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  • Kim Meninger

Why Not Me?

Updated: May 12, 2023

Why Not Me? - Jason Frishman

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, we take a sweeping look at the mindsets that undermine our confidence in the workplace. My guest, Jason Frishman, founder of Netcapital and my fellow TEDxBabsonCollege speaker, shares his story of impostor syndrome and how he has navigated self-doubt as a young start-up founder. He also shares powerful insights, rooted in his neuroscience background, that can help all of us better manage self-doubt at work.

About Jason Frishman:

Jason Frishman is the founder and CEO of Netcapital. Jason has been mentoring, advising, and investing in early stage companies to help them raise their first capital for over three years. He founded Netcapital to reduce the systemic inefficiencies he saw in the way early stage companies access capital through his experience as a coach and mentor.

Jason holds advisory positions with leading organizations in the financial technology ecosystem, and has conducted speaking engagements as an external expert with Morgan Stanley, University of Michigan, YPO, and others.

Jason has a background in the life sciences and has previously conducted research in medical oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Miami, where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Neuroscience. Prior to shifting his attention to the world of private early stage financings, he co-authored a paper published in the medical oncology periodical Cancer Cell.


Check out our TEDx talks!

Kim Meninger | How to Bring Your Diverse Voice to the Workplace

Jason Frishman | Investment Opportunity Matters


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Kim Meninger Welcome, Jason. I am so excited for us to have this conversation today. And I know you and I have sort of started this conversation already. But I’m really glad to take it to the listening audience. And before we jump in, I would love to just invite you to introduce yourself.

Jason Frishman Sure, well, it’s, it’s a pleasure to be here. And I’m excited for this topic of discussion. My name is Jason Frishman. I’m the founder of Netcapital. And my background is initially in neuroscience. But I’ve since founded a company that helps private companies raise capital and help investors invest in innovative private companies.

Kim Meninger And I want to talk a little bit about how you and I met, right and how this conversation started. So you and I had an opportunity to be part of a recent TEDx event. We both did the TEDx Babson College event, about a month ago now. And I’d love to hear your interpretation of this as well. But I remember that when I talked about doing a topic related to impostor syndrome, your reaction was, “I almost did that, too.” And that you really connected with that. And that’s kind of what brought us down this road. But I’d love to hear more about your, your experience. And, you know, how we got to this conversation.

Jason Frishman It’s so funny, it was so applicable because I had just done, like, the company had grown a lot during the pandemic. And because we’re a digital tool, and so being able to interact online and doing private securities offerings was really valuable when the pandemic hit. And so we ended up growing a lot, and I hadn’t met a lot of my team members in person. And so I had just come back from an event that we did in Colorado where we would all get to meet together in person for the first time. And it became really clear to me, we have a pretty young team, and it became kind of clear that a lot of people on the team were suffering from impostor syndrome. And not everybody from the team came to the event. And so when I came back, I had planned this, like spiel to give at our all-hands meeting about impostor syndrome and about how I understand that firsthand. And, you know, especially when it comes to customer interaction, because if you work at a company, and you’re interacting with a customer who isn’t familiar with your company, and they start asking you questions, sometimes especially when you’re younger but even older, you start to feel uncomfortable, like maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Or maybe this is a good question. Maybe I don’t have a good answer for this question. But it’s really important to realize that you are the expert. This is what you do every day for your job, you do know the answers to these questions. Don’t get thrown off the line because some difficult customers asking you hard questions. You need to really hold the line, understand that you know your material and appreciate that you’re more of an expert in this field than the person you’re talking to almost always when you’re in that service provider-to-customer interaction. And I told the team that I was feeling impostor syndrome right now because it was a week before our TED talk event. And I’m like, I’m about to give a TED talk on the wealth gap ins this country, like who am I to talk about something so important and critical and like wide-spanning? And so I expressed that I was feeling impostor syndrome. And I was actually really struggling with how I wanted to go about the talk. And the next day, I was talking to two of my team members who were sort of helping to put together my slide deck. And I was like, maybe I should just do the talk on impostor syndrome. What about that? They’re like, you should definitely do that. You know so much about it. And then I get to the event, and you’re giving the talk right before me and your topic is impostor syndrome. I just thought it was so funny.

