It’s Not About Me
Updated: May 12
Welcome to the Impostor Syndrome Files! Join Kim Meninger and Stephanie Olson as they chat about how leadership is not about you, the leader — a concept that they both agree on. Stephanie also shares how she started her non-profit organization, the Set Me Free Project, which helps educate children and adults to prevent human trafficking. In this episode, Stephanie talks about how she has grown her business while navigating the self-doubts she has experienced along the way. Stephanie shares that framing certain moments as experiments have allowed her and her team to have room for mistakes, which has allowed them to grow. A lot to learn about battling impostor syndrome in this episode so stay tuned!
External and internal undermining:
Stephanie and Kim talk about the unfortunate reality that other people can bring you down and undermine your success because of jealousy or insecurity. Kim describes this as a signal of strength and that it means you’re on the right path. This strength is particularly important when navigating uncharted waters in a new role. Even within a team, Stephanie and Kim both agree that there shouldn’t be a mindset of fear that someone under you in the organizational chart will outperform you because ultimately, that is the goal.
Comparing your worst to other people’s best:
Stephanie points out that people tend to compare their worst to other people’s best, which can lead to impostor syndrome. And our titles, however, high, do not protect us from self-doubt.
About Stephanie Olson:
Stephanie Olson is a speaker, an author, and the CEO of The Set Me Free Project. Stephanie Olson holds a degree in Psychology. Her experience includes:
Seven years of curriculum writing and development for women experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, and alcohol and drug addictions. Ten years of educating women in the area of empowerment and intrinsic value. Nine years of educating youth ages 11-18 in healthy relationships, the dangers of human trafficking, and social media safety.
Stephanie has had extensive training, research, and study of human trafficking prevention education and social media safety. She is a sought-after speaker on women, youth, human trafficking, and social media safety while leading The Set Me Free Project to help prevent youth and young adults from personally experiencing trafficking.
Outline of the episode:
[02:21] About Stephanie and Set Me Free Project [09:29] Creating the infrastructure for protection [12:11] Undermining and overpreparing because of anxiety [17:34] Pressure from titles and the anxiety behind it [21:53] Choosing who to be vulnerable with [27:40] Allowance for failure is a step forward [31:58] Leadership is knowing where to adjust [41:25] How to connect with Stephanie and Set Me Free Project
And many more!
Connect with Stephanie’s Set Me Free Project:
Connect with Kim and The Impostor Syndrome Files:
Brave Women at Work podcast by Jen Pestikas
Apple Podcast: https://lnkd.in/egCr-en
Google Podcast: https://lnkd.in/eyDs-4N
Brave Women at Work: https://lnkd.in/exzT3Am
10 Steps to Being Brave at Work: https://lnkd.in/eABSwGA
Join the free, private Brave Women at Work Facebook Community: https://lnkd.in/esnSb-s
Add this podcast to your favorite player:
Kim Meninger Welcome, Stephanie. I can’t wait to talk with you today.
Stephanie Olson Thanks for having me, Kim.
Kim Meninger My pleasure. Before we jump in, I’d love to invite you to introduce yourself.
Stephanie Olson Absolutely. So I am Stephanie Olson, I wear a lot of hats. I am a wife and the mom of three. In fact, my baby just turned 16 today. So, you know, it’s kind of an emotional day. But I am also the CEO of a nonprofit. And that really kind of rules the roost for me all of, all of that. So yes.
Kim Meninger And can you share a little bit more about what that nonprofit does? It sounds really interesting.
Stephanie Olson You bet. Well, we’re called the Set Me Free Project. And we do prevention and education on the dangers of human trafficking, social media, safety, and healthy relationships. And so we actually go into the schools, we have a curriculum from third grade through college age for youth. And we talk to kiddos about really, that they have an intrinsic value and human dignity that no one can change. And we talk to them about the science of human trafficking, what it looks like, what it doesn’t, you know, what they can do to really protect themselves and be advocates for each other and social media and healthy relationships. And then we also talk to adults of all facets of the community, and especially those working with youth. So parents, but also educators and anyone who might see human trafficking, unfortunately, in their day-to-day, which is all of us, unfortunately, yeah.
Kim Meninger It’s really unfortunate that, you know, I, as a parent like to think that that happens somewhere else. [Yep.] And I’m sure everyone thinks that and so just hearing you say that makes me think, oh, I need to, I need to learn about your work.
