Dealing with anxiety at conferences with The SEO Mindset podcast

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Show notes

In this week's episode was recorded live at Projects in Brighton and Jack Chambers-Ward joined The SEO Mindset duo of Sarah McDowell and Tazmin Suleman to discuss how to deal with anxiety at conferences.



Sarah: Hello and welcome. Thank you very much for joining us for our live podcast, which is very exciting. Obviously we have myself and Tazmin from the SEO Mindset and the wonderful Jack from the Search With Candour podcast. This is all very exciting because this literally started off as a idea when, last year like, ah, wouldn't it be cool if we did this live podcast? And now we're here in a pretty awesome venue, and we've got an audience, which is also pretty cool, right?

Jack: Definitely.

Sarah: Before we get into the meeting, while we're all here, because obviously we are going to be talking about anxiety because we all have it, we all have to deal with it. And we're just going to be having an open, frank conversation about dealing with anxiety when at conferences. We'll be sharing our own experiences and giving you tips, trips, not trips. We wish we could give you a trip. Tips, sorry, and practical advice of things that you can do to deal with those feelings of anxiety. Got some thank-yous. First up is our main sponsor, which is SISTRIX, and we'd love to welcome Steve to the stage. Sorry, put you on the spot there.

Jack: Come on up, Steve. Round of applause for Steve.

Steve: Well, just very quickly, thank you very much for turning up. I'm really happy to be supporting this and I really hope this can be a regular thing. You guys should all give your feedback at the end of it, tell your friends and the rest of it. Tomorrow at 11:30, auditorium 20, Tazmin is doing a mindfulness session, which is really good because at 11:45 I'm on stage presenting some data. If you come to watch Tazmin, you can stay and watch me afterwards. Good. So that's in auditorium two.

Jack: All right.

Sarah: Wonderful.

Jack: Brilliant.

Steve: Good. I look forward to this evening. Have fun.

Jack: Thanks, Steve.

Sarah: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yes. Big thanks to SISTRIX for being the main sponsor and helping make this possible. We also have Captivate, which is a podcast hosting company. I work for Captivate, so I should have had a much better spiel for that.

Jack: You should know the spiel by right?

Sarah: I know. I know. But yes, they're our drink sponsors. So the Coke, the cold beer and the water is thanks to them.

Jack: "Cold beer."

Sarah: Yes. It should be cold. It should be cold. And then yes, we also want to do a shout-out to Projects as well. So the venue that we're sat in right now, because they were very helpful. And also Silicon Brighton, they've been very helpful and supportive from the start. They're behind all the tech that we are using. They helped us get this venue. They've just been very, very supportive. Grace, did you want to come and say a few words?

Jack: Come on up, Grace. Round of applause for Grace, please.

Grace: Hi, everyone. Who here is from Brighton or lives in Brighton at the moment? Have we got a few local people? Couple of patriotic people. Well, there's loads of tech events that happen in Brighton, not just this one, lots of different fun, exciting meetups. And we like to support lots of them in the same way that we've supported this tonight. The whole idea is that we work with local technologists and give you plenty of opportunities to learn, to meet new people, to listen to amazing talks and podcasts like this, and to create a really great home in the community.

If you ever are in Brighton, not just stopping here from BrightonSEO, come and check us out,, or connect with me, Grace Pryor on LinkedIn and I can tell you all about it. And that's it. Enjoy the show.

Sarah: Thank you very much.

Jack: Thank you, Grace.

Sarah: Right. Hands up, those that have heard about the Search With Candour podcast.

Jack: A few of you. Lovely, that's good.

Sarah: Oh, that's quite a few people. Jack-

Jack: Half of them were people who work at Candor.

Sarah: For those who aren't aware, what's your podcast about?

Jack: It's weekly SEO news and interviews, basically. We do interviews. I interview the best and brightest across SEO, digital marketing, PPC, all that kind of stuff. And then once a month, Mark Williams-Cook and I get together and we do the latest SEO news on a live stream. My mic has gone. That's a good start. Tech issues.

Sarah: Oh, do you want mine for the-

Jack: Yes, please.

Sarah: Here you go. Oh, you're back. You're back. You're back.

Jack: I'm back. There we go. I'm back. Search With Candour comes out every Monday morning at five o'clock in the morning on UK Time. If you want to listen to it on your commute to work or anything like that, it's perfect for that kind of thing. It's usually 30 minutes to an hour or so. And like I said, the biggest and brightest stars in SEO.

I want to spend a lot of this year highlighting new voices in SEO, really. We're getting a lot of people from the FCDC, a lot of people of color, a lot of people from the LGBTQ community as well. That's been my mission for 2023. A lot of cool interviews and news and stuff coming up on search With Candour.

Sarah: Wonderful. Right.

Jack: You're with the SEO Mindset. You see.

Sarah: Well, I was going to do the hands up thing again because that was cool and interactive.

Jack: Go for that.

Sarah: Who's heard of the SEO Mindset podcast? Oh, hey, we've got some hands. It's always exciting when that happens. For those who didn't put their hands up, Tazmin, do our spiel. Why should... Sorry, have I put you on the spot?

Tazmin: Little bit.

Sarah: Would you like me to do the spiel?

Tazmin: You do the spiel.

Sarah: Okay, I'll do the spiel. So the SEO Mindset, basically we created the podcast to... We saw a bit of a gap, didn't we, in the market? There's lots of wonderful podcasts that focus on the how to do SEO, but what we felt was there was a need about talking about personal skills, career development, talking about the real topics that really matter, but don't really get talked about. So burnout, imposter syndrome, anxiety, what we're talking about tonight. That's how the SEO Mindset was born.

Tazmin: Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah: Did you want to add some more?

Tazmin: I think it's about how to be. There's so much knowledge, information on how to do this and how to do that, but not enough about how to be the best you can be in order to go off and do the skills and the job and the career and life. That was my reason to do it.

Sarah: There you go. That's both the podcasts. Have we done all the admin?

Jack: I think we're there. Yeah.

Sarah: Are we there? Are we there?

Jack: All the housekeeping stuff is sorted.

Sarah: Wonderful. Just to note that this is being live-streamed, so we can all wave to the camera behind.

Jack: Camera behind you there.

Sarah: There we go.

Jack: There are a couple other cameras around, but that is our main camera. Hello if you're watching on YouTube, joining us.

Sarah: Yes. Thank you for joining us. Thank you so much.

Tazmin: Oh, can I do a hello daughter, rather than a hello mom?

Sarah: So Tazmin.

Tazmin: Yes.

Sarah: Let's kick stuff off. Why have we decided to talk about this subject?

Tazmin: Because it's really, really important. It's a really important topic to talk about. I think for me it's one, acknowledging that people do feel anxious. Let's just put it out there and not pretend that it doesn't exist. Another reason is to reassure everyone that everyone feels anxious. It is a natural thing to feel, not something that you should be embarrassed about or think that other people don't feel it because they do. And hopefully by the end of the session today, you'd have got some information on how to deal with it, how to cope better with it, and how to enjoy the opportunities such as conferences can give, with dealing with the anxiety that you may be feeling. That's for me.

Sarah: Wonderful. Would you add anything to that, Jack?

Jack: Yeah, I think it's something that's been moving positively over the last few years is people talking more about mental health, especially in things like the tech industry. There's so much pressure to just constantly be working, have 15 different jobs, all this kind of stuff, attend every conference or be everywhere all at once. But actually acknowledging that even the biggest, most famous SEOs and PBC people in digital marketing, even outside of this industry, we all get anxious. Right?

Sarah: 100%. 100%.

Jack: I think maybe you idolize a few people or you followed them along for their careers and they're big inspirations to you. We're all just human at the end of the day, right?

Sarah: Yeah.

Jack: But that's a big part of it. And I think even the three of us doing it now, I'm pretty anxious. I'm talking to a bunch of people, we're talking to YouTube right now, but that's normal.

