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Stop Climbing Someone Else’s Ladder

Stop Climbing Someone Else's Ladder

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we talk about the importance of building our own dreams and not climbing someone else’s career ladder. My guest, Amy Pocsik, shares her personal story of walking away from a “successful” career to start her own business. She also shares insights for others who feel like there must be something more.

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About My Guest

Amy Pocsik is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Women’s Business League – a community where powerful businesswomen connect, grow and prosper. Her superpower is working with female entrepreneurs and business owners to identify – both the challenge points and high points – so that they can exponentially increase their success. She helps others understand the power of creating space so you can reach your next level.

Amy is also the Founder of Bold Moves, a platform where she partners with female founders to make an impact, helping them own the role of CEO – professionally and personally. Because she knows what it was like to be in the opposite position, unfulfilled and longing for more. That’s why she made it her life’s work to make sure every woman is empowered to achieve a bold vision for her life and business.


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Kim Meninger Welcome, Amy, I’m having so much fun already talking to you even before we hit the record button, so I can’t wait to continue this conversation. So let’s start by having you introduce yourself.

Amy Pocsik Awesome. Kim, thank you so much for having me. I am just thrilled to chat with you. And also this incredible topic. It’s so important. So my name is Amy Pocsik. I’m the CEO and co-founder of the Women’s Business League, which is a national networking community for powerhouse women who come together to connect, grow and prosper. I also recently launched my business coaching platform called Bold Moves, where I partner with amazing female founders to really own the role of CEO personally and professionally.

Kim Meninger That’s so exciting. And you shared a little bit with me about your work. And I’m sure we’ll hear more about it, too. As we’re moving forward. I want to hear more about your journey. How did you get to where you are and has impostor syndrome played a role in any of that?

Amy Pocsik Yes, I love this question so much. Thank you. I started my journey, I think back to the college days, which was so much fun. And I studied accounting, finance business. That was the path that I saw before me, graduated and worked for one of the top firms in Boston, which I was so thrilled to land that job, I’ll never forget that. And I started climbing the corporate ladder. You know, I often joke that I was a people pleaser, who grew up to be a box checker who graduated to be a ladder climber until I realized I was climbing someone else’s ladder. So I, you know, I was climbing that ladder, I even got a master’s degree in accounting, I got my CPA designation. And I didn’t really pick my head up for a really long time. But as I was so busy working, I had this feeling deep down in my heart that there had to be something more. So although I really enjoyed the work I was doing, I was always great with numbers, math came easy to me. I felt in my heart that there had to be something more than being in finance. And accounting wasn’t all that there was for me. And so although I was happy in many areas of my life, I felt very unfulfilled in my work. And so I was having this, you know, this gnawing feeling in my heart and just kind of pushing it aside. But there was a game-changing moment. And it came when I had lunch with a mentor of mine, who was climbing the same ladder, but she was about 15 years ahead of me. Now, she had no idea that I had been feeling this way. And over lunch, she described to me that she felt like she missed her chance of building her dreams. She felt that her relationships had suffered because she had been working so, so much and her energy was dried up. And as she was telling me this, it was like, I was looking into a crystal ball in my future if I stayed on this path. And in that moment, I made a decision, I am not going to settle in my one and only life.

Kim Meninger Wow. Wow. So what happens next when somebody, because I can imagine there are a lot of people listening who probably have similar feelings, but have no idea how to actually convert that into action. When you came to that realization and made that choice for yourself, what did you do?

Amy Pocsik Yeah, I love that question so much. So the first thing that I did was I gave myself permission to hold the space for that dream in my heart. And what that meant was that I was going to allow myself to consider alternatives. So I was going to pick my head up from being so busy with my work and carve out some time and space to consider what else was possible for me. And so what I started to do was think about what were my interests? What did I see people doing that I thought was really exciting? What were my skills and as life would have it, it’s always throwing us curveballs I became pregnant with my first son. So that completely turned my world upside down in the most happiest way ever, I had always wanted to be a mom. And so I took, I was very fortunate, I was able to take a year off, and completely relish in this time in my life that I’d waited for for so long and be a mom. But I knew that when it was time to go back to work, I wasn’t going to go back into accounting, I wasn’t going to go back into finance. And so I wish I could say that I had it all figured out. But it was far from it. The only inkling that I knew was that I was interested in real estate. And I was good at numbers. So I put those together, and I became a mortgage broker overnight. And it was the first time in my life when I had to go out and actually get clients. So I started networking with anybody who had a pulse and a business card. I went to every networking event you could imagine, but what that did so what that did was, it really forced me out of my comfort zone. It got me out meeting other entrepreneurs, hearing other stories, seeing what else was possible for me. And in the end, that’s what really nudged me onto my entrepreneurial journey, because I realized there was a real need for a networking community for women.

