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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Grobman

Your Cultural Upbringing Can Contribute to the Imposter Syndrome

Sheila Lirio Marcelo

Image source: Knowledge@Wharton

I've previously shared some tips for dealing with the Imposter Syndrome. It's important to observe that cultural differences can create more nuanced versions of it.

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Filipino-American CEO of, in a profile for Knowledge@Wharton notes that there are special challenges for Asian-Americans — and Asian women, in particular — in becoming strong business leaders, which can be traced to parenting traditions. She said that from an early age, she was instilled with “the three P’s” — “and I’m not talking about ‘pricing, positioning and packaging’ from your business school days,” she quipped, “but ‘pleasing, passivity and perfection.’” Becoming an entrepreneur, she felt, was a disappointment to her parents and violating the "pleasing principle." As a young, Asian-American, woman, she was unsure how she position herself in meetings without being "overaggressive." And finally, her strive for perfection made her doubt her preparedness for future roles. Her advice for women leaders: “To lead, you’ve got to get through your own stuff [first] so that you can focus on others.” Read the full interview with Sheila here.

Leadership and Women Newsletter

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