Sarah: Yeah. It's so ironic, isn't it? Because we do feel anxious. When we feel vulnerable and we're putting ourselves in front of people or we're doing something that's different or we're out of our comfort zones, of course that's going to make us feel anxious. And I think the thing is that we can't let those feelings of anxiety and being anxious stop us. We just need to learn to, I don't know if this is corny, but lean into it. And obviously we'll be sharing more strategies and stuff. But let's do a hands up again. How many people here have felt anxious at some point in their life? Just look around the room.

Jack: Literally everyone in the room.

Sarah: See, everyone-

Jack: Double hands for a couple of people over there.

Sarah: We have got a dog in the audience and I think even they put their hand up. Everyone feels it. Everyone feels it. Let's just quickly touch on then, why it is important to go to conferences.

Jack: I think it's, again, something we all feel pressured to do, but there are so many benefits to it. The fact that we get to meet lovely people like the people in attendance here. The fact that I've gotten to know you guys and meeting you guys in person. Making friends, and again, our industry is so online and over the last few years we'll be getting into pandemic discussion and working from home and all that kind of stuff. You will exist in your own little bubble. But then actually coming out, meeting people, going for drinks, having food, having conversations, those kind of conversations that don't happen online, you get a chance to network and meet new people and meet old friends. Maybe you haven't seen them since before everything shut down for COVID and all that kind of stuff, and now we're all able to come back together and have this kind of experience.

Sarah: 100%, 100%. Would you add anything?

Tazmin: About why it's important to come to-

Sarah: Yes.

Tazmin: Well, you get to learn. There are so many great talks. Even if you are not interested in the talk, you get to learn how to present because that's something that many people want to be able to do. Sometimes there are masterclass at Brighton. Even if you're not interested in the topic, watch how they enter the stage, speak to people, move on the stage, how they interact with the audiences. So there's so much to learn.

Jack: This is the masterclass from Tazmin right now.

Sarah: I'd just like to add as well that it is nice to feel part of a community because especially in a lot of businesses, you might be the only SEO in a company, in a department. And even I love SEO, I'm a complete nerd and it's so nice to come to a conference being surrounded people where you just get to nerd out and talk to other people about SEO. Where you've had a conversation with other people and they roll their eyes. So many times I've talked to my girlfriend about SEO and she's just like, means nothing.

Jack: My wife is exactly the same.

Sarah: Whereas when you're surrounded by people that have the same, I don't know if passions is a bit strong for SEO, but I think we're all passionate.

Jack: You're allowed to be passionate about SEO. Embrace it, Sarah. Why not?

Sarah: Exactly, exactly. It's just so nice to be reminded that there's other people out there that love something as much as you. I suppose that's nice as well, isn't it?

Jack: Yeah. I think there's a big element, what you touched on, Tazmin, is learning from people as well, whether it's attending the talks or meeting people during lunch times or whatever it is, there's so much opportunity for learning at these kind of conferences. And being able to plan out your schedule and get an idea of all the different topics because BrightonSEO to their credit, is massively diverse in terms of topic, in terms of speakers, in terms of all kinds of different things. I think it's a massive credit to them over the last few years of what they've built. It's been an amazing... I've been to the last three, for example. I think you were here a few years before me as well, Sarah, but the way this BrightonSEO and other conferences, hopefully, fingers crossed, most of them are moving in a very positive direction where we're hearing more unique and interesting diverse voices and it's an opportunity to learn from them and understand their perspective as well.

Sarah: Oh, 100%. 100%. I also think we should... I'm aware that we've talked about attendees, but just want to touch on speakers as well because being a speaker and going to conferences is a good time to show your work, share your knowledge, share your experience with others, especially when we talk about diverse and inclusion as well.

A couple of years ago I did a talk about how to be an LGBTQ+, there we go, I practiced that, ally when it comes to marketing, SEO and websites. So if you feel passionate about something and you can share that knowledge or expertise, or maybe you've just found a hack, maybe you've found something that will save [microphone cuts out]

Jack: Mics are going again.

Sarah: I'm just going to carry on and just talk louder.

Jack: There we go. You're back.

Sarah: What was I saying? Anyone?

Tazmin: Share your work.

Sarah: Oh, share your... Thank you, Tazmin. It's about sharing what you've learned, your experiences, what you're passionate about. The times that I've done a talk about how to be an LGTBQ+ ally, said it again, got it right, so many people afterwards came away and like, "Ah, didn't even think about that. That's a really quick, easy thing that I can do on my website to be more inclusive." Do you know what I mean? There's just so many different ways and I don't know if anyone else wants to add in anything while we're talking about speakers.

Tazmin: How many speakers do we have?

Jack: Quite a few hands there. All on this side of the room.

Sarah: That's quite interesting, isn't it? Is that something psychological?

Jack: The speakers of group together. The attendees on the left, speakers on the right. Stuck in the middle with you.

Tazmin: A little segregation. How anxious are you feeling? You're okay. I think also another good reason to be a speaker, you may have your work and be really great at it, but to speak is something completely different. The goal might be, I want to speak at BrightonSEO, but what you'll learn in the process getting there, that's the real gold, to be able to craft a talk, to be able to network before, to be able to battle all the demons that invariably do come along that path. That's the real gold. I think it's a great thing to do.

Sarah: Yes.

Tazmin: And conferences allow you to be able to do it.

Sarah: 100%. 100%. Should we get a bit real and share our own experiences? Are we ready?

Jack: Yeah.

Sarah: Are we ready to be transparent and open?

Jack: I'm ready. I'm from Candour. I feel like I need to be candid, right? That's in the name.

Sarah: So smooth. So smooth. So let's share our own experience. Who wants to start?

Tazmin: I'll start.

Sarah: There we go. Tazmin taking center stage.

Tazmin: Dive in. All right. I first came to BrightonSEO four years ago. Only had started in the SEO industry, was feeling really out of my depth and was part of a very young team. And I was so worried. I was saying to them, "Do I need to buy a new wardrobe? Should I buy a hoodie?"

Jack: To fit in with the cool kids? That's what... yeah.

Tazmin: To fit in with the cool kids. But I was really, really anxious about it. I do have a few hoodies, none of them have got writing on them, let me just stress that now. But those are the thoughts that were going through my head and the team said, "Go as you are." So there I was with my pashmina in style and with pride.

Sarah: Nice.

Tazmin: But when I came here, I did feel odd because when I looked around there weren't many people like me. So Asian, woman, of a certain age, height diversity included as well.

Sarah: We are sorry about the chairs. Yes.

Tazmin: Before I had to practice getting onto this chair.

Jack: We did try and find a step, but you got there at the end.

Tazmin: You found one as well in the corner.

Jack: Yeah, yeah.

Tazmin: I will not be getting off until you all leave. So it was daunting and the only way I could handle it was go as me, because when I go as me, I know how to be me. It's when you try to be somebody else that that's difficult. But then on the train home, I said to the team, "Wouldn't it be great if I did a talk on age diversity and the importance of it in SEO?" So the next year I did that, and it just shows that when you take that first step, it leads to another and another and another. And I feel really happy and proud that four years on, I get to help other people who may be feeling anxious at this conference.

Sarah: Thank you for being so open and transparent there. Are you feeling more comfortable?

Tazmin: I'm fine.

Jack: I feel like you're super zen, effortlessly cool now.

Tazmin: I sometimes get anxious and angry maybe once a year. But see, I'm too old to get angry and anxious. It's not worth it.

Sarah: Do you just have one day a year where you allow yourself to be angry and just get it all out?

Jack: You smash everything in sight for a day and then...

Tazmin: It's funny you should say smash because one day my ex-husband picked up a plate and smashed it in the kitchen and I thought I can do that. It's not a hard thing to do. So I did the same, which was fine because I didn't like the dinner set.

Jack: That's the important thing. That's the lesson to learn.

Tazmin: But no, I suppose maybe I have a wild card that I can get angry once a year and I can use that card whenever I want.

Jack: You wouldn't like Tazmin when she's angry?

Tazmin: No, you really wouldn't.

Sarah: Jack, would you like to share?