Kim Meninger And I think there’s so much power to what you’re saying too, because I, you know, I think many of us have had that experience of feeling like there must be something more than this. I certainly have. But it’s also really hard to, to see the path forward, because you don’t know what you don’t know. And until you create opportunities to get access to different pathways and different alternatives, like you described them, you just don’t know what’s possible. And a lot of times, we also tell ourselves stories like, oh, that’s a fantasy, that will never happen. And it’s not realistic, whatever. You know, whatever version of that narrative is running through our brain. So I love that your story includes an interim step too that reflects the strengths and interests that you had. And then by virtue of the activity that surrounded that, you were able to get to an even better place.

Amy Pocsik Yes, 1,000,000%. So we have to get into action, right? The worst place to be when you’re making a big change is inside your own head. You’ve got to get out there and experience things. And you’ve got to get out there and talk to people and see what lights your heart up. It’s only through being in action that you’re going to learn. And for that I’m so glad that you you mentioned that because it’s it’s a critical step.

Kim Meninger Absolutely. And I personally have always felt like my own head is a very dark place. It’s a dangerous place if I stay there for too long. And so I have always been somebody who’s been very action-oriented. Because I have a lot of anxiety, I know that about myself. I know that if I sit and think for too long that I will, my imagination is always so much worse than reality. So I would rather do something, I’d rather take some action and test out what might be possible than to sit there and just replay my thoughts.

Amy Pocsik Yeah, I love what you said about the stories running in our heads. So I have this story running in my head. So at that point, at the high point of my career, I had, you know, a six-figure salary. I was a CPA, I had my master’s degree, I was negotiating million-dollar contracts. So I have the story running in my head like you’ve built this, how could you possibly walk away from a successful situation? And I’m saying that with air quotes because it was a success from the outside in. It was the success by the world standards. But by my own standards, it was falling very, very short.

Kim Meninger And let me ask you about that too. Because I think that’s such an important point when you have invested a lot of yourself in your career, whether that’s educational, whether that’s just experience, and you are on paper, the definition of success. Sometimes the story that we tell ourselves when we realize this isn’t where I want to be is one that we turn inward and say, well, there must be something wrong with me. Why don’t I want what other people would kill for, right? Or everybody around me seems to be doing well, why? What’s my problem? Did you make it about yourself?

Amy Pocsik I love that so much. I’m so glad you brought this up. Because I think it’s so important to take a stand for yourself. For me, it was this decision that I am going to build my dreams, my dreams deserve to be built, your dreams deserve to be built. If you don’t take a stand for yourself, nobody else can. Right. I think in the beginning, when you’re making a major life shift, you have to be your own cheerleader first before anybody else is going to cheer for you.

Kim Meninger Yes. And what’s so important about what you said is, you were, at the time of this transition, it wasn’t about entirely, it wasn’t about getting out of, it wasn’t an escape route from where you were, it was about running towards. [Oh, I love that.] So that creates less space to be focused on the negative side of what’s not working. Any, any sort of doubt, or, I don’t know, negative feelings that you might have about that situation because your excitement and energy was focused on the future.

Amy Pocsik Yes, and I want to be clear about something too. I built my business, my dream alongside the work that I was doing. So I want to be really honest and open about that. I kept a couple of anchor clients that were paying my bills while I was building my dream. What that does is it takes the financial burden off of the creativity. Right. So it allowed me to continue to feel unburdened by that financial necessity in the beginning. So I built my dreams alongside of what I was doing previously. I think that’s a really important distinction. Because often people will say, well, oh, you know, well, your paycheck must not have mattered, no, my paycheck did matter. But I’m a big fan of building alongside.

Kim Meninger That’s a great point, too, because I do think that it might feel to some people like, yeah, well, that would never be possible for me, right. And there is a pragmatic element to this, we have to pay attention to the financial side of our lives, and it may not feel feasible to just run off and build your dreams, right. So the fact that you’re talking about this as being a plan that accounted for that is really important.

