Cori Maedel at Jouta Performance makes big dreams real

Cori Maedel always knew that one day she would start her own business. The question, in her mind, wasn't if, but when. As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, Maedel had big dreams and big ideas, but before she could launch herself, she realized that she had to stop "playing small" as a woman in the male-dominated world of business.

"Women often don't believe that what they want is possible, or they think they don't deserve it," Maedel said. "I had to get out of my own way."

Today, Maedel runs the Jouta Performance Group, a successful human resources consulting group based out of Yaletown. On the chilly November day that I visited her office, I entered a space that was warm and inviting. The walls were coloured cream with deep red accents; exposed beams and brick added depth. Delicate, zen-inspired ornaments adorned the desks and tables. 

For Maedel, starting a business and doing it on her terms, from the company's key values to the office decor, has been a hard fought battle. During our conversation, Maedel exuded a kind of inner calmness, a groundedness. She spoke softly, but told a tale of perseverance.

For many years, she struggled to find her own path. She felt that she could not trust, or could not express, her own knowledge and beliefs, despite having earned them through hard work. It's a theme she has seen over and over again among women in her role as a coach and human resources consultant.

"Men, in spite of their fear, will tread forward anyway," Maedel said. "They say, "I’m going to succeed and nothing is going to stop me." Women say, "I really want that, but can I have it? Should I have it?" Much of this self-doubt, is rooted in a lack of confidence in one's own beliefs, Maedel said.

Maedel relates to the difficulties of many of her clients because she has experienced them first hand. Although she now runs her own business, her journey began as the only daughter of a single mother in Northern Alberta. They moved ten times in as many years before finally settling in Fort McMurray where her mother had a job opportunity.

"I grew up really fast. I had to be an adult much sooner than I would have liked. There were a lot of times in my life where I was on my own," Maedel, who is in the process of writing a book about her personal journey, said.

Her mother did the absolute best she could to provide for herself and her daughter, Maedel said. She ran a placement agency and passed her entrepreneurial spirit on to her daughter. She also taught her a lesson or two about what it takes to succeed in business.

"Early on, she fired me. She said, 'You’re not doing your job. Get out!' Soon after that I got back in and started working again,” Maedel said.

In her teenage years, Maedel was headed down a troubled path until some kind and perceptive words from a stranger pointed her in a different direction.

"I remember thinking, if I can just get a job that has offices outside of MacMurry, I can get out of here." She found a position in town with Goff Electric but when she asked to be transferred to Edmonton, she was so low on the ladder that they couldn't guarantee her a job. She left anyway, got a job with the company in Edmonton and eventually landed in Port Coquitlam.

"And then I just worked hard. At that point in my life, I knew that the only person I had was me," Maedel explained.

Then, in 1986, she came to the realization that something big had to change. She started on a quest to find out who she was and, as part of that process, she began working with other women as a personal and career coach.

Her strength as a coach is rooted in her own struggle to find her place as a woman in the world of business. "When I was younger I used to think of business as a game. I used to try and play the game, then I said, wait a second, I’m just going to be me," Maedel said.

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