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Changing Course Newsletter!

Are Your Assumptions Holding You Back?

When you see someone who has already achieved some degree of success – perhaps they’ve written a book, or appeared on stage, or have a highly profitable business – what goes through your mind?

Do you think – Hey, I could do that! Or do you think that person possesses some qualities or abilities that elude you?

I recently attended a week-long personal branding/speaking/media training program co-led by my friend Suzanne Evans and New York Times best-selling author, speaker and frequent Fox commentator Larry Winget.

Scott Pasmore co-anchor of the KTVKs popular television show Good Morning Phoenix was brought in to give us the inside scoop on how to get on the local news shows. I must have taken five pages of notes.

Suddenly I heard my name called. Turns out I and four other attendees were selected to take part in a series of mock television interviews with Scott and Larry.

One was a parenting expert who was asked for her opinion on gun control. Three financial experts were on a panel to discuss various aspects of money. Then it was my turn to take the stage.

What question did they put to me?

“What did I think about the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of an earlier ruling in favor of the SPCAs case that the handling of elephants by Ringling Brothers Circus’s constituted cruelty to animals?”


This would be a great question for an attorney or the owner of an animal-related business. But I’m neither.

I have two areas of expertise. One of course is career change specifically for people who want to be self-employed. The other is the impostor syndrome – an all too common feeling perhaps best explained by Mike Myers’ quip that he’s still waiting for the no-talent police to show up and arrest him.

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something to the effect of, “Well, as a confidence expert what I see are two opposing parties who had the confidence of their convictions to go all the way to the Supreme court…”

Basically I just kept trying to change the conversation from animal cruelty to human self-confidence with lines like…”We can argue the merits of this particular case all day long… but the real issue here is that far too many people feel confident enough to…” You get the idea.

In the end I got a big round of applause. A number of people told me how impressed they were at my ability to keep my cool and think on my feet.

Things Are Not Always As They Appear

What the other participants didn’t know is that all five of us were given advance notice of our respective line of questioning. For me that meant thirty minutes of freak out time trying to wrap my way too tired brain around what to do with a subject that was so out of left-field.

I knew I’d been singled out for this curve ball because Larry and Suzanne thought I could handle it. So while I was flattered, I was by no means confident. If I’d been hit with that circus elephant question cold, my jaw would have been on the floor. And if this had been live television it would have been a disaster.

I want you to know this because too many people never go after their dreams because they make false assumptions. They assume people who are where you want to be are smarter, or more talented, or more confident, or faster on their feet.

So they give up too soon. Or worse, they never even try.

They rarely take into account the countless hours that all successful people invest in their craft in order to make it “look” easy. Or in my case, how those thirty minutes made the difference between rising to the occasion and falling flat on my face.

What assumptions are you making about people who you see as successful or confident? How are these assumptions keeping you from stretching yourself? What if you knew that some of the most successful and talented people on the planet are racked with doubt – but they keep going anyway?


Water and Wow!

In the Life

If I had to sum up the last few weeks in just two words it would be Water and Wow.

Water…A mid-March trip to the charming seaside town of Woods Hole on Cape Cod fell on the first of a string of record-breaking summer-like days. So after speaking on the impostor syndrome at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, I drove around in my usual “Hey let’s see where this road goes” style.

Wow… I resisted the urge to hop the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and instead stumbled on the Cornelia Carey Sanctuary. I spent an hour exploring the delightful bay-side nature trail built on a peninsula. Heaven!

More Water, More Wow

On to Florida!

First stop was Delray Beach and lunch with my friend and president of the American Writers and Artist’s Institute Katie Yeakle. I’ve been to several AWAI events in Delray but this was my first tour of their offices.

One of the bigger Wows came in the form of a serendipitous voice mail from a close friend I’ve known since junior high — who I might add, never, ever calls me on my cell phone.

Dianna moved to Pittsburgh some 20 years ago so I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like. Turns out, not only was she in Florida, but she was headed to Delray Beach for dinner!

That inspired me to call another mutual junior high pal now living in Boston. Not only was Gail also in Florida, but, unbeknownst to either of them, she and Dianna were staying within a mile of one another.

Gail was down to be with her mother, Stacia, who was dying of cancer. I’ve known them both since I was 13. By some miracle, Dianna, Gail and I were all on the same dot on the map on the same day and got to all be together. I’m so grateful to have gotten to see Stacia just three days before she slipped away to her great reward.

More water

Next, a quick few days visiting my sister Debbie and her family at their lakeside home in Melbourne. My brother Mark drove over from Orlando and we met up with my nephew at a local Cuban restaurant. Major food wow!

Seems like yesterday Jason was five! How did that happen?!

More Wow!

There is nothing quite as exciting as watching a friend positively soar.

I’d attended my friend Suzanne Evan’s first “Be the Change Event” in 2010. There were around 300 attendees. Two years later, over 650 enthusiastic entrepreneurs were on hand for what was a truly remarkable training event.

Joining me as my guests were nine recent graduates of the Profiting from Your Passions® Career Coach training program. What a great group!

Me and PFYP Coach Marty Marsh

PFYP Coaches Ken Ellis and Janet Thompson

PFYP Coaches Marty Marsh, Candy Kaiser, Mary Mendoza

In addition to learning a massive amount of information about how to market their business for rapid growth, coaches joined me in offering mini-brainstorming sessions at the Changing Course booth.