Amy Pocsik Yes, absolutely. But there’s always a way. So once you make a decision that you’re going to hold your life and yourself to a higher standard, the way to do that will always appear. Because what happens is you shift your focus and what we focus on, we create more of. And so if you are focused on building your dreams, you’re going to see opportunities, resources, people are going to come into your life. And you just keep taking that right next step.

Kim Meninger So for people who are not clear on what the dream is, because I think this is part of where we get stuck too, is we know we want more, but we have no idea what that looks like or what kind of a conversation to have. And one of the things I hear a lot from the women that I talk to is I don’t want to talk to other people until I have a clearer sense of the story. But it becomes this vicious cycle because I can’t get the story until I talk to other people. And I won’t talk to other people until I have the story. And so I’m curious, what kinds of questions did you ask? What kinds of conversations were you having early on?

Amy Pocsik Yes, I love this so much. When you think back over your life, I started to consider what projects did I love working on? What type of interactions did I love? what was I interested in? If I had to spend my life my working life 40 hours a week doing something and money wasn’t an issue. What would I do? Right? What are my skills? What lights my heart on fire? What am I interested in? And then I started just having really honest conversations with people. Hey, you know, I’m considering a career change. I’m looking at doing something differently. Would you mind sharing with me what your day-to-day looks like? And people want to help. Chances are, they’ve been in a similar situation before and somebody helped them. And the truth is people love to talk about themselves.

Kim Meninger Yeah, yeah. And I think people want to feel special, people want to feel important.

Amy Pocsik Yeah. And you bring up such a great point, too. I think when we’re, when we’re trying something new, we want to feel confident. But the truth is, confidence is the result. It’s not the requirement. The requirement is courage. What you need to start and build something new is courage. And courage comes from the heart. Courage comes from the decision that you’re going to build your dreams. And the confidence is earned through the experience and the doing.

Kim Meninger That is such a beautiful way to say that I always say, you know, confidence follows action because I wholeheartedly agree with you. You don’t wake up one morning and say, Okay, I’m ready, right? I’m confident now I’m going to go after my dream. You, you take the action first, and then you start to feel confident I love this idea, result not requirement and the courage being the requirements is absolutely, it requires that we do something uncomfortable. And we often have a tendency, at least in my experience, to focus so heavily on what we’re going to lose. If we walk away from the situation that we’re in now. We get tangled up in either the practical aspects, like we talked about the financial risk, or what is it going to feel like to walk away from something that we spend so much time building, but we don’t necessarily pay as much attention to what the potential loss is, if we don’t follow the dream? What is the risk was the loss, what is the consequence on our lives? If we don’t go after something that we know is going to bring us far more fulfillment than where we are today?

Amy Pocsik Oh, my gosh, I have goosebumps, this conversation is such fire. I love it. I love how you say we get tangled up, because that is exactly the sentiment. That’s exactly the feeling. And again, it goes back to what we focus on radiate more of I love this idea of what are you gaining? Right? Do you want to look back at your life and think, Gosh, I settled to me, that was soul suffocating. And I didn’t want to settle on my one and only life.

Kim Meninger That’s such a great point. And I think that just reminds me on a personal note of I didn’t meet my husband until I was in my early 30s. And we got married shortly after that. But I remember throughout my 20s people always saying to me, why are you still single, you’re too picky. This is my life. I want to make sure I’m making the right decision. And so similar in principle, right is we, we owe it to ourselves to not settle to feel and, and I want to go back for a moment to what you talked about before of the transition process of making sure that you’re covering your expenses that you there, it may not be you that you skip straight from A to Z there’s steps along the way. But how much scarier is it to stay in a life that is draining you that you know, is not the right fit for you than to take those leaps of faith to move you towards something greater?

Amy Pocsik Yes, a million times over Yes, I love that so much. I don’t want anybody to live a life. That is unfulfilling because I know what that pain is like, I know how much of a toll it takes on your relationships, how much it takes on just your whole life in general. But when you are lit up about the work that you’re doing every day when you feel in alignment, that your, your skills, your talents, your gifts, are being used in service to others in a way that is genuine and authentic to you. I am telling you, it is the most incredible feeling. And you show up in the world so differently.

