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Imposter syndrome and managing self-doubt with Mitch Goldstein

Mitch Goldstein photo

If you only did exactly what you know how to do… you would not get to do much!

- Mitch Goldstein

Mitch Goldstein is a designer, artist, author and educator based in upstate New York. In advance of his session at DesignThinkers Toronto, we asked him a few questions about his talk, making the most of imposter syndrome and what’s inspiring him lately.


Your DesignThinkers talk is titled, “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing.” Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your session? 

Mostly what I want people to learn from my sessions is this: expertise is overrated, and you can exploit your own amatuer-ness, lack of knowledge, and newness at stuff to try things you normally would not. Leaning into this is a gift that should not be wasted!

You advocate for finding joy in imposter syndrome. Have you always felt this way? 

It took me a while to realize that what we call ‘imposter syndrome’ is really just ‘being human’ — everyone I have ever admired admits to feeling like that sometimes, so I think it is simply part of the human condition; and when we can use this feeling to our advantage, that’s when it becomes useful and fun.

Emerging designers often feel imposter syndrome the most. How does your mindset about curiosity and managing self-doubt inform your work as an educator?

Endlessly and always. As an educator, part of my job is to be actively curious. Realizing that not knowing exactly how to do something is not necessarily a good reason to not try it is a game changer. This is especially important for new designers — if you only did exactly what you know how to do… you would not get to do much!

Speaking of being curious, what’s piquing your interest lately?

I have been focusing mostly on my MFA thesis in Furniture Design, which I should (hopefully) finish this Spring — what I am looking at is manifesting life’s chaos, complexity, and unpredictability in visual art.

What are you most looking forward to about coming to DesignThinkers in Toronto?

I have not been to an in-person conference in almost 4 years! It will be amazing to see a bunch of people, all interested in similar things, all together for 2 days — I am very much looking forward to seeing people.


Catch Mitch’s talk on October 28 at 2:15 p.m. ET.

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