How Building Self-Confidence Built a House

Ever wonder how very successful people got to where they are now? Do you feel stuck in your career, behind the curve compared to your peers? Take heart, there are plenty of avenues open to you.  Developing faith in one’s abilities is a key factor in moving to the next level in your own professional development. Having the courage to speak in front of people is a necessary skill for your success. We interviewed Jackie Mulrooney, President and Founder of J P Systems, Inc. to learn about her personal journey to greater self-confidence.

Q: How did you develop your self-confidence? Can you share instances where you intentionally stepped out of your comfort zone to build confidence? How did those experiences shape your self-perception?

A: To build self-confidence and my ability to speak in front of people, I regularly attended weekly sales and marketing training sessions where I would practice speaking in front of a group of fifty people on various sales topics of my choosing. Over ten years, I honed my ability to choose an engaging topic and present it in a way that draws people in. I credit this skill to these years of training sessions. To further bolster my public speaking skills, I joined a local Toastmasters club during my lunch breaks. Their materials and guidance helped shape my ability to give impromptu speeches. After many years, I got to a place where I knew I could get up in front of people and communicate well. This was a considerable boost to my marketing skills and self-esteem.

Q: Did you have mentors that played a role in your confidence building journey? How did their guidance impact your self-esteem?

A: It was during this marketing training that I found a mentor who played a pivotal role in my career development, and ultimately, my ability to run a business. Reflecting on my mentorship experience, I recall the profound impact my mentor had when I was in my twenties. He instilled in me the importance of pushing myself to set more ambitious goals and think bigger, while cultivating self-confidence. With his guidance, I made the leap from temporary work to launching my own IT consulting business. Despite initial hesitations about the responsibilities of simultaneously acquiring new clients and consulting, my mentor’s wisdom and encouragement empowered me to establish my own IT Consulting Firm in 1983. Through one-on-one sessions with my mentor and pushing through a series of self-improvement efforts, I steadily built my confidence over the years, drawing inspiration from a curated list of self-help books from my mentor’s sales organization.

My mentor taught me how to think through what I really wanted so I could set achievable and targeted short and long term goals to motivate myself. For instance, I really wanted to buy my own home. But I knew that in Northern Virginia, it was going to be no easy thing to save up for a down payment. I learned the concept of delayed gratification. This means putting off what you want now to get something better later on. Through a long process of delayed gratification, I gave up buying lunch out for ten years when I was out working at a client’s site. I brought my lunch instead of spending the money to go the deli. This gave me an extra five dollars a day in my pocket, which over a ten year period, ended up being about $12,500. This was enough to put 10% down on a foreclosed townhouse. The house was a wreck, but I bought it in 1992 and renovated it over the next eight years. When I first bought it, there wasn’t one pipe in the whole house that didn’t leak. It was dirty, it was ugly, but it was all mine. I hand refinished all the kitchen cabinets because I couldn’t afford to replace them. This just shows when you want something bad enough, you will make the sacrifices needed to get it.

Q: Building self-confidence is often an ongoing process. How do you continue to work on and enhance your self-confidence in your current professional and personal life?

A: After years of reading self-help and sales technique books, I slowly developed an ability to speak with strangers in order to cold contact them, which five years earlier would have scared me. Sometimes the sales presentations went well and sometimes they did not. Sales is a numbers game, and one has to learn how to move on to the next prospect, even if you get a ‘no’ for an answer and don’t make a sale. You have to learn how to keep going until you get the next ‘yes.’ Perseverance is a critical skill for a sales and marketing professional.

In my approach to marketing, I emphasize the importance of effective communication. To rise to the challenge of initiating conversations with cold contacts, I use a formula I find helpful which is abbreviated FORM. This stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money. By focusing on these topics of universal interest, I simplify starting a conversation with a prospect. I also want to highlight the critical importance of maintaining a positive attitude, particularly when engaging with individuals who may harbor pessimistic viewpoints. I steer conversations towards common ground and foster a sense of agreement before delving into product or service discussions with potential clients.

Jackie’s journey emphasizes the importance of deliberately building self-confidence under the guidance of a mentor through training and interacting with other successful people. As Jackie continues to lead J P Systems, Inc. with passion and resilience, her story serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals alike. Her story highlights the significance of embracing challenges, seeking mentorship, getting out and actually doing what they are advising, thereby cultivating a mindset of growth in the pursuit of one’s own goals. Currently, Jackie is developing the Management Center of Excellence (MCoE), which is a training program for new managers at J P Systems, Inc. In its first year, the center has nineteen students who meet bi-weekly to learn about management topics and develop self-confidence. Jackie is patterning the MCoE after the marketing training programs she attended for years, which helped her so much. The MCoE includes a mentor program which is open to all. J P Systems, Inc. has a Professional Development Resource list, referred to as the book list, which has a wide array of topics for professionals.

What about your journey to self-confidence? What are your next steps? How do you get unstuck? Select a book from our list to start you on your way to becoming a more confident person. You might wish to read “The Art of Dealing With People” by Les Giblin or the all-time favorite, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnagie.