Amber Naslund achieved what so many of us dream of: starting her own company and being her own boss. She was on top of the world until, in her own words, her company “failed spectacularly” a few years in.
After she emerged from the ruins of her company, she secured a good job and moved on with her life. Until she was laid off.
So she secured another good job. And was laid off….again.
That was when it hit her: why are we always chasing the next thing? Why don’t we appreciate the important things we have right now?
Today, Amber is a senior content marketing evangelist at LinkedIn. In this episode, we dive into:
- How Amber felt she had a chip on her shoulder to prove herself
- The key lessons she learned when her company failed
- The importance of pausing in the moment to evaluate what you need (even when it’s as simple as needing a drink of water)
- How the universe is grabbing us to get our attention
- What it’s like to feel that your best years are behind you at age 40
- The sickness Amber felt while her business was falling apart
- The lessons she’s learned that are shaping how she wants to architect her life
- Ways to deal with impostor syndrome
- Appreciating the people who believe in the work you’re doing and not forgetting them
- The dangers of faking it till you make it
Transcript with Amber Naslund
Today I’m joined by Amber Naslund, who is a mother, daughter. She’s a senior content marketing evangelist at LinkedIn, where she helps LinkedIn business customers with content marketing. And previously, you ran your own business back in the day. And then way back in 2011, which feels like decades ago. You were co author of a best selling book called The Now Revolution. Does that feel like when I bring that up? Are you like, Oh, that’s right. That was in this decade, I guess last decade?
Amber Naslund 1:31
Yeah, it actually feels like another lifetime ago, in so many respects. The only thing that keeps it sort of top of mind is, believe it or not, occasionally. I still get a royalty check. So I’m just like, oh, people are still buying the book.
Oh that must be fun! You’re just going about your day and then some money shows up. You’re like, Oh, that’s right.
Amber Naslund 1:49
Yeah, it’s like oh, I did that. I did. We did that thing. That was kind of fun. But it does. It feels like forever ago. I mean, my life is so different now than it even then it was then that it feels like forever.
Does it feel different, in a good way?
Amber Naslund 2:01
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that was the time of my life where I was like. I was super I don’t know super workaholic and really just working crazy hours and determined to get the chip off my shoulder by proving something to somebody. I don’t know who but I’m a much more grounded and mellow person now I think.
Where did the chip come from? I could relate here. I feel like I’ve gone through a similar epiphany. Almost like realizing you don’t have to be grinding away every moment. Yeah, but for you like where did that initially come from? Like, why even go down that path?
Amber Naslund 2:39
Yeah, that’s really, it’s a good question. I think it was a lot internal like I don’t think that there is you know. My dad was a pretty accomplished executive, but he wasn’t a workaholic. So I don’t I don’t know that I like it’s not that I learned it by example. I think actually a lot of it stemmed from insecurity. Me I never got graduated college, which was a big deal for me. And I didn’t graduate for some really personal reasons. And so it was like, I always felt a little bit inadequate. So I felt like when I got out into the workforce, I really needed to double, triple, quadruple, prove myself.
The only way I knew to do that was just to work harder and faster than everybody else. To prove that I deserved to be there. I think my overachiever, like I think that’s wired into me to start with. That just perpetuated that over time. And working in a highly visible world, like digital marketing, especially when with the advent of social media. It’s so easy to compare yourself to your peers and everything, like visibly online. It gets, I don’t know, it got to me for a while, I think so. I’m glad to be kind of on the other side of that. But it was it was pretty gnarly for a while.
I think it’s a natural response to want to prove the opposite, right. Like I I can relate to that you, wherever the insecurities coming from you feel like I’m not. I’m not enough. So I’m going to be enough in these other areas so that you can overlook the part where I feel like I’m not enough.
Amber Naslund 4:11
Yeah, exactly. And like as a, I mean, you could get into all kinds of philosophical discussions about that. But as a woman, I always felt insecure about everything like my body image, my, my plate, I work in a very male dominated industry. So there’s a lot of that sort of situation going on. So I always felt like I had to overcompensate for that by just overdoing everything at 11. And it was it was a faster to burnout. So I learned the hard way that that’s not how you go about it.
You mentioned that you feel good having overcome that. What was the process for Was it a moment a day or was it a years long? All of a sudden you look back and say, wait a second, I’m no longer trying to prove anything.
Amber Naslund 4:58
Yeah, I mean, I would have I say that there were points of crisis and catharsis that sort of pushed that along. But it’s definitely been years in the making. I mean, the, I think the big tipping point for me was the business that you mentioned that I owned. And, you know, I think a lot of people, including me, I always thought like, the pinnacle of achievement was to go out and own your own business and be an entrepreneur.
It’s the American dream, right?
Amber Naslund 5:24
Yeah. Right. I mean, you hear that and see that all over the place. It’s like, don’t work for the man. You gotta do your own thing. So I gave that a shot. And this the the long story really short is that that business failed spectacularly. Much to the pain of my, um, my feelings of confidence, like it was it was devastating for me financially, emotionally. And it was sort of that moment where you’re like, all of that time and effort and money and hours and working myself to the bone and That’s not a guarantee of anything. And I didn’t like who I become, I didn’t like that.
My daughter hardly got to see me or know me or spend time with me. So I had the sort of like a, it wasn’t really an epiphany, but it was like, I got to do something different. I spent the next several years really, I mean, I invested heavily in therapy, and asking myself what I really wanted out of life that wasn’t that and systematically working to kind of put those pieces back in place. I mean, it’s been, let’s say, six years, since all of that happened. And I finally feel I would say in the last year, like I’m finally getting my feet back under me, so it’s not, you know, it’s not an overnight process by any stretch.
Well, congrats on that though.
