Turning Imposter Syndrome into a Strength

and Leading with Heart

Tricia Price, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Operations, GM Financial

Tricia Price Headshot

In this episode, Tricia Price, SVP of Customer Experience Operations for GM Financial discusses her experiences with imposter syndrome, being authentic, and thriving in a male-dominated industry. She highlights how hard work, continuous learning, and adopting a servant-leadership mindset have been key elements in her success. She reminds us that confidence is a skill that can be developed, oftentimes with the help of a mentor. Tricia also reveals her strategies for creating best-in-class customer service.


Brown: Welcome to the Menttium Matters podcast, where we talk about leadership, life, and the transformative power of mentoring. This is Solveig Brown, and today I am excited to be talking to Tricia Price about lots of interesting topics such as imposter syndrome, authenticity, her leadership style, how she has thrived in a male dominated industry, and her advice for creating best-in-class customer service.


Before we begin, I would like to give you some background information on Tricia. Tricia Price holds the role of Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Operations for GM Financial. In this role, Tricia is responsible for influencing strategic projects and initiatives to support a best-in-class customer experience with a focus on operationalizing digitization efforts to enhance operational efficiencies and effectiveness.


During her twenty plus year career in auto finance, Tricia has held progressive propositions within GM Financial consumer services, and corporate servicing areas. In 2021, Tricia was recognized by Auto Finance Journal and Cherokee Media as a top female leader in auto finance. Welcome, Tricia. I am so happy to have you as a guest.


Price: Thank you so much Solveig. I’m truly honored to be a part of today’s discussion.


Brown: Tricia, our business education webinar this month was on imposter syndrome. Have you had any experience with imposter syndrome either in your own career or with the people that you have led?


Price: Unfortunately, yes. I will say that imposter syndrome is near and dear to my heart as a topic of discussion.


I’ve absolutely experienced it myself and have also supported many others throughout their career who have faced the challenge. The studies show that imposter syndrome is surprisingly common, and there’s different data out there that says it’s anywhere from north of 30% to 85%, depending on which studies you believe. I think it’s especially common amongst successful executives and particularly successful women. A piece of that is the more successful and the higher up the ladder, especially for women, I think the lonelier it gets. Nearly half of executive women have in one study said that they have those feelings of self-doubt because they never expected to achieve the level of success that they have. That is something that I can personally identify with. I’ll sometimes chalk it up to luck or being in the right place at the right time, or there wasn’t anyone more qualified than me or who had better skills than myself.


And really, you’re not feeling that confident. It speaks a lot to that voice inside our heads, the one that causes us to self-doubt ourselves and to tell us that we’re not good enough. So yes, I unfortunately can think of far too many times in my career that it’s shown up and it most often happens around times when I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone.


If you look at my career journey, I’ve taken on a lot of startup operation roles in a kind of unchartered territory. I’ve also been blessed to have great leaders through my career journey that have championed me. In fact, they typically have believed in me more than I’ve believed in myself.


They’ll put me out there, recommend me for those opportunities, and of course I’ll say yes. Then immediately I feel like that imposter syndrome creeps in for me. And that’s like, oh my goodness, what have I done? What have I got myself into?


Brown: And then just talking yourself through that. But I love that reminder that when you move out of your comfort zone, that’s when it’s likely to rear its head. And I think just that awareness of, I’m not surprised that I’m feeling this way because I’m taking a big leap here. Or no other women have traversed this path like I’m doing. I like that you talked about the great support you’ve received from your leaders and mentors, and then also the support you give other people that are in your realm.


One thing I got from that webinar, after looking at the responses of the people in it, is how common it is. Because we don’t talk about it very often, people feel like they’re the only ones experiencing that. So, when someone sees someone who has reached such a great point in their career as you have, they’re like, she’s had it too.


I think it is nice to normalize it as just part of your personal growth and your journey and that it can show up at any time. Tricia, one of the things that struck me is that when we got together for our podcast planning meeting, you mentioned the importance of authenticity and I really liked what you were talking about.


