181: Live Out Loud: Cosette “Coco” Leary

Cosette “CoCo” Leary loves to live out loud. She’s a jubilant speaker, professional coach, author, and educator. CoCo has overcome a childhood of poverty and abuse, raised four children through hard work and painful decisions, and has gone from surviving on welfare benefits to earning her university degree in Public Administration, graduating with highest honors and serving as a staff member in both a senatorial and congressional office. Ms. Leary pulled herself out of poverty to show others how to do the same. She exists to breathe life back into improving communities, rekindling relationships across economic class lines, and empowering women.

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Show Highlights:

  • Why CoCo is intensely passionate about not accepting society’s rules for her and being empowered to challenge the status quo; her passion comes from growing up as a foster child who was pregnant with her first child at age 14, and had to go against the court system to keep her child and not be forced to terminate

  • How CoCo determined to have a life worth living for her and her baby

  • CoCo’s personal brand of intensity is absolute determination and a never-give-up attitude in going up against economic class systems

  • Why CoCo knew she had to start with education to advance herself to help others

  • How CoCo’s children watched her at work to better herself despite living in Section 8 housing and shopping at Goodwill

  • How CoCo’s intensity was affected as she grew up by her loving father who gave her the gift of imagination but died when she was 12; a few years before his death, her parents divorced, and her mom remarried an abusive man

  • How CoCo was beaten regularly and repeatedly ran away from home but was carried through those hard times by the self-love instilled into her by her father

  • Why CoCo had difficulty expressing herself with language other than that of the “hood” where she grew up–until she found the local library

  • How I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou changed CoCo’s life at age 12 when she lived in an orphanage

  • After working in DC and then returning to Washington state, CoCo went through two years of homelessness even though she had a degree in Public Administration; no one would hire her

  • How she started building her brand even while homeless and working as a CNA, living in a motel for several months

  • Now, CoCo helps other low-income women build their brand and helps women entrepreneurs fall in love with themselves

  • Why CoCo’s intensity never got out of control because her drive was mandatory for survival

  • How her health suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure, and a stroke in 2018

  • How CoCo uses her fire for good by encouraging others to use their fire and giving others permission to really see who they are

  • Habits that helped CoCo harness the power of her intensity: “Being honest with myself, telling myself the truth, and realizing I need a good support system, and I need to be a support system for others.”

  • Last words from CoCo: “Love yourself. Tell yourself, YES. Whatever you want to do for you, find a way to do it.”


From Welfare to The White House

Find CoCo on Instagram: @welfare2whitehouse

From Welfare to the White House by Cosette Leary

"This is not a practice run. This is your life." ~ Cosette "CoCo" Leary
Live out loud with Cosette "CoCo" Leary
"Love yourself. Tell yourself, YES. Whatever you want to do for you, find a way to do it." ~ Cosette "CoCo" Leary