Amber Naslund 6:52
Heck, six years later, whatever it takes to feel better about it is a good a good start.
Amber Naslund 6:58
Yeah, and I don’t think you’re ever done. But I do. definitely think that there is some healing that I’ve been through, you know. In the last five years or so that’s been pretty meaningful in terms of me last, why I can look back and be like, gosh, I hardly recognize like the human that I was 10 years ago. I mean, there’s there I’m obviously the same person is like at my core, but there’s a lot of choices that I make differently now. And I just I feel, I feel different in the way that I approach and move through the world. Now.
You mentioned you’ve described it this way. I’ve heard you describe the past as a spectacular failure, the business but so as someone who is insecure, who feels like she had to prove herself and you know, really had something you wanted to prove to yourself, I would imagine that, you know, you thought this you had something here that you were going after that you thought was going to be something amazing, something spectacular success, and that was going to impact the world.
Amber Naslund 7:59
And then It didn’t in your eyes that had to have just like, ruined you. I mean, how do you come back? I mean, we mentioned six years and then some therapy and definitely time helps a lot. But I gotta imagine that was like one of the bottoms of your journey so far, like, Is that accurate?
Amber Naslund 8:19
Absolutely accurate. I would say
I just kind of like for you right now. Like I feel, I want to say I’m sorry, I’m sorry, that happened because that’s gonna just be terrible.
Amber Naslund 8:28
Well, that’s a very empathetic response, which I appreciate but it was for sure. One of the hardest things that I have ever gone through. It was difficult on so many fronts. It was difficult professionally, it was difficult. financially. I mean, I had invested pretty much my life savings in that business because you know, I’d worked for radio and six prior to that and we were sold to Salesforce and so all the earnings from my exit at radiant six went into this business venture And it was all gone. I came close to losing my house, I took on a whole bunch of debt. Oh, I.
So it was like every level of difficulty I you know, my business partner and I had a massive falling out, which was emotionally very difficult and similar to any kind of split like that. You also lose friends in the process, you know, because people people pick sides. And so anyway, like it was a very lonely, dark, difficult time for me. And the first thing I did was I, well, all I knew to do, which was like, I went and got a job, you know, and started working again, and immersed myself in what I needed to do professionally, to try to remind myself that, that the brain in my head still had some utility, which was
Like, this wasn’t the only your only play here like yeah, coming up that you can do,
Amber Naslund 9:58
Right and like I still have the capacity to earn paycheck and I still need to provide for my kid so it was really just a lot of like one foot in front of the other for a long time and interestingly like the two jobs I had after that ended in layoffs which were equally like difficult so i i think if nothing else I’ve learned in this process that if I have nothing else to hold on to I am I’ve learned that I’m resilient as hell.
I can get through a lot so it helps now because when when difficult and challenging situations come up part of me just like Yeah, I got this like it’ll be fine you know, if I if we did that, and we survived that, like, How bad can this possibly be? So in that sense, I think it’s made me a little bit more able to weather the storms. But yeah, you’re not wrong. That was a really that was one of the hardest times I’ve ever gone through. No question.
I didn’t realize that the next two jobs you had you were I mean, so now we’re talking about, I put everything I have financially, emotionally, everything into this. It’s not, it fails, basically, like you said, and then you get a job, you’re laid off your job get laid off. I mean, that’s just…
Amber Naslund 11:16
You got it. Oh, it was a lot. I mean, I and I, the interesting thing about the role right after that was a really fun and interesting company. But we went through like three leadership changes of CEO as well, I was there and I reported directly to the CEO. So it was, that was challenging. And the last round of or the middle round of people, I made some really great friends. And so the the difficulties that the company came up against and the ensuing layoffs were no fault of anybody else’s of any of ours. It was just, you know, reduction in workforce stuff.
But those people became really good friends of mine and they still are, but it’s like, that’s you, you feel like you’re losing part of your family. And, and that’s They went to work for Hootsuite. And that company like a year later hit some tough times. You know, in our our whole brand new little department that I was brought on to build was one of the first things to go because we were one of the newest parts of the business. So yeah to laughs and I’ll do that’ll do a number on your confidence, that’s for sure. When you’re just like, what is it like a magnet for disaster?
Where is your confidence after all that? I mean, when that when you’re first of all, after the business itself, I imagined the confidence was at an all time low. Yeah. But then I’m sure you were able to bring it back up, you got back in the workforce and said, Hey, I’m valuable. And then you get laid off and I think Well, alright, maybe I’m not gonna get another job. Like No, no, I’m valuable. Again, I mean, at that point, yeah, three strikes, you’re out. Right? Like, I mean, talk about resiliency. Where did you find the confidence or how did you keep the confidence going after that, you know, third strike.
Amber Naslund 12:57
A couple things. One is that I think In the process of going through all this, I was also learning that I am not my work like I’m not defined by my job because for a long all need to understand Yeah, and that was hard one for me for a long time because my professional accomplishments such as they were always very defining factor for me it was something I was proud of it was something I could point to is something that was for me compensating for all the other areas of my life where I wasn’t feeling very secure, you know, but hey, at least I’m really good at what I do for a living.
So having to reframe some of that and rebalance my scales to realize that what mattered in my life was my daughter or the friends that I have outside of work or you know, the relationships I have with people that I care about, even the the passions and hobbies I pursue outside of work, you know, my daughter and I ride horses and it’s my happy place. So being able to spend more time Writing and at the barn, which is the most analog thing you can think of like take your phone out of your pocket, put it in the barn and leave it there. rebalancing a lot of that led me to finally I think, understand that even as good as I am professionally at what I do, it is not the sum total of what I’m worth.