Stephanie Olson Yes, yes. We… you know what? Having our head in the sand, it’s nice. It’s warm in there. It feels good. It’s comfortable. But yes, unfortunately, it’s something that, which is really how I got into it, because I had been working with women in the area of domestic and sexual violence and addiction and homelessness. And one of the gals I worked with said, we should really help sex trafficked victims. That’s a quote, having no idea what that meant. And when I started to really research what it looks like, in my community, in the States, and I realized, gosh, this is, my kids are the target, and no one is talking to them. No one’s telling me as a parent. So that’s really how we began.
Kim Meninger Wow. So how long have you been doing this work?
Stephanie Olson About seven years.
Kim Meninger Oh, wow.
Kim Meninger And you shared very honestly, that you feel like a fraud from time.
Stephanie Olson From time to time? Yes. Probably more often than not, but yes, absolutely.
Kim Meninger What does that mean to you? Like, where do you see the impostor syndrome and that kind of self-doubt popping up in the work that you do?
Stephanie Olson You know, it’s really interesting, because I’ve always been somebody who has given the appearance that I’m extremely confident. And, and I don’t know if that’s such a bad thing. But what I’ve noticed in life that even my friends, when I’ve said things like, gosh, I’m feeling really insecure about this, their response is, you can’t be insecure, and they move on. And it’s like, Well, okay, I guess. Okay. And so, that has been something that I have dealt with just all my life. And so when I started running this organization, now, it was really interesting because human trafficking, really back when I started running it, there was no human trafficking education in the schools, there was, you know, you couldn’t get a degree. I think that’s changed now. You can actually study human trafficking. But um, but back when we were starting this, really the education was on the ground. We started by talking to a bunch of individuals who had been trafficked, individuals who were former traffickers, people who were in the industry. And when, when we began to present one of the things we noticed was, a lot of parents are hearing from law enforcement, which is great. But what was happening was that law enforcement was saying things like, and this is what’s happening to your kids. It’s terrifying. Good luck. You know, there were no tools presented. And so when we started, we kind of marketed ourselves as, hey, we’re parents just like you. And we’re going to help you get the tools to safely navigate your kids through this thing. Well, somehow, people in the industry, and I will tell you, the nonprofit industry is extremely competitive, which is ridiculous, because we should all have the same mission, you know, going through the same thing. But for some reason, people in the industry got the mistaken understanding that we’re moms just like you, we’re parents just like you. They added the, we’re just moms in front of the moms, and started to tell people that we had no idea what we were talking about. Now, as a mom, you should be offended by that. Because there is no “just mom”. But what we learned was that we had to prove ourselves in the industry, even more so than anybody else, because somehow we got labeled as just moms, even though I had been in this work for, you know, not the trafficking work. But the social services work in domestic violence. And so I’ve been in that work for years. But that was how our nonprofit, or how people started to label us. Well, we fought that. And we fought that very well. And now we’re very successful. And I think that it’s, we have done some really groundbreaking things in that, that area. But even that kind of a label really kind of affects how you view yourself in any industry. And so taking on the title of CEO, there was a bit of, okay, well, yeah, maybe I’m not the expert I think I am. And maybe I, I mean, I am kind of just a mom, I mean, I’m a mom, but I’ve got all this other stuff. But, you know, I know me, I know, my knowledge base, but I also know my flaws. I know my failures. And so sometimes it’s really easy to just hold on to that piece. And think, okay, my title is CEO, but if anybody really knew me, they would know I’m just not capable of this work.
Kim Meninger Hmm. Wow, I think that you put words to an experience that so many of us can relate to, and especially when I think about what you said, of when you started, there wasn’t a lot to go on. So you created your own infrastructure and learned what you felt you needed to learn. But when there isn’t, when you’re creating your own path, or when there’s creativity involved, I think that’s a really prime time for that self-doubt to creep in. Because we always think well, would somebody else have done it this way? That’s right. Do I really have what it takes?
