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Finding Your Story: Navigating Identity and Imposter Syndrome

Published by Summit Marketing Team on Jan 26, 2024 6:00:00 AM

The Young CPA Success Show: Episode 8

It’s story time! Hannah and Joey sit down with Jeff Bartsch, founder of Story Greenlight. They discuss the challenges of identity and imposter syndrome in the accounting industry and the importance of crafting one's identity, the role of management in employee development, and reframing imposter syndrome as a sign of growth. The episode also touches on the power of storytelling in communication and the need for a strong mindset in shaping one's career path.



intro (00:00:00) - Welcome to the young CPA Success Show. If you're a young accounting professional, this podcast is your ultimate guide to navigating your early career. Join us as we share valuable insights, expert advice, and practical tips to help you kickstart your path to success and excel in the accounting industry. Let's embark on this exciting accounting journey together.

Joey (00:00:23) - Hey all! Welcome to today's episode of the young CPA Success Show. I'm Joey Kenney, joined by my good friend and co-host Hannah Hood. Hannah today we're going to talk about identity 

Hannah (00:00:33) - Man identity. I feel like so many of us probably have a lot of thoughts around identity, and they probably are all over the board with our thoughts about identity and how they apply to us, not just in our career, but in our personal lives too.

Joey (00:00:48) - Yeah, kind of want to go back and and go in the Wayback Machine here, which feels a little further back than I wanted to, but we're going to go back and let's think about what we were like coming out of college and starting our careers in accountants.

Joey (00:01:04) - How would you, like, identify yourself? Like if you could go back and think to that version of you, how would you identify it?

Hannah (00:01:12) - Yeah, that version of me thought she knew a whole lot more than she did. That is for sure. She probably came out of college feeling really confident, but also struggling with the identity of having identified as a college student for so long now, identifying as someone who was in the workplace and starting their career and trying to find her place, that was a bit of an internal struggle.

Joey (00:01:40) - Um.

Joey (00:01:41) - What was the like? If you can think back to what you were feeling like, what was the main like? What was that main driver like? What was that version of Hannah like wanting to achieve in life? Do you remember kind of like what you were going for? Like you're short, middle and, you know, kind of long term goals?

Hannah (00:01:58) - Yeah. For me, especially with my journey being as unique as it was, I went in thinking that I was going to get a job, fulfilled the requirements to sit for the CPA license, I at the time had plans to get married to my now husband, and we were going to wait 5 to 6 years before we started having kids.

Joey (00:02:17) - And how'd that work for you?

Hannah (00:02:19) - Did not work out real well. Let me just tell you, it did not work out real well. That timeline? No, not at all. It didn't work out at all. Like I planned. However, like a lot of things in life, I had to decide whether I could be flexible and whether I could shift my identity and be content in that. Or if I was going to sit in this weird space and not be happy. So I had to make a decision at that and feel like a lot of us probably had to make a decision at whenever life didn't go as planned. Joey, did you experience anything like that in the beginning of your career?

Joey (00:02:57) - Oh, yeah. No, I had this whole life plan. So the thing that I probably haven't shared with you is there was a time in my life when I was finishing college where I just was not even sure that I was going to be able to, like, hold down a normal job and be okay.

Joey (00:03:13) - I was really struggling with anxiety at the time. I had some some weird things going on and like had accommodations from school to help with test anxiety and stuff like that. And, you know, it was one of those things I was like, okay, well, the school will do that, but will an employer, what about my job? And so because of that, like, I didn't know, like if you would have asked 23 year old me like what I wanted to do with my life. Like, I have no idea, I don't know, I don't even know if I can do this. So how am I supposed to plan out further? And yeah, I had this whole plan for my life. Like I had this this great job that I got in the college town that I lived in in Manhattan, Kansas. And I was like, yep, I'm going to stay here and I'm going to try to get partner tracked if I can, and I'm going to, you know, marry the girl that I was dating at the time.

Joey (00:04:03) - And we're going to settle down and have a family that's going to be great, and we're going to go to all the K-State football games, and it's just going to be wonderful. And like, literally none of that happened. And here's the good news. That's okay. Like it's the funny thing about it is I think it's worked better than I could have initially planned it to work.

Hannah (00:04:23) - Oh, absolutely.

Joey (00:04:24) - Like the end result is like, I didn't even know that, like this trajectory that I'm on now, like, even existed. I had no clue.

Hannah (00:04:34) - Yeah. And kind of even set my sights on where I'm at now. Like in my 20s, I couldn't have even because I had I didn't know you don't know what you don't know, but I feel like I also dealt with in that, and I don't know if you did. I dealt with a lot of guilt and shame that like, it didn't work out like a plan. Like I'd set these goals and I didn't meet them, and I beat myself up for that in the process, and really struggled for a while with the fact that things did not go as planned.

Joey (00:05:00) - Yeah, part of part of my origin story that I'm still kind of trying to, to figure out for myself is like, I was never good at growth mindset. I'm not good at, like, understanding that this is not a failure. This is just a point of growth. Like we didn't fail in my family. That's just not something that we did. It's not something that I've ever been comfortable with. It's like, no, no, no, you succeed. This is a binary proposition. You either did it or you didn't. And it took a very long time for me to be comfortable with that. And because of that. That's when I started meeting our good friend imposter syndrome, which is not something that I didn't know what that was like, that I knew it was there. I didn't know till later that that's what I was experiencing. But how's your relationship with our friend imposter syndrome right now?

Hannah (00:05:49) - Man imposter syndrome. We're just over here trying to hug it out where we are.

