themselves, found their calling or defined a new way to work, there can be some confusion about the motivation and process regarding how they made it happen. If you’re in that rut and struggling, and if you’re contemplating leaning into that thing you’ve always wanted to do, consider these things first.



Essentially this is the over-romanticized notion of how that thing you’d love to do, the thing you have a passion for, will somehow right a series of past wrongs. But there is a stark reality that we all come face-to-face with in time. When you pull back the curtain on Oz, you realize things are not as they once seemed. There are going to be challenges, shortcomings and strife. You have to keep in mind that your passion is still work, and work is often messy.



One thing we’ve found is that few if any joy venturers storm out of their current role to embark on the new and unknown. Take the story from Adam Grant’s book Originals where he admits to missing out on investing in Warby Parker. At the core of his decision to pass was a belief that the founders weren’t “all in” on their new venture. They were still students of his and actively lining up internships, just in case their online eyewear idea didn’t pan out. To Grant's surprise, it did.

Hedging your bets doesn’t mean a lack of faith in your entrepreneurial spirit or ideas. Our current startup culture often shares narratives of grinding it out or, disingenuously, a fake it ‘til you make it mentality.  Fact is, you still have to eat and keep a roof over your head. Building your on-ramp (call it a side gig, freelancing, your hustle, or whatever) is a way for the cautious entrepreneur to build her or his minimally viable venture – and then improve upon it. For example:

Brittany Baum shares her unorthodox story of gourmet pretzels and selling them at a local farmer’s market to build a loyal following before quitting her job in state government. She hedged her bets and won.

Kenny Sipes was brewing coffee for friends from his home before launching the Roosevelt Coffeehouse and stepping away from his role in youth ministry. As he tells it, it actually became a different form of doing ministry and social justice with coffee as the rallying point. He built and traveled his own on-ramp.



When people are made to do something that they currently are not doing, they feel compelled to pivot.

But what if you’re in the right field, yet feel stuck in the outfield? This is more about adjustment than pivot. Many of our design-driven stories, including Nick Couts, Ben Stafford, Andy J. Miller and Josh Emrich, show us that even when you find your passion or calling, adjustments still need to be made to find fulfillment.

Finding joy in your work is a continual process. You need to feed your curiosity, push your boundaries and try new things from your place of purpose if you want reap the rewards of discovery that lead to a greater desire for your work. Don’t sell this idea short: adjusting can be every bit as rewarding as a pivot.



What are you willing to give up to make your vision a reality?

If we’re honest, we don’t want to give up anything. However, because getting to where you want to go will inevitably cost you something, this is where many dreams die on the vine. The fear of action, and the cost that goes with it, can be a tough pill to swallow. But those who have the fortitude to sacrifice and see their vision through are the hard-nosed realists who become the future models of how to persevere and win.

Take John McCollum: it wasn't easy for him to close down his design firm to lead a nonprofit organization helping orphaned children in Southeast Asia. Instead it was a process, and a realization that rather than continuing to grow his business prowess and design clout, he refers to his decision as “taking the down escalator” in terms of wealth, influence and business success.

Likewise, John Robinson gave up precious time with his family – the very thing he was seeking to gain more of – to work part-time in a bike shop as he pivoted out of the banking industry.  Short-term sacrifices are necessary to reap long-term gains. And in John’s story, he gained his 10,000 hours of biking expertise in unconventional ways to help ensure success when he launched his own bike shop. That’s sacrifice plus an on-ramp.

If there’s a common theme that nearly all Joy Venture stories have in common, it is that passion is good, perspective is invaluable and a thoughtful, calculated approach is what determines who experiences the joy of their labor in the end.

What have you sacrificed? What on-ramps have you built? Have you pivoted or adjusted? Join the conversation online and help inspire others as they contemplate a shift. #joyventure

photo credit: "AMC/Mad Men"