Stephanie Olson Exactly. Well, and you know, a lot of the, it’s one thing to have self-doubt. And I think we all do. But when I think there are other people telling us we can’t do what we’re trying to do, it really does add to that framework. And… although I’m very stubborn, and that probably just lit a fire under me. It was a hard battle to go through. And, you know, I think that it was a, it was a good battle to go through. Because I did learn a lot, I got stronger. And we have, you know, when you’re, when you’re doing something, literally no one was doing what we were doing. And a lot of people wanted to do what we were doing, and I think that was the key thing. I think there were people that were just jealous. [Yes, I was thinking that.] Yes. And, and so today, we are doing great. I mean, if you don’t, we get in front of eighth-graders and have a great time. Not everybody should get in front of eighth-graders. You know, it’s not something that innately everybody has. But for some reason, it was something everybody wanted to do because I think people tend to want to build kingdoms as opposed to just really be good at what they’re doing and, and that’s where I really had to sit, I had to learn that you know what, I am going to do what I do with excellence. And it’s going to be very streamlined. I don’t need to do this and this and this. And this, I’m just going to do what I know I’m good at, I’m going to do it. Well, I’m going to keep my head down. And I’m just going to keep going. And that self-doubt can creep in. And, and it does. But I also know that I can look at some real strong external things and say, You know what, that was good.
Kim Meninger That’s such an important point, too. And I want to comment on two things that you said. Number one was this idea of other people trying to undercut what you’re doing out of jealousy or feeling threatened in some way. And I think that’s a really important piece to this because it’s easy to internalize other people’s criticisms, and claim that as part of our identity, when in actuality if we were to look at it for what it is, it’s a signal that they see our strength, right? If there is no threat, there’s no reason for them to comment or get.
Stephanie Olson That’s right, you’re not even a blip on the radar. Right.
Kim Meninger So I think that shows up in so many different environments, whether it’s in the situation that you’re describing, or in the everyday workplace where people feel like they’re being undercut by their boss or by their peers. And so I think that’s a really important thing to remind ourselves is that, when that’s happening, it means that you have something, [that’s right] that is making other people feel insecure.
Stephanie Olson Yes, that’s a great place to be. That’s a great place to be in the great grand scheme of things, but, but it doesn’t always feel like that. Yeah.
Kim Meninger Exactly, exactly. Especially when you’re in a space that doesn’t have a lot of definition. You’re forging your own path in many ways. And so it sounds like, on the one hand, there was a lot of stress and anxiety that went along with it, but you stuck with it. And the more that you have learned and invested in what you do, you’re probably stronger for it. I’m wondering if you think that you…I’m trying try to think of the right way to frame this, but, because I think all education that we get is worthwhile, but sometimes we over-educate ourselves, right? Because we feel that need to prove ourselves, as you described. And I wonder if you feel like the pressure led you to over-prepare, maybe more than you needed to. Do you feel like you lost time? Or do you feel like, in hindsight, you would have done anything differently?
Stephanie Olson That’s a great question. No, I really don’t feel like I over-prepared. And I’m a learner, I love to learn. And I’m still learning. And this is an industry, unfortunately, the human traffic, human trafficking industry is ever-changing. And so I think it’s important to be ever learning. What I would say is this, there, there really is a lack of I’m gonna say this carefully because I am all about education. And I think it’s important. But I think sometimes we look at people and we look at their degrees. And we make a judgment call that because they have those letters behind their name or because they have those degrees, they have a knowledge base, that is, that exceeds everybody else, when in fact, sometimes the people who have the boots on the ground are the ones with such a strong knowledge base. And, and I know that every state is kind of you know, I happen to be in Nebraska. And it’s a very strong academic state. And so there is that mindset that if you don’t have a certain number of letters behind your name, you may as well not be doing what you’re doing. And so I do think there’s some of that. So I don’t think I over-prepared, but I don’t think I was prepared, I don’t think I was prepared for the adversity that I was going to be up against. And I think I was a little naive in that, that arena.
Kim Meninger Which is unfortunate. It would have been unfortunate for you to have anticipated that right to have to have prepared for that. It’s unfortunate that that’s part of the process. But it sounds like because of it. You were able to grow in ways that have made you feel stronger?
Stephanie Olson Absolutely. Absolutely.
Kim Meninger So how are you today? I mean, do you find that these feelings continue to strike? I think, unfortunately, most, most agree that impostor syndrome isn’t something we cure, per se.
