“I remember thinking, it’s an odd thought for a 15 year old I grant you, but I remember thinking, I am not going to feel comfortable in my own skin until I’m in my forties… I spent all those years thinking I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t a social butterfly… Learning to network is a game-changer. It’s empowering, enlightening…it leads you to self-awareness which grows confidence. And with confidence I firmly believe you can achieve anything.”
Jean Evans – Networking Architect
Jean Evans is the sitting President Network Ireland Wicklow, a Speaker, a Facilitator, a Coach, a Mentor, a Business Owner, a Partner, a Mom to three… oh, and an INTROVERT!
An expert on all things networking, Jean demonstrates it is her passion, and one that is borne out of experience and plenty of trial and error, mistakes and mishaps. Through her blogs and social media channels, Jean shares tips, tricks, hacks and ideas on how to become an effective networker in business.
Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to stick on the kettle, grab a coffee and think along with me and Jean for a short while in your preferred way, as we hear about her globe-trotting journey to the networking expert she is today.
It’s a fun, wild ride!
- Watch the full interview on YouTube
- Listen to the full interview on Spotify
- Or watch the highlights video / read the highlights transcript below…
Yours Truly: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You are more than welcome to this, another episode of the Coffee at Eleven Show, brought to you by WIG-WAM and supported by Limerick Post, keeping Limerick posted #LimerickAndProud. Delighted to have you here. Thank you for joining us. I’d particularly like to welcome our very special guest, zooming in from Wicklow today. And that is Jean Evans. Jean pop in say hello. Cheers us with your coffee mug
Jean Evans: Good morning everybody.
Despite my shyness, I also knew I had a fire in me and I didn’t know where it was coming from. I didn’t really understand it, but I also knew that any time a teacher told me I couldn’t do something, I’d be like, inside, because I didn’t have the guts to say anything, and inside, there was something that would say, “don’t you tell me what I can do, or what I can’t do you and I’ll show you.” So, when I was told you should do ‘pass Irish’, or you should do this. I was going “I don’t think so”. Yeah, just go and do my own thing. So I don’t… there was always a fire there, but I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it or understood what was happening.
People see what’s on the outside and constantly…. We know this thing by “don’t judge a book by its cover”. But really the thing by people is, if you judge that’s on you, but every single one of us, every single one of us here today and in the world has our own story and our own journey. We’ve all got things that make us tick, that made us who we are today. We all have our own baggage, whatever it is. We don’t put a neon sign and broadcast it, but we all do because it’s who made us who we are today. But the difference is understanding whether you’re okay with this or whether you’re not. And I suppose where I’m at now in my life, is I’ve learned to accept me for who I am and realize I’m okay.
But I would also say that when I was 15 years, in school, I went to St. David’s and I remember being in one of the classrooms, looking over the sea. And I remember thinking, it’s an odd thought for a 15 year old I grant you, but I remember thinking, I am not going to feel comfortable in my own skin until I’m in my forties.
I always had a grá for Ireland anyway, and getting people to travel around and see it. But I was also very privileged to have seen from the top of Donegal, right down to Mizen Head and everything in between. So, I love Ireland and that sort of translated back into to my children. Now I send them to the Gaelscoil; I really want them to understand their heritage and have that side of things. It’s important to me that they know where they’re from, and have the language but also that there’s no taboo on Irish, there’s no taboo on the languages and that it starts expanding, and lateralizing the brain and how they look at things. Because, I suppose when they look at STEM, they say the more languages you have, the better you cope with STEM subjects.
Part of my job… I only worked for the Association. So, and basically the process for getting Associations to a country or a city is the same as the Olympics. So you are bidding against cities or countries. So, I was over in 2012 in Jeju, in Korea, bidding against China and Brazil, and literally going into an auditorium where there was a thousand Chinese sitting there going, “We are China, we are China.” and I have to get up, little 5’3″ me, in front of a lecturn and go, “Here’s Ireland’s business case…”, or whatever. And the Brazilians coming up, we’ve got the weather, you’ve got no chance of winning and literally all of this subterfuge and this sort of these mind games.
And we blew them out of the water!
But that was what I loved doing. And we brought these conferences in and, you know, weird and wonderful topics. You know, this one, this particular one was for three and a half thousand pig veterinarians come into the country. And two days before that, I had done one in Lisbon and getting four thousand cow veterinarians into the country. But the point was, it was putting Ireland on the map and selling it and doing all of these things and getting front of auditorium or an auditorium, or auditoria in front of thousands of people and delivering and talking about what Ireland has to offer.
And what people conflate and get wrong every single day of the week is they think shyness – being an introvert – which I am an introvert, so being shy, and being an introvert and confidence are the same thing, and I’m going, “They’re not at all.” You can be shy, and be an introvert, and be confident in what you’re talking about.
And I was confident in what I had to deliver, but it wasn’t about me, and I could get up and I could deliver and I could speak and I could put the business case together and I could put it all together and present it. And I was very confident. It’s not that you’re not nervous talking, but I was very confident in my ability to deliver something because I believed in it and my heart and soul and I knew we had the best offer, the best product. And sometimes you won, sometimes you didn’t, but you go for it again and that’s just the cycle of Associations.