Can you tell me more about the role that authenticity has played in your career?


Price: I really think what you just said about the whole transparency and suffering from imposter syndrome is a great example of that. I didn’t talk about it for many years in my career, and I don’t think anyone really talked about it.


It was just something that we held inside ourselves and felt like we were the only ones. And you know what? I think as we’ve endeavored to really bring DEI efforts to the forefront of all the decisions that we make, I recognize the power of storytelling. I was embarrassed of my personal story as well.


Neither of my parents graduated high school and I didn’t learn a lot of the things, the corporate buzzwords, and different things in the household at all, or leadership leading in that professional space. I figured it out as I went along. I was embarrassed to share that story and to share that my first leadership role was leading a McDonald’s restaurant. That career journey, and how much I took away from that, felt like people would judge me.


I was authentic and the power of storytelling really came to light for me, and that it’s good for people. There’s a lot of other people that have probably had similar journeys, and oftentimes I think people in that space can feel like I’ll never make it to that level of success because I haven’t got this great pathway paved for me. I think when you share your story as a voice of experience, it really helps others feel like I can do that too. And being real and who you are, I think helps build trust as well and shows that you’re human too and everybody has the opportunity if they choose the path.


Brown: Did you find that it impacted you, like personally and how you were able to show up in your role when you felt confident enough to tell your story and just to say, this is who I am, this is where I’ve come from, and just share that with people?


Price: Absolutely. I think a lot of what imposter syndrome is, it’s confidence, right? It’s that lack of confidence, and I think that it really helped me to build my confidence and people were welcoming and supportive of my story. Now I make it a practice with every new hire class on my team. I always go in and I share about myself personally and professionally, and I think it helps build that foundation of trust. I’m not the senior vice president. I am just another team member on the team and another human. We all have our challenges and our own stories to tell. I think it’s really helped me to feel more confident in who I am and what I bring to the table.


Brown: I love that idea of personalizing who you are as opposed to, I am this role because that could be intimidating for new hires. Instead of saying, here I am, I’m Tricia, this is my story. What’s your story? Empowering people to come to work as their full selves, which many people talk about. And I think having an example from top leadership in what that looks like is important. I just love that you talked about that.


Tricia, you’ve also been successful in a traditionally male dominated industry. You’ve been recognized as a top female leader in auto finance. Can you talk more about your leadership style?


Price: I think first and foremost, I have a passion for people, and I would consider myself a servant leader. What I mean by that is I think you really need to honor, and you need to serve others with humility.


You need to encourage diversity of thought, but just encouraging it isn’t enough. You need to make sure that those thoughts are heard that people all have a voice at the table. I think fostering a culture of trust is critical in developing leadership in others, and you can achieve that by empowering them and putting their development before any personal gain. Having an unselfish mindset, it’s a whole mindset of leaders eat last. We really need to put our team first, and genuinely care about others. If you don’t truly in your heart care about people, I don’t think you should be in leadership.


Brown: People can feel and can tell if you care or not. One of our longtime mentors always says this quote, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. You are echoing that same thought of that servant leader style of I am here, I am all in. I love building trust, building diversity of thought, diversity of voices, letting people be heard and giving them the environment where they feel comfortable speaking.


Why do you think you’ve been as successful as you’ve been in a male dominated industry, and do you have any tips for other people who are in industries where they feel like they’re not part of the majority?


Price: Definitely. I think we need to be comfortable in ourselves and we need to promote the diversity aspect of things, and I think that we’re seeing a better mix with every few years when I go to conferences and things like that. But I think you really must be comfortable with who you are and what you bring to the table.


A lot of times I think women can be discounted in their opinions a little bit; we’re too emotional or not assertive enough and those sorts of things. I think the balance of the female perspective in business can really bring something valuable and powerful as well. It goes back to companies who have better diversity within their teams and within their leaders who perform better. They have more innovative thought processes and can be much more successful. I would say find good mentors for the people who may be struggling with that. I think mentorship is critical to your success.


