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The number of Christian women in today's professional workforce is increasing, and they are hungry for practical mentoring. They yearn to learn from someone who has climbed the ladder of success without sacrificing family or faith—something author Diane Paddison has done with excellence and grace. The stories Paddison shares about her corporate, personal, and spiritual life, as well as the lives of other women like her, are both inspiring and instructive, providing on-target advice and concrete examples of how to...
The number of Christian women in today's professional workforce is increasing, and they are hungry for practical mentoring. They yearn to learn from someone who has climbed the ladder of success without sacrificing family or faith—something author Diane Paddison has done with excellence and grace. The stories Paddison shares about her corporate, personal, and spiritual life, as well as the lives of other women like her, are both inspiring and instructive, providing on-target advice and concrete examples of how to succeed without feeling overwhelmed or compromised. This is a working book for working women. Full of practical, proven guidance that is both professionally viable and biblically sound, each chapter includes sidebars featuring pertinent facts from current research, resources relevant to the chapter's topic, action-oriented 'to do' lists, and other interactive material. Chapters also include questions suitable for discussion, making it an excellent resource for use in small groups. Work, Love, Pray is a valuable resource for professional Christian women, but it's also a must read for the husbands, sisters, daughters, and friends who share their lives.
The call came out of the blue.
"Diane, would you like to come work for us?"
It was a guy I knew from my time at Harvard Business School, and though we weren't real close, we had stayed in touch over the years because we were in the same industry. Three years earlier, he had been named the CEO of a major real-estate company with a global presence. He was calling because he needed to replace a key member of his leadership team.
"Why, John, that's awfully nice of you to think of me, but I'm very happy where I am right now," I replied.
I wasn't being coy or trying to play hard to get. It was true. I had just completed a twenty-two-year run with one of the nation's biggest commercial real-estate companies and really had no reason to leave. I had started out as a broker and eventually found myself as the chief operating officer and president of global ser vices for my company.
I can't say that I set out to climb so high, but then again I was always the kid in school who tried to be the best at everything, so I guess you could say I just carried that competitive spirit with me when I started working. But I also had the good fortune of working for a company that embraced diversity and gave women the same opportunity to succeed that they gave men. At the time of John's call, I presided over a $600 million division of the company, with 4,500 employees who provided real-estate outsourcing ser vices to eighty-five of the Fortune 100 companies. I had been a part of the ten-member executive team that sold our company to another company, quadrupling our size and providing even greater opportunities for me to grow. I absolutely loved what I was doing at the time.
But there was another reason I really wasn't looking to leave my company. Throughout my tenure I was always given the flexibility to grow as an employee without sacrificing my family or my faith. From the very beginning I knew the risks of going to work as a professional. Whether it's the world of business, law, education, medicine — it doesn't matter. The work world has a way of demanding so much of you that there's little left over for other things that may be important to you. I had seen how long hours and too much travel, combined with the stress of trying to succeed, kept many men from their families, and I didn't want that to happen to me. So when I went to work for this company, I shared openly with them my commitment to my family and my faith and was thrilled to learn that from the CEO on down, these values were shared. If I had a major presentation to make and I got a call from school telling me that one of my kids was sick, it was never an issue: "Go take care of your family, Diane. I'll fill in for you, or we can reschedule the meeting."
Why would I want to leave a great job like that?
John must have known something of my competitive nature, because he began pushing all the right buttons.
"Well, Diane, currently you're the president of the global-ser vices business of a $4 billion market cap company. How would you like to be the chief operating officer of a $16 billion market cap company?"
Hmmm. That got my attention.
"Not only that, but we have operations in twelve countries, with plans to expand into others. We're growing like crazy, and you'd have an integral role in our future growth."
I was beginning to imagine myself in that new role, envisioning what I could do with their resources, and some of the things I would do to improve their efficiency. Plus, I have to admit, as much as I liked my current job, there's something exciting about new challenges. I had just finished a major project related to the merger of our company, and I had my successor ready, so if there was a good time for a transition, this was it. Still, I wasn't quite sure this was the right thing for me at the time, but as we talked on the phone, I agreed to meet with John to discuss it further. So a few days later, he flew to Dallas and we had dinner. At one point he pulled out a manila folder from his briefcase, opened it, set it down beside me, and asked, "Would this entice you to come work for us?"
I tried not to look surprised, but I'm sure my jaw dropped. It was the compensation package he was offering me, and let's just say it was a lot more money than I was currently making, with a stock option package that made it even more attractive. When all was said and done, it was almost triple what I was currently making. I have never made money the sole factor in deciding whom to work for, but this was awfully tempting.
