The Doula Darcy is a certified postpartum doula and lactation counselor who has helped hundreds of new moms navigate the first twelve weeks at home with a baby since 2010. In addition to supporting new parents, Darcy also coaches doulas and sleep consultants to grow their businesses using connection-based marketing strategies.
On this podcast, I’ll be discussing the business side of sleep consulting. You’ll have an insider’s view on launching, growing, and even scaling a sleep consulting business. This is not a podcast about sleep training. This is a podcast about business building and entrepreneurship.
Jayne Havens: The Doula Darcy is a certified postpartum doula and lactation counselor who has helped hundreds of new moms navigate the first twelve weeks at home with a baby since 2010. In addition to supporting new parents, Darcy also coaches doulas and sleep consultants to grow their businesses using connection-based marketing strategies.
Darcy and I are very much aligned, as this is exactly what we teach inside of CPSM. Darcy, welcome back to the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast.
The Doula Darcy: Well, thank you so much for having me. I love your podcast. I love being a guest. So, this is super fun.
Jayne Havens: I’m happy to have you. When we were brainstorming ideas for this podcast episode, we both sort of together came up with the idea to discuss imposter syndrome. I love this topic, because we all have it. Let’s discuss.
The Doula Darcy: Yeah, and I think we’re recording this at the beginning of the year, so it’s always a good time to talk about overcoming imposter syndrome. But I think it’s, you know — you maybe see this all the time, too. I really think see this as one of the main things that holds doulas, parent coaches, sleep consultants back from being successful really.
For people who don’t know what imposter syndrome is, it’s the idea of, like, the feeling that you’re an imposter. Like, “Who am I to be a sleep consultant? Because I am new. Who am I to go out and be a doula? Because I’ve only been doing this for two months.” But you’ve done your training. You’ve done your certification. You’re ready. Then it comes down to mindset, which I know you and I love talking about.
Jayne Havens: I don’t know who said this. I think one of the business coaches that I follow once said that: you are an expert as long as you know more than the person that you are coaching. I think that is totally true. Even if you are a brand-new sleep consultant that hasn’t even supported any families yet, you’ve been through an entire training program. The moms that you’re going to be supporting have not taken a training on establishing healthy and independent sleep hygiene for their child. That’s why they’re hiring you.
At the base level, I think that that’s on point. You don’t need to know everything to be successful as a sleep consultant. You just need to know more than the person that you’re coaching. The beautiful thing about at least my program is that we have a whole network of sleep consultants that are there to support you as you navigate these first few clients.
We all have imposter syndrome. It’s going to creep in. But it’s what you do with that mentality and how you sort of channel those nerves. Because it really can completely paralyze you, or I also think it can propel you into greatness if you let it.
The Doula Darcy: I love that. Yes, and I think that’s what you need to do. When you hear that voice in your head of, “You don’t know enough, you’re not experienced enough, you’re not smart enough,” recognize that that’s just a voice, a made-up voice in your head. Don’t let that voice stop you from helping a family that needs help sleeping or whatever you’re coaching them on.
That’s what lately is really sparking my fire is that I don’t want to see — I mean, I talk about marketing a lot. I always say I don’t want to see marketing be the thing that stops you from helping a family. But I certainly don’t want to see imposter syndrome be the thing that helps, that keeps—
Jayne Havens: That gets in the way.
The Doula Darcy: Yeah, for every month that you’re sitting at home afraid to put yourself out there on social media or start a website, those are families that aren’t getting good sleep. Like you’ve said, you made a great point that, as we go through our training, we tend to just think the whole world is learning along with us. We forget that parents, especially first-time parents, they probably haven’t even read one book on sleep. They’ve maybe Googled it. That’s how they found you and hired you.
Yes, exactly. Like you said, if you’ve gone through training, you know so much more. Even if they are your very first client, you have so much to offer them. It’s okay to say — if a question comes up that you don’t know the answer to, which probably won’t happen, you can say—
Jayne Havens: You can say, “I’ll get back to you.”
The Doula Darcy: Let me get back to you on that.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, absolutely.
The Doula Darcy: Why don’t you join this Facebook group and find out? Or, look it up in my book, and let me get back to you on that.
Jayne Havens: Absolutely. I think when people think about The Doula Darcy, everybody thinks that you know your stuff, and you have it all figured out. I think people think that about me, too. Where is imposter syndrome creeping in for you? Because we all have it.
