Every leader can be highly effective if they focus on treating people right and keeping the faith alive. These are the core values that Cora Mauzy has embraced in every leadership role she ever had and ultimately made her one of the Top Women in Grocery. In this episode, she shares how her family back home in Mississippi influenced her people-centric leadership. She opens up about her military service, which shaped her selflessness and flexibility even in the most stressful situations. Cora Mauzy also highlights the common denominator that keeps her grounded and humble: her personal and powerful relationship with God.
Listen to the podcast here
We are bringing to you a super fantastic guest. I saw this guest featured on our news at WRTV here in Indianapolis. She is a store leader from Kroger. Her attitude that transferred through this energy and piece was about her winning something called the Top Women in Grocery, the TWIG Awards. We are going to have Jason play that quickly so you can get a feel for what you are getting ready to read on this show.
At this Indianapolis Kroger on South Madison Avenue, you don’t have to look far for Cora Mauzy. “She got a strong voice. You can’t miss her.” Early in her career, many did. She felt passed up while working to make a name for herself. “That’s me, a captain in the Army.” Through her perseverance, a lot has changed these last several years. “I helped make the invisible visible. That is my thing. That is what I do in this role.” Making the invisible visible. “This is my family.”
“To be a part of a team that cares for each other because she cares.” “I can’t do it without these people.” “We couldn’t do it without you.” More than a job, more than a title. “That is what this award is all about. When you get to a certain level in life, don’t build a taller fence. Build a longer table to bring more people. When you are making the invisible visible, that is the purpose of that.” “This is our 992 huddle.” “This is all about you, 992.”
We want to welcome the lady behind that clip. When you read that, you were like, “I want to learn from her. Cora, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.Check out the LATEST episode of the Get Attitude Podcast with @glennjbill and guest Cora Mauzy @coramauzy - Produced by @JasonAaronPro Click To Tweet
This was inspirational. I am like, “If every store, small business, retail center, and restaurant had that attitude when people walked in, what a better place this would be.” Where do you think that came from for you? How do you define attitude?
I love life. I was born and raised in Greenville, Mississippi. I have five brothers and no sisters. I’m doing what we do growing up. One thing that I love doing is making people smile. I have always done that all my life. That never left me. I’m trying to make someone else’s life better.
How do you define attitude? This isn’t a trick question, but if you had to say, “Here is how I define attitude.” What does that mean to you?
Attitude is everything. It determines how far you go in life, how long you stay in a bad situation, and how quickly you can get to the next level in life or whatever it is you want to aspire to be. Attitude determines your altitude.Attitude is everything. It determines how far you go in life, how long you stay in a bad situation, and how quickly you can get to the next level in life or whatever it is you aspire to be. Click To Tweet
When you talk about staying in a bad situation, there are people that are reading this that may go, “I don’t think we have ever read that one before.” I am in a bad way. There is no question that your attitude can push you out of it. Can you share with us maybe one time in your life that you said, “I’m in a bad way?” Attitude hit you over the head, and you made a change. What is that story? What was that?
There are many different stories. There is one common denominator for whenever life hits you or hits me upside the head. You have to make a decision. Are you going to stay there? Are you going to make the best of the situation? Are you going to surround yourself with people who are winning to help get you where you need to go?
One thing that has always been a part of me, and that is a part of my parents raising me in a Christian home, is my faith. My faith has grounded me for many years in how to handle life, people, the good, the winning, wonderful things in life, and things that aren’t pleasant, and knowing that you will not live there forever. It is my faith that has grounded me all these
Who would you say is your first attitude coach?
My first attitude coaches were my mom and my dad.
Tell me a little bit more about what they did and what attitude lessons they gave you.
It is just watching them all my life. They weren’t on purpose trying to say, “I’m trying to teach you how to do this.” They lived the life. They demonstrated ethics and morals, how to treat people with respect, and how to overcome obstacles. I’ve been watching my mom all my life. Her key to everything was prayer. I didn’t see it. I didn’t get it growing up but believe me. I get it now. I passed that baton to my kids and in our family with my husband for many years. That is how we build our life together.
