The course that almost didn’t happen: How I worked through imposter syndrome to create a course with Udemy

I just launched a Business Course with Udemy called Your Customer Service Toolbox: Best Practices for Beginners. Udemy is an incredible global online platform where you can learn just about anything, such as how to learn SQL, make the perfect macaron or become an animal reiki practitioner – all at the same time. And now, you can take my course to learn how to excel in your role as a front line customer service agent!

I’m really proud of this course. I poured 16 years of front line agent knowledge into one hour. I work a full time job in customer service/experience during the day. A lot of work to create the course happened after hours during the pandemic when so many things in life were up in the air.

That aside, I want to tell you the story about how this course almost didn’t happen…

It’s Summer 2020 and I receive a message from a respected colleague and friend, Matt Beckwith. He’s the founder of the Contact Center Geek blog and is the Director of Customer Experience for Clark Pest Control. In the message, Matt shares how he’d like to refer me for an opportunity to create an online course with Udemy as he doesn’t have the bandwidth at this time. I was honored and grateful!

I later connected with the team at Udemy and had a great conversation about the possibility of creating a premium customer service business course. From the support Udemy provides to their instructors to the learnings I could take away from this, it sounded like an incredible opportunity. There was just one thing getting in my way:

I didn’t think I could actually do it.

Healthline defines imposter syndrome:

Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.

Google the term “Imposter Syndrome” and you’ll find millions of resources about how to defeat it, lose it, kick it in the @$$, anything and everything to get rid of it. No one outside my own mind was telling me I couldn’t make this course. Only I was. I take full responsibility for what Geneen Roth calls the “Crazy Aunt in the Attic“, the judgemental voice that tells you you’re not enough.

It was at this point that I told the Udemy team that I would need to think about it. I had just started a new job and wasn’t sure of my schedule. While that is very true, what really fueled me to push back is because I felt afraid.

They asked if it would be acceptable to reach out again in 6 months and I said “sure”, very certain they would get busy and forget all about me.

Let me tell you – Udemy is on top of it and will not forget! 

In January 2021, I received an email from the Udemy team, circling back on the opportunity. That night in my journal, I wrote:

They remembered me. I feel terrified though! Can I even do something like this? It sounds incredibly exciting, but…me? Really? What if I fail? After all, I’m just a customer service manager, I’m not anyone special. 

After reminding myself that Donna Noble once said she’s “just a temp from Chiswick” then went on to save the universe with Doctor Who, I thought maybe, just maybe I could say “yes” and see what happens.

But, pushing the “send” button on that email reply didn’t happen for a over a week.

I ruminated on the idea that I’m not good enough to do an online course. It woke me up at 3am, I brought it up in therapy, and it definitely led to some emotional eating. You reading this might think I’m bonkers for acting this way over an online course, but hey, it’s my truth and how my anxious brain processes things.

I moved cross-country to a big city, I’ve sung in front of audiences and do public speaking, I went sky diving, heck, I did a free dive with sharks, all things I was freaking scared AF to do and decisions of which were processed in the same manner as I mentioned above. These big, scary things I never think I can actually do end up being some of the most awesome, eye opening, life learning experiences. Perhaps I need to be working through imposter syndrome instead of always fighting tooth and nail against it because it has something to teach me? I’m definitely no life-wisdom pro, but I see a pattern here:

Don’t think you can do it? Scared? Great – sounds like you need to go for it because it will be awesome, Jenny!

So, I replied to that email with a “yes, let’s set up a time to talk.”

After presenting my course outline in January 2021 and it being approved, I spent the next 6 months working with the exceptional design team to create the course. Jess, my learning designer, guided me through every step of the process. She gave honest feedback about the script direction and I trusted her completely. She handled all my questions with grace, patience and kindness, including those of “What if no one takes the course?” and “What if it totally flops?”

Flash forward to June 2021 and we’re filming in a studio. My inner child who wanted to grow up and become an actress was delighted! Reading my script from a teleprompter was exciting, even when I stumbled on my words here and there. The Udemy team was remote on the set via Zoom and the film crew was supportive and fun.

Did I still not feel good enough, not worthy enough and scared of failure during the filming? You bet.

When I stepped back and looked around, I realized that it wasn’t just me creating this course. Duh, Jenny! It took a lot of people to get to this point – from the Udemy team, to my dear friends and colleagues to the many customers I’ve helped throughout the years. The things that I say in my head to myself I would never say to anyone else, so why would I let those stop me from completing this course?

Before the course launched, I took Jeff Toister’s Thank You Letter Challenge and wrote a thank you note that I hope to one day receive from a student. It says:

Dear Jenny,

Thank you for making this course. I’m new to customer service and wasn’t sure what to expect or how to really deal with customers when they get angry. Your course gave me the skills I needed to really get out there and help people. My boss is really proud of me, too. Thanks again!

I may or may not actually get that letter from someone, but if one person takes away something new to help them in their job, then it was 100% worth facing my fear.

So, if you want to see the course that almost didn’t happen + maybe you want to take it and share feedback with me, click here.

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Jenny Dempsey is the Consumer Experience Manager for FruitStand.com and Apeel Sciences. With 16 years of building and leading customer service & experience teams, she is also the co-founder of a customer service blog, CustomerServiceLife.com. Jenny has been recognized over the years for her work, including the The ICMI Top 25 Thought Leaders of 2021and accepting the 2019/2020 CloudCherry CX Influencer Champion award. She has a Udemy Professor with her course, "Your Customer Service Toolbox: Best Practices for Beginners" and does customer service coaching on the side. Jenny loves being an auntie to her beautiful niece, travelling the world, singing and hanging out with her toothless rescue cats. She lives in sunny San Diego, CA.

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