Don’t hold yourself back and unleash your true potential so you can succeed in life. But really, how do we grow in confidence to achieve maximum fulfillment? In this episode, Baeth Davis talks with Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski on how to overcome your deepest fears so you could fabulously enjoy your business today. Judith and Jim are known for their exceptional skills in leadership coaching and as hosts of a popular podcast series named, Overcoming The Fear Of Being Fabulous. They share personal experiences in their life that led to the career they are now and why they left their acting careers. Furthermore, they dive deep into their motivations, their leadership coaching techniques, how they could scale their impact, and the audio program they created in short snippets for us to grow in our sense of wellbeing.
Thanks for being a member of Align To Your Design. We have over 100 people a week joining this group which is great. The word of mouth has been spreading. I have a special treat for you for our show. My dear friends Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski have agreed to be interviewed by me. I first met Judith in a women’s group she was leading a while back. I was in my twenties and she was the age she was. We bonded in that group and then became friends over time. I got to know Jim. I learned so much from them about better relating, how to better relate to myself, better relate to others. I’m going to share a little bit about their professional history. They’re going to come on. We’re going to talk about how to allow yourself to be fabulous in business. That is our topic.
Business is fun. It is something you want to feel fabulous doing and be fabulous in. That’s going to be our topic. Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski are a husband and wife team. They are relationship experts and psychology experts. They inspire everyone who meets them from the self-employed to business owners, leaders and employees at all levels in order to help them achieve their maximum success. I talk often in here about maximum fulfillment. Judith, Jim and I are on the same page. It is the whole point, maximum success and maximum fulfillment. They are bestselling authors and executive coaches, coaching for LinkedIn and Credit Karma for years. Their clients include LinkedIn, Unity Technologies, World Courier, Blackbird Interactive along with several startups and many individuals.
At the heart of their work is the message that the imposter syndrome or what they call the fear of being fabulous can be eradicated with the help of their program Being Fabulous in Business, which is a four-hour audio program with enhanced transcripts and an online workbook. Towards the end of our interview, they will be sharing more about the program. Judith and Jim have also been guest experts on over 3,000 television and radio shows including Oprah, The View, 48 Hours, CNN and Canada AM. With that, please welcome my delightful friends, my spiritual parents, Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski affectionately known as Judith and Jim.
Welcome to the show. It’s so good to have you here. I’m excited about our conversation. You have been psychologists and executive coaches for several decades. What do you see is the number one reason that people feel held back in their ability to succeed in their career, in their ability to make money, even lots of money? What is it that’s holding us back? Someone might say fear but everybody’s got fear. What is it that you’ve observed because you’ve worked with thousands of people?
The simple way to say it, Baeth, is people do not have internal permission to get the success they desire. They stopped and they withhold. They don’t believe in themselves. They stop and sabotage themselves. Without that internal permission, they have no internal support.
We would ask everyone reading to think about how often they procrastinate, how often they let themselves indulge in the novel they’re reading or the movie they’re watching instead of getting at that work project that would push them ahead. How do people receive compliments? How well do they receive praise? We ask everyone reading to think about it. We started talking about a phrase that we came up with because of a client we’re working with, the duck and giggle. When people get a compliment, they very often duck and giggle instead of being able to say, “Thank you so much.” People have trouble believing they deserve the praise. If you can’t receive a simple compliment, how well are you going to be internally supported to push forward in your work life, your career when you’re being held back right at the start?
There’s always more, and you can have more; just let yourself want more.
This is a side question. Where do you think the roots of this come from? Is it cultural? Is it humans being in groups and not trying to one-up each other? What do you think the fundamental reasons are that we don’t want to shine and draw attention to ourselves?
Our approach with that is familiar. It happens when you are a child. You were told things like you’re too big for your britches. Be humble. Be quiet. Be modest. Women are supposed to be second class to men and men are supposed to be champions. That all is crap. Most men try but they don’t get there and if they get there, it’s usually fake.
In our program and in the coaching we do, we ask people to look back on those early years of what was going on in the family both overtly. Where are the parents playing themselves down? Where they’re undermining their own success? What kinds of messages were they receiving in the family? How many kids are told, “Who are you to speak up? We don’t want to hear from you. You’re just a little punk. Know your place. You’re out of line.” All messages that kids receive, the parents do not realize are undermining those little people’s internal integrity and internal ambition to be larger. There are lots of people who feel like it’s disloyal if they become more successful than their parents. Certainly, Jim and I have had to work through some of that, as you well know.
To that point, you were both successful actors earlier in your lives, before you met one another and then you both walked away. Why did you walk away?