Of course the star of the show was Suzanne Evans herself seen here with her parents in the Hell Yeah Lounge (Suzanne’s trademark phrase) and welcoming sponsors at the tradeshow.

And Cokie? Between hanging with his best gal Mercy and dreaming about when he’ll see her again, suffice it to say, every day is a Wow Day for Cokie!

In the Life

It’s been quite the whirlwind here. Even I’m amazed at what’s happened in the course of two weeks. For starters… drum roll please.

At long last The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women came out. At one point it was on three Amazon top 100 lists but the stats change hourly so now it’s just on one. I’m grateful to all the speed readers who took the time to write a review at Amazon and for to everyone for helping spread the word.

The next day I did a 19-station satellite radio tour from my couch before taking off to speak to the engineering department at the University of Colorado-Boulder about overcoming the impostor syndrome (rampant on college campuses).

I arrived early enough to be able have lunch at the Dining Hall at Chautauqua. Being there brought back SO many wonderful memories of the Making Dreams Happen workshop I’d put on there back in 2003 with the phenomenal Barbara Sher and Barbara Winter. It truly was life changing. I was so inspired I’ve been thinking about a reunion! If you were there — call me!

It had snowed in Boulder earlier in the week and the combination of fall leaves on snow was exquisite. I hiked for maybe a mile until I saw the “What To Do If You See A Bear Or Mountain Lion” sign and a big ol’ paw track. I decided shopping was safer.

(loved the advice to fight back)

I bought so many clothes at the Goodwill I had to buy a duffle bag to get them back to Massachusetts where I proceeded to fly into the freak October blizzard that dumped a foot of snow on New England. Suddenly I lost my love of snow on autumn leaves.

After driving around numerous downed trees and power lines requiring a series of long detours I finally arrived home to find I was locked out of my house. Fortunately I was able to pick up Cokie at his new sitter Patty’s (that’s him sleeping with four of her six dogs on her bed… he’s the black dot in the middle).

So I turned around and drove to my Dad’s. He and his girlfriend had no power either, but at least it was a roof and a fireplace. Boy, you don’t fully appreciate how much your business demands electricity and phone service until they’re gone.

Four days later the power went on just in time to attend the annual Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts dinner. The keynote was Jennifer Buffett (Warren’s daughter-in-law) who spoke about the positive global impact of funding projects that improve the lives of girls and women. When I asked her what I could share with my readers, she said to send you to the video on

Sadly this is also the week I send off my trusty assistant Lisa Tarrant who along with her creativity-to-spare husband Mark and her brilliant daughter Haley are moving to New Mexico. I’ve known Lisa for going on 20 years when we worked for the same company.

That is until I drew her into the world of self-bossers and she’s never looked back. Her first day on the job was the Making Dreams Happen workshop! What an initiation!

Sparing no expense I took the family out for a hot dog at the famous Nick’s Nest restaurant (more of a hot dog joint).

Here’s Haley saying goodbye to Cokie and here they are when she was first born and he crept his way up my shoulder for a little babying too.

Even though I know Lisa will continue to work with me and we only got together maybe half a dozen times a year, I loved knowing she was right off the highway on my way to the airport. Lisa you are one in a million. You changed my business and thus my life for the better. Here’s to the next Work at What You Love retreat in New Mexico!

Oh, and I also celebrated my 57th birthday last week! No wonder Goodwill offered me the senior discount. 🙂

How Much Do You Need to Know Before You’re an Expert?

By Valerie Young

During a recent visit to the dentist, my hygienist Anne asked about my recent speaking tour in California. When I told Anne I’d spoken on the Impostor Syndrome to thousands of people at numerous universities, including Stanford, her response was, “Wow, you must be a real expert.” While that term doesn’t always resonate with me, I suppose I am an expert.

But what does it mean to be an “expert”? Naturally you do need to know something about the topic at hand. But how much knowledge do you actually need to consider yourself an expert?

The Expert Trap

If you’ve ever read a job description and automatically disqualified yourself because you didn’t have one or two out of a long line of competencies or the necessary experience, passed on an opportunity to speak on or otherwise showcase your knowledge because you “don’t know enough,” or not started your own business because you are not yet “an expert” then you may have fallen into the Expert Trap.

The common belief that you need to know 150 percent before you’re remotely qualified to step up the plate is a huge dream stopper. Striving to be THE expert is the knowledge version of perfectionism. And as with perfectionism, going for total knowledge can at best slow you down and at worst bring your dream to a screeching halt.

The problem for people who fall into the Expert Trap is that they suffer under the misconception that there’s some clear line of demarcation between expert and non-expert — and that they’ll somehow know when they’ve reached it. We tell ourselves, “If I can just get enough knowledge, experience, or training, then I’ll be an expert.”

And herein lies the rub — you can never know it all. It’s like the commercial where a man beams that he’s reached the end of the Internet. What makes the ad funny is its absurdity. The Internet is so vast and ever-changing that if you lived a thousand years you’d never reach the “end.” It’s the same with knowledge. There is no end. You can add to your understanding of a subject but there will always more to learn.

The Expert “Myth”

You’re especially prone to the Expert Trap if you mistakenly believe that competence and expertise are one and the same. The belief that, “If I were really competent, intelligent, qualified… I would know more” keeps far too many people from striking out on their own.

