Mentoring in the Marketplace - Lesson 1
Mentored Business as Mission
- Learn about the importance of mentoring and sponsorship in business, and how it can impact career progression and personal growth.
Mentoring is a popular word these days and used by many to describe very different experiences. We think that’s because there are great differences in people and how each learns, relates and responds to input in their lives. You will see from these practitioners, both mentors and mentees that different is not only okay but valuable as we each find our unique way to live out the heart of God in the marketplace of life.
Karen Howells [00:00:06] We're delighted to have you with us today as we explore the Ministry of Mentoring and the power of mentoring in people's lives, both spiritually and in the business world. And today, we have two very special guests that I'm excited to introduce. Not only are we going to focus on the Ministry of Mentoring, but we're going to look at how it's helped develop a young woman's talent and developed a whole social enterprise. So there's many layers to our conversation today. So welcome. I'm Karen Howells. And I've personally seen the power of mentoring as a leadership development consultant for many years now and seen how it grows people and talent and makes a huge difference for the Kingdom of God. So most importantly today, I want to introduce you to Diane Paddison, my friend and colleague. She has an amazing resume and a great heart for people and for God. And I'm going to actually ask her to share a little bit about her path. But she's a mother. She's a wife. She's a leader in organizations. She's been a chief operating officer now in commercial real estate. She's also an author and has written the book Work Pray, Love. And it's oops, I always say it wrong Work, Love, Pray. But it's a wonderful book on mentoring young Christian women in the marketplace. And then also we have Liz Bohannan, who's a new friend. I had the opportunity to hear her speak yesterday at a Christian professional luncheon for women. And she has an amazing story that I was very inspired by. So I'm excited to have you hear about her journey to see how business and ministry and mentoring all comes together. So tell us a little bit more, Diane, about your journey, if you would, especially how you came to mentoring.
Diane Paddison [00:02:09] Thank you, Karen. It's a pleasure to be here. I had the opportunity to grow up on a farm in the state of Oregon and go to Oregon State and then go off to Harvard Business School to get my graduate degree. And it was the MBA. And after that I started in the commercial real estate industry and really from a career perspective, had a chance to really see what my gifts were. They were very different from the men that I worked with that we're really focused on the deal side, and my gifts were really around building relationships with clients, being focused on our team and and really helping them grow and develop, building our platform and really looking at the financial side. And so that really put me in a place where I was able to progress pretty quickly in a Fortune 500 real estate company and be their CEO. And that really happened over a 21 year period of time with Trammell Crow Company. And then we sold to CB Richard Ellis. At the same time, from a relationship perspective, I was married, had two children, I went through a divorce, so a very broken time in my life and where I definitely had a failure and then was a single mom with two kids. And now I'm blessed today to be married to Chris. And we have a mini Brady badge. We have four kids together. And, you know, I felt like that God had given me this platform and he really had a plan for me that I really didn't understand it till I looked back in 2009 and realized that I had this this amazing career, having been CEO of two Fortune 500 companies. And I had been given the opportunity to go through different stages of relationships and. Professional Christian women. Those are two of the key things they deal with. And my faith was my foundation through it all. And I couldn't have gotten through all of that at all without my faith. So I came to this point where I saw that where I enjoyed my day was when I had coffee or when I had lunch with women that we were talking about, you know, how do you do this? Or, you know, how do you deal with a boss that doesn't understand you want to get home and be with your family in the evening and just kind of dealing with the real questions of the day? I thought, you know, there is a need for this. And so that's why I really felt called to start forward and really start an organization that would focus around helping women be in community and help them reach their God given potential.
Karen Howells [00:05:17] And I'm thinking with your story, it probably would have been so helpful for you to have an organization like Forward when you were going through those things. You know, we've talked about that before.
Diane Paddison [00:05:27] Yeah, it would have been amazing. You know, I kind of created it on my own with just as my I would call my personal board of directors.
Karen Howells [00:05:37] That's so great. So, Liz, you've got a story. I got to hear it yesterday. So can you give us maybe the edited version, too? Yeah.
