Episode 020 Show Notes: Marcy Phelps
- Career goals may change when exposed to new options
- You can build a career that suits your temperament
- Conferences can be both draining and rewarding
- Networking may not be what you think it is
I think I’ve designed my career pretty much around my introversion. I found out early on that working in an office. I was actually trained as a teacher. I found that being with all those people all day was so physically and emotionally draining that it was hard to actually get work done.
We as introverts, we don’t really like to shine the light on ourselves that much. So we focus on others a lot, and I think we’re in general, pretty good listeners.
I think as an entrepreneur you have to be really attuned to client needs. You can’t say this is how we do things. You have to do them according to what clients need them done.
I think actually being a speaker helps. When you’re speaking at a conference, people will introduce themselves to you. So it’s kind of nice in that respect.
You mention networking, and people think big event and you’re wearing a name tag. Trying to make conversations with people you don’t know. But networking basically just means building and maintaining a group or a network.
Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode
- The Association of Independent Information Professionals
- Society for Technical Communication
- Certified Fraud Examiner
- Follow Hope for the Introvert on Twitter
- Like my page on Facebook
- Support me on Patreon
- Get swag for Hope for the Introvert and Introverted Leadership at Zazzle
Ben: Joining us today is Marcy Phelps. As the founder and president of Denver-based Marcy Phelps and Associates, Inc. (formerly Phelps Researching), Marcy helps clients manage risk and prevent fraud. She started her firm in 2000 after earning a Master’s degree in Library and Information Services from the University of Denver, and is a Colorado-licensed private investigator and a Certified Fraud Examiner. Marcy blogs about investigative research at www.marcyphelps.com/blog. You can contact Marcy through the blog or on LinkedIn as Marcy Phelps. I encourage our listeners to visit Hope for the Introvert.com where you’ll find complete show notes including a transcript of today’s conversation.
Ben: Hi Marcy. I’m really excited you’re joining us today. Looking forward to chatting with you. Can you tell us about your job? And what does it mean to be an investigative researcher and what is your workplace like?
Marcy: An investigative researcher uses available information either on the web or sometimes through conversations–interviews–to answer our client’s questions. I’m not the kind of PI that’s out doing surveillance. I’m most likely sitting here in front of the computer checking up through public records, other public sources and not so public sources. That’s pretty much what an investigator searches. And my workplace, I absolutely love. I’ve worked from home and my home office is just sunny and I have a great view, and I have two dogs that keep me company and bark at people. And I really enjoy working here. It’s very conducive to focus, which I I need for my job.
Ben: Yeah, I understand that. So you work as a licensed private investigator, but not like the type of PI that does surveillance. So your clients aren’t really individuals. Right?
Marcy: Exactly. I work for corporations, law firms, sometimes, nonprofit associations. But I don’t work directly with individuals, so I’m not chasing somebody’s deadbeat husband–that type of work that’s more corporate work–due diligence investigations, and asset investigations, that type of work. It’s focused on fraud–fraud prevention or identifying fraud.
Ben: So how did you go from getting a master’s degree in library and information sciences or information services, excuse me, to doing what you’re doing now?
Marcy: It’s been a quite a pivot–actually a few pivots. In grad school I just knew I didn’t want to be that typical librarian in a public library. I think public librarians do great work. I’m not suited for it. And, I just wasn’t quite sure what that looked like–what non traditional librarianship would look like. And then I was offered a position. My last year in school, someone asked if I wanted to join a project to create an online library, a virtual library for online learners. And, it was fascinating work and very innovative at the time in 1999. And I said, “Well, if they’re going to pay me to work from home and do research, who else would?”, and about that time I found out about AIIP, The Association of Independent Information Professionals, and I found that there were a bunch of people who were doing the kind of work I was doing–online database research, and doing it as their own business.
Marcy: And I was fascinated, and it wasn’t too long after that that I started my own business. I started out doing business and marketing type of research for years. I started my business in 2000. And eventually I was introduced to a private investigator who needed some help with some Internet research–news in social media. He had a media researcher he worked with for years who was retiring. And we got connected and I became fascinated with his work, and he encouraged me to become a PI myself, which I eventually did. It was really a nice encounter and great work. And it’s been fabulous ever since. I just love my work.
Ben: And it looks like you’re coming up almost on 20 years of doing it now.
Marcy: 20 years of owning my business. I became a PI about four years ago, so I made that big pivot about five years ago.
Ben: It sounds like an interesting story. I don’t know if it’s an unusual path for people or not, but it seems to be a good fit for you. IN general, how does being an introvert affect how you approach your work and life in general?
Marcy: It definitely comes into play a lot. I think I’ve designed my career pretty much around my introversion. I found out early on that working in an office. I was actually trained as a teacher. I found that being with all those people all day was so physically and emotionally draining that it was hard to actually get work done. So that is probably the biggest reason that I was so attracted to this idea of starting my own business and working from home. So, I’ve pretty much designed that around my introversion, and my life, I guess. Unfortunately I’m married to somebody who’s not an introvert, or fortunately I must say. And it’s an interesting dynamic, but you make workarounds, and it’s not like I don’t interact with people at all, but I have to prepare myself and I have to spend a little time recuperating, too.
