Author Factor: Notable Nonfiction Books

The Leadership Journey: Developing Clarity, Confidence, and Courage from Within (w/ Dr. Heather Penny)

August 03, 2023 Mike Capuzzi Season 5 Episode 188
The Leadership Journey: Developing Clarity, Confidence, and Courage from Within (w/ Dr. Heather Penny)
Author Factor: Notable Nonfiction Books
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Author Factor: Notable Nonfiction Books
The Leadership Journey: Developing Clarity, Confidence, and Courage from Within (w/ Dr. Heather Penny)
Aug 03, 2023 Season 5 Episode 188
Mike Capuzzi

On episode #188 of The Author Factor Podcast I am having a conversation with Dr. Heather Penny.

Heather is a leadership coach and trusted advisor helping individuals and organizations achieve their goals guided by the 3C's: Clarity, Confidence, and Courage. Heather helps others to find clarity in their vision, develop confidence in their abilities, and take action. 

She is the author of the book, The Life You're Made For: Finding Clarity, Confidence, and Courage to be Fully Alive.

Learn more about Heather by visiting

For more details about our short, helpful book publishing program, visit

Show Notes Transcript

On episode #188 of The Author Factor Podcast I am having a conversation with Dr. Heather Penny.

Heather is a leadership coach and trusted advisor helping individuals and organizations achieve their goals guided by the 3C's: Clarity, Confidence, and Courage. Heather helps others to find clarity in their vision, develop confidence in their abilities, and take action. 

She is the author of the book, The Life You're Made For: Finding Clarity, Confidence, and Courage to be Fully Alive.

Learn more about Heather by visiting

For more details about our short, helpful book publishing program, visit

Mike Capuzzi [00:00:00]:

Welcome to another profitable episode of The Author Factor Podcast. I'm Mike Capuzzi, and I want to thank you for joining us. My guest today is Dr. Heather Penny, who is a leadership coach and trusted advisor, helping individuals and organizations achieve their goals. Guided by the three C's clarity, confidence, and courage. Heather helps others to find clarity in their vision, develop confidence in their abilities, and take action. She's the author of the book The Life You're Made For: Finding Clarity, Confidence, and Courage to be Fully Alive.  Heather, welcome to The Author Factor Podcast.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:00:35]:

Thank you, Mike. It's so good to be here. I appreciate you having me.

Mike Capuzzi [00:00:38]:

Heather, I just very briefly describe your background. If you would just give us a little bit more about what you do, who you serve, and how you serve them.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:00:52]:

Sure. I started out teaching little guys, third graders, and then moved up into junior high and then university level and then consulting, which then morphed into a coaching company that I started over about 15 years ago. Now I'm a leadership coach and trusted advisor, and so I work with individuals, groups, companies, organizations all around the world, and I work with them a lot over zoom and phone, but then I'll fly in and do a lot of intensives and conferences and retreats. And my goal is to really help leaders really find the life they're made for but help them support their people so that they can live and lead with more clarity, confidence, and courage.

Mike Capuzzi [00:01:29]:

Very good. So just out of curiosity, because I grew up in a family of teachers, including elementary and high school and college, what do you find more challenging working with elementary students or corporate leaders?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:01:42]:

Oh, my gosh, I'm so glad you asked me that question, because so many times I've thought of my teaching background, so prepared me for this. And sometimes when I'm working with a little bit of belligerence, I'm like, yes, I taught junior high. Or when I'm working with a little bit of slightness, I'm like, yes, I taught little third graders. But more importantly, just understanding how people learn and grow helped me with my start with education, and that's where I love just really respecting and honoring. It took nine months for someone to go from third grade to fourth grade. So I think that's one of the things in corporate America, we don't give people the time to learn and grow, and that's the space that I really like to provide and open up for people.

Mike Capuzzi [00:02:19]:

Very good. So The Life You're Made For. Is that your first book?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:02:24]:

Well, yeah, technically, it's my first chapter book. I wrote a picture book called The Bracelet, and it's an allegory that I also use in my actual chapter book.