I was a stage actor for fifteen years and very successful. I did 85 different stage productions in that time and then I went to Hollywood which was the dream. That’s what started the whole process. I got into Hollywood. I did The Rockford Files. It was a very simple role. I’m Agent Ben Bast of the FBI or something like that. Jim Rockford had been accused of something. I had to get him into a car, take him to the airport and put him on the plane. That’s it. The first scene was, “I am Agent Ben Bast. I’m here to see you.” We get in the car. We get to the airport. I was like, “Here he is. There he is.” It was done, finished. I had never seen myself perform. I was horrified by what I saw. It’s what most people experienced if they hear their own voice for the first time. They can’t believe it. I could not believe what I was seeing. I went to my agent’s office. I put a note under his door, “I am quitting the business. Don’t try to find me. You won’t be able.” I quit at that minute. It was silly. It was completely irrational. I’m grounded. When I saw it years later, it was that simple. It was fine.
We both had seen it. It was completely fine but Jim was horrified because the internal voice, that voice ready to undermine him was all too ready to put him down. Certainly, in my case, I grew up in Los Angeles. I did tons of commercials and television acting. I went to New York after college. Baeth and everybody reading, in 1967 when I was in New York, I had four agents. I was working a lot. Not only one of my agents asks if he could manage my acting career, to which I summarily said no because I was going to go back to Los Angeles to get married. That’s what my parents had raised me to do. Baeth, in 1967, I took home in my jeans $50,000. Now, that’s the equivalent of $400,000. Did it inspire me to go even to a larger career on Broadway, soap operas, going to London or Paris? No.
My unconscious programming was, “I have to get married.” I go back to Los Angeles, which is not where my career was on fire. Many years later, I find this wonderful man to marry. We have to be very suspicious about why both of us sabotaged those acting careers. One of the things we want everyone reading to pay attention to is neither of our fathers graduated high school. Neither of our mothers worked. The words ambition and career were never mentioned in our households ever. We grew up. Both Jim and I when we knew each other better, started talking about all of this and came up with this idea of the fear of being fabulous is we had no internal permission to have giant, robust careers.
You’ve shared a little bit of how that influenced what you focus on with the fear of being fabulous. Can you say more about how you focus on that with people? You see them holding themselves back from success because of the fear of being fabulous. What you went through, how does it influence how you work with people now?
First of all, we know it’s real. It was real for us. We lived it. It’s not theory. It’s not textbook. It’s an actual life experience that we went through and had to survive too. A lot of people don’t survive. I didn’t survive. I quit the business. I stopped but I got into something else. My deepest talent in psychology. That was a theatrical career. I cannot have located myself in doing executive coaching with Judith. Your phrase is fulfilling. It’s not a payday. It’s soul fulfillment. I had internal permission to go do the complete support.
What we see with clients are things like they’re afraid to ask for a promotion. They’re reluctant to speak up at a meeting because maybe their idea isn’t the best idea. Only to hear somebody else at the meeting say that idea get credit for it and then they’re mad at themselves that they stayed mute but they have held themselves back all through school, all through their career. Their reluctance holds them back. I want everyone reading to get this. Jim and I coach for a lot of tech companies. Even people who are VPs, senior VPs had even entered into the C-suite of companies. We have coached through their reluctance to move further, their reluctance to be broader in their leadership. What we know is when people start their own business like clients of yours, Baeth, they often start with a small idea. That’s all they can let themselves imagine instead of what would happen if they let themselves imagine it much larger if they dreamed bigger. If they don’t have internal permission to do that, they can’t.
In the idea of internal permission, the imposter syndrome is when people believe they don’t have the value or the credibility either in the face of factual evidence or the contrary. It’s amazing to watch these people do all these things. They get patents. Sometimes they were promoted. They have great ideas. They cannot take it in. They cannot own who they are. What they do is make one excuse after another. The duck and giggle are what they do. They get out. They leave. They’re left stranded not knowing what the hell is going on even consciously. Their intentions to have a better life, they can’t make it happen.
Your answers are pointing to the power of this unconscious programming, which we talk about all the time here on the show because it’s about deconditioning from that programming, that’s going to set us free. We all receive it in our growing-up years. I’m wondering, can people overcome those holdbacks that are often buried so deep in the subconscious or they take them for granted?
You did. The answer is yes. People have to do the work of unburying those beliefs that are located in the unconscious. They have to work against the negative head talk, part of our program. Being Fabulous in Business helps people with the unconscious holdbacks, the negative head talk. That’s why we have a workbook associated to help people work through those varied beliefs and get them up to the surface where once they’re conscious then you can work against it unconsciously every day. Work to assert who you are instead of who you were taught to be largely unconsciously then.
Judith and I used a phrase. We say, “There is no such thing as failure.” You are always succeeding. The question is at what? What do you succeed at? When Judith was in New York, she was succeeding and obeying the training. She’s got to get married. When I hit the wall in Hollywood, the best way I can say is I came from a deep pathology, which has a real negative impact on the body’s physicality. When I saw the body that it turned out, it was terrifying to me. I had to flee. I ran from it. When I ran, I would love to fail. I was failing my ambition for the theater but I was succeeding at the program. It kept me in place. I was very successful in that sense.