The Doula Darcy: It’s funny, because I was just thinking about this today. Because someone I was talking to was surprised to hear that I have a business coach because I am a business coach for doulas. But all of us, whether you’re just starting a doula business, whether you’re just starting a sleep consulting business, and especially if you’re starting either one of those online, and then what I’m doing — I started a doula coaching business. That doesn’t exist. I’m the only one who has done it.
Yes, I need a coach because I’m making this up as I go along. You are, too. It’s helpful to have a business coach. Actually, one of the things that does is it keeps the imposter syndrome a day. It’s not just me over here who’s doing business out of nothing. I have a coach. I mean, a master brand. I have a coach and a group that’s helping me, cheering me on, and all that.
For me, imposter syndrome has come up of like, “Well, who am I to be a business? Who am I to be the first ever business coach exclusively for doulas?” When I was starting to have this idea, I’d be like, “Well, who am I to do that? That’s not a thing.”
Jayne Havens: Do you struggle with carrying the burden of other doulas that are in your program? If they’re not having the success that you want them to have, do you carry that burden?
The Doula Darcy: Not usually. I feel badly and I want to help them, but it’s usually because they’re not doing the things I’m telling them to do. It’s not like I said go do this, and then they went and did it, and they’re not having success. Honestly, usually, it’s the imposter syndrome has creeped up for them. They’re like, oh. When I go look, I’m like, well, you haven’t posted on social media in six weeks. Of course, no one is inquiring about your services. I want to say that that does take work. Again, that’s something I talked about with my coach — separating that all out.
To be honest, I do remember when I first started just my regular postpartum doula business, imposter syndrome creeped up hard. Because I had been a marketing executive. So then I was like, “What am I doing now? I’m gonna go to somebody’s house and help them with their baby. I don’t know.” Impostor syndrome. I was like, “I’ve never done this before. What if some really—” I was afraid of big problems coming up that I didn’t know the answers to. You’re not supposed to know the answers. But for me, the way I pushed through that imposter syndrome was my passion to be a doula, to serve families. To help people was stronger than my fear.
Jayne Havens: That is an awesome way of looking at it and an awesome solution to the problem. I actually haven’t thought about that.
The Doula Darcy: Even I talked about this all the time with the doulas in my program. It’s like, yes, it’s scary to get out in your community and network. Yes, it’s scary to start posting on Instagram. But if you want to do this job, if you want to be a doula, if you want to be a sleep consultant, this is what you have to do.
Or, you can be safe and go back to your corporate career, or your waitressing job, or whatever you were doing before. But if you want to have a six-figure sleep consulting business, I’m sorry, but you are going to have to post on Instagram.
Jayne Havens: I actually disagree with you on that. I absolutely don’t think that you need to post on Instagram, but you need to do something. You need to do something. If you’re not going to be on Instagram, you need to be connecting with people in real life if you’re not doing it on the internet.
The Doula Darcy: To be clear, you don’t post on Instagram but you network like crazy on Facebook. That’s how you and I met.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, right. You need to be somewhere.
The Doula Darcy: You need to put yourself out there.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, you need to put yourself out there. When I sit across the table — I’ll be on Zoom talking to people who are interested in becoming a sleep consultant — they always express their nerves, their anxieties, their concerns. That’s all imposter syndrome.
What they’re saying is, they’re worried that they’re not going to be successful. What I always try to explain to them is that I firmly believe that 100% of people who get into anything new are scared. 100% there’s fear. There’s always fear involved.
There are two buckets of people. There are people who are scared, and it paralyzes them. And there are people who are scared, and they do it anyway. You get to decide whether or not you want to be one of those people that’s completely paralyzed by your fears, or whether or not you want to get out there and do something that feels hard and outside of your comfort zone, but it’s also then the most rewarding experience of your entire life. Those are the two choices.
It’s funny. People are worried about failing, but then they don’t even try because they’re worried about failing. Then in my mind, you failed before you even started because you didn’t even try. Isn’t that failure?
The Doula Darcy: Yes.
Jayne Havens: It’s all because we’re worried about what’s going on in our brains. We’re all just worried about what other people think, or we’re worried about — thinking about where does imposter syndrome even come from, I think you touched on one thing, which is like an area of weakness. When you first start something and you’re new, you feel like you’re weaker at it. You’re not a super strong sleep consultant yet, because you just got started.
