Battling Impostor Syndrome – Christine Daspro

In this episode, we are joined by Christine Daspro. Christine is the founder of Threads of Leadership and Curating Connections. She spent 30 years in the corporate jungle of Wallstreet before deciding to take a break and live in Colorado. However, this puts her into level zero. It was a clean slate, her big and great network was in the corporate world, and now she’s starting over again. After some research, she joined the Women’s Vision Foundation. This allowed her to find her passion in helping leaders by educating them on how to build meaningful and impactful connections.

Tune in as Christine shares her story on how she overcome impostor syndrome, and then eventually, help others get out from it too.

Christine’s website:


Katie Brinkley 0:02

Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley, and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain Marketing. Today I’m joined by Christine despereaux. Christine brings over 30 years experience in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She’s a founder at threads of leadership right here in Denver, Colorado. threads of leadership focuses on the development of leaders through lifelong learning, creating valuable connections and curating impactful connections. Christine, I am so excited to have you on the show today. Thank you so much for joining me.

Christine Daspro 0:51

Oh, it’s my pleasure, thank you.

Katie Brinkley 0:53

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know you through our networking group, and you always are just such a joy to be around. So I know that my audience today is going to really enjoy having you as the guest. So tell us just a little bit about yourself. Tell us about where you grew up. And what brought you out here to Colorado.

Christine Daspro 1:12

Oh, thank you, Katie. I am a native New Yorker, you will hear that accent come out depending on what words I say or might be through the whole conversation. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I’m the youngest of four girls. And I went through all of my education was Catholic school education. And my oldest sister is actually a nun. So it is embedded in our upbringing. And I have one sister that had passed away a number of years ago. And then I have another sister that actually lives here in laundry. And I live in Parker. And what brought me here, after I had a 30 year career on on wall street with Merrill Lynch, I was really just very burnt out. And I knew that if I stayed in New York, I would never make the move. The money was outstanding. You know, you just get into that routine and can’t imagine life being anything. But in 2004, I came out to meet my great niece, Elena, she was two months old. And I just fell in love with her and said, Wow, I really want to be part of her life. This is she was such a joy at that young age. So the wheel started to turn. And I thought about leaving Merrill, which I did in 2006 when I moved here, and to really be honest with your audience, I had no plan. I just wanted out, I wanted out of living in New York, I wanted out of Wall Street, I wanted a clean slate. And coming out here gave me that clean slate I had family, my sister son lives here. And so when I moved here, I knew five people. And Elena was the youngest and probably had a better network than I did. But came out thinking I would stay in the industry just doing it for a different company or with Merrill Lynch, but just in a different capacity. Well, that real realism came to the forefront very fast. And the work that I did on the corporate level at Merrill Lynch did not transfer here. So I made a strong conscious decision to just leave the company and decided to leave the industry. And when I decided to leave the industry, my network was that world. So now I need to figure out who can help me here in Colorado, and I did some research online and found this organization called the women’s vision Foundation, and it focused on educating women in leadership roles in their primary client were corporations, and all of the women that worked in these corporations had the opportunity to go externally to become educated as greater and better leaders. Well, that was just right up my alley. So I joined the organization in a part time role in 2007. And that grew into working for them for six and a half years. Well, let me think too close to nine and a half years before they closed their doors in 2016. I love my job. I did programming, I did mentoring, I did coaching, I worked with the board, I worked with our corporate members, it was just everything that I love to do. And I had a great impact. And I also learned how to be a better leader because I started to really learn about who I was as a leader. And the reason I emphasize that is because when I decided to branch out on my own, which is probably call my third career, I realized that, you know, as an entrepreneur, you’re standing there alone, you’re creating something from scratch, and it could be a hit and miss at times. So the first company I opened in 2017 was called it’s still exist. It’s called curating connections and I work with About 50, external leadership speakers that all reside here in Colorado, and I am a resource for corporations who are looking for those speakers to help them. How do I say, just bring in a new viewpoint, a new voice into organizations to educate both men and women in leadership roles from communication to diversity and inclusion to personal goals. But I did that, and I am still doing it. But in 2000, in the fall of 2019, perfect timing, I really decided to bring myself to the forefront, instead of being behind the scenes, and by bringing myself to the forefront mean meant that I had to really just expose myself and really just put myself out there to what I can offer individuals as they grow in their leadership. So the one topic that really, really resonated with me was imposter syndrome. And the reason I say that is because 30 years on Wall Street, I lived in that world, and probably didn’t even know I was, I was the person I was told to be, and who my clients wanted me to be. And the company, you know, wanted me to be as well as how I represented them. And I did that during the working day. But then when I went home at night, I realized that that’s not who I was, you know, I was bringing that into my personal world, and I didn’t like it. And I realized that I wasn’t being my authentic self to everyone I was covering the things that maybe I didn’t know, I was covering up on not being as smart as the people around the table, you know, so I never had a voice. I was an introvert in an external world.