Hannah (00:05:53) - It is still very much there. I started experiencing that pretty early on too, especially because I was in roles that like, had not planned for myself too. So like, it just didn't fit into the narrative of what I had envisioned for my life. Even even today, I'm still struggle with imposter syndrome. Like how am I podcast shows with you, Joey? Like who? Who, how am I qualified for this is what I struggle with every single day, and I am still working through how to embrace that. And that is something that I'm really excited to talk to our guests today on the podcast about is Imposter Syndrome is our identity how that shapes and forms the decisions that we make, the goals for our lives and the journey that we take on our careers.

Joey (00:06:40) - Yeah, and our host for our guest for today is Jeff Bartch. Like our good friend who we just spend a ton of time talking to. And it's always great to talk to him on a podcast, because it really does feel like these are the normal conversations that we have when the cameras in the podcast studio isn't running, but it's really fun to put that out and talk to him in a way that other people can consume.

Joey (00:07:02) - Because what I really hope people hear from this is like, you're not alone. Like if you're trying to figure out, like you're looking at where you are in your life or in your career, and you have no idea, like where you're wanting to go with it or what the story is or what your story is going to be. That's perfectly normal. That's okay. Like you're going to figure it out just like we figured it out. And Jeff is going to give us some really good advice on like how to start that process. And I also want to give a shout out to to my good friend on the internet. He will appreciate this joke. Shea Serrano, a writer with The Ringer. What a wonderful website. He loves to say this on Twitter, and this is something I think about all the time. When I think about imposter syndrome, somebody is going to do your dream job. It might as well be you. And that was something that I was thinking about a lot in our conversation with Jeff.

Joey (00:07:53) - It has so much to do with, like, you can write your story, you can manifest what it is you want out of life. And he tells this great story, too, that I'm going to give away a little bit because I want the audience to stick around and hear it. He talks a little bit about how, when he was figuring out who he wanted to be, he had to craft his character of himself, and he had to do almost like what Christian Bale does when he does a role. Like he had to sit there and say, like, I am going to physically become this version of myself. And I thought that was so fun to think about it from that perspective.

Hannah (00:08:27) - Mindset is so powerful. It is so powerful. I am thinking back to an episode that we had earlier with Josh Miller about why not you? Why not you? Why not? Why not set your sights and develop a mindset that you are going to grow into this role. You want to be CFO? Tell yourself your CFO, show up like you're a CFO.

Hannah (00:08:53) - Walk like you're a CFO. Dress like you're a CFO. Do all of the things as though you are already such, and things will really start to change and shift in your life. But sometimes it's also hard to develop that when you're dealing with so much internal struggle. And in that way, whenever you're trying to find yourself initially in your career and even decide what you want to do and what you even want to set your sights on. So I really hope from this episode that our listeners can take away some applicable things that they can do based on the advice that Jeff Jeff gives us and connect with him on that further too, if they want to, if they want to really lean into that.

Joey (00:09:33) - Yeah, he is very, very, very good at helping you craft story and craft narrative. And he gives us some, some good places there at the end as well, where we can folks can get in touch with them and get in contact with them if they're wanting to learn more about what he does and listen to more of his stories.

Joey (00:09:49) - Because I'll tell you what, Hannah, he's got a lot of stories about Hollywood that are really kind of fun. For those of us who, you know, like to think about Hollywood stuff and famous people and all of the stuff that's going on behind the scenes of our favorite shows. So I really enjoy this episode. I can't wait for for you all to listen, and we hope you enjoy it too. We talk about story structure. Jeff, you mentioned to us that the character wants something, overcomes obstacles to get it, and experiences transformation as a result. That feels like a through line. Throughout most most stories like that story structure 101. The thing is.

Jeff (00:10:27) - Most people have no idea how true that is, because that is not only just the through line for every story, it is the it is the very definition of every meaningful, narratively shaped communication that ever takes place. Ever. Every story told over a watercooler, every movie ever made, any any headline written for marketing, promotion, any sales page, everything.

Jeff (00:10:56) - It all comes down to this because it's all communication. And communication is driven by forces. And most people don't even know that those forces are there. I mean, it's literally on the scale of gravity. It's that kind of stuff. So yes, it all comes down to that.

Joey (00:11:16) - So I feel like. Go for it.

Hannah (00:11:19) - Sorry. I was going to say I feel like I also, prior to having conversations with you, I didn't give much thought to that and not even given much thought to how that applies to me personally. Obviously, I knew the story structure. I'd read the narrative, Jim, which is so informative in terms of story structure, but I never applied that to my own life and to my own story. I did not think that there was anything really within my within my history, my background that was significant enough to craft a story. And you've helped me expand my brain in such a way that I realize that I do have a story, and I do have a story that I want to tell and I want to connect with people on.

Hannah (00:12:01) - And that has been so incredibly valuable for me. And I think that we all have stories now, like it's just opened my eyes in terms of how I look at things in that way. And what would you say is the genesis of how we start crafting? Well, I think.

Jeff (00:12:16) - The number one place to start is just to become aware that this stuff exists. The idea of what a story is. Feels really familiar. Because, you know, because because we all tell each other's stories over the watercooler, digital or in person or whatever. We all talk to our loved ones and say, hey, here's what happened last night or whatever. But when you start learning about what it is. And you start learning about these narrative forces. Things like character who wants something. So you have identity, you have desire, you have obstacles. You have things getting in your way from getting what you want. And then when that happens, one way or another, you end up seeing change happen. And so you end up talking about transformation.

