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Establish Yourself as an Expert Even if You Don’t Feel Like One – Part 2

We hear so much about how it IS possible to establish yourself as an expert online, yet so many women seem to be waiting for permission.

What’s really holding these women back and how can they break through the self-imposed (or actual) barriers?

How to be credible when you’ve only just started out and don’t have any “proof” yet to back you up (testimonials, etc.)?

When I was asked these questions on my Facebook page, I knew I had to reach out to other successful business women to get the answer.

Last week you head from Kristen Kalp, Anna Kunnecke, Kendrick Shope, and Navjit Kandola. Today I’m sharing the amazing insights from Laura Roeder, Susan Hyatt, and Amy Pearson.

Laura Roeder

laura-roederThe number one thing that holds women back from establishing themselves as experts is this idea that fame is something that’s granted, not created. It’s the idea that the people who are famous sat quietly in their office or home without making a peep and that fame and recognition came along because their work was somehow “discovered.”

We all have an idea of what success looks like, and the public figures or maybe even friends or acquaintances who have made it. What we never hear about, however, are the networking events those people went to, the connections they made, the favors they asked, the contests they entered. People wait for “permission” because they think that’s how the world works, but it isn’t. Women especially, because we’re socialized to believe that being bold and asking for what we want isn’t ladylike.

It can be especially difficult when you’re just starting out to assert yourself as an expert without that “proof” of testimonials from others. We seem to think that we need other people to confirm our value, and that can be a real roadblock for a lot of people.

How can you get over that roadblock? Be your own testimonial. Tweet that!

Prove that you know about your industry by talking about what you know in your blog or your newsletter. Be consistent and helpful to your potential readers; once people get to where they’re thanking you for your knowledge share, they’re just another step away from becoming your client and a future testimonial.

Laura Roeder is really, REALLY into Creating Fame.

Susan Hyatt

susan-hyattI believe that the number one indicator of whether or not a budding entrepreneur will be successful is their willingness to take risks. And by risk, I am talking about risking the EGO. To stand out and make it online, you have to be willing to show people who you are, what you stand for, and fly that freak flag. Tweet that!

Even (especially) if it means that you “come out of the closet” about your beliefs, goals and vision. Waiting for permission is just not part of the equation. In fact, it kills business and blocks abundance.

What’s really holding women back is their beliefs about who they are as an expert in their field, what is possible for them in business, and the illusion that they need to wait for more information, more time, more money, or more experience to rock out their thing.

The way to break through this?

1. Get real and get honest with yourself. Own whatever mind crack (negative thinking) that you are spinning and get to work creating mind fuel (positive and empowering thoughts) that serve your mission.

2. Challenge yourself to DO something. Publish a blog, talk to 3 people today about your business and why you are excited, click send on an email asking for something, create your first video….but get out there. What you REALLY need to learn and know will come to you on the path of action. Not hiding.

3. Ask for help. If there’s something you need, ask. Hire or barter the help you need.

It’s easy to be credible when you are passionate about your business. Customers are looking for energy as much as they are looking for experience. That being said, go create the proof. Offer your services for free to clients who will talk about it. Give them a sample and ask if you can publish their “review” of the experience.

When I was a brand new coach, I coached 10 people for free for 6-8 weeks. It gave me real experience, created word of mouth referrals, and I received many amazing testimonials for my website.

Susan Hyatt is a Master Certified Life Coach, author of Create Your Own Luck: 7 Steps To Get Your Lucky On, motivational speaker and the creator of a soon to be released life design web show, Life Is Delicious TV. She’s crazy passionate about helping clients kick the rat race to the curb and get what they want in life, business and body love. 

Amy Pearson

I think it’s fear that holds so many women back. And I’ve found in my work, that most fears, if you do enough digging, point to some form of fear of social exclusion. So for example:

  • I don’t want to say that in my newsletter (because some people may take offense).
  • I don’t want to launch that new program (because some people will say, “who does she think she is?”).
  • I don’t want to put out my shingle because I don’t have enough letters next to my name (what will some people say?).

amy pearson

And so they convince themselves that they’re just too busy, or get wrapped up in other less meaningful work projects. But let’s get real, it’s really a form of hiding.