Liz Bohannan [00:05:48] Yeah, absolutely. So the short story is that I grew up in Missouri and I went to the University of Missouri, Columbia, and studied journalism at less out of a real passion for news industry and more so really drawn to language into storytelling and really seeing that as a platform for how I would engage the world. And I was really passionate specifically about women's issues and kind of gender studies, and that went in a lot of different directions. But one thing that I just felt really drawn to was this idea of how extreme poverty disproportionately affects women in the world and kind of across the globe. And that dynamic and I thought about it a lot and I learned about it a lot. And I wrote about it and I read about it. And right after I graduated from university, I had a pretty powerful realization that even though this was the thing that I said I cared about and I was, you know, this was kind of my thing, I didn't have a single relationship with a woman who was living in extreme poverty. So I kind of saw this gap between my head and my heart, really. And you know, what I talked about and what I thought I believed. And then really my day to day life. And so I didn't like that. And so I kind of decided that I needed to do something to close that relational gap. So I moved to East Africa, where I knew there was a lot of women living in extreme poverty. And it would probably be kind of easy for me to make friends there.
Karen Howells [00:07:09] You don't have a problem with risk taking, right?
Liz Bohannan [00:07:13] Right, I might have a problem with taking too much risk out on the other side. Right. So I moved to East Africa and went and kind of thought I would use my communication skills in journalism and writing to assist an NGO nonprofit that was doing work that I really believed in. So I moved there, and that's what I started doing. And while I was there and while I was volunteering for an organization, met a group of incredibly talented, ambitious, bright, beautiful young women who were my age, who had just graduated from a secondary school kind of college prep program, tested into college. But in Uganda, there was a nine month gap in between high school and university. And this gap is intended to allow students that test in the university to be able to find a job, to make money, to go to college. And basically what was happening with this specific group of women, which is very similar to any other women in the country that have actually made it to this point in their academics is that they're going back home to their villages with all of this gusto and drive and excitement about going to university and pursuing their education in their careers. And there's just no job opportunities for that one, because they're living in communities of extreme poverty with an over 80% unemployment rate. And two, because they're women. And in rural Uganda, it's very much so not considered as important for women to have access to education as it is for their male counterparts. And so all of the things that I saw when I was in Uganda, this was the thing that I was just most compelled towards and decided that I kind of wanted to be a part of that solution. And I started thinking through it and wanted to start like a sponsorship program where women in the U.S. would sponsor women in Uganda and we would connect them. I was really challenged by some of my Ugandan friends. I was very privileged to have a really progressive, smart group of Ugandans that befriended me like Ali, and they kind of said, you know, we love that you're passionate about this and you care about this because it is it's a big problem. But what we need is opportunity. These girls have nine months to find a job, to make money, to go to school. The problem is we don't have jobs. We don't have an economy, we don't have infrastructure. We don't need a sponsorship program here. You should do something where you create jobs and hire people, which, you know, at this point, I'm a 22 year old journalism student there, worked for a for profit company. Really, let alone thought about ever starting one. And so that's kind of where in my world flipped upside down. And after trying a couple of things that failed, including a chicken farm, Sacco started actually as a chicken farm, and then we moved into sandals. That's a really logical progression. We hired three young women and basically sat down with them and said, okay, you promised to make these sandals for the next nine months. I promise that you will go to college next fall. And luckily, they kind of took me up on the crazy idea and they didn't think I was crazy. And I came back to the U.S. and started selling sandals. And that's how this little sandal company called Sneaker Designs was born.
Karen Howells [00:10:09] And you shared yesterday you had it all figured out. Yet God had a different plan.
Liz Bohannan [00:10:15] You know, as most 22 year olds have the world figured out. I was one of those. And I really believe that there are kind of two spheres. There's two circles of people, one one circle where the people like me that cared about the world and cared about injustice and inequality and issues that really mattered. And those were the people that after college were going to go to the Peace Corps and they were going to work in. Nonprofits in policymaking and education and social work. Yes.
Karen Howells [00:10:42] Things that really the righteous one. Right, right, right.
