My _____ Story: Marie and Magda on the joys of being your true self.


My _____ Story: Marie and Magda on the joys of being your true self.

My _____ Story: Marie and Magda on the joys of being your true self.

Join hosts James and Myriam on this episode of My _ Story, an NIQ DEI podcast, as they sit down with guests Magda Markowska and Marie Pope to hear their stories about how self-acceptance and being their true selves as brought joy to their lives.

Girl with yellow coat, blue hair and red glasses


Marie Pope – Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Manager, Client Development, BASES

Marie Pope is based in Cincinnati, Ohio and has been with NielsenIQ since August of 2020. She works as a Manager in Client Development on the BASES team and loves helping clients. Her favorite food is pizza and she plays music with her band in her spare time.

Magda Markowska – Oxford, UK

Insights Team Manager, International Customer Success

Magda Markowska is currently living in Oxford, UK with her wife. She was born in 80s in a small town in Poland and moved to UK a few years ago. Magda has been working at NielsenIQ since 2014, first in BASES, now in Client Insight Analytics. She has also been with Pride Europe since the very beginning and took over the lead role in 2016.


The views and opinions expressed in this podcast belonged to the individuals who shared them and do not necessarily represent Nielsen IQ. Note that this podcast discusses sensitive topics that may be triggering for some. For more information specific to this episode, see the episode description.

Laura Batien: Hi everyone and welcome to My Blank Story. My name is Laura Batien and if this is your first time tuning in then let me tell you what this podcast is all about. In a nutshell, it’s about stories, your stories. We think stories are important because when we tell them we open the door and allow others to see the experiences that shaped us, that challenged us and helped us grow. By doing this, we can create a culture where open dialogue is encouraged, and we can have the space to discuss important topics in a transparent and courageous manner, so minimize that email tab, mute your chat and take a little break to listen to a Nielsen IQ story.

Myriam Vidalon: Hello everyone, I am Myriam Vidalon and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I work as a Chief Diversity, Talent and Culture Officer for NielsenIQ and I have the immense pleasure of co-hosting this podcast with my partner in crime, James Anderson. James…

James Anderson: Hello, thank you Myriam. My name is James Anderson and my title is Senior Analyst Customer Success in the manufacturing group for Canada G13 and my pronouns are he, him and his. I am so excited to be part of this podcast that creates a safe space for our associates to tell their stories. So Myriam I wanted to ask you, given everything that we’ve been going through in the last little while, what is bringing you joy these days?

Myriam Vidalon: Yeah, you know there’s a lot of things happening in the world right now and lets acknowledge the truth, these are tough times. But in the midst of all these times what has brought me joy is seeing the collective sense of unity that emerges when things are tough, when things are difficult. And when I witnessed these moments, I truly rejoice. And an example is the openness of our colleagues to tell their stories in hopes that they can become an inspiration to someone else. And that’s unbelievable. What about you, James? What makes you feel joy?

James Anderson: Yep, kind of building on that a little bit. I think it’s finding the joy in the small things because we don’t have control over so much of what’s happening in this world today. It’s the little things. Like I know that for me over the last couple of years, one of the one of the things that’s come back to me because the distractions have been removed, we’ve had to stay home and all that kind of stuff is my love of cooking. I dove back into that again. I pulled the cookbooks off the shelf. And one of them being a Julia Child cookbook. I was a bit of a nerd a few years ago when the movie came out and I bought the book and I started making, uh, didn’t make all 450 recipes. I didn’t go that far. Having the ability to something in a time when we couldn’t really do very much. Kind of helped me get through all of that, and knowing that I could make delicious, wonderful food. I will say in addition to that when we were able to have people over and gathering people together and sharing, you know the food that I’ve made and that it can bring joy to people. That brings me a lot of joy.

Myriam Vidalon: I think that’s amazing and we definitely need to meet up for dinner one of these days.

James Anderson: I think so. Absolute 100%, I agree.

Myriam Vidalon: And you’re cooking.

James Anderson: OK, perfect no problem. I love to do it. Should we maybe invite one of our guests in to speak so they can share one of their joy stories.

Myriam Vidalon: Let’s do it. Introducing Marie Pope. Marie Pope is based in Cincinnati, OH, and has been with NielsenIQ since August of last year. Marie works as a manager on the Consumer intelligence sales team and loves helping clients. Her favorite food is pizza, and she plays music with her band in her spare time.