I think I've designed my career pretty much around my introversion. I found out early on that working in an office with all those people all day was so physically and emotionally draining that it was hard to actually get work done. Click To Tweet
Ben: I totally get that. And my spouse is an extrovert as well. Both my kids were extroverts, so I was really the only introvert in the household, and it does take a while to make those adjustments so that we can–tolerate is by far the wrong word here–so that we can support each other in terms of the things that we need in our lives. For me, working on a university campus, I’ve seen enough people during the day that I’m quite satisfied with that. And I’d just as soon not do anything once I get home. For my wife, she typically works from home as an independent consultant, but as an extrovert, that means she doesn’t get the time around people that she really needs to flourish. So we’ve had to kind of work through how that works out for us. So it’s definitely an interesting dynamic.
Ben: What do you feel your biggest strengths are as an introvert? And in what ways have you leveraged those strengths?
Marcy: We as introverts, we don’t really like to shine the light on ourselves that much. So we focus on others a lot, and I think we’re in general, pretty good listeners and that’s really helped me with marketing. It’s helped me with my client projects or cases. I can really say I’ve worked on how to listen, listen really well and understand what they really, really want. What’s under the questions they’re asking because that’s not always what people want in my business. So I have to do a lot of digging and interviews. You have to be a very good listener in an interview. You have to know how to ask questions, but then you have to know how to shut up. So, I think that’s really helped me in my investigative work and my marketing to clients, just really able to find out what potential clients really want.
Ben: That sounds great. Other strengths that you feel like you have, we can go wherever you want with that. Go ahead with start with being adaptable, if you want to explore that a little bit.
Marcy: I think as an entrepreneur you have to be really attuned to client needs. You can’t say this is how we do things. You have to do them according to what clients need them done. So I think that’s helped me in my business. Maybe it’s also helped me as an introvert because I’m able to do things that a lot of people would say, “Oh, introverts wouldn’t ordinarily be doing those kinds of things.” But I can adapt.
Marcy: I’m very adaptable. For example, I do public speaking and believe it or not, I think a lot of public speakers are introverts. And the problem is that it all happens at one time of the year. It seems. I have four events just in May that I’m attending conferences. You have to be part of the action all day. I have to mingle with people. It’s really very kind of stressful for an introvert. So I adapt. I have to go, these are things that are very good to do for my business and I have to make sure I can do them even though I’m an introvert, so I schedule time for myself when I get back and don’t have high expectations about what I’m going to get done or any more mingling. So that kind of conference schedule where everything seems to be packed with them.
Ben: Mine is, well, this weekend I have a ton of stuff, but then I kind of have a month and then I’ve got back-to-back conferences. So I fully understand where you’re coming from on that. And I also have the absolutely having to have downtime after the conference because it is exhausting.
Marcy: Oh yes. Oh absolutely. I’m not used to being with that many people in one week. It is physically and emotionally draining, stimulating as well. I learn, I meet fabulous people. I don’t want to make it sound like this is a horrible thing to do. I love going to conferences and meeting new people. It’s just I have to manage, adapt to my core, the way I do things.
Ben: You mentioned when you were talking about many speakers actually being introverts. And I do think there’s a misconception about that in general. And that would go for singers or other musicians as well, or even actors or actresses. But I do think there’s that overall, “Well, you’re an introvert, you must be shy. You must be reticent.” And I think that you know clearly not the case.
Ben: But I am curious about one thing. When you go to these conferences, part of my being comfortable with these conferences is that I tend to go to the same ones. So there’s a core group of people that I look forward to seeing every year. And after you’ve been a couple of times you’ve kind of established your group that you’re going to hang out with. But I also recognize that I’m also going in different roles sometimes where I have to introduce myself to a lot of people, which is definitely not what I would prefer to do. Normally. I do tend to be shy (is the right word or not), but I’d much rather not be introducing myself to tons of people. I just find it uncomfortable. How do you handle the networking and the actual people part of these conferences?
Marcy: Well, in small doses, hopefully. I think actually being a speaker helps. When you’re speaking at a conference, people will introduce themselves to you. So it’s kind of nice in that respect. It, which is lovely when people do, they kind of take it off of me, but that helps. But, I guess it’s just like anything else. I don’t like to do. It’s something that’s temporary. I’m just going to do it for this two-hour networking event or whatever. And then I reward myself afterwards. I get to go back to my room for an hour and recuperate before the dinner event, or I get to take a walk out in the sunshine. I reward myself with something I really like, but think about how good it feels when I take that time to myself too.
Marcy: So I just have to pace myself and tell myself that it’s fun. I, I actually do enjoy talking to people. It’s not like it’s painful for me when I’m doing it. I’m having fun. It’s just planning in those rest times and I’m trying to plan maybe more one-on-one networking. That’s the other thing, Ben, networking has a bad definition or a bad rap. You mention networking, and people think big event and you’re wearing a name tag. Trying to make conversations with people you don’t know. But networking basically just means building and maintaining a group or a network–your connections, and yes, large events with the name tag are one way to do it, but there’s so many different ways to network. I think that’s another way I’ve adapted. A lot of times if I’m not speaking and I’m not expected to mingle, rather than mingle with the large groups, I’ll set up one-on-one coffees or lunch.
You mention networking, and people think big event and you're wearing a name tag. Trying to make conversations with people you don't know. But networking basically just means building and maintaining a group or a network. Click To Tweet
Ben: I try to do that as well. I do think there’s always been a misconception that networking is about quantity and how many people you can introduce yourselves to and give business cards or vice versa or their LinkedIn names. But I’ve find the same thing. I’m quite comfortable talking one on one with people, though it certainly helps once we’ve found a shared interest or something to give us a framework to talk around.
Marcy: Which you usually do, you can always talk about, like I said, if you’re a speaker or they’re a speaker, that gives you an immediate opening of something to talk about. or you can talk about the most recent session and what’s the most useful session.