Stephanie Olson Just take it off and put it back on. Yeah, no, um, you know, there are days where I feel great. And like, I’ve accomplished amazing things, and I feel really good about myself. And then there are days that I think, What in the world are you doing here? And, you know, I, I think those, I think there’s probably a good mix of both of those days. But I think it’s also recognizing, and I think this is really important, something that I’ve had to learn. I had somebody say to me, not all that long ago, that I thought because you had the title CEO. Now, by the way, I’ve always been an anti-title, person, I’ve always hated titles. And when I started, I’m like, we’re not going to have titles in this organization, we’re not going to. And I learned very quickly that titles are important, titles define certain things. And, you know, I wasn’t going to put just a mom on my business card. I had to learn these things. But I had somebody say to me, you know, I really thought because you were Stephanie Olson, CEO, that you had it all together, that you didn’t make mistakes. And so when you did make a mistake, which by the way, is quite often, I wasn’t prepared for that. And so this is what they, they said to me, and I, and it was a very good conversation, we realized, you know, some of the things in our, our working relationship had to be adjusted a little bit because I am just a human being with, with flaws. But I think that’s one of the things I had to really do is look at the individuals that might have, and I still do this, that might intimidate me. So maybe I see somebody that, okay, this is what I’m trying to achieve, this is what I’m striving for. And I have to stop and say, Okay, first of all, I really shouldn’t be comparing myself to anybody. And also that we tend to compare our worst to other people’s best. And that’s what needs to stop, I think, and that’s what helps stop the impostor syndrome is none of us have arrived.
Kim Meninger That’s such a great point. We have such a twisted way of comparing ourselves.
Stephanie Olson Yes, yes.
Kim Meninger And what’s interesting to me about what you say about assumptions that are made based on your title, is I’ve had other conversations with people who have shared with me similarly, they are intimidated by their own title. And so there’s this feeling that I, you know, like you said, I’d rather not have a title. Well, I don’t want to claim that title, because it comes with so much pressure to show up in a certain way. And so I think what’s interesting is that we could probably safely assume that a lot of people who are carrying around those titles, feel insecure behind them. And that can be a strategy for lessening some of the intimidation too. That [right] when we feel intimidated by them, they probably feel just as intimidated by their own titles.
Stephanie Olson Absolutely. That is such a great point. I love that. Yes, yes.
Kim Meninger No, I think most people would prefer to just throw that. I mean, obviously, there are people who, who value certain things, and that also fine, take pride in certain titles. With that, but I do think that for the most part, titles raise the pressure.
Stephanie Olson Yes. I could not agree more. But, and I, and I think that’s just an important thing to recognize that we don’t have to, that, that title doesn’t mean perfection. It just means that this is your role in the organization. This is your responsibility. This is your lane. And that’s really all that it means.
Kim Meninger That’s exactly right. Exactly. And I think a lot of what you’re saying really boils down to this idea of taming the instinct that we have to, to get really anxious, to overinflate the power of something, or the danger of something, the risk of something, and just the ability to catch ourselves doing it and reframe it in a more productive way, which is really powerful too.
Stephanie Olson Yeah. Couldn’t agree more.
Kim Meninger So I want to come back to a point that you made because I thought this was interesting when you said how your friends see you, as confident. So they when you are vulnerable, they just pass right by, I mean, one of the strategies that I often recommend is to share this stuff with other people. But if you have a support network that sees you as the strongest person in the group, it might be, sounds like it could be challenging too.
Stephanie Olson Yes, no, I will say that’s not all my friends, I have some great friends who… one of my best friends said to me once, gosh, you know, I really thought you had it all together, and you just had exactly what everybody wanted. And then I got to know you. I mean, that’s, that’s what you want in a friend truthfully. And so that is definitely not my closest, my closest friends I absolutely can be vulnerable with, but, but I learned very quickly that you cannot be vulnerable with everybody. And that you have to, you know, there are those, those friends or coworkers or whatever it may be that you can be a little bit more vulnerable with. And then there are those that have that surface-level acquaintanceship, or friendship or whatever that may be. And you have to be cautious about who you bring those things to.
Kim Meninger Do you have a sense as to how to differentiate? Because I think sometimes we don’t know that until we’ve learned the hard way.
