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  • Kim Meninger

Revising Our Scripts


Revising Our Scripts

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we talk about the scripts that guide us. We all have scripts that inform our behavior but how often do we stop to examine them to see if they still serve us? And how often do we update them when they aren’t working for us any longer? My guest this week, Kathy Hadizadeh, shares her perspective on the value of deep reflection in helping us to become our best selves. We also discuss the connection between impostor syndrome and anxiety, as well as strategies for how to manage these experiences, including the power of the pause.

About My Guest

Kathy Hadizadeh is a highly accomplished former Tech Executive with an impressive 15-year tenure in the corporate world. Throughout her career, Kathy has worked with renowned Fortune 100 and 500 companies, including DIRECTV, AT&T, and Omnicom. Her vast experience spans across diverse industries such as Technology, Entertainment, Marketing and Advertising, Fintech and Biotech.


In 2018, Kathy embarked on a new journey by founding Heart Mind Tuning, an exceptional agency dedicated to empowering senior leaders in the Tech, Product, and Engineering fields. At Heart Mind Tuning, Kathy offers a comprehensive range of services designed to enhance whole person leadership and executive coaching. With her expertise in Mindfulness practices, she enables leaders to bring about transformative change, both personally and professionally.


By partnering with Kathy and Heart Mind Tuning, senior tech leaders gain a significant competitive edge. Through Kathy's guidance, they develop enhanced decision-making abilities and cultivate a people-centered approach, aligning their leadership style with the needs of their teams and organizations. This powerful transformation not only boosts their executive presence but also fosters a culture of growth, collaboration, and innovation.


Clients who have embraced Kathy's proven Pause to Rise Method have witnessed extraordinary results, experiencing a remarkable 50-70% increase in their executive presence. By mastering the art of pausing, reflecting, and rising with purpose, leaders are equipped to navigate challenges with clarity, authenticity, and resilience. Kathy's unique approach combines deep introspection with practical strategies, enabling her clients to unlock their full potential and achieve exceptional success.


Elevate your leadership to new heights with Kathy Hadizadeh and Heart Mind Tuning. Discover the path to becoming a truly transformative senior tech leader, making impactful decisions, fostering meaningful connections, and propelling your organization to remarkable heights of achievement.


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Transcript


Kim Meninger

Welcome, Kathy, it is such a pleasure to talk with you today. I'm excited for our conversation. And I'd love to start by asking you to tell us about yourself.


Kathy Hadizadeh

Right came in the audience. And I have to say it, the pleasure is all mine. I am very excited to be on this, especially with the topic that we are hitting today. And we're going to talk about it in a second about me, I come from a background in corporate technology and data and engineering for 15 years. And during this tenure, one of my assignments, I was lucky enough to work for DirecTV, under the leadership of a CEO and a CIO, that believed in how we can believe bring fearless leadership to the organization, especially in an organization that was very stress-driven and very, with distress comes a lot of fear. And so that journey opened me up to discovering that a lot of the things in myself, including the fears I've been holding, and I was thinking, well, this is the way life should be I had to go and question myself. And a couple years later, I was presented with a challenge. Not the challenge. Brief brought me to a pause to a complete stop. And I had a chance to rethink my life. And I really liked the kind of discoveries I've made in that kind of program. So I started my own company. And we focus on executive leadership, coaching and mindfulness programs, especially for folks and leaders in technology, product and engineering.


Kim Meninger

Wow. So I, can we go back for a moment, I'm going to ask you what that experience was like what fearless leadership was defined in that organization, and what you took away from that, in terms of thinking about the opportunity for us as individuals and organizations?


