Imposter Syndrome

Shivani and Jessica are the dynamic duo behind Pathfinder. They are currently eight years into their work on innovative approaches to global development and they continue to choose to see themselves as a startup. In this episode they were willing to talk about the thorny but all too familiar topic of "imposter syndrome." While they insist that the path to self-realization and confidence is a arduous one that is paved mostly through hard work and diligence, it became clear to me that the major ingredients in their secrete sauce has been their resolute determination and the strong chemistry of their partnership. Together we explore the experience of imposter syndrome.

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Show Notes

 

Transcript 

Jalen 

So Shivani and Jessica, we were going to talk about Imposter syndrome, and this is something that I think that is often it's not a dirty secret, but it's something that it's, you know, because of the nature of the experience. It can be, it can be hard sometimes hard to talk about. And so the fact that you two have chosen to speak about this, I greatly appreciate it because there's so many of us. I've experienced this at least once, if not multiple times, depending on how many projects we started, and it's always so great to unpack these things. I I greatly appreciate the two of you taking some time to share about this topic. 

Jessica 

Well, thank you so much for having. Us on we we also just thought it was fitting to discuss impostor syndrome, but also the way we, I guess, work around it and worked around it from the beginning because Shivani and I just basically started. Pathfinder was 8 years ago now, Shivani. And and yeah, we're going on 8 years, actually next month and we just hit the ground running and we. Try and you know we're sort of, I would say Jack of all trades, master of none and if you will. We've got expertise in many different areas we've got in between the two of us. We've got, I don't know how many years or decades of of academic experience and and work experience. But we always felt like. They weren't experts in one particular topic, and so when we started Pathfinder, it was an accumulation of all of our expertise and all of our knowledge. And we by no means felt that we were 100% ready to sort of to launch and I think that's a big lesson that we just kind of want to share with everyone is that don't wait because that moment. Is never going to come and and if you feel that that moment is there, it probably you've probably missed your mark. You've probably missed. Your opportunity because. It is so rare that anyone will start anything successful when they feel that they're 100% ready, whether that be, you know, logistically, or you know financially or with expertise and everything. So I think for us today the big message is that. You know, nobody is 100% an expert in anything that they do. And so we've definitely we definitely resonate with this feeling of, you know, this impostor syndrome. But we I think are quite confident in the way we've worked around it, right, Giovanni? 

Shivani 

Yeah, I'm. I'm going to have to agree with that. I think we did. We did learn some really tough lessons along the way, but we also. So there were a few things that we learned that were, I thought, really key in getting past this. So one of the big things was when we first began, I think there was a, there was a measure of this for Jess as well. But my dad and I, he still maintains this, by the way, but my dad would say, hey, when are you going to stop working on this new hobby? Yours and go back to Wall Street and I think that he's still holding out hope. So even though you know I'm I'm working in a whole new career and a whole new world sort of. You know, he just, he just really hopes that one day I will go back to doing what he thought. That was the thing I should be doing for the rest of my life. So it's, you know, and and in the beginning. It used to really be. It's hurtful, right when someone you love and someone who loves you the the first person you would think to support you is so not supportive of what you want to do, but but you learn along the way that you know. Basically, you have to get to a place where you decide for yourself that you are out here to learn everything you can, right? So you learn along the way and with every bit of success, with every failure. It's a lesson, and with every bit of critique you have to sort of. Distinguish, you know, useful critiques from from personal opinion or personal criticism. It's if you get into this mindset of of constantly learning and also practice chucking the rest of the noise, I think. You just remove that extra pressure on yourself that sort of adds to the whole concept of imposter syndrome. So like, if you are not expecting yourself to deliver the next, you know, Nobel Peace Prize winning solution, then then you know that's you, you beat the syndrome. 