So you reject yourself as a misguided form of “self defense.” But the thing you’re “defending” yourself against hasn’t even happened nor will you ever find out if it would happen. You reject yourself, then, out of fear of the possibility of rejection. And the saddest part about it is, there’s always going to be a percentage of the population that is NOT going to be in to you — no matter what you do. Whether you do the thing or not. If this is the case, seems like a no brainer, that we have to do the things that get us to where we want to be. Some people will judge, regardless.

My mantra is this: I will never reject myself out of fear of rejection. Tweet that!

The simple way to be credible, to be trustworthy, is to tell the truth. Stop trying to be more than you are. Stop trying to “be better” than you are in your business by projecting a facade of competence. It reeks of apology energy and your potential customer can smell it a mile a way.

Credibility doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a quick fix. You have to be willing to form a relationship with your followers by being willing to share yourself. Be willing to be vulnerable. Be willing to tell the truth. This is the foundation for true intimacy in relationships and it is no different with your clients. And especially over the internet where we don’t have the luxury of face to face or a handshake, real connection is harder and harder to establish. Which is why honestly, vulnerability and the willingness to be yourself, no apologies, is truly your gold when it comes to credibility and trust.

Amy Pearson of is a master life coach and former approval addict (with the occasional relapse) who is now addicted to success.

Now, I want to hear from you!

Tell me…

What do you think holds women (or yourself) back from establishing themselves as experts online?

Have you ever been stuck in that spot?

Which of the answers above most resonate with you?

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 claire stone

Yikes. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve just launched myself out there (literally, like 30 mins ago) and was sitting here, working myself into a frenzy about whether or not people will like what I’m doing now, or what they will think. Reading this has totally calmed me down (I think!). It is soooo scary doing this – and I am really struggling with the ‘who do I think I am’ issue right now.

thank you sooo much!


2 Jenny Shih

It is scary, Claire, and you’re not alone in feeling that! Bravo to you for putting yourself out there anyway. And I’m so happy that the wise women here today had words to help you through it. You can do this!!


3 claire stone

Thank you! The initial launch has gone well, and the feedback really good, but still those cheeky little demons bite my brain. I guess there’s always something more to do, more to learn and improve, and it takes time, which is hard as I am impatient! But, I’m proud that I’ve gone out there and done it – pheweeee – that post really came at precisely the right moment!


4 Laura

Claire, I remember you (from SMM perhaps?) and you’re totally ready for this. There are always going to be people who think you don’t have enough certifications, you aren’t experienced enough, or you’re just plain wrong. You can’t be thinking about them when you do this. You have to be thinking about the people you’re actually going to help – the people who need YOU to become their healthy, happy, long-living selves. If you deprive them of that because you’re too scared of what a few people might say, you’re really doing them as much a disservice as you’re doing yourself. You’ve been inspired to get out there and do this because there are specific people in the world who need exactly you. Don’t throw away their opportunity (and yours) to connect with someone who can really, truly improve their life.


5 claire stone

Hey Laura – I remember you too, but I’m not sure where from!!! Ha ha – your photo is very striking so I know for sure I do recognise you!
You are sooooo right. I need to stop worrying about me, and just think about exactly who I am trying to help – the people who normally would never think of seeing a nutritionist. Focus, focus. It’s all about them. What a good reminder from you – thank you!!!!


6 Stacie

This is great Jenny. I love what Susan says:
“You have to be willing to show people who you are, what you stand for, and fly that freak flag.”
I think this is often what holds people back from stepping up as an expert – feeling shy or trying to fit into a mold. Life’s too short and doing your work in the world is too important to hide or try to fit in. Just let your message out, already! :)
Thanks for the wisdom and inspiration!


7 Jenny Shih

Life is to short and your work is too important — you’re soooo right with that one, Stacie! Thanks for being here!