Stephanie Olson Isn’t that the truth? Yeah. Um, you know, I think that it really is a thing over time. And unfortunately, I’m not sure, if I guess what I, what I think can happen is you can start to reveal little truths that are not the deep-seated vulnerable moments. And if they honor that, then you can start to share more and share more. And so I really do think, Now, I also think that you have to be real careful in working relationships. So if you have a friend, that’s a co-worker, or you know, you have to be real cautious that you maybe aren’t sharing some of those things that could affect your work relationship. Maybe you need a friend outside of the company to do those things with and, and I think it really is just a little bit, you know, give them a little bit of responsibility of your stuff at a time.
Kim Meninger That’s a really good point, I think dripping things to test the waters and see how it goes. And you bring up an interesting point about vulnerability in the workplace, too, because I think there’s been a lot more conversation around being vulnerable as a leader and what that does for the team. And yes, and I agree with that. But you also made me think about the fact that if we’re too vulnerable, we may put too much responsibility on…
Stephanie Olson Absolutely, absolutely. So. And I think you have to be careful where those vulnerabilities are. So instead of vulnerabilities with your team, I would say humility, that’s what needs to happen. So if if you have a team, and you’ve made a massive mistake, you need to be humble enough to apologize, to own what you did wrong, to admit it, and to move forward. I don’t think there’s any time that your team needs to know that you’re going through a deep depression or your kids, whatever it may be, I don’t think… I do think that’s a lot for your, you know, obviously if you’re going through something, you know, I lost my father in 2018. And so that was something that yes, my team kind of went through with me at the time in a small sort of way to be a support or things like that, but, but they’re not there for me to vent to, they’re not there for me to you know, take on my stuff, my responsibility to them is to lead them in a way that empowers them. And that they can certainly come to me with things if they need to. But, but again, just really, I guess, showing them where that line of, of humility, vulnerability is. So that it’s not just I mean, you don’t want it just a big ole crazy cry fest in your office. You know, that’s, that’s never the emotions go in, that’s never a good things.
Kim Meninger Reminds me of parenting. I mean, I think it’s hard for a child to have their parent offloading on to them, right, I think we want to feel just as we do in our homes, we want to feel safe in our work environments and feel like our manager is leading the way and has it, has things under control. And so that’s a really good distinction between humility and vulnerability or insight, sharing.
Stephanie Olson Right, right, exactly. And I think it’s okay to say to your team, you know, hey, I’ve got this idea. We’re gonna give it a shot. I don’t know if it’s gonna work. Let’s see, let’s do this together. I think those kind of, I’m not sure that’s an insecurity, or that’s just admitting that you don’t know everything. I think those are the kinds of things that just make you real human. And, you know, those are the things that are really important, or, Hey, I’m just really sick today, I’m not feeling my best, I just need some space, I need whatever, whatever it may be. But I think there really is a difference between being too vulnerable and just being really honest.
Kim Meninger And you, when you mentioned that piece about, I’m not sure what the outcome is gonna be, but let’s give it a try. To me, that’s also modeling. Yes. The whole sort of experimentation style that allows for failure, because I think one of the things that’s so closely tied to impostor syndrome is perfectionism, and we’re so afraid to get it wrong that we will avoid risks pretty much at all costs. Right? And so if you model that, it’s okay not to know if this is gonna go well, we’re learning we’re experiment, then you encourage other people, you let them know, it’s safe to do that too.
Stephanie Olson Yes. And you do get to fail. And I tell my staff, it’s not if you fail, it is truly when you fail, you will screw up. And that’s okay. As long as it’s not malicious, intentional, immoral, or illegal. You’re good. Right? And, but otherwise, you are going to mess up and, and when you do own it, and let’s move forward.
Kim Meninger Yeah, I think that’s such an important part of today’s work environment, too, because we can’t, the kind of work that we’re all doing can’t be done perfectly. Just like we’re talking about getting started in your work. There’s no blueprint for how we create the next generation of technology, or how we solve this new problem over here. All of it involves creativity, involves risks, and, and the more we feel like it’s okay to do that, to be human and doing that, the better we will be at solving these complex problems.
Stephanie Olson Yeah, I love that. Yes.
Kim Meninger And what you’re doing mission-wise is so important that I can imagine that it would have been easy for you, especially early on when you were labeled just a mom, right to just throw in the towel and say I give up, right? I’m just gonna go do something else.