Jessica 

And I just want to add to that. Yeah, because it. I totally, you know, we resonate with that and I think The thing is is that we put. This on you saying. We put this pressure on ourselves, but. It's also really we have to be a little bit generous and a little bit understanding that our industry is not an easy. Industry to understand. Right. So when you're trying to explain? What a social impact businesses or social enterprises? It's much easier to understand where you know where, let's say worship any originally came from. She was working on Wall Street, so you can see the practicality and. Then then the certainty of that and the comfort and working in that industry. So we you know, we have to allow for a little bit of that kind of you know. The the fact that not everybody is not necessarily caught up, but not everybody understands or lives in the same social impact space that we live in. And so we're so, you know, we're so intertwined with the lingo and, you know the SDG's and, you know, social impact measurements and all of this. And we kind of expect everybody to. To be on board, but in fact people, not just people of different generations. In fact, the majority of the world, the way that we are, the way that we operate isn't it doesn't necessarily resonate with people. They understand we're trying to do good, but they don't really. Understand our model. Is it you know? Voluntary because if you're in the social impact space or you're just doing this as a side hustle, is it? You know, there's all of these things. And so I think for us getting taken seriously was a a big thing in the beginning and you're almost trying to prove it and you're sort of thinking, you know, you're you're creating your own benchmarks of what success. This is and and I think, yeah, that's the whole thing is we have to have a little bit of forgiveness for people not completely. Understanding this industry. They know that we're trying to do good and I think they support that, but they're sort of like, why would you leave this cushioning job of making X amount of money and taking this huge risk, you know, because I think Shivani and I are stories we both. We both took a big risk to start. Years ago, leaving quite comfortable jobs. But that was because we saw a bigger purpose in this. And so I think if you. Understand that yourselves and you understand why you're doing what you're doing and you create those own measurements yourself. Health then. Who cares what other people think? Because along. Right. I mean and that's something we didn't learn overnight. It's something that we were always just so stubborn. I think Shivani and so hard working that for us it was so clear and it was almost frustrating. Like, why don't other people get this? And the truth is, is that it didn't matter. It didn't doesn't matter if they get it or not, as long as we get it. That's our measurement of success. Right. Sorry. Go ahead. 

Shivani 

But also, yeah, but but just in to continue that little thought like we we would often find ourselves in a situation where I remember one time we were speaking with this elite university when we had just started. And their question for us was, well, why should we go with you? What do you have? To offer. You know, and I remember, I was just so. Hurt by that? And yeah, and and, you know, it was just. 

Jalen 

That's that's perfect. 

Shivani 

I thought it was personal. And it just really offended me and and and you know, I was just like, well, of course you would say that you're an elite university, you know, and and so there's all these feelings and then but what happens is. We would talk to each other a lot about these things and in the beginning there was a lot of. Hey, like this so much. And and we sort of with practice came to this place where our intention and our action aligned. So what happened was we would get critique, we would get criticism. And it was, you know, I mean, yeah, your parents are like, wait, what are you doing? Why are You doing it? But you know, potential clients, investors, they are a lot harsher sometimes. Right. So. You would hear all of this feedback about how you know you weren't resonating with people or or that you didn't have something that made any sense to them or why you and you just decided that, you know, the only way we were going to proceed with this stuff was to take what was useful critique. And just Chuck the rest, right? So how somebody feels about us, how somebody feels is their problem. But what we want to do on our end is our best to sort of articulate what it is that we are offering so with. Practice not only did our model become, I guess more streamlined or or just clearer, but also we became better at talking about it and selling it to a wider audience. So it kind of works in that it puts you through the ringer, and if you have a healthy attitude about learning and accepting. Critique where it is useful, then then you grow with this experience. But of course it takes a lot of practice to not take rejection personally. Yeah, and. 

Jalen 

It sounds like like. The grit that polishes you situation. 

Shivani 

Exactly. That's exactly. It like now, I mean, Jess and I, we don't even bat an eyelid when we get rejected for something now. And you know, we we always do try to ask, you know, why just for the lesson in it for ourselves, you know, so if we didn't get this one? Deal that we were really close to and we came neck to neck with somebody else. Why not us? And those lessons are always fantastic because a lot of the time it's something either something you could actually do to do better for yourself. But a lot of the time it's it's just, you know, what they are comfortable with their mindset, their choices, their experiences in life, and that has nothing. To do with you. So you could have left that conversation feeling in some. Way less than. But turns out it had nothing to do with you. You did your best. 

Jessica 

And and and also I just want to add to that in terms of you know, we don't see them, we call them failures just because that's the word that's associated with it. 

Jalen 

That's super important. 

Jessica 

But they are challenges. They're hurdles. But they're such big lessons learned, and I think that was our. I think it's the key to to, to success in getting past that kind of hump of the. You know, the two years of the the startup, the startup years. Where the majority of social enterprises fail and and that's being able to take all of that constructive criticism and even the non constructive criticism and learning from those those lessons, and also understanding from the beginning, we, as I said, we didn't have like our business model has changed and evolved so much. So I think our strength is really been in taking and being able to be. Sort of sponges and absorb. All this but be able to be adaptable and agile, especially given the last few years of uncertainty, and that's why I think we're still alive and and and thriving as well and doing well and sort of rebounding after the pandemic because we always operated in this way. This agile way of going OK, you know what? Actually the market is telling us this isn't working. We're not going to change our core values. Or core, you know the selling point or whatever or. But we do need to maybe adapt and adjust based on the feedback that we've had. So I think that to us has been rather than seeing them as failures, they've really been lessons and really valuable to us. 

