"Leadership is not something that someone can give you – you have to earn it and claim it."
Lean In Dayton: What led to founding your firm, Cosby Consulting Group LLC?
Marva Cosby: Prior to retiring from Kodak I knew that it would not be easy for me to disengage from the certain aspects of the work I loved, namely coaching, consulting, mentoring and advising leaders. The honor of serving as a trusted advisor to leaders who were dealing with their own, or their team’s, behaviors that were getting in the way of achieving short and long term results fueled me. That work felt like a natural extension of who I am and my passion for it led me to want to continue serving. As a retiree who values, and is intentional about, a balance of family, work, play and volunteerism, the benefits of being a solopreneur focused on short-term projects, works perfectly for my chosen lifestyle.
Lean In Dayton: What sort of challenges have you faced while running your own business?
Marva Cosby: Sales and marketing are ongoing challenges for most small businesses, in particular, those trying to scale their businesses. However, I am just as motivated by the desire to remain engaged in a meaningful way with organization leaders as by the income potential. Just as when I was in a corporate setting, I offer relationships that are built on trust. Trust that I will honor my ethical and legal obligations to maintain confidentiality and protect privacy and trust that I have the relevant experience, wisdom, and tools. My business is built predominantly on referrals. While my book of business is sized right for my goals, it takes time to build credibility and clientele. Simply having passion about the business focus is not enough if no one knows you.
Lean In Dayton: What sort of support system did you have which led to your career success?
Marva Cosby: My parents, teachers and others set expectations for academic attainment, supported and helped me get back up after falling (failures) and taught me the significance of trying to live by the golden rule (not always easy for a kid, or for adults for that matter!). When you are trying to help yourself people notice and will generally extend a hand, clear a path or simply encourage you in the direction of your dreams. My support system…well, it includes everyone who has taken an active interest in my life.
Interviewed by Julene Allen