Kim Meninger Well, I remember just being so impressed about your willingness to say that out loud to your team in particular because so many people still carry that around like a deep, dark secret. There’s still a stigma attached to it, even though most of us now have heard the term, we all kind of know what it means. But we still feel like it’s this shameful thing. And so I was really grateful that you were willing to name it for your, for your own experience, but to also let people know, hey, this is normal. And here’s how to think about it. Tell me more about your own experience. Because here you are. You’re leading this company, you mentioned neuroscience. Maybe there’s an intuitive connection between neuroscience and what you do today, but I don’t know it. So, what was it like for you to make that kind of a transition? And, you know, how, how does impostor syndrome show up for you?

Jason Frishman Well, I think that neuroscience is applicable to anything because it’s really just the understanding of the human brain and the human condition. And that’s really all we all do all day anyways, is try to interact with each other and provide value to each other. So it is applicable in a roundabout way but, you know, I did medical oncology research at Dana Farber. I worked in the cognitive neuroscience lab for a bit at the University of Miami and it just wasn’t the path for me, it wasn’t the career path for me. And so when I started Netcapital, I’ll spare the long story of how I got there. But when I started it, I was, I was pretty young. I was in my early 20s. And my core team was, basically, most people were in their early 30s. And then one of the key members of the team was, was maybe around 60. And there’s a lot of impostor syndrome that you experience when you’re a 22-year-old, 23-year-old kid, really just out of college. I spent my whole career in medical labs. And now I’m running a fintech company with a collection of people who were really smart, and had much more experience than me. And you definitely run into that problem of, well, why should they listen to me? Like, why? Why should I be in this position? Why do I really have the ability or the know-how, or the competence to be able to impact the company in the way that I want to impact the people? Because ultimately, it’s really just about people, we’re a collection of people trying to accomplish a common goal. And it’s my job to sort of set the vision, set the course, and keep everybody rowing in that direction as best I can. And that was definitely a struggle for me in the early days, not just internally but also externally. I was really fortunate that I got a great group of angel investors into my business at a very early time. But you know, going into a meeting with like, you know, the founder of DraftKings, or the founder of Napster, or the president of Fidelity, or the head of Blackstone, and as a 23 year old kid, like, this is my business and you should invest in it. You should want this equity, like, I probably felt more impostor syndrome in those interactions than I did with my internal team. And I remember talking to a friend of mine, who was also entrepreneurial, and he was just like, look, you’ll end up doing this so many times that there isn’t going to be a question that will be asked of you that you don’t already know the answer to, that you haven’t already heard before. Just keep doing it. Keep your head down. You know your business. Nobody knows your business better than you, be confident in the material. Demonstrate your subject matter expertise just by being yourself, and it’s gonna go well, and that’s how it works. And just over time, it just got easier and easier. But it never goes away. Right? That TED talk was a month ago, a month to the day. And I was feeling impostor syndrome right up until the moment I walked on stage.

Kim Meninger I can relate to that as well. You know, I agree with you. I don’t think it ever goes away. But I also think that it’s a sign that we’re stretching ourselves, right? Because if everything is always comfortable, we’re probably not taking risks, we’re probably not growing, right? So in some ways, I think of that feeling of impostor syndrome, or the anxiety that creeps in as a way, is almost like a reminder that okay, you’re still challenging yourself. Right? You’re not getting too complacent. That actually makes me feel better about it.