Kim Meninger Yes, and I think that’s a really great point about confidence too because I was trying to think about the turning point for me. I spent a lot of my life with impostor syndrome and always kind of feeling like this isn’t quite right. I don’t belong here. Something doesn’t feel right. And I feel more confident today than I ever have in my life. And it’s because I truly believe In what I’m doing, I truly believe that I have something to offer. I know who I am, I know what I’m doing. And it’s kind of funny because I do a lot of speaking, I speak about these kinds of topics. And I had an opportunity to speak to my former company that I worked at for so many years, and which was really the peak of my impostor syndrome. And so many times, I would sit in meetings and think, oh, my gosh, I have nothing of value to contribute, people are gonna figure out, I don’t know what I’m doing here. And then I come back as an outside speaker. And I had no problem speaking to a group of, you know, so many people that were, you know, probably former colleagues, because I was speaking about something that I am truly passionate about, right. So I wasn’t different, it was still the same, I was the same person in both of those contexts. But the situation was very different.

Amy Pocsik Ah, I love that so much. You know, one of my core values is contribution. I believe that our gifts and talents are in us to serve others. And when you’re in that flow of your life, it’s incredible. It’s absolutely incredible. So I love that you went back into a space from a position of strength, and you just blew it out of the water, I can’t imagine it must have been incredible.

Kim Meninger Well, you’re so right too about that coming. Because I think about that a lot, too, is there’s no greater confidence strategy than being of service than coming from your greatest strengths. And in service to others. We just feel so much more. I think we feel so much more in connection with our value. But we’re also so much more externally focused, we’re not paying attention to the inner critic, that inner dialogue that’s holding us back, the flow is a great way to describe it.

Amy Pocsik Yes. And I think there’s a second part to this. So once you get really clear on your gifts and your talents, it’s like, okay, great. And then you find a place to serve, right. But I think what comes up for a lot of people, and it certainly came up for me is like this feeling of Well, wait a minute, what if nobody wants my gift? Another inflection point, right, that you kind of have to get over and say, Well, you know what, I’m just gonna see, and giving yourself permission to try. So I think that’s another hurdle that can be really hard for people, they might know what their gift is. But they’re scared that maybe there’s not an outlet for it.

Kim Meninger That’s a really good point. On a practical level, are there ways that you have found to test that?

Amy Pocsik Yes, 1,000,000%. So I always say, um, you know, from a business standpoint, when you’re bringing your business to life, the first thing you want to do before you even get into the branding process, and the building and all of that is to cozy up next to your customer, like two teenagers in a movie theater, pre-COVID. So you want to do things like conversations, you want to do some market research, right, you really want to get dialed in and understand their pain points, and then see if there’s synergy between what you have to offer, and what their needs are. And then once you understand that you can build a business. So I always say a business is built on relationships. So the first relationship you want to get really dialed in is between you and your ideal client.

Kim Meninger That’s a really good point, too. And I think you can do this in different ways, in ways that feel more natural to you. I think that the one-on-one conversations are really powerful. For me, I think the first time I realized that I had hit gold with this whole conversation was when I did a presentation on impostor syndrome to my alumni organization. And it broke all of the attendance records prior to that point. And I remember thinking, oh my gosh, we’re hitting a nerve here. And from that point forward, I started promoting this as my signature presentation. And every time I showed up, not, not this has nothing to do with me. This is all about the conversation. People would just flock to it. And so it made me that for me was a definite signal that there is value in what I’m talking about. And so whatever opportunity you have, whether it’s writing, speaking, just having conversations, there’s plenty of ways to test the message.

Amy Pocsik I love that so much because it speaks to the fact that you had to step out, right? You have to step out first. Before you can really see whether it is hitting a nerve.

Kim Meninger Absolutely, absolutely. And that goes back to the courage, right? Because we’re never going to find out if we don’t try.

Amy Pocsik Yeah. Last Mother’s Day, I had written an article called How to CEO like a Mother. And I was it was very authentic and genuine to my heart. But I had no idea how it was going to be received. So I put it out on LinkedIn. And I remember, I posted it, and I went, it was, it was at night. So I went up to my bedroom. And I said to my husband, I don’t know if I should put it out there. You know, all the, all the fear, doubt, worry was coming through my head. And he said, just go to bed and wake up in the morning and just see, well, I woke up in the morning, and clearly, from the feedback, it had, you know, hit a nerve again. So I think giving ourselves that space to put something out there, it takes a tremendous amount of courage. And I don’t think that it ever, the fear never goes away is what I would say.

