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Imposter syndrome and the creators of Game of Thrones

Remember, imposter syndrome is that mean voice in your head telling you that you’re not good enough.

That you shouldn’t be here.

That the only things you can talk about are things everyone already knows.

That even if you have a good idea for something, you’re not the best person to execute on that idea.

And sometimes that voice isn’t limited to your internal dialogue.

Sometimes you hear it in the voices of well-meaning (really they are) friends or family members who are afraid for you that if you stick your neck out too far you’re going to get it chopped off and they need to keep you right here, where you’re safe.

But listen up, friend. Let me tell you a story of two (of course white) dudes who had an idea and zero imposter syndrome and ended up pitching HBO on what would be, for them, the highest paid learning internship about what it takes to get a show together.

Game of Thrones, for those of you who have been living under a rock, was the biggest, most successful television show in history (and it wouldn’t have been possible without the best show I’ve ever watched, The Sopranos, which if you haven’t seen it and you love a good story, go check it out).

The creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, were on a panel at the Austin Film Festival, and must have been slipped some potent truth serum before they went on stage, because when they got on stage, they really let it rip.

Read this great piece in Vanity Fair for a better recap of the whole story.

I want to go over some very high-level gems:

  • They had no idea what they were doing, making the writer of the series question their qualifications (but didn’t give them pause!)
  • They screwed up the pilot — the writing was off, the casting was wrong, and the costume design had serious flaws.
  • They admitted that the show itself was their film school, which I’m sure makes everyone who actually went to film school have some feelings.

And yes, it worked.

It worked in a way we may never see again.

But that’s not the point.

In this case, had either of the creators thought for just a second whether they were the two people who were best qualified to be in charge of a show of this magnitude…

The answer would have been a resounding no.

They didn’t have writing experience.

They didn’t have film experience.

They didn’t have any relevant experience whatsoever.

I mean, now they do, sure. But think of all of the things you could create if you could channel the bold confidence of two white guys who had an idea and turned it into reality.

You’d be unstoppable.

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