Welcome to another episode of The LeaveBetter Podcast where I interview high performers and business owners to glean from their wisdom and practical routines, habits, and mindsets— that you can apply to your own life.
Sometimes, rather than an interview, I riff on a particular self-sabotaging habit and it’s remedies.
In this episode, we are pleased to have Cary Prejean—a native of Louisiana and the founder of CFO Consulting, LLC. He works with business owners to help them turn their business into what he’s labeled “the well-oiled machine” process.
*Before you go—Sign up for my newsletter at Leavebetter.com. Once a week, wisdom and practicality in your inbox.
Remember: the actions you take today set you up for six months from now. So do something today that pushes you toward that next level of you. So go be INTENTIONAL.
Introverts and Self-Sabotage in the Corporate World—Jennifer Marcou
Welcome to another episode ofThe LeaveBetter Podcastwhere I interview high performers and business owners to glean from their wisdom and practical routines, habits, and mindsets— that you can apply to your own life.
Sometimes, rather than an interview, I riff on a particular self-sabotaging habit and it’s remedies.
In this episode, we are pleased to have Jennifer Marcou—Jennifer is a leadership coach who helps emerging leaders find and use their voice scale, their leadership, and then find confidence and happiness at work.
She says, “It takes more than doing great work to be successful finding and using your voice, leveraging your strengths and obtaining balance can help you create success and realize joy at work.”
Introverts and self-sabotage in the corporate world. I am so excited to have Jennifer Marcou here with us today. Jennifer is a leadership coach who helps emerging leaders find and use their voice scale, their leadership, and then find confidence and happiness at work. She says, it takes more than doing great work to be successful finding and using your voice, leveraging your strengths and obtaining balance can help you create success and realize joy at work.
I’m so excited just to hear more about the work you’re doing and the way that you. Are helping the people that come across your path. So I just want to say, as you know, leave better is about helping people shed the behaviors and the attitudes that sabotage their movement toward their next level of growth or success in their business or their life.
Our tagline is wisdom and practicality for self-sabotage in business and life. I’m so excited to hear the wisdom that you’re going to benefit others with and helping them reach their next level. So welcome, Jennifer.
Excellent. Thank you. I love that wisdom and practicality. I hope I can deliver.
Absolutely. Okay. Why don’t we start out with you giving us a brief description of who you are kind of currently in whatever way you choose to define our, and then who you’ve been the various roles that you’ve had.
Introducing Jennifer Marcou
Excellent. All right. As you mentioned, I am a leadership coach. I focus on introverted women in tech and stem. And I’ve been doing this on my own and my own business. Marcoux coaching for about two years over two years.
And interestingly enough, my first day in my own company and being a leadership coach was.
18th of 2020, which was the week that our governor here in Washington state closed down everything for COVID, which everyone would say, well, that was a horrible time to start a business, but it was actually an amazing time. And so previously I had worked at Microsoft for about 10 years and marketing digital marketing.
And previous to that, I’d worked at American. For over 17 years. And so a lot of corporate experience, but I always had a dream to have my own business. I just didn’t know what it was until about 2016. And so it took me about four years before I actually acted on it, but I could not be.
Fantastic. Can you just help our listeners understand?
What Are Your Roots?
How do you trace the roots of the questions that drive you or the passions that drive you from your earliest life, that background of your childhood?
I think while I grew up as an only child and my parents got divorced when I was in fourth grade and never had any step sisters or brothers. So I had. A lot of experiences, both through my dad and his wife and my mom and his, her husband. I think what inspired me most when I was younger is my mother.
Mom was the Inspiration
She was working she was in advertising, kind of breaking the glass ceiling. In many cases. She moved me from Seattle just herself and, and myself and I was 12. To New York city to make it in New York as an advertising executive, and then ultimately ended up starting three different businesses, including advertising a travel business, a safari company and then ended up doing documentaries about Cowboys.