Kathy Hadizadeh

That's a very good question. So at that time, the idea was, whatever that we have failed on. And we might be feeling ashamed of it, or we might be afraid of talking about it. Let's just bring it out. So we had a vault of water failure. And people were adding because we had a gamification platform. People were actually competing to bring up their failures or the projects that haven't worked in it. And there is, there is no shortage of projects when you're talking about the company at the size of DirecTV at that time, which had about I think, $20 million worth of development every quarter. So it was an amazing thing to see how the mindset shifts, when we are thinking as failure as a stepping stone, and as an opportunity, versus thinking that oh, my God, I messed up versus the next stone that I can go and hide under it. Hmm.


Kim Meninger

Yeah, that makes such a difference in how we see ourselves and the risks that we're willing to take the ways in which we're willing to put ourselves out there. And you talked about how high levels of stress really affect us, right, they make us much less likely to want to take risks, it's becomes even scarier. So it's interesting, because it's feels so, obvious. The conditions affect what you get from your people, but I feel so much. So much stress and fear-based leadership out there.


Kathy Hadizadeh

Yes, and the be the beauty of what I discovered was came that we are not aware of it, I was not personally aware of how much I was programmed to act in a certain way. And especially if there are a lot of women listening to our, to our conversation, women actually in my work, I have totally seen that you can even categorize how some of these things come across. We will talk about that categorization in a bit. But we put a lot on ourselves and also we tend we tend to sometimes not want to look out those at those things that we do not feel very good about them or not even question them. For example, I was born in a country and in the society that you had to become either a doctor or an engineer. There were many professions in between or they were not regarded highly. So I was programmed in a certain way. Okay, you study you go and get a job and your job you go up the ladder and you do this and you do that any AC there is a lot of expectations set in a person's mind from a young age. And I have not realized that how I'm going based on the script, not ever allowing myself Well, now I have kids, does this script still work? Now I'm living in a country, which my family is far away, I don't have immediate family to support me, I have two little kids, does this model still work for my life? You know, those questions are not very easy questions that we, that we ask ourselves all the time. And sometimes the answers are scary or are not very clear to us. So it makes it even more doubtful if to even one ask that question.


Kim Meninger

I think that's such a good point. Because I often think about it as a function of time, we're moving, moving so quickly, that we're not pausing long enough to ask the questions. But you're absolutely right. There's an avoidance factor there too, because we're afraid of what we'll find when we ask the question. Okay, so can you tell us more about your own journey and how you got to the point of thinking differently, especially because you talk about these scripts, which I think we all have different scripts?


Kathy Hadizadeh

Yeah, I think most of the ambitious high achievers have some sort of script. And to be honest with you, I think those scripts are pretty useful. When we are starting the journey when we are young and driven. I actually, when I'm looking at my kids, right now, I have a 15-year-old Oh, I have to say 16-year-old she turned 16. Last week, I keep thinking 15. So I have a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old and I kind of liked that the script, I think that the script really helped me at that time. And so I would say to some part of our journey, and while you're gaining the experience, you're gaining the credibility. We are trying to know ourselves and our strengths and our weaknesses. Maybe the script is useful to some degree. But beyond a certain point. I think we should start having some pauses and questioning. Am I still in the right track? Does this still feel good? And to answer your question came, I personally at one point, tried to do that, but I failed miserably. I when I became a mom, I Well, I went on a maternity leave which the company at that time we were talking about 16 years ago, they said, Oh, you're going on Disability Leave, which I was like, No, I'm not going on disability, I'm giving birth to the child. But since women are listening to it, I just it was just very mind-baffling for me that we call maternity leave Disability Leave, there was a like, something that I had to deal with it. But I did when I was pregnant, I was struggling with the fact that okay, how do I keep my carrier trajectory and all of these things that I have achieved so far, I didn't know what motherhood will look like, is the journey that I was going for the first time. So I didn't know. So that was my struggle. But when the baby was born, my struggle shifted because I was like, Oh, my God, really so much fun. Now, the clock is ticking because I have to go back to work. Why do I want to go back to work? And I started thinking, I'm not sure if I want to go back to work. But then what happens to you know, money and benefits and all of those things. And my life went in the direction that I did not go back to work immediately after, after my daughter was born. But I had to eventually go back because of the commitments of life. And the reason I am mentioning this is that I had the struggle for years, I had another kid coming and ambition was there. The babies, and the child was there. The ambition was there. I was a human being. I was a daughter, I was a wife. And at one point, I was like, Wow, I feel really like walking this tightrope juggling all of these balls, and then each of them seems to be made of glass. I cannot drop any of them because they can break. So that is a lot of stress. And there's a lot of pressure.


