Episode 8 Transcription: “Fake it till you make it” is holding your career back

Welcome to unique impressions. The podcast for PR & marketing pros who want to up-level their success. We’re here to help you create a happy, healthy and wealthy career that you love.

I’m your host, Shauna Nuckles, and you’re listening to Episode 8–”Fake it till you make it is holding your career back.”

This is a super common piece of advice that I see all over the internet all over Instagram, when it comes to female empowerment, being a hashtag girl boss and building your empire. 

Today, were going to talk about why that mentality is holding you back in your career. And other mantras and success quotes you can keep in your back pocket when you need a dose of inspiration instead. 


“Fake it till you make it.” This is a piece of advice I know you’ve all heard. Doing a quick search on Instagram, there are almost 300k posts using the hashtag fake it till you make it. 

Ya know, I think a lot of people interpret this quote to really mean “be confident.” I’m not knocking that at all. I think we should all walk through life with the confidence that we deserve to be there — whether it’s in a meeting, in an interview, in a new job. 

So I’m not knocking that. But I actually think this mentality of “Fake it till you make it” is quite dangerous and toxic to our subconscious. And will ultimately hold you back in your career. Which is the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do. 

So first things first, let’s talk about confidence. I completely agree that you should feel good and confident whenever you walk into a new situation. Even if it’s one that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. You deserve to be there. You’re there for a reason. And if you’re feeling uneasy — because it’s new, you’ve never it done it before, you’re stretching yourself — saying this mantra of fake it till you make it is dangerous.

Because what it’s going to do, is tell your subconscious mind that in order to be confident and to feel like you belong there, you need to act like someone else. Let that sink in for a minute. That in order for you to be there and take up space, you have to pretend to be someone else. That’s messed up, right? We would never tell our best friend that, so why would we whisper those words of “motivation” to ourselves?

And it couldn’t be further from the truth! And repeating a phrase like that — instead of helping you build your skillset and gain your expertise, this type of mantra is going to perpetuate imposter syndrome. 

You’ve maybe heard that phrase, but for anyone who hasn’t, it basically means a situation where you’re feeling like a hack, like you’re not as good as everyone else and that eventually, everyone is going to figure out that you don’t belong there. We’ve all experienced that feeling. It’s actually quite common, but we want to squash that thinking instead of lighting fire to it–right? 

So if you’re walking into a room, feeling uneasy, instead of telling yourself “fake it till you make it.” Try something like this instead. “I am exactly where I need to be on my path to success. I’m in this room for a reason, and I am going to fully show up and do my best.” 

Another reason why this “fake it till you make it” phrase is so dangerous is that it really strokes our egos instead of supporting the greater good of whatever we’re working on. It focuses on  YOU being right, instead of getting it right. 

This is a very toxic mentality to build your career on. And encouraging that line of thinking can lead to us actually being closed minded. It stifles curiosity. And if we develop those qualities, if we’re not careful, can make us very difficult and unpleasant people to work. 

Listen, no one expects you to have all of the answers for everything that you do. Whenever you’re feeling that, it’s your ego talking. And pretending that you do–that you have all the answers–isn’t just dangerous, but it’s really selfish. Because what you’re ultimately doing, is trying to “save face” instead of figuring out how to do what’s best or right for the team, the project –or whatever you want to achieve. 

So, when you’re faced with a situation where someone is turning to you for an answer that you don’t have. Don’t panic. Don’t feel like you need to pretend to have all of the answers. Here’s what you can do instead.

You can honestly answer what you do know. And you can say something like, “this doesn’t answer your question completely, but here’s what i do know…”

You can also say something like, “that’s a great question. I’m not the expert in that, so let me find out for you.” Or “that’s a great question, let me think about that, and i’ll get back to you.”

And what works really well for me personally, is to add a little humor to it. If someone is asking me a question and I don’t have the answer right off the top of my head, i’ll say something like, “hold on. Let me check on that for you — i don’t want to make a liar out of myself.” OR “i’m not going to pretend to be an expert on that, so let me talk to someone I know who is.”

Be honest. Be human. But don’t be fake.


And the last thing I want to talk about here is a bit more macro. And it is that we should be very critical of all the content that we’re consuming. These “inspirational” quotes and mantras might seem harmless. They’re just an Instagram post. They’re just a cute little postcard or magnet. But I’m going to challenge that, and ask you to start asking yourself. and ask yourself. Are they really serving me? Are they really true? Are they causing harm? Or are they causing good? What are they really saying?

Because on the surface, I think a phrase “fake it till you make it” seems fun. It’s punchy. It’s a little bit sassy. We’re all just here painting the town red and just gettin’ it done. 


But these phrases and our thoughts, create our reality. And that is something that I’m going to keep repeating. What we say to ourselves matters. And if you’re almost absentmindedly repeating these phrases and taking them in, they will shape your reality.

In our industries, we have something that’s called “the rule of 7.” And that means, that in order for a message to really resonate with us as something we remember and something that we act on, we have to hear it 7 times. As communicators and marketers, we use that as a rule to influence behavior, to convince people to do what we want them to do — whether that’s buying a green juice that we’re selling, or choosing one product over a competitor.  A rule of thumb is that people have to hear something 7 times until they remember it and act on it.  


But think about that rule for yourself. How many times have you heard that phrase — fake it till you make it. I’m actually going to stop saying it, because I don’t want it to get any deeper in your brain. But, really, how many times and for how many years have you been hearing that phrase? For many of us, it’s probably nestled its way right into our subconscious and is just going to hangout there forever until we kick it out and replace it with something else.

And i’m saying this because I want all of us to be mindful of what we say to ourselves. So I’m going to say it ,let’s replace “the phrase that shall not be repeated” with something like  “I am exactly where I need to be on my path to success. I’m here for a reason, and I am going to fully show up and do my best.” 


Alright, thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Unique Impressions. If you know someone who is constantly saying our “phrase that shall not be repeated,” or looking for a new way to think about confidence in their careers, please share this episode with them. Take a screenshot on whatever player you’re listening. And tag me on Instagram stories. @ShaunaNuckles — I’d love to connect and say hello. 


And if you are listening to and loving this episode, i would so appreciate a 5-star review on iTunes. Thank you so much again. I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you for joining me on this journey to change how we live and work for the better.


Until next time.