She’s always been this inspiration for me, because she just is passionate. She finds her passions and goes after it. And so I wish You know, I kind of wish I had that advice or that insight earlier in my adult life. So I would go off and do my own business earlier. But I do think she’s always been that inspiration to go after my passions and do what I really.
She sounds like an amazing person. One of the reasons I’m doing this podcast is to meet amazing people like her and to spend time with people like you. I love hearing how someone’s background influence. What it is that they’re doing now. So as a leadership coach, and as someone who’s been involved in the corporate world, surely you have seen a lot of self-sabotage.
Self-Sabotaging Mindset: Avoiding Conflict
I’m going to ask you to comment on something in your own life that you saw that was a behavior or a thought or a mindset. You knew, like in hindsight you go, wow, that was really holding me back. And when you became aware, you shifted and changed it, and then we’ll talk about what you’re seeing. In other words,
Absolutely. So there are lots of things that have held me back, but the, the one I wanted to I think I want to talk to today is about avoiding conflict. So I am very much a person focused on harmony and balance. And growing up as an only child, I don’t know what sibling rivalry is. And so especially when I hit working full-time in a large corporation, there is always conflict.
Introverted and Quiet
And so being introverted and kind of quiet and not liking conflict, I would just avoid conflict. So what that resulted in is people would walk off. Because they knew I wasn’t going to fight back and I would just take it because I said it’s not worth the fight. It’s so uncomfortable. And I know my worst, so I’m not gonna fight back.
And I had the the honor to have a leader. I was probably. Six years into my corporate life at American express, you’ve got me a coach and helped me realize the toll that avoiding conflict was taking both on me personally, but also professionally. And in fact, my leader had said, if you don’t address this, you’re not going to move up in the organization.
And so the coaching was as simple as just documenting when there were. That was the beginning, just becoming aware of when they were there were conflicts. And then it got to the point where I had to take some action in it.
And I remember this conversation, a conversation I had with a colleague who essentially kind of disrespected the results of a program I had.
And I had to go back and say, Nope, Or not correct. And I was so nervous, my hands were sweating and my heart was beating. But I was able to, you know, give him the feedback and say, well, that’s not right to, you know, kind of push me or step all over me on my, and my programs. And that was a huge step for me because after that I realized, oh, That wasn’t as hard as I thought it was.
And so over time obviously spent a lot more time focused on tackling those conflicts and addressing them forward facing and just got better at it. I can’t say that I love conflict. In fact, if we have to negotiate anything in customer service at, at home, I always put my husband on it. He loves to do that.
I Can Negotiate
But I certainly have proved to myself that if I had to do it, I absolutely can. And I wish I had realized that sooner because I, I I was holding myself back and I was, you know, kind of not feeling great about that. And I was not getting ahead as fast as I would like to, because it was an issue.
That you do need to deal with conflict. And my realization is that when you deal with conflict, there’s actually a ton of learning. Not only for me personally, but from a professional perspective and the learning for the other person. And sometimes where you think you have conflict, you don’t actually have conflict until you, you know, you realize that through communication.
Self-Sabotaging Mindset: Not Being Yourself
And so it’s a, it’s an important point I learned, I wish I had learned it or. In terms of your question of what is hope, what do I see holding others back? And I saw this both as people leader at Microsoft, I saw that at an American express. And I certainly see it in my leadership coaching business that especially as I mentioned, I coach introverted women and they very much hold themselves back and I’m using generalizations, but the theme is around.
Being Uncomfortable Being Yourself
Being uncomfortable, being yourself. Part of that is driven by these women are in generally in male dominated organizations or industries. Part of that is they’re introverts. So it’s kind of scary to raise your hand and say, you know, here’s my perspective. And part of that is just, you know, society saying, well, this is how.
And I feel like early on in my career, I felt like I did a lot of should be. This is how I should be as a professional at work. I should wear the suit. This is when this dates me by when we used to wear suits and pantyhose, and I should do these things and realizing no, I actually can be myself. And so helping women.