Jalen 

It sounds to me that one of the ingredients that has helped the two of you overcome the challenges is just sheer determination. Getting on the strong sense of that, but I also have this also have a sense of that. I'm imagining that there being two of you that that that you at least have one other person who like. Is with you believes in it or wants to like, you know, reflect and so. Support that's got have been super helpful. 

Shivani 

100% I think Jess and I have both said this at various points and and I'm fairly confident Jess feels the same way still, but. Yes, I mean, of course we were, we were determined. You know we this is something we believed in. This is something we do believe in today and and we will keep doing this because because we strongly committed to it. And and we'll keep finding ways to learn and grow and evolve as as required, but really. I do not think that I would do this on my own, and I there's nobody else that I would rather run a business with like it's just. It's incredible to me that we can be in completely different parts of the world, you know, and and just our values are so deeply aligned. And we hold each other to account and. And you know, it's just been so fantastic. To be able. To grow together and lean on each other. So yeah, I I fully agree with you. I think that's on. The mark I think it. 

Jalen 

So I'm wondering about other the other ingredients, because I mean, you're not. You're right. You're now eight years in. So the the, the the stings of the impostor syndrome. Maybe not so fresh, but I'm wondering if you can recall some of the inner tricks or inner resources that you developed and like. How you might have developed them? 

Jessica 

I just. I just want to add quickly to shivani's point and then answer your your your question is. That we also, you know, should the the the key. Is this, I think, to Pathfinder is our partnership and we've always been told a lot of it. The the success in our kind of shop window is us, right is that partnership and also this combination of you know I'm an idealist and he's a realist and we have these really deep conversations, but it all comes back to us even saying those core values. But we also have. Even though we've been questioned and and I think as every startup, every social enterprise has been in the beginning, we also have a really good support network, too, right, Sandy, we've got some awesome friends and family that do support us and and also some big names too. We've been, you know, a big industry. Leaders that have also that also do support us. So that's really encouraging because you think, OK, if I can be in the same room as the Ashoka's and School foundation and and you know and and be able to have conversations with them, then I must be doing something right. So and I think not only are our sort of our our small key you know network. Has been encouraging, but also that wider network and seeing that just the two of us are being able to kind of be in that room of conversation has been huge. I think in terms of helping with whatever imposter syndrome we may have had in the beginning. But I think in terms of resources to answer your question, it's been, yeah, a lot of hard work, but also knowledge and experience in, in growing our knowledge. So we, as I said, hit the ground running, but we also simultaneously we're taking courses and free online courses and getting engaged in as many events and seminars. And free sessions and as much as we could just to capture. And to you. Know feed our brains and to get as smart as we could in. This industry, even though. I already had a masters in in, you know, in international law and and. And and political science and all these things. We still felt. Like you're only as relevant as the last kind. Of course, you've taken or the you know, because it's such a fast. Paced industry so. We literally just, we studied simultaneously and that was, I think one of the biggest resources for us wasn't. 

Shivani 

It Germany. Yeah, I think, I mean I was thinking of all of the things that in terms of. Ingredients that would would have made it work for us and I I think that both of us are, you know, really. I mean, Jeff, Jess is a lifelong academic, so there's no doubt about that that there. But we're both lifelong learners, you know. I mean, talking about impostor syndrome. It's it's my. It's a nightmare of mine to think of myself as some sort of genius. Walk into a room and make absolutely no sense. Like that's my. That's my private nightmare, you know? So I think it also helps that, like, like Jess said, it's, you know, don't. Underestimate the power of not caring what other people think of you, right. If your only commitment is to yourself right, and your commitment is that. We are going to do our best, which means which means taking the time to learn everything we can access as much as we can do as many hours as it takes, do the hard work. If we've committed to that, then really, you know. I think that that's the best indicator. For for how well, I guess we are. We are feeling because that's what impostor syndrome is, right? It's it's how we feel about ourselves. So I yeah, I think that we knew that we were we were doing everything we would respect and that was good for us. Now if we were sitting somewhere and. And just you know, doing as little as possible or doing, you know a little bit and then whining about not being taken, taken seriously then. Yeah, that's a different. That's a different game. Not because. Yeah, I'm sure you can be brilliant and not have to constantly learn. Actually I'm not sure about that, but I I feel like lifelong learning is kind of key and we both agreed on that. And also, there's my dad would be very proud of me for saying this, but there's no substitute for hard work, right? So there's lifelong learning. There's hard work. 

