Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Do we ever feel we deserve our success or that our accomplishments are in fact real? Women often don’t but I suspect men don’t always either.

This week I am back from a spot of winter sun. Leaving cold England for Abu Dhabi (trust me, it’s hotter than July at midday) is no hardship. But on some level it wasn’t easy. Because I was in the company of some of the biggest and most accomplished brains out in the world of science, policymaking, development, leadership – and somewhat to my surprise, I was supposed to be one of them. The occasion? The annual gathering of the World Economic Forum’s policymaking groups, the Global Agenda Councils, http://www.weforum.org. Let me correct that. I am one of them. I sit on a Council and have done for three years.

But as soon as I arrived I found myself suffering from Imposter Syndrome. http://www.fastcompany.com/3020966/leadership-now/do-you-have-imposter-syndrome-or-are-you-actually-qualified-for-your-job. Perhaps I should be grateful that I am not alone – According to Fast Company Magazine, Harvard Business School students who should feel on top of the world, often feel they will be outed as academic fraudsters.

Luckily, I did not stay in this false and paranoid universe for long. For a start, the World Economic Forum is extremely well run, and places friendliness and networking at a premium. The minute you connect with another human being you forget that they may be one of the top chemists from Cambridge University or Economist from Shanghai, or that they have published more academic papers than you have books on your shelves. Finding common conversational ground is the best antidote to isolation.

But something else corrected the skewed self-image. I feel keenly interested in the topic I was there to contribute to – The Council on Informed Societies – and realised that far from being invited like a random lottery winner, I had as much to contribute as anyone else. Duh! So I became saved by common sense but also by content: It is hard to feel useless if you are craning forward in the discussion.

I hope those of you who occasionally, perhaps more often, gulp inwardly and feel horribly underdressed professionally or intellectually remember this: the operative word is not “imposter” but “syndrome”.

The digital revolutions rages on, taking casualties as large as old media empires and remaking new maps in a landscape in which new technology thrives. The world is practically saturated with mobile phones already and so the tablet dominates – both in volume of pills the over-medicated and the over-stressed pop, but also in terms of the post-desktop, post-laptop must-have. And yet. Some things stay the same. The business card has not died. And it exists primarily as it has always done, in print, exchanged by hand, face-to-face. The Eastern civilisations accept business cards with a great deal of seriousness and attach extreme etiquette to it. In Europe and the Americas it is much more transactional  than culturally emotional. I have come to respect the business card, and its endurance as a good sign of intelligence exchange: I give you something of me to remember our connection by and we will talk more.

The same cannot be said of the name badge. How I hate it. It has no real use: You still peer at someone awkwardly and only catch a faction of its contents – the name, the job, the company, never all three. It never, *ever* looks elegant or distinctive and more often than not ruins a look (and often, if it has a pin which many still do, can wreck fabric). But mostly it is impractical. You need to say to someone ‘Hallo’ at some point and if you want to follow up with the business card then that is up to both of you. Yes, it can be a talking point but frankly if you are absolutely unable to talk enough even to ask someone’s name then you need more than a badge to help you out (see http://www.editorialintelligence.com).

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