Friday, February 28, 2020
The Journey...Phase I
The past 19 months, and especially the past couple of days have been filled with lots of positive change in my life. To recap a little history, on July 19, 2018, I attended my monthly BNI (Business Networking International) Meeting in Largo, MD at 7:00 am like any other morning. But, we had a visitor stop by that day who happened to be a former teacher, who had become a financial educator. She was looking to grow her newly formed business and felt like the BNI model might help her in the process. As the morning routine continued, the BNI team members all introduced ourselves, and when it was my turn, I confidently spoke about the services I offered through my Fortune 100 large broker-dealer, for which I was an agent. This young woman listened with intensity and then began to realize that both myself and other team members knew some powerful financial literacy related information that she was unaware of. I realized at that moment that if this young millennial woman had the courage to go forward in an industry that she was still learning about, then surely I could go forward with my then 33 years of experience without leaning on the strength of a Fortune 100 company's name alone.
Later that day, I attended two important meetings that I had already scheduled and received even more confirmation that I could do so much more than what I had accepted as my 20 year career plan. The first meeting was with a local attorney who I will call Mrs. S. She wondered why I was visiting her after learning about some of the successful steps I had already taken. You see, in May 2016, I had successfully acquired an approved trademark for my creative way of teaching personal financial literacy, but I wasn't allowed to move forward with it because of the corporate compliance restrictions I didn't know about. After talking with the attorney, she simply told me to move forward with one small part of my plan that wasn't restricted. I carefully re-read my contract and realized that I could indeed begin to shift my business model to better suite my creativity and passions.
The second meeting I attended was with a local SBA Counselor that I will call Mr. S (No relationship to Mrs. S, the attorney noted above). This gentleman was a retired executive who had a keen insight of how people think. He immediately asked me what I needed help with, and when I told him that my commissioned-based financial services business wasn't as successful as I had hoped, he chuckled and began to share the following story with me. He said, "Catherine, there are two types of people in this world - Diplomats and Snipers." I thought to myself, "What in the world is this man talking about?, but I sat attentively and stared him in the eye to get a clear understanding of what he was trying to convey. He then went on to say, paraphrased of course, that "In an environment where it is necessary to have a Diplomat and a Sniper, the Diplomat is only concerned with negotiating so that the person comes out alive. The Sniper, on the other hand is just doing their job. The Sniper is not a bad person at all, and has learned to come to grips with their job so that they sleep well at night. And moreover, it's not that the Diplomat can't pull the trigger, or that the Sniper can't negotiate. It is simply the way they are wired. And Catherine, you are a Diplomat. When it comes to a client vs. a commission, your client always wins." I then looked Mr. S straight in the eye, with tears welling up in my spirit, and emphatically said, "You're are exactly right Mr. S.... I am a Diplomat!"
You see, I really didn't care about the money as much as what was important to my clients, and that meant that I would sometimes let them know that it wasn't necessary for them to purchase a new product just so that I could "make my quotas" and survive the industry. I knew in my heart that I loved helping clients with the "process of building wealth" even more than what I considered the by-product, which was an actual product sale. And then, Mr. S. said one last thing. He said, "Catherine, just quit that big firm and do your own thing and you'll be just fine."
What a day July 19, 2018 was! It was my "Ah-ha Day" and on that day, I actually left my Fortune 100 Company in my heart and began to slowly, but surely pursue my dreams and begin to transition from being "more than the part-time accounting business owner" and "more than the agent who wasn't making her quotas" to the passionate teacher, trainer, business consultant, and inspirational being that God created me to be!
The Journey...Phase II
By November 2018, I went on to start a part-time position training service members who were transitioning out of the military into civilian careers. I had received a text message from a young woman at my church on November 5, 2018, and she felt that I would be good at training since I had been her Adult Sunday School Teacher for over 17 years. When I applied at 9:32 pm that night, I could hardly believe that I actually heard back from the Hiring Authority at 3:22 pm the very next day! So in less than 24 hours, I was already being considered for a training position that would fill my cup of satisfaction like I had so desired. You see, I had wanted to train for the Fortune 100 Company at one point in time, but because I hadn't produced enough, I was not even considered. My performance just wasn't good enough so you could say that I was a failure when it came to sales. But in less than 24 hours of sending out a resume and cover letter to a mid-sized government contractor, I was valued and had skills that were exactly what they wanted and needed. I was hired within a week and shadowed an experienced career transition trainer in the classroom on November 27, 2018. It literally only took 21 days from the time I heard from that company to the time I was in the classroom to begin a priceless journey of pouring into others and in return be fortified with confidence like never before. For every service member I was able to touch by helping them learn how to properly introduce themselves, write their resumes and cover letters, and learn interviewing and salary negotiation skills, I was touched two-fold. I loved being their Career Transition Trainer, and they loved my illustrative props, storytelling, and corny jokes that eased their transition tensions while giving me an unmistakable confirmation that I was walking in my calling! I even successfully wrote my first book, Mama Mae, my life story about the power of love and forgiveness, while working as a trainer for the service members. It was just the assignment I needed, but unfortunately, the Department of Labor changed the training requirements, put the contract up for bid, and a new company won the contract instead of the one that hired me. The new company sent me an email to find out if I wanted to work for less, put I had gained too much over the past year to allow anyone to devalue me ever again. I was sadly laid off on December 31, 2019 by the mid-sized government contractor, but from the many LinkedIn messages I received from the numerous service members regarding my training, I knew that I had left behind my touch, and my love for every one of them. We were all inspired, encouraged, and ready for the big moves ahead.
The Journey...Phase III (The Week Ending February 28, 2020)
An so, my final transition from the large Fortune 100 company happened this week on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. I finally left the company with confidence and with grace. I spent the entire month of January 2020 trying to re-write my own professional introduction, update my business logo, and attend small business training sessions to step into my destiny. It was hard to write that resignation letter because a part of me felt like I had let the company down because there were a couple of people who really believed in me. But in the end, the only person I couldn't let down and refused to let down was ME. All of the insight I had gained from that "Ah-ha" day back on July 19, 2018 through the confidence wrought from training the service members meant that it was time to move on to bigger and better things. I'm so ready to be that business owner that thinks higher of what I have to offer, and can hardly wait to train, inspire, motivate, and encourage other small business owners who want to improve their business excellence, operational growth, and financial strength. I may be small, but I have BIG dreams backed by HUGE experience, LARGE insight, and ENORMOUS faith that this journey is the pathway that I had to take to become who I am today.
Keep the faith, and know that every set-back and every career disappointment, and every failure is an "Ah-ha" opportunity to move forward with purpose! I do believe that the best is yet to come!
Most of all, may you intentionally and purposefully...LIVE to BE a Blessing!
Catherine Gail Turner
Author - Speaker - Entrepreneur