Have you ever tried to do something for the very first time? If so, what did you hear more often:
❌ “Who do you think you are?”
✅ “I believe in you!”
When I started my first ever podcast from scratch with no experience, I had to believe in myself before others believed in me. It’s natural to want validation from others before we actually take a leap of faith. But if we just keep waiting for that to happen, we might never get started on that BIG IDEA or PASSION that only you have the vision to see.
✨Because I forged ahead and followed my passion, I’m proud and incredulous to launch Season Three of the Changing Lenses podcast today!🎉
It’s taken me three seasons to finally have the confidence to say:
This is a podcast about JEDI, which stands for Justice, Equity, Decolonization and Inclusion. Our mission in Changing Lenses is to envision a more JEDI way to work and do business by seeing from diverse worldviews.
In this season 3 premiere episode, I share with you:
🎙️ my journey through impostor syndrome
🎙️ how employers/recruiters can change their lenses to see the true value of candidates
🎙️ how employees/job seekers can turn their life experiences into corporate skills
Link to episode transcript here.
As a racialized, recovering recruiter, I'm here to help you survive the search! 👉🏻https://www.changinglenses.ca/jobcoach👈🏻
Find more support and resources, and contact me directly at: https://www.changinglenses.ca/
Buy me a Bubble Tea! 🧉👉🏻 https://www.buymeacoffee.com/changinglenses 👈🏻
Please note: the transcripts attempt to stay true to the essence of each conversation, while maintaining clarity and readability. As a result, certain "filler" words, and nuances of tone, emotion and emphasis will be missing.
If you're able, you're strongly encouraged to listen to the audio podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human editors, and may contain errors.
[intro music starts]
Rosie: Friends, how do you know when you’re good enough for something? Who gets to decide that?
Have you ever noticed that we often have to wait for other people to tell us if and when we’re good enough at work? Like how our boss decides when we’re good enough to be promoted, and recruiters decide if we’re good enough to be hired.
I’ll be honest with you – I’ve never really felt good enough. In my professional life, I can see now that I was always trying to earn the approval of my bosses and colleagues. I was continually seeking that gold star sticker on my work, to affirm that I deserved to be there. This is true from the time when I was a brand new junior accountant, all the way to becoming Vice-President of Finance.
But you’d think that when I started my own business, and became my own boss – that would all change, right? I mean, I’m working for myself – whose approval do I need to earn?
Except – that’s not what happened. Somewhere in my first year of business, I realized I was still fighting the not good enough demon. I faced the same roadblocks as a CEO and podcaster, as I did working for someone else. These roadblocks made me tone down my ideas, hide my feelings, and say only what others would find acceptable.
But not anymore.
It’s taken me until Season Three of this podcast, with a ton of coaching and inner self-work, but I’m finally proclaiming boldly – I am Rosie Yeung, Founder and CEO of Changing Lenses, and I am a JEDI Coach, Keynote Speaker, and Podcaster. Today I’m sharing with you my true behind-the-scenes story of how I’m overcoming (present tense) my feelings of inadequacy, feelings that are reinforced by our capitalist, Western business culture. And whether you’re an employer or an employee or both, I hope you’ll gain some ideas on how you can help break that cycle.
So JEDI Visionaries, welcome to Season 3, and the next evolution of the Changing Lenses podcast.
[intro music ends]
Now if you haven’t heard the term JEDI before, or this is your first time listening to Changing Lenses (welcome new listener), JEDI is an acronym I use which stands for Justice, Equity, Decolonization and Inclusion. I like the term JEDI because I LOVE Star Wars, and also because it fits my mission, which is to help people with privilege dismantle systemic inequity, while helping people without privilege survive it.
This podcast is hosted on the traditional territory of many nations Indigenous to Turtle Island, including the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Haudensaunee Confederacy. For a more complete Land Acknowledgment, please listen all the way to the end of this episode.
The goal of Changing Lenses to envision a more JEDI way to work and do business by seeing from diverse worldviews.
In this episode, I’m going to try something new. This is part of MY authenticity. I’m going to start doing some shorter solo episodes that I’m calling “Real Talk with Rosie”. I think it’s a great title, because my high school English teacher said that alliteration is an excellent literary technique. Also, because Real Talk is exactly what I’m craving.
Let me explain.
My journey to being my whole self in my podcast and work
Going all the way back to 2020, I almost didn’t start this podcast because I had a terrible case of impostor syndrome. I had just been laid off for the first time in my life, after a seemingly successful 20-year career.
I got this seemingly successful career by following the traditional path. Go to school, get the degree, get a good job, get the professional designations, work your way up the ladder as high as you can.
So when I lost my job and, arguably, my identity – I felt terrified and insecure, but also oddly free. Free to NOT go back to that same old professional job that I never really wanted to do in the first place. Free to pursue my passion for social justice without trying to make it fit within accounting and HR.
But just as I started to hope I could start fresh and do anything, I faced new roadblocks that made me think I could do nothing.
Because this time, I wasn’t walking the traditional path. I wasn’t going back to school, getting a degree, and working my way up from the bottom of an entry level job.