What profession were your dad and mom in? Was your mom a homemaker?
She was not only a homemaker of six kids, but she also owned her own beauty salon. She was a cosmetologist. We call it a beautician growing up. She did hair at home. I was a part of that environment. My dad worked at a plant until he retired. They both had 6th and 8th-grade education. You are not limited by your educational goals or how far you go in life by education. It is how you treat people and how you live your life that you can make an impact on others.
I instantaneously liked you because we have something in common. You had six in your family. There were 5 of us, 4 boys and 1 girl. If you are anything like my sister, I’m in for it during this interview. Where did you fall in line? What was it like growing up with five brothers? Did your parents almost raise you like a boy, as they did with my sister Molly, who might be reading?
I was number 5 of 6.
I was number five too.
I was a tomboy all my life. I still am in many ways. You learn quickly how to fend for yourself, how to be on time for dinner, or you don’t get it, and you miss out, how to prioritize things, and how to get along and respect each other.
What did your five brothers teach you about attitude? You can think about one of them, all of them, or three of them. What were some of the best attitude lessons you got from those crazy brothers of yours?
I don’t know if they were the best attitudes, but number one, you couldn’t have a boyfriend because you had a brother on every corner protecting you from all areas of your life. You are like, “My goodness.” They taught me the importance of family and how to protect each other. I had various levels of protection with my brothers. That was one thing they instilled in me.
Do any of them in interesting vocations or anything that you are particularly proud of or think is interesting?
They all have unique personalities and bring something unique to the table. I do have one brother in Atlanta. He is an author. He is a dapper individual. He is very loving and kind. People gravitate to him because of his kindness and love for people.
What is he writing about?
Fiction, relationships, and things of that nature.
Tell me what it was like growing up in Greenville, Mississippi.
I love my hometown and the friends and family that I grew up with. They are down-to-earth and good-hearted people who will give you the shirt off their back if you need it. They would go to bat for you if they had to. If you needed anything, they were there for you.
When you go back, has it become highly developed? When I think of Greenville, Mississippi, I see family-owned grocery stores. Are there now Krogers in Greenville?
There were two Kroger stores in Greenville. It is up and coming. There are a lot of different businesses, family-owned as well as change stores, malls, and restaurants. It is a great place. There is a Blues Festival every year. We were there in 2022, my husband and I, for the first time. That was on the bucket list. There are a lot of great things going on in Greenville.
Is that near the university down there?
There is Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University. There are a number of universities.
Were you a Jackson State grad?
I was a Mississippi State Bulldog grad.
The football coach was a guy I followed, Mike Leach, who passed did some unbelievable things. What was your attitude lesson from college? What did you learn at Mississippi State?
I learned a number of things at Mississippi State. I found myself at Mississippi State because I was the first in my family to attend and graduate college. It was a predominantly White college. I wanted to live life. I wanted to experience many different things because I had never left home before. This was my opportunity to get out of Greenville and the house.
You weren’t too far.
Not too far, but it was far enough. Mom couldn’t show up every day, but my brothers could if they wanted. I learned how to adjust and adapt to find my own voice and make an impact by being me.
When you talk about adjusting and adapting, what did you adjust to, and what was your “strategy?” For those people that are sitting and reading this, they may be going, “I need to adjust and do some adapting.” What was your attitude towards that? What was the training or your thought process? If you know anything specific, it would be great to know. It is like, “Here is what I saw. This is what I faced. Here is how I pivoted, adapted, and overcame.
I never saw race as a barrier, although many times, I was one of a few African-American women or individuals in a classroom and an environment, whether it was an event because there weren’t many present. I had never let that bother me at all because I would view individuals as how they treated me. If I treated you with respect, and you treated me with respect, we are friends. We are good to go.
I have that personality and that outlook on life with whomever I meet at any given time, even now. That has been a positive thing in my life. You build on things that work for you. Treating people with respect has always worked for me. I navigated toward that. I build on that. To this day, I still am largely where I am and who I am because of how you treat people.