Jason Frishman Yeah, I think what, I know exactly what made me feel better about it. I, I’ve always been pretty aware of it. And I told you the story, I think, when we first met what like the moment that was most salient to me about this was, you know, when you’re a kid, you just expect that people who are in positions of authority anywhere know what they’re doing. And like if you go to a store, like if you go to like CVS, and you ask the guy at CVS, like hey, where’s the Reeses? They should just know. They’re the CVS guy, right? Like who else would know if not the CVS guy. And I have an older brother. And I used to have this thought up until my older brother started working at CVS. I was like, wait, you’re the CVS guy. You don’t know anything. You don’t care about this at all. You just rolled out of bed this morning. And we’re like, oh, I have to go to work. And you realize, like, wow, nobody really knows what they’re doing. Like nobody really understands why they’re doing what they’re doing, like at that level, and you fake it till you make it. And I don’t want to say that I fake it to make it. But I think once you realize that nobody is more together than you are like, nobody really has it together that way. Even the most successful people still don’t have it together that way. And once you realize that nobody feels that confident. I think I grew more confident in my “un-confidence,” like in my impostor syndrome. I felt more confident like, okay, that’s fine. I’m just feeling this way. I’ll just get through it. I’ve done this 100 times before. I’ll do it again. It’s a good feeling. It means I’m stretching myself. I’m not going to worry about it. I think that really helped me feel more confident when I realized that everybody deals with this.

Kim Meninger I think that’s such a great point. And I think about that a lot too, and I can’t remember if I shared this with you when we were talking, but one of the things that I often think about is that, that series on Netflix, the Toys That Made Us. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but there’s this documentary on basically toy companies, toy, toys that were popular back in the day and how they got to be where they are. And it talks about the ups and downs of the, the toy experience. And it gives you a little bit of a peek behind the curtain. And so they would encounter a certain conflict or certain challenge, and then they’d have to scramble to make something up in order to fill a gap or address a particular challenge. And as I was watching that, I was thinking to myself, so many of us think that other people have it all figured out, and that we just are somehow, you know, we don’t have access to the same rulebook that other people have. And then watching that show, in particular, made me realize everybody’s just making it up, like you said, right? There is, there’s no master rulebook that other people have access to that you don’t, it’s all about just creating in the moment, being, being able to dance in the moment of whatever situation that you’re in. And I think if we can recognize that, it takes a lot of the pressure off

Jason Frishman 100%. And it made me really appreciate my mom a lot more. But you know, when you’re a kid, you also, your parents, you think your parents know what’s going on. And my parents divorced when I was very young, and my mom, which I have the best mother in the world, and she raised me and my brother, basically on her own, and, you know, I would ask her questions, and I just expected the answer. Who knows if she did or didn’t, but she would give me the answer. And that would be satisfying. And you know, now that I’m, you know, that in my upper 20s, in thinking about that, myself, it’s like, I’m not ready for that. I mean, not that I’m having a kid anytime soon, as far as I know, but I’m not ready for all that, like, how do you like, how do you know what to do? It’s just you go through your whole life, doing things that you’ve never done before. And the first time you do anything new, it’s so natural to feel like unsure of what the right procedure is. But when you do it, you just figure it out, as long as you stay confident. Like that’s my secret is stay confident, stay confident in yourself. Like I’m confident in my own ability to navigate situations, even when I’m uncomfortable. And there’s a difference, you can be uncomfortable and confident. Some people struggle with that. Some people, they start to feel uncomfortable, and then they lose their confidence. They feel uncomfortable, they’re not okay, they feel uncomfortable, they get anxious, they feel uncomfortable, they get jittery, they feel uncomfortable, they start being emotional, stop being logical. I think my key is if I’m uncomfortable, I stay calm. And I stay confident in my own ability to navigate the situation. But I think that’s what helps me when I’m feeling that way is remaining confident in myself. Easier said than done, of course. But that’s what I strive to do. Whether or not I do it every time, you know, each time is different.

Kim Meninger Well, I really appreciate that perspective, too. Because what you’re saying, in my interpretation, is that your confidence is anchored more to your resourcefulness and to your, to the fact that you believe that you can handle it. That you don’t know, don’t necessarily know what the situation will bring. But that whatever it is, you have navigated other uncertain situations in the past and have been able to handle those. So why would this time be dramatically different? And I think for many of us, our confidence is tied to the context. And so if I’m not perfect at this, if I’m not a subject matter expert, then that self-doubt creeps in and, to your point, that I start to experience fight or flight and then it almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I think that really just keeping that meta-level of confidence of like, I know how to learn, right? I know how to, to move things, right, like that way.