Jack: Certainly, yeah. So like I said, this is my third BrightonSEO now. Before that I was very much in a very closed little group. The previous agencies I'd worked for, my in-house role, I was not part of the community at all. I felt like, oh, I'm just doing my own thing on a little website and whatever. But now joining Candour and being given this opportunity to come out to a BrightonSEO and stuff, it was like, oh wow, this is a big deal. This suddenly feels like a big serious community of do I belong here? Granted, I have a lot of privileges that let me naturally fit in. As you were touching on Tazmin, being a person of color and a woman and all these kind of things, I am a cis straight white man, so I tick all the obvious SEO boxes. But even then still feeling do I belong here? That imposter syndrome of seeing all these amazing speakers and all tagging along with our SEO director at Candor, Mark being like, oh, everybody knows who Mark is. And I'm just the guy next to him, just like, "Oh, hey Mark. And who's this guy just tagging along?" Yep, that's me.

But I felt this, should I be going to networking events? Will anyone know who I am? Does that matter? All that kind of stuff. And now, three BrightonSEOs later, I'm like, yeah, I'll just say yes, see what happens. Just rather now I'm feeling a bit more confident. Thanks to the podcast, thanks to events like this, people do recognize me sometimes and stuff like that. So that's nice to have that, oh, thank God. I feel a bit more welcomed into the community. And credit to the SEO community, it's been incredibly welcoming over the last couple of years as well.

Sarah: 100%. 100%. I think there's so many times where you get into your own head.

Jack: Definitely.

Sarah: Because I remember when I went to my first, was it the first or second? But Rand Fishkin was there and I was terrified to just go over and say hello. Nowadays I know he's just a human. We are humans. And the last BrightonSEO, John Mueller was there. And I went on a nice little chit-chat. I think it's sometimes just getting out of our heads. It doesn't matter who you are. Do you know what I mean? And those people who do think that matters, don't bother with them.

Jack: Yeah, exactly.

Sarah: Do you know what I mean? At the end of the day, we're all humans, we should just all be kind to one another. I know I'm getting a bit like unicorns and what else? Unicorns. What's the-

Jack: Rainbows.

Sarah: Thank you. Rainbows and all of that. But you just need to put yourself out there. Nine times out of 10, if you say hello to someone at a conference, they're probably thinking, "Thank God someone said hello to me."

Jack: Exactly. Yeah.

Sarah: So just doing that and getting out of your comfort zone. I did a talk at BrightonSEO a couple years ago. Might have already said that. And it sounds like I'm bragging, but I'm not.

Jack: All right, mate. Are you going to drop the mic there?

Sarah: I know, it's like, calm down. And again, I got so in my head, even though I took so long putting together my slides, I did my research. I knew it was something I was passionate about when I was talking to other people about LGBTQ+ allyship and stuff. I knew that was important, but I still got into my head like, does it really matter what I'm saying? And I thought to myself, what if people laugh at me? You start getting into your head and you think about cartoon elements of people throwing tomatoes at you, don't you? That's where my brain goes.

Jack: Don't think many people bring tomatoes to SEO conferences.

Sarah: But then I just thought, this is my first time doing a talk. I'm either going to love it or I'm going to hate it. If I hate it, I just don't do it again. But I ended up loving it. I definitely think, and I don't know about you guys, but the thought of doing something is always 10 times scarier than the actual doing.

Jack: 100%.

Sarah: Do you know what I mean?

Jack: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah: As soon as I got on that stage and I probably stumbled on a couple of words, probably said LGBT wrong, put an S or a whatever in there. But once I got my groove as it were, it was fine. And I just think sometimes being worried about something holds us back. Yes, you're not going to enjoy everything that you try, but I'd rather know that rather than thinking, what if I did that? What if I tried that and I don't know...

Jack: Left with those regrets. You're more likely to have an interesting experience, even if it's not the most positive experience, like you said, just don't do it again. Try it once, see how it goes. And then after that maybe you'll do it again, maybe you won't kind of thing. And there's that, you'd rather live with the things you have done than the things you regret not doing. I think that's that kind of thing.

Sarah: 100%. And nine times out of 10, it's scary getting up in front of people so people are going to have respect from you from the start. Do you know what I mean? No one's-

Jack: We were literally having this conversation before we came on this stage. We're just like, oh, we're getting anxious now. Because we met up about a couple of hours ago to get everything set up and we arrived at the venue and all that kind of stuff. Like, "Yeah, we're fine. We're not nervous at all. How are we going to talk about anxiety when you're anxious?" And then an hour and a half later you're like, "Oh, here's the anxiety. That makes sense."

Sarah: Kind of sprung on us like, hello.

Jack: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Sarah: Right. Have we shared enough, do we feel? Yeah. Challenges then. I'm going to talk about some challenges that we can feel when we are in conferences. The first big one is imposter syndrome. That is a big, big thing that stops us from not just going to conferences, not just speaking, but stops us from doing a lot of things.

Jack: Everyday life sometimes. Yeah.

Sarah: It's just everyday life. The crazy thing about imposter syndrome is the very word itself, imposter, because imposter means that you've not been invited to something. If you've done a pitch for BrightonSEO and they've accepted you, you've been invited to talk. Coming to conferences like BrightonSEO, they need people to come. The very word in itself, imposter is crazy because we are not. An imposter would be a, I can never say this word, but a burglar in your garden. That's an imposter.

Someone told me this and since I thought about that, it changed my mindset of, well, it's silly, of course I'm not an imposter. Don't get me wrong, I still have those feelings of imposter syndrome, still get in my head, still worry because you always compare yourself, don't you? There's lots of wonderful people in the SEO industry doing lots of wonderful things. And I think you can end up comparing yourself, can't you? Like, oh, but I'm not doing that, but I'm not doing that, when you forget to look back on the things that you actually have done and stuff. So imposter syndrome is the biggest, biggest one.

Jack: Yeah, that's a huge thing for me. I know I've talked to my wife, my friends about this and just feeling like, especially when, like you said, you come to join the SEO community, you come here and meet all these amazing talented people. And you think, "Oh, they know their stuff, they really, really know their stuff. Do I know my stuff? Do I belong here? Do I feel like I'm enough to be here?" And like you said, you are already here. You've got a ticket and if you're speaking, even better. You've literally been invited to share your knowledge with the rest of the industry. That's a whole part of that. It's almost like the opposite side of the coin is having that affirmation and thinking, well, people are inviting me to this social event or networking thing or coming to a live podcast or speaking at an event. The fact that you were invited is that foot in the door. Like you said, you are now invited. You are no longer an imposter, right? Sarah: Yeah, yeah, yeah, 100%.

Tazmin: I was once suffering from imposter syndrome at a meeting with other people who were talking about how to help people overcome imposter syndrome.

Jack: That's very meta, Tazmin.

Tazmin: I was sitting there thinking, oh, she's been to Harvard and that woman's written an algorithm. Why am I here? And they didn't know me. They invited me because somebody had recommended me to be on it. And then I thought, hang on a sec, they invited me. I'm not an imposter. And going back to what I said earlier, if I just sit here in the meeting as me and say the things that Tazmin would say, then that's okay. And the worst thing is they won't ask me to come on another meeting, but that's okay because I got to meet somebody who wrote an algorithm. That's weird. Weird experience.

Sarah: Any other challenges that we can think about?

Tazmin: Apart from getting on chairs and stages?

Jack: It's something I touched on earlier, the transition from us all working from home and working so digitally and now coming in person and actually, do I shake your hand? Do I give you a hug? How does this work? What's the etiquette now? That whole transition from living in your own little bubble to then now opening up your bubble to the rest of the community and meeting new people and all that kind of stuff, I think that's super overwhelming. That transition has been such a shock to the entire world and nobody really talks about it. We're all just like, oh yeah, work from home. From a business perspective, should it be this? Should it be that? The CEO of this company says working from home is wrong, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, but how is it affecting people's mental health, the actual people that are doing the work for that company? Do they want to work from home?

Me personally, I tend to work mostly in the office because I find that environment is more productive for me. I know a couple of other people at Candour work exclusively from home. I don't care either way. As long as you are happy, it doesn't matter to me. But I think that transition and being forced into that transition, some companies are suddenly, you have to come back to the office now against your will is a terrible idea. But coming to an event like this, coming to BrightonSEO, any other conference can be really overwhelming. Just acknowledging that and being aware of that I think is so important for the world, basically. The fact that the world is now open and we are traveling and all this kind of stuff is just a big shock to the system after three years of basically nothing.