The Doula Darcy: You feel like an imposter. You’re like, “Who am I to make a website and post online that I’m a sleep consultant?”
Jayne Havens: Right. I think that one place that it comes from is the lack of experience. It’s hard to feel like you’re the expert when you don’t have the experience yet. That feels reasonable. I know that it’s okay to get out there and do it before you’re the expert. Because I’ve done it a million times, and I am telling other people to do it. But I think that’s where it comes from.
Then fear of failure, which we talked about, being scared that you’re not going to be able to succeed in whatever you deem is success. I know that that’s relative.
The Doula Darcy: I think that a lot of it comes down to — actually, I did a yoga teacher training many years ago. The teacher called it the itty bitty shitty committee in our heads. I think about it all the time. Because this is another thing I talked to with the doulas in my programs. Because they’ll say, “Well, people are saying that my prices are too high, or people are saying this, or people don’t like it when I do this.” I’m like, “Whoa, who has said this to you? Who has verbally said this to you,” just to get them to see. Are people really saying this, or are these voices in your head, or is this you?
Jayne Havens: Well, it’s funny that this is what you’re bringing up. Because the third thing that I had written down when I was thinking of where does imposter syndrome stem from, like areas of weakness, fear of failure. The third thing I had written down: worrying about what other people think.
We’re so focused on what other people think. But truthfully, everybody is just worried about themselves. I’m just worried about myself. I’m not worried about what you think of me. I’m worried about me. I’m not out there worried about what Doula Darcy thinks about me. I mean, I am a little bit because you and I are friends. I want you to like me.
But in the grand scheme of things, I’m looking inward. Everybody else is looking inward too. Nobody is paying attention to you. Just get out there, and do the good work. Show up the best that you possibly can. Stop worrying about what other people think. I know it’s easier said than done. Here we are. We’re talking about how easy — it’s not easy. This takes work.
The Doula Darcy: But I think the first step is recognizing that, just that. Either your brain is coming up with excuses or reasons you shouldn’t do things. Just even recognizing that that’s just your brain making it up, or people aren’t really talking about you and how you show up on Instagram, or people aren’t really complaining that your prices are too high. It’s your ego making—
Jayne Havens: You and I are literally always on the same page. Nobody can see what I have up on my screen right now. I didn’t even share it with Darcy. In my podcast, I like to outline my thoughts. I have a plan for what we’re going to talk about. Actually, usually, I’ll share the outline. But Darcy and I vibe so nicely that I don’t even need to give her a heads up on what we’re going to talk about.
In my head, the next thing we’re going to talk about is like, okay, how do we get over these feelings of imposter syndrome? The first thing I’ve written down are, they are just thoughts. That is exactly what you just said. I love that. I swear. It’s like she’s staring at my screen. I didn’t even screen share. I love that. It’s just thoughts. These are just thoughts.
The Doula Darcy: Right. It’s not true. That’s the other thing that we have to point out. I feel like all day long, I’m telling my own self in my head, like, “No, that is not true.”
Jayne Havens: Yeah, it takes constant work.
The Doula Darcy: I can’t remember what exactly I was thinking. It’s something about cleaning my kitchen this morning before anyone else was up. Then I was just like, “No, Darcy. That’s not even true. Stop.” I think that is the first step of overcoming.
Recognizing what is just you, what is fear just talking in your own head, and what is truly an area where you do need to learn more. Most of the time, it’s just that fear talking to you in your head. I’m all for continuing education and all that but not — this is what comes up a lot in the doula world. I’m not sure about sleep consulting. People just keep taking trainings and additional certifications instead of taking clients because—
Jayne Havens: Yeah, it’s the imposter syndrome.
The Doula Darcy: Well, I’ll just take it. After I take this training, then I’ll feel good enough. Then I’ll feel experienced and certified enough. But then it just keeps going.
Jayne Havens: Something I see is that not necessarily that people are taking so many more trainings but that people are wanting to help families for free for practice. They just keep helping people for free for practice because they are scared to actually admit that their service is valuable, and people should pay for it. Because that feels imposter, right?
The Doula Darcy: Right. It’s like, who am I to earn money?
Jayne Havens: Yeah, so the next thing I had written down after how are we supposed to get over these feelings? Number one, they’re just thoughts. We have to just stop thinking this way. Number two, we have to take action. You actually have to do something. You have to spring into action.