It made it easier at some point. Interestingly, the job that I took at LinkedIn that I have now, I went from a senior, like an executive capacity to an individual contributor role, which at first was like, my ego was like, hammer How dare you like it felt like
Yeah, you’re going backwards.
Amber Naslund 14:42
Right? But the reality is, it’s actually the best professional move I’ve made in a long time. Like I’m so happy there and I have so I love the people that I work with and I really enjoy my job and being okay with that path being different than Once envisioned it and not necessarily saying to myself that I need to be a CMO in five years or I need to do all these things I started did that proverbial like five year plan tore it up and tossed it and I was like, whatever man, like I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter the best laid plans.
So I’m just kind of focusing on like, living in the moment a little bit, which is weird. But so from a confidence perspective, I think giving myself more dimension in my life has led me to realize that my worth is not a job title. My worth is not where I sit on an org chart my worth is not a byline on a book cover. And there are more important thing is that I want to that I want to spend time and energy on now.
It’s amazing how that feels, doesn’t it? I’ve become more familiar with this concept to maybe it was through therapy. But of like, if you put all of your self worth in one thing, like. Let’s say your professional work and then of course, something happens, then all your self worth is gone. You could, like you’re describing, put your self worth or find value in 6,7,8,9 different things in your life. And then if one, you know, if tomorrow you’re a bad parent. Well, then you’re not a bad person, you just, you know. That part has suffered, and the next day be a great parent and that kind of thing. It’s, even as I’m describing, I’m like, Well, yeah, duh, but it’s like, No, we didn’t realize this.
Amber Naslund 16:27
No, of course not. And especially you know, depending on how you who you surround yourself with, or where you spend time. You get a lot of those narratives outside, you know. And if you can’t find some of that validation internally, you look to other places to find it. So if you’re looking for a reinforcing message, and I look around myself professionally. What I’m hearing is, you gotta hustle and you gotta do the work and get up at 4am. And those kinds of people, and I always felt really out of place because I knew that. A lot of that hustle harder mentality was not who I was, but I felt like I needed to try to be.
Those were some of the most uncomfortable years of my life because it was so incongruous with who I am. I think fundamentally as a person that chase the dream and chase the dollars, stuff just felt so wrong. I didn’t it took it all kind of falling apart for me to realize that. In some ways, you could look back and say that all the trials and tribulations were the universe’s way of grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me really hard and being like, this is not you.
That idea, what you just described. It’s starting to concern me in a good way. Every conversation I have on this podcast this comes up the universe is grabbing us in these different ways. Sometimes it’s physical. I spoke with someone who is like not you know, broke her ACL, tore her ACL. But in other ways, it’s mental or whatnot, but like, the universe is grabbing us. Yeah. I think to myself, like, am I paying attention? Because the universe is this is what’s going on my life right now. Because the universe is grabbing me right now and saying, hey, pay attention. And if I don’t, or things gonna get, you know. Physically worse or something gonna happen with you versus like, wake up.
Amber Naslund 18:24
I do think that there is a one thing that I have talked about with my therapist at great length is the idea of stillness. And being willing to be still long enough to hear what is you know, not quite literally, but like, hear and pay attention to what’s happening around you. One of the So, like, during a lot of this stuff, I was suffering from terrible like crippling anxiety, panic attacks, like not sleeping. One of the simplest and most elegant things that I’ve learned through therapy is the power of saying, hold on, what is it that I need right now in this moment.
It could be as simple as I need a glass of water, I haven’t had anything to drink and for hours, or I need to get outside or I need to do something creative or, but I had spent so many years quieting all of those very, those voices whisper at you, man, they don’t yell. And I think that’s the whole point of the universe grabbing you. Eventually, if you don’t listen, something happens and you’re just like, and whether you are religiously spiritual or not, I think that there’s a somehow life finds a way to intervene. When you’re like, this is not, this is not your jam. So being able to keep that in check requires me slowing down and being willing to be still and pay attention to those signals that are I’m getting from myself or externally.
It’s like when something feels out of balance. Why is that? And what do I need to do about it? And sometimes it’s not always in my control. But paying attention is progress for me because I was always like, I bulldoze right through that stuff. And I paid the price for it. I really, truly believe that I paid the price for it on so many levels. But I’m, I’m grateful for that, because I didn’t go through 80 years before that happened to me, I did it when I was 40. And it’s a great way to look at it, you know, yeah, I still have a lot of life in front of me to live from a different place now. And so I’m, I’m glad for that.
Your whole journey and what you were describing reminds me of a past conversation I’ve had in the podcast, someone introduced me this concept of life is a series of trains almost. So like you’re on a train and you’re going from station to station.
But like, you know, once you get there, that trains purpose was done and then maybe you’re gonna hop on a next one and it completely changed my thinking because I always thought, like, up until recently, that like, you got to find like you said, if it’s my career, I gotta find that one long term career, I’m gonna be there, I’m gonna be doing this thing forever and like, everything’s building up toward that, like, you know, maybe you felt that way about your, when you launched your business like this is gonna be my my thing.
Amber Naslund 21:18
This is my crowning achievement.
Exactly, And now when I think about it from that train analogy point of view, I think, Well, no, like whatever I’m doing right now in the moment is probably just this ride and they might relate to each other and they might not. But this doesn’t have to be like, the forever thing like there’s gonna be other intervals of this journey. And I kind of see that coming through what you’re describing, like coming to the same Revelation.
Amber Naslund 21:43
Revelation is the perfect word for it. I’ve had so many conversations, where it when I was in the thick of a lot of this stuff. I found myself saying over and over again that I believed that my best years were behind me. I was a 40 year old woman. Think That like I was, that was it I was done. I thought it was terrible to live and think that, you know, the book and the business and those things like that was it that was my shot at having good things, and I screwed it up, at least it’s how I felt about it in my head for a long time, like, I screwed up, and I failed.