I mean, you know, all my coaching clients, but in particularly introverted women realizing one, identifying who they are and then two being comfortable of, you know, being open about that at work and not having to look like an extrovert or to be the one who’s allowed us in the room because it’s just not natural.
Working with a Different Brain
I think, you know, one of the insights that has really helped myself as well as other introverted people is realizing the introverted brain. It’s wired different. So it’s not a choice that introverts are act like this it’s actually, the brain chemistry is different. And so once people realize that they’re like, oh, there’s not something wrong with me.
It’s actually just part of my biology. And then the question is, okay, now that you know that, what do you do with it? How do you leverage those strengths instead of trying to fight to become something, you know,
Oh, so well said, what, what would you say as you both are an introvert yourself, and as you have coached into words, what would you say are some of the just unique strengths that come from that particular type of person?
The Ability to Listen
Absolutely. Number one. Strength is. The ability to listen and really hear not only what the words are that are being set are, but also what’s happening behind the words. I actually used to work for an extremely extroverted woman and we would go to meetings and we would walk away with two diff totally different stories of what happened in that.
Because in that meeting, she would normally talk 80% of the time and I was observing. And so I said, oh, Joe, didn’t like that idea. Or Jane really loved that idea. And she was like, well, how do you know? Because I could see their facial expression or the way they were sitting, or the tone in their voice and all the little nuances of, of their communication, even if it wasn’t verbal communication.
And so that’s when I realized, wow, I have this strength, you know, I was certainly wasn’t speaking up in the meeting like my boss, but I have this strength that was a detriment to her. And so we were actually a very complimentary team because she had a strength to speak up and I had a strength to listen and really see what was happening.
Sit and Write
Another strength that a lot of introverts don’t think as a strength is that ability to sit and write. Before they speak. And the reason why a lot of introverts don’t think that is a strength is because we’re constantly pressured, especially in the U S to, you know, speak up, raise your hand, lead out in front speak your mind.
What’s what are you thinking? And for an introvert, the best answer you can give is when you’ve had time to think. And come back to it. Whereas an extrovert, the best answer you’re going to get is when you ask them on the spot. And so realizing once we realized that that is the way your mind. Then you’re able to use tactics in a meeting to say, well, let me think about that.
Let me get back to you and certainly get back to that person either verbally or written. But that ability to think allows an introvert to really do some much deeper thinking to get to the core of an issue or get to a solution that no one else has thought of. And so the key is enabling creating an environment, especially as a leader, creating an environment where.
Introverts do their best thinking because that will create, you know, much stronger team at enabling and not, and that’s true of both extroverts and introverts and enabling them to contribute at their highest level. I love what it is that you’re saying and it rings true. I also am an introvert and I, I just hear and validate what you’re saying.
Our World is Coming to Accept Introverts
And I’ve experienced it. It feels to me like our world is. Becoming more open to the unique strengths that come from either type of person. I feel like businesses are making more accommodations for those sorts of things and it’s to their benefit, which is a good thing. I would say that our listeners are.
And I would categorize them as people with an entrepreneurial mindset, either they’re entrepreneurs themselves or they like that way of thinking or they are people who are interested in pursuing their next level of growth. High performers are just people who love growth. I want to ask you a specific business question.
Figure Out Who Your Audience Is
What insights or processes has moved your business forward? Hmm. So, as I mentioned, I have been a marketer most of my career. And you know, the number one rule in marketing is figuring out who your audiences and be customer focused. And so when I started my own business it just kinda came naturally.
I have to figure out who my audience is. And so can I coach, you know, many different people? Absolutely. But what I did was think about where my passion, they who was I coaching that it was just so excited to coach with. Or when I would talk to a prospective client you know, who was that person that I was really excited and just enjoy the conversation.