Liz Bohannan [00:10:46] Ask Very humble and nonjudgmental. And then there was this other group. And those were the marketing kids, the finance kids, the accounting kids, the passion kids. And those were the people that really cared about themselves and cared about money and status. And and number one. And I was very clearly in the former group and knew that I belonged with a group of people that were going to make a difference. And I even had a moment. I got in a fight with my dad when I won. I had a journalism major and I wanted to get a minor in social work and religious studies. And my dad was like, you know, oh gosh, 39 journalism degree next month that leads you on. He's like, Just get a business minor. You know, It's really it'll help you out. You'll learn some good things. And I very dramatically help my father that if he thought I wanted to go into business, he didn't understand me and my desire and my heart. And now, looking back on that as a CEO of a company, I wish I had a single business class under my belt. But I really realized and Cisco has really been one, a journey and a process of me learning and a lot of eating humble pie. And I have come out of this belief that there are two kind of separate spheres and really both believe that not only in business and consumerism and in economics be a force for positive change. I really believe that it has a really unique place in the kingdom and that there is an incredible platform kind of in the marketplace for really doing kingdom work in a way that I think we we don't necessarily always look at. So one of my passions has become, okay, how do we look at these social issues, these things that we see as injustices or inequalities, and instead of automatically kind of assigning them to the nonprofit advocacy sphere, is there a marketplace solution and is there a business model that we can use to really solve these social issues?
Karen Howells [00:12:41] It's really exciting and so exciting to see a young woman at your stage in age be able to now execute on that passion and the call that I think God has on your life, which is exactly where mentoring goes in room. So let's talk about mentoring in this unique context. So Diane, could you tell us a little bit about how your relationship with Liz has evolved and then how you've been able to use your unique journey as a mentor to help empower Liz?
Diane Paddison [00:13:14] Sure. Well, I was really blessed seeing how God just puts these connections in your path. And I remember we were driving to our first forward retreat board retreat, and Katie Rife said, You know, there's this woman named Liz Bohannan who would be a great speaker. And this told me a little bit about her. And I called Liz as we were driving down to the forward retreat and talked to her about being a speaker in December. And she said, sure, I'd love to do it. And so that's how we met. And then really time evolved. We didn't keep it real close tight. But I was so taken with Liz's story that Forward really took on Seiko Designs as one of the products we wanted to promote on our site. So we do that today and there's about 25,000 that come to our site from all over the world. Then, you know, we got to a next stage where just this summer I was with Liz and they were sharing the update on the business and what was going on there. And that was really when the gifts of my business skills came in and it was really around connections. Sure. Because Liz was a stage. She was raising debt for a company. And I knew people in Dallas. I also knew people in Portland that would be excited about what she's doing and would have the wherewithal to be able to invest in the company. So, you know, our relationship that has become closer since that time. And again, God puts these amazing connections in your life. And I serve on the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army with Laura Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, and her senior advisor, Charity Wallace wrote the foreword to my book and charity and I have become very close friends and we had just had lunch a few weeks before. Listen, I caught up with each other and charity and share with me that she was putting on the conference in Africa in Tanzania, where all the heads of state of Africa, we're going to be together with the Bushes and the Obamas and had given me sort of what she had been working on.
Karen Howells [00:15:42] That's amazing.
Diane Paddison [00:15:43] Yeah. And so when I was with Liz, I. When I was with Liz, I said, Gosh, Liz, I need to connect you with Charity. So because she needs to hear your story, because it's exactly what the the Bush Institute wants to promote. And so then I connected Liz and Charity and Liz, like a great entrepreneur, got some sandals to Charity in Tanzania for President and Mrs. Obama and also President, Former President and Former First Lady Laura Bush. And I understand they have them. We don't have pictures yet, but that would be.
Liz Bohannan [00:16:28] Great after that.
Karen Howells [00:16:29] Yeah, that would be wonderful for your marketing.
Diane Paddison [00:16:31] So, I mean, our relationship has evolved. We share our desire to serve God. We enjoy our gifts in the business world. And we care about relationships. So it connects us.
Karen Howells [00:16:47] Wow. What a boost that must've been. And a total God sighting. What did it mean to you emotionally to have someone like Diane come alongside you as you had this dream? What was that like for you?
Liz Bohannan [00:17:00] Yeah, I think it's just, you know, any time someone says yes and then starts walking along beside you, it's really powerful. You know, there's something about people like saying, like, Hey, yeah. And, you know, Yeah, well, what you find is isn't.