Kim Meninger

Absolutely. I love the way you describe the glass juggling glass balls, right? Because, yeah, it just raises the stakes so much when you're not only trying not trying not to drop something you're trying to drop not to drop something that's so fragile and important, right? Yeah, and it feels really hard. Like you said at various stages of our lives. We don't know what we don't know. So if we're having a baby, we don't know what that experience is going to be like if we're thinking about it. taking the next step in our career, we don't know what that's going to actually look like in terms of our careers in our lives. And so there's a lot of uncertainty that comes with this examination that we're talking about, too. So, so how do you think about the experience of imposter syndrome in the workplace?


Kathy Hadizadeh

Oh, I love this topic because I don't think I don't think there is any week that goes by that that kind of conversation doesn't come up in one of the conversations I have with my clients, whether it is group or one, one-on-one or even, even when I'm facilitating mindful Ness sessions, sometimes when we talk about how we feel people are venturing into those kinds of emotions. So let's first put our definition down of what is impostor syndrome. Imposter syndrome is when we feel our accomplishments or achievements or experiences are not making us eligible for the praise or for the recognition or for the money we are earning. So that imbalance within two is what is it imposter syndrome. Now, based on this definition, the biggest thing is that we will be living in a state of anxiety, because of such definition, because we are thinking, Oh, I'm making this much money, or I have this position. But am I really fit to be in this position? Do I know everything that is needed to be in this position, I'm going to write a spot or somebody is going to figure out tomorrow morning that she really doesn't deserve it, or he really doesn't deserve it. So these kinds of being on the alert for always being found out that a person is a fraud, that reduces anxiety. And what happens in the brain is that it increases the level of cortisol hormone. And while some stress, I mean, there is good stress, and there's bad stress, not all the stress is bad. But this is not a good stress. This is an anxiety-driven type of stress. And that high level of cortisol is not going to serve a person's health and is not going to serve a person's leadership, because then they will not be able to not be effective and confident and assertive in the way that they should be in a certain capacity that they are.


Kim Meninger

I am so glad that you raise this connection between imposter syndrome and anxiety because that's exactly how I think about it as a person who have struggled has struggled with both at various points in my life. And while impostor syndrome is not a diagnosable condition and the mental health arena, those feelings are anxiety-based as you describe them, and they create stress and they make it difficult for us to show up as our best selves to be creative. To be engaged. We're always worried we're always waiting for that moment when someone finds out that we are not we don't actually belong here, right? So, so how do you think about addressing it, then if we look at it through that lens?


Kathy Hadizadeh

Um, that's a good question, I would venture a little bit more first came into the different types of dialogues. When it comes to it is imposter syndrome in their head because imposter syndrome, really is that voice that we carry in our head, there is really no physical, physical thing happening. It's just a dialogue in our head, that translates into the energy. And that translates into the physics because of the cocktail of hormones that gets secreted in the brain. As a result of our mind as a result of our thinking, which impacts our energy in turn, and that energy that gets translated to people around us. So looking at it from that lens, I it might be fun for people who are listening to us that especially when working with the clients, and maybe, maybe women can have more of that in 2020 KPMG did a study I believe that 75% of the women in higher leadership positions were sharing that they are dealing with impostor syndrome. So there are different categories of people when it comes to that. So the category one are the experts, people who believe that they should know everything and feel Will ashamed when they don't. And I can't tell you how many people how many women, especially more men, have seen it in women that they come and say, I wanted to say, but I was not sure if I know everything if they asked me a question. So I decided to stay quiet. So, Category One is expert, then the other category is I call it solo is because they believe that they need to do everything alone. Otherwise, they cannot get credit for that. And guess what, that will not serve your leadership, they can be amazing individual contributors, or thinking that I can do this better than anybody else. And I can do it faster. And that is another case of impostor syndrome because they feel like if I let other people do that, then I have not proven myself, what am I getting the credit for? They are doing it. Why, why should I get credit?


