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  • Kim Meninger

Where Is the Evidence?

Updated: May 12, 2023

Where Is the Evidence?

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we explore the ways in which feeling different from others makes us doubt ourselves and how it often pushes us to try to prove ourselves to those around us. My guest, Shirag Shemmassian, shares his personal journey of impostor syndrome as he grew up with Tourette Syndrome and worried that the opportunities presented to him were a function of his disability rather than his competence. Shirag and I explore the implications of this for others from historically marginalized groups, as well as strategies we can use to distinguish fact from the opinions and stories we tell ourselves that hold us back.

About Shirag Shemmassian

Dr. Shirag Shemmassian is the Founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting and one of the world’s foremost experts on medical school admissions, college admissions, and graduate school admissions. For nearly 20 years, he and his team have helped thousands of students get into medical school and top colleges using his systematic and proprietary approach.

While in high school, Dr. Shemmassian took a keen interest in the higher education process. He navigated the admissions process with limited college counseling and became the only Ivy League graduate in his high school’s nearly 60-year history. Specifically, Dr. Shemmassian received his B.S. in Human Development from Cornell University. Despite graduating with a 3.9 GPA as a pre-med student, Dr. Shemmassian’s interests in mental health led him to complete his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UCLA. Throughout his education and beyond, Dr. Shemmassian successfully guided students into top colleges, medical schools, and graduate programs, and has found his professional calling in helping others achieve their educational and career goals.

Dr. Shemmassian’s admissions expertise has been featured in various media outlets, including The Washington Post and Business Insider. Moreover, he has been invited to speak at Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and other prestigious institutions about various aspects of the admissions process.

Dr. Shemmassian was born in Los Angeles to Armenian parents who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon. He now resides in San Diego with his wonderful wife, mischievous toddler son, and 9-pound dog. Dr. Shemmassian is an avid cook and, while he dislikes the term, a “foodie” who routinely travels long distances for a great meal—his friends call him “Human Yelp” for his recommendations. He is also a huge basketball fan (Go Lakers!) and lover of geography.


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Kim Meninger Welcome, Shirag. I’m very excited to have this conversation with you. I know you and I have just started talking before I hit the record button, and I can’t wait to continue. Before we do, though, I’d love to invite you to introduce yourself.

Shirag Shemmassian Yeah, so I’m Shirag Shemmassian. I’m the founder and CEO of Shemmassian Academic Consulting, where we primarily help students get into medical school, in the US and Canada, and elsewhere at times, as well as you know, top colleges and in graduate programs, and it’s something I’ve been doing for nearly 20 years and really enjoy just helping our students achieve their academic and career goals, because the landscape is always changing, always in the direction of becoming more difficult. And, you know, it’s my job to help students sort of put their best foot forward.

Kim Meninger And have you been doing this throughout your career? Or did you have any twists and turns in getting to where you are today?

Shirag Shemmassian Oh, yeah, I think that twists and turns have been the rule, rather than the exception for me. You know, a lot of people I speak with, actually, when you talk about how they landed in their careers, it’s very rare that people are like, Yep, I’ve always known I want to do x, and that’s how it turned out. And, and all that good stuff, even within a field, right. So there are even people who are like physicians or something like that, where, you know, they might think that they’re going to do a certain specialty, and then they, you know, they make a twist and all that kind of stuff. But to answer your question more directly about me, certainly I, you know, was in college, all four years pre-med, you know, at Cornell. I had done very well in school and was ready to apply to medical school. So my first sort of twist and turn was I actually ended up doing my PhD in clinical psychology instead. And a lot of that was driven by me having a personal interest in mental health and, and, you know, brain development as someone who grew up with Tourette Syndrome. But I was also doing a lot of work, sort of in mental health, both on the research side and clinically and service wise. And so I think all roads were sort of leading me down this different path. And it took a minute until I sort of came to terms with that. And so I went into that, and even, even from there, you know, I was thinking, initially, I might want to go into academia, be a professor or chancellor of school, or whatever the case might be. And over time, as my sort of interest changed, you know, towards, you know, test development and clinical work and admissions, and this was something that I was doing the whole time, you know, all through college and grad school and beyond. And it was sort of a flame that, that continued to grow. And sort of the, the final twist and turn was, was essentially coming to doing this work full time. And that’s probably been one of the best career decisions that I’ve made, if not the best career decision that I’ve made. And I’m just really happy to be here. And, yeah, it’s, it’s an exciting time to do this work, for sure.