It appears to be that the majority of humans I interact with and this would include myself, it’s much easier to be loyal and people-pleasing to keep that loyalty in check that’s often unconscious. That loyalty is huge for people. The more rigid the culture they come from, the more they must follow the family tradition. They must do XYZ by a certain point in their life. Even harder it is for those people than someone who maybe, “They got conditioning but their parents were super encouraging and not structured or strict. They have an easier time.” You two are the ones who first introduced me to this concept of being loyal and because of that, I realized that I was very much afraid of outshining my father. Every time I would get to a point where I would, I would sabotage it somehow unconsciously. I suddenly have a big tax bill or I get sick. It’s something I would do. I realized that I had to give myself that internal permission to shine.
There is no such thing as failure. You are always succeeding if you learn from your failures.
Also, to outdo your father.
He wasn’t even paying attention anyway. It’s not like he cared. It was all going inside of my head. He would have been proud of me. It’s not logical.
Your tax bill and your sickness were successes.
They were and being loyal to the family.
If people can turn that around for themselves, they will see entire landscape successes instead of a landscape of failures which psychologically will make a big difference.
You raised the issue of people who are raised in family dynamics, cultures, religions and any of those that are very restrictive, people have to get conscious about, “Maybe it’s not the keenest thing on the planet for you to have to always be humble and always play yourself down,” which might have been appropriate if you were still in a village back in the country where your parents came from. It’s not appropriate if you are starting your own business, you’re growing your own business or you’re growing a career. You need to be in charge of yourself on your terms to allow yourself to be fabulous.
I’d like to speak to all the people reading who are thinking about what we are saying as a virtual plasma. To not be humbled, to not be modest, how dare you say that? We have a different issue of humility. Humility is not the false suppression of your gifts. True humility is a full expression of your gifts as a way of honoring their source, whatever you believe that to be.
That’s how I would define humility. It’s very selfish, almost narcissistic for people to dwell in their misery when they could be sharing their gifts, experiencing delight, that fulfillment and success. You created this program that I haven’t finished going through but I started and it’s good. It’s very successful with business people, entrepreneurs, employees and anyone working who wants to go to the next level in using their gifts. It’s called the Being Fabulous in Business online course. Would you share with everyone what your motivation was for doing the course?
For all of you reading, I can’t stress enough. Please introduce yourself to Judith and Jim’s work if you haven’t. You’ve reached the pinnacle of what coaching is. To be executive coaches for LinkedIn, every coach who’s come out of coaching school dreams of landing many years’ gig with a major company and being their go-to coaches. You’ve broken through the past programming about the ceiling of success, which is great. You can walk your talk. I’d love for you to share a bit about it. I want to invite all of you reading to please take the program. It’s a small investment for many years of success to come. Will you share where the idea came from and tell us more about it?
We have over the years talked about how we can scale our impact. We can only work with so many people one-on-one coaching. Even when we’re at LinkedIn or Credit Karma and we’re doing training with teams of people, it’s still just that internal team of people. We’ve talked about how we can scale our work. We’ve ended up creating this program that is very doable. It’s four hours of audio. You can do it while you’re out walking, when you’re bicycling, on BART, the subway, or wherever you might be because it’s an audio program. It’s four hours in short snippets so that you’re not locked into an hour’s worth of listening at one time.
We created the workbook so the people are required to participate. We urge every one of you who gets this program to please do the workbook because it makes you rework your thinking about these various issues and put it in writing. The enhanced transcripts come with it if you prefer reading. We also encourage you to do the program again after six months because who you are then will have expanded and you will be able to push yourself even further using this program that helps you get past the fear of being fabulous.
The reason we put it on paper is that when one does that, it becomes objective. It’s not fog in your head. You can look at it out here. Often, we have asked people to write down a list of what they believe are their successes. We have been shocked given what they bring to us. They do have been shocked being able to see it instead of being lost in the fog inside the head. Put it on paper so you can see it and verify it for yourself.
Some people may not want to work on paper. That’s why the workbook has been created so you can work on it online. You don’t need a printer. You don’t need a pen and pencil. I wanted to support what Jim says. Often, we ask people for their assignment and what’s worked into the program here is, “How have your so-called failures helped grow who you are, helped you become more successful?” To take this idea that you’re never failing. You’re always succeeding at something and incorporate that so that you can grow in your confidence. You can grow in your sense of wellbeing rather than so many people get anxious about, “I didn’t make it here. I didn’t get hired at that job. I didn’t get promoted there.” They use it to play themselves down over and over.
When you run into a problem, don’t just see it as a problem. See it as a way to gain self-awareness about what’s going on.