Mike Capuzzi [00:02:34]:

And it's recently published. Right. A year or two ago, it looked yep.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:02:37]:

Yep, very good. Very recent. And I did self-publishing and then I also created a kind of a workbook to go along and I call it Coaching Companion. I'm getting a lot of great feedback on that. That too is also on Amazon, but it's to help people to take what they're reading in the book and then make their own application. I've heard a lot of people say, oh my gosh, Heather, that was so helpful because then I got to write down my own belief system or my own clarity came, or my confidence pieces or my courage steps.

Mike Capuzzi [00:03:04]:

Very good. So let's talk a little bit more about the book before I ask you to share some tips from it, just to encourage our listeners to go grab a copy. Why did you decide to write it and who did you write it for?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:03:16]:

Well, the work that I do, my company had grown so much and I was working with so many different people that I couldn't take on any more clients. So I thought, how do I capture what it is I do? Put it in a book. And so people feel like they have a coach in their corner. That's what I wanted people to feel like when they pick up this book. And even like, if you look at it, for anyone who's watching this, I created these little sections clarity, Confidence, Encourage. I wanted it to feel like a manual, so there's six chapters in each, but I just wanted people to feel like I can't work with any more people, but I wanted them to feel like they had this coach that was supporting them in their life and their leadership. And my belief is that leadership starts from within. So when we create more opportunities to get our clarity and our confidence, our courage, we're going to lead and live in those spaces with other people. So that's what I love going after. I love going after the individual, but I just can't work with the millions that I would love to work with. So I'd love to get my book out there so people feel like they have it. So I synced it up with a book, a Coaching Companion, and then also just recently, I've launched an e course where I do these short videos where people can feel like they have a coach that is walking this through with them step by step and helping the find their own clarity and their own confidence, their courage. Not Mike, but yours.

Mike Capuzzi [00:04:36]:

And you mentioned you have a podcast. Is your podcast related to all this?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:04:40]:

It is. It's called the life you're made for And I believe everybody is made for a life with purpose. If we were easy, we'd all be doing it. The challenge is, how do we find that life? There's that sneaky feeling deep down that I'm like, I think I'm made for more. This is where I'm a good fit for people and groups where they say, I think I'm made for more, or I think our company is made for more. Our group is made for more. I love come alongside people and say you are we just got to slow it down, because when you slow it down, your clarity will increase and you'll find, I think I want to quit teaching to go start a coaching company.

Mike Capuzzi [00:05:15]:

Now, just out of curiosity, did your podcast become before the book or was it the other way around? Book before podcast.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:05:21]:

Book first and then podcast when people started reading it. So a lot of people, I get on there, they've read it, and they want to have more conversations about it.

Mike Capuzzi [00:05:30]:

It's a strategy. We are a book publisher, and we help a lot of business owners, corporate leaders, publish their books, and I encourage a lot of them to at least think about it. At minimum, podcast guesting, which is obviously what you're doing today. But also there might be an opportunity to create a podcast out of a book. So congratulations with that.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:05:49]:


Mike Capuzzi [00:05:50]:

So if you would, Heather, share a tip or two from the know. Our listeners are business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders. If you wouldn't mind, just share a tip or two just to, again, encourage give a little taste of the book and encourage readers to go grab a copy.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:06:06]:

Sure. So I like to sync up clarity with restorative. Rest, and it's a term I use that says, think about this idea that you're on a road trip and you're taking off in life, but you're going like 100 miles an hour down the freeway. You're never going to get your clarity when you're just focused on the pace of work. You're focused on getting there. You're focused on destination, you're focused on this. But you're really not getting clarity of maybe a new route in order to figure out where you might want to end up in life. You've got to pull over that car. You got to slow it down. You got to pull out a map, and you got to think through, is this really where I want to go in life? And this is where I want to end up. So people typically I work with a ton of high achievers and amazing leaders where they say, hey, jump in the car. Quick, Heather, jump in the car. I'm like, no, I can't. It's going 100 can't. I need you to pull over and work with me for a period of like six months or nine months or several years, just either a weekly call or a bimonthly call where we're stepping into this space to really reorient, is this where you want to end up? So I'm trying to really coach people that clarity takes some intentional time, but that I always tell people like, I promise you, you will be off and going and running in the direction you want. You can go back 100 miles an hour if you want, but at some point, everybody has to pull over and slow down. So that's the clarity piece. The confidence piece is really about our mindset. We all have beliefs that are rattling around in our mind. And for instance, for me, my false belief could have been, what do I know about coaching? All I know is teaching. So as I kind of shifted that mindset to say, no, my teaching is going to prepare me for what's next I get to start engaging in. So that's a mindset shift that really can increase our confidence. The courage piece is all about taking action. Sometimes I'll tell leaders or individual, I'm like, it sounds like you got all the clarity and confidence you need. Courage is now what you're going to need, and courage means you got to set some action steps. I'm going to resign from my teaching job, and I'm going to start moving into a coaching profession. I'm going to go back to school and do my research, get my PhD, and really talk about how people learn and grow. I'm going to focus on an area like spiraling up versus spiraling down. And that's really all my research did, which my research came first, and then the coaching career came later. So as a researcher and educator, I said, I want to go back to school and figure out what makes people spiral up. We're spiraling down as a society, I want to figure that piece out. I didn't realize it was going to morph into a coaching career, but now all my coaching is like and that's the three C's clarity, confidence, and courage. We have a lot of conversation about, hey, what's making us spiral down. What we don't have a lot of conversation about is what are some practical ways to help us begin to spiral up. And that's where I love to come in. I'm super hopeful about individuals, but I've also the research has backed it up, and my experience tells me people can increase their clarity, people can really build their confidence, and people can engage their courage. Here's some strategic ways to do it. Once they do it, they begin to realize it all lives within them. I just get to kind of help organize it a little bit and help provide the time and really say, you got to slow down, and then we got to do some work together. But I promise you, you'll be off and running, but you'll be going in the direction that you really want to go in, and you'll be ending up the place you want to end up at.

Mike Capuzzi [00:09:26]:

I love it. So, Heather, just out of curiosity, do you find yourself working with particular types of individuals, like mainly corporate leaders or mean, do you have a sweet spot or is it sort of all the above?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:09:40]:

I work with a lot of brilliant, creative, high achievers, and it could be corporations that hire me or individuals that hire me, but it's usually these people that are real go getters that want to do more, and they're trying to figure out what that more is. It's counterintuitive. But when they come to me, I think they're expecting me to say, okay, here's five tips to keep going and stay in motion. When they come to me and say, yeah, here's how you slow down, they're like, what? I say slow down first, because when you slow down, you'll access your clarity. But sometimes they're like, I just want your clarity. And I'm like, you don't want my clarity. You want your own clarity, and it lives within you.

Mike Capuzzi [00:10:19]:

Yeah. I remember years ago writing an article I think I called the titled it like The Power of Pause. Paus yes. And I'm a firm believer in that. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I think so many high achievers don't take that time just to sort of slow down. I remember years ago, I was working with a coach, and she recommended doing a day this is 15 years ago of unplugging. Even back then, it wasn't as bad. Unplugging from everything just for the day. Go rent a hotel room or go out and wherever. Just quiet time just to think, and just that alone is beneficial. So to work with someone like yourself who is alongside you and encouraging you and sort of being a sounding board, I think it's critically important, and I don't think you can be too successful to not need that time, that time.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:11:10]:

To get that totally well, you even need it more. Mike I think as my work and business has grown, in the work that I do, I talk about the Thrive Plan, which is a daily, weekly, monthly, annual pause, to use your word. I call it restorative rest because restorative rest increases the clarity, confidence, and courage. So my daily used to be like, oh, I could do with 1 hour. I'm noticing I'll do 1 hour in the morning, but I'll need mike an hour somewhere else throughout the day, whether it's a walk or something, because of the work that I do and the intensity of my work. That's the myth. You don't need it. As much I go, you need more. The more intense and busy and full your life becomes. And I'm in a space in my life where I have so many things I love saying yes to. There's nothing that I want to say no to right now, but I'm realizing I can't. So it's that pause or that restorative rest that pulls me back and gives me the clarity of a need that says, heather, you cannot say yes to these ten things. You may choose the and you may say yes to those three. That's what those pauses do so that you continue to create that quality of life that you want, that balance that everyone loves talking about. But more importantly, this is where I love going after it, I'm like, you're going to end up where you want to go in life, it only takes one or two degrees to tweak it. You think about where you're at, like on a ship, one or two degrees. Give it like five months or five years, you're going to be in a very different place that you don't want to be in. How we tweak those couple of degrees so that we continue to go on the course that we're on is a mindful intentional practice that requires us to slow down for just a bit.

