Imposter syndrome can strike at any time — but what happens when it creeps into the family business? Nora Macaluso investigates how imposter syndrome may be exacerbated when your co-workers happen to be your family members. Many adults, it seems, can revert to childhood ideologies when working with their relatives within the family business. The good news is that imposter syndrome isn’t entirely a bad thing. The key is to recognize it when it rears its ugly head.
A new luxury hot spot has emerged for the high-net-worth, and it’s not where you might think. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to cosmopolitan cities to rural towns, North Carolina is proving to be a place where the wealthy want to be. We’ve compiled a roundup of luxury properties worth a visit — including my personal favorite, The Umstead Hotel and Spa.
As always, we appreciate any comments, ideas and insights that would make this newsletter more useful. I look forward to growing this family office community with your help. Please email me at [email protected].
When imposter syndrome creeps into the family business
By NORA MACALUSO
Imposter syndrome — the feeling of being unqualified for a position or task, despite evidence to the contrary — is having a moment. There are books about it, support groups devoted to it and studies looking into it. Tom Hanks, Michelle Obama and Tina Fey are just some of the celebrities who confess to feeling they don’t belong in the spotlight.
Experts say imposter syndrome isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as it’s acknowledged and dealt with.
For a family office, that means keeping communication lines open and paying close attention to succession plans to ensure people are put in roles that match their skills and interests.
Podcast host Pippa Woodhead said she pushed through feelings of self-doubt to start a business interviewing business leaders and experts in various fields. “I still experience imposter syndrome regularly, and I’m not sure it will ever completely go away,” said Woodhead, now head of podcasts at the professional-development company Tigerhall.
Recognizing that others have the same feeling helped banish that imposter anxiety, Woodhead said. “I’ve spoken to so many brilliant people who also feel imposter syndrome, and hearing these stories has helped knowing it’s very normal and also common amongst high achievers,” she said.
"If you’re in a family office, living under the pressure of managing high-wealth clients — usually highly demanding high-wealth clients — you’re often asked to do very hard things,” said psychotherapist Carl Nassar, a former Colorado executive director of LifeStance Health who is now affiliated with The Great Culture Lab.
That pressure “can make it easy to think that maybe, just maybe, you don’t know what you’re doing; that someone else must know better than you; that you’re just an imposter at work,” Nassar said.
Colleagues in a family office may also be relatives, making it easy for imposter syndrome to creep in, said Donna Marino, a coach and psychologist who works with family businesses and high-performing individuals and teams. It’s common for adults to fall back into childhood roles around family members, she said, and in a family office, “you bring all of those dynamics into the business.
“When somebody walks into a new position in the company, or when you’re engaging at a higher level, it can be hard to get your family to see you in that professional role and to give you the same respect they would maybe give somebody else in that role.”
Women may be particularly prone to imposter syndrome, particularly when they reach higher levels of responsibility.
“Some of that is because of a lack of female role models in executive roles,” Marino said. Many family offices continue to put males in line for the top jobs when they lay out succession plans, and “it’s harder for women to accept themselves in those roles when they don’t have those role models,” she said.
Celebrate moving out of your comfort zone
Someone suffering from imposter syndrome may be reticent about speaking up or trying to “fly under the radar,” Marino said. Having the “self-awareness to realize you’re feeling sort of shaky” is the first step to pulling out of it, she said.
Leaders need to be alert for signs of imposter syndrome as well. Someone who withdraws, procrastinates or hesitates to volunteer for projects or assignments might be anxious that they’re not up to the task at hand, Marino said.
While it’s good to acknowledge imposter syndrome, leaning into the experience too much isn’t healthy, said Marino.
“Right now, it’s a hot topic, and I think it’s really getting pathologized,” she said. “We have to start seeing it as a normal part of the process of growing and stretching. In some ways, it should be celebrated, because it means you’ve moved out of your comfort zone.”
Marino advises turning those feelings of anxiety from negatives into positives. “It’s usually when we’re expanding and growing that we feel this way,” she said. “If we can look at it as a positive thing rather than a negative thing, we’ll move through it easier.”
For example, instead of saying, “I have imposter syndrome,” say, “I’m having experiences of feeling like an imposter.” That “growth mindset” will make it easier to turn around, she said.
The key to keeping imposter syndrome out of a workplace is to create a “healthy culture” that supports everyone and encourages self-awareness, said Malika Begin, founder and chief executive of Begin Development, which provides coaching to individuals, teams and organizations. If a company isn’t clear on culture and mission, “people are untethered,” she said.
In her one-on-one coaching business, Begin said, she often hears lines like “I just got lucky” or “I just kind of fell into” a role. She encourages clients to understand and appreciate their strengths and unique talents.
Young people in a family business may think they have to step into their parents’ shoes and worry that they won’t be able to fill them, Begin said. They also may be concerned about being viewed as beneficiaries of nepotism, she said.
Parents, on the other hand, may envision roles for their children that don’t fit their skills or desires, Begin said. “If the goals you set out for your kid are [to] take over the accounting department, and they’re really bad at math but an amazing salesperson, the goals are not aligned with their ability,” she said.