I began thinking about how I could do a better job of providing for my family, when it suddenly hit me. As much as my family would benefit from the bigger salary, what they've always really needed — and what I've always wanted to be able to give them — was me! I had been so fortunate in my current company to be able to grow and succeed while still being able to attend their school events and be home by 6:00 p.m. If I couldn't be assured of the same type of flexible work arrangement, no amount of money could lure me away. So I took a big gulp and spoke up — not for more money or a bigger bonus, but for my family.
"John, I need to be up front with you. There are some things that are more important to me than anything — even more important to me than the company I work for or the money I make."
I then shared with him my commitment to my family, to my marriage, and to my faith. I told him that since my children were well established with friends and good schools in Dallas, I couldn't move to the company's headquarters in Denver. I explained to him how important it was for me to be a part of a church family. I shared with him how I would never let the responsibilities of a job interfere with my marriage. Much to my surprise, he didn't back away from his initial offer and in fact affirmed these personal commitments. I knew John to be a man of his word, but I insisted that my contract include specific assurances that I could arrange my work schedule around my family's schedules, that overnight travel would be limited to one night a week on average, and that my international travel would be limited to five weeklong trips per year. In addition, I could continue to live in Dallas until my daughter graduated from high school.
When John agreed that all of my requests would be included in my contract, I really couldn't find any reason not to accept his offer. It wasn't a dream job for me, but it was close. In our discussions about my role, it became clear that they needed the skill set that I would bring to the job, and there's nothing quite as energizing as knowing that what you are doing is helping your company grow. Furthermore, this was a company with whom my current company had done business, so I already knew several people on the leadership team. In fact, the chief financial officer used to report quarterly to me as the president of a company that was a major provider to Trammell Crow Company/CB Richard Ellis. I thought he was a fine man with whom I had talked about our families, and I knew about his faith. It would be great to work alongside him again, knowing there was at least one other person on the leadership team who shared my priorities. The company was entering a period of rapid growth, expanding into new countries, and I thrived on the organizational and structural challenges that this would present. Plus, I wouldn't have to relocate, I would be home for dinner at night, and as an added bonus, I would be able to visit my oldest son, who attended college in Boulder, when I had to be at the company's headquarters in Denver.
As I said, not my dream job, but close. Close enough that I accepted John's offer. I'll never forget my first flight to Denver to meet my team. As the plane lifted off the runway and I watched the Dallas skyline disappear in the distance, it was so comforting to know I would be home the next day and that I had found another company that supported my values of faith and family. My former company had been great about my decision to leave, even going the extra mile in allowing me to work for another real-estate company despite a noncompete clause in my contract. As I reached into my briefcase for some papers to go over, I said a little prayer of thanks for the way God's hand was present in every detail of this transition, and about an hour later, I walked into the headquarters of my new company. I spent the next two months commuting to Denver from Dallas and making the occasional trip to one of our other offices around the globe. My new colleagues were great to work with, and not once did John pressure me to break any of the "family clauses" of my contract.
That was in June 2008. By about September of that same year, the economic downturn at home and abroad started to make its presence known in my new company. Having slogged through the recession of 2001, I wasn't particularly alarmed. I figured we would take our hits on the bottom line just like everyone else, but that eventually we would pull out of it and be an even stronger company. I began making the necessary adjustments in my area and prepared for the general belt-tightening that comes with a sluggish economy. Unfortunately, things got worse. You've heard the expression "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." We were a pretty big company, and we were falling fast. When I reported for duty in June, our stock price was around sixty dollars per share. As we approached our November board-of-directors meeting that same year, the stock price had fallen to under twenty dollars. As a member of the leadership team, I felt that we had prepared an excellent plan to present to the board of directors that mapped out our strategy for recovery, but I'd been in the business world long enough to know what was about to happen. Sure enough, after our presentation to the board, my good friend John who had hired me — the CEO of our company — left. That's just the way it happens in business.
In one of life's little ironies, the new CEO used to be the COO, whom I replaced! You might think that would have put my job at risk — or at least create some awkwardness between us — but he was a wonderful Christian gentleman, and we got off to a great start. At the same time, he had a huge job ahead of him and not much time to do it. He knew that if he didn't turn things around quickly, we might not last. As a measure of his character, guess who he worked with to handle an extremely critical sale of one of our overseas operations: John, the former CEO. And the resulting deal poured a lot of cash back into our company.