But when it was me and myself and I was far more confident because I was far more self-aware, and the other thing that I learned was, I learnt lots of things, but one of the things I realized was I’m an introvert and why that mattered was I spent all those years thinking I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t a social butterfly. I couldn’t be that person who was out and about all the time talking to people. I, you know, and I was in an industry paradoxically that, where there was a lot of entertainment and had to be out to gala dinners, but I literally would be looking for the exit door, going how quickly can I get out of here, to be in a hotel room having room service on my own.
And people say ‘oh I don’t like to travel on my own’ I love it because I don’t have to talk to people. And while I love talking to people and I love networking, I’m also very, very happy on my own, but that’s where being an introvert was realizing this, that I have to psych myself up. I have, I can put on my a game and absolutely bring it. And then I have to go away and replenish my energy because how I, and every other introvert in the world replenish their energy is on their own, in their own heads.
And here’s the thing that what people don’t realize and why I am so passionate and vociferous about this is 50% of the world is introvert, and most people don’t know it. So they’re suffering because they don’t realize this fact, and for any introverts who are listening, it is your superpower and if you understand what it means to be an introvert and you accept it, you own it, you love it and realise… Let me put you in good company if you are an introvert – Barack Obama, Clinton, Warren buffet, Bill Gates, Darwin, Einstein, Beyonce, all of these people who are introverts. Do you know what it means? They tap into a sense of, they take information from different places, they mull on it and they ponder and they spend time on it. And then they come up with something. That’s where creativity comes from in organizations, in businesses.
So there’s lots of people sort of in engineers or accountants or whatever. They’re very, very happy and very, very confident behind an Excel sheet and a computer. Don’t ask them, talk to other humans beings.
Yours Truly: Two quick questions. And then we go to Princess Shelley if that’s okay to hear what’s been going on in the café. First question is Jean Evans, what are you taking with you from COVID that you’re not letting go of?
Jean Evans: One thing I have learned is… So I was working on a different business venture, something I also was going to do before September, and I pulled out of it. And when I wrote the email to say, I was pulling out the deal that I have been working on for 15 months, I initially sat back and went I have no idea what my future holds, but I was very, very calm and very, very much at peace, and if that had been three years ago, I would have been having a meltdown and a conniption . So what I’ve learned about myself is I’m very resilient and adaptable, as we all are, we just don’t always know how to test it at the same time.
But I had a new strap line, and my strap line was “Poor, But Free”. And I went “Free? … loving it, never going to work for a corporate, never going to be answerable to anybody.”
And I want to create a business and a company. I’m passionate in the way I believe how people should be treated and help to mentor and grow people so that they can survive and, sorry, not survive that they can thrive and succeed.
Em, but what I took out of it, is I can do anything I set my mind to I’m perfectly adaptable.
And I’ve loved spending time with my kids. Still don’t need, still don’t need to see them all the time, I’ve probably see them too much over the last few months with lock downs and school’s off but is that we can do what we want, and you know I’m president of Network Ireland Wicklow this year and my theme for this year is to all of the ladies within, within the network is “Dream Big” because the only people who will not make it happen is each and every one of us.
And particularly for women in, in some of the, the female networks is we are accountable and responsible for creating our visibility and that visibility that we create, and that’s our responsibility each and every one of us that will drive our, both our confidence and our success. And you know that when it comes to a equality and anything like that, we are responsible for driving that. And we need men to be our champions, and back to Colm’s point around the parenting, we need more men to say they are parents, more men step up saying, “I am the dad”, and do you know why? And this is another one of my things is that ‘parent’ is a gender neutral term – it is not ‘mother’ – it’s gender neutral. Took two to make the child, but yet when it comes into organizations, companies, it’s the mom who gets the call. Why?
Women need to change that and step up and say, sorry, we need to balance that. Men need to stop abdicating and balance out saying ‘yes I want to be a parent, I want to do the lunches. I want to do the school pickups’ and when the kid’s got lice or somebody’s got a tooth out, or somebody’s broken their arm, dad can help as well.
Yours Truly: Second question before – sixty second answer for this one, if you don’t mind, cause we need to get to Shelley – is you meet somebody on the street or in a networking environment or online or whatever. And you realize by listening to them, they are actually struggling at this moment in time, because of all that’s gone on the last 15, 16 months, what’s your advice?
Jean Evans: To talk to somebody. And you know, I’m a, I’m a huge advocate of one to ones, and one to ones there’s whole business connotation around them. But it’s about getting to know the person behind the person and meet up, have a coffee and be kind and be compassionate.
And particularly now with everything that people are going through, people are so quick to judge ‘that person didn’t get back to me, they didn’t respond to my email, they didn’t answer my call’ So what? Ring them again, write another email, you don’t know what’s going on with their lives -we don’t know what’s going on in our own lives half the time. Be kind, be compassionate, pay it forward, buy a cup of coffee, say “I’ll meet you for coffee” have a chat
Problem shared, problem halved.
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