Embrace Impostor Syndrome with Dr. Adi Jaffe

Dr. Russell Strickland [00:43:58] Yeah, it does, and those opportunities, I think you wove into that story, a point that I want to make, which was when we were talking earlier about how many opportunities you have when you graduated, when you earn your doctoral degree, one of the things for folks to understand is those aren’t just necessarily self-serving opportunities, because folks who are earning their doctoral degree almost always are doing it because they want to make the world a better place, because they want to do something to help other people in some way. Whether you’re working with people directly, you’re creating new processes or systems or whatever the case may be. You’ve got a message that you’re called to bring out into the world. And whether it’s you’re talking about being more compassionate about folks that are facing addiction or something completely different, you’re helping people with that message. So those opportunities, I want to make sure that people understand that’s not just sort of self serving and self aggrandizement. It is you doing what you’re called to do and being more fulfilled. One of the things that my business coach talks about a lot is that you’ve got to get out there because it’s not about you. It’s about the people that you’re trying to serve. And a lot of people feel like, I can’t I don’t want to make it about me. I don’t want to get out there and publicize and all this sort of thing. But the people that you want to help, they want to see that expert. They want to see someone that’s confident and can give them the message that that you’re trying to get out there.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:45:23] Well, and even even beyond that, right. Is. The example I give a lot when I talk to professionals, because professionals are really like academic professionals are really, really bad at this, but I say, look, if I invented the cure for cancer and the cure for cancer is in this mug, I’ve worked on it in my home for the last 15 years. I figured it out. If you drink it, you will never have cancer in your life. If all the cancer you have right now will get cured and anybody you touch will be cured of cancer. I’ve literally cured cancer in this one cup in the world. I still haven’t helped anyone that’s right, because all my medicine is in this mug. How do I let people know about this thing? You’ve got to go talk about it. And and now you have to talk about you have to know how to talk about it in the way people are going to trust you instead of doubt you. You have to you have to be able to collect testimonials and show other people that it’s helped others. You have to be able to support would like there’s an entire process to getting the word out about what you’re doing and. We unfortunately learned, and I think this is wrong, but we we learn to believe that the best stuff will rise to the top with the cream will rise to the top. Well, the I don’t think that’s true. I think you have to have something solid or any marketing and conversations about what you do will fall flat when people actually try out what you what you’ve talked about and it’ll fail them. So, yes, what you offer has to hold water. It has to have a solid foundation. But that’s just the starting point. You then have to figure out how to talk to people about in the way that they understand it, the way they trust you and the way that they’re willing to try it out. And I’ve actually spent the last four years of my life studying marketing. I never wanted to study marketing in my life. But if my goal is to help millions of people with an addiction, guess what? I’m going to have to figure out how to market what I do or I’m never going to help millions of people.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:47:18] Yeah, and when you say your method has got to hold water and that’s the first step, I’d actually disagree a little bit. There’s a lot of folks out there that become very, very successful with very, very thin and flimsy methodologies. The marketing is actually more important from a success or a proliferation standpoint than the thing that you’re marketing.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:47:40] J.B. I’m trying to persuade myself that those people fail at something. So so you’re right. They sort of they peak and then they fall flat because that’s kind of what I mean in terms of longevity.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:47:52] And that’s the hope. And to some extent that might be true. But again, there’s a lot of people that do very, very well with very little substance, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Another thing to keep in mind is as long as you’re one step ahead of the folks that you’re healthy, you’re able to help them. Most of us think we have to be 30, 40, 50 steps ahead of the folks that we’re helping. And certainly that can help us take them down a longer path that if you can stay one step ahead of the folks that you’re helping, you can help them for a very, very long time. So I don’t want to underplay the importance of being honest and ethical and having and doing good work, because that is, I believe, extremely important. I’m just trying to make the point that in terms of getting a message out there, knowing how to get the message out there is actually more important than the message. And you have to learn that as a separate and distinct skill.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:48:41] Yeah, true. And by the way, I think the best thing that I learned in my doctoral program is how to learn something. Well, you know, you walk into the doctoral program with a notion of what you want to do. Then you become one of the world’s biggest experts, like literally like a couple of handfuls of people that know as much as you do about this little area of the world. Right. And what you the skill you develop is actually not even the knowledge base you have about that thing. If you really think about it, the skill you learn as a Ph.D. student is how to become an expert in something in a relatively short period of time. Right. In a couple of years. So my joke to people now, when they when they meet me and they kind of ask me, like, what are some of my skills? I say, look, give me a couple of months and the right motivation, the right reason to know why. And I’ll become one of the biggest experts in anything that I care about, because I’ll I’ll know how to dig into the research. I’ll know how to understand the literature. I’ll know how to dissect knowledge and come up with some appropriate conclusions. And and that’s a skill. So I’m doing the same thing with marketing and I’ve been learning that for the last three or four years. But I’ve got to be honest with you, I actually hate marketing. I wish it wasn’t this way. But I also know that I care so much about what I do. It would it would be a relegation of my duty to the people that I’m trying to help to not get good at understanding how to get this message out.