Kim Meninger Well, I would imagine that your psychology background serves you well in this work as well. So it’s not entirely discrete from what you’ve been doing, but probably…

Shirag Shemmassian For sure, for sure, for sure. And, and it comes up in so many different ways, you know, from, you might not think about it, but even the way that you produce content online, you know, whether it’s a blog, or YouTube video, or whatever, in terms of how to engage people, how to demonstrate an understanding of what it is that they might be concerned about, at that time, what information they’re looking for, and how to, you know, help them best digest it that certainly comes up. Absolutely. I mean, it’s an anxiety-inducing process, you know, admissions is terribly nerve-racking. And, you know, making sure to be able to hold that for our students, I think, is a very important thing. But then just inherent to what we do. I mean, there’s an admissions committee on the other side of it, and they’re evaluating your essays and learning more about you. So the way you frame your background, and what it is that an admissions committee member learns about you is incredibly important and impacts your odds of getting into school. So you’re absolutely right, Kim, that it sort of pervades everything that we do.

Kim Meninger That’s great. And tell me if you’re open to this. Anything about your own personal connection to the topic of impostor syndrome? Is that something that you have felt in at any point in your own life?

Shirag Shemmassian Yeah, I mean, it’s been a, it’s been a big, big part of my life. You know, going back to mentioning that I grew up with Tourette Syndrome. So around age eight or age nine, I started, you know, exhibiting verbal and, you know, some actually mostly motor tics. So like, you know, shoulder shrugs, facial grimaces, things like that. And sometimes I had little vocal tics, like, you know, clearing my throat or something like that. So nothing ever significant, like cursing, you know, uncontrollably or sort of the stereotypes that you hear, which is a very rare symptom, by the way. But in any case, there was a lot, there were a lot of people along the way, whether teachers or other people who, you know, would say, you’re not going to, like you just have a bad habit. You’re making excuses. You’re not gonna get anywhere in life. I heard this kind of stuff throughout junior high and throughout high school. And, you know, I, there was no reason to believe, like, I was always good in school and all that kind of stuff, there was no reason to believe that I couldn’t, you know, achieve just as much as everybody else unless I bought into that story. But, you know, if I’m being honest, that stuff stays with you, you know, when, when people, you know, cast doubt, or question or whatever the case might be. Sort of, you know, there’s a fire and you’re upset about and you’re like, well, I’ll show them, but then there’s always a voice inside of you. That’s like, are they right? Like, am I, am I at a disadvantage? Or am I going to, you know, achieve less than my peers, or whatever the case might be? And so, you know, throughout my education, I always wondered, you know, if that was going to be the case, but then even when I was able to get into some grade schools, Kim, there’s always the question of, am I getting in because, you know, I wrote about this thing, and they’re taking pity, you know, that kind of thing was always sort of, in the back of my mind and wondering, okay, yeah, but I know, I’ve done well to this point. But when I get to the next stage, am I going to do well, and the next stage, or even when I, you know, I was assisting students with this process. And then when I, you know, turned it into an actual, you know, company, there was the question of, yeah, I mean, it’s one thing to do it, like, sort of on the side, but once I go full time, you know, they’re gonna see, that’s fine. And there was nothing, there was no support behind the concerns, let me be clear, like, there was no evidence, you know, that I wasn’t, you know, good enough in school or at my job, or that, you know, if I decided to put more focused effort into this work that then it would go like, there was literally no reason to believe that. But there, you know, there were those doubts, for sure. And I think that’s, that’s a natural part of everything that we do, you know, and right now, we’re developing new programs in the digital space that we never had before. That’s not something I’ve done before. There’s still impostor syndrome about that. So I’ve, you know, I’ve just come, I don’t know if embrace is the right word. It’s not like yay, impostor syndrome. It’s not like that, but it’s more so an understanding of this is life. And this is a thing that you experience. And I think the important thing is, what do you do in response? Do you let that take over? And do you shut down and not do anything? Or do you say it is what it is? I hear it, and I’m moving forward. And I think I’ve, you know, I’ve done a pretty good job of, of taking that latter path, rather than, you know, say, my, that’s probably true, I’m not going to do what my dream is, or whatever. And, and unfortunately, I do see a lot of people, you know, with that, you know, whether they’re looking to start a business or doing something different, a lot of it’s like, well, yeah, but I have this response, you don’t understand my situation is different, and all this kind of stuff. And I think impostor syndrome sort of leads us to develop, you know, in our head, those barriers for why not to do something we’re really passionate about.