You treat people darn awesome. I wish you were on the North side so I could walk in. I always tell people that own bars and restaurants, “It is the owner.” That is why I don’t go because the food is food. Beer is beer. My favorite place to go is because the owner hugs me every time I walk in. It is all about the hug.
I believe that attitude is passed down through the generations. Were your grandparents a part of your life growing up in Mississippi? Did you have a special relationship with maybe one of them? Tell us a little bit about the history. This is one of my favorite questions to ask all my guests. It is just not you. It is about grandma or grandpa. Tell me about them and what they did. What was the attitude lesson they taught you if you were fortunate enough to have them in your life?
I was fortunate enough to have my grandparents on my father’s side in my life for a few years. We would visit them in the country. They had hogs and pigs. At the time, they eventually did have running water and a toilet system in the whole 9 yards. That was my first experience of an outhouse.
You were a farm girl.
When I visited grandma and grandpa, I was. That was a great experience. I loved being around them. It was for a brief time, but it was special to me because I love my dad so much. That was his parents. I was joined at the hip with my dad. His personality and attitude had a lot to do with me and how I interact with other people because everyone loved my dad.
He worked at a plant. He was a normal guy.
His trade was carpentry. He was a carpenter by trade. He built my mom’s beauty salon. He was skilled and quite talented.
Did he coach all those boys? Did he coach you in athletics?
You look athletic. Did you play sports?
I wanted to, but I didn’t officially in high school. Mom wouldn’t allow me. She wanted me to study. She was afraid I would become bulk and boyish. When I got to college, I played flag football and volleyball. It was like living life. When I finished college, I went into the Army. That was a lot of my physical ability.
What happened to you when you said, “I want to go work for Uncle Sam?” Give me that story. How did you end up in the Army?
I admired my dad. My dad was a Korean veteran of the Korean War. My second oldest brother spent time in the Army. I knew in the sixth grade because my cousin, Bonita Green from Greenville, retired from the Air Force. I admired her. I loved her uniform, and I was like, “This is my ticket out of Greenville.” Mom wanted me to go to college first. I fought that. I was like, “Okay, I will go to college.” I found out about the ROTC program. I joined the Army ROTC program. I became a commissioned officer when I graduated. That is one of the most precious times of my life. I loved being in the military and being a veteran. That is something that I’m extremely proud of.
Thank you for your service. We love our veterans. We have many veterans on the show. I don’t know if you have looked into it, but Sean Parnell and Rob Jones, to name a few, are unbelievable. Their stories are unbelievable. I appreciate your service. Let’s talk about how your attitude changed from when you were in college to becoming an officer. What is the attitude lesson of being an officer? Did you go, “This was different?” Maybe 1 or 2 of the best things that the Army taught you.
The Army taught me a number of things like how to take care of others and how to put others first. You never eat before your entire troop, platoon, or battery is done eating. You are always last. You make sure they are all taken care of first. The military did teach me how to manage myself and my time, how to protect others and to put yourself first in their protection. I do that without thinking now. I always put my store team first. I always go to bat for them. I always uplift them.
That is where the comment or the hashtag that I have, “Making the invisible visible.” When you are in a leadership role, Glenn, you have a huge responsibility that is beyond yourself if you are doing it right. It has nothing to do with you. Everything has to do with those that are in line that you are responsible for. That is one thing the military taught me. It is how to take care of others and put them first.
Was there a person in the military that affected you? It might have been a fellow soldier, a leader, or somebody you led. What was their story? Why did that impact you so much?
One of my commanders, Captain Andy Boyle, was a big man, but he was a kind and compassionate man. He was my captain for our unit. He was consistent. He saw people as individuals. He didn’t see us as soldiers or lieutenant. He took the time to listen, help, assist, and guide. That is something that stuck with me. It seemed effortless for him to do that. He was effective at it. One thing I learned from him is his leadership style.
You got out of the army. Did you go right into Corporate America? What was your first job out of the Army? How long did you serve?