But of course we needed a lot more cash to right the ship. By that time, a team under my leadership identified $.37 per share in cost cutting. I've never been one to shy away from a challenge, but increasingly the stress of trying to meet the demands of my job began to bleed over into my family life, something I had worked all my life to avoid. There were many times when I knew I could get a lot more done and be a "real member" of the executive team if I stayed longer at my office in Denver, but I wasn't ready to pay that price. I can't tell you how many times I was on the phone in my kitchen trying to solve problems with my staff as I shoved dinner in the oven or used that unique "mom's sign language" to let one of my kids know I'd be off the phone in ten minutes.
In spite of the almost frantic pace of work, I managed to keep things balanced pretty well, and when I had to stay in Denver longer than I liked, my husband, Chris, was able to adjust his own work schedule to stay home with the kids. We've always taken that approach whenever one of us is going through a stressful season at work, and I knew it would be just a matter of time before things got back to normal. We supported each other in many different hardships, and Chris always pulled through when I couldn't. I'm not saying it was easy, but this is part of the trade-off
if you're a professional. I was just hoping that normal would return soon, but until it did, I would put up with the craziness.
"We Need to Talk"
As I said, my new boss, the CEO, was a great guy who shared my faith and understood my commitment to my family. I was confident he would have us back on top of our game soon, which encouraged me to continue finding ways to reduce expenses and further develop our global focus on the operations side of our business. In other words, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and anticipated the better days I knew were ahead. From earlier experiences, I knew how rewarding it was to go through a difficult period and come out on the other side in a stronger position. What I didn't know at the time, however, was how much it would cost me personally.
I had sent the new CEO my plan for 2009 and wanted to get his agreement on my goals and priorities. That prompted a response: "Diane, we need to talk."
I pretty much knew what was coming. I was the COO of the company. I lived in Dallas, while the rest of my team worked out of our Denver office and in a culture that wasn't virtual. While the rest of the leadership team was being dispatched all over the globe to put out fires and manage our recovery plan, I managed to be home for dinner and be with my church family on the weekends. I didn't really feel guilty about being able to work the way I was, because it was part of my contract with the company. I never would have gone to work for them if they hadn't allowed me the flexibility to have a fairly normal family life. And even though I wasn't traveling as much as my colleagues, I was doing a good job and adding value to the company.
However, when I signed that contract, the company was in great shape. Now it was in trouble. The person with whom I had negotiated that contract no longer ran the company. My boss wasted little time.
"Diane, I know we have a contract, but I need more of you. It's not that you're not doing your job, but I need you here in Denver. It's just not working with you being in Dallas."
For twenty-three years I'd been able to manage my family, my faith, and my career. And now for the first time I was being asked to put my career ahead of everything else. It's one thing to say that your family and your faith are more important to you than your career. Values are easy to hold when they're never challenged. But when push comes to shove, you learn whether they really are the guiding priorities of your life. I loved the work I was doing for this company, having taken the position of global chief operating officer. They rewarded me well for my work, with a more than adequate salary and good annual bonuses, plus nice stock options.
But they weren't family. They weren't a teenage daughter who still needed a mom around at night. They weren't a teenage son struggling to make good choices in his life. As much as I could rationalize accepting my boss's decision and moving to Denver, I ultimately turned to him and agreed that it was best for me to leave the company. And I haven't once regretted being true to my personal convictions, even though it meant losing a job I enjoyed.
I chose to open the book with this story because it shows quite dramatically everything that's going to come at you at one time or another in your professional career: opportunity, tragedy, conflicting values. As a young professional woman, you may have already encountered some mind-bending challenges at home or at work that make you question your ability, your sanity, or both! In the rest of the book, we'll look at where we've come from, where we're headed, and how to keep our lives — professional, personal, and spiritual — on track.
For Reflection or Discussion
1. Describe your dream job — either one that you already have or one that you wish you could have.
2. What would you be willing to give up in order to have your dream job? Would you be willing to relocate? Would you take a cut in pay?
3. Many men in their forties and fifties have high-paying jobs that they hate, but they stay because of the money and security. It's called "golden handcuffs." Could you ever see this happening to you? Why or why not?
4. What are your deal breakers — those things that would keep you from taking a job or that would cause you to quit a job?
5. When you have a major decision to make, how do you go about making it?
Excerpted from Work, Love, Pray by Diane Paddison Copyright © 2011 by Diane Detering-Paddison . Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted February 8, 2012
You learn about the authors past. Boring to me. No real pointers. I did not even finish it. Waste of my down time which is very little.
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