8 Rosalie

Hi Stacie, That is so true! And I’ve experienced that it’s not only holding people back in establishing themselves as an expert, but in many other fields as well. I focus mainly on leadership coaching, and almost all executives, managers and entrepreneurs I work with, have trouble really ‘Speaking their Truth’. It’s a big part of what I coach people on.


9 Rebecca Tracey

It is extremely vulnerable to put yourself out there online. I feel it most when I know I’m writing something kind of controversial to what mainstream society thinks, and then I start to think things like “What if my dad reads this!”. And then I find myself starting to water things down. It takes guts to keep pushing forward with your message without worrying what anyone else (even dad) will think of you. Love the perspectives these women bring!


10 Jenny Shih

You are right with that one, Becca! I definitely have moments of self-imposed family censoring. It does take guts to keep moving forward and spreading your message vulnerably and authentically. Kudos to you for being a living example of that!


11 Rosalie

I agree completely! When I started with building my website & writing the content, I stayed on the safe side. When it was almost done, I realized it was nice and might appeal to quite a lot of people. But they would like it, not love it. It didn’t really show me at all.
So I redid my entire site, rewrote all content and crossed that huge scary chasm towards the ‘show-who-you-truly-are’ side. I now have a website that definitely won’t appeal to everyone, but the once who it does appeal to (hopefully) really love it!


12 Jenny Shih

Magic happens when you get that real. Yay for you, Rosalie!


13 Amber

Jenny, thanks for gathering these women together for an inspiring conversation. I agree with Rebecca that the online stage has created a very vulnerable platform for putting yourself out there. It is, like Susan said, about getting ego out of the way, and just going for it. But Rebecca’s “dad” comment makes me laugh. There’s nothing we can do about “Dad,” is there.

My favorite advice here comes from Laura, to be your own testimonial. Working hard in the beginning to share who you are and what you have to offer, is the best trust building tool there is. Honestly, I’d be quicker to trust someone I’ve just come across who has created killer free content, than I would someone whose strength is displayed through recommendations from people I may or may not know. Testimonials are effective bonus trust-building tools, but the main substance of trust must first come from my connection with YOU.


14 Jenny Shih

Excellent perspective, Amber! I love hearing how each person resonates differently with each of these ideas. What I love about newbies online who pour their heart into free content is how quickly they can become well known for their genius ideas — simply because they’re out there sharing it. You make a great point here about that!


15 Ty Johnson-Anderson

This is right on time. I’ve been contemplated vlogging my weight loss journey to coincide with my Changing Your Reflection Perception pdf. But the issue was, “putting myself out there”. Opening myself up to criticisim about my weight, why I want to get “muscular”, and accepting that people are just going to hate.

But I know it can do a lot of good, b/c people believe self-love is accepting oneself as they are and not changing anything.

But my philosophy is change what you can change and F@ck what you can’t.

So I hate my current physique and that I can change so I am. I want to give women to the courage to say, “I’m not okay today,” and do something about it.


16 Amy

You GO Ty!


17 Jenny Shih

What I love about you Ty is how you just go for it — whatever it is for you in the moment. You do that so well and even online. Love love love! You go girl!


18 Victoria

‘change what you can change and F@ck what you can’t.’


19 Trevor

I like what Laura said about getting to fame. We tend to think that the people at the top of the ladder got there because they’ve always been in the loop or it just came to them. Wrong! They had to put themselves out there and go for it, and maybe they failed a lot of times. But I think in most instances, they had to create their own fame.


20 Jenny Shih

Yes! Everyone who “makes it” does so because they made it happen. They started at zero and worked up to the top, creating it themselves.


21 Ellen

Love the points to take risks and make things happen! If you want people talking about you (fame) you need to go out there and make some noise! I love that it’s also about relationship building – soooo critical for these online businesses. This conversation and collection of voices only motivates me more to go out, take risks, make noise, and have fun doing it!


22 Jenny Shih

I feel like jumping up and down and cheering you on, Ellen! Are you making some noise??! Woohoo!!


23 Amy

I’m so done with being ladylike. You know what they say about well behaved women :-) Loved this post! Amen Laura R. We need to be our own testimonial. Had a major aha moment that waiting for the “right” testimonial or credential or whatever external stamp of approval is just another form of approval addiction.