Kim Meninger Well, you hit on some really important things there in terms of telling us a little bit about the, the arc of your story. And I think, you know, the, the key themes that really struck me were being a child and feeling different, and getting that kind of feedback from teachers who you, when you’re that age you trust, or you don’t have the ability to take in that feedback in a nuanced way and question whether they have training or, you know, perspective, and, and so that’s got to be really hard to, to fight that kind of self-doubt. And then that piece you mentioned about, and I just characterized it in my mind as the legitimacy question, because this is something that I see so often, particularly among women, people of color, anybody who feels like there’s any possibility that the reason they are there is because of their diversity status, and not because of their actual accomplishments and strengths. And so, I’m curious, you know, I love the way you summed it up as this is life, but it must have been hard at various points to maintain that, that mindset. Were there things that you did, consciously, to try to stay away from some of the more negative chatter that could have potentially derailed your path?

Shirag Shemmassian Conscious is an interesting, like, you know, going back to what you said about, you know, for, certainly for women and people of color, and all this kind of stuff, and, you know, my parents are immigrants to this country. And, you know, they, they went to school elsewhere, you know, they went to school in the Middle East before they moved here. And, and then also, you know, we grew up very, very middle class, like, both my parents are teachers, you know, and so, we, they sort of grew up, you know, in this country with a mindset of like, go to school, get a job with benefits, be safe, be secure, like their, their inclination was always towards that. Right. And I think that part of, you know, part of it was always you know, trying to get my, my brother and me to a place where, where we would be. where we would be fine. There wasn’t really a discussion ever of it could be more than fine. There’s something, there’s something even beyond fine. Like that was never brought up. And so, you know, I remember distinctly when I first started having, you know, Tourette Syndrome symptoms, my dad was like, just stop doing it, what are people gonna think of us? You know? Or what are they going to think of you, when you’re doing that? They’re gonna think you’re different, they’re gonna think you’re… and I recognize this is not a PC word today, but it’s a quote, you know, he said, they’re gonna think you’re “retarded.” And this was like, I’m going back to the 90s, where that word was more used. It’s a terrible word, of course. But that was the thinking of like, you’re going to be seen as different to the point of, you know, people maybe not offering you the same opportunities. That’s going to impact the you know, the, your ability to become secure, and all this kind of stuff. And even when I got into like Cornell for undergrad, I remember again, a question from my dad being, that’s great. But are you sure you can make it there? Those schools aren’t for people like us. Now, that’s a literal quote. So, so when you said the bit about, you know, women, you know, people of color feeling like they don’t belong, or they’re just there to fill. So that wasn’t just like a made-up thought in my like, those were words actually communicated to me and from someone who loves me, and I love him, you know, that all that kind of stuff. But of course, and that’s something that was verbalized, to me. And absolutely, you know, I wonder that, you know, like, was, I was there for this reason, for that reason, or for whatever. But fortunately, I’ve been able to show myself and others that at every stage, I’ve been able to succeed at, you know, really high levels, I think, for me, it wasn’t something conscious of like, this is what I’m gonna do, or whatever the case might be. I think, for me, there was always, if I’m being, if I’m gonna be completely honest, Kim, there was always a little bit of anger there, right? When I heard that kind of thing from my dad, or from a teacher, or whatever the case might be about, like, you watch, I’ll show you energy. You know, I’ll show you that. That’s absolutely true of me. You know, the sometimes you hear this thing of like, the best way to tell me or the best way to get me to do something is tell me I can’t, like that very much applies to me. That’s, that’s sort of my personality. And I think there’s good to that. I think there’s also bad to that, you know, because the good is, boy, like you say, I can’t or your question, and I’ll do it. That’s a great thing to have fire about. I think the downside to that for me, and something that I reflect on more and more is thinking about how all right, well, you know, at what point does it become not beneficial, if I’m doing it primarily to prove so and so on when, you know, if and when I achieve that thing, is my satisfaction going to be feeling because that person doesn’t care? The same thing, the impostor voice in your head doesn’t care. They’re just there to plant seeds of doubt. Like, just because that’s what it does. It’s, it’s not helpful, right? But you have to find that more intrinsic motivation, like, the goal shouldn’t be just to show everyone else you’re not an impostor. It’s to say, I have a goal, and here’s why I want to achieve it. And I’m going to do it in spite of getting the chatter from my family, from my friends, from peers, from teachers from my own head, right? That’s what I think is the most important thing. And I think, where a lot of high achievers have to grow, you know, to find that intrinsic motivation rather than relying on, you know, showing others or showing the world or to get some external kind of validation, because that stuff is so fleeting. It’s remarkable.

