How to deal with 'Data Impostor Syndrome' (DIS)


So, here’s the big news in your life…

You’re tempted to launch a data consultancy, or take it to the next level.

Or maybe you’re just looking to pursue that next rung on the data career ladder.

But there’s just one problem.

You’re suffering from 'Data Impostor Syndrome’ (D.I.S).

What is Data Impostor Syndrome?

DIS occurs when you feel like you’re not skilled or experienced enough to make the leap from being a data professional, to becoming a data authority.

You feel like you’re not ‘data-worthy enough' to make that leap into successful data business ownership, or perhaps that coveted CDO role.

DIS shows up in many ways

Firstly, you don’t take action on the things you know you need to do, like creating content to demonstrate your authority and skills.

In your mind, you dream up all manner of ways those in the ‘data bubble’ will crucify you for your viewpoints on data.

“Me, an authority? Pah... Who am I kidding.”

So you go back to content consumption, instead of creation.

Which leads us onto the second issue: Focus.

You're spending far too much time 'faffing about' on tasks you think are important.

You're doing things that feel connected to your aspirational identity (e.g. that CDO or business ownership role you crave) but deep down, you know this is fake momentum.

You’re spending your days gathering information about what it’s like to be a CDO or business owner, without doing anything to execute on that vision.

As a result of this content consumption you’re simply buffering, stalling for time so your business doesn’t get launched or your career just meanders along.

And every day you keep thinking...

“What would life really be like on the other side of my fears?"

Do you resonate with this situation?

Congratulations. You’re in the majority.

If I could only show you the volume of emails I’ve received from people that go something like this…

“Hi Dylan, I’ve stumbled on your website and it’s really relevant as I’ve just been made Head of Data Governance. Can you point me to some useful training on how to deliver Data Governance?”.

Now, swap Data Governance for ...

  • Data Quality

  • MDM

  • Data Privacy

  • Data Management

  • Data Profiling

  • Data Architecture

…and you’ll realise that the vast majority of people who go out on a limb to launch their own business, or have the courage to seek higher office as THE authority on data in their organisation or even their industry, are winging it to some extent.

Everyone suffers from DIS because there is always another level to attain, another fear to overcome.


I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out’
— Maya Angelou
...there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?’
— Tom Hanks


When I launched Data Quality Pro I was constantly waiting for the metaphorical knock on the door from the likes of Tom Redman, Larry English, David Loshin and Danette McGilvray - the data quality ‘elite’, to tell me I’d been found out.

That I was a fraud.

That I should shut down my site, delete my articles and call it a day.

But the 'knock' never came.

Instead I shared what I knew about the discipline, and within months my audience and 'authority' began to grow.

I eventually got to meet and talk to these ‘big names’ in our industry and found that, far from being special unicorns, they’re just like you and me.

They all learned from others, shaped their ideas into a new approach, and published it.

And that’s where you need a mindset shift.

Stop letting your preconceived fears and anxieties of what could happen when you ‘put yourself out there’ stop you from attaining your big idea for a new business or career leap.

Because in 30 years time, when you’re facing retirement, what would you rather say to yourself...

“You know, I’m so glad I just sat back and remained comfortable, at least no-one ever blocked me on LinkedIn or disagreed with me in public.”


“You know, I’m so glad I said f***k it and took massive action every single day when I had the chance, my success has taught my kids what truly lies on the other side of their fears”.

I meet so many people who have a bigger vision for their career or business, but don’t do the little things that will make this a certainty.

Like getting up an hour earlier each day, to create amazing content that will build your authority, brick by brick.

Like reaching out to your ideal customers or employers to build relationships and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges, goals and solutions they need your help with.

Like nurturing and giving back to your inner circle of advocates, those who believe in your abilities and the message you want to share.

Like constantly developing your skills in areas outside of data, to help you master the art of leadership, sales, marketing, persuasion and change.

If you have a big dream in the data sector, be it a career leap or a business leap, your success lies in the tiny habits you execute every day.

Work the plan and your fears will slowly disappear because each day you’ll be laying another brick, on top of another brick, and slowly but surely, your authority will be constructed and visible for all to see.

And when the time is right, and that employer or that client needs your specific set of skills to solve the very same problem you’ve been writing about, the same challenge you’ve been developing your mastery in.

They’ll know who to call.

So what next?

  1. Stop giving in to the fear on what other data people think about you (they’re likely not your customers anyway)

  2. Become obsessive about your niche value proposition and serving your ideal clients or employers

  3. Publish content as though your life depends on it, because it does

  4. Surround yourself with people who have the same goals

  5. Find a coach or mentor to help you stay the course

Got big plans for your data business or career but unsure of how to attract clients and employers?

Book a (free) breakthrough call and let’s put a plan together:

“Dylan’s coaching has been invaluable to the growth and success of my business.”
- Nicola Askham ‘The Data Governance Coach