Stephanie Olson I still think that every once in a while I’m like, Why did I do this? You know, it started with two of us. It was just two of us. And it would have been so easy to walk away. Any point back then. But yeah, I think that it really and when you know that, that you are supposed to be doing what you’re doing, you know, this is where I’m supposed to be. And I think that you can admit, but I don’t know everything. I need to rely on people who are smarter than me or people who have been through this or have lived experience whatever it may be. I think that’s the key. And I think that’s what I see most often with, with people who are who maybe don’t make it to that next step is that they are not willing to play well in the sandbox with others. And that is a really, that’s a really hard place to be because you, you want it you know, I want to hold on to the control. I want to hold on to the glory Whatever it may be. But I think in order to really go to that next level, you have to play in the sandbox with other people and maybe get some sand kicked in your face. It’s so there may not throw some sand, I’m not, I’m just saying. But yes, it’s important.
Kim Meninger And it’s also if we can get past the threat to our ego that comes, it’s so liberating to be able to say, I have a piece of the overall puzzle. And all of these other people have other pieces and don’t have to do it alone. Like…
Stephanie Olson Yes. Oh, my gosh.
Kim Meninger How nice is it not to have the full burden of responsibility?
Stephanie Olson Yes, yes, it really is. I, I’ve always been kind of a leader. Personality, I think. And when I can be a follower in a situation, it is so freeing, it’s just, oh, my gosh, I’m just gonna let you take the lead. And I’m just going to enjoy this. And, and I think that’s something too, that I’ve also noticed with impostor syndrome, one of the things to get away from that feeling like, I can’t handle this, I can’t do this. What, Why am I here is really allowing others in your world, whether it be your, your company, your whatever, take on those leadership roles, and excel at them, you really do want people who are working for you to be better than you. That is ultimately the goal. And I think a lot of times what I see is those, those leaders who are just trying to do everything or aren’t willing to let go of this piece or that piece, and it really kind of drowns them.
Kim Meninger Absolutely, absolutely. I think it shows up in so many ways. And one of the things I think about a lot but don’t, haven’t talked about as much on this show is what happens when you work for someone with impostor syndrome, right? Because I think the effect on the team is, is, is really important to acknowledge, like you said, I mean, if I, if I as the manager feel threatened by your success, if I worry that you’re going to overshadow me in some way, that’s going to influence the kind of work that I give you, the way I talk about or communicate your work to others, we’re going to essentially now be competitors instead, right? There’s a lot that happens when you’ve got leaders who struggle with this.
Stephanie Olson Yes. And, and I think that can be a very stifling place. And it’s really hard to thrive in those situations.
Kim Meninger Absolutely. Now, one thing you said that really jumped out at me and I use this as a strategy too, is when you know you’re meant to be doing what you’re doing. I think connecting to your purpose, being connected to that higher-level mission is another great way to work through some of the day-to-day challenges because I’m sure the road is bumpy. But overall, there’s that sense of satisfaction of I’m moving this mission forward.
Stephanie Olson Right. Right. And sometimes it is just, you know, in our case, one kiddo at a time, that that we see something that happens and it’s just, okay, this, it’s just a reminder, this is why I’m doing what I’m doing. And we had an interesting situation, I was training someone on our healthy relationships presentation. And our healthy relationships presentation is very conversational, but it was really written so that you could adjust to different age groups, but had a lot of conversation of dating violence and, and things like that. And we are very careful not to you know, we don’t want to say okay, perpetrator or victim, because there are both in the room and so you need to speak to the entire group. Well, we were talking to a group of eighth-graders, and it was the weirdest situation I have ever experienced truly. And I’ve been doing this for a long time. But what we what I realized I had like four kids kicked out of the classroom by, by their teachers and, and they were being disrespectful and it was just, it was just bizarre. Normally they, we have a great time and it’s a lot of fun. And what I realized in that presentation, was that we, that what happened was the conversations we were having, having with these kids, it was kind of a newer presentation, were a little old for them or a little. And so because they were not internalizing the conversation, I’m hoping this makes sense that they were externalizing it. So now we’re talking about things like dating violence. Well, if you’ve got a kiddo who has never dated, who are they going to start thinking about? Their parents, they’re not gonna think about themselves, they’re gonna think about