My trusted support network of close friends, some of whom worked in social services and equity consulting – weren’t all encouraging. And to top it all off, I now had the stress of relying on my passion to generate income. I’m a single income person, so if I don’t make money, I have no money. I had to figure out a way to do what I believe, while selling what I believe.
Now if you’re an employee working for a company, maybe you think you’re in a different boat, and the obstacles I faced don’t apply to you.
But actually, what I learned through my entrepreneurial journey is that I had the same roadblocks and issues while I was a full-time employee too. I just didn’t recognize them at the time. They may look a little different on the outside, but at its heart, they stopped me from authenticity in the same way.
Here’s an example.
I mentioned impostor syndrome earlier. If you haven’t heard the term before, I like this super simple way of describing it on the website www.verywellmind.com: “Impostor syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be…the experience of feeling like a phony—like you don't belong where you are.” In a work context, it can happen to people who’ve taken on a new role – maybe as a new hire or promotion – but they’re scared they won’t perform up to expectations because they’re not really as deserving or prepared as others think.
Well in my case, I didn’t even reach the level of impostor syndrome at the beginning. Because I actually wasn’t even told I was competent or capable. I had chosen a role for myself – to be a JEDI Visionary – and people close to me were saying, “Who do you think you are? What qualifies you to call yourself an equity consultant, or JEDI advocate? Where are your degrees? What certifications or job experience do you have? None! So how can you possibly think you could do this?”
Now those weren’t the exact words they used, but trust me when I say I’m not exaggerating. An exact quote of what one friend said to me – yes, a good friend – is, “Why would I listen to your podcast?”
I still feel the sting from those conversations to this day, and I think I always will. And here’s the kicker. They were and still are my friends, and they weren’t trying to hurt me by what they said. They love me and were trying to help me. How? They were worried I wasn’t going to succeed, and they wanted to show me what I still needed to learn. They thought I was getting ahead of myself, and was dreaming unrealistically.
And here’s the really tricky part – because I wanted to help marginalized communities, which is very sensitive and delicate work – they were afraid I’d do more harm than good by jumping in headfirst without proper training.
And you know what? They’re not wrong.
Of course we need to be well educated and trained in what we do. Of course we shouldn’t give ourselves titles that lie or mislead about our actual qualifications.
But what my friends weren’t recognizing, is the lived experience I had of being bullied, othered and marginalized as a shy, short Chinese girl who was always underestimated and overlooked. I experienced anti-Asian racism, but relatively mildly, so it was discounted compared to anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. And I worked for years in large charities that helped at-risk communities, but I was in finance and HR, so that didn’t count either – even though I interacted directly with the community, and also learned tons about human rights and development.
When I chose to be a keynote speaker, coach, and podcaster – I had never formally held those titles before – but I believed I could do it, because all my education, work experience and life experience, PLUS my innate skills and talents, showed me that I could.
Here’s a tough lesson I learned. My friends were just reflecting back the way our capitalist, corporate world thinks. Every one of us has innate ability, skills and worth, and we each bring a TON of value to the table. But not all of our worth translates onto a resume; and the parts that do, aren’t always recognized.
Speaking as a former recruiter, employers look for round pegs to fill round holes. If your experience doesn’t look like what they expect – like if they’re hiring an accountant, and your title isn’t accountant – then you look like a square peg.
My friends love me and know I have value, but they literally didn’t recognize mine. The Western business world, which has always been controlled by white men, only looks through one lens. And through that lens, what is valuable is what will make you money. And what is successful is what it looks like white men have been doing.
Traditional education and job experience is easy to understand, because it’s so systematized now that recruiters and companies think they know what they’re getting if a person has certain letters behind their name.
It’s much harder to understand how your personal experiences, which don’t earn you any degrees, also qualify you to do the job.
And many well-intentioned, have-your-best-interests-in-mind mentors and colleagues will tell you that you’re not good enough YET – because that’s how they’ve been trained to think by this system.
So that’s one lens I’m challenging both employers and employees to change.
Action Steps for Employers & Employees
For employers – I’d like you to invest the time and energy to look beyond the resume and see the person. The whole person. For one moment, leave the job tasks out of the picture, and consider what capabilities are essential for the role you’re hiring. Maybe Akbar didn’t intern at a large consulting company, but he’s been running the family store for years, managing suppliers and customers and has just been a businessperson. Maybe Chun Wa doesn’t speak perfect English because she immigrated here as a foreign student, but she has incredible analysis and insight in complex business deals, and deserves to manage her own portfolio of clients.
Employers – can you change the traditional criteria you’re using, and see the value that people really bring, instead of what you expect them to bring?
For employees – I’d like you to do the same thing, which is actually even more challenging. I know because I’ve been there. You’re battling two sets of voices – your own, asking whether you’re really good enough – and the employers who need you to prove it.