Katie Brinkley 6:42

So seeing and I think that that is, well, one, it leads me right into the topic that I want to dive into today, which is imposter syndrome. I think that as entrepreneurs and business owners, that is something that is very real. And I think that is starting to get talked about a little bit more, but it’s still not talked about enough. And I think that all of us go through imposter syndrome at some point of our business, sometimes more than once throughout our business. So talk to us a little bit about imposter syndrome and and why you think a lot of professionals suffer from it?

Christine Daspro 7:20

Absolutely. So the world that I follow imposter syndrome falls under is the second company called threads of leadership. And the reason I say that out loud, besides I want everybody to know about it is that the name came from learning about my own personal story and the journey that I took to get to where I am today as an entrepreneur. So I had to go back in time and look at the threads of my personal and professional career to see where were the connections, where were the breaks in the thread, where were the things that I did very naturally, the skills that came to me very naturally in the areas that I really had to work on. So as an entrepreneur, I mean, it always sounds like a glamorous term, oh, I’m my own business owner, I make my own schedule, I do things the way I want to do them. But it can be a very lonely process, because you no longer have that external world, as you would do in a corporation, or with a group of people. So you tend to you put your ideas out there, when you’re not getting a reaction or response, you start to get that negative chatter in your head, like am I really fooling myself that I can actually do this. And I think every entrepreneur goes through it because you’re the jack of all trades. And you are the hybrid to your business where you are doing everything in the beginning, from thinking of the name to the logo to the audience, to how you get your word out there to what types of social media Do you use, do you Who is your ideal client? And when I talk about imposter syndrome in that world, it’s talking about that chatter in your head to say, Can I do this? And do I have the skills and talent to really help and serve others in every entrepreneur goes through it, because you don’t have that that paycheck every week that you’d normally do if you were employed by someone else, and you’re scrambling over, you know, how do I make money? How do I survive? Where do I spend it, you know, and they’re not all fun questions to answer. So Katie, I think every business owner at some point or another, and especially in the past year, had their moments to say Should I pack it in? Should I just go and get employed by somebody else, and just put a lid on on my dream, my passion. You know, the whole part of overcoming imposter syndrome is to truly learn what your purpose is and why you why you’re doing the work that you’re doing. And I think every entrepreneur believes that what they do is a great idea. But it’s getting the buy in. And when you don’t get that buy in, you feel like you’re impersonating somebody else.

Katie Brinkley 10:11

It’s true, because I think that, well, for me and social media, it’s absolutely out there in your face all the time as to what other people in my industry are doing. But it is different for people, depending on what type of business they have, what position they have. So can we talk to us a little bit about what imposter syndrome looks like or feels like or sounds like for most individuals that are in that leadership role.