“I believe that the number one indicator of whether or not a budding entrepreneur will be successful is their willingness to take risks.” Love this Susan H. Totally agree. As entrepreneurs, we have this singular opportunity to create a business and a life that we love that serves others. That wasn’t much of an option until recently. So why try and fit the mold? My friend Amethyst Wildfyre says, “You’re no good as a cookie cutter.” And I will add that it’s not much fun either.

Risk it all. It will bring up your shit. That’s what being alive is all about. The rewards are on the other side.


24 Jenny Shih

You’re no good as a cookie cutter.” How fun and how true is that?!

Yes, take risks. Be bold. Be you. It will most definitely “bring up your shit,” as Amy Pearson loves to say! But it’s part of the process and most definitely rewarding!


25 Tanya McGill Freeman

What a wonderfully strong article! I love it. Thank you ladies so much. And thank you, Jenny, for hosting them on your blog. Absolutely fantastic points from everyone about standing in one’s own expert status. I think the quote that really struck me the hardest was, “How can you get over that roadblock? Be your own testimonial,” by Laura. I especially need to remember this as it’s often hard to toot your own horn but if you don’t do it, who will?! Thanks again for another excellent post!


26 Jenny Shih

Love that you see right to the heart of Laura’s idea here, Tanya! We absolutely need to stand up for what we stand for and shout it out to the world. You’re right: who else will?! Glad to see you here!


27 Rosalie

Great article Jenny! All three women have a great insight to this topic, making me realize again that putting myself out there and not waiting for anyone’s permission, is really what I have to do to establish my biz and create the live I want to lead.
Thanks so much!


28 Jenny Shih

Sounds like it’s time for you to really go for it, Rosalie!


29 Amy

Hey everyone! Jenny said it was okay to post a link to my upcoming no-cost training. It’s called:

The Vulnerability Factor: Why putting your butt on the line is the only way to win in business — and 4 simple ways to start

I think it’s a total fit given the theme! Here are the deets:



30 Eleanor Beaton

This is a fabulous topic, Jenny. Thanks to you and your guest panel for posting.

For years my fear over being seen for who I truly was held me back. And the funny thing is, it wasn’t that I was afraid I wasn’t up to snuff.

I was afraid that I was TOTALLY up to snuff. Posing as an expert requires that a woman stands in the light. It means owning up to your gifts, your strengths and your unique talents.

That kind of positive scrutiny can be intimidating.

In fact, succeeding can be scary as hell.

I recently created a free e-workbook where I tell the story of how I spent 30 years waiting for someone (anyone!) to hand me a permission slip granting me the freedom to do the things I wanted. If you’re interested in some laughs and insight, you can visit and sign up for my list to get your free copy.




31 ilana levine

Hi everyone. I would like to add to this idea of being afraid to be vulnerable and to just take leaps and forget about worrying about the responses. I’ve finally come to understand that it’s just life that when we create something, not everyone is going to love it (but some most surely will). I’ll use my artwork as an example. Years ago I would have never shared any of my paintings with the public. In 2009 I had a solo exhibition in a pub that my friend part owned. This was not a selling opportunity for me, it was an important symbolic one! I exhibited very old work of mine (one from when I was 18 in college studying fine arts! (I was 41 years old when I did this exhibition). It was kind of frightening because I knew people would wonder what kind of ‘shit’ (pardon the word) I had done. But I also knew that some things showed I did have talent. I called the exhibit ‘Touch my Soul’ because it was that deep and personal to me and this exhibition was about me letting go of holding my artwork so close to me and keeping it hidden, and being brave enough to release it to the world and just allow whatever would happen to happen. The opening night is a fond memory. I was surrounded by my wonderful friends who were so supportive and thought I was amazing to be doing this (I had also recently quit my job and was about to embark on my new self-employed life). More recently I created a piece for a group exhibition. I was very excited about creating to a theme but I had so little time to do it (the deadline got moved forward by several MONTHS!). So I knew I wouldn’t have the time to research the theme and explore in the making of it. For a few days I vascillated with my thoughts going from: ‘why are you doing this? Why are you putting this extra pressure on yourself to do this, you don’t have to do this exhibition’ to ‘NO! You really want to do this ilana! this is exactly the kind of opportunity you seek and want to find more of and participate in! You can do this!’ And so I did. I managed it. I created something I’m happy with. And I view it as something that will just get better the more I put myself in these situations (which are scary but exciting). When I finished the piece I was scared of how it would be perceived because I knew my colleagues from my part-time job would be there and I was so scared to ‘fail’ in their eyes and be judged. But I told myself, ‘Ilana, you did it. You did your best and everything – as Danielle Lapointe says in this video – can be better, everything is a work in progress – (
And now ladies, I always tell myself: ‘you know what ilana, you showed up and did your part! ‘ And that’s actually more than some do!! I want to share an amazing TED talk with you where I borrow those words (‘I showed up and did my part’) by the author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert. This talk is my favourite! She’s so wonderful to listen to. Please have a listen: It’s called Your Elusive Creative Genius. She is a genius, she’s funny and wonderful, so I’ll leave you all with that…


