How This Teen Mom Overcame Imposter Syndrome To Build A Business Empire

Rachel Neill is open about her experience finding herself as a struggling teen mom at 16 with no family support.

Motivated both by the people who doubted her potential and those who supported her unconditionally, Neill coded and designed a website that would serve as a support system for teen moms like herself. The site grew to over 1,000 users in a time before social media, and caught the attention of talk show host Ricki Lake.

Neill has now founded three businesses: Figgy Play, an e-commerce kids’ brand focused on creative and imaginative play; Talent Bandit, a career consulting company; and Carex Consulting Group, where she is currently CEO. As a thriving serial entrepreneur, she has spent the last decade raising capital, building amazing teams, scaling companies, and overcoming challenges — including imposter syndrome, which she talks about here.

What is your top tip for fellow business leaders on overcoming impostor syndrome?

You can’t let a “no” knock you down. There are a lot of reasons for someone to say no, more than we can imagine. No’s are not personal, they are an opportunity to reframe, a chance to learn and grow, or even change directions.

Surround yourself with a network of people that believe in you. A great community is everything. It keeps you going when the roller-coaster ride hits a low. When you lack confidence to do something, they will be your cheering squad.

More importantly, you’ve got to believe in yourself. I know it sounds basic, but beliefs are powerful and people pick up on them. If you believe you can do it, others will too! Skills and talent are super important, but drive, grit, and determination are just as valuable.

Can you share an example of how you used this tip in your company and the results?

I’ve had business ideas that people said would never work. At that point you’ve got to tap into your support network to keep you going. I’ve also learned to push out the noise, and work on proving those people wrong, instead of taking the no to heart.

And you’ve really got to embrace the fact that everyone is truly in their own lane. Comparing yourself to others is counter-productive because there will always be people below you and there will always be people above you!

I’ve also encountered colleagues who didn’t want someone to surpass them, and that has nothing to do with you. By reframing the situations to “I only need one yes in a sea of no’s,” and finding people who support me when I’m down, I’ve been able to build my confidence and thrive.

What obstacles or setbacks did you encounter along the way?

When I started Carex Consulting Group, I thought I had a clear plan of how we would deliver services. At first, it seemed foolproof and easy to streamline. The idea was that we’d place people into health systems directly — saving health systems a ton of money because they wouldn’t need to hire as many consultants. However, the health systems didn’t move quickly enough to hire people full-time – so I had to pivot the entire trajectory of our services.

Visuals like frames or photos can also serve as reminders, so hang a photo of your first project that failed next to a project that gave you your big break.

It wasn’t the easiest thing to tackle, and starting from scratch was tough. But it gave our team the ultimate recipe for long-standing success! Today, Carex is rated among INC’s top list of respected and fastest-growing companies in the Midwest. Our team helps everyone from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies thrive by aligning them with the right staff.

What are your biggest takeaways when it comes to overcoming impostor syndrome?

One big trick that always works when I feel a bit of doubt or a feeling of defeat is taking a moment to look back at how far I have come. It’s often very easy to look at the long road in front of us, and it can be intimidating. But you will find power and strength by reframing your thoughts to how much you have accomplished.

Visuals like frames or photos can also serve as reminders.So hang a photo of your first project that failed next to a project that gave you your big break. It’s beneficial to reflect and remind ourselves of how much we have accomplished regardless of how far we have left to go!

Celebrating your “wins” by visually displaying them on a wall can be a powerful reminder of your success when things get rough. It’s all perspective, and your thinking is the most powerful thing in learning to conquer imposter syndrome when it decides to pop up.

No matter how skilled you become, you’ll always feel some level of doubt. You need to learn to hear that internal voice and squash it. Adapt a personalized and active way to do so. If I can do it, so can you.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

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