Mike Capuzzi [00:12:48]:

So, last question before we go back to focusing on your book, because I'm obviously intrigued by how you're serving others. What is that window? And I know there's probably no typical window of time, heather, for someone who's a high achiever to sort of have those breakthroughs that you're talking about, is it typically a three month thing, a one year thing, just on average, what can someone expect?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:13:13]:

Yeah, I love getting concrete. I would say three months. This is what the research is showing. Three months with a weekly conversation with a coach or a weekly intentional or with an advisor or someone that keeps you moving in the right direction. So three months for a weekly or six months for a bimonthly. And that's where the research really backs it up. Neuroplasticity is showing this idea of neuroscience. Research is showing that you do something, for instance, five minutes a day for 30 days, you could create a new pattern. So as you step into wanting to do a new course for your life, that many of us don't know how to set that course. If we did, we would. We don't know how to set the course. So we just need a little bit of guide to come in. What I tell people, I'm like, if some coach or advisor or counselor comes along and says, oh, you can get it in two weeks, run. You can. It's impossible. Go find someone that's saying, just slow down for a little bit, but then it's going to empower you to get back on that road to go where you want. You don't want to be also stuck on the side of the road either, just because that person might really enjoy working with you. My goal is to get everybody back on the road and empower them to go after that life and end up where they want to go.

Mike Capuzzi [00:14:29]:

So let's go back to your book. I know you self published it a year or so ago. Heather, can you share how you use the book to attract the kind of clients that you like working with? What are you doing to get that book in front of them?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:14:45]:

Well, it's still working itself out, Mike, to be honest.

Mike Capuzzi [00:14:48]:

It will continue, right?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:14:50]:

Because I've been the first year of it, so I'm like, I don't know. Ask me in like three years and I'll tell you. A little bit more. But I will tell you that I have loved it because even like, I show up and do either keynote talks or I will step into one on one conversations. If they've already read the book, here's what happens. The level of conversation starts up here, like at a level eight versus at a level zero. So once we can start it a little higher, we can accelerate the conversation and the growth together. I love that because it gives everybody kind of a leg up and to be able to step in that conversation with me. And more importantly, it gets them to understand who it is that they're working with. And honestly, if they want to work with me or they want to hire me to come in and speak, I think that's been this really cool opportunity where I'll say, well, have you read my book? And when they say yes and we still want you, I go, Perfect. I'm there because I can't be any more transparent than in my book. And I love that. It's kind of like my favorite calling card. And sometimes when people want me involved, I go, well, have you read my book? And if they say no, I say, I recommend you start there so that you can see what it is you're signing up for.

Mike Capuzzi [00:15:59]:

No, it's an excellent I call the kind of books that we published, and our books are all shorter, 1 hour, 90 minutes reads. I know your book is a little more extensive.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:16:11]:

It is.

Mike Capuzzi [00:16:11]:

But I always say these are conversation starters. They're not meant to be the encyclopedia of that topic. It's meant to get someone interested then to go to that next step. So the way you're suggesting, using the way you're using your book, I think is very smart. Obviously, you're also using it as a podcast guest. I'm sure you're using it to get on podcasts, so very good. Was there anything heather, now, let me before I ask the question, actually, are you one and done? My guess is no, but are you one and done or are there more books in your future?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:16:43]:

I've only just begun. Even if you're talking, I go, oh, Mike, I want to play with the book I just finished. I haven't launched it yet, but it's called Grace Space and isn't that cool? But it's really to your point. Earlier I had a friend who was teasing me, going, Head, I listened to your book and it took me 11 hours. Yeah, I had so much to say in my first book, and I'm still really proud of it because I feel like it's a manual that people can pick up. But in my work with leaders and working with people, I wanted to start making these smaller, like a series called a three C Leading and Living series. So I started this series, which is much smaller, and it's focused on certain topics like Grace Space is going to be launching the series and then I'll be doing like an EQ and other different things that I see happening in our world that I think is also not just for leaders. I always feel like everybody's leading something, but I also feel like the way we lead is the way we live and the way we live is the way we lead. So I'm always syncing those two up together because I want people to feel that congruency of who they are as a person is how they're going to show up in their spaces. So I'm going to start with this gray space one and it's much smaller. I think it's around 10,000 words or something, much smaller. And you're going to feel really successful picking it up and reading it and finishing it.