Jeff (00:13:07) - And when you start talking about those ideas of identity, desire, obstacles, working around the obstacles and finding change, when you start becoming aware of that, you start to see that this not only applies to stories that we tell each other in the classic sense, it also applies to the story of our life, how we live our life, and it also applies directly to how we live our life. So the very first place that you begin is the idea of identity. Because when you have a story is a character who wants something. Well, if you change who that character is. Literally everything else downstream of it changes because, you know, I mean, just for myself as a point of personal reference, when people look me up on the internet, they say, oh, Jeff Bartsch, okay. He spent 20 years in Hollywood. He worked for ABC and NBC and Apple and you know, all that, all those folks. So that's where he learned about storytelling. But the fact of the matter is, I actually started learning about all this stuff when I was a little kid learning how to play piano.

Jeff (00:14:24) - And the the one moment that really changed, that really set my personal identity. Was when someone gave us an old upright piano, this monstrous, huge thing, and I started going up to it the next few days, and I started picking out notes, and I started turning those, picking out notes into melodies because I was playing by ear. And there was one day when I was playing, old MacDonald had a farm, and this was this happy place, you know, old MacDonald's farm with all the happy cows and chickens. And when you start changing a couple of notes, so instead of ding ding ding ding ding ding ding, I figured out you could go ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding. All of a sudden, for people who know music, I had discovered the minor key taking this happy song and turn it into this sad and spooky place. And all of a sudden, old MacDonald's farm was kind of creepy and sad. And that's when my mom said, get this, kids some lessons.

Jeff (00:15:27) - And that set me on the path. For the next 20 years of my life, I was known as Jeff the piano guy. And so I figured, this is who I am. This is who I'm going to be. And it it took me a very long time to realize that you can change who you are.

Joey (00:15:51) - Well. I love the connection you made there of music is storytelling. Yeah. Think about because when you were telling that story, in my mind, went to a great jazz musician, right where you've got this structure that they're operating in, and then they start to riff. They start to do something different, they start to explore the space somewhere else outside of the melody, and then they bring it back home. And that to that place of comfort of, oh, I see where you went off and you kind of did your thing, but now you've brought it back into me. Those are the greatest storytellers, right? The people who can sit there and say, okay, I understand the structure, I understand the narrative, and maybe we're going to go talk about this over here, and maybe you're not going to see right away how it's connected.

Joey (00:16:34) - But then I'm going to circle back home, I'm going to land the plane, and you're going to experience, to your point, all of that transformation and all of that change in a way that connects everything and brings it all together. And that's I love that concept of music is storytelling because that's really what it is. It's telling a story just well.

Jeff (00:16:54) - And so let's let's talk about that in terms of improvising. What do you think it means for your audience to say, how might I improvise on my identity? You know, we're talking about folks starting out. You know, we're starting out. We're going into the accounting field.

Joey (00:17:19) - I think it's. I think it's tough. And. Hannah. Hannah and I have talked about this before offline. Where? That transition period between I'm a really, you know, I'm an accomplished college student. Like, I've done something where I've graduated from college and started this career. Like that's a transformative thing. But your identity as a college student. Is really different from your identity as a starting account.

Joey (00:17:44) - Like I struggled with that. I was really, really good at living in being an academic. Like I loved studying accounting. And then I got into the workplace, and that was where I was again, trying to having to navigate my my narrative and my identity of how did I transform from being a good college student to understanding the rules of actual accounting, which is what they touch in college, is really very different from what I'm doing on a day to day basis. So I have to explore my own relationship with that. And I really struggled with it. It felt a lot like that jump from like elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school, where you go from being the oldest on campus to the youngest. It was a really it was a difficult transformation and I think a lot of accountants struggle with it.

Hannah (00:18:38) - Yeah, I do too.

Hannah (00:18:40) - I feel like I struggled with it in the sense that identity has always been very important to me. So especially going into this field, not really feeling like I had a structured place initially and still trying to find what felt good for me, where I felt like I could belong.

Hannah (00:18:57) - And for me personally, I got married really early on in my career and I started a family really early on in my career. So my identity shifted really quickly into being a wife and to being a mother and finding my identity and, and place in that space as well. And so my career took a back burner for a while, and that was very hard for me. And I think that when we talk about finding our identity and looking back, especially on the evolution of our identity, it can be painful because there were some painful moments in in that too, in, I struggled with am I just a mom? Like, is that all I want to be is just a mom? Am I okay with that? And because I had this trajectory of this career and this is where I was going, and suddenly it was like, stop back up. Like, this is what life looks like for you right now. And it's not exactly what you thought it would be. Um, had to improvise in the, in those situations so it can be painful looking back on that, which is sometimes hard when you're trying to develop and see and reflect on your own story.

Jeff (00:20:04) - I will say. I, you know, I was raised in a family where. I think just generationally and socially, societally. If you if we can say that people were raised to say, hey, you go through the whole process, you go to school, you get a job, you know, you're programmed your whole life to say, what do you want to be when you grow up? Be, and everyone just tacitly equates the idea of what do you want to be equals what you do. And so we get really attached to all that stuff. And so that doing gets really intermingled with who we see ourselves as people. And so when you are no longer doing something that's been part of you for a long time. You legit suffer grief? It's hard. It's hard. I mean, there were times. There have been times I mean, a lot of times, with my music, which I play very little anymore in terms of playing piano.