Tech Industries and Introverts
And I kept coming back to, oh, it’s introverted. It’s introverted women. And then, you know, coming from Microsoft, obviously I had a lot of clients in the tech industry, so I named it as tech, but I expanded it actually in the last year to really stem. And what differentiate. Stem and tech, although tech is in stem, but this idea of much more analytical women in industries where they’re tech, they tend to be dominated by men.
And the combination of being female and an introvert kind of puts you down a couple levels in terms of your ability to speak up in meetings. And especially in industries where meetings are important to kind of communicate your points of view that I said, oh my God, The, you know, introverted women, there’s tremendous opportunity, tremendous ideas, that ability to think kind of offline and take time to think those ideas are not coming out.
And so that is a win-win. I can help introverted women and a win for me as a coach. Help give them tools and feel like I’m having an impact that they’re going to be having an impact. And so there’s nothing like special about what I do. It’s enabling these women to truly find themselves and have confidence in themselves and just be themselves.
Be Crystal Clear on Your Target
That’s what I’m super excited about. So I guess the, kind of the takeaway here is be crystal clear on your target. And you know, then you say, especially as a small business and you’re like, well, if I’m so specific, then what happens when that man who wants to hire me? He says, oh, you only coach women.
Well, you know, we’ll, they can coach me. And it seems like your market becomes much more. The reality is men still come to me and extroverts still come to me. And so while I’m very specific about my target and on my website, I’m very clear about that. It has not stopped me from other people being attracted to my coaching either because of the introverted side or because an extrovert who wants to be more introverted and feels like that would be a good match.
And so I keep focused on who I really, really want. To a target. And I put that into the ether. And I think people are then self attracted or attracted to my messages. Then well you know, come to me from, from a business perspective. And so it’s a win-win, I can help them. And I’m doing, you know, working with a client that I love.
What I hear you saying is don’t be afraid to really niche down or niche down.
You should be able to say who your client are, your target audiences. And someone says, oh yeah, I know someone. Right. Oh, Jane would be a great client for you. So that is another powerful way to get more, especially in a small business and, you know, service business, like I am in that’s a way to get referrals as opposed to I’m a leadership coach.
Well, what do you actually do if it’s so general? You’re not sure who to refer to me. So.
Hey, this is Miriam jumping back in. Are you looking to go to the next level in your life or business right now? That’s what leave better is about my friend. We give you the coaching to level up, have those breakthroughs so you can stop the self-sabotage that keeps you where you are currently. Let’s make, self-improvement a way of life, Joe, to leavebetter.com and download the free resource that’s there today.
We change them regularly. So go and see what’s new at leavebetter.com. Now back to our interview.
I love it. That’s pretty clear. Tell me some beliefs or actions that have made the biggest impact on you as a leader.
Reach Down and Help Those Beneath You
I think I had gone to some I dunno women’s event and one of the speakers, she, I think she was actually head of diversity at school. And she had given the advice reach while you. And so I think when most people hear that phrase, they think, oh, I’m climbing up the ladder and I’m going to reach higher so I can get a higher level.
No, actually it’s about as you climb up that ladder, you reach down and help those below you. And so that inspired me so much. Cause I feel like I got a lot of help when I was starting out my career. Had some great leaders. I had some great mentors who were able to pull me up through the organization.
And I felt like. Not only that I owed, you know, to, to pay it back or pay it forward, but I also so desired to help other other people. And so that I think was the start of my focus on really developing and growing people. And, you know, that was mentoring people before I was a people leader. And then when I became a people leader, I just fell in love with the idea of developing and growing.
And so before I left Microsoft part of the transition and the change that I made to become my my own leadership coach was I would look where my energy. And I color-coded my calendar. And so anytime I had a one-on-one with my team or I was mentoring or coaching someone, I would highlight that in the green color.
And I look at my calendar and all the green on my calendar just made me so happy. And that’s when I realized, well, this is what would, what, what a job look like that I could do this, all of this. And so certainly I pursued looking at full-time coaching within a large corporation and, and there at the time there weren’t many opportunities or it was more like a hybrid HR role and coaching.