A lot of men fall victim to this same self-limiting thinking. Yet my early research, coupled with twenty-plus years of anecdotal evidence, suggests women are more prone to equate competence with knowing it all.

Apparently I’m not alone. A few years back I wrote a letter to the editor. In it I described how a man who finds himself confronted with something he’s never done before is more likely to “wing it” while a woman in the same situation often expects herself to know it all up front.

A week after my letter appeared I got this email from Dan Pink, author of Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind:

I just read your letter-to-the-editor in Fast Company. Great work! My hunch — speaking as a male all too willing to opine without sufficient facts — is that you’re spot-on. That at least is what I discovered during several hundred interviews with independent workers over the last two years…kudos again on telling it like it is!

Just to be clear — expertise in and of itself is not a myth. After all, we all know people who are undisputable experts in their respective fields. The myth is:

  • believing that being an expert means you have to know everything there possibly is to know about a subject  
  • believing you will someday be able to announce triumphantly that you have reached the end of knowledge and are “done”
  • believing that if you don’t know everything there is to know, then you know nothing at all
  • believing our inner voice when it says, “If I were really smart, then I would know how to do this.”

Not only is it humanly impossible to “know it all,” but the misguided pursuit to do so can kill a dream before it ever begins. As Suzanne Falter-Barns asks, “How many of us linger forever in endless training and classes, waiting to get really good at something before we plunge a single toe into the submission/rejection pool?”

Just as with perfection, the pursuit of expertise can become a convenient excuse for never moving forward. The reality, says Falter-Barnes, is that “You cannot become a master until you actually take the leap, do the work, make several thousand mistakes, and live to tell about it.” Adding, “Experience is truly the only thing that makes experts so expert.”

Finally, next time you’re rattled by not knowing it all, let yourself off the hook by remembering the wise words of Mark Twain who said: “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said, ‘I don’t know.'”

In the Life

As you can see Cokie has a new friend. Her name is Early and she lives at one of the places Cokie stays when I’m on the road. Being a kitten she’s much more interested in him than the other way around. I’m just glad they get along!

As for me, I’m fresh off almost a week in the Big Apple and the National Publicity Summit where I was pitching my expertise about how to overcome the impostor syndrome and of course to tell everyone about my upcoming book.

It would take this entire newsletter and then some to tell you about the amazing people I met at the Summit so I’ll hold that for a future issue.


After day 3 of the National Publicity Summit a few of us went to an Irish bar to celebrate

I got to meet and learn from producers from all the top shows… The Today Show, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, The View, Regis & Kelly, ABC News, Anderson Cooper, Rachael Ray, The Wendy Williams Show. What an honor.

Plus, I had a chance to pitch story ideas to editors and freelance writers representing a host of magazines including Time, Essence, More, Woman’s Day, Glamour, Entrepreneur, Family Circle, not to mention hosts of radio stations from Atlanta to Harlem.

Was I nervous? You bet.

My two-and-a-half minute pitch changed many times over the course of three days. Now I need to work on getting on television shows in smaller markets like Boston and Denver – something I discovered all the national networks look for before booking experts.

The big news of course – drum roll please…

Is that after nearly three years of blood, sweat, and tears (and very little sleep) my book came out yesterday all across the U.S. and Canada

Thanks in large part to all of you who supported me with your orders, at one point (it changes hourly) The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women made it to onto three different Amazon Top 100 lists – including #8 of the Top 100 Women in Business books.

I can’t thank you enough.

My schooling in sound bites begins with a bang today with back-to-back satellite radio interviews in major markets all over the U.S. What an adventure.

Stop Being Held Back by Needless Self-Doubt

Join Dr. Valerie Young for the First Ever
5-Weeks to Confidence Project

You’re intelligent and successful… at least that’s what everyone says. So how come you don’t always feel that way?

Instead of feeling satisfaction, with every achievement you’re filled with anxiety you’ll be unmasked as an incompetent fraud…

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In case you don’t know me I’m Dr. Valerie Young author of the new book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.

When you sign up for one of the limited spots in the upcoming 5-week Confidence Project you can feel like the bright, talented, self-assured person everyone else sees…

You can stop feeling crushed by failure, mistakes, and constructive criticism…

You can beat the Impostor Syndrome with its ever present fear of being “found out” and say good riddance to all the stress that comes with it…

And you can discover how to free yourself from needless self-doubt and find greater personal, professional and financial fulfillment than you’ve ever experienced!

Over 40,000 People Have Attended
This Enlightening Workshop.
Now For the First Time You Can Too

Every year hundreds of people contact me wanting to attend one of my seminars.

Unfortunately up until now, unless you work or go to school at an organization which was hosting me to speak to their audience, you were out of luck.

But now – for the very first time – you have the unique opportunity to be guided personally on a 5-week journey to confidence.

Tapping directly into my 25 years of experience, you will:

  • Understand what the so-called “Impostor Syndrome” is (and isn’t) and more importantly how it plays out in your own every day life
  • Discover 7 perfectly good reasons you might feel like an fraud (Hint: It’s not all in your head) and what you can do if you fall into one of these “at risk” groups
  • Hear what Ted Koppel, Daniel Boone, and Project Runway winner Christian Siriano know that could forever change how you think about the advice to just “fake it til you make it”
  • Identify your personal Competence Type and see how it’s been setting you up to feel less capable than you really are
  • Recognize why success can actually be more anxiety-producing than failure and how to tell the difference between fear and ambivalence
  • Discover once and for all how to stop the perfectionism, procrastination, and self-doubt that’s been standing between you and your highest goals

5 Week Teleclass
Every Monday
Beginning October 17th
12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern


The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women

Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive In Spite of It

due out October 11, 2011

It’s here! The “official” book cover! What do you think? Leave a reply and let me know!