Jessica 

And yeah, and so now there's persistence. We're just going to say we are. So I think there's. 11 commonality in our personalities is that we are. So I think stubborn when I put my mind to something, I'm going to do it and but I have to have the passion have to believe in it right to. Make it worth worth. For a while and. And that's shivanna's the same. So we both it's hard work, but it's also no, we're not going to give up. We're going to try every angle and. OK, fine. Once if. That door really is closed. Then we're not going. To you know. We're, we're we. You also have to acknowledge when you need to step back. But we are going to exhaust every possibility and we've given it our all and we feel comfortable with. That then OK. What's the lesson to be learned to this? But it's not. Oh, let me just send. Exactly, and see how it goes. And then, you know, it's very much we you have to be hard working, but you have to be determined to think because no one it, there's no we're not smarter than anyone. We're not faster, we're not better. We're not richer than anybody you know. So there's it. Really was about it. Really was about the hard work that we put in in the first few years and we continue to put in, but about just not giving out this well. 

Jalen 

Yeah, this it seems to be another touchstone of entrepreneurialism. Because oftentimes. Because it's not exactly the easiest thing. To do. Period. And then you know, social impact makes it even more interesting many times. And I'm I'm curious though, the whole concept of of impostor syndrome in some respects. It's like a delusion in our in our in minds, like in the lizard brain, you know, in the face of concern and and newness, you know, lizard brain kicks in and and tries to throw all kinds of danger. That is to try to make it safe when maybe it's not even, it's not even dangerous in the first place. Now you know the I hear that the two of you are really prone to sort of doubling down and trying to make sure that you've have do additional training and that sort of thing. And that's definitely not only is it doesn't have a value in itself, but it also helps. Alleviate the sense of like, well, I don't know enough. I don't. You know, whatever. And not smart enough, but that can also become. A hamster wheel. You know you can spend all this time trying to, like, get trying to, like prove to yourself and others that you're that you're enough. And then that energy can sort of take away from what you're actually trying to accomplish and actually just come. And to coming to the experience of recognizing that I'm enough and I'm wondering how how? You the two of. You manage that balance. 

Shivani 

I think the number one thing here is, you know that we don't, actually, we really don't worry about being enough and. And it's not. It's not about because we know where all that that's not at all it you know. In no way. We were talking. Earlier and I was like, do you ever consider yourself an expert? And and we just find that sort of terminology is so bizarre because we don't think we're experts. We certainly have expertise. We have impressive resumes to boot, but and and I'm confident that you know when we join conversations that are relevant, we we add some value to that. So it's it's not about not understanding our value but also. We've never sort of put that pressure on ourselves to be seen in a certain light by somebody else. So if you're going in and you've done all the work you could possibly do and you give it your best and it doesn't work out, it's a really good feeling. To sort of walk away and be like you know what? We tried, and then you do this a few times and it doesn't work out. And now you've learned that actually, maybe we've been missing something. Maybe this is not a thing. You know and and and and that's it. It it's amazing like. If you just remove the. What I'm expected to do? From the equation and and really you hold yourself accountable to your own standards, you do the work and you give it your best and you learn from a series of you know, like if you go on like you said in a hamster wheel, if you keep trying the same thing and it's not working, but you keep going, you keep going. It isn't about persistence for the. Sake of it. It's about persistence in finding the solution. Right. So it's not that we would just going at the same thing again and again and again until we. 

Jalen 

Right. 

Shivani 

Out of fear. Force that will make it happen though we. Have done that too. But what we try to do is really use use the lessons and everything. And I remember this so clearly. Like this was right after. That university had. And as I like to say, mean to us, I remember having this conversation with Jess, and I was just like, it just really hurts. Like I'm so tired of the rejections and I remember that day we talked about it and we decided that you know what, we were just not going to let this stuff get to. Us anymore. So the most we feel at any point when someone rejects. This is a sense of disappointment. If it was a project we wanted to do, yeah. And then we we literally have the conversation. What did we learn from this? Like, this is a. 

Jessica 

It's not because it's also not personal, but I just want to add that it's hard. 

Shivani 

Conversation we have at every. 