Jeff (00:21:20) - I use music constantly. I've used music constantly throughout my years in Hollywood with all with all the content shaping for all the TV stuff. But I, I grieved because I thought I was giving something up because I was getting too attached to the actual. I thought all the things that I was doing was who I am. So when you start separating from that, when you start separating from that, it's like, well, if if you're an accountant and you're no longer able to be an accountant, you able to do the accounting thing. Who are you without that kind of a thing? So I think a lot of people have really had to start grappling with that. Well, I mean, there are people in Hollywood right now. I have a lot of friends in Hollywood right now who are. Yeah, who are going kind of nuts because there is a historic strike going on at this moment, the actors and the writers are all on strike. The entire industry is shut down.

Jeff (00:22:23) - At least the bulk of the industry is shut down. And if we can't do what we have always done, who are we? So this is why I think we really need to number one. Back to way back to your question, Hannah. The idea of we really need to. How do we start figuring out what this is? First of all, we need to know in terms of if we're using story structure as a way of guiding our trajectory, we need to get a really clear picture of who we are aside from what we do. And I think another thing is we also really need to figure out what is the value that we bring into the world. And so, for instance, taking it back to accounting, there are a lot of changes happening with a lot of the lower level things in accounting going outside the US or going overseas. Yes.

Hannah (00:23:24) - Yeah.

Joey (00:23:25) - Been a constant theme for about the last decade. Maybe a little longer.

Jeff (00:23:28) - So.

Jeff (00:23:28) - So. Well go ahead.

Joey (00:23:32) - Well, I was I was going to say, I think it's the thing that I was initially thinking about there was and I was thinking about this the other day when I was driving to go pick up some groceries because I had some time.

Joey (00:23:42) - And that's in the car is where I do my best thinking, because there's a little road here that's about 20. It's a 25 mile an hour road that runs through some farmland here in Albuquerque. So it's really a great place to do some thinking. And I was thinking back to the beginning of my career in preparation for this show, and I was like, how did the structure of what we see as accountants, especially doing those baseline tasks, right. Like you're doing a lot of baseline tasks and you're thinking about your value. And the one thing that I felt very early in my career, and this is a sin of a lot of accounting firms, we think of things in terms of people and hours. And the thing that stood out to me that was a bit of a revelatory like aha moment was for the bulk of my career, I've never really felt like my time belonged to me because I was doing hourly work right, and I was having to build that hour. And that when you start getting into that structure, it really changes the the way you see things and the way you see the world.

Joey (00:24:45) - I used to play it like like you with your piano. I used to play a lot of golf. I played a lot of golf growing up. I haven't played golf consistently since I became a professional accountant because I it changed the way I view an hour of my time and I'm like, I don't want to allocate five hours of my day to this task. It completely shifted the way I think about everything now. I run everything I do through this filter of, is this the best way to use this hour of time? And I'm sure there's some, you know, some consultant out there. You'd be like, man, you have like created this productivity hack. And I'm kind of like, no, I hate this. I hate it because I don't ever sit there and say, I'm just going to spend this hour of time on pure enjoyment. And that when I think about like. How that structure of accounting changed my personal value structure of how I viewed myself and my time. When I started getting into a different part of my career where I wasn't doing hourly billing, I wasn't doing that type of thing.

Joey (00:25:58) - It's enabled a bit more enjoyment, although I do still struggle sometimes with that same sort of like is this the most maximum use of my time? But. There was a shift and I don't know that I love it. I yearn for those times when I could just say, you know what, I'm just going to go spend five hours in nature, and I'm not going to think about all the other things that could be doing with this time.

Jeff (00:26:21) - What are your thoughts, Hannah?

Hannah (00:26:25) - I.

Hannah (00:26:26) - Also, I have never thought of my time in terms of a billable hours. I've not gone to that extent with it, but I do struggle with the quiet space. I feel like I constantly have to be doing something, and I think that comes from feeling like if I'm sitting here at my computer, I need to be productive in that way. If I'm not sitting here at my computer, what am I doing to further get ahead in my household with my kids? Things of that nature. So like last night, like I had a free night, a very rare free night at home where we didn't have to be somewhere for a couple hours.

Hannah (00:27:01) - And it was like, I'd just like, stood there for I was like, what? What do I do? Like I'm caught up on laundry. The kitchen's clean. Like, is there a show on Netflix? Or finally got sat down and was like, oh, there's this. Like, I'd not done that and I could not tell you when. And that is just from, I think, this whole hustle culture that we're in as well in terms of like constantly striving to get ahead and like if we're not doing something, you need to be doing something productive and that's not healthy. I'm not saying that's healthy in any way. I'd love to get out of that cycle, but I think it all ties back to my identity too, as well. And seeing myself so much tied to my career and getting ahead in that way in those hours, in some way, all of them in the day, doing something that helps advance me to my next step, no matter what that is in my career and my job and anything.

Jeff (00:27:55) - You know.

Jeff (00:27:56) - It's I didn't expect us to go into the world of productivity and, and time management because.

Joey (00:28:06) - Welcome to a podcast with accountants.

Joey (00:28:08) - Here we are.

Jeff (00:28:09) - One of those things. But here's the thing. Okay. So let's go back to identity and say, okay. Um.

Jeff (00:28:20) - If.

Jeff (00:28:20) - If I am an accountant, what does that accountant want? What does an accountant want typically. So probably consistent income support your life support. Support your people. And what does it. What does an accountant typically do. Well we go crazy around tax time because that's just.

Joey (00:28:44) - Yeah. Or every month if it's month and close if you're doing deadlines if it's audit, it can be any time of the year. It's very much it's a very deadline driven business, which I would imagine it's not too dissimilar from being a producer in Hollywood. Right? Like you've got a schedule that you've got to keep if you're doing your show was recorded on a Thursday and it's going to go to air on certain date, so you've got to have your stuff done and ready to go.