Jason Frishman Yeah, I think that there’s, there’s two types of impostor syndrome that are slightly different. The one, the first is, at least from, you’re the expert, but from that I’ve experienced like, the first is I’m doing something new that I don’t feel super confident about or super comfortable with. Because I’ve never done it before. I’ve just never done this before. And that makes me out of my comfort zone. And then I started to think like why me? But when you start to shift your perspective that well, why not me? Why shouldn’t I be able to do this, if others are? Why shouldn’t I be giving a TED talk? Why, why not me? Right? Like I, somebody obviously thinks that I have something interesting to say or they wouldn’t have invited me to do it. And so why not? Why am I doubting myself or why am I feeling uncomfortable doing something that other people feel like I would be really good at? And so I think that’s one type of impostor syndrome that I’ve experienced. And that’s where the staying and remaining confident and sure of myself, even in the face of discomfort, is really important. And then the other type of impostor syndrome, which is sort of more what you talked about during your talk, as far as I understood, it is more like being in your place of business, being in your profession on a day-to-day life, and still feeling like, I shouldn’t be here, or I don’t know what I’m doing, or I don’t know enough to be good at my job. And that’s different because that’s feeling uncomfortable in a routine, as opposed to feeling uncomfortable out of a routine. And that’s the type of impostor syndrome that I was seeing in my team, when we were in Colorado on this corporate retreat, that gave me a lot of concern. Because if you feel uncomfortable because there’s some new events, like a TED talk, that you’ve never done before, that makes a lot of sense to me. If you feel uncomfortable in your daily life doing your job, and like you shouldn’t be there. That’s, that struck me as something that needs to be attended to. And why you’re feeling that way? Why are you feeling uncomfortable in your daily life? Right, I think that’s where it needs to be. You need to be really thoughtful about yourself and why you’re feeling that way.

Kim Meninger I think that’s a really good distinction. And I think what comes up for me, as you’re saying, that is the social comparison piece, right? In that, in the story that I told, I was talking about the fact that I couldn’t get past the fact that the people around me seemed, in my mind, so much smarter. And so I was constantly comparing myself to other people and feeling like that person is more worthy, that person knows more than I do. I love what you were saying earlier, too, about, you’re the expert in your role, just by virtue of the fact that you’re the one who does it every day, you’re not an expert in everything right. And you’re not expected to be. But I think sometimes we have these really unrealistic expectations of how much we’re supposed to know or what we’re supposed to know. And so I’m curious from your perspective too, as somebody who started a company at such a young age, had people who were more seasoned, more experienced, like that could have easily been something that you would fall into. So were you, when you were starting out, were you finding yourself making those kinds of comparisons? And how did you move past that? Like, how did you reframe what expert means and how much expertise you actually have to have in order to successfully do your job?