Christine Daspro 10:40

Of course, it’s different for everybody else, when we’re trying to advance ourselves within our company, or even grow our business, we raise our hand, when we’re asked to do something, because you don’t ever want to say no, at least that’s some of the the approach in corporate America, when you’re off in a leadership role, you’re offered to go from a contributor to a manager, from a manager, to director, all those titles sound exciting, but there’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with them. So if you go from being a contributor to now managing the people that you were sitting next to the day before, you have to gain their trust, trust is a big part of overcoming imposter syndrome, you have to believe in what you’re saying. And you have to project it in a way that you will gain the followers to believe in what you’re doing. When you’re standing there and you’re blowing smoke at people, they will read through that. And they will hear your uncertainty in your statement, they will know that you’re putting a filter. So when you start to put a filter around how you take on a new challenge, you’ll get imposter syndrome. If you take on responsibility that is above what you your passion and purpose. So your interests are, you’ll stand there feeling like you have imposter syndrome, people, you can’t know everything about every single topic. So if you’re not admitting, when you’re sitting in front of a client, when you’re doing a cold call, when you’re taking on a new project, that this areas of the work that are not very clear to you, you have to be able to admit that but admitted in a way that you’re willing to learn, and you willing to do the research to get the answer. If you try to fudge it, it comes right through. And that’s when you live in that world of imposter syndrome. And you will fail. in some capacity. The other from people following you to do the work manager and a leader are very different skill sets. A manager is is someone that will have people that report to them. But usually it’s project driven, it’s usually a you know, a beginning and an end to something, it could have a you know, it could continue to be a continuation of things, but there’s always new pieces that come into the fold. When you’re leading people, people come to you for your vision for your influence for your trust in in what you’re asking them to do or how you’re moving forward. So it’s a different skill set. People that lead don’t necessarily manage people can manage people. Because when you’re managing people, you really have to be very empathetic, you really have to be a very good listener than opposed to Yes, you have to be a very good listener as a leader, but you have a team of people that filter that information back to you. Is that making sense?

Katie Brinkley 13:52

Yes, it makes perfect sense and I think that one of the things that I know that I have struggled with is comparing where I am in my journey to where other people are in their journey and it can be hard you know you see where someone that you admire that you look up to or someone else that you think is at the same level as you and you see them growing or them going past you but you don’t see their you don’t see their their bloopers you’re only seeing their highlight reel absolute so it can be very hard to turn off the blinder or put up the blinders and so that you are only focusing on your own journey and I think that that was when someone told me that I was like that makes so much sense because I don’t know you know, launches they’ve had that they’ve failed or what product that they tried to push out there that that didn’t sell off the shelves. I only see the stuff that’s doing well because that’s all that they’re showcasing if the highlights, so it can be really hard to just focus in on your own on someone else’s journey and compare yourself and play that comparison game.

Christine Daspro 14:56

Yes, you’re absolutely correct. And especially Katie As an entrepreneur, we tend to look at other people that are doing similar work to our, to what we’re doing, they possibly could be the same work that we’re doing. And all of a sudden, you know, I mean, I go through that in what I do, you know, in the sense of imposter syndrome and working with individuals to help them kind of peel back the challenges and the obstacles that are in their way so they could move forward. So what what I do is not tangible, it’s not a widget, you can’t buy it in the sense that, Oh, I’d like three copies of that it’s work, it’s really peeling back the things that we may have really pressed down, we have to realize as leaders, and in especially women, I think women tend to do this more than men is we don’t look at our failures, as the step of enabling us to move forward, a failure is not always a bad thing. It gives us a moment to stop. If you’re willing to stop and not just put a, you know, a gloss over it, you really learn a lot about that, in that it’s not necessarily a failure, that is a bad failure. It’s a failure, where you learn of where the pitfalls were, in that particular product, talk, anything like that, men will probably push through that a lot better than women, women will continue to second guess themselves, when they have to take a number of steps back. But to your point, we only see the good stuff. I mean, I look at social media, and that’s a world that is still talk about gloss over when I think about social media, but I look at people that are in my field, not necessarily that focus on imposter syndrome, but our coaches, or leadership, individuals that help others develop their leadership, and I look at them and say, Oh, my God, you know, you can charge $10,000, for what you do, how is that possible, and I won’t even conceive that number. Because it’s really believing in what you do, and the difference that you can make. And when you believe it, it will attract the right clients to you. People are really I want to say they’re very cautious on how they spend their money. So you have to give them the reasons to why they should be spending it with you know,

Katie Brinkley 17:21

Christine, you know, I know that you work this is what you do is help people move past the imposter syndrome to find and grow their business and and themselves to money making machines and successful enterprises. What would you say are some of the key tools that you could give us to deal with imposter syndrome? What is something that we can walk away with immediately and say, Okay, this is something I can do every day or once a week, when I’m feeling those threads of doubt creep up and that imposter syndrome come over me, what’s the tool that you would give them to kind of re align themselves,