Kim Meninger That is such a great point. I’m taking notes as we’re talking because you’re bringing up so many great points. I think that a lot of us feel, whether it’s directly in response to the kind of feedback that you’re describing, that we’re going to show so and so right, or just this general sense that because of who we are, how we feel in a particular environment, that we have to prove ourselves and that perhaps others don’t. And you bring up such a good point about the fact that when you actually achieve that goal of proving yourself or doing what you, what others think you can’t, what’s, what’s the payoff? Right? Do you actually feel a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment? Or do you just move on to the next thing that you feel you need to prove, right? So would you say given, given the choices that you’ve made in your career, that you have reached a point where your choices are your own now and not necessarily guided by the need to prove yourself?

Shirag Shemmassian It’s both. I mean, I think that it’s, it’s both and I don’t know, look, maybe I am being naïve. I don’t know that it will ever stop being both. Maybe, you know, as, as I become wiser, you know, that’s the goal. And, you know, I care less and less about those kinds of things. But I think this is a true sort of work in progress situation, because, you know, when, when you have this sort of impostor syndrome, you know, impacting you are, or wondering whether you belong, or why you’re in this space that you are, like I said, whether you’re a woman or personal color, or someone with a disability, or you’re an immigrant, or whatever the case might be, there’s always going to be that doubt, and there is a pressure, right? Like, it’s hard, like, when you’re in that space, now, there’s a pressure to not just be like, pretty good, you almost have to be great to show like, yes, their decision, the admissions committee’s decision was justified. My decision to start the business, whereas like, people who might not have that chip on their shoulder, whatever, I think there’s like, well, if, if you’re average or average or something, but you know, for someone like me, it’s like, it’s not okay, to be that, at least, that’s been sort of the chatter in my head. And so there is a, there is a push, always, but I also do feel a sense of responsibility to other people. I mean, because just the work that I do, I mean, two things, number one, the students and the families we serve, you know, we, they’re putting an enormous amount of trust, you know, in me, and, you know, in our team to help them get into great schools, and all that kind of stuff. So, you know, I, I can’t be average, in my work or whatever, because I owe it to them. And, you know, their expectations are important, not because that’s their expectation, but because I have that expectation of myself to deliver at that level. Because, you know, my parents couldn’t afford the service I offered today. And I have to do, right by people, you know, and that’s, that’s something where heck, if that fire is there because it allows us to help deliver that result for, for our families, then, then great. I want that fire to be there. But then the other thing is, you know, I owe it to, you know, other kids who are growing up, and they might have a difference, whether it’s, you know, they have Tourette Syndrome, or autism, or something different, or dyslexia, or, or they’re a person of color, or an immigrant, or whatever the case might be, we always talk about needing role models and examples and stuff like that, you know, where you want to see someone like you who was able to achieve X, Y, and Z. Well, you know, I, you know, having the skill and the talent to do something, I think you owe it to the folks who might eventually look up to you, or might not have those examples, you know, to be great. You know, if you’re a person of color with a certain skill, you know, I think, I think you should push yourself to achieve at a great level to show others that it’s doable, and to motivate and inspire. I think that’s important. So I guess my, I don’t think of decisions just as like, oh, this is my decision, this is what I want to do because I want to do it. And it’s good for me, I just don’t think that way. I think it’s much more communal, in the sense that like, I want to do well because I know that’s what I want. And it’s good for me and all and to show others, but also the sort of loving way to show others that it’s possible who might not believe it is. And so I don’t see it just as a self, like just for me, that’s just not how I view the world at my work. So I’ll leave it there.