32 Chris

Wow! The word “expert” in and of itself is frightening to me. I totally know I have what many people, women need to hear in my story and I am absolutely not afraid to share. But I am so afraid of what if they hire me and they don’t think I deliver? I have happy, grateful, satisfied clients. Some paid and some have been pro-bono. Each and every one of them has experienced growth and success when working with me. But to claim and expertise, why I am different, what is my “magic”, I have a hard time with that. My only “magic” is my deep desire to help. A dream of watching women grow their wings, fly in their brilliance as women and mothers. To see them find self love and confidence, to model this and empower their children. To believe in themselves and to impart the message “I CAN do ANYTHING when I set my mind to it!” I recently wrote and self published two childrens books with this message. These simple little books have brought most to tears when they read them, knowing they have it in them but and knowing it’s time to believe it. My own five year old even heard me say “I know this message has to get out there, but I don’t know how” and in her sweet little voice she answered “Mommy, you just have to set your mind to it”…

So here I stand, on the edge of the cliff… not to jump because I have given up but scared to jump because I know I can fly…

Even coaches need coaching :)


33 Ashley Gwilliam

I loved what Laura said about the fame myth –– that the people we look up to were quietly waiting in their office before somehow getting discovered. It creates a funny image that actually makes me want to laugh because it’s SO ridiculous! Yet, that’s what we assume.

I also agree with what Amy said about the underlying fear being one of social rejection. We are social “animals” and in the distant past rejection from the tribe meant death –– quite literally. No wonder we’re so afraid to “rock the boat” right?

Great article series – thanks Jenny!


34 Michelle @

Great series! I can definitely relate! I feel that “fear” every time I launch a new product on my website or write a new blog post. You just have to keep pushing through it. Love the idea of being my own testimonial :)


35 Linda Ursin

Procrastination and lack of money are my only two obstacles. Procrastination comes on when I’m mentally nd/or physically worn out because if my joint problems.


36 ilana

Now LInda, I hear what you just said and want you to know that you touched on something important eventhough it may seem unrelated, BUT, physical pain in the body can really wear you down and affect progress in other areas of our lives. It’s something to take care of and I would recommend something called Grinberg, but you can contact me seperately if you’d like to know more. Body and mind are so deeply connected and often we hold so much in our body and that works as a counter force to achieving other things. I think for all the positive and wonderful messages in this stream, one needs to have a pain free body to be able to let in all the rest…


37 Joane Cajuste

This came just in time. I hate Worry and FEAR but I’m learning to walk through it despite the icky feeling of sometimes not feeling good enough. I would really hate myself if I never took the risk at all.


38 Deane

Be Helpful. (My new mantra). Take risks. Create mind fuel (after kicking the mind crack habit.) Stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking. To that I add, stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, too, and claim your place on your own path. Y’all are all brilliant and I’m so glad you dropped by my inbox today! Thank you.


39 Justinfem

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