Christine Daspro 18:05

you want to look at your strengths, the reason that you’re getting that uncertainty, you’re getting that chatter in your head, because one, you’re also getting to a place or an area of something that you’ve never done before. So when you look, my suggestion is, you know, my dad used to say, get a yellow piece of paper, legal pad and draw a line down the middle. And it really works sometimes, you know, it’s a visual, put down the the skills that you have, that the things that you love to do, and the things that you do well, and then on the other side of the page, the things that you might do well, but you don’t enjoy doing. And when you see what that looks like, you start to readjust on what you’re trying to deliver, if you in the growth of your business. Or as you’re starting out business. If finance is not an area that is comfortable for you, or something that you don’t do well, as even though it’s going to cost something, you need to outsource that. outsource the things that are not going to bring you joy. And when you are doing the work that you’re doing. You need to visualize it. And you can’t do it all as an entrepreneur. So the things that you love to do like I love to coach individuals, I love to listen and really ask them the questions for them to start peeling back. Some of the reasons why the things that are holding them back because they are afraid to fail. The greatest gift is when they see that aha moment on their face. So my suggestion is, look at the things that you do well list the skills that you do well in that will vary depending on what you’re doing. And the things that you don’t, don’t harp on those. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to get you don’t need to learn about them. But if it’s someone that you can bring into your circle, to help you navigate that, then that’s what you want. To do, and there’s so many people out there, as you mentioned earlier, Katie, we belong to the she leads network group, and the women that we get to see every other week, I have had the most amazing conversations with those women in giving, if you put it out there and say, I need a copywriter, or I need someone to help me build a website, you know, people are very willingly to raise their hand to help you get something off the ground. So my suggestion is that when you don’t know how to do it, reach out to your network, and be able to say, I don’t know how to do this, I need help. needing help is not a weak part of our development. It’s actually the authenticity to say, you know, I’m not perfect, and not good and everything.

Katie Brinkley 20:47

One, Christina, I think it’s a way for you to say that you’re growing at once I once I started delegating a lot of my business out to people that that was their strengths. Yep, that’s when my business started growing. And I was super worried about the imposter syndrome, because I was only focusing in on the parts of my business that I knew I was the best at.

Christine Daspro 21:07

Absolutely. And again, I know and you have to be selective Katie don’t, as entrepreneurs, when we start out, we tend to gravitate to anyone or anything that’s going to make us think that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You know, I mean, I spent a lot of money when I first started out with gravitating to individuals that, you know, said to me, oh, you can make $100,000 in your first year, and you gravitate towards it, because you don’t have any income. So you say to yourself, my God, if that person can do it, why can’t I do it, but you’re not going to be able to do it until you know exactly the product and service that you’re delivering, in that you know who your target audiences, because the clearer you get your target audience, the less you get the negative chatter in your head, and you narrow it down. And the more that you narrow it down, the more clarity that you know what your product and service can be, and will be that you can deliver.

Katie Brinkley 22:06

Christine, this has been an absolutely incredible conversation. I think that what you offer with imposter syndrome, and the coaching that you have is essential. And I think it is a huge part that a lot of business owners, again, you’re not alone with the imposter syndrome. I feel like all of us go through it. And it’s one of those things of just having someone to talk to, and navigate where to go from there and how to elevate yourself from where you’re at can really make a difference with your business. So, Christina, where can our listeners get in touch with you? Where can they connect with you offline?

Christine Daspro 22:41

Oh, thank you, Katie. My email address is Christine at threads of leadership calm, and the website is threads of leadership calm. If you go to the website, there’s my scheduling calendar is there and you can set up a 15 minute conversation, there is no obligation, there is no sales pitch. If there’s something on your mind, if I can help you navigate that, or at least start to get some clarity. I’m happy to do that. So if your audience would love that 15 minutes, if they need longer, that’s okay to like just get on my calendar and I’m happy to happy to help you begin to just get a little bit more clarity as you go through some of these challenges.

Katie Brinkley 23:25

Focusing thank you again so much for coming on the show today. This has been an absolute pleasure having you on.

Christine Daspro 23:30

Thank you. Thank you, I really appreciate it.

Katie Brinkley 23:35

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.