Kim Meninger Well, and that strikes me as a healthier form of pressure than coming from a place of anger, as you were describing previously, right. So the idea of, I’m going to hold myself to a high standard of excellence because I want to be able to deliver on the promise of my business, or I want to be a good role model for others, that seems to come from a place of it, but I’m trying to think is, is that coming from, from a place of I need to prove myself because others don’t think I can do it, but because I want to be my best self in service of a higher mission. So I wonder if that feels to you, like a different experience than when you were feeling more so like, I’m going to show you that I can do it?

Shirag Shemmassian It is, it is. And when I was younger, it was much more about I’m going to show you and all this kind of stuff. I don’t think I had the same perspective about what it meant to, you know, inspire, like when you’re 16/17. Look, there are certainly others out there who will have this but, you know, I can’t say that I was at a place where I was thinking about inspiring, you know, future generations for, you know, people who might have, you know, similar backgrounds to me or anything like that. As I’ve grown up, I’ve seen that I’ve taken that more seriously, that expectation of myself to do that. And then some again, and so this is why I’m excited sort of how this evolves for me as far as maybe the motivation down the line becomes almost not at all driven by the I’ll show you or the anger kind of piece, and that will sort of dissipate, and it’ll come to an even more healthy place where it is for the community, and to show my son, you know, I have a three-year-old and a second on the way and you know, to show them what’s doable, and to show other members of like the Armenian community, or the Middle Eastern community, or kids with disabilities, or kids whose parents were immigrants, or immigrants. And so, you know, all these kinds of things are, are very important to me. And it’s something that, you know, I take very seriously now.

Kim Meninger So I’m curious too, about the influence that parents have in their messages, because I’m going to assume that your dad, in the messages that he gave to you, was well-intentioned, right, and didn’t understand I assume, didn’t understand necessarily the, the potential implications of that message? How do you think about that today, knowing what you know now, because obviously, you can see the world differently, and influence how you think about the messages that you send to your own children?