And that was my one swing. And I don’t get another at bat. So now I just have to sort of cope with whatever comes after that. And I didn’t even I didn’t think there was another train coming. So I think for me, some part of the healing has been realizing that that was a speed bump. But it was by far not the thing that it like I have so much other stuff to do. And the definition of success that I had 10 years ago does not need to be the one that I have now.
Or maybe it is maybe I like maybe I come back to that at some point and think that those are the things that I want but, but that I don’t have to be like well, that was is a good run. Like I seriously it was, it’s actually really sad. I feel bad for the version of me that thought that those things were irrevocable, you know, because I’m in a much different place now and very hopeful and optimistic about the future. But I wasn’t that way for a long time. So I love the train analogy because it’s perfect it some of those events have purpose, but once they’ve lived their purpose, there’s probably something else to focus on.
I love it too, in what you just said. I didn’t think there was another train coming. That’s exactly how I felt. I mean, I didn’t think those words I love those words you just use because that’s a perfect phrasing of it like I thought this train this is it when the string gets the station. I’m done. Like you said my best years were on that journey and that’s it it’s over. Oh my god, I gotta I gotta do everything everything right now and it’s like, no, it’s
Amber Naslund 23:53
Such a terrible feeling of despair to because you feel just hopeless like there’s there’s not there’s not nothing you can do to change that outcome. And then you’re like, well, now what? What, what do I do now? Why am I here now. And so there’s a whole bunch of reframing that has to happen before you can get to a place where you realize that, you know, the only permanent thing in life is death. And, and before that, um, you know, we’ve got a lot of a lot of work to do.
So it’s been, it’s been a very difficult at times, but also very immensely gratifying journey to, to realize that I have a lot of life left in me and it’s not all because it’s not all work. You know, there’s things that I care about and people I care about and experiences that I want to have that are not defined by my resume. And that was a really important awakening for me. And I, you know, everybody’s journey is different, I guess, but that was a really important part of mine.
I’m so happy that you’ve, you know, been able to work through that. I think it’s had Like I said, similar on my end here, and that idea that there are more trains and that this work I’m doing right now isn’t my, my crowning achievement necessarily or I don’t have to work endlessly toward it is such a great feeling to have.
Amber Naslund 25:13
Well, the endlessly thing to it’s like, I mean, I like sleep, it turns out like sleep is great.
Tell your body like sleep, like, no matter what you think I’ve discovered this too. It’s like, there’s the I’ve been thinking more about this, like mind and body connection and how we talked about the universe grabbing us and how your body can start to show physical signs of your mind. And that’s, you know, becomes literally very real then yeah.
But also your, your body doesn’t lie, like I feel your mind has this ability to potentially lie to you or you can, you know, you can get in a quarrel with it right and your physical body like won’t lie like, it knows what it needs. It knows how to survive, it knows the sleep it needs and all that and it’s Like you can’t, you can’t ignore that. So um, even if you think, oh, I don’t need it, you know, seven hours of sleep and then every night you get sex, you feel like crap at seven you feel good. It’s like, well, your body isn’t lying.
Amber Naslund 26:11
No, it’s not the interesting like, like footnote to a lot of the story I was telling you is that in, in the midst of all of that in about in like 2011 I got really sick. And we didn’t i didn’t know what was wrong. So there was I was having basically an acute issue with my lungs that continued to deteriorate. To the point where I was on I had carry an oxygen tank, and my I couldn’t breathe. It was serious.
It was terrible, it was serious. And and I was convinced I was dying. 100% I was totally sure that there was something terribly wrong. And in 20 I can’t remember if it was 20 I want to say it was 2012 I might have been 13 I’m bad with dates, but I went to the Mayo Clinic Because after exhausting, you know, several years of of doctors here in Chicago that were completely baffled and treatments that weren’t working, I went to Mayo Clinic and I spent a month up there off and on. Having them diagnose, like run me through every diagnostic and the design.
And it turned out that I had a it’s not a rare condition but it’s a rare for a human who doesn’t work with with with birds, and it’s it’s a nickname is pigeon fanciers long. It’s called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is a really long and fancy way of saying that I have an autoimmune condition that triggers an inflammatory response in my lungs so that I have it’s actually scary oddly enough, it’s very similar to how the current COVID situation affects people’s lungs. And wow, it’s it’s a really, anyway so the bottom line was, it was all of the down the down comforters and the down pillows and things I had in my house when she actually found the cause.
Yeah, I was the only it was the only possible answer because I wasn’t otherwise like exposed to lots of you know, birds and yeah. So they were like, Well, yeah, so I got rid of all the feathers. I had my ducks professionally cleaned. I spent a little less than a year on steroids, which is awful if you’ve ever had to take prednisone, anybody will tell you it’s like the best worst thing ever. Like it saves your life but it’s a miserable drug to be on. Anyway, so I was really really sick through a lot of what was happening with the business on top of everything.
So it was like the the double whammy of like talking about the universe grabbing and shaking you and kicking you in the teeth. It’s like hey, Maybe yes, maybe you do something a little different. You know, and I’ve since had like one or two small relapses, if I get lazy and like forget to tell the hotels when I travel to take the down comforters on my room. I can have a an episode, but Anyway, the bottom line is like physically, even your Yes, your body it will mutiny if you don’t give it the care and feeding and attention it requires.
And that was something I always neglected and ignored. I like I just started like I ate what was whatever was in front of me in the airport flying through wherever and I drank too much, I slept too little, and I didn’t take a care of my body. And it wasn’t about being skinny. It was about being like, present in my physical self. So there’s a lot about recovering from that illness that has made me have to invest a lot more in taking care of myself and so sleeping and eating and all those habits, exercising, I have a different priority in my life than they used to. And that’s something you would never have heard me say 10 years ago.