Sarah: 100%. Because social interactions in person is very different when you're on a screen. So you do get in your head. How do you say hello to someone?

Jack: I met a guy yesterday and I tried to shake his hand. He went for a fist bump. And then we both swapped and we were playing rock, paper, scissors with each other. And one of us had to say out loud, "Fist bump?" Fist bump, yeah, fist bump.

Sarah: Important question, who won rock, paper, scissors?

Jack: I went in with the handshake, he went in with the fist bump. So technically my paper beat his rock.

Sarah: Ah, there you go.

Jack: But we settled on rock. So yeah, depending on how you take it.

Sarah: Another thing, and you talk about this a lot, is your energy. So energy draining.

Tazmin: You know when you've walked into a room and no one is saying anything, but it feels calm? And other times you walk into a room, again, no one is saying anything, but it does not feel calm?

Jack: There's that tension in the air.

Tazmin: What's the difference? It's what they're thinking because what they're thinking will affect their energy and their energy will affect you. When you come to these conferences, there will be some people who thrive with that energy and some people who don't. Neither of them is good or bad. It is who you are. So being really conscious of what you are and allowing yourself to have that time away. Another thing for me is noise. I live in Milton Keynes, which if you don't know where it is, it's not London, it's very quiet. Live near a lake, just two of us in the house. So it is a very quiet environment. Today when I was traveling, I got to London and for a bit I thought, oh, London, people and restaurants. Not that there aren't restaurants in Milton Keynes.

Jack: You're not allowed restaurants in Milton Keynes. They're banned.

Tazmin: It felt exciting for a bit. And then after little while, I was thinking, oh man, I want to be back by my lake again. So the noise, I don't know if it impacts anybody else in this room, it's just too noisy.

Jack: Show of hands across the room there, pretty much.

Sarah: Thank you. Right. Anything else that we can think about challenges? I think we've covered the main ones.

Tazmin: Are there any challenges anybody else faces?

Audience member 1: So A, this is fantastic. Thank you for it.

Jack: Thank you.

Sarah: Thank you.

Audience member 1: B, one thing, I know and others…

Alex: Check, check, check, check.

Jack: We might be bringing in a mic for you, Navah.

Sarah: Hold on, hold on. Stay tuned. No, we're so proud.

Jack: Thank you, Alex. Hold the Cube. Talk into the Cube.

Audience member 1: Oh my God, I love you so much. Ah, it's the Cube. I haven't gotten to play with one of these since Google. Anyway, how do you advise in conferences, not on the groups of people, but when a single person or maybe two people cause extreme anxiety and you know that you're going to be close by? I run into it, I have friends that deal with it and we all deal with it in a certain way. And there's professionalism, but I'm curious how you guys deal with those single points of stress as opposed to just the collective group.

Sarah: That's a great question. I feel like Tazmin...

Tazmin: One, you've already recognized it, that you know you're going to meet that person or those people at that event. Is that what you're saying? So that's great because you've got time to prepare. You know that that's going to happen. And the things that are going to impact you the most are what you say and the narrative in your head. So your thoughts and your words. When you are building that situation to be bigger than it is, that's going to be working against you. Make it as small as possible. Make you the bigger person, make you the powerful person, and go into those environments almost putting a suit of armor on or a waterproof jacket on, thinking, "Okay, I'm going in. I'm thinking the strong thoughts, I'm saying the strong words." Because when we say affirmation, some people are very dismissive of that term. You're affirming things about yourself all the time. So they might as well be words that are going to affirm you as a stronger individual. And whatever those words are to you, whatever you're thinking, craft opposite words for yourself saying, "Oh, they're so clever, or they're so mean," or whatever it is. But turn it around so that you're building a stronger narrative for yourself. Do you have anyone in your family or close to you that is a small child that you're very fond of?

Jack: Don't forget the Cube.

Audience member 1: I have adopted dogs. I have one little 30 pound dog that runs around with my two 60 pound dogs.

Tazmin: Okay, I'm going to ask you-

Audience member 1: I think I get it. Convert the person into the little dog.

Tazmin: That's not where it was going, but if that works for you, go for it.

Sarah: Let us know how it goes.

Jack: That works. Yeah, works for me.

Tazmin: I don't have any dogs. I've never had a dog, so I'm out on my depth right now. So let's try a different strategy. Think of somebody you really love. And they are facing-

Jack: It can be a dog.

Tazmin: It could be a dog. I don't know how you talk to dogs. Do you talk to them?

Jack: Most people who have dogs talk to dogs, trust me.

Sarah: Just like they're human.

Jack: A too much human.

Tazmin: But if they were facing that situation, what would you advise them to do?

Jack: I think that's a really key point, not following your own advice. Think about what you would say to someone else in that situation, and then why aren't you doing that yourself? Even giving people space, giving people respect and things like that, do that to yourself. If you would give good advice to someone else and then like, oh, that doesn't apply to me. Why shouldn't it apply to you?

Tazmin: Just be kinder to yourself, I suppose.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely.

Tazmin: There are certain people in my life that I have a difficult situation with and I think, right, I need to pick up the phone and I'm going to be ringing them. It is not going to be an easy conversation. These are the five things I'm going to talk about because they are common between the two of us. I write them down on a piece of paper and I say, right, topic one, topic two, topic three, topic four, topic five. And then I doodle and I doodle and I doodle and I doodle because I know these are the ways that I can cope. You've got to be kind to yourself, build yourself up, thrash them down, go in with a suit of armor and your weapons. What are your five things that you're going to be able to talk about? And you know what, there are some people that are not very nice. I'm sorry. I'm apologizing for them. I don't even know who they are. I don't know why I'm apologizing.

Sarah: For me to help you here.

Tazmin: But you know what, it's a real thing that sometimes we have to work with people that we are not very fond of, deal with people that we are not very fond of. But you go in that situation knowing that you're doing your best.

Sarah: Thank you very much for that. Just a note that we do have time at the end for loads more question. We've got a Q&A section.

Tazmin: Absolutely. I got got carried away.

Jack: Backing the Cube around.

Sarah: Yes, Tazmin is all about the audience interaction. We've got a cool box that you throw and you're talk into it where it's like-

Jack: Thank you, Silicon Brighton.

Sarah: Technology. So Tazmin, talk to us about the stress container.

Tazmin: So again, show of hands, how many people are aware of what the stress container is? One, two.

Sarah: Oh, we did have a hand at the back.

Tazmin: We had two hands.

Jack: Couple hands, couple of hands.

Tazmin: It's a concept that I believe Mental Health England have spoken a lot about. And what they're saying is imagine a container. That container conceptualizes how much stress you are able to take. There'll be times when that container is larger and sometimes when it's smaller. If you are going through a particularly difficult time, bereavement, house moving, think of stressful times, that container will be smaller. And if nothing terrible is happening in your life and life is dandy, that container is bigger. So the amount of stress you'll be able to take is increased. There's a container and into it goes all of the things, all of the niggles, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. And the container is getting fuller and fuller and fuller and fuller and fuller. If you don't do anything about it, there will be a point where it overflows and that's when you lose it. You may get angry, you may reach for a drink, you may reach for a cigarette, you may do whatever it is that you do when you've snapped. In that container, there is also a tap and that's how you release the stress. If you think of things that will make you feel calmer, going for a walk. Now there'll be good ways of relieving that stress and not so good ways of relieving that stress. So going for a walk is a good thing. Having a conversation with a friend is a good thing. Reading is a good thing.

Jack: Talking to your dogs.

Tazmin: Yes. Talking to your dogs is a good thing. Actually, you know what? I'm having a bit of a situation, a dog nearly bit my leg yesterday. So that would not-

Jack: Don't talk to that dog.