Karen Howells [00:17:17] Good luck.
Liz Bohannan [00:17:18] For you, right? Right, yeah, totally. And there's a lot of that, you know. A lot of sideline, you know, encouragement, which is also great. But there's it's a whole different ballgame when someone says yes and keep going. And here's how I'm going to help you get to that next step. And that is definitely a really powerful a really powerful thing.
Karen Howells [00:17:38] Yeah, that's great. It's almost like having a a running buddy if you're trying to jog and it gives you that, you know, encouragement to keep going. And I'm sure there have been and will be a speed bumps as an entrepreneur.
Liz Bohannan [00:17:53] And potholes.
Karen Howells [00:17:55] Exactly right.
Liz Bohannan [00:17:58] Or in my case, you know, like 97 cows that are blocking the car across the street, a lots of cow traffic jams where I go.
Karen Howells [00:18:08] At least I didn't have to deal with that this morning. It's just rain in Portland, Oregon. So what's been the most fulfilling part for you as a mentor?
Diane Paddison [00:18:17] You know, it's really fun when when I thought about that question, Karen, is I thought about the stories and I thought about Karen, who is my mentor mentee at Trammell Crow Company and how she came in to Trammell Crow, you know, from University of to went to Wharton and got her MBA and came into the finance area and she was just knocking it dead on the finance side. But at the same time, she was married. Mm hmm. They weren't able to have children. And she was able to adopt a little boy from Guatemala and to just be alongside her as she is not only working through her career, but figuring out how do I navigate this thing called I can't have a child, but I want to have a child. Yeah. You know, and I think about Karen today and where she is. She's CFO of of University of Phoenix, which is a big online university. And just when I think about her story, that gets me excited.
Karen Howells [00:19:22] Exactly.
Diane Paddison [00:19:23] You know, just exactly the same as Liz. The story encourages me and inspires me to have the opportunity to be involved with lives of women like Liz and like here. And I have many more. So you'll have to let me know if you want me to show. I know we can.
Karen Howells [00:19:43] We can talk all the time about the stories, which is really what it's about, isn't it? Is people that were touching. Yeah. For the kingdom and I hear this often in the workplace because I work a lot with women in leadership. There's such a sense of isolation. And though they have their church community and that's absolutely crucial and we believe that's a foundation. There's something about having someone out there in the workplace and in that mission field to encourage you on how to how to navigate that. It's almost like you're living in a different cultures now. Right. Yeah. In the marketplace. Yeah. Well, what advice would you give to those who want to be effective mentors? And then I'm going to flip the coin and ask you about mentee.
Diane Paddison [00:20:29] Well, it's really wonderful that I've been able to do it through some formal programs for ten years through my companies and now Forward has a formal. But I've also had the opportunity to do it very informally where like Liz in my relationship and I would say to mentors that don't force say, you know, you really need to be in a relationship where there's a connection, just natural connection. And I actually had a mentee assigned to me once where after we met the first time, I said, and it was a gentleman I shared with them, I said, I don't think we're a good fit and I think we should not be afraid to say that because it's better for them and better for you and you're going to be a better mentor. So I think that is critical. I think the other is you're not supposed to have all the answers. You're really there to listen and you're really there to sort of give you sort of options and advice, but you've got to let them make the decision. So I think mentors have got to sit back and really be someone that is is a listener.
Karen Howells [00:21:41] That is really great advice. I think as we get to this certain season of life. I think we can feel like we have to have the answers. And what I've heard from other young women and men is that that's not necessarily what you need. Yeah. What how would you respond to that?