Shirag Shemmassian Huge, it’s actually something that I was talking to my wife about recently. It’s incredible how early this stuff starts, you know, I like I said, I have a three-year-old son, and sometimes he has these trucks and a piece comes off, and he’s trying to put it back and he’s frustrated. And, you know, recently he was saying, I can’t, I can’t. Like it was at the breakfast table. And I just, I just stood there, I think he was expecting me to jump in. And then I could see that, like, it wasn’t broken or anything. And he was, and then he did it. And then I said you did it. Of course you can. And he said I can. And that was really sweet to me. Because it’s, it’s interesting, you know, what our behaviors, not just what we say, but also what we do, right? Jumping in too early, not letting you know, someone struggle, and all that kind of stuff, I don’t think that teaches the right messages. And so even you know, whether I’m doing work in admissions, where people who have someone’s like, I feel stuck, could you edit, and just not putting their best foot forward as far as producing their best work, or whatever the case might be. I think that, you know, when we, when we don’t experience any roadblocks, or failures, or all that kind of stuff, I think that makes us more susceptible to these kinds of issues because you’ve never experienced something difficult. Well, then when you do eventually, and inevitably, you know, face something, you’re not going to know how to deal with it. And, and you might then not try, or you might try and not work out and say, see, I was right. And now if you don’t have any foundation, and now you experienced that as a 25, 30, 35 year old, it might be a little bit unsettling and lead you to buy into the story that you can’t. And so to me, it’s important that, you know, we communicate to our kids, that they’re capable of doing all sorts of different things. And also to model that in our behavior. You know, if we’re seeing, if they’re seeing us struggle, you know, I want them to also see us sticking with it. Or if they’re struggling with something for us to not jump in, because I think those things actually matter. I mean, I see it again, even with such a young child, I see it all the time.

Kim Meninger It’s such a great point. And I’m curious, because of the work you do, you probably have a lot of access to parents and messaging. But you know, we hear a lot stereotypically about younger generations not having the same opportunity to fail, or the helicopter parents and parents who are right there to pick up their children when they fall, do you see that in the work that you’re doing? That must be something that comes through as…

Shirag Shemmassian All the time, all the time. And it’s especially true, like during the high school years, you know, where there’s an expectation to go to certain college and all that kind of stuff. The kids are at home that you know, they, they go to school, there’s homework every day, there’s all this kind of, you know, management and stuff like that. And then over time, you know, I see that it goes down, right as people go away for college, and they’re doing a little bit more independent work and all that kind of stuff. But there are absolutely parents who are very involved, even when their kids are 20, 21, mid-20s, all that kind of stuff and, you know, asking for updates and you know, being on calls and all this kind of stuff. And it is, I wonder also what that communicates to students, you know, making sure that you know, everything is is taken care of and handled and there’s like little room to stumble and whatnot. And, and I don’t think that that’s necessarily resilience building. Of course, there are cultural elements to this, right, like parents from certain cultural backgrounds are going to be you know, on average, a little bit more involved maybe or have come from more collectivist background, all that kind of stuff. But I always want to be mindful of what students are hearing, because a lot of times even when our students achieve at a high level, I get a lot of yeah, but you know I’m, I don’t know, I’m an Asian male is that gonna be good enough? Or yeah, but the school actually admits more women. So this isn’t gonna be good enough and all this kind of stuff, it’s before they even apply and try. There’s this idea that like, yes, I’m doing all this great stuff. But I don’t know, it’s going to be like, it’s not going to be enough and so feeling kind of defeated and all this kind of stuff, but we have to be mindful of what stories are real and what we’re buying into that doesn’t necessarily serve us well. And to make sure that we’re getting the kind of support that uplifts us and encourage us to keep going rather than saying. Yeah, but, and sort of downplaying our achievement, because that’s also, you know, not going to be valuable to you.

Kim Meninger So that sounds like a really great action. Step two, for anybody who may be identifying with this conversation, is to pay attention to that story that they’re telling themselves and to notice that language of Yeah, but, the dismissing of their strengths, talking themselves out of thing. Is that a recommendation you would have for people as they think about their own experience with impostor syndrome?

Shirag Shemmassian Be mindful, be mindful of the language you’re using, you know, both, you know, speaking out loud, but also internally. You know, there was a book years ago, I read that distinguished facts and opinions, a lot of times what we say about ourselves or think about ourselves, we, we say, as a matter of fact, yeah, but it’s not good enough. That’s an opinion. That’s not a fact. But we say it and buy into it like it is a fact is, it’s 73 degrees outside or whatever the, the, you know, temperature is the, Yeah, I know, that’s a great achievement. But as an Asian female, that’s not going to be good enough. It’s said like a fact, that’s not going to be good enough. But that’s an opinion statement. And I think we have to distinguish that, right? Because the, if we buy into things like they’re fact, well, that’s really defeating. And I want to make sure that our students are appropriately being challenged when they’re taking opinions to be fact.