I served 3 years active and 4 years inactive.
What happened to you after that?
I was ready to see what else was going on in the world. I worked in pharmaceutical sales for a while. I love sales. Sales is what I do because of the people interaction. Getting people to see things from a different perspective and the follow-up component of that. Leadership is a title, but I look at it as a gift. That is what I do.
There is an old saying, “Leadership is not a position. It is a disposition.” That came from John Addison. I always thought that was good for how you compose yourself. At times of great stress and decision-making for you, is there one question that you ask yourself? How do you navigate through those times in your life? Did you navigate through those times?
I still navigate. It is an every-day and every-week type of scenario. One common denominator that has grounded me and has kept me humble is my personal relationship with God. It is the truth. From high school to college to the Army to Corporate America, the situations, the stress, and the crazy happening looks different every day. The one thing that has kept me grounded is when I get alone and quiet. I ask God for his guidance. I ask Him, “What is it that you want me to learn from this situation?”
If you get The ABC’s of Attitude book, you will understand critical questions and what that means. Is there a certain Bible verse that you love? What is that or a Bible story that you go, “Glenn, this is what people need to know and share?” Please share that with us. We love to read that.
I have a couple of favorites.
You bring them. We want to know.
One of them is, “Be still and know that I am God.” That is one of my favorite ones and, “If I be for you, who can be against you?” I live by those verses.
When it comes to attitude, those would be extremely good ones. Do you go to a church here locally?
When our kids were younger, my husband and I lived in Brownsburg. We attended Connection Point Church. We loved that church. When we moved to Columbus, we started attending another church. Now that the kids are grown and gone, on weekends, when we are off together, we drive to Brownsburg and attend, but we also watch it on Sundays, live.
That is one thing that COVID did. They opened up all the churches. I can go to church anywhere in the country now. It is impactful, to say the least. You have mentioned leadership. You are considered a leader at Kroger in your company. Do you have rules 1, 2, and 3 about leadership as far as the style goes? Do you teach leadership to other employees at Kroger? What are you teaching there? What is the 1, 2, 3 for our GAPers out there of leadership for you?
I try to live it every day to be transparent and honest. The thing that I live by in leadership is being fair and consistent. If you nail those two things, being fair and consistent, you will be effective in the long run versus a splash in the pan.
What do you do when somebody challenges your leadership authority or says, “You are not being fair and consistent,” even though you think you are?
Have you been to Kroger?
No, but I know part of leadership is being criticized, attacked, misunderstood, and mischaracterized.
If you can’t handle all of those things that you mentioned, you need to rethink your position on leadership. You nailed that. You have to have tough skin and broad shoulders. If you are fair and consistent, you are still going to have those individuals that will challenge you left and right every single day. I lived it, but I was always ready for it because it never rattled me. I anticipated it. If it surprised me, that would be one thing. I go into every situation thinking, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen now? How will I handle it when it happens?” They are never disappointed.
Tell me about your attitude toward teamwork. Do you have an example or a story about when you walked in anytime in your life and said, “These people are not together, but now they are together?” When I saw your employees say what they said about you on that clip, I was like, “She knows something about how to get people together and lead a team.” Give me your thoughts on the attitude of teamwork and what it takes to build a team.
Teamwork is everything. If you are a leader and you wish to be effective in your leadership, you have to understand your style and audience. You have to know that it is not a one-size-fit-all. You have to make it your business to get to know your people because if you want the job done unless you plan to do it 100% on your own, which is not possible, it has to get done through your team.
It starts with respect, listening, and being transparent. When they see that you are real and genuinely care through various situations, not just when it is nice, sunny, and everything is rosy, but when everything is hitting the fan, and you maintain your stance. You are still fair, consistent, and respectful, but you are now digging deep.
You have to give that vision and say, “We got to get this done. This is what is needed. I need you to help us to get to this goal.” You are communicating clearly and effectively. I try to do that, and I’m not always perfect at it and getting it right. When you surround yourself with people who want to win, you are going to get to the finish line together. They see, feel, and know that. That is all about my team at 992.
