Christina Bizzell joined the firm in February to learn PR. She’s a student at UNC-Chapel Hill and has thrived in her role, landing client interviews in top podcasts in the creative entrepreneur space like Creative Biz Rebellion and Strategy Hour.
When I decided to pursue a career in PR, I knew that I would have to develop skills like communicating effectively and managing multiple priorities.
What I didn’t quite anticipate is how much of my initial learning and growth would be around dealing with things like your inner critic and imposter syndrome.
Even now, as I write this first blog post about trying things you aren’t sure you’ll be good at, my inner critic wants to know who would want to take advice from a 20-year-old.
But regardless of age, it’s a pretty universal experience to fear trying new things, and in taking on this role, I realized that my own fears and beliefs were the #1 thing holding me back.
As much as it can feel like there’s a secret camera crew just waiting for me to mess up, my favorite thing about not being Kylie Jenner is that paparazzi doesn’t follow me around broadcasting my worst moments.
The world doesn’t have to know when I get a tough edit or that time I fell down a particular set of very public stairs on campus and limped away with my pride more bruised than my body. Waiting to be publicly flogged/laughed at/shamed was holding me back from learning what I needed to learn to succeed in my new role.
1. Give yourself the freedom to try
When I realized that the world wasn’t waiting for the chance to laugh at me, I finally gave myself the freedom to try new things.
I used to not like telling my friends and family when I was trying something new, especially when it wasn’t going well. I didn’t want to tell them I was having a hard time with the science classes I took back when I dreamed of going to nursing school. I was afraid they would think less of me as a person if they found out I was failing at something.
Luckily, I’m often wrong, and this situation was no exception.
My friends and family completely understood that everyone has things they aren’t good at. They reassured me that it’s common to change career paths several times before settling on one.
Knowing that it was ok to fail empowered me to start saying “yes” to more opportunities.
2. Starting is the hardest part
Though I’ve grown a lot in my time at this job, starting new projects is still the hardest part. Negative thoughts run through my head and paralyze me with fear.
The support of my friends and family was helpful, but it wasn’t a magical, instant-confidence button, because my biggest critic lived inside my head.
I realized that I was the secret camera crew just waiting for myself to mess up. I was the one who was ready to publish a nasty headline about myself at a moment’s notice.
You’re often your own biggest obstacle in life. Think about some of the things you’ve said about yourself in the mirror, and imagine trying to say those things to one of your friends. You’d never speak that way about someone else.
For some reason, people tend to think it’s ok to tear themselves down.
I try to anticipate negative comments and criticism, so I can prepare myself for them. But I frequently take it too far. There’s a fine line between preparing yourself for criticism and just being plain mean to yourself.
3. Recognize when your inner critic is taking over
Your inner critic is going to put up a fight that would put Floyd Mayweather to shame, so you have to be prepared.
Practice recognizing negative thoughts and stopping them in their tracks. Don’t let yourself pile mean words on yourself.
Instead, arm yourself with truth.
It isn’t necessarily true that you’ll never reach your goal of booking 20 podcasts. What is true is that you’ve already booked 5, which means you’ve sent successful pitches before. There’s no reason why you can’t do it again.
Firmly tell your inner critic about all the times when you did a good job on something that was new to you. Remind your inner critic of how smart you are and all the useful skills you have. Push back when your inner critic tries to tell you that you’re the only person who ever feels inadequate.
It helps me to identify the lies that I find myself believing the most and having truths ready in advance to fight those particular lies.
My inner critic is pretty dramatic and likes to tell me that if I make a mistake, it’s going to destroy the business, and Brigitte is going to go bankrupt and have to live on a park bench.
But I’m prepared and ready to fight back with truth. I definitely do not have enough power to bankrupt the business. If an employee making a mistake was enough to make businesses file for bankruptcy, there wouldn’t be a single business still around.
With every word of truth and affirmation that you speak over yourself, your inner critic gets weaker, and you get stronger. Eventually, you will overpower your inner critic and overcome its destructive hold on you.
4. You can’t revise a blank piece of paper
There is freedom in knowing it’s ok not to immediately succeed at something new, and it’s ok to write a bad first draft. The fact that you started at all is progress, because you can’t revise a blank piece of paper.