Tazmin: Don't talk to him. And he didn't even hang around for me to have a word with him. So the ideal is you go throughout your day checking in with yourself, how stressed am I feeling right now? And you can tell. People will say, "I'm stressed today." And if you feel that you know what, I need to do something about it, go off and do that thing, whatever it is, meditating, yoga, whatever. Because then you're going to be in a really great situation where you know how to check in with yourself. Self- awareness is huge, hugely important. You recognize when you're getting to the point of I need to do something about it. And you also are aware of the things that will help you relieve that stress, the good ways of relieving that stress. One of the things I get my clients to do is to write a list of these are the things that I can do in five minutes, in 10 minutes, in 15 minutes. Say you're beginning to feel a bit anxious, okay, I'm going to go off to my board. I've got five minutes. It's a bit like a menu, like starters, like bites, main courses. So depending on how much time you have, you go and pick that thing.

Sarah: Just a question on that. Obviously there might be things that we pick that we think de-stress us, but actually cause more stress. I suppose my question is, is there anything on this menu that we should stay away from? For example, scrolling through, my thing is Instagram. Is there things that we need to be wary of in that sense?

Jack: Spending three hours on TikTok.

Sarah: How do you know what strategies or things are good for you?

Tazmin: I too scroll and I know that, okay, I've done this a bit and that felt nice and I've learned a new recipe and this is what's happening in Bollywood. But you know when it's become a point of now this is not energizing me, this is de-energizing me. You know. If you pay attention to yourself enough, you know.

Jack: I think it's all about that awareness and understanding and not being afraid to take that moment to step away. I'm very introverted, and so I need time to go and sit by myself and whatever, play games on my phone or whatever it is and have that moment. And as you were saying there, Tazmin, you need to have that awareness of like, oh, this is the tipping point. If I don't do it now I'm going to be stressed out for the rest of the day. I'm going to be exhausted. And just catching yourself just before a major event happens. Say, oh, I'm just about to go on stage, maybe do a little top-up just before then, or you know you're about to go to the conference or there's the next big talk or whatever it is. Having that check-in with yourself just before that big event has always helped me. Before this, I was looking on my phone, what's happening with my wife, just chilling and stuff. But I didn't look at TikTok, I didn't scroll on Instagram, I didn't do any of that stuff because then I find myself getting lost in that kind of stuff and you end up spending too much time. I'm sure we all do, phones in the bed and all that kind of stuff. Trying to get out of those habits and just go and sit down quietly, have a conversation with one other person or read a book or something. I know I'm not going anti-technology at all, but knowing what calms you down and having that self-awareness is so key to even just little top ups and little moments that I think keep you going throughout the rest of the day.

Sarah: Yeah, 100%.

Tazmin: One thing I want to add is if you're coming to a conference as a group, be aware that just because one of you is managing to calm yourself down by using method A for example, doesn't mean that the other people are in the same boat. Everyone is going to be different. This equates more in a family situation because you're going to collectively go through an experience. For example, using bereavement, this is when the penny dropped from me, we lost somebody really close to us. Everyone was feeling quite stressed because there was a stressful situation. My method was to go off and be on my own. Everybody else's method in the family was to spend more time with each other. So allow yourself to be different.

Jack: I think have those conversations as well. Understand, especially if it's colleagues or friends or family, whatever, knowing that, oh, when Jack gets stressed he needs to go off and have five minutes by himself. Same with you, Tazmin, understanding, oh, you guys need your time to be with each other and balance those out and understand who is benefiting from what thing makes a big difference.

Sarah: We've covered our stress container and being self-aware and having strategies in that place. Let's talk about other strategies that we can do. So those of you that follow Jack on social media, did you do a little wave there?

Jack: I did. Wave to the camera.

Sarah: You shared a great tip. So for those who didn't see you on social.

Jack: Yeah. All about planning basically. And this has been a big thing for me. Whenever I travel, no matter whether I'm going to conferences or whatever, having a list of things I want to do, people I want to see, things I'm packing and just planning it out, having a look at the schedule beforehand, having an idea of, oh, I have four hour gap here. What can I do in that time? Should I just use that time as relaxation time? Literally planning those moments we were just talking about. I know I need to be here for two o'clock, so I need to have half an hour to myself beforehand to just relax.

Plan out as much as you can, but don't feel too pressured to stick to the plan. Have some flexibility, have some room to just, like I said, if you need five minutes, it doesn't matter if you take that extra five minutes. But for me, lists and planning are so key for my everyday life at work as well. To-do list, my desk is just covered in a to-do list on that screen, A to-do list on my phone, a to-do list on my notebook in front of me, whether that's prioritizing work stuff or planning what I'm going to pick up at the shops on the way home, all that kind of stuff. Planning for me helps that initial reduction of stress and anxiety because I know what I'm going into. I think the anxiety of not knowing what you're going into can be a huge factor in really exacerbating it and making it so much worse and just knowing, oh, I need to be here. I'm going to do this. I know I'm going to be on stage and talk with Sarah and Tazmin. Then okay, I'm aware of that. You have that time to be aware of it and process it. If you don't know it's coming, you can't use some of the self-awareness techniques we were just talking about.

So planning, scheduling, all that kind of stuff is key for me. And if you're not already doing it, I'm sure some of you are, I highly recommend it basically.

Sarah: Wonderful. I think this smoothly links into one of the tips that I shared was, while you're planning and visualizing how your days are going to plan out, remember that you can say no. You don't have to say yes to everything. When I first came to my first BrightonSEO, I got so, so overwhelmed because I was just a yes person. I thought I had to say yes to everything, every social, everything that was going on, every talk. And I got to the point where it was just too much. It was too overwhelming just because I said yes to too much stuff.

I think it's hard because when we look on socials, we see the people getting involved in stuff. What we don't see is the people that go back to the hotel and have quiet time, have a nice little cuppa. Do you know what I mean? But people are doing it and you can say no. I'm a big yes person, I'm a big people pleaser and that's something that I need to work on. I sometimes say yes to things at the detriment to myself. So obviously couple that with a conference, it's going to be a recipe for disaster. I just always remind myself that no exists. There's not just yes in the dictionary.

Jack: Definitely. Yeah.

Sarah: And people aren't going to fall out with you. No one's going to have any beef with you. Just say no. I think that also leads into self-awareness and dealing with your stress container and knowing what you need to do for yourself. You might just want to come along to the daytime talks and then spend the evenings just yourself. And that's absolutely okay. Do you know what I mean? Or don't stress yourself about thinking you need to go to all the talks that are happening. Cherry pick. I remember going to my first conference where I had loads and loads and loads, reels of things that I was going to implement. Of course I didn't implement them because there was too much on my to-do list. Do you know what I mean? So cherry pick the things that you go to as well.

Jack: Especially in the multi-track session like we have at BrightonSEO as well.

Sarah: Yeah. And take advantage. It doesn't all have to be like... because I do think that sometimes there's this party boozy element to BrightonSEO. Do you know what I mean?

Jack: There definitely is, yes.

Sarah: But that doesn't suit everyone. But there's lots of stuff around that. I think there's yoga sessions, there's a beach cleanup. You're doing a mindfulness thing. There's lots of stuff around that's not just party, have some drinks. If that's not your vibe, don't feel like you have to do it. Just say no.

Tazmin: And going on from the people pleasing, when you say yes to somebody, you're probably saying no to yourself and you too are a person. So it's really important that when you're saying yes, you are saying no to somebody. My tip is something I teach in my classes and it is an acronym called BRAVE. If we think about what's happening in the brain when we are feeling anxious, anxiety is a natural human response to fear, to panic, something that's going to harm you. But the body doesn't know whether you're scared of a snake in the corner or a conference. It's got no way of understanding that. All it knows is that you're beginning to panic. Very, very simplistically the body part of the brain and the emotional part of the brain is in red alert because those are the two things that the body knows will help you in a disaster, in a situation. The bit that loses the energy is the thinking part. When you have this phrase of, I can't even think straight, you literally can't because that's been zapped of energy.

So what BRAVE does, it helps you calm down your body and calm down your emotions. The B is breathing. Now, I'm not some big breathing expert. For me it is very, very simple. As long as I breathe in through my nose and breathe out through my mouth, but the exhale will be longer, that works for me and that worked for me on the train today. So breathe in, which is what would I usually do is breathe in for four, hold for four, out for six.