Kim Meninger

Feels like cheating.


Kathy Hadizadeh

Cheating, exactly camp. So you see, there are different types. Another type of it is people who are thinking that they have, they are Superwoman, I see that in a very high-power women, especially high-power women, when they have kids, they really think they have to be superwoman. Some of them, they really think I can do it all whether it is being in the boardroom, whether it is dealing with this thick shareholders of the company, whether it is dealing with the kids will something is going to drop somewhere, if I am not able to hold on to all of these things. And if I'm not able to get the praise, they like to get the praise, but in the in their heart, they are always thinking, do I deserve to praise because No, my kids are not doing very well when I'm on a trip three, three weeks a month. So those dialogues are the things that is that are happening. And it is a different type of imposter syndrome in a way. Because they are still questioning their position, their ability to be a mom to be a leader. And these are all in I call it in the same category.


Kim Meninger

Yes. Yeah, absolutely. And you can see how it shows up differently in different people based on their own scripts, as we've talked about, yeah. On socialization and your own unique experiences.


Kathy Hadizadeh

Yes, you see that the script is coming up. So yeah, we all need a revision of that script at times, Kim. And we need that opportunity to be able to look into that script to see if you need a revision.


Kim Meninger

Yeah, absolutely. So are there specific things that you recommend we do or think differently about to manage impostor syndrome in the workplace?


Kathy Hadizadeh

Yeah, one of the biggest things is recognizing it. I really think sometimes we don't even know what we are dealing with. And that impacts our mood. So one thing that we need to pay attention to, is paying attention to how do I feel? That simple question, you see, we saw Pete we see people in the street and they're always people say, Hi, how are you today? And be very automatically. I think most of the people say good I have I don't see many people who say bad or I'm having a day or whatever the case is people don't want to say good because they don't want to open up to a stranger. But it is important to check in with ourselves How am I feeling? If I am seeing I am losing the drive and motivation in me myself? That is telling me something I have to see why am I losing the driver motivation because as part of the imposter syndrome, the chances are we will have a lower low level of dopamine in our brain. And dopamine is the hormone that impacts our, our motivation, our drive and the envious if you pay attention to why am I doing well not excited about this job anymore? Why not excited about whatever it is that is happening anymore? That is a clue. If you feel that way, you need to stop and become very curious. Like a little detective. Just think about Agatha Christie or whatever detective of your liking Sherlock Holmes, whoever you like, and really become curious and allow yourself to start asking those questions. Now mind you came. I don't think there are many people who start doing this on their own on their own. Because, first of all, we're talking about very busy individuals here. And second of all, if you start asking questions, and those questions are hard, and we don't have an answer right away, how excited are we going about going back and asking that question from ourselves again? So that's why I suggest that people need to think of a support system, when those kinds of things happen. And people, if you're listening to me know, your support system is not your friend, when you call when you're driving in a car, or you're washing the dishes, or you're feeding the kids, because the chances are, they're doing the same thing that you're doing. And their attention is not with you. And if their attention is not what you do, and they don't have the experience, they're not able to be fully present with you, so that you can explore yourself. That's a very good point. Because I have made that mistake, Kim, I've been very honest here because I was thinking that oh, yeah, I'm talking about and I'm bringing up the question. And I was calling my friends and burning their year and with my, my talking and with my asking questions, but I was not one thing I was missing was that they are in the same boat? How can they help me and they are not trained professionals for this purpose? What am I expecting, but that was my lack of knowledge, that at the time, we were talking about 2014 and 15. And at that time, coaching was not as known as it is now. The pandemic coach put coaching on the Raider, definitely, with pandemic mental health and paying attention to our emotions on the radar. Definitely. So those things didn't exist as much at that time. I didn't know anything about coaching. I always had mentors, and I served as a mentor. But coaching is very different from mentorship is advisor is different from mentoring and from coaching. These are all different nuances. So to answer your questions, I gave you a very long answer. But I asked people to take a pause, become curious and see, where is it coming from? A lot of people will tell them or ignore the voice. That is not something that I would recommend people to do. Because if that voice was, if you were able to ignore the voice, you will be in a different position. We cannot just say, oh, ignore the voice, the voice is coming for a reason. The voice is like a nagging child. And it will nag for that ice cream until you pay attention to it.