I’m just thinking in my head. I there’s so much improvement I could do with the eating the exercise. Like I know. It’s hard. It’s so hard and you know, I Ironically, the COVID situation and kind of the lifestyle changes with, you know, stay at home and all that have helped with that. Because our, you know, lifestyles have adjusted in some ways that give us more time for these things. But yeah, I just, I’m thinking right now I’m like, because I think our bodies are such, they’re also very resilient machines almost because they can take a lot of us kind of treating them like shit.
Like, yeah, you know, we cannot do the optimal exercise the optimal food and all that and our bodies can kind of make up for it. And they’re like, Alright, well, you’re still gonna operate fine. And everything’s, we’re gonna get you going here. But you might want to, you know, we could keep doing that. And then eventually they’re like, No, you got to get this back up. Yeah, something where I can survive here.
Amber Naslund 30:49
Well, the interest a like I’ve always I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. I’ve always been a little bit of a curvier girl, let’s say. And my whole adult life. I’ve always struggled with that. So again, I had to reframe. It wasn’t about getting skinny and being a size four it had to do with mind and body nurturing. So the interesting thing about the whole pandemic situation on top of everything is that even in my job now that I love and is a much better balance for my life, I still travel quite a bit. And you know, I have an office downtown that I commute to a couple days a week.
But now that I’ve been at home for a few months, I’ve been able to like I’m getting out and walking. I’m almost I’m having to jog now to get my heart rate up. And it’s like I always joked that I would never run unless I was being chased with a weapon and here I am running and not hating it but like I’m up every morning out the door and doing three or four miles of walking and jogging and you know.
I’m eating differently because I’m home and I’m cooking and I can prioritize the foods that I need to eat versus you know, junk that is so easy to come by when I’m on the road. So if there are weird Some silver linings in this for me, that again are all about reminding me about the things that I need to prioritize that are easy to get lost in the shuffle when you’re just like, go go go constantly.
That’s great that there’s some silver linings. I mean, I feel like my, the mantra I’ve really adopted recently is like, as long as we’re better today than we were yesterday, even if it’s just a little bit, any amount, we’re on the right path. So it’s like even going through COVID or any of these situations like if you feel like you’re better today than you were yesterday, then I feel like that’s a that’s a small win that’s worth celebrating.
Amber Naslund 32:35
I totally agree. And it’s a little weird you know, I’d written about this because I there’s there’s a weirdness of feeling thankful for this respite, because it’s like it’s adversely affected so many people and I’ve experienced loss to you know, someone not particularly close to me, but like in my family, we lost to this to COVID and it’s like, with all of the suffering that’s come with it. I feel a little bit of survivor’s guilt, feeling good about everything that’s happened.
But in some ways, it’s been nice to reconnect with my kid and be home and have a calmer schedule and not be traveling so much. So, sometimes I feel strange about being okay. When when there are a lot of people that are very much not okay, but I’m, I’m just trying to take what I can from this as a as a way to think about how I want to architect my life moving forward from here and try to do that justice. I guess.
You’re not alone, because you just described the exact same feelings. I have both and I feel guilty and also the, well how can I now make the changes I want to make and actually re re architect is the perfect way of putting it.
Amber Naslund 33:44
Yeah, isn’t it funny start I like I’ve actually made physical lists of sitting down and writing like, these are things I need to prioritize. And I was talking to some of my colleagues the other day on our resume, happy hour thing that we were doing that I need to find a way to continue To give space to some of these things in my life when we go back to whatever normal is after this, you know, how do I prioritize exercise when I’m on the road and traveling?
How do I make different choices about how I feed myself how much sleep I get? How much time I spend socializing with friends or pursuing hobbies to make sure that that balance stays, it’s never gonna be perfect, you know, some days or some weeks are crazy and some are not. But I think making the intentional and concerted effort to prioritize those things is the important part because then it stays top of mind. So I don’t know I have a list. We’ll see how it goes. That’s great.
Like I said, I totally you’re not alone here. I share all of that. That’s cool. Yeah, the same exercises one of them and just yeah, how do I these things that have been kind of silver linings, how do I make them permanent in my life, you know, how do these not become? That was COVID lifestyle, but this is like this is now the next chapter? It’s the next train.
Amber Naslund 34:54
Right, right, exactly. I mean, I even bought new running shoes. Come on.
Yes. That’s awesome.
Amber Naslund 35:04
It’s hysterical because it’s just not a thing I ever would have thought I would spend money on before but there you go.
That’s so important though I saw I’m it makes me so happy that you’ve found the running because I’m I have not found running but I’m the same way I used to always joke that if I was catching a bus like I could run three blocks sprint to catch the bus, but that’s about as far as I could go. Right. I love to bike to cycle. Oh, cool. Yeah, and I’ve definitely had more time to do that.
But one of the things this has forced me kind of the COVID in Chicago kind of shutting down for a period of time has forced me to do is how do I bike now in other places and other areas. I just bought a bike rack for my car. Right? It’s like all of a sudden the world one of the world but the regional area within driving distance is my oyster.
Amber Naslund 35:51
And it’s like, this is something that I needed to a spend the money in the bike rack which in the long term is really a great investment? Yep. And then be comfortable with yeah, maybe you’re going to drive an hour out to Wisconsin and then bike all day. You normally in the past be like I don’t want to drive for an hour it’s a waste of gas is this and that it’s like no.