Jessica 

I think in the beginning to separate the personal from the business because we are so much of us is in the business and so much of the business is personal for us. So I think that was our first, probably our first real like rejection. And then when I think about the conversation. Now ohh, like the the embarrassment of we were probably weren't ready. We probably weren't. There were probably so many things we learned from it, but we were also still asking ourselves questions. I think there was value in what we. Were doing but. We just did. You know, we've learned so much since then. And so I think part of that evolution of you know of learning from from those, you know, lessons learned and. And those those mistakes, if you want to call them or whatever those kind of experiences. That for us, that for us was OK taking taking the good parts of it, but learning from the bad, but also, Shivani said, was it's not personal. We can't let this affect us and and stop us and I think that. Might be the. Difference between success and non success and and and having a business perhaps fail in the first few years because if you get enough of those. It's trying. It's tough. And so the difference perhaps is really that tenacity and. Going no, we. Are worth it. Let's keep going. Let's learn from it because it's very easy to say. Listen, we've gotten a few of these rejections. Maybe there is no place for us in the market. Let's go back to our day jobs kind of thing and we just weren't having it. We went, let's. We're we're going to persist and I think that for us was a huge that was a. So, you know, we're still talking about it. This was seven years ago. So it was obviously a pivotal moment for. 

Jalen 

Us well, it sounds to me that that to to a certain degree that that's being in the social impact space being connected to something that feels deeply important and meaningful is is a super is an amazing asset. Because at least. You you can lean back on that and sort of say like well. I may be having a hard time. Right now but this. Thing needs to. 

Shivani 

Yeah, yeah, you're probably right. I mean, this was the other thing is right? Like I don't want us to sound like, you know, we weren't going into a T-shirt heavy market to sell more T-shirts. And persisting. You know, we were working in an industry that is right with gaps and holes and challenges and really like no amount of effort we put in could be enough, right. And it's just it's it just wasn't practically sensible. To me, that we didn't have anything to offer and I think just would agree with that. Like we just we knew we had. We had stuff to offer, you know, but we just had to work out where, where that niche was or where we were most needed at the time or. You know, so it's it's. Also, you kind of have to be quite realistic with yourself. I mean you you might have a business plan that makes absolutely no sense. Or you're not a good enough competitor and then that's a difficult conversation to have, but. We've had one of those. Like we early in the game, we were wondering if we should go the Investor route and should we consider investors? And we did a lot of work around that and then we learned that actually, you know what, we're not the kind of company people want to invest in. We're the kind of company that works as a consulting model and we found that how the hard way because we chased every lead down until we had learned what we needed to learn and then we. Adjusted our model. 

Jessica 

And I think that's where our niche like perhaps our the the niche of Pathfinder is really the fact that we are so adaptable and agile. And of course, as we're saying, we have a lot of expertise. We don't feel like experts because we wear many hats. I still, you know, I'm about to hopefully about to get my PhD in the next few weeks, but but. And I'm still. Like trying saying a lifelong academic and then I've worked with you and I worked with the Commission. I've worked with government. I've. Worked with, you know all of these and but still you still. Don't feel like you're an expert and one of them. Manny as well has resumed. It's incredible, but that's perhaps our selling point is that we are able to speak to and that's part of our our business model as well and our unique our unique model of of of consulting as we consult with academia, with government and with social entrepreneurs. To scale sustainably, essentially, and to work towards the achieving SDG's, and we never claim to be experts in one of the SDG's or experts in one. Of the industries. Our expertise, if you will, is being able to work with all of these different players in the industry because of our experience and I think that's where we're different. And then being. Able to accommodate and pull from from from different experience and leverage. Are different hats as well within different networks and and so I think that's where we're a little bit different and we didn't know that coming in. We thought, oh, we're going to use Jesse's experience in International Development and shivani's in business. And we're then going to be. You know, experts in this and that and then. It was only along the way that. We we went actually, we're more than that. With this kind of evolving beautiful model that we need to leverage all of our sort of life experience. And and and make it work in that way because there's a million different consultancies out there. And so this is where I think we're a little bit different. 

Jalen 

Well, it sounds like that, you know the evolution is that you start in and you're have all these worries about whether you're what you have to offer or whether you're good enough or whatever. Whatever impostor syndrome is, is the sense of. I don't know what I'm doing here or I don't know if I can have enough here, but what I hear you describing is just this evolution of self discovery. But you know both, probably personally as well as professionally and you know that that it's, you know, through various experiences that you're sort of come to get clearer and clearer around like. Well, who are? Who are we? Personally, who are we? In this industry and then keep on angling until you can, you know, clearly stand up and say like, this is this is what we are we we know we we don't have to worry about the threat of people thinking something or other because. We know who we are. 