Kim Meninger

Yes, yes, I use that, that same image. I really liked that. It's there's a there's a reason why this voice shows up. And I really like what you're talking about paying attention and being curious. Because one of the things that I often say is that if you're going about your day, and you start to feel something uncomfortable, it could be anxiety could be frustration could be anything. But as your body's check engine light, right, like on your car, as soon as that leg comes on, that's an indicator that you need to check something out and figure out and you know, sometimes it's a false alarm. Sometimes it's a bigger problem. But it gives you it's a, it's a signal to stop for a moment to pause. And to start to ask those questions like you're talking about what just happened, right? Like, why did why did I suddenly start feeling that way? What's going on? What am I telling myself? Wha,m what are those situational factors that led me to feel this way? Because one of the things that I have come to learn as a someone who has struggled with anxiety my whole life is that you cannot manage anxiety at the anxiety level, it's too hard to get your arms around, you can't just manage the thoughts of Oh, no, I'm going to fail. Oh, no, people are going to find out. It's nothing you could do with that. But if you start to tie that to specific things, like the reason I feel like I'm going to fail is because right now you wheel it down to specific variables that you can actually control things that you can take action on. And now you start to feel like you have more power over the situation, as opposed to just repeating on a loop. All of the things that you've done wrong. All of the ways in which you think you're not actually qualified to be doing the work that you're doing right. There's no There's no way to break that cycle.


Kathy Hadizadeh

Wow, Kim, I really liked what you said in here because it goes back to the principle that you cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created it. So something has to shift in order for us to be able to solve that problem. And you are very right in having that dialogue of I shouldn't have done that. How could I have thought like that? What was I thinking? I mean, these are the things that we tell ourselves. And some people say, then they move on. And some people will spend a day or two or three or a week or a month, saying the same thing. And if we see ourselves in that situation, we need to be able to recognize that how much of our, my time is dedicated to talking to myself like this? And how much am I praising myself or cheering up for myself a cheer leader of for myself, because if you're spending a lot of time in here, then we cannot be in a very positive thinking mode, it will be very impossible in a way because we will not be having this great hormones being, being secreted in our brain, it will not be enough serotonin coming up. Now, we have to consider something here again. And that is the power of having this space maybe with other people even to be able to be vulnerable and share this dialogue, without the fear of being judged. And without the fear of what will these people really think of me? Will they think less of me? And that is one aspect of it when, when we are in a group and you're able to share that the other aspect is that I'm not the only one. That's right. Such a really..


Kim Meninger

Such a relief. And it's so interesting. And this ties back to something you were saying earlier to just when you name it, and then recognize that because there are so many people who to this day, don't know a lot about impostor syndrome, or any of what we're talking about, they think it's just them. And every time I talk about this in a group setting, someone will come to me and say, Thank God, it's not just make, I'm so relieved to know that this is a recognized experience that people have and that it's not just something that I'm going through. And so that alone is very powerful to feel like we're in this together. And we can support one another in the process, huh?