Jason Frishman I think for me, it’s a few things. I mean, I’ve always been confident in my intelligence, that’s never been something that I’ve personally struggled with. I’ve always I always did good in school, I only got one B in my life. And it was, there was a personal vendetta with this professor he had on me. And I, so that was never a problem for me. But I think what was more of a problem was, it was more like getting those people to believe me, or, you know, I was doing something very revolutionary, like our business is born out of a change in legislation. And so nothing like what we’re doing existed until we started doing it. Companies couldn’t raise money in this way until there was this change in law. And so walking into the room with the president of Fidelity, and explaining this new way that private companies and investors can interact in the capital markets. And basically educating people who are very well plugged in and very successful and very wealthy. And hearing them be not only open to it, but appreciate it, like thank you for bringing this to me, this is really interesting. And being invited to educate law firms on this new change in law. And I think just more and more validation. I had natural confidence. But I think as you experience that external validation, it just sort of makes you feel more, more secure. And that’s something that I coach to any entrepreneur, it’s really helpful to get that external validation at some point, so that you know, you’re not like this crazy person, in a basement, like with your own crazy ideas, thinking that you’re going to change the world. But if you can’t get anyone to vote, especially with their checkbook, to invest in you, then you can’t really be sure because it’s so easy when you give somebody your, your startup idea or your company, idea. Everybody’s oh, yeah, like that’s great, Kim, you should definitely go and do that. Like it’s so easy to say that in response, but okay, but how about you invest in it? Oh, you think it’s a great idea? Well, okay, show me right, invest in it. Here’s my Netcapital offering. Go put even $100 into it, and then I’ll feel more sure of myself that what I’m doing isn’t crazy. And so that, that’s, I think, how I dealt with it and I, I struggled with my first team, like the early members of a team. And I don’t really know how much of that was impostor syndrome-related, I think there were a lot of factors. But I learned a lot from my experiences. And so that when we grew the team from, you know, five to 10, to 20, to 30 and beyond, I had valuable lessons under my belt on how I wanted the relationship between me and somebody reporting to me, or a partner, or colleague, and how those relationships should go. I think where impostor syndrome often crops up is when we lose control of the process. And we feel unsure of where to go next. And I see this a lot with my team, especially recently. Our customers are CEOs of companies, typically, sometimes CFOs. But we’re typically dealing with the CEO or the CFO of a private company, helping them get listed on the platform to raise capital. So you’re a 24 year old, out of college, had maybe one or two jobs, and now you’re working at Netcapital, and it’s your job to help the CEO write their offering page, and how to write a compelling story that’s going to work with our 10s of 1000s of investors on Netcapital. I think where the impostor syndrome starts to creep up is, you feel like I’m talking to the CEO of this company and I’m trying to help them present their company. Maybe I don’t know, like, maybe they’re right. But they’re not right. They’re not right, because we do know, we work with hundreds of companies, we’ve seen this over and over and over again. We know the pitfalls that these companies fall into. We know the way that CEOs think about their own businesses, right. It’s like their little baby. So even the little pinky toe of your baby is oh, so special and so important. But it’s not to an investor who you only have 60 seconds, if that, to grab their attention and make them want to read more. And that’s where I think I see impostor syndrome creep up in day-to-day, at least with my team is, they feel like they’re talking to somebody who is more successful than them. And more, has a greater stature. And to, when you start to lose control of the process, when you’re dealing with a customer, or, or service provider, who’s trying to take control in CEOs, we can’t help ourselves, right? We just like inevitably have that instinct to okay, this is how we’re going to do things like no, this is how we’re going to do things. And I understand that I’m not the CEO of your company, but you’re listing on our platform. And this is how we do things because this is most successful. And it’s hard to do that. And I think that’s where sometimes people start to falter with impostor syndrome and think, Oh, wait, well, maybe we should do it your way. Maybe that is good. But it’s not. I mean, sometimes it is. But like, typically, the typical answer is hold the line, stick with the process, trust the process, trust your own instincts as a professional and get to a good result.