Mike Capuzzi [00:17:59]:

Yes. Listen, as a former teacher, you get it right. I say that for a lot of folks writing that shorter content, it doesn't mean you can't write the big book, the big hardcover book. But a lot of people do appreciate shorter content. It determines they'll be able to say, hey, if I want to read more. But I've mentioned it many times in my little short books, like the Achievement, someone gets a CEO gets on a plane in New York and by the time she lands in Chicago, she's done the book. Even for that person, there's a sense of achievement, right? So I think so many authors miss that. But I digress. But I love the fact that you even realize it now that hey, well.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:18:43]:

Yeah, and I wanted them to feel like everybody, we're going to slow down. There's six chapters on clarity and I want you to take your time. Take a month on that one. There's six chapters on confidence. Take a month on that one. There's six chapters on courage. Take a month on that one. That'll be three months. So I kind of created it to feel a little bit of slowing down your journey. And most people when they finish the book, they're like, I loved how engaging it was. I said, that's the highest praise you could give me. I want you to feel like you had a coach talking to you and you just picked up maybe a chapter a week. And it began this journey. Which is why I also have the journal that goes with it and also now the e course.

Mike Capuzzi [00:19:20]:

So Heather, if you wouldn't mind, I'd love to know again, with all that you've done in education and now a different form of education, you are a relatively new book author. So again, congratulations with that.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:19:32]:

Thank you.

Mike Capuzzi [00:19:33]:

Can you share the impact that it has made on you, your business, even on others, whatever you want to focus on. But what does it meant to be a book author?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:19:43]:

I always heard, write your book and you'll get more speaking gigs, you'll get more of this and that, which is right. I did, I got more of that and it created more of a level of credibility in the field. What I was surprised about, and this is what I would love to encourage other people who are thinking about writing, is it gave me a stronger clarity of my own message. I literally think of the chapters in my head when I'm talking about clarity. I think about how I sat down and crafted what is it I want to say about this that I say every day with coaching clients. How am I going to put it in a framework and a structure that is engaging and helps people feel like they're getting what they want and they really need. I loved what that did for me personally, and so it refined my own message. I now have there's 18 chapters. I joke, I've got 18 keynotes, and I go and I just do keynotes now quite a bit. And I'm like, oh, I'm going to do that chapter and that's going to do that chapter. I have people now referencing clients and people that come to me, they'll say, oh, I want to know more about the Belief snowball. I was like, oh, that's chapter in that book under confidence. Yeah, I know what that is. But I'm giving them the language to join me in a space that helps them feel empowered and clear. And I always think knowledge is power. I mean, that's part of my education background. So the more knowledge I can give people in a clear, concise, succinct way, the more they're going to feel empowered to kind of almost pick and choose of, hey, I need more of this. And then it helps me as a coach to come alongside them and say, I want to meet you where you're at, not where I'm at.

Mike Capuzzi [00:21:20]:

Again, I love it, Heather, because you're preaching my mantra. There is an amazing sort of hidden benefit when you write that book because for the author, oftentimes such clarity comes bigger ideas, new ideas, and it does force you, when you write that book, to come up with this stuff and think about it. So, again, wholeheartedly agree. So, Heather, this has been awesome. I love the impact you're making. Can you share with our listeners how they can learn more about you and the best place to get your book?

Dr. Heather Penny [00:21:51]:

Sure. The best place to start is really and it'll lead you to everything from my podcast to my new e course coming out. So that's a great place to find me. My e course is just recently being launched and we're already getting some great feedback on it. So there's videos you'll see about five-minute videos. I don't talk at you too long, but I help you feel like you're not alone in reading this book and really taking the journey you want. So the best place to find everything, I try and put everything on there. I put a ton of free stuff there. Then I also have a blog that I do every week that either gives some helpful information, some coaching tips, or helps you understand what's going to be coming out. Everything from the launch of my new book to new podcast coming out to the new e course. So that's a great way to stay informed as well.

Mike Capuzzi [00:22:37]:

Very good. Well, Heather, congratulations on the success so far. And success. Thank you very much.

Dr. Heather Penny [00:22:43]:

Thank you, Mike. It's a pleasure talking with you today.