Jeff (00:29:13) - Well, the irony is there any project I've ever worked on in Hollywood has always have had a deliverable. It's always had a budget. It's always had a deadline. And it took me a long time to realise that, yeah, I was it's like a fish swimming in water. And you asked the fish what's water? And you, you ask them about water and the fish says, what's that? You know, because you're in it, you have no idea what it's like to not be in it. And so it took me a long time to realise that not everyone operates under constant deadlines and constant constraints, but.

Joey (00:29:51) - Yeah, I think that's that's probably the thing that's the toughest for young CPAs getting started. Right. Because a lot of times you're in that dual role. You are, for lack of a better term, the worker be and your job is to go out there and just crank through these things. And I can remember sometimes early in my career where I was like.

Joey (00:30:13) - I don't, I can't, you know, thinking about not seeing where you are in the process. You get so caught up in those daily tasks, you can't even see the larger deliverable that's being being done right. You're just cranking through bank reconciliations, you're cranking through bookkeeping, you're cranking through journal entries or tax return prep or whatever, and you're just so stuck in that one thing you can't even see, well, what's the partner doing? How's the partner handling this? What's the even like? What's the strategy of this? Why am I doing this? You don't even get to see the why. You just are so caught in that dual role that that's all you think and all you know, and I, you know, I don't want to speak for all accountants, but I can speak for me. I really found myself getting lost. In those those early years to the point where I think that's why you have. We have a lot of turnover in, in, in those positions early in accountant's career because they're like, I don't even know why I'm doing this.

Joey (00:31:10) - I don't know what my own.

Jeff (00:31:11) - So what? So what do you think? I mean. Is, is there someone saying, okay, well, I'm living in the doing and I'm you know, am I okay with that. Or is or is there always an expectation, either within ourselves or maybe put on us externally? Well, you should always want to do more, expand more. I mean, what happens if you say this is okay, I am working, I am an accountant, I am functioning as a worker bee and I'm okay with that.

Joey (00:31:55) - I think it comes down to. And Hannah, I'd love to get your thoughts on this too. If for a long time within summit's organization, Hannah was in a bit of it was in that kind of dual role and I was in the role that kind of use the deliverable from the doer to consult with the client. The one thing that I've always tried to do that I think is helpful is that has to come from management down management has to push down and get those folks in the lower role to not just understand what they're doing.

Joey (00:32:29) - But why? And really bring them into the fold. And I feel like within our organization, the relationships that are the most successful are when I'll use higher and lower because there's no better way to to in terms of highlights what it is. Yeah. In terms of hierarchy, you know, which that's a whole different podcast talking about hierarchies of firms and whether that's something we need to have. But in terms of the most successful relationships and outcomes, both from a client perspective and an employee perspective, is when that higher level person has really empowered that lower that lower level person to not just understand what they're doing and how to do it, but how it fits in to the larger story like that has to be pushed down. Otherwise you're going to lose that person. And if you can start giving more autonomy and more authority and saying, Hannah, here's the outcome I want, I completely and utterly trust you. To use your best judgment to get us there. That's the beautiful relationship that we're all that I'm striving for in every client engagement.

Hannah (00:33:41) - And I think, though, that's one element, I think the other element is that we there is an external layer of an expectation that gets put on us in terms of when we're in that, like cranking things out, working hard hours, long hours, no matter what toget the job done. Like there's an external expectation that I think lingers for so long that it becomes the internal expectation as well. So then once that external expectation is removed, we've adopted that internal expectation and it's hard to detach from that piece. So I think like you said, Joey, from top down, if there if we could align more of like the expectation with the why. So that way we do understand that while we're in the thick of having to work those things out, but also have an expectation that very early on we should be finding our identity outside of just being a worker bee two right. To have something, to be able to turn it off and walk away and not get to the place of burnout, like we've got to see that from the in the hierarchy, you know, from somebody at the top saying that to people down below as well, like, and promoting that and encouraging that in some way because that's hard.

Hannah (00:34:56) - Once you've gotten you've worked your way up. It's a hard thing like I'm currently, you know, going through this with you, Jeff, in terms of trying to establish what even is my identity at this point outside of being an accountant, when somebody asks me what I do, my answer is, I'm an Accountant. Yeah, you know, or who I am, I'm an Accountant. You know, I am so much more than that. And it's so hard to to detach the two because it's been a long standing answer for me and something I've tied my identity. 

Jeff (00:35:27) - I would, the first place my mind goes is I want to kind of push back on both of you for a second and say what happens if someone is in a place where they're doing the doing. They're the boots on the ground worker bee kind of a thing, and they want to expand beyond that. What if they, you know, in some circles that's called leading upward, even though you don't have the authority, you don't have the authority to tell the boss what to do.

Jeff (00:36:03) - You say, but what if the person says, start saying internally to say, okay, so I am. I see myself as a client advisor. I see myself as a financial advisor. I see myself as a virtual CFO. You know, I see myself as you know, and just even just saying to yourself, that kind of thing. And you start saying, okay, well, what if I tried that new identity on just kind of like putting on a new set of clothes or something like that, what might that look like? I mean.

Hannah (00:36:43) - I think that changes everything.

Joey (00:36:45) - Truly. Because I mean.

Jeff (00:36:46) - Because if you change your identity, your entire story changes. It's crazy. The leverage, the internal leverage is absolutely jaw dropping. And it all happens inside our heads when we I mean, as important as it is to know the commander's intent, you know, in terms of the military, there's a military term called the commander's intent. You know, the the soldiers with the boots on the ground need to know what they're doing and why they're doing it.