And then I realized, well, this is what I gotta do. I got, I got to go do coaching full time. And that idea, even though I don’t have direct reports that I can continue to grow, I feel like through coaching I’m no longer climbing up the corporate ladder, but sharing my. Experience to help others. And that’s why I like especially in, in my target is I didn’t mention mid-level women.
Mid Level, About to Become a Leader
So not, you know, execs, who’ve already made it and not people just starting out at a college, but that mid-level about to become a people leader or a new people leader, or perhaps just became a leader of people, leaders. So in those phases where there’s a big transition and helping them grow in their career so they can move higher up in the ordinance.
I love this example of a color, coding your calendar, and basically doing an assessment of your life and your time. I have heard that what gets measured is what can grow or change. And you found a way to sort of measure something that was intangible.
It’s kind of like trying to measure joy. You were measuring your energy or your.
Satisfaction in that hour. And I think that there are spaces where people can do. And gained so much insight, whether it is the entrepreneur saying, okay, what activities bring 80% of my revenue or what activities make me crazy? What kind of clients or people or customers do I love working with or for, and what kinds do I hate?
There’s just so much. Information. I love that tip. That’s something that I think people could really use and apply in so many different ways. Let me ask this question. What, I think that many, many people are always looking for resources. What is a book that you’ve read that’s helped you or that you highly recommend?
Oh, I have so many but I will pick one playing big by Tara Moore. It is targeted to women. However, I have used that with men as well. So I think it’s equal opportunity. And in this book Tara talks about a couple of things that have really I’ve integrated into my coaching practice. And in fact, I’ve gone through her facilitators course and completed that.
I’m able to use some of the tools and techniques in there, but one of them is this idea of the inner critic. These critical voices, these negative voices that seem very realistic. And we listened to them our entire life about, oh no, you can’t do that. You’re not smart enough. You’re you know, they’re going to think you’re stupid.
The Negative Voices
You’re going to lose your job if you speak up. So all those negative voices and using a technique to be able to. That volume. And on the flip side, this idea of an inner mentor, inner wisdom, is that true voice, the voice that you when you make a decision or make a change in your life that cool calm, collected voice and that ability to bring that voice out and make it louder than those negative voices.
And so in two of the chapters, she talks about quieting that critical voice and bringing out that, that true wisdom. Voice. And she also has many chapters on, you know, what’s the big leap that you’re going to take. What is your calling? So defining what you really want to do, and I’m realizing there’s a chapter on actually female communication challenges.
And we as females generally will say, well, just give me a second and we use the word just now. I just can’t do you have a second? And that word is very. Subservient and it’s as if you know my question or my comment is not important. I’m just trying to justify it in some way. And there’s many other kind of questions or statements like asking a question.
Does that make sense? Again is undermining what I have just said. And so there are actually I just coached someone the other day where we went through each one of them. She was like, yes, I do that. I do that. I do that. And so we just started see, I just used just, we started with taking just out and it’s really hard because he’s these The language, things that we use every day we don’t realize how that is landing on others.
The Ability to Adjust
And so the ability to change, adjust, tweak a little bit in your language when you’re writing an email, I used to search for just and take that out. Cause you don’t need the just and I’ve noticed I’ve stopped using. Does that make sense question at the end? But it does take some time to adjust these things.
So I think this book has a lot of things about big ideas and visions of what you want to do. But also very practical guidance and some historical and societal background of why women do these things that enable you to take. And it doesn’t have to be huge thing. It’s just, you can do baby steps and baby steps, but moving toward a goal of something bigger.
Hmm. I love it. So it’s Tara Moore playing big. Yes. Okay. Very good. All right. Let’s wind up with a couple. This has been such a great interview. I’ve just enjoyed. So much, and I’m going to go out and buy that book as soon as we get off the podcast. But when if, if you could turn back time and talk to yourself when you were younger what advice would you give yourself?