This is my first “real” job, and in the beginning, I was constantly anxious, because I really thought that bosses wanted to see their employees fail. I genuinely thought Brigitte was waiting for me to mess something up and that I’d be immediately fired if I did.
After making a million mistakes and not getting fired, I realized being terrified of failure is a prison. Fear of failure will chain you down and keep you stagnant.
Once I stopped fearing failure so much, it got easier to say “yes” to projects that I didn’t feel 100% qualified for. (Pro tip: You’ll never feel 100% qualified for anything. Do it anyway.)
It’s a million times less scary to try new things when you know you won’t die if it doesn’t go well.
What gets me through the fear is reminding myself of my favorite line in “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink: we’re not broken, just bent.
Broken feels permanent. A broken glass doesn’t get put back together. But bent can be restored. A mechanic can fix the dented exterior of a car after an accident. You can reframe your pitch and try again with new podcasts if none of the first podcasts you pitched respond to you.
5. The truth is no one wants to see you fail.
When I finally decided to stop feeding my fears, I stepped out of my chains. I could confidently say “I’ve never done this before, but I’ll do a little research and give it my best try.”
The risk of missing out on a great opportunity has become much more important than the voice of my inner critic.
Whether your interests lean toward business tips, creative inspiration or pure entertainment, podcasts are fast becoming many people’s favorite forms of taking in new information.
I am personally a huge fan of podcasts, because I love listening to shows while I’m taking an afternoon walk, lifting weights at the gym or doing chores around the house.
Our agency has also increasingly transitioned to pitching podcasts. Whereas 2-3 years ago, we primarily worked with media outlets like Fast Company, Entrepreneur and Inc, today we’re focused almost exclusively on podcast outreach.
This is because podcasters have discovered something important — when someone spends 45 minutes to an hour listening to you share your passion and expertise, they tend to become big supporters of your work!
Tracking results for our clients, we’ve found that podcasts are outperforming other media types by large margins.
I’ve been educating our clients behind-the-scenes on this amazing opportunity, and today I thought I’d come up for air and share some of the shows we’ve been working with — and listening to! — lately.
1. Don’t Keep Your Day Job
I wish I could remember exactly how my team stumbled on Don’t Keep Your Day Job, as it’s fast become one of my go-to podcasts for inspiration on doing creative work.
Host Cathy Heller has a unique background, which helps her podcast stand out in this crowded field. She’s a leader in music licensing and has been featured in Billboard, LA Weekly, and Variety for having licensed her songs hundreds of times to film, TV and ads. Cathy went on to start her own licensing company, Catch the Moon Music, where she now pitches other artists.
Check out her interview with Christina Scalera on how to build your creative empire.
2. Creative Empire
Speaking of which, Christina actually became our client after I pitched some clients to guest on her podcast!
If you’re a creative entrepreneur, odds are you already tune into Creative Empire, which Christina co-hosts with Reina Pomeroy. If you don’t, this interview on mindfulness and self-compassion with former client Dr. Leah Weiss of the Stanford Business School is a good place to start!
3. Creative Warriors
Every so often, I get a question from someone who knows I worked as marketing director for CoCommercial and wants to know why Tara Gentile switched gears with her business model.
She recently appeared on the excellent podcast Creative Warriors to talk through just that!
If you’ve been thinking about pursuing a membership model for your business, this interview between Tara and Jeffrey Shaw offers an excellent behind-the-scenes look at what happened when Tara decided to pivot.
4. Creative Biz Rebellion
If you’re a maker, this podcast is all about you! Kelly and Caroline specifically target product-based business owners through their upbeat, frank and helpful show.
They recently released this interview with our client Megan Auman on how she uses Pinterest to grow online retail sales for her jewelry business. Spoiler alert: Pinterest is not a social media platform. It’s a search engine that thinks in images.
5. Hashtag Authentic
While we’re on the topic of Pinterest, I also want to introduce you to Hashtag Authentic, who interviewed Megan on how to use Pinterest to make your work go viral earlier this year.
I was initially introduced to this show, and its host Sara Tasker, by a team member, and I’ve since become a big fan.