Jeff (00:37:16) - And that's I would agree, 100%. That's a huge part of leadership of of leading with integrity and caring about your people. I think it's equally important for the people on the ground to say, hey, if I want to take a take a different direction, then I need to start thinking of myself in a different way first.

Joey (00:37:41) - Mhm. And I think that can happen I think two things need to happen. Number one the environment has to be correct. And you used the commander's intent and that. So for the audience I'm a history nerd. I was a history major before I was an accountant. Spent a lot of time studying history.

Jeff (00:38:00) - Extra an extra part of your identity outside.

Joey (00:38:04) - An extra part of my identity that's really shaped a lot of my leadership. And when you go back and look at can't remember, which I want to say, it was Eisenhower who said this at the end of World War II, and he said at the time, we had the greatest generation of non-commissioned officers.

Joey (00:38:21) - So that's like your lieutenants, your sergeants kind of like your lower level middle management people within the the military hierarchy. And what they created was a system where exactly what you're saying could happen. Top down management generals moving all the way down said, here's the initiative, here's what we had to do. And then they got out of the way and they said, the lieutenant, you you have to capture that bridge. I'm not telling you how you have to do it. If you see the better way to do it's to go left. Instead of going right, go left. You have the freedom to do that. They created an environment that allowed these really exceptional people to maximize their own initiative within that thing, towards the objective. So I think to translate that into the workforce, you as an organization have to create an environment to where that individual says, I want to start thinking like a CFO can do so within the structure and feels the freedom to do that, because sometimes people are saying, hey, I kind of I kind of wanted to try this and play with it.

Joey (00:39:29) - And, and if the, if the, the boss's reaction to that is, no, that's not your job, I don't want you to do that. A that's a sign of horrible management and leadership in my mind. But also, that's the last time that person is ever going to try to expand beyond that identity help. And then this. Yeah, yeah. Which sounds horrible. The second thing that I think needs to happen is you've got to have. A robust mentorship type situation to where? You're creating intentional ways for people to start understanding. Like. A you've got to understand how to think that way. But if you know, you've got to be instilling that piece of the of the information and think a lot about my career. One of the things that I was very fortunate at very early in my career was I got to sit in about 200 consulting meetings over the course of two years, and there was no expectation of anything other than soak it up. You know, you're going to sit and learn and soak it in and participate and be.

Joey (00:40:38) - And it was very, very intentional on the organization's part because they knew this layer, this group that I was in, that's our future advisor. That's our future CFOs. They will self-select out whether they want to do it or not. But we're going to create an environment that allows them to start exploring that space organically when they're ready. That is.

Jeff (00:40:59) - Super cool. That's huge. That is.

Jeff (00:41:00) - Super cool.

Hannah (00:41:03) - I love that you said that about mentorship, too, because I think that we need people like us saying these kinds of things to to the ones that are in the thick of it and in the weeds and empowering them to think of themselves in a different way, in whatever way they want to think of themselves. Thinking of this. Made me remember a story that I actually just heard about. My husband's uncle was telling me about his time. He's in his 60s. He was telling me about getting his master's degree at Ole Miss and what he went through, and he was telling me about a specific professor.

Hannah (00:41:37) - She this was probably in the, in probably the 60s, maybe. I guess if I'm doing the math on that 6070s, whenever he was getting his master's, she was an African American woman who was his professor. And so he was telling me this non related story that I was like, you know, that's really awesome that she was a professor at the University of Mississippi. Yeah, in that era. And he said, yeah. He said yes. He said it was such a big deal. And he said, you know, she told me a story where she said that for years she drove around the campus of the University of Mississippi saying, I'm going to be a professor there. I'm going to be a professor there one day. This is a part of my story, and this is where I'm going to be. And she did it. And she told him, she said, you know, I believe in God. I believe in prayer. Absolutely. But also believe in mindset and what you set your mind to and working hard to get to that and seeing yourself in that role.

Hannah (00:42:28) - And she did it. And this is exactly that, exactly that setting our sights on that and acting and posturing ourselves in situations and where we are currently accordingly, for where we see ourselves in the future. And we've got to empower people, and everyone in leadership roles need to be empowering people to do that and have these conversations. Because truly, I'd not really even thought about that even prior prior to hearing that and this, this conversation that how different and my career trajectory would have been if I'd have been seeing myself differently in my 20s.

Jeff (00:43:06) - And I really want to encourage anyone who hears this to say, you know what? No matter. I mean, even if you're in the most toxic environment imaginable, I mean, that's a whole separate discussion of whether, you know, whether you should work to change your environment or whether you should leave or, you know, find, you know, find an ally and stick with your ally or just whatever. But even if you're in a toxic place.

Jeff (00:43:35) - The choice to change your story always happens inside your own heart and inside your own mind. I mean, and even just something as simple as you know, when I first met my executive coach that I've been working with for multiple years now. I saw at one point on his social media that he says, I work with high performing men, and that kind of caught me off guard because I'd never thought of myself as a high performing man. I just, you know, I'm just a guy kind of a thing. That was the identity that I had. But then when I decided it, just something inside me said, well, I saw some evidence. Well, I'm working with this guy, and he only works with high performing men, so I guess that means I'm a high performing man. Oh, okay. Well, let's try that identity on. And all of a sudden I looked at this. This was pre-COVID, of course. So I was looking at this laptop bag that I was walking around.