Brown: Have you had good mentors along the way that have helped you build your confidence and become the successful person that you are?


Price: Absolutely, I’ve been lucky. I’ve had some amazing mentors and some role models who work like mentors for me, but they didn’t know it. And that’s throughout my career. I think without that positive influence and that knowledge sharing and the encouragement along the way, I would never have achieved the level of success, professionally or personally for that matter, that I have. Like many women, especially in the workplace, the difference maker in having a mentor was it really helped me to build my confidence.


Brown: Right? I think that’s key. When you have confidence, you can do so much more. But I also love what you talked about, the importance of role models of other people doing the things that you aspire to do, and you think, I could do that too. I see that person doing that. So even just your presence in a typically male dominated industry, you inspire other people to think, that it’s possible to rise in this industry. That just creates its own momentum as you get greater numbers of people.


So, Tricia, I would be remiss in not asking you about customer service experiences because you are an expert in that area. What would your advice be to other people who would like to create best-in-class customer service like you have been able to do?


Price: Speaking on the topic of leadership is relevant in the customer experience space because I think if you don’t have great employee experience for the people who are serving your customers, then you’re not going to have a great customer experience.


It’s hard to be in a place where you feel passionate about wowing and delighting that customer, when you’re not feeling it inside yourself. You’re not feeling appreciated and empowered. It’s employee experience first, and that leads to better customer experience. From a customer experience perspective, there’s a lot of different opinions on what’s most important.


One thing that the pandemic has reinforced for us is customer effort and the ease of doing business. You look at companies like Amazon, that we all joked on Zoom calls that, oh, sorry, my dog is barking because Amazon is here again. And I think those are the companies that really demonstrated for us, here’s what the standard is. It is so easy to go online to order something, and sometimes in hours or less you can have it on your doorstep, and I think that ease of doing business is critical.


Trying to mitigate any friction points I think is important. I work in auto finance, and the traditional mindset would’ve been to say we’re an auto finance captive for General Motors so auto finance captives are our competition. But in today’s world, customers aren’t comparing us to auto finance captives. They’re comparing us to the best, the gold standard in the industry, whether it’s the Ritz Carlton, whether it’s the Amazon experience. I think that we need to recognize that is who we’re being compared to, and that is the level that we need to rise to.


COVID is the silver lining in it really accelerated digital first. Customers want us to meet them where they want to be served, how they want to be served, and when they want to be served. Embracing the different tools and technologies is to be able to service our customers that way. In also leveraging digital from a personalization perspective, we have access to a lot of data. Our customers expect us to know them, especially the younger generations. They expect us to know them and to know what their wants and needs are and provide that personalized experience as well.


That really is the expectation and leveraging AI and just really being able to deliver that personalized experience is critical. I think you must get your people excited about the brand as well. If they’re not connected with the purpose and the brand promise, then that passion is not going to shine through in their interactions.


Brown: That goes full circle to what you said at the beginning of you must have employees that are excited about the purpose and the brand and they’re having their own good experience. I’ve never heard customer experience explained in that way, where you start with the employee, and I love that because that’s true.


Being able to give to others when you’re feeling like you have a great experience working for that company, and I’m sure you just learned so much during the pandemic of just having to pivot from the way everything was done to the increased demands for digitalization and personalization and utilizing AI. So that’s a great reminder of finding where the friction is and figuring out how you can make it easier.


So, Tricia, we have time for three final questions. First one is, do you have any habits or practices that you feel have contributed to your success?


Price: Work ethic is something that I’ve never been accused of not having a strong work ethic. Going back to the topic of imposter syndrome, I think that when you feel you need to prove yourself a little bit more and you have perfectionist tendencies, the tendency is that you can get out of balance with work and life. I’ve learned that to get that work life, I’m going to say integration, because I don’t know if you ever really get work life balance, but I do have a good work ethic. I’ve never been afraid to do the work. I think having a learning or a growth mindset is important. Just having that natural curiosity and always wanting to learn and grow and understand and really listen to others in general with interest.