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:50:10] Right. Or at least to get in. So for those people who say, well, no, I just really hate that I really use that as an excuse. You plug in to people who can help you to get the message out. There are people who are good at marketing and who, whatever the message is, they’re good at getting it out. Just like you said I can. I’m good at becoming an expert. And I do believe that’s something that a doctoral program helps you with. So there are other people who are good at getting the message out. So you just help them understand the message and they can help you get the exposure that you need.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:50:43] Yeah, I mean, for my book, I hired a book editor and I had never written a book before. I was not about to spend three, four or five years learning how to write a book. I had knowledge. I wanted to get out. I ended up paying. I don’t know how much your services are, but it was it was a pretty penny to to work with her for over. I mean, we probably worked together for about ten months to get that book out and that’s after I’d already tried on my own a handful of times. Right.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:51:10] Yeah. And that’s another thing. I feel like it’s a frustration that I’ve had and working with doctoral students is that oftentimes they think that the more heroic story is Atlas holding the world on his shoulders as opposed to the person who you know, who was it? Was it Archimedes that said, you know, give me a lever and a person you give me a long enough lever and a place to to to fix it and I can move the moon. That’s the thing you need that you need practice leverage. You need to get people to help you with things that that you’re not good at because you can’t be good at everything. You shouldn’t try to be good at everything. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. And the world will will benefit from it.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:51:56] Yes, I think that that’s a great, great point, but, yeah, that’s I’ve learned I definitely used to be on the side of I got to figure out how to do everything, which I had up until literally a couple of years ago and.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:52:12] It’s a hard thing to learn, that’s one of them, but again, one of my mentors talks about when you get to a certain point, you have to start asking different questions and you have to stop. You have to start asking about the who rather than the how we as as perfectionists and students and everything we figure out. Well, if we can just learn how to do it, just learn how to do it, that’s going to be how we move forward. But at some point, there’s only so much you can do as a single person with a single lifetime moving through this universe.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:52:41] You don’t want to be the bottleneck of your own success right back.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:52:44] Exactly. When you bring in more folks that do know how to do other things, things that you don’t know, then you can you can let them do what is their area of genius. You can focus on yours and they’ll help you be more successful, which is something that our students seem to understand when we talk about editing. They seem to get it like there’s this three hundred page or something aPA Manual of style. Either you can learn all of that to use it once, or you can get somebody who knows all of it to use it once for you and that they seem to get. But it just echoes throughout all aspects of our lives that there are other folks that are good at certain things. We can use them to support us to get better ourselves.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:53:26] Yeah. And actually, if you think about it. You didn’t finish your dissertation by yourself, I mean, you wrote a lot of it by yourself. If you’re if you’re using Dissertation Done, you got help there as well. But but what’s the committee about? The committee is about being able to go to somebody who’s been where you haven’t been and saying, hey, what am I doing here that I could adjust. Right. And if you can find that in your professional life, you’ll do much better, much more quickly, which I think is kind of the point we’re making.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:53:53] Yeah. In an idealistic world, a lot of our students say the committee’s job is just to get in your way to keep you from graduating and. But but, yes, in in certain circumstances, it would be great if the committee was always there, supportive and constructive and healthy, even move forward. Well, tell me a little bit about that. I know we’re going to need to wrap up pretty soon, but we just lost Larry King not very long ago. And you mentioned that you had had an experience in in being on his one of his shows. Tell us a little bit about that, because I get to do this podcast because I decided to and sometimes selfishly, I’m just interested in something and I hope other folks will be, too. But it was an amazing person and I’d love to hear your experience.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:54:38] He was and I mentioned this before. Obviously, I’d watch Larry King do so much and I have to say there’s there’s that saying don’t don’t meet your heroes. Yeah, and and I think because Larry was so removed from the work that I was on, I never wanted to get into journalism. Interviewing other people is never a thing that excited me. But he had interviewed everybody. I mean, if if you can think of a person who was worth their salt, that guy in interview them. And so there are a couple of things that happen. First of all, just the honor of being interviewed by him. Right. That alone. So I was on a panel twice with him. But the you know, the honor of walking into that room and knowing all the people who’ve been there before and actually even the studio that we did this these interviews in again. Right. He. If you look at Larry King now, the number of other people who sat in that room alone, there’s a humility for me in saying again, right, you have to use these signals. The work we do is hard. You have to use these signals that you’re on the right path. That was one of those ones that showed me I was on the right path.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:55:52] Yes, something I know so many people deal with the impostor syndrome, and yes, it’s hard to think that I deserve to be in this room that was occupied by presidents and world leaders and scientists and all these other folks. But the fact of the matter is, you’re in the room, so there must be there must be something maybe something got to be something different, actually.