Jessica 

And also I wanted to and I just quickly chatted before and we were saying, but you almost never want to get to that point where you're fully entirely. You've you've reached. The the the end line or whatever it is and you've. Gone. Oh well, this is. Yeah, this is where we want to be. We kind of always want to be evolving and growing and. And writing our own path because. Is we feel like, you know, once you reach a point where you're fully 100% confident, that's when you're not learning anymore. So I think Shivani and I are knowing your self worth is a big is a big deal and I think we've definitely come a long way in the past eight years of understanding our self worth and that's either you know financially but also in terms of resources, time. All of these things. But but then being positioned as you saying in within the industry, that's something that I hope. We will understand what our messaging is and all of this, but we also hope that that also, you know always evolves as well because that's part of the that's what makes the journey so enjoyable and so interesting is that it's always changing. You know that benchmark. 

Shivani 

Also, just to add to that, like I think about it and and really I mean. You know, there are really no formulas, right? Like what works for one person works for another, so then it doesn't may not work for another. So then you're thinking of, you know, what sort of values or qualities are common amongst those who sort of sustain and? I think that for us it was this idea that, you know, we both enjoy so much coming up with sort of specific solutions and and and truly sort of engaging in a systemic way way before, by the way, systemic change was the thing. You know this, this is something we enjoy doing, so certainly believing it. And enjoying it is. Is is good, but you know it is a lot of professional, inevitably and also personal growth, right. And the thing about growth is the thing about growth is that if you wanted to stick, if you want it to be change, it takes practice, right? Your brain literally has to make new pathways and. You know you have to get into a habit of thinking a certain way of performing a certain way. I mean it takes work, right? So and you and and you know, I'm not a big fan of using this word. But like you, you have to quite intentionally want to evolve and and being committed to that at the outset certainly helps. And then here's my favorite one. When all else is failing, I remind myself and you, you might laugh. I remind myself of the phrase that. All I know is that I know nothing. The Socrates. Phrase and then I'm standing there thinking. Ohh well you know. That's got to apply to them as well. So we're all really on the same playing field and we're all kind of just, you know, intimidated by each other. But really, if you just if you just learn everything. You can and and and. Like literally everything you learn is good. And and you know, work your hardest. And and you stay true to what it is that you intend to do. And you know you hold form on your values and you continue to evolve. Then you do end up quite enjoying the ride. Like you know we're not. We're not millionaires or anything. We're not even, you know, making like a whole bunch of money. On this, but we are growing steadily and we are no longer pressuring ourselves to be at a certain benchmark by a certain time in our lives, you know. Just we're doing our journey our way and we're enjoying it and it's it's fun this way. 

Jessica 

And I just want to add how. Fun is it that we're able to do? Like do what? We love and work on these projects that are making clear, impactful differences, but also that we're getting paid to do it. I mean, for us it was. Wasn't a question doing it voluntarily, I don't think ever. But it was the question, you know, that's our model is is sustained because it is a for profit. But I think the fact that we're getting paid to go out and do some of the work that we're doing. Is incredible. I mean, it never thought and people say to us often know you're so lucky. You get to do this. And like, we're not lucky. It's just that we we had an idea, we firmly believed in it, cause that's a huge chunk of it. If you don't believe, and if you're not 100% committed or passionate, then why would you expect anybody else to to be along for? The ride right. So I think that's, you know, there's like anything, there's no formula. But when you see those that are successful, I think a lot. Of it is, yeah. Hard work and then really believing in what you're selling and in. What you're doing? And and then again, how lucky are we? To be able. To doing be able. To do this for a living. I never thought in my wildest dreams. I mean we've. Worked with some incredible. Incredible partners, incredible clients. And you know, at the end you go, oh, you almost kind of forgot you're getting paid to do this. And so it's it's just been I think for us and and and all of that is driven off of passion, right is for Shivani and I going not accepting the status quo and saying we need we want to. We want to make a difference here and that I think is what drives us again, we're not selling T-shirts. If we were, I think we probably would have. On that phone call 7 years ago. 

Shivani 

Yeah, I think so. Although maybe sometimes I, sometimes I wonder if we should call them back and do like a Pretty Woman moment and be like big huge. 