Want to Change Course? Be Curious

By Valerie Young

View From the Other Side

This week I want to talk to you about how curiosity is central to the process of changing course. But, for any of you who are curious about what’s happening here…

In August, I learned I’m a 4-out-of-5 match to be a bone marrow donor to a 61-year-old. I feel blessed for the chance to help someone in this way. Ironically, he’s the same age as my mom when she passed. There are a lot of hoops still to jump through before the actual procedure. I should know more in a few weeks but assuming all goes well, I’ll head to Mass General Hospital sometime in the next 4-6 weeks.

On a far more minor health note, the poison ivy on my hands finally cleared up. Note to self: No more weeding.

Earlier this month I led a workshop for over 100 students from Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University in Nashville on overcoming the Impostor Syndrome. I loved helping these bright, soon-to-be medical professionals to feel as competent as everyone else knows they are. This Friday I’ll do the same for grad students and faculty at Michigan State.

Speaking of workshops — I wasn’t sure my speaking and writing schedule would permit me to offer another Work at What You Love workshop & retreat this year. But, after going back to watch the videos from the June workshop, I knew I had to. So I did a bit of shuffling so I can again welcome eight career seekers into my home in November. (If you’d like to come, see Featured Resource below for details).

The other big news is — drum roll please — I submitted to Crown Publishing/Random House what I *hope* is the final version of my book — working title The Confidence Project. Woo Hoo! As happy as I was to have met this monumental goal, I won’t breathe easy until I hear what my new editor thinks.

I say “new” editor because as some of you may recall, I handed in what I thought was the final version of this same book exactly one year ago… only to arrive in New York and learn my then editor — the same editor who helped make Tim Ferris’s The Four Hour Work Week and other books mega-best-sellers — was leaving the publishing world for television.

As disappointed as I was, you just have to roll with these things. My new editor had a different vision for the book. So three revised outlines later, and a lot of editing, and we’re now looking at a September 2011 pub date! Lesson re-relearned: Things always take longer than you think!

Speaking of lessons…

Learning is All Just a Day at the Fair!

William Arthur Ward once said, “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” Little wonder then that the most successful people are also the most curious.

This week I’ll make my annual pilgrimage to The Big E. For those who haven’t been, The Big E is an enormous multi-state fair encompassing all six New England states that happens every September in nearby West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Andrew Rice, professional sheep shearer and farm consultant, Brattleboro, VT

Young people and old alike
travel from several states away to
show their livestock

Crafts demonstration at Storrowtown Village

Thanks to the Avenue of States I can “visit” all six New England states in about 90 minutes. Each state has its own building with tourism exhibits, local vendors, and my favorite — food!

Annual staples are the clam fritters in the Rhode Island building, lobster rolls and baked potatoes in the Maine building, and apple pie with cheese in the Vermont building. Of these, which do you think consistently has a line of eager customers wrapped around the building? I’ll reveal the answer at the end of this article.

Mostly I’ll be doing what I love most — being deeply curious. In my case, that means learning as much as I can from the interesting entrepreneurs and other characters working the fair.

Before I come back with even more stories, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the people I met last year as well as the valuable lessons you can learn simply by being curious!

Don’t Be Sheepish

Tom Colyer of
Greenwood Hill Farms

Last year I spent a lot of time chatting with retired Navy Captain turned merino sheep rancher Tom Colyer of Greenwood Hill Farm in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. Being curious led me to discover that…

  • A whopping 80 percent of the lamb that is sold (and therefore eaten) in the United States happens to come from Washington, DC north to New England. To me that signaled an opportunity for someone to creatively work with the various state sheep councils to encourage chefs in other parts of the country to put lamb on the menu.
  • You can dye wool with Kool-Aid (you can get a free guide “how-to” guide at the Greenwood Hill Farm site).
  • It’s a lot more profitable for people who raise sheep to spin and sell their own yarn than to sell the wool in bulk.
  • There’s a big demand for sheep shearers to service smaller farm operations. Time magazine even did an article on the effort to train more shearers. And, according to Tom, some of the best shearers are women.

Lesson: It is amazing what you can find out if you just talk to people. Based on what you read, what are you curious to know more about?

The “Crazy Tomato Lady”

Marybeth Draghi the “Crazy Tomato Lady”

In the Connecticut building, I met an exhibitor named Marybeth Draghi from Little Acres farm in Glastonbury, CT. Marybeth’s delicious heirloom tomatoes have earned her the title of “Crazy Tomato Lady.”

She’s grown her business from a small stand to selling her tomatoes at three Whole Foods stores (two in West Hartford and one in Glastonbury), at the famous Stew Leonard’s chain in Connecticut and New York, and has more chains and outlets in the works.

Are you curious how Marybeth landed these major accounts? I was. Are you ready? She asked, and the store manager said yes.

Lesson: Speak up. Ask questions. Talk to people about what you do… or hope to do. The door to opportunity opens when you open your mouth. What would you be curious to ask Marybeth?