Your two choices are: to be paralyzed and do nothing and sit with your fears and your imposter syndrome, or you have fears and imposter syndrome, and you just get out there and do it anyway. It might feel really hard. It might feel really uncomfortable. But it’s also like you’re doing it. You’re like, well, I’m actually doing it. The more and more that you do things that feel uncomfortable, I think the less uncomfortable they start to feel.
The Doula Darcy: Right. Absolutely. Then it’s like you’re training your brain, you’re training your body. I don’t know the word, but comparing it to a trauma response. Just feeling your feelings, acknowledging your feelings, and then moving through it is how you retrain your brain that no, this is okay. This is safe. This is safe for me to go to this networking meeting and talk about my sleep consulting business.
The more you do it, the more that imposter syndrome gets shoved down. You’re like, okay, I can do this. Then the more clients that you do serve, the more you’re like, “All right. I am helping them. I’m doing this. I’m providing value.” Then it just does get easier and easier. But like you said, you have to take action. You have to take those first steps, for sure.
Jayne Havens: Another thing I wrote down was to find resources that inspire. This is something that personally helped me. I like to listen to podcasts, get into Facebook groups, read books. I don’t really read that much. But in theory, if I read, I would read books about overcoming this stuff. Actually working on it, and listening to people that actually know how to help you change your thoughts.
There’s this whole thing called thought work, where really you work to change your thoughts and getting immersed into that world where you’re listening to other people who are really good at this. For me, that’s been really helpful to just listen to the experts on thought work. Because we don’t know how to do this on our own. We have to learn, and then we have to practice. It helps to have somebody who knows how to do it explain how to do it.
The Doula Darcy: I think to your point listening to podcasts of people that we view as successful, who are doing it and who are honestly talking about the fact that they have imposter syndrome and how they overcame it, just hearing that you’re normal, that is a big piece of it, too. I’ll just throw it in. Hiring a coach, joining a program where you can get that support to push through these things.
Jayne Havens: The last thing on my list was surround yourself with people that inspire.
The Doula Darcy: Yes, because this is proven. This is evidence-based. It was written up in the Harvard Business Review, a study. They studied male entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs. The number one indicator of success for male entrepreneurs was — I forget what it was. But the number one indicator for success for female entrepreneurs was whether they surrounded themselves with a small group of other female entrepreneurs. So, we are stronger together.
There’s so much value in being in a group of other sleep consultants, doulas, just entrepreneurs — whether they’re local to you, or whether it’s zoom, or Facebook group, or whatever. I always compare it to the new mom groups. When you show up and you’re unshowered, and your baby’s crying, and so is the mom next to you, you’re like, “Oh, I’m not doing this wrong. This is just how it is.” Having that for your business is huge.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree. I think that that’s what you and I are both doing inside of our programs, right? I know that you do it in the Doula Village. I do it inside of CPSM. We’re both fostering really strong communities of like-minded entrepreneurs that are all working together to achieve our respective goals within our businesses.
It’s so hard to go at it alone. I know that for a fact. I’ve seen people struggle without the right community, without the right collaboration, the right support. We need each other to lift each other up, motivate each other, inspire, and help to swat away at that imposter syndrome that never really fully goes away. Nobody believes me, but I have it too. Everybody has it.
The Doula Darcy: Yeah. Oh my gosh. You’d be a psychopath if you didn’t. I mean, we’re humans. We all have imposter syndrome.
Jayne Havens: And we’re all still learning. I think people look to me, and I’m sure they look to you, for all the answers. People assume that I know every answer to everything. I don’t, at all. Not even close. I’m still learning. Frankly, the second you feel like you’re done learning, I think that is not the right mindset. You need to always be in a position where you are open to learning new things and gaining new skills. We’re all on the trajectory to some — we’re all headed in some sort of direction, and it’s never ending.
I definitely struggle with imposter syndrome, just because everybody thinks I’m like this expert. Am I? Why am I the expert? Who am I? We all have to work through that in our own minds. I think the only way through it is just to, as you said, remember that they’re just thoughts, take action, and find resources that inspire you. Surround yourself with the right people that are also doing the right thought work and the right act and taking action.
The Doula Darcy: Yeah, and I think another big thing is tapping into why you wanted to do this work in the first place.
Jayne Havens: Good point.