And again, this is probably not a very technical way of putting it, but when you breathe in, your belly does the opposite. Your belly goes out. And when your breathing out, your belly goes in. And what this does, it calms down the body. The R is reframe. Now we want to start calming down our emotions. What are you anxious about? For example, conferences, which is what we're talking about today. What is a conference? It is a collection of people that somebody has organized. You're actually not the imposter, here. You've got celebratory syndrome, you're part of what's making this a success. If you didn't turn up and the speakers didn't turn up, what would a conference be? So start reframing that situation. So you're making it as small as possible.

It could be a presentation you have to give at work. What are you doing? You're getting up in front of people that you work with in an organization where you've all got the same mission and you're showing your work. Make the situation as small as possible and stand tall in your moment. The A in BRAVE stands for affirm. Use statements that are going to make you feel more powerful and the situation smaller. So you're continuing it. The R is more your thinking, the A is more the words that you're using. And V is the visualization. We are creating stories in our heads all the time. Going to go to that conference, there's going to be so many people there. I'm going to be panicking. I won't know anyone. You're creating that narrative in your head.

Instead, visualize yourself waking up in the morning of the conference. Everything is fine. Your case is packed, you get the train, it's on time. Even if it's not on time, there's another train. Nobody's going to get hurt here. You get to your hotel, you check in. Start creating the best case scenario in your mind before you even get there. If you're a speaker, I'm going to walk on stage. I'm going to be able to remember everything I want to say. Even if I don't remember everything I want to say, I've got the message across. People are smiling at me, people are engaged. We end. People come and say, "That was great." What use is it to create an image that is the worst case scenario when you haven't even lived it? Why would you do that to yourself? If you're going to make believe, which is what we are doing, then make believe the good stuff.

And the E is energy. So you've worked on your breathing, it's calmed your body down. You've worked on your emotions and calmed those down. Now you want to step into the energy of, okay, now I'm going to go on stage. What energy do I require? Some people want to do star jumps, go for it. I'm not a star jumps kind of girl. For me, even before, I always need a few minutes. I breeze into things and say, "Oh no, it's going to be fine. I'm fine." They were saying, "Are you nervous?" "No, I'm fine." And I usually am until five minutes before and I know that, and I need to go away on my own, visualize what I'm going to do, how I'm going to say things. And then I come back. And for me, that's my energy, zapping up process. So BRAVE that's my tip.

Sarah: That's an awesome tip. I did think as well, there was that famous Ted talk about the power stance, wasn't there? That's meant to work.

Tazmin: Yeah.

Sarah: I would do a demonstration, but... I'm going to do a demonstration.

Tazmin: Go on then.

Jack: Come on, Sarah.

Sarah: So I reckon the power stance is something like this.

Tazmin: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah: And obviously, I just made a fool out myself in front of a load of people.

Tazmin: No, you did it.

Jack: You looked powerful.

Tazmin: Powerful.

Sarah: But things like that. So there's those strategies, and I suppose it's finding the one. If you're a Tazmin, that you need some time on yourself. If you are a Jack where you need to plan, schedule, and put things together in a nice list. If it's a power stance, there's loads of strategies out there and you just need to find the one that works for you. Petting a dog. Sorry, Tazmin, but I saw a dog in my visual. And also on the breathing, I did learn something scientific, and I'm probably going to get this wrong. You touched on it. When you want to calm yourself down, the exhale is much more important than the inhale. And that's because the inhale that is connected to your sympathetic nervous system, which links to your fight or flight. Whereas the exhale that is linked to your parasympathetic. Sod's law that I've probably got them the wrong way around, but we'll go with it. That's linked to being calm and tranquil. So whenever you're breathing, because we feel it, don't we? We hyperventilate, we breathe and breathe more and it just makes things worse. So always try and get that exhale for longer than you do on the inhale. There you go. Some science, you learnt some science. Any more strategies? Because it's about time to open the floor to questions, but is there anything?

Tazmin: I have one. Sometimes you just got to blitz it. Whatever it is that's scaring you, just got to blitz it. Years ago, my first management position I was really excited, was being promoted, had a team, everything was great until it came to the day where I had to present the KPIs in front of the organization. And my manager, one of the nicest women in the whole world, Steph said to me, "Do you want me to do it?" And I said, "Yeah, could you do it, Steph?" So she did it. But I found I couldn't look at Steph in the eye all day because she had done something I was supposed to do, that's my job. And I felt like I disappointed her. Next month came, "Do you want me to do it?" "Yes, Steph, could you do it?" And then I thought, this is ridiculous. We're just going to have to deal with this somehow. I'm not quite sure what possessed me, but I signed up for a standup comedy class in Camden. Not that I wanted to be a standup comedian at all, but I thought if I can do that, then I can talk about data for five minutes in front of the organization. And it worked. I must say though, that my data presentations were the funniest part of the whole KPIs because I'd learnt a thing or two. So sometimes it's a bit like that plaster, you've just got to rip it off. If you want to do something, don't overthink it. Just if you want to speak, sign up. Whatever it is you want to do because overthinking won't help. Doing, it's always about the doing. We can read the book, go to the talk, take the course, but until you act, you haven't progressed.

Sarah: And also, practice makes perfect, right? The first time you do something, you're not going to be great. It's your first time. I listen back to the very first podcast that I did four years ago and I compare it to now. You've got to be prepared that the first time you are doing something isn't probably going to go ideally how you see it in your head. But that's okay because each time you get up and you do something and you enjoy it, you get better. You get a few more laughs, you get a few more... Practice makes perfect. Also, what you've got to remember, and I think you touched on this, is if you are doing a talk, you are doing your presentation, only you know what you forgot to say. No one else in the audience knows, do they? And someone told me this and I was like, that's so true. So just those two nuggets.

Jack: Did we skip a part of the podcast notes? You guys have no idea. Who knows? Only we know.

Sarah: I don't want to look at my notes because they're the-

Jack: Maybe we did.

Sarah: So people don't know, do they? Only you know, so just go with it and have fun.

Jack: Right. Should we open up the Q&A?

Sarah: Yes. The box is ready.

Jack: Got the Cube, are the ready.

Sarah: Put your hands up if you have a question. Not quite brave enough to throw it.

Jack: It does say CatchBox, if you’re brave enough to just throw it out.

Audience member 2: How exciting. This is not necessarily a question and more something that I just wanted to bring up just because when you mentioned the BRAVE thing, it just made me think that... Hello. Thanks Alex. It's not me, I promise. Because the visualisation is really important for me personally. And I've been dealing with anxiety for many years, and I have only just recently got into the habit of, at the end of every single day I make a note of three things I did well. I used to think that kind of stuff was rubbish. But it's really been helping my confidence. I'll just say one thing, I'm talking in front of people in a room and on a live stream, which I wouldn't ordinarily feel comfortable doing. So it's working and it helps with the imposter syndrome. And so I just really wanted to share that as a tip for people because I know other people might be able to benefit from that.

Sarah: 100%.

Audience member 2: Not really a question, I just wanted to share a tip.

Sarah: How do you keep up the momentum, I suppose? Because we all have these strategies of we need to do that. But I bet there's been days where you're like, oh, I'm not going to do it. But how... Yeah.

Audience member 2: There's been a couple of days where I've missed it and stuff, but I've tried to incorporate it into my working day. So whenever I'm logging hours and what I've been doing for the day, I tend to just also chuck in a few extra things. These can be really minor. Even things like didn't freak out over something I would usually freak out about. Small little things as well. Because as I've noticed the past few months of seeing it all, it's just been like, oh yeah, I've been doing this. It's actually seen that progress because I think going back to the whole visualization thing, you are more likely to remember and think about and focus on all of the negative things that you do. So seeing all the positive things that you do is actually really beneficial and it's almost like retraining your brain.

Jack: Yeah, I know a few of my friends have a folder of stuff that they save.

Audience member 2: I have that.

Jack: Yeah, exactly.

