Paralyzed By The Success Of Other People

Dear Naomi,

How do I stop being paralyzed by other people's success?

Here's the situation:

After finishing List Explosion materials, I've decided to combine Campaign Trail with Rising Tide. (Campaign Trail in my case means “being on lots of podcasts” – I'm way more eloquent when I speak than when I write.)

One excel spreadsheet with 40+ relevant podcasts to reach out I'm.. stuck.

As in, I literally can't bring myself to contact anyone in any way. Which is ridiculous, because I've done it before, I've been on 14 shows in the last 18 month. ( I need more). I have a process, I have a good template, and my response rate is really good (just under 80% positive). I even have a number of good topics to offer, they worked for me before. Honestly.

Why the @#$ am I stuck?!

I guess it comes to this: podcast hosts and podcast guests are successful people. Or at least, most of them certainly look like they are. And I can't handle all this success, all at once, from where I am in my business. I just don't feel I measure up.

How do I get over it, so I'm able to take action? (And hopefully grow till I do measure up one day)

How do I change my inner wiring to stop being defeated and depressed by “acute comparisonitis”?

Tips? Tactics? Insights?

It's embarrassing to admit. But I trust you.

– Marianne


Can I be honest? Like, can we break through the fourth wall and speak frankly here?

It kills me to make this question anonymous because Marianne’s online presence is AMAZING. She has her shit so mind-blowingly together that I wish you could see it.

When you consider the topic of Marianne’s question, you can see how tragic this situation is. She looks so good and yet, she’s feeling so crap. (Sigh. Brains.)

Having said all of that, we shall commence.

Dear Marianne,

I shall answer your very brave question in three parts.

Part One: How You Look, Which Is Not Really Helpful To Anyone But You, But You’re The One Who Asked So Everyone Else Can Just Wait

A friend of mine once told me about a cool story from when his oldest child when to kindergarten for the first time. The normally effervescent little boy was uncharacteristically reserved.

My friend asked what was wrong. After some coaxing, it turned out the boy had been watching too much Franklin and was worried that there might be a bully on the school bus.

My friend tried to keep a straight and empathetic face. His son was an extrovert, in martial arts, and very big for his age.

“Carson, you are the bully on the school bus.”

Marianne, you are the bully on the school bus. You are kicking so much ass it’s absurd. You look awesome. You look not just as good as those podcasty types you’re comparing yourself to, but far, far better.

You’re getting an 80% yes rate on COLD EMAIL PITCHES and I can see why. If I had a podcast, I would have you on it.

You are going through the normal-but-tragic experience of those who have been so diligent in doing All The Things that you don’t know that you’ve done them now, and you can relax. You’ve followed the best practices. Your website is in great shape. Your messaging is clear. You’ve doubtless worked your butt off to get to this point, and you’ve probably been working your butt off for so long that you don’t realize you’ve succeeded.

When I was taking Drivers’ Ed, they told us about a concept called velocitization. It’s what happens when you get off the highway and you pull onto city roads and everything feels torturously slow and you’re convinced you’re the idiot driving 20 miles under the limit and everyone hates you.

Marianne, you’re velocitized. You’ve been doing so much, so well, that it feels like you’re not doing enough, and you suck.

That brings us to part two.

Part Two: Comparing How They LOOK With How You FEEL Is A Recipe For Alcoholism and Netflix Addiction

I want to draw your attention to a couple of lines in your letter.

“Podcast hosts and podcast guests are successful people. Or at least, most of them certainly look like they are.”

“I just don’t feel I measure up.”

See? See what happened there?

You compared how they LOOKED with how you FELT.

That’s cheating.

We are human, and as such, we will always compare ourselves to others. Trying to stop this is like trying to stop the tide. Don’t bother – you’ll just exhaust yourself. All this “keep your eyes on your own paper” advice is lovely, but it seldom works in practice. We’re humans, and let’s face facts – our amygdala is in charge most of the time.


If we’re going to compare things, we must compare apples to apples.

If you are going to compare yourself to Snazzy Podcast Lady, you must compare how you look to how she looks, or you must compare how you feel to how she feels.

I assure you, she feels just as crap as you do.

I also assure you, you look just as good as she does. (Probably better.)

Part Three: Where I Give You Some Very Strange Homework

I’m going to give you an assignment. I get to do that because I’m the boss. (Have you seen the “I’m naked so I’m the boss” video? OML. But I digress.)

Here’s what I want you to do. It’s homework. It’s going to take a while. Couple hours, maybe?

1. I want you to go to your Excel spreadsheet, and I want you to pick three of the people who are on it. Your choosing criteria is that they must be active podcasters who interview very regularly.

Pick three.

2. When you have picked those three, I want you to go to their podcast archives and pick two guests for each of the three podcasters. Pick guests who have both a web presence and a social media presence.

3 podcasters x 2 guests each = 6 guests total.

With me so far?

3. OK. Now I want you to make a new list or spreadsheet or something. I want you to put your six people on there, and I want you to check them out.

Check their Facebook page, their Twitter profile, their LinkedIn profile. Check their blog, their services page, their store, their home page, their contact page. Give them a good solid look – doing all six should take you about an hour.

4. Now, I want you to make a list of ten things each person is doing wrong. Little things, big things, annoying things. Like, “Only tweets broadcasts – no engagement.” Or, “Contact page has no copy – just a form.”

Ten things for each person. If you can’t hit ten, you haven’t looked hard enough.

Here. Let’s do me as an example.

  1. Headshots taken with iPhone outside bar three years ago.
  2. Last on Twitter (September 22nd)
  3. Last on Facebook (October 22nd)
  4. Last on Instagram (September 8th)
  5. LinkedIn not present
  6. Wonky bundles on store page
  7. No list incentive
  8. Images missing on half of blog posts
  9. Lots of 404s
  10. Too few testimonials

Am I successful? I think so.

But by most accounts, I completely suck.

So does Snazzy Podcast Lady.

And so do all her guests.

You, I’m sure, have a long list of things you’re doing wrong, doing badly, not doing, or not doing enough.

I get that.

But if we’re going to compare, let’s compare everything.

Now you have six more lists of everything everybody else is doing wrong, doing badly, not doing, or not doing enough.

Now at least we’re being fair.

(If you want to be super fair, you’ll do a version of this in the reverse as well. How about a list of 10 things YOU’RE doing well? A little fearless moral inventory of the things you’re kicking ass at? Maybe a little too high-self-esteem an exercise for how you’re feeling at the moment, but a glass of good wine should take care of that.)

In Conclusion: You Don’t Suck, And Even If You Did, So Do The Rest Of Us.

Acute Comparisonitis cannot be beaten, but you can level the playing field.

Seriously, Marianne? You’re doing great.

And send some damn pitches. You’ll do awesome.



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