their parents. Well, this happened to be a community where there was a ton of abuse, a ton of drugs. And so parents were not really being parental, they were being, they’re in abusive relationships there. And so kids were getting triggered left and right by this conversation. So the next day, so I left that, that presentation, I was like, what in the world happen? The next day, we were doing the same presentation with seventh graders. And so I spent the night just thinking, Okay, well, what happened? Realize that was what was going on, adjusted the presentation to really fit that age group. It was night and day, these kids responded in a way that was so different and so cool, and I actually had a seventh-grader say, I really appreciate the way you presented that, that was fantastic. I’m like, wow. That is you’re welcome, seventh-grader. It’s just crazy. But I think that one of the ways to really knock that impostor syndrome feeling is being willing to sit because I couldn’t figure out what was it? Was it the presentation? Was it the, you know, and I write some of the curriculum, so I could definitely say, Yeah, okay, did I do something wrong there? Was it the way I presented it? Was… Or was it just these nasty rotten kids? You know, that’s, that’s what I’m going through in my head. And, and I had to really come away with Okay, no, I think we can make some changes and do something different. And, and not beat myself up over the fact that, oh, I just presented that horribly, or whatever, or not blame it on the kids, and adjust that way. And I think that’s one of the things that I’ve had to learn. I can’t take it personally. It’s not about me. And if it’s not about me, then I have to look beyond that to, to come to a resolution for something that’s not working. And I think that’s a huge piece to fighting that impostor syndrome. It’s, it’s not about me.
Kim Meninger That’s such a perfect example. And I think what you shared is painful. I mean, if you have a presentation that doesn’t land the way you want it to.
Stephanie Olson That’s an understatement. Yes.
Kim Meninger That is really challenging. I mean, we can’t help but internalize, we are just naturally egocentric beings. But what I love about what you shared is we, anything we do can probably be done better. And if you, if those kids hadn’t acted up, you might not have had enough feedback to know that there was a more effective way to connect with your audience, which once again, isn’t about you. It’s about fulfilling the mission. And so you had this, you know, disruptive, painful moment, but it led you to course correct. It led to an even better product, the next time.
Stephanie Olson Exactly, exactly. Yeah.
Kim Meninger And I think that’s, that’s a really powerful way for all of us who have been in that situation, or who will be at some point because it’s inevitable. Yep. Think about it, as I know, it sounds impossible to think about, but think of that as a gift. You know? Because…
Stephanie Olson Yes. No, it really is. And I think that because we only grow through adversity, we only grow through challenges. We don’t grow through the great times. And that would be awesome if we did and everything was fantastic. But it’s through those difficult times that there is growth. And so it really is a gift when we have that opportunity to, to change and you know, readjust and pivot and make things better.
Kim Meninger Absolutely. And I could seriously stay here with all day with you. This has been such an amazing conversation. Loved it. I know and I have to tell you, that it is taking every ounce of strength I have to resist asking you tons of questions about human trafficking and all the work that you’re doing. So I’m going to check out your work. For anybody else who’s thinking something similar, where can we find you?
Stephanie Olson Absolutely yes. Setmefreeproject.net That is our website. And we love to do, especially for, for parents and communities. Get a group together, we’ll do a virtual presentation and even our virtual presentations we find for adults, they tend to be more effective because you know, you can be at home in your jams. And you can anonymously ask questions and, and we still have a fun time. One of the things we do with all of our presentations is make sure that they are engaging, interactive, and despite the topic, fun. And so we do, we try and bring a lot of humor. A lot of, we say we take our topic very seriously, we do not take ourselves very seriously. [Oh, yeah] If you, there’s a option to request an educator, or just email me directly at Stephanie S-T-E-P-H-A-N-I-E at setmefreeproject.net. And I would love to present to your group. So…
Kim Meninger And I will make sure that that is all included in the show notes for anybody who is interested. And I want to thank you again, Stephanie, for just being so honest about your own experience. You obviously had a lot of success. You’re doing amazing work and you still struggle. I think you’re a perfect example of the fact that we can be looking to the outside world like everything is going well. But each of us has our own internal, invisible struggle and we’re all working through it. And I think the, the insights that you shared, the strategies that you shared will undoubtedly help others as well.
Stephanie Olson Thank you. I’ve had a great time. Kim, thank you for having me.