Jeff (00:44:31) - It had a seam on the corner that was ripped out. I'm going, what a high performing man. Walk around with a ripped out laptop bag? Heck no. I went and got that thing fixed. I could have done it for six months before that, but. You know, but it was only because I had decided to change my identity. I had made the change inside my head. And that's where what my. That my actions changed because my identity changed. And that's when. You know? And the next thing was, I said, I looked at myself in the mirror. I said, is this what the what a high performing man looked like? Heck no. I joined a, I joined a virtual personal training membership and started dropping weight, you know, start getting toned up and lifting all that stuff. It all happened because of the identity. So, you know, just really to double down and encourage anyone who's gotten into a place where, okay, well, I'm all I'm allowed to do is do is do the doing.

Jeff (00:45:34) - And heck, what happens if the doing goes away? Then what? Well, you know what? There's we always have the have the opportunity to say, what might it look like if I were to look at myself as someone who does something different, who is something different, and what might that end up meaning for me to do?

Jeff (00:45:57) - Number 2

Joey (00:45:59) - I love that encouragement too, and I want to add one thing to it. The thing that I wish I knew at 25 that I know at 35, is that when you're having those conversations with yourself and saying, is this how I see myself? Like, don't be afraid to go talk to people in those roles and say, hey, can you? I want to change my story. I want to. I want to be this or I want to do that, or I want to feel this way. And I see this as something that you have. Can you help me? Help me get there? I think sometimes being the being the young person on the team or the new person or whatever it happens to be, however you want to frame that part of the conversation, it's it can be lonely, it can be isolating.

Joey (00:46:45) - It can feel like you're stuck on this island and that you're never going to get off. And I think that had I felt a little bit more comfortable going to talk to people and saying like, hey, I know this is what I'm doing and I know this is what I need to do to further my career, but I'm struggling to see what the end goal is. Can you help me figure that out so I can I can write my own story. Anybody, anybody worth working for is going to look at that person and say, absolutely, I'm going to help you get there. I also want to make 11.2, which is that. In the frame of this conversation. We've talked a lot about people kind of elevating from the dual role and what I also want to make sure that people understand is that, organizationally speaking, from my perspective, if you as a person really do value that dual role, and I think a lot about my wife and what she loves to do in her job, she loves having a list and she loves checking things off the list.

Joey (00:47:46) - And that gives her a ton of personal satisfaction and joy. And those are her best days at work, is when she's being able to knock things off list.

Jeff (00:47:53) - That’s honorable. 

Joey (00:47:54) -Well, and that's the I've told people this before, that's the most valuable person in your organization. And someone who's like, this is my story and this is where I want to be. Like I hear so many times, like, well, if you're not trying to move up, you'd lack ambition or something like that. And it's like, no, that's not the case at all. Management. Please don't view it that way. Understand and empower that person who wants to stay in that dual role, because it provides joy for them. And it's the story they want to be at this moment. That's a valuable person to. Just want I want to we talked about that before.

Hannah (00:48:34) - I want to maybe selfishly speak to also the person who may have found themselves in a promotion and in another role and maybe struggling with some imposter syndrome, because I feel like that is also very much tied to your identity.

Hannah (00:48:49) - What steps does that person need to take to overcome that? How do you get out of that cycle?

Jeff (00:48:56) - The interesting thing is the the more people that I talk to, the higher the results that they bring, the more they build their business, the more they build themselves as people or expand whatever. The bad news is imposter syndrome never ends at some point because if you are challenging yourself, it means you're stepping out of stasis. You're stepping out of what's normal, what's comfortable. And there will always be some sort of, you know, if you are pushing yourself. You can actually look at impostor syndrome as a positive thing. It's not a oh, this is terrible. I'm feeling this. I'm. It means I'm a fraud. People are going to find out. It means you can actually reframe that and say, I am actually challenging myself and I'm stepping forward. I am doing this. And the way to start addressing it is to look for proof that you are doing the things that this person in this different or alternate or higher or horizontal identity would be doing.

Jeff (00:50:13) - And you can just and you can literally brainwash yourself and say, this is who I am being. This is what I'm doing. See, there's proof right there. And you can actually. And then the more you do that, the more you get to a place where you can actually say, okay. These doubts are still here. But they are not the end all be all. They are not the controlling force. You know, it is actually a sign that I'm moving in the right direction. It does not have to be crippling anything but.

Joey (00:50:55) - So what I heard there was that you can rewrite your story so that the imposter syndrome is not the obstacle that you have to overcome.

Jeff (00:51:02) - You can actually say, you know, you can actually re identify that character in your story of imposter syndrome and say, this is not the enemy. This is actually a positive sign that I'm on the right path.

Joey (00:51:20) - This is my that's my ally. This is not the enemy.

Joey (00:51:21) - This is the person right there with me.

Hannah (00:51:23) - I never thought of it that way.

Jeff (00:51:27) - The crazy thing is, for most of my life, I never experienced imposter syndrome myself. I. I started in Hollywood in the early 2000s, and I just started doing and doing and doing and becoming more comfortable and more accomplished until I had a credit list as long as my leg. And so when I started learning about online business and saying, hey, I want to teach people, you know, I want to build another income stream to teach people what I've learned in Hollywood. It was a whole different, you know, a whole different conversation about what it means to actually build a business that works. I had no idea. I had no idea about that at the time. But I never questioned myself because I had my credit list. I had my built in credibility. It was only to a point when I started stepping outside Hollywood into the world of business, that the imposter syndrome started showing up for me.