Kim Meninger Well, oh, gosh, there’s so many great things that you said there. And I want to go back to what you were talking about, of, you know, your business came out of new legislation. And so you’re having these conversations with these very senior, very successful people. And I can see how it would be easy to be intimidated by that. But what you’re pointing out, which I think is really important for everybody, especially who have that kind of status intimidation, is that just because they are successful in their company or in their space does not mean that they are experts in everything else. And what you described to me was, I am bringing something to you that has value, I’m coming to you from a place of service, yes, it benefits me as a business owner as well. But I think about this a lot in terms of just everyday interactions in our organizations, so many of us are so afraid of like, you know, what do I have to bring to this very senior person or this very important person, but we each, everything that we do has value of some kind. And so to really be emphasizing that makes you feel more confident that you can trust like, yeah, they may, I’m not in control of their response. But I can feel confident that I’m bringing something of value to this conversation, and that they have a certain level of expertise based on their position. But I have expertise in what I’m talking about right now. And I think that that’s something that we need to hold on to that very easily flies out the window, and we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. I also think to your point that when we find ourselves in those kinds of interactions where someone else is trying to exert their authority or, you know, there is also that temptation to say, Wow, well, I don’t know if I have the legitimacy, or if do I have the right to push back on someone as important as you are, but to own that expertise and even to name it. And I don’t know if you would agree with this, but I think sometimes to even say to somebody, look, look, I respect your expertise. And I know that you know what you’re doing. But I also want to, want to share with you that there’s a reason why we do things this way, right. And to maybe even establish that I know you’re accustomed to being the one in charge here. But I want to explain to you why we do things to them. But at least have the and that’s where I think the leadership can come in too is to say, hey, look, you have the authority to set that boundary, you have the authority to say to somebody who’s maybe pushing inappropriately, this is how we do things around here. And I think a lot of times people don’t hear that message. And so there’s that confusion of do I, do I actually have the legitimacy and the power to hold the line?

Jason Frishman And the reason to do that is to get the right result for everyone. Yes, we, we know this is the best path because we’ve done this hundreds of times, the person you’re working with, likely it’s their first time, maybe second time, they aren’t experts in this. We are. It’s our job if, we’re failing if we let a customer tell us what to do, because we’re letting the customer fail. And that’s what I say to the team as well. And you mentioned this just now, if you’re a service provider, you’re getting paid to provide the service. So why would your customer pay you and then tell you what to do? They either value the service you’re providing, or they don’t. And if they don’t, that’s okay, we can part friends like, you’re uncomfortable with this process. I understand. It’s not for everyone, we could part friends, it’s not a problem. But if you are comfortable with this process, if you want to work with us, this is the path to be most successful. I promise you, it’s the path that, I’m not going to promise success, I can’t guarantee success. But this is the best path to give us the best possibility for success. And then the other thing that you mentioned, about being intimidated by people who are really successful or really smart, is I’ve found that very successful and very smart people that I’ve interacted with are actually the most eager to learn. And if you’re bringing something that’s interesting, or unique, and you should believe that you are because all of us are interesting, and all of us are unique. And often that really just stems from your own competence and whether or not you are interesting, and bring something unique. My experience is, they’re very eager to hear the story. And to understand, I mean, some people that I’ve, you know, had some meetings where, you know, the meeting starts with the CEO of a very large company, and they say I have 5 minutes made quick. And that’s a very different meeting then, and then another meeting, but you know, you just gotta roll with those punches, and you got to do the best you can with the circumstances and trust yourself, that you’ll be able to navigate those sorts of situations. I’ve handled it well.

Kim Meninger And what I really like about that, too, is because it makes a distinction between the, the person that you’re talking about as being successful and smart and open is also somebody that I think is confident in themselves. And a lot of times we’re responding to other people’s insecurities. People who are confident and secure in themselves don’t need to be the smartest person in the room, don’t need to bully and intimidate other people, don’t need to take people down with them. Right? And so I think a lot of times in certain organizations, if there’s a toxic culture, or there’s certain personality types that you know, get rewarded inappropriately, we associate power with intimidation. And true confidence, true success is quiet, right? It’s not flexing of the muscles. And so, the thing that I think about the reason why I say that, and why I think it’s important to call it out is, you cannot control someone else’s behavior. There’s nothing we can do about that. But when you see it, you can, you can know what’s happening and not make it about you. Right? So if someone’s treating me that way, it’s not because I’m not good at my job. It’s not because I don’t have the right level of expertise. It’s because that particular individual has their own issues to deal with.

