After a successful career in the entertainment and marketing fields, today, Tami Holzman is a best-selling author, Limited Partner with Halogen Ventures, angel investor, advisor, entrepreneur and keynote speaker. Tami loves to mentor and promote opportunities for women. I had a chance to catch up with her for a conversation around two topics that she says are essential to understand for anyone in business: Imposter Syndrome and Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

LM: A big part of marketing and sales is being able to market yourself first. Often you've talked about Imposter Syndrome and EQ.  Why are these topics so important to you?

TH: During the writing of  "From C-Student to the C-Suite," I went through a ton of not-so-pretty self-discovery. The book is a modern-day guide to business and relationships and its premise is you don't need to be perfect to be successful. As I combed through all my shit and insecurities, I realized - I have both a high EQ and suffer from Impostor Syndrome.

LM: Do you think there is a correlation between the two?

TH: Yes, after due consideration of EQ and Imposter Syndrome, I discovered an intersection and saw how one can actually support the other.

Let's start with Imposter Syndrome.

If you push yourself to succeed and take chances, eventually and inevitably, you'll be plagued with Impostor Syndrome. Psychologists and researchers in the 1970s coined the term to describe people who doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome are convinced they do not deserve the success they have achieved, and dismiss it as luck or good timing.

But, having Imposter Syndrome isn't necessarily a bad thing. Most intelligent, driven people will experience Impostor Syndrome at some point in their career.  I'm not sure I'll ever shake feeling like a fake. Ask my therapist!

It's quite natural to question one's self, but being vulnerable enough to ask for help is actually a demonstration of strength. It's ok to lack knowledge in a given area, even if you're the CEO. The best leaders understand it's impossible to be an expert in everything and they are willing to rely on others. Regardless of how uneasy you may be, if you don't feel vulnerable, you're not taking chances.

LM: So then, how does EQ fit in the Imposter Syndrome equation?

In the past, success was typically predicted by Intelligence Quotient (IQ).  However, researchers have found our Emotional Intelligence (EQ)--the ability to express, evaluate and control our emotions--is a much bigger predictor of success.  About 85% of business success is due to EQ, and 15% is due to logic. It comes down to human nature--people are more likely to do business with people they like.

You can have the world's best products but if you can't get someone's attention to purchase your product, you lose.

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2020, your ability to problem solve, think creatively, coordinate with others, and manage people will be necessary to achieve success.

If you focus on compassionate, sustainable relationships, you will see the benefit of this focus play out in the long run as your career growth expands into uncharted territories. The future needs a "people first" approach to business.

Having the self-awareness (the hallmark of EQ) to share your vulnerabilities and communicate with others effectively will build a deeper connection and trust in your relationships.  If you hide these vulnerabilities, you will never have a real connection; this is where Impostor Syndrome and EQ collide!

It reminds me of a time where I started a new career and I was desperate to do a deal.  I reached out to the head of marketing at a Fortune 100 company and told the person (who I happen to have known for years), I need a favor. I don't know what I'm doing, can you help me? The CMO gave me a multi-million dollar deal. Relationships matter.  I was upfront about what I didn't know, and my strength in the relationship is what made the deal happen!

LM: So self-awareness is the key to success and even having a clear direction on how to best market ourselves in business.  What advice would you give someone to hone their EQ and become more effective?

TH:  EQ Health Check:

  • Do you understand, recognize and express emotions?
  • Do you tap into your self-awareness and vulnerabilities?
  • Can you manage these emotions?
  • Can you learn to alter your behavior to make the most of any given situation?
  • Are you empathetic?
  • Do you practice being an approachable leader and not someone that is feared?

LM: What can folks in leadership roles do to encourage Emotional Intelligence in employees or colleagues?

TH: EQ is an essential tool in every organization from the top down. A good leader is empathetic and approachable. EQ is also imperative when it comes to hiring.  When you are looking for a cultural fit, the stronger your relationship is, the easier it is to get your message across and the more your relationship will benefit.

LM: You had gone on to continue your education in Positive Psychology, why?

TH: In my roles as an investor, advisor or mentor, I want to share what I'm learning about relationship building, the importance of EQ, and positivity to help the teams that I work with.

A former professor, Dr. Chris Peterson, nailed EQ when he said:

"Other people matter, period. Anything that builds relationships between and among people will make you happy."