Cleaning Up in the Soap Business

From the Blue Heron Soap booth, I learned that, like a lot of businesses, this one was born out of necessity. Owner Peggy Manthei’s daughter had sensitive skin. Her search for a solution led to tinkering with her own soaps and years late,r Peggy and husband Carl continue to make all the soaps personally.

Money questions can be a little more delicate but my curiosity got the best of me. “Is it really profitable to truck all this soap from Minnesota for a 3-week fair in Massachusetts?” I asked. The young man grinned from ear to ear and said simply, “We get $6 a bar.” Enough said.

Obviously the fair circuit is an effective marketing strategy. According to the show schedule on their web site, this year alone they’ll be in North Carolina, Chicago, Tennessee, South Dakota, and elsewhere.

Lesson: When you think about marketing your product or service, do a cost-benefit analysis. If your marketing investment is $1,000 but you have the chance to make $2,000, then you’re ahead of the game. What about working the fair circuit are you curious to know?

Doggedly Pursuing a Passion

From the young man at the Annie’s Pooch Pops All Natural Dog Treats booth, I learned that a business you might assume to be local and/or online exclusively actually has quite a mobile marketing strategy. Between Annie, her son, or her son’s friend, they sell at over 200 of these kinds of fairs and shows a year!

But it was from Annie’s website that I got the bigger story. Like most businesses, this one started small and grew. In the beginning, all the baking happened in Annie’s kitchen. For a while they rented a restaurant kitchen during off hours. “Cooking from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. wasn’t easy,” says Annie, “but the crew, with additional help from friends, began to see treat sales take off. After six months and no sleep, we moved into a converted 4000 square foot barn in Northern New Jersey horse country where we remain today.”

Lesson: Starting any business requires sacrifice and hard work. Period. Ask yourself. “What do I love enough to work that hard to grow?” What would you want to ask Annie and her team that I didn’t?

Finding the Unexpected

There were also a few surprises at The Big E. For example, also in the Connecticut building was a guy selling something you would not normally expect among the alpaca socks and maple syrup vendors. But there was Kirk Sinclair alongside a stack of his books, Systems Out of Balance: How Misinformation Hurts the Middle Class.

According to his business card, Kirk is a “Middle Class Advocate, Social Systems Analyst, and Rabble Rousing Bard.” He’s also the “token middle-aged guy” in a rock band that plays at local colleges and a very active blogger.

Seeing his book reminded me that the previous year I bought a book written by a woman who’d traced the history of her Native American grandmother. She was selling it from a card table in the alley way between two state buildings.

Lesson: It pays to show up in surprising places. For example, you could offer piano lessons at the farmer’s market or negotiate with a local clothing or paint store to conduct a puppy training demonstration at a well-blocked-off section of their parking lot. Just like the internet — marketing and sales is all about traffic!

Okay did you guess what is, hands-down the most popular food item at all six state buildings? It’s the lowly — but loaded — baked potato. When you consider how little potatoes cost, it would be interesting to see how a baked potato vendor truck would do! Something that seems quite popular in the UK and New Zealand!

Are Women Entrepreneurs Different From Men?

By Valerie Young

I’ve been an entrepreneur on and off for the last 25 years and worked with women entrepreneurs for some 15 years now. So I was not the least bit surprised by the findings of a recent Kauffman …

What Do Paula Abdul, Gary Vaynerchuk, Richard Branson, and Baby Bull Named Boris Have in Common?

My Year in Pictures and What It Taught Me That Can Help You Too

By Valerie Young

I talked to a friend recently who, despite starting out the year with the best of intentions, feels really discouraged about how little …

Answers To Your FAQs About the “Outside the Job Box” Career

Naturally, I’m also getting loads of questions from those who took the online survey as well as in response to the email that went out this week.

I started to reply to everyone personally. But then it just got out of control. So I decided the smarter thing would be to use a FAQ (frequently asked questions) format and post them here at the blog. That way, you can post additional questions or comments. I’ll do my best to respond within 24 hours.

I highly recommend you read through the FAQs before purchasing the Self-Study Training later this week. You’ll have a lot of the information you need to make an informed decision whether this program is right for you.

I’ll warn you in advance – some of my answers to your most Burning Questions are on a little long. But I’d rather err on the side of giving you more information than less.

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence


Q: What will it cost and will there be a payment plan available?

I know the economy is an issue, so I’m working on some kind of discounted pricing now. At the same time, you need to understand that this course represents over a decade of intellectual property so I can only discount things so much.

For the amount of information I’m providing – hundreds of pages of step-by-step materials, over 13 hours of actual client sessions personally conducted by me – all of which are designed to rapidly accelerate your learning curve, AND given that we’re talking about you being able to launch an entire new profit center, pricing experts tell me I should be charging three times what I have been.

I’m going to create two options. The first will be for people who already have a coaching practice or perhaps work for some kind of career center or recruiting company and really just want the parts that have to do the Changing Course Formula and the consulting process itself. Since they don’t need help with marketing, there’s no reason they should have to pay for it. So that “standard” kit will be less.

For the people who do want and need a marketing boost, there will be additional resources, obviously at a higher price point. Having this information is going to save considerable time and energy and will help you sure that once you get the consulting parts down that you can start attracting clients faster.

I will definitely offer a payment plan. I’m known for going out of my way to break things down in a way that let’s more people than who could otherwise not afford it able to get the system. Having said that…


If, God-forbid, you have lost your job or your home or your spouse/partner is going in for major surgery or you are the sole breadwinner in your family or are otherwise in dire financial straights and you need enough income from a new business to pay the bills in the short term, do not purchase this program.