Jessica 

Look where we are now, yeah. 

Speaker 

And sell them. 

Jalen 

A T. Shirt, you know, so I, you know it's it's. It seems clear to me that like. A big part of this is. The the journey, like the the journey is what gets you here. And so it's, you know, it's almost. As a silly. Statement saying, well, how could how could it be a? How could it be made shorter? What what might there? What shortcut might there have been? You know, if somehow you can imagine, OK, go back in time and and. Be inspired or whisper in your ear or something, but. Maybe there's something that could make it easier, and for those people who might still be in that early stage and slogging it through, then that point. 

Shivani 

You know, that's a really good question. I wonder almost. I mean, there's there's two things. One, you know, when we were when we were. Working on this, you know, and and possibly still. Now I just. I'm not on those mailing lists, but you're constantly bombarded with like quick read article. It's about 5 things to succeed, 3 things to do, three things to wake up to. You know, like there's so much of that. There's so much advice around what you should be doing that. You completely. Get carried away by it sometimes like it, it becomes kind of like a race, you know and. And the part where I. Think that it's hard to break it down to some? I mean quicker. I mean, I feel like these are lessons that you learn best through practice, right? So I think that we were a lot more ambitious when we did start out with, you know, with what we wanted to do, how much we wanted to make by by what time. And then we learned the lessons. Along the way, and we've found our pace and we found our peace and and we built faith in in our own sort of structure. And I don't know if. Those are quick lessons to be had, right? Like I I don't know if you learn. Like if you told 20 year old me that I was going to spend the rest of my life learning I. Would have completely not believed you. There was no way I was going to be. That person you. Know but, but that's that's what I believe. Very much now I think. Anytime anyone asks me for one piece of advice, I always say never stop learning and anything you learn is good so it doesn't have to be anything specific right? You just these are lessons you learn. Along the way, and I think part of. That is my. I hate to say it, but like wisdom, you develop with practice and hate. 

Jessica 

Yeah, and I think. Just I I agree. I don't think there's a shortcut. The only thing that. Would be a shortcut would be. To take a complete risk and. You know, take out a massive loan and and invest only you. Know 80 hours. A week in your startup and you would probably see if it would sink or swim in the first six months. And and that's it. And maybe that's the only way that you can fast track, but then also. That's the quickest way to fail as well. So for me, especially in social impact industry, it's just about embracing the journey and then being open. You have to be open minded and so many because this is also what we teach and what we we have to preach what we teach right, because we are teaching about, you know, business models that are. Agile and we are a total example of that and so we've embraced the journey, but we've also adapted to it and accepted things. And understood why things didn't work and and and if we didn't understand, we would put a pin in it and come back to it with a little bit more experience and and try and reflect on it. And so I think that's it's just about embracing the journey and and the and there's no, I don't think there's any kind of quick solution because again we're not, we're not selling T-shirts here. So you have to be adjustable. And adoptable to the industry around. And you and there's no quick solution to to, you know, fixing or achieving the SDG's. It's a slow and steady. It's a marathon, right, not a Sprint so. 

Shivani 

I was just going to ask, Jess, I I don't think I've been asked this question before, but like if you could do one thing differently, going back. Would would there be a thing and what? Would that be? 

Jessica 

Yeah, that's yeah. To come back to the question and I was thinking about and I actually, I mean I don't want to sound too cheesy or anything. But I don't really. I actually don't really think I would change anything. 

Shivani 

I grew up. 

Jessica 

Sound, it just sounds, yeah. 

Shivani 

I was thinking the exact same thing. 

Jessica 

Does that sound ridiculous? But there's not, I don't know. 

Shivani 

Do you know what I think? One thing I would change is now when I look back and this applies to all parts of my life. So it's not just about Pathfinder, but I think I could have been kinder to myself when I was young. 

Jessica 

Yes, OK. Yes, yeah. 

Shivani 

And we could have been kinder to ourselves. I think we could. Have been gentler. Right. We really we were. We were quite we were quite tough on ourselves and and I think partly that's what sort of drove us to get to the point we are in. But when you look back, you know it was tough enough without us making it worse for ourselves, so I guess. 

Jessica 

I'm not really, yeah. 

Shivani 

That would be. 

Jalen 

Yeah, it's certainly telling that it took you all all to this point to to come, to come to that. Realization because I. Get such a strong sense. Of both of you and it's. How? How determined and fog? That you are and the whole idea is. Like, Oh yeah, kindness that might have been. 