Marie Pope: Thank you both so much. My name is Marie Pope and my pronouns are she and her. So I was actually born and raised in the South. My parents were in an interracial relationship and my mother was foreign, so needless to say we received a lot of judgment and discrimination from our community. I struggled for a really long time with insecurities around myself, my family and what people thought of us. It didn’t help that I went to a K through 12 school that was very conservative and there were only 6 black or brown people in the entire school population. My brother and I included so I always felt out of place and like I didn’t really belong. Like it seemed everyone else felt like they belonged. My mother was really insistent upon me being in my father’s side and being really close to the family there and that definitely helped. But I think especially when you’re young and growing up and you don’t really see people that look like you, you don’t really have friends that look like you and you don’t really see people that look like your family. I think that that does play a really strong presence in how you go about your life. And you know a lot happened between then and now. But what I know for sure is that my queerness saved me. I’m extremely privileged in that my coming out was embraced by my immediate family and my family in the States and I acknowledge that that’s not everyone’s experience and I’m thankful every day that it was mine, but from that moment my life expanded in ways I’ll always be grateful for. I found a set of friends who are like my second family. I met the love of my life and we built an incredible life together and I feel accepted in a way I’d never been accepted before. And a lot of that had to do with the fact that I truly accepted myself completely for the first time. One of my core beliefs is that everyone deserves to be seen and everyone deserves to be loved and everyone deserves to be themselves fully. Imagine a world where everyone is celebrated for being themselves. And that’s really what I want to encourage to everyone who’s in my life. And that’s why I feel like it’s my responsibility to show up proudly whenever I can. I’m really grateful to work for Nielsen IQ because we’re encouraged to bring our full selves to work, like Myriam, you were saying. One of my favorite quotes is “how you spend your days is, of course, how you spend our life”. And if you’re not able to be yourself in your job, it’s limited in more ways than the obvious. So when I talk about joy, I’m talking about all the small things in life that make up the moments that I’ll remember forever. And when I look back on my life, I remember much more good than bad. And I hope that everyone listening can do the same.

James Anderson: Thank you Marie for sharing your story. It’s now my pleasure to introduce Magda Markowska, who is currently living in Oxford United Kingdom, with her wife and her pronouns are she and her. She was born in the 80s in a small town in Poland and moved to the UK only two years ago. Magda has been working at Nielsen IQ since 2014, first in BASES and now in Client Insight Analytics. She’s also being with pride Europe since the very beginning and took over its lead role in 2016. Magda, the floor is yours, please share your story.

Magda Markowska: Hi, thank you for having me for this podcast. So I’m Magda Markowska I use pronouns she her, and I’m quite heavily involved in pride. And I know that being open is not easy. I know this because I wasn’t always like you hear me now being open about myself sharing my story freely. I remember one situation back from high school. I was hanging out with my classmates when suddenly one of them looked straight at me, quiet in her voice and asked, “did you know that we have a lesbian in the class” and I was speechless. My heart skipped a bit but I faked my best surprised expression and I replied “really?”. I must have been convincing because she went on telling me all about whom she suspected. And it was quite a funny situation, but deep down I was terrified because I was the lesbian. You probably need to know a little background about me. So as mentioned, I was born in the 80s in Poland, which is a pretty conservative Catholic country. And when I was growing up, LGBT” topics were a taboo. And for a queer kid like me, it was pretty lonely. There were no role models in real life. There were no role models in the television. There was no Internet to connect to other people. I discovered that I’m gay when I was 13 and I was OK with that. But instinctively I also knew that this is not something that you freely share with other people, so I went on like that. I had friends that knew about me and I shared with them who I am openly. But then the others usually found me a little bit awkward and quiet and I was this awkward and quiet kid with combat boots and with spiky colors and leather, so it was easy to put the distance between me and other people. And when I started working, it became even worse. So in most of the companies that I worked previously there was this don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Everybody kind of knew, but nobody was talking and as long as you didn’t say anything it was OK. But then I joined Nielsen and the change was immediate. So in the second day of being in Nielsen, I found out there is an ERG pride. And this was like a revelation for me. I was so happy to find my place. There was a place for people like me. A place where I could be open about who I am. And when I joined the first pride called I was really excited and I decided on the spot to become really active and involved in pride. And pride has always been my sanctuary, a place where I felt safe and where I could express myself and I could be who I am, and it also helped me become more open and vocal and share my story. Because if my story can help other people to also open up and share stories as well, that’s really important for me, and that that’s what makes me happy.

Myriam Vidalon: Thank you so much Magda for sharing. I find your story very inspiring and empowering, and my question to you is, as you were going through this journey, I can imagine that at one point you did not feel joy. It was not joyful. You had some ups and downs, but what do you do? Or what steps do you take to really pull yourself to that place where you can tell this story around joy?

Magda Markowska: Oh, thank you Myriam for this question. That’s correct. I struggled for quite a long time. I suffered from depression when I was younger but also struggled with that for quite a while. But I always found you know what helped me the most is spending time with people with people who understand me, people who love me. So this always returned balance and I think that that’s also something that I found in pride. All the people that I met through pride in Nielsen were fantastic, were really great people who you know were always there for me and that really was important. It helped me go through, you know, even hard times.