6. The Rebel Speaker Podcast
Just about every ideapreneur I know wants to become a paid public speaker, which is why I was thrilled when speaking coach Dr. Michelle Mazur launched her own podcast for speakers, entrepreneurs, leaders, and change agents who love speaking both onstage and off, and yet don’t have 100% confidence that they are nailing their message and making the impact they want to make on the world.
One thing that can unconsciously hold you back from sharing your voice and ideas freely is the worry that someone will rip off your work. Can you protect your intellectual property if you share it broadly in a speech. Christina Scalera tackled this topic on Michelle’s show.
7. Your Creative Push
Switching gears a little, Your Creative Push is a podcast that focuses on the creative process itself. This is not a show about how you can grow a creative business — the focus is on how you can finally pursue their creative passion, put aside their fears and excuses and start doing work.
Host Youngman Brown is particularly sensitive to the fact that a lot of his audience has day jobs. Of course, I’m partial to his interview with book coach Jennie Nash on the importance of knowing why you want to do something creative like writing a book so that you can get through all of the resistances that you encounter along your journey.
8. The One You Feed
It takes conscious, constant and creative effort to make a life worth living. The One You Feed is a podcast that looks at how people keep themselves moving in the right direction – how they feed their good wolf.
In this interview with Leah Weiss, hosts Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes dove into how you can elevate your experience at work.
9. Creative Writer’s Toolbelt
If you want even more of a deep dive into writing tools, check out the Creative Writer’s Toolbelt interview with Jennie Nash. She joined this writing focused podcast to talk about figuring out what your book is really about.
10. Side Hustle School
Side Hustle School is a totally unique podcast from Chris Guillebeau. Instead of sharing live interviews with business owners, Chris digs into a specific side hustle and produces a solo episode that takes you through their journey. The episodes are also shorter than many of the others on this list — typically around 10 minutes, because the show is released daily!
Chris recently shared the story of how Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson transformed their skype “business bestie” calls into a 6-figure podcast.
11. Being Boss
I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t also share Being Boss on this list! Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon believe in building a business you love, making bank, and being unapologetically who you are 100% of the time. They have a combined experience and expertise in branding and coaching small online businesses to be more boss in work and life by focusing on “boss” mindsets, habits & routines, tools, tactics & strategies, blended with a little bit of hustle.
Here’s Leah talking about bringing mindfulness into your work with Emily and Kathleen.
12. Productive Flourishing
I’ve been working with Charlie for years, and once upon a time, he interviewed me for Productive Flourishing. I absolutely love Charlie’s interview style, which is incredibly thoughtful and often disarming. His interview with Christina Scalera on both sides of being your own boss is one of my favorites.
13. She Means Business
Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, is another business owner I’ve collaborated with a few times. She launched a podcast last year that extends the video content she’s long been producing for the FEA site.
Megan joined her to talk about how she built a successful jewelry business.
14. Hack the Entrepreneur
Hack the Entrepreneur is a podcast for entrepreneurs looking to develop their success mindset. From solo entrepreneurs to startup founders, digital nomads to Amazon FBA, Jon Naster digs into what it takes to be successful with building a SaaS company, affiliate marketing, passive income ideas, coaching and consulting, content marketing, and starting a small business.
Check out this interview with Tara Gentile on community building, content marketing for customer acquisition, and her journey from freelancer to entrepreneur.
15. WTF Am I Doing With My Life with Kristy Arnett You
The last podcast on this list is currently on a break, but I still wanted to include it, because I love Kristy! When I came across her show last year, I found it to be a breath of fresh air.
She interviewed Leah Weiss, and they spoke about the sobering through that you will spend 90,000 hours of your life working— here’s how to make it count.
Bonus Pod: Profit Power Pursuit
Right after I hit publish, I realized I missed Profit.Power.Pursuit, the absolutely incredible podcast hosted by my dear friend and sometimes client, Tara Gentile.
Which is a crime, because this is a totally unique show in that Tara asks clients detailed questions about how they run their business. If you’ve ever wondered how a business really brings in its revenue, or what’s working NOW, this podcast is for you.
Start with the totally illuminating interview with Christina Scalera on how she’s created leveraged income with The Contract Shop.