992 is the one that was on TV.
That is my store team.
You are on a special project now. Does that mean that you don’t get to be with them anymore?
That is what it means. I am no longer the store leader there, but we are still connected through other social media aspects. I do drop in every now and then. They’re still doing well. I miss them very much. This special assignment is nice. My store was the pilot store several months ago, to have this third-party group came in and lived in my store for a few months. They go through everything to determine where we were losing so much money. Where are we losing in shrink in the perishable department?
They gathered the data after several months. They came up with this plan to go to certain stores that are experiencing high shrinkage, meaning high waste, which could be controlled by utilizing the best practices and ordering good practices now. On the backside of that, I’m now one of the coaches. I’m assigned to four different stores that have opportunities that can be turned around to a positive by following certain best practices to reduce shrinkage in their stores. That is what I’m doing now.
Do you enjoy it?
I do. I’m excited. I didn’t interview for the position. That is another God thing.
You told us who had the biggest influence on your attitude while you were in the service. When you got into private life, was there a coach, leader, or coworker that you took note of and said, “I could learn from them?” Who was your attitude coach after the Army? Whom do you follow? What authors, books, or gurus do you like? Whom do you like to listen to get you right?
I listen to a number of inspirational podcasts. There are a number of preachers that I follow. T.D. Jakes is one. I love listening to T.D. Jakes and one that I grew up with my mom. My mom grew up with this gentleman. I have watched him all my life. My husband and I had a chance to visit him when he was on tour once. That is Dr. Charles Stanley.
He is on every weekend here in Indianapolis.
I follow Dr. Charles Stanley and T.D. Jakes.
We would encourage all of our GAPers to follow those two because I follow them too. We have a lot of great pastors here in Indianapolis whom I love and listen to. Cora, you have given us all kinds of things to think about and remedies for leadership and teamwork. We appreciate you giving of your time to our GAPers.
For the folks out there that are walking the beach or driving the car that is reading this, we always love for our guests to give a message of hope to those people that are standing at the beginning of the bridge that hasn’t bridged the gap and walked across it. I loved the two Bible verses that you quoted. It is powerful. That will help us. What is your message of hope for those who are reading, and we will let you out of our show’s studio?
It is important that no matter who you are and what stage you are in your life, you are never too old, and it is never too late to ask God to lead and guide you in the direction that He wants you to be. I say that because once you have a personal relationship with God, trust his guidance, and understand who you are and whose you are, there is nothing that can shake you.
There is nothing hard or difficult in your life that if you get along with Him, be still, and know that He is God, He won’t come through for you every single time. This works not only in your personal life, marriage, your kids, and your family. It works in business as well. I’m living proof of that. That is what I would leave with anyone who is wondering, “How can I get to the next level and not have to do it on my own?” I trust God in it.
We will say amen to that. That almost sounded like a prayer to me. Cora, I want to thank you for your time and insight. We appreciate having you on the show.
Thank you so much for having me, Glenn. I appreciate it.
About Cora Mauzy
TWIG (Top Women in Grocery) Honoree
FMI Retail Leader
A positive driven leader with a passion to empower others to reach their highest potential in life. I seek to make the invisible…visible…by instealing confidence that leads to success. A dedicated transformational leader, educator and trainer with a proven track record of assuming positions of increased responsibilities and accountabilities.
Experience includes leading highly functional teams in operations, budgets, shrink, performance management, coaching and mentoring. A change agent with the ability to effectively communicate across all levels of management while building and developing strong partnerships.
Specialties include: Master’s in Management (HRM) with 15+ years in Higher Education Sales, B2B, Recruitment Management. Served 3 years Active Duty US Army (Captain). Proven track record in motivating/leading teams. Sourcing/Identifying top talent and retention. Passionate trainer/facilitator- public speaker. Knowledgeable in Conflict resolution, employee relations, federal law, regulations, negotiations, human resource administrations, payroll, hiring, benefits, inventory management. Microsoft office, PowerPoint, excel, word. Relationship building.