Audience member 2: “Yay!” folder.

Jack: There you go. Exactly. The positivity folder, the yay folder, the friendship folder, the box of love, whatever you want to call it. Whether it's literally writing it down on a notebook or a folder on your computer or a note, screenshots on your phone whenever it is, keep track of that. So when you are feeling like “Oh, I don't belong here” or whatever, you know that actually someone I really like, someone I really respect, a friend, a colleague, whoever it is told me I was great. And this is a evidence literal, going back to science and stuff there, Sarah, having-

Sarah: More science.

Jack: ... actual data and evidence be like, you do actually know what you're doing in your job. You do belong here, all that kind of stuff.

Sarah: Because we are humans, we make mistakes as well, don't we? So things are going to go wrong, mistakes are going to happen. On those days, you are going to feel really rubbishy, aren't you? That folder, that box, did you call it the love box?

Jack: Box of love.

Sarah: Sounds a bit weird. Oh yeah. Love box is complete-

Jack: Let's keep this safe for work, Sarah, thank you very much.

Audience member 2: Is this the love box?

Jack: That's the love box right there. We've got a love box.

Sarah: But yeah, your tip about doing all the things that you've achieved or Yeah, it's just that reminder that you know what, I am, I'm good. All these people have said it.

Jack: That really ties into a lot of professional development stuff. Whenever I have an appraisal with the line manager, whatever it is, like, "So what have you been up to?" I don't know. Work. I've been working.

Sarah: Doing the SEO thing.

Jack: Yeah, I get the SEO job done, I guess. Some podcasting bits and pieces. No, actually write stuff down like, yeah, this went really well or this project was completed and the client's really happy, or whatever it is. Actually writing that stuff down and having evidence to go to, oh, I want a promotion. And actually having that stuff written down can make a huge, huge difference. Instead of, did I do that thing on time? I can't remember. I think I did. Yeah. I know actually having confirmation from colleagues, from friends, from clients, whatever it is, makes a huge, huge difference from that kind of stuff as well.

Sarah: Lovely. Thank you very much. Oh, we've got... Look, you can chuck it. Just next.

Audience member 3: I'm sure you want to steal it, right?

Jack: Right.

Audience member 3: Thank you. I was just thinking about anxiety at-

Jack: Into the Cube, please, Floor.

Audience member 3: ... and feeling like you don't belong at a conference. And I feel we kind of discussed that imposter syndrome thing and I was just thinking, you don't need to know what you're doing to come to a conference. You're here to learn. So it's absolutely fine to look at everyone and go, "Wow, well, you all know yours shit. I know nothing." That's fine. You're allowed to know nothing, even if you absolutely don't know anything, it's fine to come to a conference to learn.

Jack: Definitely.

Sarah: And ask the silly questions, right? Because no question is silly. You're all learning and sometimes the really basic or the silly questions are the really important ones.

Jack: And then everyone around you will go, "Oh yeah, I thought of that as well."

Sarah: Or, "Thank God someone asked that question."

Jack: Thank God somebody said that. Yeah, exactly.

Sarah: Yeah. 100%. Awesome. Thank you for sharing. Oh, throw it over.

Jack: We're going to first throw the Cube.

Sarah: Do we need to do a health and safety thing with the box?

Jack: No.

Tazmin: It's a bit late now.

Sarah: Don't aim for the face. For the hands. There we go.

Jack: Our lawyers will be in touch.

Audience member 4: I'm continuing the theme of tips rather than asking.

Sarah: Sharing. Yes.

Jack: Please do. Please do.

Sarah: Sharing circle.

Audience member 4: One thing in particular right now for BrightonSEO, we have speakers in the room and we have moderators, but it goes the same for attendees or presenting at work or I don't know, doing something for someone's wedding, it doesn't really matter. But one thing that really helps me to keep in the back of my head, to go back to the rainbows and unicorns, is actually people are kind and they are not looking to see you fail. They want you to succeed. They've come to your talk or your presentation because you have something to say that they want to hear.

And for me, that really helps because suddenly then the room transforms into a room of nice faces that are like... And then I'll find the people who are nodding along and you can see the people who are like, "Oh yes. Oh, I didn't know that." So that's helped me in the past.

Sarah: Yeah, 100%. Thank you for sharing.

Jack: I know that's something people... You mentioned John Mueller earlier. Fantastic.

Sarah: John Mueller. Do you say Mueller? Muller? Mueller?

Jack: Mueller, if you want to be picky.

Sarah: He might be watching right now. Hello.

Jack: Hey, John. I know he specifically goes in because he's the face of Google to a lot of people. He's a very, very big famous person in SEO. And he will go and sit at the front of the talk for brand new speakers and nod and smile and give thumbs up and purposefully give encouragement. Credit to you, John, if you are listening or watching.

Sarah: Sure, he is.

Jack: Stuff like that, being an engaged listener, being an engaged audience member, you guys have been fantastic. Thank you, by the way. And having that visual confirmation in front of you as you're doing a talk, as you're doing a live podcast, whatever it is, that is such a big part of... I'm very conscious of that and I have the resting B face, the male equivalent of that. I just do sit there staring blankly.

Sarah: Never seen the resting B face.

Jack: Thank you.

Sarah: I think we've already sworn.

Jack: Yeah. We've broken that rule already. But being smiley and engaged as an audience makes a huge difference for the people. And exactly as you're saying there, we all want everyone else to succeed. It is a nice community at the end of the day. SEO is a very welcoming community for the most part, and we all want to help each other succeed, we all want to learn from each other. So it ends up being a room of positivity rather than, "Oh God, they're all against me. They all want to see me fail and trip up as I go on stage or whatever."

Sarah: 100%. Yes?

Audience member 1:

I'm going to do both because I know what it's like when everyone's just doing tips. So it's a tip and a question. The tip is one thing that was very helpful for me because I tend to be very apologetic, overly so. I forget who said it to me, but to change every I'm sorry into a thank you. So instead of, I'm sorry for bothering you, thank you for making the time. I'm sorry for blah, blah, blah, thank you for blah, blah, blah. Jack: I know you can't see this but everyone nodded behind you. The thing everyone, "mm."

Audience member 1: And the reason why it was so helpful is that it has been to your point, and then it really resonated with me, the idea of when you say yes to someone, you're saying no to someone else and that usually is you. When you are saying, I'm sorry, you are saying no to your worth every time that you are not worthy. And every single person is worthy, every single one of us is worthy of love and admiration and whatnot. So that is my tip. But my question regarding conferences, and this is something I am very mindful of as both a speaker and an attendee, is I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to get value out of sessions. And when sessions are not of worth, people are worthy, sessions it's possible. How do you reconcile that mental, oh, did I just waste my time? Because it's sometimes very easy to get on a negative train and it's not fair because someone did just put a whole bunch of effort into it. But there's some conferences where a lot of emphasis is more on doing business. There's networking, there's some where it really is the learning. And so I'm really curious how or what are some tricks to pivot that thinking when you feel like you did not go to a good session or you didn't learn something or the networking was weird. How do you pivot it?

Sarah: Oh, that is such a good question. Tazmin, you were straight there.

Tazmin: So you're in a session, you've listened to a talk, you didn't enjoy it, you didn't learn anything, and you feel like you've wasted your time. Okay, so now what are you going to do? You could either waste even more time thinking about that because you can't change it. Can you change the situation? No. Can you change how you spend the next moment? Yes. The ROI of your time in that 30 minutes you have decided you didn't get a return on your investment, how are you going to make sure that the next five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, however long you're going to stew over that, how are you going to get your return on investment on that? It's up to you.

Audience member 1: So that for conferences, but also for networking. So it's really just, okay, I'm cutting my losses and I move on?

Tazmin: Yeah, I would. And it is completely up to you. If you say to yourself, I'm at this networking meeting, I don't really want to be here. I don't want to network, however my manager wants me here, okay, fine, that's your return on your investment. It's improved your relationship with your manager or they're happy, whatever. You have to decide, you get to choose. You have to then take the consequence of that choice, but you get to choose.