James Anderson: Now I have a question for both of you about joy. For me, joy comes from 2 very specific things. There’s the notion of sanctuary. And there’s the notion of celebration. Number one, you have to have a safe place in order to feel that joy and then #2 to celebrate or to be celebrated, makes the joy exponential. And I know there are many associates around the globe that may still be looking for their joy. So do either of you have any advice on how they can find?

Marie Pope: Well, I second what Magda was saying about the erg. You know, I only started NielsenIQ less than a year ago but I’ve really found a community within our company by joining the ERG. So I’m an active part of pride in the States I am also really involved in sable and hola and that has been really crucial in me feeling like I have a community. In terms of outside of work I think acceptance is another really important thing, and I completely realize and appreciate that there are places where it’s still not OK to be completely yourself. But if you combine those safe spaces. With your friends with your family, I really think that that brings joy. Just being able to show up fully, even if it’s not everywhere. But if you have those pockets of people that are also your home because home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling, it’s a safety. That’s something that I think is really important. A quote that I lean on often is “the secret to happiness is freedom”, and I post that quote with any pride pictures or anything that I post, and I think it’s important because it’s a really good call out. Of just what it’s really about, it’s that freedom.

Magda Markowska: And I totally agree with you Marie. I come from a country where this freedom to be yourself, at least for the LGBT+ people. It’s not so obvious and I actually had this opportunity to move to the UK where I’m much more relaxed and I have more freedom to be who I am. And that actually pulled a big lift from my shoulder. I think also sometimes it’s people that bring you joy, but you need to remember also about caring for yourself. So about this quiet me time. You know, eating pizza and watching your favorite TV show. Just recharging the batteries.

Marie Pope: Pizza is also crucial to joy, definitely.

Magda Markowska: Pizza

James Anderson: Like I said, coffee does really bring me joy. I think you’re right about finding joy internally and finding joy externally. I think a big part of the external joy comes from finding people around you that feel like family that accept you for whoever you are. Or whatever you want to be. I like to call it my chosen family and I think it’s important that we all find our tribes that we find those people in our lives that can really bring out the best in us no matter who we are. So I agree with both of you. There’s such a celebration to go back to my previous point that happens when you find that family.

Myriam Vidalon: Yeah, and needless to say, we are your tribe, right? If you’re listening to this podcast today, any of us here, we want to be part of your tribe, but you know, I find it fascinating on how we’re speaking about the challenges and the hardships that we all go through at different levels, right? Depending on what you’re experiencing is living at a certain moment. But it almost feels like at times we’re chasing happiness. We’re trying to pursue it and chase it in the outwards in the external context is not there for us to find it. So what additional feedback or intentional steps have you taken outside of self-care and outside of finding your tribe? If you don’t have that external support, what other things can people do to find the inner peace, the inner happiness and joy?

Marie Pope: For me it was really about accepting myself regardless of whatever anyone else thought. And that was crucial for me and feeling really at peace and not just at peace but feeling like I could thrive. And yeah, I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I could say is find a way to love yourself and everything that you’re bringing because you are perfect and you are wonderful and you are every single thing that you were ever supposed to be and ever imagined yourself to be. I think that acceptance within yourself will open up your world in a way that you know all these other things could never do because you have to… RuPaul…”if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else.” I do think it’s wisdom. You know wisdom from the mouth of a of one of the world’s greatest drag queens.

Magda Markowska: I couldn’t say it better I think. Also what helped me is remember that there are things that I can control and there are things that I cannot control and I need to accept the things that I cannot control. I might not like them, but there are some of those things that you just need to accept and focus on the things that you can change if you can. And also doing jigsaw puzzles that makes wonders. You calm yourself and you focus on whatever..that little cat on the puzzle. That works wonders.

James Anderson: And I have to admit, Magda, that you know there are things that we can’t control, but there are things that we can change and I feel like you’re making a big change by being a really big part of the Pride erg. Right, you know, people don’t think that what they’re living or where they’re living can change, but watching you really putting in all of your energy to make changes at NielsenIQ and the world around you is really inspiring.

Myriam Vidalon: Thank you, it’s amazing and I couldn’t agree more. I mean, Magda has been our North Star honestly since Funda and I started DEI. We started on this DEI journey so it’s exciting to see now how more people can get to hear these stories. I think that this has been a powerful, inspiring session on how joy is not only you know what you can chase is within you, it’s what you can control, how you feel, how you think about yourself. I hope more people can get inspired and know that there is opportunity to find joy.

Magda Markowska: I was sitting with my wife, probably looking at her. Sun shining outside and this is just this regular moment like a lot of moments in your life. But suddenly you realize that this is it. I don’t need anything else. I’m happy where I am. I’m happy with whom I am and I’m happy who I am.

Marie Pope: Because when we all show up as who we are, the world is a different place and it’s a better place. And I do believe that.

Laura Batien: Hey all, it’s Laura again. We hope you enjoyed this episode of My Blank Story. Tune in next time to hear more stories from the NielsenIQ community. Thank you to our producer Laura Batien and our editor Emma Geltmaker.