Liz Bohannan [00:21:59] Yeah. Oh, no, I absolutely agree. I think and I don't know, I can't totally speak to this because I haven't been on that side as much. But I do think that there's kind of this sense that you kind of have to have your stuff together. You have to have, you know, gotten to a certain point in your career life before you can mentor somebody else. And I think that exactly what you guys are saying, sometimes it's just being a sounding board and laying out different options and asking really critical questions. And I think on the flip side of that, being on the men's side, I think it requires that same openness because there also, I think can be a tendency, especially in the marketplace, you kind of get into this. You know, one of my memos is fake it till you make it right. So I'm like constantly in positions where I have no idea what I'm doing. And so I'm just like, Yeah, yeah. And acting super confident and then getting in my car and like Googling words that I didn't know that someone was saying, you know, or different ideas. And so I think on the one hand sometimes you have to do that to get to the next step and just say, I'm not going to let that freak me out. But it can also put you in a cycle where you're like constantly trying to act like you know what's going on in that you've got your stuff together and that, you know, trying to make it so that people believe in you. And I think for a mentor mentee relationship to really be effective, that has you have to let that go. I mean, you have to be in a place where you're willing to say, like, I have no idea what I'm doing in this area, or I may I think I made a really big mistake here, and I'm just going to be super honest and say this is what happened and this is what I did and this is what I'm thinking, and which requires a lot of trust to know that, you know, that's not going to make someone think less of you or not believe in you anymore. So I think that that honesty and that transparency and willingness to be really humble and to accept, like I, I have so much to learn and there's so many people around me that have this really rich experience of really a posture of of humility and a willingness to learn from others is is really key.
Karen Howells [00:23:57] Yeah. And that's going back to Diane's comment about having the right chemistry is so important because all the mentoring takes place within relationship. And, you know, we love to occasionally save you from some of the mistakes we've made. And there is that aspect, too. I also know other young women have said it's just so nice to know I can pick up the phone and call you and talk about anything. Like you said, not just about finance with Karen, who you mentioned in your story, but about personal issues. It is tricky to balance as a Christian woman, work requirements with your family commitment and then when you have children.
Liz Bohannan [00:24:41] So we've been really blessed. We have a really amazing board, and one of the members of our board has just taken. He's just a fantastic guy. And I remember after our first board meeting, we went through the whole deal. It was like four hours long and PowerPoints, financials and all this stuff. And then he had my husband and I work full time together as well, which is a whole different relational dynamic. And we can go on the session on that if you want. And so he had he had my husband leave the room and just one on one with me. He said, okay. Now, I was working with Ben. How was decision making going? Like, how is this affecting your marriage? And then likewise had me leave and talk one on one with Ben and really, you know, at our board meeting. So really kind of saying, you know, kind of getting rid of the idea that there's like business and there's these decisions and then there's life in relationship and things in this area and saying like, great, I'm super happy to hear that your gross margin is growing. But also what is what is your marriage look like and how are you loving and serving each other in this? And we have just been really blessed to have the example of people in the marketplace that are really gifted and talented but that also have a passion for a relationship.
Diane Paddison [00:25:52] Yeah, that's that's a huge gift.
Karen Howells [00:25:54] That's amazing. Yeah, that's a that's a true angel. Is it? To have that kind of person? Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about the spiritual aspect of mentoring. How has not only Diane's mentoring but others that have come alongside you, has it helped you grow? I mean, even in combining looking at business and kingdom building, what's happened in that realm?
Liz Bohannan [00:26:18] I think the biggest thing is just I think he question asking is a really important part of mentorship and even getting into the spiritual realm, because in the same way that you don't necessarily, you know, and sometimes it's really great actually to have just like hard advice of like what's going on, This is what you need to do. But when you get into the spiritual aspect, I think that straight up just kind of teaching and preaching and, well, here's what I did and some and here's where I've landed and you should learn from this. It gets a little bit stickier, I think, because your spiritual journey and your relationship with the Lord and how your work and your life and your relationships are playing into that, it's so individual that I think people that have enough confidence in steadiness, in their own faith and their own walk with the Lord that are able to really just come in to younger people's lives and just really ask the questions and kind of just probe of like, well, what's going on here and how did this, how did this thing over here affect what you're thinking or what you believe about this and really being someone to kind of spur on these thoughts? Because especially when you're in the marketplace and you're not in a formal ministry setting, there isn't a lot of time or place for those just kind of reflections. You really have to you really have to carve it out and be really disciplined to kind of make those connections and give yourself time and space to ask those questions and to really reflect. So having someone else really kind of help you put those pieces together and force you even in kind of a I don't really like the word accountability. It's got a lot of baggage in the Christian world, but the kind of accountability of like, are you thinking through how this part of your life in this sector is influencing what you believe about yourself? What you believe about the Lord is a really important thing and a huge gift when someone can do that.