Even if you have a job and have realistic expectations about what it takes to start and grow a consulting practice, honestly, if you can only afford a few hundreds dollars, regrettably this is not a good fit for you. You might want to check out Fab Job where for something like $29 you can at least get the basics of starting a wide variety of other kinds of small businesses. I know it’s not the same, but I’m trying to be honest here and at least it’s a start.

Q: Will the information in the self-study program be the same as that in the live training?

Information-wise, the answer is YES! Obviously at nearly $10,000 the people in the live 5-day training program got the highest possible level of support.

But as far as the actual training content – a step-by-step break down of the Changing Course Formula and then knowing what to do before, during, and after a consulting session – the self-study version contains the same essential information you need to be able to work effectively with clients.

Q: Would a lack of degree impact my ability to get clients?

You do not need an academic degree to be an Outside the Job Box Career Expert and Business Ideas Consultant. You don’t need to be a coach of any kind.

When you get outside of the box, you realize that there are many paths to expertise. Here’s a story I tell my clients – and you can use with your client’s too…

Imagine you’re out shopping when you spy a fabulous piece of art that would look perfect in your living room. You start to head over for a closer look when it suddenly hits you. “What if the artist doesn’t have an MFA?” As ridiculous as that sounds I’ve seen far too many people hold themselves back for fear of not being “qualified” enough. Naturally there are some professions where credentials are mandatory. But not all career paths require fancy degrees or formal training of any kind in order to achieve expertise.

Consider too, the unlikely case of self-taught weapon system expert Jeff Baxter. Despite no formal education on weapons systems, Baxter chaired the Congressional Advisory Board on Missile Defense and is a highly paid consultant to military contractors like General Atomics and Northup Grumman. His prior experience? “Skunk” Baxter, as he used to be known, was a guitarist with rock bands Steeley Dan and the Doobie Brothers. If someone can become a self-taught weapon systems expert, you can become a self-made expert on just about anything.

Then there’s Jean Nidetch. In the early 60’s, the homemaker from Queens started inviting friends to her home to support each other’s ongoing battle to lose weight. Her approach of mutual support coupled with sensible eating worked. So well in fact that Nidetch went on to found a little multi-billion dollar international empire called Weight Watchers. Notice, she did not have a degree in nutrition, or exercise physiology, or degree of any kind.

One of the topics covered in the training program – and one of the things that as an Outside the Job Box Career Expert and Business Ideas Consultant you will help your own clients to see – is that there are many paths to expertise.

Q: Is there a system to this business and do all your students follow the same guidelines?

I’ll answer this along with another question which was, “What happens if I'm in a "dry spell" with my ideas?” There very much is a system. It includes everything from what to say when a client calls to inquire about your services to a “script” to help you kick off and close every session and how and when to process the client’s credit card.

As for running out of ideas, the fact that you are interested in this program tells me that you are a creative thinker (and if you are not, you should not go into this line of work). It’s a combination of using your naturally curious mind and then having a system that includes enough tools to make sure that you never run out of ideas – and if you do, you know exactly where to go to find more!

Keep in mind, too, that what you are promising your clients is that they will walk away with at least one good idea for how they can turn their interests into income. Because each client has different interests, each one will be different. With the right process and tools, coming up with interesting ways to turn passions into profits will not be an issue!

As for everyone having to follow certain “guidelines”… I address this at length in the program description so suffice it to say that if you use my concepts you need to credit these back to me just as you would if you were talking about say Barbara Sher’s concept of “Scanners vs. Divers.”

Also this is not a franchise and therefore, nobody has to do things “my way or no way.” There plenty of structure for those who want guidelines and plenty of flexibility for people who want to create their own thing.

Red Flag Questions:

There were a few comments and questions some people raised in the survey that I consider “red flags.” Before you even think about doing this kind of work I want to make sure you a) have the right “mindset” for this work and b) understand what it is you are training to do…

Red Flag Comment 1: “What is a creative career consultant's average success rate – how many people get 'placed' as it were, in a career that they like?”

Red Flag Comment 2: "What is the success rate of clients? How many find outside the box work they love as a result of the counseling?"

ANSWER: Maybe I am being overly sensitive to words here, but I don’t want to take any chance. Words like “placed” even if they are in quotes and “find” work are both job-related. Being self-employed is about creating your own job basically.

Your clients are not ge
tting “placed” anywhere and none of them will “find work” as a result of a consultation with you. Instead you are helping people to see ways they can turn their interests into income so they can then CREATE income streams and get customers or clients to pay them for what they have to offer. There is a huge difference.

I think the real question people are trying to get at is, "How successful
are consultants at helping people discover interesting business ideas based on
their passions and interests?" Well all you have to do is read these evaluations
to know the answer to that. These are just a small sample of the 100+
evaluations previously trained consultants have received from the practice
clients that Changing Course provided to help jumpstart their new practice:

“Arthurine -- you are a truly gifted and amazing Outside the Job Box career consultant!  I deeply appreciate my consultation, and I am looking forward to moving forward to some of the ideas you gave me.  Thanks a million!!”

“I believe Craig really will be good at being a full time consultant, and recommend him to others for a great job. I enjoyed working with him, and look forward to emailing him with my future career expansions!”