It’s important for families to have “really honest conversations” before deciding which person is going to fill which role and to listen even if a family member wants a career outside the business, Begin said.
A culture that “deals with honest feedback” is the best way for a company to combat imposter syndrome and encourage growth, said Begin. “Focusing on goals and achievements helps mitigate imposter syndrome,” she said. “Everything is about promoting a healthy work culture.”
Discover North Carolina’s unrivaled laps of luxury
By SUSAN B. BARNES
From its beaches to the Blue Ridge Mountains, cosmopolitan cities to quiet rural towns, there’s something for everyone in North Carolina, at any time of year. And with four major airports — Charlotte Douglas, Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham and Wilmington — and plenty of smaller ones, it’s easy to get to and around the Tar Heel State.
If you’re looking for a North Carolinian escape, we’ve got you covered. Here we take a look at three destinations where you can relax in the lap of luxury, starting in Asheville.
When the Grove Park Inn opened 100 years ago this summer in the hills of Asheville, it quickly became a popular vacation spot for travelers to enjoy the clean mountain air. During his keynote address to the 400 guests at the opening banquet on July 12, 1923, then Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan proclaimed that the inn “was built for the ages.” How right he was.
The Omni Grove Park Inn is just as popular now as it was at its opening, perched in a neighborhood atop Sunset Mountain with sweeping views of Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to explorations of the vibrant city with its dynamic culinary and arts scenes, the resort also offers plenty to do, from its 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course to six tennis courts (three indoor, three outdoor), two pickleball courts, racquetball courts, a fitness center, guided history tours and more.
The crown jewel of the Grove Park Inn may very well be its 43,000-square-foot subterranean Spa. The 20 water features — including hot tubs, mineral pools, therapeutic waterfalls and lap pool with 6,500 stars and underwater music — are reason enough to spend a day floating, soaking and relaxing all your cares away. To that end, The Spa maintains a completely electronics-free environment, so you can truly leave the real world behind.
Besides The Spa’s massages, facials, body treatments, and manis and pedis that are available year-round, this time of year is perfect for a gingerbread pedicure. After all, the resort hosts the National Gingerbread House Competition annually; the 200 entries were on display through Jan 2.
Arrive at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary and leave the buzz of the Research Triangle — Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill — in the rearview mirror. Tucked into a woodland setting and just steps from the 5,400-plus-acre William B. Umstead State Park, the 150-room boutique hotel distinguishes itself by having been named one of only five properties in the U.S. to achieve Forbes Travel Guide’s Triple Five-Star ranking in 2023. It also received a AAA Five Diamond award.
There is much to recommend at The Umstead — from the exquisite, privately curated fine art found throughout its public spaces and luxuriously appointed guest rooms; to guided nature walks with a naturalist; afternoon tea in the elegant lobby; and the recently refreshed 16,000-square-foot spa, featuring a fresh and modern aesthetic and a renewed focus on health and wellness. New spa treatments include Abhyanga and Udvartana massages, a Shirodhara treatment and an Herbal Rejuvenation Wrap, among a handful of others.
When making reservations to stay at The Umstead, be sure to include dinner at its signature restaurant, Herons, with its seasonal menus filled with regional dishes created by Executive Chef Steven Greene and Chef de Cuisine Spencer Thomson. Choose from a decadent, four-course prix fixe menu or an elaborate “Art Tour” tasting menu, through which the chefs and their culinary teams create dishes that bring the hotel’s art to life. Either way, you will enjoy exemplary five-star service throughout the evening. The sommelier can guide you through the expensive wine list, consistently recognized with an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator for a dozen years.
Find an English-inspired village in North Carolina’s countryside, just south of Chapel Hill, at The Fearrington House Inn. The 32 guest rooms and suites at this Relais & Châteaux luxury inn are each unique, with individual layouts and designs featuring 300-count Egyptian cotton bed linens, Boca Terry robes, Frette bath towels and fresh flowers, many cut from Fearrington’s gardens. Some rooms have fireplaces, while others boast outdoor seating. Whichever you choose, you’ll feel right at home.
But which came first — The Fearrington House Inn or The Fearrington House Restaurant? When owners R.B. and Jenny Fitch went to Paris in the mid-1980s for their restaurant to become a Relais member, they were told that they did not qualify because they did not have an inn. So they built the inn, which opened in 1986. The Fearrington House Inn and Restaurant became members of Relais & Châteaux in 1988.
Dining at The Fearrington House Restaurant is a must-do, whether staying overnight in the inn or not. The seasonal four-course prix fixe menu is divine, taking guests on a culinary journey from the first bite of canapé to dessert. Speaking of dessert, don’t miss the restaurant’s signature chocolate soufflé — worth every decadent bite.
Elsewhere in Fearrington Village are a handful of boutiques, a spa, a casual eatery with grab-and-go bites and cups of coffee, and a beer garden. And if you just can’t pull yourself away, you can live in Fearrington — the planned community is home to nearly 2,000 residents.
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