Jason Frishman Or had a bad day or like they’re sick, or like there’s a million different things that can be happening that’s causing some sort of toxic or poor relationship or interaction. But what one of my very first investors when I started my company, one of the conditions of them investing was that I go to professional sales training class. And I thought that was strange, but I was excited about it. He was gonna pay for it as part of his investment and sure, like I’m eager to learn, and it was a great experience for me. And I think could help give me some tools to deal with these sorts of things. And one of the big themes of, this was called Sandler Sales Training, was the type of training that it was. That’s like the school of thought. And one of the big themes is separating I from role. So understanding that when you’re in a role, we’re all just playing roles. Like, you’re different, Kim, when you’re in this interview with me than when you’re at home alone, with like, your best friend or your partner, right, like you’re in a different role, and you act differently. And if you’re in your role as a professional, as a salesperson, as a CEO, as a leader, whatever the case may be, you’re in that role. And if you experience some sort of toxicity, or you make somebody mad, or somebody’s really upset at you, you’re working retail, and they’re yelling at you, they’re not mad at you, the person Kim. They’re mad at the sales clerk at CVS right, like they don’t even care who you are, which I know sounds dramatic, but it’s true, like you don’t care, you’re never going to think about them again. They’re like NPCs, in the real world video game, like you’re never there, they just don’t exist, they do a role, and you’re mad at them in the role because the barista at Starbucks, I told them, I wanted oat milk, and they gave me regular milk, how dare they, they’re not mad at you as a person. They’re mad at you in this role. And it’s a really important skill for us to separate I from role and to realize that when I’m having those interactions, they are not mad at me. They’re not attacking my character because I gave whole milk instead of oat milk. They’re, they’re upset with me in my role, I made a mistake in my role. And that is something that I can fix. So let me stay calm, stay composed, ask myself what is my goal, and then take the actions to accomplish that goal. And that’s how I personally have dealt with those sorts of stressful situations myself, but separating I from role, I think is a really helpful lesson that some people really struggle with, and take things very personally.

Kim Meninger I think that’s, that’s such a great thing for many of us to keep in mind. For that reason, like you said, a lot of, a lot of this self-doubt and negative self-talk comes from over-personalizing very impersonal interactions with people. And to just remind ourselves of that, and I think, you know, separating I from role is, I always joke with the people I support, put the stickies, right, put the visual reminders, whatever you need to remind yourself of, I think that’s another one that goes on a sticky note because it’s a great thing to think of. It’s, you know, something we might intellectually recognize, but in the moment, it goes out the window, so keep it, keep it nearby.

Jason Frishman Sure, for sure. And emotion is just not your friend in those circumstances, usually. And I think we do a really bad job as a society of being empathetic. When that happens, like, the reason why this person is blowing up at you because you put whole milk instead of oat milk, probably has nothing to do with the milk, they probably had a really bad day, or they’re running late to some important meeting, or they got really bad news like, and we’re so incapable of empathizing with those people in that moment, we just feel attacked, and we get defensive. And it’s like, you know, there’s like some old saying, where, like, if I cut somebody else off on the road, it’s because I really had to do it, like I had a really important turn that I was gonna miss if I didn’t do it. But if somebody cuts me off on the road, they are a word I probably shouldn’t say on your podcast. Right? And like we, we, the human condition is to, is to evaluate those situations in such a warped way where we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, always. And we very rarely give the other person the benefit of the doubt. It’s always bad intentions if it’s them. It’s always the best intentions of it’s us. Not for everyone, but generalizing. And I think that’s another thing that has helped me is to be like, okay, like, you’re clearly upset. That’s okay. I won’t take it personally. I’m not going to stoke the fire. Let’s talk tomorrow. Like maybe tomorrow will be a better day for us to handle it. Sometimes. It’s not like I don’t, I don’t mean to say this, like I’ve dealt with every conflict perfectly my entire life. Like I screw this up all the time, like this stuff is hard. Conflict is difficult. And you always, there’s no like one size fits all solution to conflict management. And I still feel apprehensive when I have to go resolve conflict. So, you know, it’s just these are sort of the things that go through my head when I think about what conflict is. The question I just like to ask myself is take a step back. What’s my goal?