This is something I want to bring forward now it’s like this is the new lifestyle like you have a bike rack. So you know, when the bike trails are back up in Chicago, you can go drive out to Michigan and do a bike ride and I’m like, I’m just smiling saying that cuz it makes me so happy like I’m free now and it’s so sad that it took this to free me.
Amber Naslund 36:29
Yeah, I understand that. And there is there’s the the feeling of like, Wow, I didn’t have to take a pandemic but like I said, you know, sometimes lovers are funny things and the the signals you need from the universe are sometimes really strange ones.
Some of mine have been particularly brutal, but I love that you found that too, because it’s like now you can make a concerted effort to prioritize that and even if it can’t be exactly the same as it is during all of this. It has a spot in your life that it does. didn’t have before. And that, to me is a win. I mean, we got to do those things, right? It’s all about figuring out the little puzzle pieces that make life really worth living.
Oh, absolutely. I wanted to ask you, you’ve written so much on your LinkedIn and elsewhere you call it the fraud squad. But it’s kind of this concept of imposter syndrome of I don’t believe that I’m good enough to, you know, achieve this or to have this. And, you know, I’ve definitely read a bunch of what you’ve written, and it’s just so I mean, it’s, I feel the exact same way. And it’s so I my hypothesis, maybe yours, too, is that a majority of us are feeling this way.
Some of us aren’t familiar with the concept yet or you know, once they hear others talking about it, maybe you feel more comfortable poking around and being aware of that, but I think it’s a problem with us all. I’m curious. I mean, you mentioned a little bit, the beginning that you have kind of always at least yourself felt like You’re never, you know, good enough to get there or you’re always had to compensate. Did that? Like, where did that come from? Was that just kind of like you said, starting with like, Oh, I didn’t graduate college and maybe that set the tone or like, Where did you can you find a core of that?
Amber Naslund 38:17
I think so. I think it I think it started I mean, I don’t know how like, you know, TMI we want to get here but that not going to college and I was also I was in a very abusive relationship when I was young, like 19 and but I mean, it was a long time ago and again, similar to most life thing is it does teach you something and thankfully You know, I’m here to talk about it but it I think that set a tone for a very young me about my worthiness as a human, you know, and I really struggled with that because it was like it I had someone in a in a very impressionable time in my life. basically make me feel Very unworthy.
So I think I spent a lot of years constantly chasing my tail of just not thinking that I ever would measure up. And so for those who aren’t familiar, I guess I should back up and say like imposter syndrome is a, it’s not a clinical diagnosis. But it’s it’s a phenomenon that was researched at first back in the 70s, late 70s, by a couple of female PhD researchers and academia, because they had been looking around at a lot of the women that they were working with and realizing that these are very accomplished intelligent, smart women, all of whom were constantly self doubting and sabotaging themselves and being like, Oh, I can’t do that. I can’t publish that thing, I can’t speak lecture at that conference.
I can’t because and so the phenomenon that they studied was, their original study was a group of high achieving women like these academic women. And the upshot is that despite having evidence To the contrary, like actual evidence to the contrary of their accomplishments, it’s the pattern of believing that your accomplishments are like a fluke. So anything that you’ve managed to put together is almost like an accident. You’re like, Oh, that’s never gonna happen again, because I just got lucky. Or, or slash and that you feel like the thing is that you’ve done at some point somebody is going to call you out and be like, you’ve been faking it all along. But it’s been a really interesting journey to do. So.
That’s fantastic. It’s so it really, it fascinates me. Because I think about this a lot. Well, first of all, I relate to that because and I don’t know why but I have that same feeling always or more often than not where, you know, someone’s going to question my ability or my knowledge or you know, me participating and whenever I’m participating in, but maybe you’ve maybe through your studying of this, you’ve come to some findings, but like, Where is the line where we start to probably put this where we almost start to like, trust that someone is an expert or trustworthy or like, you know, almost believe them. Like, I see myself doing this all the time, right, like you will.
This is a whole separate conversation, but we are such judgmental creatures. So we’re always judging and then there’s some point where you’re learning about someone or something where you seem to in your mind cross the line of I believe them or they are an expert or they are knowledgeable or they are substantial in whatever it is they’re doing whatever it is they’re saying or you know and like I wonder what that is you know because we’re basically what I’m trying to say is like my fear of being found out as always like they haven’t crossed that line yet like they don’t believe that I’m you know.
I haven’t convinced them I haven’t sold them that I am good enough to be telling them this or you know, even like this podcast right like I’m always thinking about well what am I being measured on right like if I if I pitch in or send a pitch to a guest you know, they can ask me for a media kit and SP for download numbers Oh my God, I don’t want something my download numbers because I don’t think they’re good enough and this and that and it’s like, it’s just a swirl, swirling, you know, storm in your head, but I don’t find anything like is that is there a line or is there like something we’re like and judging and then we’re comfortable after we get past that line or something.
No, bad news.
You’re like no, no there’s not.
You’re never gonna get to the point where you’re like, yeah, okay, I think I got this like I think people who are wired that way, like because the goalposts keep moving your own goalpost at some point because it’s like, I think to myself, who am I to write this book? And it’s like, well, you’ve written one before. I’m like, Well, yeah, but like I haven’t written for so. Aat one point, like just being published to begin with was the thing I wanted to achieve. So it’s like, I keep moving my own standard of what enough is, so we all just sort of, we all just kind of like once it Some of us are really struggle to actually internalize our accomplishments.
So it’s like I did that thing. Now I need to, like I have to put something else in its place. So part of it is actually the practice of learning that the the thing is that you and I use the word accomplish, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it. You’ve meant, uh, you know, accomplishments can be all kinds of things. Yeah, um, the things that you want, you actually have to spend some time like savoring the fact that you did them. And I think that there, as I’ve learned in all my years on the internet’s you are never going to be enough for everybody.