Sarah: You could also find something positive to say as well. When you're watching a talk and you feel like you've not learned something new, it could affirm something that you already knew. That could be the positive that came out of it. Or I don't know, like going to a networking event whilst you didn't get what you thought you did, you still got out your house, you still did something that you got out your comfort zone. So I think if you try and spin it and find something that you can positively say, then that could be another way of dealing with it as well.

Tazmin: You're putting me to shame. So much positivity.

Sarah: Good cop, bad cop. It's all good.

Jack: Why the SEO Mindset podcast works so well. This duo right here.

Sarah: Yes, go ahead.

Audience member 5: Finally, a pure question.

Jack: Thank you.

Sarah: Please do share a tip first. That's what everyone else is doing.

Audience member 5: What do you do in regards to things like BRAVE or in any other situation or of any other piece of advice if you can't identify the source of your anxiety?

Sarah: I think I just heard, ooh, in the audience as well.

Jack: Unanimous, "Ooh."

Sarah: Ooh, that is a good question. Who wants to take this one?

Jack: Go on, Sarah.

Tazmin: You want to do it?

Sarah: I'd said that so someone else would take the question.

Jack: I know, and I pinged it back on you.

Tazmin: It is a very deep and good question. I will have a stab. The more self-aware you become, the easier that becomes. Now I say self-awareness is tough because you've really got to get under the bonnet of who you are. I remember I was walking with my husband, his bike had a puncture, we were going to get it punctured. And he said something that triggered me and I didn't know why. And I'm crying in the street, not something I do often. And I remember saying to him, "You've really hurt my feelings, but I don't know why, but I'll figure it out and I will get back to you."

And on this journey, we were going to his sister's. So we got to his sisters'. While I'm there, I'm thinking, okay, what did he say? What triggered me? What happened? What happened? What happened? And then on the journey back, I could say, "When you said this, it touched on this, it triggered this. This is why I felt what I did, and this is how we get out of it." It has taken me years to get to that point. What started my journey of self-awareness was journaling. Every evening I would sit and say, okay, this happened, that happened, that happened. I got triggered here. I felt this here. And it's analyzing. If you take the emotion out of it, if you have a business problem or work problem, and they say, "Oh, this is happening, but we don't know why," what would you do? You would have some tests, for example. Maybe you would have a test scenario that if I do this, what happens? If I do this, what happens? You would observe, you would look at previous situations.

So it is really getting to know yourself. I call it getting to understand your own algorithm. In SEO, we spend so much time looking at other algorithms. Oh no, Google's got new updates. What's happened? Let's test it. If I put in this data, this happens. What about you? What happened today? What's happening to you now? Are you enjoying the podcast? Are you not? Which bit of information really resonated with you, which didn't? The more you can start noticing yourself, being conscious of yourself, documenting what you're doing, I'm not saying that this will miraculously give you your answer, but you will start getting closer to what that answer is. I think journaling is really big. You get to a point where it doesn't happen to me all day every day, but a lot of my day, I almost feel like I'm living it and I'm commentating, a bit like a sports commentary. Then this happened, and Tazmin felt this, and she didn't cope with this so well, and she coped better with that, because you're almost slowing down your life in order to be able to observe your life. That would be my tip. In order to understand where that anxiety is coming from, analyze your day each day.

Sarah: That is such a good answer. I had a light bulb moment, ping. But there's also the asking yourself why. So when you find yourself in the situation, check in with yourself and always ask why? Why am I feeling this way? Because I feel stressed. Why am I feeling stressed? So you carry on asking yourself why. And every time you ask why, you'll get deeper into the root cause as well. So in addition, I do know that there is something that you say about not asking why, isn't that a thing?

Tazmin: So in general, when you want to understand why the other person has done something-

Sarah: Oh, but it's okay for yourself.

Tazmin: Although somebody said this to me. Although why is the ultimate question, you rarely get the answer by asking the question why?

Sarah: Yes.

Tazmin: That's pretty cool, isn't it?

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.

Tazmin: Somebody on the train told me that. It's bizarre.

Jack: Train advice with Tazmin Suleman.

Tazmin: Train advice.

Sarah: There's your next podcast.

Tazmin: So in those situations, asking more open questions, less, what's the word? Closed. And, oh, I can't think of the word right now, but asking more... You don't want them to feel defensive. The minute you ask, why did you do that, you get defensive. What happened there? How did that work out in that situation? But for yourself, and it'll be your own personal journey, you find your own way. But the more you observe your behavior in a kind way, this is something I talk a lot about, when you're going to go down this path of self-analysis, self-awareness, be really kind to yourself because it's so easy to be cruel and bash it, "Why did I do that?" Why did I say that? It's okay, you said it. Has that helped?

Sarah: Just a quick reminder that we still got cold beer and there's still a load of snacks and drinks. So go and help yourself at any point. We'll carry on with the question and answer. Straightaway. But we definitely know the beers are cold because they've been in there for what? An hour.

Jack: They're probably cold now. Yeah.

Sarah: They probably weren't cold at the start.

Jack: Finally!

Sarah: But yeah, help yourself. Feel free. Yes.

Audience member 3: Sorry, I was going to quickly add to that. Maybe asking why can be a difficult to find the answer, but if you just only look at what is happening, not why it makes you feel a certain way and note down, I didn't sleep, or there was a really stressful thing going on. Even if you just write down the things that were happening around that you think might not be relevant, but there might be a pattern. I think this has happened to a couple of friends of mine who kept having really strong reactions to seemingly random events. But when they started writing down what they were, they could go, oh, actually, the pattern here is that a certain topic or a certain thing really makes them immediately physically anxious.

Jack: I think there's a lot of value in understanding the little things where, oh, I forgot to have lunch. That's why I'm so stressed out. Oh, I didn't sleep very well. I haven't drunk water in eight hours. I haven't actually sat down and had a meal or slept well or anything like that. Being aware of that stuff. And as we were just saying, self-awareness is such a skill. Do you really need to train and develop? I think journaling is a brilliant start and a brilliant advice there, Tazmin. It's something I really struggle with that metacognition of how do I think about this? How is my brain processing this? Oh, it's because I haven't eaten. It's because I didn't do this thing. It's out of my usual routine or whatever it is. Keeping track of why am I feeling this way? And exactly as you were saying, Tazmin, if that's in a confrontational way, understanding from your perspective and from your inner self, why are you feeling this way? Not why did you do that to me? And directing it towards the other person. If you're getting into a fight at a conference or something like that. I think that that's a huge step in that self-awareness journey. And just even little things and being aware and pattern recognition is a huge, huge part of that, I think.

Sarah: 100%. Right. Ooh, time has flown by. Would you look at the time? Is there any other questions? We have got the space till half past nine, so we can carry on light mingling and talking.

Jack: We'll just drink beer and network from now on.

Sarah: Just drink beer and have a lovely time. Probably squeeze in one more if anyone's got a pressing one before we finish.

Jack: I think people want beer, Sarah!

Sarah: I think I've sold the beer.

Jack: It's cold, finally. They want to drink the beer.

Sarah: Well, thank you very, very much for joining us for this live podcast. I've had fun. Yeah. And you had fun?

Jack: Yes, I have fun. Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah: You've had fun?

Tazmin: Definitely.

Sarah: You've had fun. Yeah. We're getting some nods. I feel like I'm telling you, you've had fun.

Jack: You've all had fun.

Sarah: Some admin before we close. Again, thanks to all our supporters and sponsors. So obviously SISTRIX, we have Captivate doing the points there.

Jack: They're in the crowd, I promise.

Sarah: Projects, the wonderful venue, Silicon Brighton. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And also, this is being recorded, so it'll be available on the search With Candour podcast and the SEO Mindset podcast. So you know, pick which one you prefer.

Jack: And on Silicon Brighton's YouTube channel, on demand as well.

Sarah: Yes.

Jack: Didn't catch the live stream, if you weren't here in person, you can catch it on demand as well.

Sarah: So accessible. So, so accessible.

Jack: Exactly.

Sarah: So yes. Right. Let's just mingle now.

Jack: Yeah. Thanks so much everybody. Thank you for coming.