Kim Meninger Yeah, that was so powerful. And I’m just, I’m seeing some of the neuroscience in that too, right? Like, you have the benefit of perspective that maybe others don’t have, and I’m, my background is in psychology. So I kind of see the world in a similar lens. That’s why we’re friends. Exactly. But I’m curious, you know, as we wrap up because I could talk to you all day, but I know we’re, we’re running short on time here is, are there any other, not to put you on the spot, but are there any other sort of brain shortcuts that we should be thinking about when it comes to interacting with other people or managing confidence or self-doubt, like, from the neuroscience perspective. I just think that’s such a powerful skill set or perspective to bring. And I wonder if there’s anything else that you are aware that you go to when you find yourself in stressful moments?

Jason Frishman Yeah, I think most of my techniques I’ve already described. So let me re-emphasize them. [Sure.] Because I don’t want to overwhelm. But I really, I legitimately ask myself, what’s my goal? Multiple times a day, particularly in a stressful situation, not just work-related, like at all times. I think it’s the single most important question that we need to ask ourselves on a daily basis. And when you think of goal setting, people usually think like, oh, I want to be happy, like some big amorphous goal. I’m saying, no, what is my goal with this sentence I’m writing in this email? What is my goal with these words that I’m about to say to this person who screwed up my Starbucks order? Like, what’s my goal? And then how do I act in a way that is most likely to accomplish my goal without like, feeding my emotional need. Because we always get wrapped up in this emotional need to be like, heard and validated and cared for, but it really doesn’t matter like that. Like, we should be able to control our own emotion, and just accomplish our goal. If my goal is just to get the barista to remake my coffee order, I can probably accomplish that a lot better by being calm, than by reaming them out and yelling at them about how stupid they are and how terrible of a barista they are and how they should go quit or whatever, right like the how’s that going to help me accomplish my goal at all? So that, that’s my number one technique is asking myself, what is my goal? And then the second is realizing that nobody has their shit together. It’s really helpful for me, like, instead of asking, why me say, why not me? Why, why you? Why you, right? Like, why not me? Why me? Why you? Why any of us? Why are we all here? Right? Like, nobody knows any of the answers to any of these questions. So let’s just do it and stop worrying about it. What’s the worst that can happen? I mean, that’s, that’s the other thing I like to, to ask myself a lot. Maybe that’s neuroscience-related or not, but I’m very like scale oriented. So if I’m making a decision, what’s the best possible outcome? What’s the worst possible outcome? And I love to make choices where the best possible outcome is something really good. And the worst possible outcome is something relatively neutral. Like the TED talk, the best possible outcome is this talk goes over great, it gets millions of views, it becomes this great marketing thing. It helps Netcapital get to the next level. And the worst possible outcome is I totally screw it up. I trip and fall on my way to the stage, I become like a meme. Who knows? Who cares? Like what’s actually negative about like, nothing bad can happen from that like, that might even be good publicity. Who knows, I stumble over, I say something bad, okay, I’ll never use it again. And it’s a waste of a day. Okay? Like, that’s not that bad of an outcome. So I like to think of things that way and try to make choices in that direction, where the best possible outcome is something really great. And the worst possible outcome is something that’s really not that bad in the scheme of things.

Kim Meninger Wow, those are really powerful tools that I really appreciate your sharing, Jason. I think that all of those are good things for us to put on sticky notes and remind ourselves of because it just keeps things in perspective, we are prone to, well, I speak for myself at least, prone to catastrophizing, blowing things out of proportion, right. And so this is all about kind of taking it down a notch. What are we really talking about here, right, and being more reality-based instead of emotion-based? And so I really want to thank you for your insights today. It’s been so great having this conversation with you. And we are going to link to both of our TEDx talks in the show notes. So anybody who wants to check those out, please feel free to do so.

Jason Frishman That’s awesome. It’s so great to be here and talk to you. I need to see your board. I’m imagining your office just being a board of sticky notes now. All of like, the secrets to life on sticky notes from Kim’s office.

Kim Meninger I could take a picture for you. Oh, thanks again, Jason.

Jason Frishman Okay, thanks, Kim.

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