There’s always going to be a slate of people. I have like a, I have a slate of critics at all times who think that I’m garbage and think that my work is garbage. And it’s okay for me to say that I’m not showing up for them. I don’t have to be for them, and I don’t need to please them and I don’t need to chase their approval. There are plenty of people that do like and support what I do. And frankly, I think there was a time where I regret that I didn’t value that as much as I should because I was always chasing the next thing. It’s like, man, there’s like there’s a bunch of people who actually think I’m pretty okay like frightening.
Just as I am today, and actually working to serve that community of people of friends or colleagues or whatever, and investing in the people who have already proven that they are here with and for me, was revelatory. And it sounds terrible to think about that like now, but I just really devalued the fact that there were already a lot of people who thought my work was pretty okay. And I was always like, Well, where’s the next group of people who think it’s okay, it’s like, who cares where they are? Who cares?
So there’s, I in some, some people that I work with, will think that I am brilliant and an expert and know my stuff backwards and forwards and then there’s a whole cadre of people that I will never convince otherwise, that think that I’m full garbage and think that my work is terrible, and think I’m a hack and, and where do I want to spend my time and energy? I guess, is the real question. So I don’t know.
If it’s about convincing me, because I don’t know that I will ever be satisfied, but I think it’s as much about honoring the people who have showed up in my life and said that they like and value the person I am and the work that I do and looking at the work that I do now as an investment back in them as opposed to chasing approval of some nameless, faceless group of people that I haven’t met yet.
I’m so glad we’re talking because this light bulb just went off in my head that I’ve done that I did that I just about a decade ago, I had, we didn’t really have podcast back then. So I called it a video series. But it was like two years, I was interviewing entrepreneurs. It started in Chicago, I started to do on Skype all over the world. A couple hundred interviews. Every week, it was awesome. I loved it. Online publishing, it’s just I love interviewing people. And just the other day somehow I was looking back at some forum and doing some research and something and I stumbled across this comment that the series is called Beyond The Pedway.
And I had responded to someone and someone responded to me and said, like, Oh, I didn’t realize you were the, you know, the host the band The pedway. I gotta admit, I’m a big fan boy, I love the show. And in my head, I thought, what I would give right now, to get a bunch of those people saying that about my podcast, but we’re only human. I want that guy or gal to come back. And I thought to myself, you never even thought about that back then you didn’t know what you had, like, you didn’t give that comment. Probably a thought that you just thought. Where’s the next person? And why aren’t there 10 more of them right here. Like, Amber, the light bulb just went off myself. I can’t let that happen again.
I did that for a long time. You know, even writing my blog. And the years that I spent investing in that it was like, you’re always chasing the next, you know, the, the traffic hit or the next number of comments or the followers of the likes or whatever it happens to be those stupid, stupid proxies for self worth. But you You look at that and you start to get caught up in the earning of attention, mechanics as opposed to caring and nurturing about the community that you do have whether it’s one person or 50 people or 500 and I regret that now I regret them like not really understanding that which is hard for somebody who’s been really immersed in social media and always really evangelized how powerful community is and realizing that I didn’t do my own very good justice.
You know, there’s there’s actually a woman who years ago but left a comment and not a lot on my blog, but about me somewhere else. And this is someone who I’d had very limited interactions with not purposefully just like we our past had never crossed. And she left a comment on somebody else’s blog, I think and it was like, well, Amber. She’s never even deign to speak to me in person. And and She’s just so full of herself and all these comments and I was, I was wounded because first of all, I didn’t even know she wanted to talk to me.
You know, I didn’t know her at all. So I didn’t realize that I had inadvertently somehow made her feel like I didn’t want to interact with her because that was so far from the case. But she, she, she made a judgment about me for that and has frankly, he’s never associated with me since and I hurt a relationship that I didn’t even know I had, or should have had. Because my lack of attentiveness to the people who were around me and my constant like eyeballs on something else, meant that I was missing what was right in front of me and I hurt somebody’s feelings, and I didn’t mean to.
And to this day, when I see her, you know, she we have lots of mutual friends and acquaintances. And to this day, a lot of times I see her online, I’ve tried a million times to Come up with the courage to reach out and be like, I’m, I’m so sorry, I made you feel that way all those years ago, but now she probably thinks that’s stupid or something.
Do you think she still feels that way? Or would even care?
I don’t know.
Yeah, I wonder.
I don’t know. It’s I don’t know. But I’ve thought about it a lot of times, and I don’t know, maybe if she’s listening, she’ll hear it and she’ll know I’m talking about her. But it’s, um, it was a humbling moment to realize sometimes that I just it wasn’t actually that my ego ever really got the better of me. It’s just that I thought I didn’t think I was that great, but I thought my job was to make people think I was great. And that was a that was a hard lesson for me to learn.
I think what you just said is spot on. I think so many of us, myself included, that’s what we think our job is to make. Others think we’re great like, you know, especially with like the fake it to make a culture which I think there’s some truth like there is a growth technique of you. No, at the very beginning you can fake it to make it but this idea of like, I suffer from this cash maybe up until maybe even now I’m doing it but this idea of like you said.
I gotta sell, you know what they what I think they, the level I should be at I gotta sell the growth you know, podcast is a perfect example right like I gotta pretend I’m at the level that I think I should be that I think everyone wants me to be at or they’re not gonna pay attention they’re not gonna listen, they’re not gonna be on the show. They’re not gonna promote this. And oh, I think we all do that we
We for sure all do there’s an interesting I’ll give you a horse analogy so so riding horses is a really interesting hobby for to humble you because getting on the back of 1000 pound creature who has a mind of its own and being like, Hey, you see that pile of boards over there? We should jump over that. Does that sound like a great idea? Yeah, okay. So she We’ll do that. One of the hardest things about writing. And I think it goes with this analogy kind of works in a lot of places is that there is never done. There’s never a point in this sport where you are finished learning how to ride better.