Yes, we have to face the reality that employers hold the power because they hold the money, and the jobs. But as a start – put the employers’ perspective aside. Just focus on you. Do you see your own value? As a student, how did that group project with that super unhelpful person (every group has one) teach you to manage conflict and influence others? Or as a parent, having to homeschool your kids while attending work meetings on Zoom and protecting your aging parents from COVID – what skills have you developed as a result? Or you, front line worker as grocery cashier, restaurant server, flight attendant, facing constant COVID risk and financial instability from lock downs – how has your inner strength, courage, and general ability to do hard things, prepared you to take on the dog-eat-dog capitalist culture?
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all employers and recruiters are the same, or that they never see inherent value in people. I’m also not saying that every employee must have impostor syndrome, or should get a corporate job.
I hope it’s generally understood that in my podcast which focuses on inclusion and celebrates diversity, people and organizations are unique and generalizations will not ALL apply to EVERYONE.
That’s another hard lesson I had to learn. When I first started podcasting and speaking, I really censored myself because I was afraid of offending people and turning away potential clients by coming on too strong. I was also still influenced by my friends’ opinions which made me approach guest interviews with a “I-know-nothing, you-know-everything” attitude.
This shows how marginalization and discrimination goes beyond exclusion and leads to censorship.
I’ll leave you with these parting thoughts.
YOU. ARE. WORTHY.
You ARE good enough, exactly as you are.
And you already have the capability to do anything and everything you decide to do.
Does that mean you don’t need any more training or experience? Definitely not.
But you don’t need anyone’s permission to do what is right for you. You don’t need to have done something before, in order to do that thing now.
If you’re looking for affirmation or approval from your boss, or colleagues, or family, or friends, before you take a leap of faith – you may be waiting a long time. You might get it right away; you might not. My experience is not the same as your experience.
But here’s the point. It’s nice to have approval, but you don’t need it. You can do it, whatever IT is. The only approval you need, is your own.
To get there, what you DO need, is discernment. Wisdom. Self-awareness. No one will know you as well as you know yourself – but knowing yourself takes work. I did not get here on my own. I’ve had years of therapy, coaching, spiritual direction, informal and formal mentorship. I’m very blessed to have had these supports in my life. And if you’d like to have your own coach and cheerleader to support you, that’s what I’m here for. Please send me a DM or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the help of these supportive communities and my own inner work, I can now say to you that I am a JEDI Warrior. I look back at my life, and I see my transformation from JEDI Follower, to JEDI Visionary, to JEDI Warrior. These are not scientific data points on some empirical scale. It is my own description of the path to social justice, belonging and authenticity that our world is craving.
And because you’re here, listening to this podcast, you’re on the same path. We’re in this together. I’m so thankful and amazed by this JEDI community that’s connected by our shared passion and values.
Maybe you’re a JEDI Follower, aware of some issues and wanting your lens changed to see more. Maybe you’re a JEDI Visionary, already having diverse lenses and seeing the possibilities for change. You’d like to take the next step and find a way to act on what you’re learning.
Or maybe you’re a JEDI Warrior, armed with an arsenal of tools and knowledge to fight for social justice. Fighting doesn’t mean violence. In this context, I’m talking about engaging with opposition, defending our position, and advancing our cause. It’s also about protecting and advocating for people who can’t do that for themselves.
We’ll keep exploring the JEDI path – which, by the way, is not linear – and these images of Follower, Visionary and Warrior – of which, by the way, one is not better than the other. We can be Followers in one aspect of JEDI, and Visionaries in another. I know I certainly am.
Wherever you are on your JEDI path, you’re not walking it alone. I’m cheering you on, and affirming your worth, through this podcast, my newsletter, and my posts on LinkedIn and Instagram. Whether you’re a visual learner, audio learner or reader, Changing Lenses has something for you. You can find links to all my free resources, and subscribe to whichever format suits you best, straight from my website, which is www.changinglenses.ca. The full shownotes and transcript for this episode will also be there, under the Podcasts page.
So JEDI Friends – thank you so much for being here today. In this episode, I gave you the real me. And I hope you feel empowered and encouraged to give the world the REAL YOU, not because they deserve it, but because YOU do.
If there’s someone you know who needs to hear this same message, please forward this episode to them, so they can be encouraged too. That’s one way we build community and affirm each other.
Miigwetch, 多謝, 謝謝, Merci, and Thank You. Take care, and I’ll talk to you next week!
[outro music plays]
That’s a wrap! This episode of Changing Lenses was produced and hosted by me, Rosie Yeung, with associate production by William Loo, on land that was taken from many Indigenous nations, including the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Today it is still the home of many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, with whom I seek to reconcile by learning the true history of colonization, including things that seemed legal and honourable – like treaties – but were often marked by fraud and coercion. I’m Changing my Lens by learning to see land, creation, even business and economy through Indigenous worldviews. And I’m making new friends and building relationships with Indigenous neighbours, cousins, aunties and uncles, in a genuine desire to know, love, and honour them, and live together in peace.
This podcast is one way I’m sharing what I learn to help settler-immigrant folks decolonize our thinking, and respond to the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Miigwetch, 多謝, 謝謝, Merci, and Thank You.
[outro music ends]