Author

Max Foster is a CNN Anchor and Correspondent, based in London. His pioneering daily news debate show CNN Talk with Max Foster is simulcast on CNN International and Facebook. He expertly moderates a panel of guests whilst bringing in relevant media and viewer comments from all around the world. He also hosts the London edition of the newscast ‘CNN Newsroom.’

Max has played a pivotal role in CNN’s international coverage, often anchoring live from the scene of major breaking news and special events including the wave of terror attacks that struck Europe from 2015 to 2017 and the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in 2018.

Over the years, Max has interviewed everyone from Donald Trump to Taylor Swift, Prince William, Prince Charles, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Diddy, David Cameron, Tony Blair, Dolly Parton, George Lucas, Amitabh Bachchan, Michael Cain, Judy Dench, Julie Andrews, Elton John and business leaders including Apple’s Steve Jobs, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, BP’s Bob Dudley and Tom Enders of Airbus.

Prior to joining CNN, he was a Business Reporter and Presenter for the BBC, most notably with World Service radio and BBC Breakfast TV.

Max's approachable yet authoritative style has made him one of CNN’s most popular faces and speakers. He has presented and moderated at major conferences for the United Nations and World Travel Market as well as more intimate events for Google, London Business School and The Elders.

Max also holds masterclasses in news anchoring for CNN’s international affiliates and he mentors aspiring reporters through the Media Trust charity.

In his book It's All About Clout, Max draws on his interactions with prominent and successful people to identify what he thinks they have in common. He concludes that it’s down to their ‘clout’ which he then breaks down to six characteristics that anyone can develop. His starting position is that we’re driven by fear more than by hope and the trick is to turn it around to your advantage.

Max continues to lift the lid on success with his popular Cloutology blog, podcast and Instagram feed where he offers advice, analysis and interviews with people who have made it in their chosen fields.

Follow Max's personal accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The dreaded fear of being exposed as a fraud

THE DREADED FEAR OF BEING EXPOSED AS A FRAUD

‘I’M SCARED OF AUDIENCES,’ the singer Adele told Rolling Stone magazine in 2011.

‘One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I've thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile-vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it. But I don't like touring. I have anxiety attacks a lot.’

Adele was speaking to a feeling that every successful person can relate to and that’s the fear of being found out and exposed as a fraud.

‘The thought of someone spending $20 to come and see me and saying “Oh, I prefer the record and she’s completely shattered the illusion” really upsets me. It’s such a big deal that people come give me their time.’

It’s called ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and if you’ve ever suffered from it then it’s probably reassuring to know that you are not alone.

When I started out in radio I had a recurring nightmare of finding myself naked in the studio half-way through a news bulletin. The award-winning broadcaster Iain Dale still battles with the syndrome which he describes in the Cloutology podcast as does the economist Dharshini David.

Neither of them are frauds though, and Adele certainly isn’t. In the year she gave that interview to Rolling Stone, she became the first female to have two singles and two albums in UK Top 5 simultaneously - a feat previously achieved only by The Beatles in 1963. Her 21 album was also the first in UK chart history to reach sales of three million in a calendar year.

She’s different, she’s famous

Why? She has insecurities just like you and I.

Maybe she just got lucky…

Perhaps, but all luck does is open doors, it’s up to you to take it from there. Her sales figures speak for themselves just as your achievements speak for you.

But I’m a perfectionist. There’s no room for error.

Well at least you acknowledge that. The next step is to realise nobody’s perfect.

I work with people who are. Believe me.

No they’re not.

Excuse me?!

It’s statistically impossible to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s just that some people are better at hiding and that’s a mistake in itself.

Are you saying we should point out our failures?

No, I think you should positively celebrate them. You learn from messing up, plus it shows you’re human.

I don’t want to be human, I want to be invincible

People are not more invincible than they are perfect. We don’t admire perfection, it makes us suspicious. We admire people who have messed up, moved on and made something of themselves. Can I ask, do you like the perfectionists you speak of?

I don’t know them well enough to know.

Have you tried to get to know them?

Yes, but I they’re tricky

Exactly. They put up barriers because they’re hiding something. They don’t want to show their vulnerability, but we need to see that to know they are human. You can’t trust someone who’s not being themselves.

Let’s take someone you like, it can be someone real or fictional. What appeals to you about them?

They’re winners

And you know that how?

Well, they’ve been through a lot and come out stronger

But they failed before they succeeded…

I guess so yes.

That’s why you connect with them. Success doesn’t come without failure. That’s why we don’t like perfectionists, because they only succeed and it doesn’t add up.

That means I don’t like me

I’ll leave that to your therapist but all I know is that it’s a mistake not to own your mistakes. If you make perfection your goal then you are setting yourself up for permanent failure because it’s unachievable. You need realistic targets that can give you a sense of satisfaction when you reach them and that help rid you of your self-doubt.

I’m scared of making mistakes though

The answer there is to simply to allow yourself to make them, then realise you’ll survive.

As a news anchor, I am only able to go on air for hours at a time because everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for me at one point or another. Scripts have vanished before my eyes. Guests have failed to show up or dried up when did come. Some got angry, others have walked out on me. I’ve even been in the middle of an interview and forgotten what it was about because there’s so much going on in the background. But each time I have faced one of those walls, I have found a way through and if I’ve done it once, I know I can do it again.

What if I need help?

Then that’s fine too. People like being asked for assistance and, who knows? You might end up learning something from them which build your confidence even more.

We all doubt ourselves sometimes but it’s not a character flaw, it’s what makes us human. You need to prove yourself wrong. Celebrate your successes but also your failures because they come together.

The Cloutology Interview: Lucy Beresford, Psychotherapist

The Cloutology Interview: Dharshini David, Economist