I mentioned my people passion. So, passion for helping others. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than seeing someone achieve something they didn’t think was possible. Always make time for what matters, which is my people. So, it doesn’t matter how busy my day is. If someone walks into my office, and asks, do you have a minute? I’ll drop whatever I’m doing because it’s important to be present in the moment. A lot of leaders will say, I struggle with time management. I always remind them, if you don’t have time, not enough time equals not important enough. You prioritize and make time for what’s really truly important. I think making time for your people is critical.


Brown: All right, Tricia. I can see why you have been as successful as you are with all those great things that you’re doing. I love that reminder that it’s about prioritization and figuring out what’s important and choosing the time for that.


Even your deep belief in the importance of hard work, but also the importance of putting people first, and that comes through in your servant leadership style and always learning and growing, but always taking that time to listen when someone comes into your office. That’s great. Thank you for sharing that.


What would your advice be to up and coming leaders?


Price: Goes back to mentors matter. Really encourage up and coming leaders to have a mentor, and typically your leader is not your mentor, although sometimes the lines get a little bit blurry. It’s great to have that extra advisor in your life that you can talk candidly to, and you can share what challenges you’re facing, get their advice, and learn from their experiences. I think it’s good for that not to be your boss in a lot of cases. But I think a mentor, again, can really help build your confidence.


The other thing that I’ve learned along the way is confidence can be learned. I think that’s important because the common misconception is that confidence is something that you’re either born with or you’re not. If you don’t have it at an early age, then you’re never going to have confidence. But the reality is, confidence is a skill, much like a technical skill and it can be learned through practice.


So that’s a skill you want to continue to sharpen, and I think you want to become the person that leaders want to champion. We talked about how it’s important to have a champion in your life and you can’t just go up to someone and say, can you be my champion? You must earn that, and you must give leaders a reason to want to champion you. Consider every day is a potential job interview. You need to do your very best every day if you want those opportunities down the road because people have long memories and it’s difficult to interview or even to lead someone who knows that maybe you didn’t walk that talk when you were in the roles.


I think setting the example, always doing the right thing even when no one’s looking, all the time, every day. And again, I think it’s back to doing the work. A lot of people don’t want to do the work. Never underestimate the importance of doing the work. You need to master your job. You need to work hard and show again that you’re the person that should be championed for that next opportunity.


Brown: That is great advice. I like your reminder too, that it goes back to the growth mindset. That confidence is a skill that can be developed and the importance of a good mentor in helping someone develop that confidence and learn that skill. That is just great advice for working hard and every day you’re interacting with people. You must always be fully present, and you never know down the road who that person will be or who they’ll know.


Tricia, final question. Do you have a favorite saying, quote, or motto?


Price: I do. I have to say I love the one that you shared earlier as well, that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. But I have one, on a similar note, that really stands out to me, and it’s a Maya Angelou quote. Interestingly, if you read about her, she’s someone who suffered from imposter syndrome like many successful people have. And her quote that I love is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. People will never forget how you made them feel”.


Brown: I love that quote.


That is a good note to leave on because it’s so true. I can see that you have taken that to heart in everything you do in your role. Like when you said people can come into your office and you will take the time to listen to them. Obviously, you make people feel like they matter, like they are valued, like they are important to you.


That speaks volumes to why you’ve been as successful as you’ve been and why you can drive strong customer experience because you provide that for your customers as well. Tricia, thank you so much for being my guest today. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your perspective on everything we’ve talked about. Thanks for sharing your servant leadership style and how that has helped you to be an authentic and successful leader. Thank you for sharing about imposter syndrome and how that is a real thing that can come up throughout someone’s career and that most people experience that at some time and just being more transparent.


But thanks for sharing your authentic journey. The stories that have made you who you are. And thank you all for listening to this Menttium Matters podcast. We look forward to having you back for our next episode.