Kim Meninger I think that is such an important point because we can convince ourselves that our story is fact very easily. We don’t necessarily take as much time to examine and challenge those stories. And partly, that’s a function of the fact that we’re busy. And we’re thinking about a lot of things at once. But I do think that slowing down and really paying attention to what you’re telling yourself and asking yourself, Is this fact or is this opinion is a great strategy. Yeah. Go ahead, Kim, I don’t know that you get involved with this level. But I’m just curious because it occurred to me that, given what we’re talking about in terms of challenging mindsets, and maybe different experiences in the younger generations, is there anything that you think that those of us who may be managing or supporting people who have that mindset could do differently from a support perspective? Like, if we know that that’s their experience, do we, do we show up any differently?

Shirag Shemmassian I think I mean, the challenging doesn’t just come from the person speaking the, you know, opinion as fact statement, right? It also comes from us. I often say, you know, I was, I was talking to a student earlier today. And they’re like, Well, yeah, you know, I know, I got this score, but X, Y, and Z. And, you know, I was like, alright, let’s, let me, let me, you know, ask some questions around this. And I was starting to ask questions around, well, how about this about your profile? How about this? And they’re like, well, that’s really good. That’s really good. And I was like, oh, so where’s the evidence that they’re like, you’re right, this was really helpful, whatever. So I’m not just saying like, oh, just, you know, people take this and, you know, stop your internal drive. I think it’s incumbent upon us, as, you know, just helping professionals to challenge that in the people that we serve. And it’s not just to get them to change their mind. Because actually, look, if people believe something is possible, they’re going to behave differently than if they don’t believe that it’s possible. If you really buy it, like in my line of work, if you actually believe, however tough it is, if you actually believe there is a chance of getting into let’s call it Stanford Medical School or whatever, you’re going to behave differently and put in a different kind of effort than if you believe there is no chance. Whether it’s conscious or subconscious, probably subconscious, that’s a different story. But it is going to impact things for people like if you’re, if you’re a business coach or something like that. Your client might be like, Oh, I have this idea. And I want this thing and only if I had childcare I get that. If they actually don’t believe that they’re going to succeed, they’ll come up with every reason, they won’t put in the right effort. All that kind of stuff. So I think it’s incumbent upon folks, you know, who do the type of work that I do and in similar spaces, to challenge that in the people that they serve, because it’s good for them. And I think that it’s going to help them overcome some of the barriers that they may or may not know they have.

Kim Meninger I love that perspective so much because I do agree that it’s an internal and an external effort, that we certainly have the opportunity as individuals to challenge our own thinking. But going back to things you said previously about being more service-oriented, that’s how we can really support each other as well. And I believe that it benefits us to your point, too. I mean, we all feel better when we feel like we’re helping others. And I know that I have never been more confident than doing work helping other people feel confident. So we, we learn from our own experiences of helping others as well.

Shirag Shemmassian Absolutely. And seeing the change in them, I think can also, you know, change your perspective and give you the tools to serve others based on what works.

Kim Meninger Absolutely. So I could talk to you all day, this has been such a fascinating conversation. But in the interest of time, I’d love to share where people can find you. How can, if anyone wants to hear more from you, how can they connect?

Shirag Shemmassian Yeah, thanks for the platform. And the opportunity, Kim, it’s been a treat for me as well. But as far as getting in touch our website is It’s a little bit of a mouthful. And so I’m sure you’ll link to it in the show notes. But, but going back to impostor you know, I have no formal business training when I started my organization. And that’s another thing that, fortunately, I didn’t buy into, or I need to go to business school to do something like this. But, but yeah, people can go to the website in the top right corner, there’s a Contact button, and folks can get in touch pretty easily. And if there’s anything I can do to assist them with education or otherwise it would be a pleasure.

Kim Meninger Well, thank you so much, Shirag. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you today. Absolutely link to that in the show notes. And I’m just very grateful for your insights.

Shirag Shemmassian Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me again.

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