Jeff (00:52:22) - And that was when at first it freaked me out. I'm going, oh, I've never felt this. Well, yeah, you know, what am I going to do? And then I started doing exactly what I was saying just a minute ago. Just the idea of, okay, well, if someone was to say, what about. Okay, well, if someone was to ask the most terrible, horrible questions, like, how many clients are you serving? How much of this have you actually done? How much money did you make from all your clients? All that stuff. I sat down and I said, okay, well, what would I actually say? You know what? I had answers for every single question. You had to lean into it. Next thing you know, I can honestly look at that imposter syndrome and say. Everyone I've talked to says it never goes away completely. And actually, if you're stretching yourself, it should not go away.

Jeff (00:53:18) - So. What's up dude? What's up Imposter syndrome? Good to see you. You can move on. I got this.

Joey (00:53:29) - That just ties in so well with what someone taught me about anxiety one time, which is like, that's just your that's just your body protecting you. And the best thing you can do is acknowledge it. Just say, hey, thank you anxiety, for trying to keep me safe.

Jeff (00:53:41) - Thank you. Moving on.

Joey (00:53:44) - Yeah. Thank you. Moving on. Accepting it and learning to live with it instead of fight it, which is great.

Hannah (00:53:55) - My mind is a little bit blown from that right now, truly, because did not expect that answer at all. I was really hoping you would tell me that there's some silver bullet that I'm just not doing in order to get rid of this, this imposter.

Jeff (00:54:06) - Don't don't don't even try.

Hannah (00:54:08) - Yeah, mine has been shaped completely different.

Joey (00:54:11) - I was gonna say. Think you can do that, Hannah? But it's it would you would stop moving.

Joey (00:54:16) - You would say, I am just going to stay in stasis for the rest of. For the rest of time and again, if that's what you want to do. If you're at that point, great. But if not, that's okay too.

Hannah (00:54:28) - I'm not. Yeah. Now I'll figure it out to find a way to embrace my imposter friend. So, yeah.

Joey (00:54:37) - Well if we wanted to. We usually like to end with something a little bit more, more lighthearted. And you've been talking a lot about about Hollywood. And for whatever reason, Hollywood has always fascinated people, including myself, just because it does kind of feel like its own little ecosystem in terms of, you know, kind of what's going on there. And you've obviously you mentioned your credit list as, as, as long as your leg. What was your favorite project that you've ever worked on in Hollywood? And like, what was it about that, like really stands out in your mind as something, you know, really cool that you did?

Jeff (00:55:15) - You know, I got to tell you, I think if I had to.

Jeff (00:55:20) - If I had to pick the favorite child, as it were, you know, without disclaimer, you know, try to pick your favorite child. I've had some really crappy gigs. I've had some really amazing engagements, too. And I'd say probably the probably my favorite one is working with. Okay. I'm starting to feel things here. Oh, wow. So probably my favorite one is working with American Ninja Warrior on NBC. I've been with that show for over ten years, and the coolest part about that is I get to tell the stories of the athletes before they step on the course. And from the psychological standpoint that, you know, when the audience knows the story of the person who's doing the thing, then you actually care about what they do. Because if you take away the story, if it's just some gal or some guy on this crazy obstacle course, it might be, you know, it just turns into an athletic feat. And maybe they care. Maybe it doesn't. But when you know who they are, when you know the obstacles that they've been facing in their own lives and you see them.

Jeff (00:56:30) - Get on this course, and they are physically overcoming the obstacles every time they get through an obstacle in this course. It's a message to anyone watching saying you can do it too.

Joey (00:56:46) - Mhm.

Jeff (00:56:46) - So it's an incredible privilege to be part of that and to be spreading that kind of message into the world.

Joey (00:56:56) - I was hoping that was going to be lighthearted, but I'm glad that you. No, no, I'm so glad you brought the emotions to it, because it's. You're right. I was thinking about it's like, yeah, it's really cool to see them do the athletic feats that I could never do. But when you're doing it and like, oh, that person is hanging by their arm from, you know, one of the obstacles and you know that they broke that arm two years ago trying to do the same obstacle course like that emotional connection and investment in what they're doing is so much.

Jeff (00:57:27) - If you are if you're alive and you have a pulse. That means there is something that you want.

Jeff (00:57:34) - And any time you get something you want something that you can't have or you don't have that is worth having, you will find an obstacle standing in your way. All of us have obstacles and that is part of everyone's story. It is part of living life. And so as we all think about what our story is. And how to take on these obstacles, we can know that the very best stories. The very best stories will always have those obstacles, and those obstacles can be overcome and it is possible and that we can do it.

Hannah (00:58:22) - And there's such power in our stories, all of our stories in some regard, that's going to connect with somebody and empower them on their stories and pay that forward. So I genuinely hope, after our listeners listen to this episode, that they feel empowered to do the work to determine what their stories are and can own them and can use them and craft them beautifully in a way to make an impact on the world and the work in the work and their workplace, wherever they find themselves.

Hannah (00:58:48) - So I'm so excited and thankful that you shared all this with us, Jeff. So if our listeners want to connect with you outside of this podcast, what is the best way? 

Jeff (00:58:59) - The best way to do that is to go to the website storygreenlight.com That's my company storygreenlight.com. Learn more about what we do and if there's a place where you're looking to shape your own messaging, your own public facing presence, that's what I'm literally in the middle of with both of y'all. And it's a privilege to be in that process with you guys and would love to work with your listeners, too.

Outro (00:59:31) - If you're a young CPA looking to develop in their careers, we're always looking for great people. Visit our website for remote work opportunities with Summit Virtual CFO or find all our open positions at Anders CPAs and advisors.

Finding Your Story: Navigating Identity and Imposter Syndrome with Jeff Bartsch

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