Good Hype.

By: Jen Shoop

I had just accepted a leadership position at a small Chicago-based non-profit focused on building the financial health of low-income teens, and I was both under-experienced for the job and struggling with pre-existing imposter’s syndrome — a winning combination for crippling self-doubt. The weekend before my first day on the job, Mr. Magpie and I went out to dinner with a new friend and her husband, the latter of whom we’d never met. Though I generally avoid caricature, he fit the “finance bro” persona to a tee, right down to the fleece vest and distracted but excitable conversation. I noticed that he seemed only interested in talking with my husband, which was an immediate turn-off. A pet peeve of mine is when the men only speak to the men, and the women only speak with the women, at a dinner table. One treasured commonality between all of our closest couple friends is that conversation flows all ways when we are together, and there are no unspoken tensions about who should be sitting with and conversing with whom.

At some point over cocktails, the subject of my new job came up, which I quickly shuffled under the placemat in search of a different topic.

“What are you doing for them?” persisted my friend’s husband — the first time, I think, he had directed an inquiry my way.

“I’m their Chief Innovation Officer,” I replied, which was factually true, but — I must admit — a small but flinty way to suggest that he might not be the only person at the table with interesting things to contribute. He looked up at me with excitement.

F&%* yeah!” he cried, enthusiastically.

I will never — not ever — forget that exchange. Forgive me for including the profanity, but it makes the message, and they were his words, not mine. I was completely caught off-guard by his unexpected excitement about the position, and I laughed in confused and amused response. What was it — had I surprised him? Had he written me off as something else? Was he only interested in people in positions of seniority? Was it the status? Was it the implication that I might have a more interesting back story or higher level of intelligence than he had estimated? Was it the general notion of a c-suite position focused on innovation?

I have no idea, and I’ve long since stopped wondering about his impression.

What I have continued to return to was the unanticipated hype he afforded me. In a flash, I was able to shed some of my misgivings about my appropriateness for the role and see, instead, the incredible opportunity in front of me. I saw, too, that maybe the CEO and Board had sensed something in me that they valued beyond experience. I might not have had what I needed on paper, but they must have seen the telling arc in my career history, my willingness to try new things, my ability to move quickly, my all-hands-on-deck mentality. Perhaps those qualities mattered more to them than ten years at the helm of an adjacent non-profit. Perhaps they wanted agility and ambition rather than pedigree. And that made me feel better. Charged-up. Worthy, even.

Here is my point:

Sometimes you need to jump outside your own world. You need to think about what you are doing from the lens of a ten-year-old you, or your grandmother, or a distant cousin with an entirely different lifestyle, or a peer in a completely different industry. Believe it or not, people envy elements of your life. People admire them. People are intimidated by them. Some of the things you find natural and normalized are akin to space travel for a neighbor. Some of the things you doubt in yourself others see — quite easily — as manifest.

Today, I want you to think about something you’re harboring insecurity about, and imagine how others entirely outside your everyday world might see it, or not see it, related to the broader sweep of your life and livelihood. Chances are, there’s someone out there just dying to offer unanticipated, much-needed hype.


+A more detailed look at imposter’s syndrome — aka, that time I embarrassed myself in front of Caroline Kennedy.

+A former version of myself.

+In case you’re worried about what other people are thinking of you.

Shopping Break.

+J. Crew has some cute new arrivals — love this ponte dress and this boucle jacket.

+Such a fun cover-up — would honestly wear as a dress.

+This top is just fab. Loretta Caponi vibes.

+The sweetest sandals for little ladies — waterproof, velcro closed, and have a sturdy rubber sole.

+More children’s resort finds.

+Cutest tote bag for a mama, on sale. Comes in a few trim patterns, but super love the monkeys or the hearts.

+Oh my gosh, I need this peplum cardigan in the prettiest pink color.

+This Veronica Beard jacket is fabulous (and on sale).

+Love the idea of pairing a bolster pillow in a designer fabric with simple all-white bedding (we are still loving these Target sheets, which we originally purchased as back-ups but now use frequently).

+Adore these scalloped bowls.

+Fun vintage-style sweatshirts. Love the Chamonix one.

+Has anyone tried any of the cosmetics from Well People? I was just reading good things about their concealer.

+High-quality, unfussy baby footies in great colors.

+Love this lunchbox for a little love.

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13 thoughts on “Good Hype.

  1. What perfect timing! Just received some upsetting news today related to work, and as my husband and I allow ourselves to take it in today and then move on to next steps, this post and the story you just shared, helped! Thank you thank you! Onwards and upwards 😉

    1. Oh I’m so glad these words materialized at the right time. Sorry to hear about the bad news at work — wishing you calmer seas soon.


  2. Jen, how do you always write just what I need to read? As I finally transition out of the Army, I’ve been terrified looking at employment bulletins. “Yes, I have that degree…but no, four not six years of experience..” I mutter to myself some variation of this while feeling a sense of panic rise. Deep down I know I have a lot to offer once I put myself out there.

    Thanks for being my unexpected hype women as I dip my toes into job interviews (first time in my life!).

    (Also, using your VB tip to start stocking up my civilian work closet. Their Dickey jackets are incredible.)

    1. Veronica — if there’s anything that warrants a F&%# YEAH!!! it’s that! Go you! OHY! (Oh hell yeah — an acronym that was very popular at my high school that I still say to this day!) Know that you have an internet stranger cheering you on today!!!

      Someone told me once that men apply for jobs that they meet 50-60% of the requirements on the job posting, while women only apply to jobs where they think they meet almost 100% of the requirements. I’m probably bastardizing this statistic and it might not even be correct but it has served as a push for me to apply to things for which I’m under-qualified, in all realms.

      Jen — I also needed to read this today! If for nothing then else than to take a step back at where I am in life and say OHY!!

      1. Molly those stats look right to me! They are top of mind as I am semi-casually browsing the job market here in New Zealand…and at some stage over the last few years, many employers have started including them in their job ads and encouraging everyone to apply, even if you’re only at 60% of requirements by your own assessment. I think it’s amazingly encouraging and hope it’s not a temporary measure taken to combat our talent squeeze!

      2. Okay, brb, getting OHY tattooed somewhere haha. Thank you so much! It means a lot that strangers on the internet are cheering me on. Magpies are THE best.

    2. Yes!!! Hyping you up! You got this! I’m so glad this post arrived at the right time for you.

      One thing running through my head while reading your comment – one of my friends is in interiors/architecture school after probably two decades of hands-on experience designing high-end built-in / custom interiors. I remember when she was weighing going back to school, her husband said, “You don’t need the credential. Just say you can do it like men do. You have the experience.” (I’m paraphrasing.) And I know there are technical requirements for being a proper architect, and so did he, but I feel like the point still stands: don’t be intimidated by the “four vs six years” of experience, or the specific degree. People weigh resumes in their entirety and often make decisions based on intuition/culture fit/etc anyway. At least that was my experience! So GO for it. Round up in terms of how many years you have under your belt.


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