The Doula Darcy: How did sleep consulting change your own family? How did that change your own life? Why did you feel called to take this training, do this work? For me, that is what — on the days when I’m like, “Oh, my God, what am I doing,” tapping into why I want to do this is a great way to overcome that fear. Again, tapping into your passion, your passion has to override your fear.
Jayne Havens: That is really brilliant. I think that I do that subconsciously. But I love that you said it out loud. I’m going to go back and listen to this after we’re done, and I’m going to write it down. Because sometimes you really feel stuck, right? Sometimes, you feel so stuck. You don’t know what to do next because it all feels really scary.
When you go back to your your why — why did you even get into this, what are you looking to accomplish, how are you looking to serve families, and why are you even out here trying to support families, why is that important to you — I do think that you’re right. That’s the key to overcoming all of this. Because if you’re super passionate about it, then you’re going to let that lead. You’re going to not be paralyzed by all the scary stuff that comes along with it as you are navigating those scary things that we have to do to grow our businesses.
The Doula Darcy: Oh, yeah. Everyone is shocked whenever I say this, but I am a total introvert, shy person. I remember I used to love being in my cubicle by myself with my spreadsheets about analyzing media sources. But when I had my kids, had my own experience and wanted to become a postpartum doula, I remember talking to myself and thinking, okay, I’m going to go to this chamber of commerce event.
I wanted to cancel five times throughout the day, and I just had to talk to myself. I’m like, okay, Darcy. Either you’re going to this chamber event, and you’re going to announce your doula business and make connections and tell people about it, or you’re going to be the shy little girl that’s going to have to go back to her cubicle.
I remember making a choice. If I want to do this — be my own boss, own my own business, spend more time with my kids, and help families have better postpartum experience — this is what it’s going to take: chamber of commerce meetings and putting my face on Facebook.
Jayne Havens: Which for you was really just the first step. That was the move in the moment that you needed to make. It was one of probably thousands of moves that you needed to make over the course of your career. But it was the first. That was the big — that was the turning point. Like, are you going to do this or not?
The Doula Darcy: That was the big point where imposter syndrome was creeping up for me. Oh, it’d be so much easier to just stay home and watch TV tonight and not go to this business after hours mixer. But you had to. And I’m not saying that’s the key to success by any means.
Jayne Havens: No, but for you, it was like a figurative key of success. Because if you hadn’t done that, you also probably wouldn’t have done the next thing that came along, and the next thing that came along. It’s not that like you had to go to a chamber of commerce event to have a successful doula business, but you needed to say yes to the opportunity because you need to be in the habit of saying ‘yes’ to opportunities.
Every single time you have the opportunity to talk about your business, show up in an event, meet with moms, whatever it is, if you’re in the habit of saying ‘no’ because it feels scary and because you don’t feel like you’re good enough, then you’re never going to get out there and do it.
The Doula Darcy: Right. At the end of the day, that’s the key to success. It’s that people have to know that you and your services exist. Whether you’re going to in-person local chamber events or posting Facebook lives or whatever you’re doing, you’ve got to be putting yourself out there and marketing yourself.
Jayne Havens: If anybody’s listening to this and wants to know more about your Doula Village, because it really is an amazing program that you offer, where can everybody connect with you and learn more about this? If you have any other resources that you want to share, go for it.
The Doula Darcy: Yes, you can go to my website which is douladarcy.com and click on the tab for my Doula Village. You can also get a FREE cheat sheet there on how to start getting clients with a bunch of tips. Then I love Instagram. I know you don’t, but follow me on Instagram.
Jayne Havens: No, I do. I do with you. You and I go live and it’s so much fun.
The Doula Darcy: Yeah, I love Instagram so I’m always sharing tips and talking about imposter syndrome a lot and growing your doula business and sleep consulting business.
Jayne Havens: Your Instagram is?
The Doula Darcy: @thedouladarcy
Jayne Havens: Okay. Perfect. Darcy, thank you so much. I always love chatting with you, whether it be on the podcast or even on Instagram. I hope we can do it again soon.
The Doula Darcy: All right. Thank you for having me.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it would mean so much to me if you would rate, review, and subscribe. When you rate, review, and subscribe, this helps the podcast reach a greater audience. I am so grateful for your support.
If you would like to learn more about how you can become a certified sleep consultant, head over to my Facebook Group, Becoming a Sleep Consultant or to my website thecpsm.com. Thanks so much, and I hope you will tune in for the next episode.