And even the the top athletes in our sport will tell you that there is no done there’s always a better relationship you can have with your horse, there’s always, you know, technical things you can be tweaking. So part of learning to be a good horse person is learning that there isn’t done, you’re never going to get it, you’re never going to check the box and be like, Great. Now I’m a real writer. It is constantly just building on what you know, and being comfortable with the fact that there is a lot of things that you don’t know yet and not asking yourself to try to ride at the level of somebody who knows those things.
So it’s like I ride at a certain level and I have a certain body have knowledge and I can’t expect to ride like somebody who has more than I do. So you can’t fake it till you make it on the back of the horse. That’s how you get hurt. So in life, it’s been interesting because I went through the same thing of feeling like I needed to pretend like I was one of the big guns, you know, and then I was influential and important and, and all those things because then people would like and respect me and it turns out Nope, they still don’t like and respect to you, if they’re bounded, determined not to you, it doesn’t matter what you do, you know.
So, just reframing what my idea of success was, was a really important part of that. I think that’s a it’s always a work in progress. I think I always have days where I wish I had something where I’m feeling a little bit like I wish I had some kind of fancier accomplishment to my name, but the the reality is that for the most part, I’m pretty happy with everything that I’ve managed to do so far, and I’m a pretty content human. So I think That counts as a win in my book.
I’m a big fan of this horse analogy. I really am.
But it’s it’s so true you can’t I mean you just you can’t get on a horse and fake it till you make it that’s like I mean in the in the Grand Prix is which is like the the big top level of jumping with horses those those fences that they’re jumping are five feet high and five feet wide. And Holy Moly if I got on my horse and tried to do that we would both get if not killed, irreparably damaged. That’s just reckless. So for me, it’s just like it’s not because I faking it till I make it bear is a real dangerous game.
So, so you just kind of have to like be content to refine the skill set of the capabilities you have now and I look at that in my professional life now and be like, I’m gonna do the best I have I can with what I have in this current moment and stop worrying about chasing, whatever the next thing is because it will show up in its time. And if I’m good enough to devote myself to the constant process of improvement and getting better, that stuff will come. It will come in its own terms. I just, I’m not wired anymore to be the person who chases that relentlessly. It’s tiring, and it’s not gratifying and I don’t want to do it anymore.
I’m so happy for you. I feel does it feel good to like, look back and think, yeah, I went through some bad stuff. And I don’t necessarily like all that I was then but I love who I am today because of all that.
I think I’m actually still I the way I’ve turned it to my therapists. I still feel like I’m trying on somebody else’s clothes. I’m not sure it feels totally me yet. Like it’s still a process of me learning and growing myself. So I still feel a little bit like it’s new to me. Those neural pathways aren’t well worn in my head yet. So a lot of those old thoughts and habits Do you have a way of creeping in occasionally. It’s, uh, I’m always having to work to stay focused.
I don’t know that I can like sit back and be like, Ah, this feels so much better to be on the other side of that. I think I’m still in the process of doing that. But I can say that I am. I have deep compassion for the woman that I was all those years ago because I recognize now how much pain she was in and how much self doubt was kind of my constant script. And just like you would somebody else that you love, you feel a lot of empathy for that person and you’re just like, God, I was so mean to myself and like borderline cruel, and like, Man, that poor woman.
I feel compassion for her. It’s weird to talk about yourself in the third person, but like, I feel compassion for the human that I that I was and sad for the things that I think I lost or missed out on along the way. But I’m grateful that on the other side of that, I think I can navigate differently and do so from a place and being a person that I really feel I can be proud of.
I’m so happy for you, Amber. I just, I’m so happy. That’s it’s also so interesting. Almost like bringing it back. I kind of the whole reason I was interested in chatting with you on the podcast was at the beginning, or the end of 2019. You had posted on LinkedIn, just kind of how you felt like, you know, the past year you felt like you were feeling more like your old self. They were waking up from sleepwalking and you felt like you were Working on of stag being stagnant and at the time and even now but I thought to myself, it’s like she’s reading my mind. Like that’s how I feel.
And then now and I The reason I mentioned this now as we reflect upon our conversation here, yeah, I, you know, I’m starting to think in some ways, I think I’m trying to listen more of the universe. But through this podcast, I’m starting to think the universe is connecting me with certain people. And maybe, why Yeah, and I think you know, we were definitely meant to chat so thank you so much a for for chatting with me today. I super appreciate this. But be thank you for all you do, you know, especially through the digital channels, but to help others.
I mean, you’re constantly all this fraud squad work. I’m not just what you’re studying, but sharing all that on LinkedIn. And, you know, like I said, I read all of it and I appreciate that, you know, it’s especially you know, learning even more about your journey today. It’s not easy being open and sharing all that but And I am sure you realize this, but I just want to say it like the impact you have on others, you know whether they tell you or not, it’s just it’s there. And thank you.
I appreciate that so much. I’ll close by saying that, along this journey, me figuring out that maybe part of what I can contribute in a in a in a way that’s different than, you know, again, fancy titles or executive roles, is that I do have the willingness to get out there and talk about these things in a pretty candid and vulnerable way.
Because I think that part of my purpose is to open that door for other people so that they feel a little bit less alone and a little bit less afraid of the thing is that, that rattle them and to know that there’s at least one other person out there who totally gets it. And I think that in and of itself and giving other people credit To talk about their stories and their struggles and to drop the facade, sometimes and and be real, is more important now than ever. And if I can have some little part in helping people do that, then I think I’m okay with that.