Karen Howells [00:28:11] Totally, and I love what you're describing because it's really coaching. Is that where someone's asking you those penetrating questions like the Lord did himself? He was the original a model for what it's like to be a coach. Yeah. So that's that's terrific. So what speed bumps would you encourage mentors to avoid besides what you've already mentioned?
Diane Paddison [00:28:37] I think one is definitely. Don't be their personal counselor. I mean, I think well, a lot of times you might want to follow a path that you might not be professionally trained to be. Yeah. Yeah. And to be careful that what you're doing is what you're gifted to do. I have a lot of times when I'll have people come to me with real specific needs that I don't have a background in or even experience. And so you do have to be careful not to feel like you have to know it. All right. And to refer them to maybe other people, that would be a better resource than you would be. So I think that would be one. And then secondly, Liz kind of touched on this, but how critical it is to this relationship is highly confidential and that what you share with each other, unless you agree that it is welcome to be shared with others. But it's it's a relationship that you want to make sure that that person that you're mentoring feels ultimate trust. So they will take the risks that Liz talked about and ask you anything. And so to find that confidence is definitely a big no no.
Karen Howells [00:30:10] Yeah. So having clear boundaries, you know, sense about the relationship and then being willing and able as a mentor to refer, connect the mentee with a professional resource when it. Yeah.
Liz Bohannan [00:30:24] And I think one other thing to add on to that is just expectations. I think you can never overt indicate of, hey, this is what I'm thinking this is going to look like, What are you thinking this looks like? Because I think a lot of times misses come when you know, somebody on the one side thinks it's a formal mentorship and that a person thinks it's just a casual friendship or vice versa, or what does that mean to you? And then I think oftentimes there can be resentment or feelings get hurt or there's missed connections. When in doubt, just overcommunicate.
Karen Howells [00:30:54] Yes. Be explicit about what what the relationship will be or won't be. And what have you found in terms of the season of being a mentor, starting being clear and then ending? Is there advice that you would give or experience around that when perhaps it's run its course?
Diane Paddison [00:31:13] That's a great question. It's I mean, it's really fun for me to see. We just had our first mentoring program with 4Word and it's a six week program and we have two pairs that said, we don't want this to be over. We're going to keep going. So I think people kind of know whether the program is structured and if it does what they needed or if they would like it to continue. And I have failed in every one of my mentor relationships. And I have a lot of mentors myself. Right? A lot of my mentor relationships and where I have a mentee is that we continue forever because our relationship has become so close. But it doesn't mean we talk every month or every night. Yes, we're there and we're friends. So I don't know if you just kind of have to see what feels right. I think.
Karen Howells [00:32:12] So sometimes it emerges to become a friendship and continues more periodic. Now, let's talk a little bit. We have just a couple of minutes left about this concept of reverse mentoring. And Diane, actually, you help me think about that more. It's certainly been true in my life, especially in my church, where most of the young women are my daughter's age. And I was women's ministry leader. And and I found I learned as much from them as I ever gave. So could you share a little bit about some of the insights?
Diane Paddison [00:32:47] Well, when you've been we're talking about the spiritual side. I thought about how in every relationship I've learned and been pushed forward, and I think it's such an important thing for us to be mentors. And I would say Liz is also a mentor because look at these women that she's affecting. You know, she has over 40 full time women working for her now, just changing their lives and over 30 that have been able to go to college because of what she decided to do. So she took what God gave her and use that to serve others. So I think that we're all mentors and we're all mentees and we all can learn from each other. And there just may be, because of seasons of life that people. We'll call you a mentor. Me a mentor where they may not call list that, but she really is.
Karen Howells [00:33:46] Absolutely, and she's changing whole families, mentoring whole families with with that impact. Well, I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to be here with us and to share your hearts and your unique journeys. So Diane Patterson of 4Word and Liz Bohannon of Sseko, Google it. It's exciting. Both of these women are doing great things for the kingdom and making a difference. So thanks for being with us today. Thank you.