Kathy Hadizadeh

Yeah, I came, I want to mention something this is not impostor syndrome related. But it brought me that years ago, I went to a day of dealing with anxiety with Diana Winston from UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. And she had a beautiful example that I want to share with the audience, which, as a mother, I have experienced in many times, and she was saying that, for example, my daughter comes home and says, for example, my, my hand is hurting. For example. I told her I could see that image, she was portraying inertia or a starting with her hand hurting. What if she has something going on her hand? And what if tomorrow morning, when she wakes up, she cannot move that her and then I have to take her to the emergency room? And tomorrow, I have some, some engagements. Now I have to cancel them or maybe tell them in advance that I have not be able to be available. And look at the story. That the hand hurting we don't know all of these things. And look, this story that will and I, I have done it in my life. With the kids. I mean, they have a fever I write I write a book in my head about their fever. How should I protect myself the next day and the next week if they get sick? Part of it is being a good mom. But part of it is it hasn't happened yet. This moment, I asked myself so I really liked that example that she shared about anxiety because that's what anxiety does to us. It makes us write a book about something that does not exist and it might never exist.


Kim Meninger

That's right. That's right. And I do think that there is in in that there is an intended benefit that there the intention on the part of our brain is to prepare us for that and to help us to feel like we can handle whatever's coming and to, to plan for that. But because like you said it's not real yet. It may never happen. It consumes a lot of energy and it just as easily could be that if, if she's like my son who comes in and says I don't feel good. And I start going through that same story. An hour later, we'll be jumping on the furniture because he suddenly miraculously recovered.


Kathy Hadizadeh

Yes, yes, very relatable. Especially with boys more than girls, I didn't my experience has been like that miracles happen.


Kim Meninger

So it is it's like we, we have this double-edged, you know, part of our brain that wants to help us keep us alive and keep us in control. But at the same time, it creates so much anxiety and doubt, and slowing down long enough to be able to examine it. Is this useful? Is this serving me right now? Is this the only way to interpret this situation? can be very helpful if we can build a habit around that.


Kathy Hadizadeh

Yeah, it brings us to the point that, are we mastering this mind? Or is this mind mastering us? Because we have the mind to serve us. And yes, the mind is equipped with really good mechanisms to protect us. And it's a beautiful thing what we have, but at the same time, we have to be able to train it so that we can decide when does it serve me to be more vigilant? And when does it not serve me to be more vigilant and take actions? I think that's a really key factor. Because we do not live in a world that is that the news is filled with happiness and positivity. So we can get trapped in all the possible layers of anxiety. There is a school shooting happening in our world, there is there are accidents are happening in our world, there's all kinds of things happening in our world. So if we, if we want to get trapped into that some two parts of it is that we have control over some of it, some parts of it, we don't have control over parts of it. So there is a lot to think about around when we want to master our mind. And what we want to feed our mind is a very different conversation. Maybe a topic for another time.


Kim Meninger

Yes, yes. Maybe you can come back. And we'll talk about that, too. I think that's a really important part of this conversation as well. Kathy, this has been such a fantastic conversation. Do you have any final thoughts? And where can we find you, if we if anybody is interested in connecting with you?


Kathy Hadizadeh

Absolutely can final thought is I encourage everyone to pay attention to what they feel and really examine how much of it is a fact? And how much of it is a story as we've been talking about? And yes, they can connect with me through heartmindtuning.com. Also, I'm on LinkedIn, I'm very active on LinkedIn. I probably post like four or five times a week and there are masterclasses, that they have their workshops that they have. If folks are interested, we can definitely talk and as of yesterday, we started the monthly newsletter. So folks, join, subscribe this way, stay in touch. And let's enjoy having these conversations that keep us aware of our mind and how we are guiding our lives.


Kim Meninger

Wonderful. Kathy, thank you so much. And we'll link to those links in the show notes as well. It was such a pleasure to have this discussion with you. Thank you so much for doing this.

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