PIE: A Virtual Coffee Chat at Jersey Java & Tea

About fifteen years ago, while working as a leadership development consultant, I had the chance get to know Tara Marcus of DillonMarcus |Executive Retreats. Last week, I noticed on social media that her company is promoting a program she designed with her business partner called UNLEASHING WOMEN!™

The interview begins with a question about taking time to connect over coffee or tea. 

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Is there a coffee shop in your area that people go to connect with others or to reconnect with themselves?


We like to go to Jersey Java and Tea in Haddonfield, New Jersey.  Haddonfield is just 10 minutes from two bridges that cross the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Like Philadelphia, the town of Haddonfield has strong Quaker roots, which give it a comfortable vibe.  Jersey Java is independently owned and a great place for connection and community.  We like to bring clients there and sit on the patio.  It has been warm lately so it is just a great place to hang out. Taking time to connect with others or reconnect with ourselves is an important part of leading. 

How 'bout them apples?

A photo posted by Jersey Java & Tea Co. (@jerseyjava) on


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As we settle in for our virtual cup of tea let’s talk about your company Dillon Marcus Executive Retreats.  I see you offer a program called UNLEASHING WOMEN!™ 

How did it come about?


The work on this program started with a request from a woman CEO. She often spoke about work life balance being a work life blend. She envisioned the program as a growth opportunity for any woman in her organization. She wanted it to be available to someone working in janitorial services or someone working as a VP of a division. Unfortunately, as often happens in business, the leader moved on and this program did not get to be delivered as she had envisioned. The good news is that the program has found a new life with women at other organizations. I feel very committed to working with women in business. I am driven to assist women to really unleash their potential.  I had the special privilege to attend a women’s college so I see the value of bringing women together to learn and discover their strengths is an environment of other women.  

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What makes this program unique?


It is a cohort based program that lasts seven months. It all starts with a half day retreat, then there is an overnight retreat, four mastery sessions which are two hours each, a capstone project and a final half day retreat. One unintended outcome  from the sponsors’ perspective is a strong sense of community that comes about with the women involved.  

We teach the women the PIE model from Harvey Coleman and his book Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed.  PIE stands for Performance, Image and Exposure.  We teach the women to utilize all three.  Many people tend to think leadership is all about performance.  

The idea that performance is not enough comes to mind with the recent election.  It is on my mind so I wrote a blog post called: WHY FOR WOMEN, PERFORMANCE IS NEVER ENOUGH

To help them understand about the image they project, we invited the participants to interview three personal and three professional contacts about themselves.  This exercise helps them see themselves in a more positive light. It really gives them a solid foundation for their image. We also have them create their own leadership model.  

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It makes so much sense to have them get feedback about themselves and create their own leadership model.  What are some concepts you tend to see that women struggle with compared to your work with leaders in general. 


In my experience, women tend to struggle more than men with promoting themselves.  When it comes to the exposure part of the PIE model, being able to speak up and share successes and ideas is necessary.  This is the part I wrote about in my blog post. I told a bit of my own story...

Early in my career while working at GE, I was nominated for the coveted Pinnacle award - which meant an all-expense paid trip for two to Egypt. The decision came down to a choice between me and another woman. The other woman was well known in our corporate office - I was not. She, having enjoyed greater exposure with top leadership, received the award.

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Since women are thought to have strong relationship skills and the ability to nurture others, did those qualities shine?


Actually no, in fact the women I have worked with so far shared experiences of working with a female boss as not nurturing. Women shared that even if their boss had a family, they sensed that the boss was tougher on them when it came to balancing family and work. Logically one would think women who had similar experiences in the workplace would be supportive of others coming along behind them in the process of becoming a leader. 

Our company, Dillon Marcus Executive Retreats has always been about bringing play and fun to our client organizations. At our retreats we strive to help leaders of both genders relax and connect on a deeper level and perhaps notice their compassionate nature. The women at the retreat in one company in particular seemed to struggle with relaxing and finding that sense of play. For example we planned to bake pies as a bonding activity that reinforced the PIE model. The women were not comfortable with that activity as they felt people might find out what was going on and see the activity of making pies as enforcing a stereotype about women. 

At this company however, the strength of the women showed up in their willingness to lead. The capstone project was optional and most took it on.  

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Self Direction is a powerful component of leadership.  Thank you Tara for sharing insight on developing female leaders.  Since this blog is for people who lead children, I leave us all with this question:  What can we do to encourage self direction and a willingness to lead in our next generation? 

Cup of Leadership is...

a blog for people who lead children.

Deanne Bryce is an advocate for personal leadership at all ages. This post is part of a series of posts where we engage in a virtual coffee chat.  It is a chance for people who lead children to take a break and reflect on leadership ideas.  In addition we get to virtually visit coffee shops around the world in order to gain a fresh perspective. Suggest a virtual visit or leadership topic by connecting on Facebook or Twitter.