“Michelle is great! She has a lot of enthusiasm and that gave me energy. She is very easy to talk with. She also offered some good ideas, and seems to really care about what she is doing.”

“Gail was great. The session was exactly what I’ve been looking for a long time. I’ve met with several career coaches, but this is the first time I felt I got worthwhile feedback. It was a great experience… the process doesn’t consider what you’re good at, but rather what you love. And what could be better than doing what you love and getting paid for it. Gail, I think you’ll be enormously successful in this field.”

Red Flag Comment 3: “How do you overcome the terror of failing?”

Actually I was going to talk about this in the next newsletter but since this is such a big issue, I’m going to give you a sneak preview.

No one likes to fail. But terror? There are things worth being terrified about like global warming or war or bombings. But giving something your best shot and finding out it’s not for you? I call that life.

At one point I decided to produce a line of humorous greeting cards. I spent months drawing them and a couple of thousand of dollars on printing. They sold pretty well in four major cities but soon into it, I realized that the business was more about selling than anything and I hate selling (marketing I like, selling I hate). So did I waste $2000? No. I gave it my best shot, learned a lot and moved on.

If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, then you need to readjust your emotional response to failure and mistake making. You need to understand some fundamental truths about failure that have guided successful people since the first spear missed the first brontosaurus.

Here are five more must-have rules for entrepreneurs about failure:

Rule 1: No one bats 1000. The fact that you identify with the Impostor Syndrome tells me that emotionally you still expect yourself to always bat 1000. To put that into perspective, consider that in baseball a .333 batting average is considered outstanding. If you’re not a baseball fan, what this means is that for every 10 pitches, the batter only has to hit the ball three times to be considered exceptional. Even the legendary Babe Ruth “only” batted .342. The point is, you can be at the top of your game and still strike out more often than not.

From time to time everybody makes bad decisions. Everybody gets egg on their face. Everybody fails. Failures, flops, and fumbles are such a part of life that Harry Truman once remarked, “Whenever I make a bum decision, I just go out and make another.” Okay, it’s hard to imagine a female president getting away with the same remark without some questioning her fitness. But you can’t control what other people think. You can only control your own response which begins with giving yourself permission to fall as flat on your face as the next person.

Rule 2: Failures offer valuable lessons – and opportunities. Believe it or not there is lots of good news about failure. Henry Ford understood that, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” In engineering, the process of “failure analysis” is based on the recognition that you can learn just as much from studying what went wrong as you can from what went right. It is this understanding that led Thomas Edison to famously remark, “I have not failed. I have successfully discovered 1,200 ideas that don’t work.”

Instead of seeing your flops as evidence of your incompetence, think of them as information you can use to do better next time. Do you need to develop or hone a certain skill? Do you need more practice or a different approach? Do you need to delegate the things you’re not gifted at? What will you do differently next time? What lessons can you glean? For example, have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “I sounded like such an idiot”? Everyone has. Next time, skip the self scolding. Instead use that time to replay the conversation the way you wish you’d handled it.

Now I don’t want you to mistake this for the usual negative self-talk about what you “should” have said or done. Rather what you’re doing is consciously laying down a positive new pathway in your brain, one that will make you better prepared to respond in a similar situation in the future. The sooner you glean the learning value following what feels like a set back, the better. The key is to fail forward.

Rule 3: Failure is just a curve in the road. I know how easy it is to be so discouraged by setbacks that you just give up. But it’s time you start seeing failure for what it is, a curve in the road and not the end of the road. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job for “lacking ideas”? Or that H. Macy’s store failed seven times before it caught on? Or that Michael Jordan was cut from his junior varsity basketball team? Did they give up? No.

If Abraham Lincoln had taken failure as cause to quit it would have changed the course of history. In fact he suffered repeated failures on the road to success. After failing as a storekeeper and a farmer Lincoln decided to run for political office. He failed. Once he finally did get elected to the legislature, when he sought the office of speaker and failed. He failed in his first bid for Congress. He failed when he sought the appointment to the United States Land Office. And he failed when he ran for the United States Senate. Despite repeated public failures, Lincoln never saw failure as a reason to give up.

Rule 4: Not taking risks may be the riskiest move of all. Whenever you try anything there will always the risk of failure. At the same time, not taking risks is often the riskiest move of all. The reason Michael Jordon says he made so many baskets is because he was willing to take so many shots, explaining, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Stepping up to take your shot is especially important because Impostors think that by avoiding risk they can dodge detection. After all, if you don’t take chances or never put yourself or your work out there, you significantly lower the chances of failures.

Here again it comes down to shifting your thinking. People often comment on what a big risk I took when I left my safe corporate job to go out on my own. But to me, the far greater risk was to look back at my life with regret and say, “I was miserable, but at least I had a good dental plan.” As the great Opera diva Beverly Sills once said, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

Rule 5: It’s not your failures that count but how you handle them. Imagine making a major mistake with 1 billion people watching. That’s what Miss USA Crystle Stewart did when she fell during the 2008 Miss Universe pageant. She handled the fiasco by putting on a radiant smile, picking herself up and clapping her hands over her head as if to say, “Let’s have a round of applause.” This was not the first time Stewart had to pick herself up after a failure. It had taken her five tries before being crowned Miss Texas. To feel as bright and capable as you really are, remind yourself that it’s not your failures that count, but how you handle them.