Dr. Adi Jaffe [00:56:13] Now, push myself more like right now we’re raising funds for United. I’ve never raised money in my life. I’m going to other people. I’m going to people and asking them for fifty thousand hundred thousand two hundred fifty thousand dollar checks for this thing that I mean, look, I believe in it. I’ve spent the last four years of my life dedicating them to this in the last 10 years, learning how to get to the point where I could dedicate myself to this. Right. So the question is not whether I believe in it or not. But talk about imposter syndrome. I’m talking to people from all over the world, some of them multi multimillionaire, some of them billionaires and like asking for their money, I actually urge you to put yourself in more places where you have imposter syndrome, learn, learn where you fit and where you don’t, and leave the place where you don’t fit and you can’t do what needs to be done. But the place where you do get to deliver go all in on that. If you’re the only way to not feel like an imposter is if you’re doing the handful of things that you feel 100 percent comfortable doing over and over and over again, that’s fine if you’re OK, stagnating forever because you will just stay in that place. So you’re never going to grow if you’re still looking to advance, if you’re still looking to grow, if you’re still looking to become better. How do you think you become better? I mean I mean exercise works by you pushing yourself until you’re fatigued and tired. I can’t walk around. My living room was not called exercise and there’s a reason for that. Is that just everyday functioning? If you’re and that’s OK. I’m not even judging you for doing it. But let’s be clear. You get imposter syndrome where you put yourself in a place where you’re just at the edge of your comfort. So, yes. Just walking in and and being in the room with him already was, oh, damn, I’m OK, I’m here now. That’s pretty amazing. And then the other thing that I have to say, because, you know, he’s getting on in age, but the professionalism of that guy. We get bored sometimes of of the things we do because we do them over and over and over. Just imagine the number of times that man sat in front of a teleprompter and a video camera. I mean, he started doing this in his 20s, you know, like. Decades, right, half a century of of doing this work, and he was so good at what he was doing, you know, he would turn to the camera and become Larry King. And in between, he would just talk to you. But he he’d become Larry King looking at that camera and and the teleprompter. And he was you were so good at providing nuance. And the questions he asked for really, really poignant regularly. Why he wouldn’t ask the. He wouldn’t ask just descriptive questions, but rather he would he would always understand that there’s a there’s a reason behind it or there’s some conflict or friction in terms of what you’re doing. And the question always pointed that out. And he gave such a. Such a comfortable feeling to the room that he was in, that he made it OK to talk about even things that are heavily conflicted and normally would cause discomfort like you look at. You look at a Bill Maher or Trevor Noah and those guys are they’re good at it jabbing, which there’s still a skill Larry King was good at making anybody in the room feel very, very comfortable so they could talk about things that would normally be very hard to talk about. And that was, yes, this power. And that for me, any time you see a professional doing what they do really, really well, it’s an inspiration because I’d love I would love when I leave this earth to know that I left the kind of impression on the people I’m not in media, but among the people that I care about, right on the addiction world, on the addiction field, I would love to know that I left the same sort of impression on the world.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:59:59] Yeah, well, I have to say, I do hope that there are more. Larry King’s out there that are there up and coming because I’ve seen a lot in media now, the jabbing that you were talking about and there’s a point at which I can sit back and kind of tune into my little echo chamber, the folks that I kind of agree with and listen to that. But there’s also I quickly get to the point where I’m like, we really need to get away from this. It’s so bad for our society, so bad for our culture to just have people listening to folks doing, you know, digging it. Other folks. I mean, I’m over lunch in middle school, I think.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.