- “Impostor syndrome” is the phenomenon in which people don’t think they deserve their success and fear being exposed as frauds.
- Johnny Reinsch, CEO of fintech startup Qwil, said he’s had impostor syndrome since he cofounded his company in 2015.
- Reinsch said he hopes his impostor syndrome never goes away because it motivates him to learn more and perform better.
One thing many successful people have in common is the feeling that they don’t deserve their success.
That they’re a fraud. That they’ve fooled everyone into believing they are competent, but they’ll someday be exposed as phonies.
That feeling is called “imposter syndrome,” and the CEO of one fintech startup says he’s had it for three years and counting.
“When you’re first getting going, I think everybody suffers from imposter syndrome,” Johnny Reinsch, the cofounder and CEO of Qwil, told Business Insider.
Reinsch founded Qwil in 2015 as way to facilitate payment between freelance workers and their clients. Reinsch came up with the idea when he was working as an independent contractor and nearly defaulted on his mortgage because his clients weren’t paying him on time.
His vision was a company that would stand between freelancers and clients, paying the clients whenever they want to access their cash and assuming the risk of the clients when they don’t pay up right away.
But when Reinsch pitched Qwil to investors, he said he was turned down more than 100 times.
“You’re going to hear ‘no’ and be told ‘no’ more if your idea is good, because it’s new and radical, then if it’s something that sounds comfortable,” he told Business Insider.
“It’s tough to go in with your heart and soul behind something, and you know you see something that other people don’t, but you’re meeting the smartest people in the investment community and they’re saying ‘I don’t quite see what you see.'”
The initial negative responses made Reinsch question whether he was CEO material. He went through “a lot of tough, tough weeks and nights and self doubt,” he said.
The tide is slowly starting to turn for Qwil. In April, the company announced it had raised $5 million in Series A funding. Reinsch said Qwil has 15 employees and has plans for more growth.
But Reinsch said he still gets the feeling that he’s not the right person for the job, and although it might sound counter-intuitive, he said he hopes his impostor syndrome never leaves.
“Frankly, I don’t want it to go away, because it helps me to operate better,” he said. “It puts me in a mindset of always being in that beginners mindset and wanting to learn more so that I really am that right person.”
“Because when it comes to the point where I’m not, I need to step aside, because what we’re doing is bigger than my own ego at that point.”