Not only do you have a choice about how you handle failure, you also have a huge say in what kind of failures to have. You can have the mundane ones like getting a D in physics or not getting an interview or you can take the advice that Garrison Keillor offered to students in his commencement address at Macalister College. Keillor encouraged the audience to “have interesting failures.” Let those words sink in for a moment. Have interesting failures.

Whether you like or not from time to time you’re going to miss the mark. So why just be a failure at parallel parking or balancing your checkbook when you can come in third at the National Jigsaw Puzzle Championships, only write one children’s book, or make it only half way up Mount Everest? The fact that you never fail indicates that you consistently chose settling over reaching, inaction over action. As Billie Jean King once said, “Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozey, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.”

What else do you need to know…?

I am confident that a lot -- if not all -- of your questions will be answered when you see the full course description. But if you have a burning question that can’t wait, jot it down here and I will do my best to get back to you ASAP!

Impostors, Fakes & Frauds!

September 3, 2008by Dr. Valerie Young in Impostor Syndrome

Do you dismiss your accomplishments as a “fluke” or “no big deal”? Are you crushed by even constructive criticism? Do you feel like you’ve “fooled” others into thinking that you’re more intelligent than you “know yourself to be.” If so, join the club!

I’ve been posing a series of questions that in some way relate to my new book on the Impostor Syndrome. Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond.

I’d like to continue the conversation. But instead of another question here, I’ve put up a special Impostor Syndrome blog at In this blog, I’ll be sharing information and articulating themes related to my book in progress on how to feel as bright and capable as everyone seems to think you are.

It’s my first main-stream book and will be published by Crown Publishing, a division of Random House hopefully in 2010.

Be a Part of Valerie’s New Book

August 8, 2008by Dr. Valerie Young in Changing Course Newsletter, Impostor Syndrome

Do you secretly worry that others will find out you’re not as intelligent and competent as they seem to think you are? Do you often dismiss your accomplishments as a “fluke” or “no big deal?” Do you sometimes shy away from or obsess about taking on greater challenges because of nagging self-doubt? Are you crushed by even constructive criticism, taking it as evidence of your ineptness? Are you waiting to be exposed as an impostor, fake, or fraud?

If so, join the club!

It’s estimated that 70 percent of people have experienced these feelings of intellectual fraudulence which are especially common among first generation professionals, creative types (Mike Myers says he’s always waiting for the “no talent police” to show up at his door), students, and others. Fearing that we have somehow managed to fool others “impostors” live in fear that sooner or later we are going to be “found out.”

In March I signed a *big* book deal with Crown Publishing Group to write a self-help book on the so-called Impostor Syndrome. And I am committed to including as many voices and experiences as I can. Simply said, I need your help.

For the next few months I’ll be posing a different question designed to help me better understand how impostor feelings manifest in the lives of my readers. I hope you will take a moment to share your thoughts, stories, fears, and solutions with me so that I may in turn, help more people to feel as smart and competent as they truly are.

Question of the Week

The theme this week is “success.” What does success mean to you… or in other words, how do you define success? Do you see success as being the same or different from “achievement” or “ambition” and if so, why and how?

Please include as much information as you feel comfortable sharing – first name, current occupation, age, race, state/province/country. Share as much or as little as you like. No matter what you share, I think just reading other people’s stories will be enlightening to all.

Thank you in advance for your input and support. I couldn’t do this without you!

Valerie Young
Recovering Impostor

Be a Part of Valerie’s New Book

July 24, 2008by Dr. Valerie Young in Impostor Syndrome, Val's Comments

Do you secretly worry that others will find out you’re not as intelligent and competent as they seem to think you are? Do you often dismiss your accomplishments as a “fluke” or “no big deal?” Do you sometimes shy away from or obsess about taking on greater challenges because of nagging self-doubt? Are you crushed by even constructive criticism, taking it as evidence of your ineptness? Are you waiting to be exposed as an impostor, fake, or fraud?

If so, join the club!

It’s estimated that 70 percent of people have experienced these feelings of intellectual fraudulence which are especially common among first generation professionals, creative types (Mike Myers says he’s always waiting for the “no talent police” to show up at his door), students, and others. Fearing that we have somehow managed to fool others “impostors” live in fear that sooner or later we are going to be “found out.”

In March I signed a *big* book deal with Crown Publishing Group to write a self-help book on the so-called Impostor Syndrome. And I am committed to including as many voices and experiences as I can. Simply said, I need your help.

For the next few months I’ll be posing a different question designed to help me better understand how impostor feelings manifest in the lives of my readers. I hope you will take a moment to share your thoughts, stories, fears, and solutions with me so that I may in turn, help more people to feel as smart and competent as they truly are.

Question of the Week

What does “competence” mean to you? For instance, what goes through your mind as you think about starting your own business or promoting yourself as an “expert,” going after a new job or a big promotion, or taking on a new and unfamiliar project, or perhaps writing a book of your own? In these situations or others, what do you think it takes to be competent? How do you define competence? How will you know when you are “there”? Is there a story that reflects an experience where you or someone you know struggled to feel competent?

Please include as much information as you feel comfortable sharing – first name, current occupation, age, race, state/province/country. Share as much or as little as you like. No matter what you share, I think just reading other people stories will be enlightening to all.

Thank you in advance for your input and support. I couldn’t do this without you! 

Valerie Young
Recovering Impostor

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