I would give myself advice to just trust myself. I think I spawn spent a lot of time on the should I should be like this, or I should be like that, or I should be at this level. And I spent a lot of time stressing and being anxious about trying to make it to the next level. What people were thinking about me or trying to modify my, my behavior so that I was looked more extroverted than what I really am.
And so I would just love to whisper in my ear, just trust yourself, trust yourself, trust your instinct. And I feel like that only, it just took time for me to realize that. So that’s that wisdom that you get when you’re older, that you wish you had when you were in.
I think there’s something magical about people in midlife and, and older who choose to continue to grow. Not everybody chooses to continue to grow. Some people just get old, but there are some people who get wise and part of what I’m trying to do as. You know, the, this project of this podcast is how do we tap into the wisdom of the people that are around us and then make it practical.
So far, everything you’ve said today feels both of those things. It feels very wise and very practical. And I, I just appreciate what you’re saying. There was adjust in there too. I’m going to have to work on that. I appreciate what you’re saying about trusting yourself this, this next, or this last question might feel repetitive.
Our Inner Wisdom
And so you’re free to take it wherever you want. But I think about the wisdom that lives inside you and that lives inside me. And I wondered if you could leave us with a sentence that encapsulates much of who you are and what you would want to leave the world.
It reminds me of I’d done some work in the last year and a half on my calling. Originally I had a mission and then I worked with some folks who helped me create my calling. And my calling is people experience awe and a profound connection to the universe. And when I wrote that, I wasn’t quite sure.
What that meant I was, what was I supposed to do with that? It was something I felt in my heart. I feel it when I look at Mount Rainier, I feel it when I connect deeply with someone, that connection that sense of awe. And I think it is one of those kinds of presents that you just keep unwrapping and finding out what that means.
Coaching is my Calling
And so for, for me right now, that means coaching. To help unwrap who they are to find the wondering are in themselves and the realization that it’s not them against the world and people trying to judge them, but it’s about actually human connection. And coming to that as you are. And I think over time, I’m going to learn more about what that means and what I could do with that.
But it is something kind of a mantra that I keep with me that I continue to discover what it means. I love it. That’s a very profound thought and a wonderful place for us to end.
How to Find Jennifer
How can people find you, Jennifer? You can reach me through my website. Markku coaching it’s M a R C O U M. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org or just LinkedIn.
Jennifer. I love it. Well, you absolutely have wonderful things to offer you. You know, people, I, every conversation I have with you, I come away feeling both grateful and uplifted. One of the things leave better is wanting to do is to challenge people, come and address yourself, sabotage either in business or.
And then leave better and then go do better and do something good with that new growth, that next level, whether it’s a level of income or a level of confidence or whatever. So one of the things we want to model is that there are plenty of ways. To leave other things better.
And we asked, I asked you before the podcast started, I gave you a couple non-profits that we would like to sponsor in your name and you chose mercy ships, which is a nonprofit medical organization where they offer.
Surgeries to people with disfiguring tumors or cleft palates in Africa. And so that’s what we’re going to do. As soon as we get off this interview, I’ll send a donation in and your name and I’m excited just to profile mercy ships.org and Jennifer Marcou coaching. And thank you again so much for just graciously sharing your time with us and your wisdom.
Yes. Thank you. This has been a tremendous, and I love that you’re bringing this wisdom and practicality together, and I can’t wait to listen to the other podcasts.
I hope you enjoy this episode. If you want to pursue more in the self-development realm for you and your business, contact us at leavebetter.com where you leave better. And in addition, you leave the people in earth around you better as well. Think about this where you are currently is as a result of the decisions you made six months ago.
Similarly, the actions you take today set you up for six months from now. So do something today that pushes you toward that next level of you. One last thing before you go become the dealer of growth in your sphere of influence by sharing this episode with two friends. And if you’d like to help me personally leave a review because yes, that actually does help now go be intentional.