Shivani 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Jalen 

That that might have. Helped. That's hilarious. 

Shivani 

I and I, I. Agree with that, but. 

Jessica 

Then it's and it's funny that I don't know if we would have had the results we have now if we didn't. It's not that we weren't meant we weren't, you know, but we were definitely hard on ourselves in the way that we were. We put, gave ourselves some pretty, pretty big, you know, KPI's and. And we had quite a lot we we really went for it. You know, we were small. There's two of us and we went for some really big audacious goals, which I think is probably the key to to to some of our success. So maybe that was, you know, being hard on ourselves was was good. But I know what you mean in terms of, you know, reflect on it and I think. We should have been, I think in general, people will always say this with a bit of reflection. Be kinder to yourself and be more. It's OK. And that's part of the imposter syndrome thing, isn't it? Is that you are good enough and knowing that self that self worth so I I agree with that. I think just in general in life I wish you know 20 year. Me would have known that it's about again. Like it's so cliche, but it's about the journey. Don't worry. You know that. Failures are not the end of the world. And all of that they're part of. They're failing block. So I totally agree with what you resonate with what you're saying. 

Shivani 

Shanny it really is like if you told 20 year old me that it's about the journey, not the end or the. Finish or whatever the saying is, I would have like made a big bar face at you. But yeah, exactly. 

Jalen 

Roll your eyes. 

Shivani 

But I'm like, what kind of weird stuff is that to say? But now you know, you just you get to a certain part of life and and you've been through a certain number of things, and then you just. You just recognize that really, if we all do end up in the same place. So why do we start out on this? You know, this really toughness. I mean I I guess I I know why I did I I know the circumstances that I had to overcome and and you know and then that's the person you become and all of that but but yeah it really 100% it's about the ride you have to enjoy the ride and the moment that mine sort of happens. You know, a lot changes. 

Jessica 

Yeah, but I think a lot of the reason why there's, you know this, this sense of it's almost competition or that it is a race is because that's what's ingrained in you when you're when you're, when you're growing up and when you're gaining this experience. And both professionally and personally. And so I think that you. Know a lot of what we're talking about today or what we've spoken about. Is is that exterior thinking that people are judging or people you're? You're comparing yourselves and and and honestly, we're we have that reflection now. But that's that's something that does drive you, but that's that's part of what society is. What that's all of what society is telling you. You have to be XY&Z and that's what success is. And I think along the way, both personally and professionally. Danny and I kind of learned that. No, we're gonna, we're, you know, screw society. Sorry, but we are going to be the ones who are going to measure our own level of success and we're going to define. That is and now it is. It is of course we want to get, you know you you have to get paid for what you what you do and what you put in. We do a lot of pro bono. Fine because it's. Part of being a big corporation and all that. But when we work. We are legitimately every client that we take on is doing some something really good. And that we really believe in and. Is so exciting. And then there's that, you know, and that to me is success if I've if we've helped them achieve their goals and they come out of it. We just worked with, you know, some students in university last. Week and we were actually. Together and and it was just so that to me is success that seeing their faces, seeing that we've helped them with their social enterprises. You know, that success is also working with government on a policy paper. That we know is going to be impactful for thousands if not, hopefully millions of people that to us that to me success it's it's not what society is saying. You need to be XY&Z and I think. 20 years ago that really was. Those were, there were some clear measurements of what success was now. Hopefully this new generation doesn't have that. Whatever we thought success was shuvani and I think that's why. Yeah, we just need you to be kinder to yourself and learn and. 

Shivani 

Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the ride. 

Jalen 

Yeah, well, I. I thank you. So thank both of. You so much for. Sharing your journey and letting us getting as sort of an inside scoop on the mental and emotional gymnastics. That it took. To get to the point that you are and it's. I think it's gonna be super helpful and reassuring. I think. Reassuring to know that, you know. If it's feeling difficult. It's OK, I mean it. It is difficult. It's not a. Sign that the problem is you. 

Jessica 

Yep, 100%. It shouldn't be easy it it you know, at some point you do hit a stride, but it you should never be so comfortable that you don't question yourself. I think that's where the. Danger is, isn't it? 

Shivani 

How dull. Dull. 

Jessica 

How boring. 

Shivani 

Would that be? 

Jessica 

Yeah, to know how boring to have all the answers. 

Jalen 

Well, that's great. 

Jessica 

Thank you for the opportunity. 

Jalen 

Well, thank so much. 

Jessica 

It's been great chatting. 

Shivani 

This has been this has been really fun. 

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