Baeth, this is stupid. People do fail. They do. Look at all the homeless people out in the world. Are they succeeding? Yes, they are. The question is at what. They are homeless in allegiance and loyalty to some unconscious idea of commitment. They have succeeded. They take that route to the homeless position. Years ago when I was in LA, I was somewhere in Santa Monica sitting on a ledge, looking down into the cavern. Below me, I could see a homeless in the cavern. I thought, “I know I could end up there.” I don’t need to end up there. Having me end up there would have been a negative success and an unconscious success but it would have been a success in that loyalty. “I’m loyal. Watch me express it.”
A way to think about what Jim is talking about and how some people talk about it is we’ve all used the expression, which we’ve heard people say all the time, “He loved his mother to death.” Think about that phrase. When you incorporate that idea of what it means to love, where you came from to death, you have to keep killing off your expertise, your intelligence, your capability and your ambition. You may end up homeless. We know that’s not the population that we’re speaking to, thank goodness but it’s worth considering when you have this idea of loving your family to death. That will hold you back and we do not want that for anyone reading this interview.
I won’t say that expression anymore since you pointed that out to me years ago. Do you want to love someone to their death? I don’t want to be reinforcing that. When I get the concept, “I love you for the rest of your life. I love you for eternity,” the way it sounds is, “I love you in a way that is toxic, irrational, rigid and fixed.”
What’s important here is that for everyone reading this interview with you, that they be inspired by you, your success and the story that we’ve told about how we walked away from our acting careers and have done the opposite in our coaching. It’s opened us to let it keep growing and growing. For every single person reading this interview, please question. Can I grow more? Can I allow myself more freedom to become more expansive in what I aspire to do? What’s the next largest thing I want to do and let myself do? For all of you who need some help, by all means, take that up on this, go to our program Being Fabulous in Business and use the program.
How have people and businesses been responding to your program? I know you’ve had a lot of positive responses from companies who need this kind of program for their learning and development offerings. For any of you reading who are corporate, who need a program for your learning and development offerings, contact Judith and Jim.
They’ve been responding very positively. The corporate process is lengthy but we are closing arrangements with two major corporations. What we’re hearing over and over is this program is so different than most learning and development programs. One major company is looking at using it to start with for their contractor engineers who get almost no support to grow their careers. We’re very excited about that. This program, once it’s put together and it’s in the process, we’ll have a project manager in charge to test, pretest and posttest all of these engineers who will be using the program to grow in their professional expertise and confidence. There’s a wide variety of companies. We’ve got some companies that also ask us not to say their names. We’re a little hamstrung here but we’re getting very positive responses.
Are there any final words of wisdom for our audience?
Please when you run into a problem, don’t just see it as a problem. See it as a way to gain self-awareness about what’s going on unconsciously. Working with our program is designed specifically to uncover the unconscious in the academic circle. That would be anathema. Definitely unconscious forever, that’s not true. You can find out more about who you are, how to better perform and love yourself for that performance. That’s why I ask people to take this seriously. Not love yourself to death but love yourself to the end of your life.
I would simply add that we encourage everyone to think larger about what’s possible for you. All too often we are hamstrung by limited imagination, ambition and aspiration. Please take away from our conversation with Baeth that there’s more and that you can have more. Let yourself want more.
For example, the word fabulous. A lot of people would back away from the word fabulous. It’s not a terrific business term. What we mean by fabulous is not the Taj Mahal or $1 billion. Those are fantasies. What we mean by fabulous is when you find yourself constrained and you take the next step to move beyond the constraint even in the content or the step you’re taking and the fact that you’re willing to take the next step, that itself is fabulous. Open doors, business and careers, that’s what you’re after.
Thank you both so much. It’s a pleasure. I love this conversation. I never tire of this conversation. I don’t think a person could hear it too much or work on it enough. There are always those little places, those little nooks and crannies where these unconscious saboteurs are hanging out. It’s good to do a regular quarterly or biyearly detox or house cleaning of your critters that are holding you back. Thank you for tuning in. We will see you next time. Bye for now.
About Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski
Husband and wife relationship experts and psychology team Drs Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski – best known as Judith & Jim – inspire everyone from Self-employed, to Business Owners, Leaders, and Employees at all levels to achieve their maximum success!
They are Bestselling authors and Executive Coaches, coaching for LinkedIn for nearly 11 years and Credit Karma for almost 5 years, and current clients include LinkedIn, Unity Technologies, World Courier, Blackbird Interactive, along with several start-ups and many individuals.
At the heart of their work is the message that The Imposter Syndrome, or what they call The Fear Of Being Fabulous – can be eradicated with the help of their program “Being Fabulous In Business” – a 4 -hour audio program with enhanced transcripts and online workbook!
As guest experts they’ve been on over 3000 television and radio shows including Oprah, The View, 48 Hours, CNN, and Canada AM.