Kim Meninger Mm-hmm. Yeah, and I, I think one of the things that has been really helpful for me is to recognize that fear, anxiety, this, that physiological response is the same as excitement, there really isn’t a difference in terms of what’s happening to us physically. But the difference is in the story that we tell ourselves, so it’s gonna feel scary. But that scary is excitement. Because if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t feel anything. So I think if you tell yourself the story of I’m really excited for this opportunity, I’m really excited for this conversation or whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re going to have a very different experience than if you give into the fear.

Amy Pocsik Yes, I love that so much. And one of the, one of the sort of tricks that I learned along the way, was really setting an intention before every project, every interaction, I set an intention before this conversation today. And really getting purposeful about what do I want my desired outcome to be? How do I want to feel, at the end of whatever the next situation, our whatever it is ahead of me? And doing that consistently has been a game-changer.

Kim Meninger That’s a really great practice for anybody, even if you are happy in the role that you’re in, or you’re not anywhere near a time when it feels like you’re ready to make a change. We can do the kinds of things that you and I are talking about in our everyday lives already, just by thinking about the kinds of questions that you just raised.

Amy Pocsik Yeah, absolutely. I think no matter where you are, and for some people, the corporate life is what works for them. And that’s fantastic. It’s just understanding, what is your purpose? What is the work that you’re meant to do? How do you show up in this world, the most authentic and genuine version of yourself in this season. And I say that because I believe as women especially, we have different chapters of our journey. And we’re always reinventing ourselves. So understanding that each season of your life requires different pieces of you, is really powerful.

Kim Meninger Ooh, that’s a really good one, too. I like that a lot. And that, that can help when we’re feeling, you know, like things are changing. And we’re maybe feeling a little bit of an identity crisis, like why this used to be something that I really enjoyed. Why do I no longer feel this way? Right? Things are changing. And I think setting the intentions around who you want to be, you can be who you want to be in any situation, let’s, let’s even imagine a boring example of going to a meeting at work. It’s so easy to just be on autopilot and go through the motions. But if you ask yourself ahead of that meeting, who do I want to be in this meeting? How do I want other people to experience me and the contributions that I’m making? What impact do I want to have? How do I want to be of service? That can make a huge difference in how you show up, how you experience the meeting and how other people experience you.

Amy Pocsik Oh, this is so good. I love to say your energy is your responsibility. Hmm. And taking ownership of that and really, truly showing up for your life in the experiences every single day. That’s a game-changer. I did not come up with this. I don’t know who said it, but they said be the thermostat. Not the thermometer, right. Set the temperature in the room. Don’t take it.

Kim Meninger Ooh, I like that a lot. It’s so empowering. You know, that’s such a that’s so much more empowering. And then the alternative.

Amy Pocsik Yeah. And what I’ve noticed about setting the intentions and being really purposeful is that it helps you to stay in your power. So having a plan being intentional, it’s not that life isn’t gonna throw you curveballs because it always is. But understanding where you’re going, what’s important to you, it really serves is that North Star, and helps you stay in your power no matter what life throws at you.

Kim Meninger That is such a great way to think about it. And honestly, Amy, I could stay here all day. I know. You and I clearly could talk forever. But in the interest of time, I want to ask you do you have any final thoughts? And also where can we find more of you?

Amy Pocsik Oh my gosh, I love this so much. Thank you for this conversation. I am so fired up. Oh, you know, just in closing, if you’re listening to this, and you feel a rumbling in your heart, I want to really honor you and challenge you to give yourself permission to hold space for that dream. You are worth it. And your dreams deserve to be built.

Kim Meninger I love it. I love it. That’s such an inspirational note for us to end on. And if people want to connect with you or find you where do they go?

Amy Pocsik Absolutely, can find me on LinkedIn at Amy Pocsik P-O-C-S-I-K you can follow along on Instagram at Amy plastic at Women’s Business League as well. We would love to connect with you there. And you can always email me, Amy at Women’s Business League dot com

Kim Meninger Perfect. So that will be in the show notes as well for anybody who is interested and thank you again, Amy, for this amazing conversation.

Amy Pocsik Thank you

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