Mentors indispensable to new entrepreneurs

Advice, support a huge bonus to fledgling workers

Jodie Beatty, right, a financial advisor with Waddell & Reed, said when she first came to the company, its structured mentorship program paired her with Tim Goering, left. According to Beatty, Goering’s advice, guidance and support have been crucial to her early success at the firm.

Heidi Schiller
   Jodie Beatty’s mentor encouraged her to speak out. Jeffrey Smith’s mentor encouraged him to sail out on his own. Marisa Papetti’s mentor encouraged her to get out of town.
   All three provided each with invaluable guidance and support, whether they were aware of their roles as mentors or not.

Speaking out
   During Jodie Beatty’s first year as a financial advisor at Waddell & Reed in 2005, she participated in the company’s structured mentorship program, where she found her mentor, Tim Goering.
   Goering, who had recruited Beatty to work for the company after he become a managing principal, said that because he actively sought Beatty out to work at Waddell & Reed, he expected to take on a mentoring role with her.
   “She’s got a lot of qualities that make for a really good financial advisor. She’s honest, hardworking and extremely motivated. And she’s kind,” he said. “You put all of those things together and you’ve got a recipe for a really good financial advisor.”
   After her first year, Beatty made a point to continue their mentoring relationship.
   “He was a bit (of a mentor) to everyone, but mainly to me, because I sought it out,” she said.
   After the yearlong mentorship program ended, Beatty didn’t formally ask Goering to remain her mentor, but she thought it was important to continue receiving guidance and support from him, especially since she felt they had similar life experiences. Both became financial advisors in their early 20s and dealt with an age difference with their clients, and both were interested in setting up retirement plans for public school teachers.
   “I’d always been so impressed by what he’d accomplished at such a young age,” Beatty said. “I aspire to that.”
   Beatty and Goering still meet for at least an hour a week, and she tends to knock on his office door quite a bit.
   He gives her advice on her clients’ financial plans, as well as encouraging and supporting her to take professional risks. For example, when Beatty started out, she struggled with feeling too introverted to be successful.
   “I was always a little afraid to become a financial advisor because by nature, I’ve always been a little quiet and shy, and I’d always envisioned financial advisors as more outgoing,” she said. “But he has this big picture, and he sees that I have the qualities to be a successful advisor.”
   Goering encouraged Beatty to join a local Toastmasters meeting to improve her public-speaking skills, and through his support, she has been able to speak in front of more than 100 people at chamber meetings, she said.
   But Goering refuses to take much credit for Beatty’s success in speaking out.
   “She’s very driven,” he said.
   He has also encouraged her to set concrete goals, has been a sounding board for ideas and has referred clients to her, she said.
   “(Having him as a mentor) gives me a sense of direction, which gives me control,” she said. “And having control gives me strength.”
   Being a good mentor to Beatty helps the company, Goering said.
   “If you’re a good mentor, they are going to want to stick around,” he said. “It breaks through the traditional employer-employee relationship, and it puts it at a different level other than just showing up for work and getting a pay check.”
   But more importantly, Goering said, he gains the satisfaction of watching Beatty grow and succeed in the profession she is passionate about.
   “It’s really exciting to see Jody building a business and succeeding and growing so much as a person,” he said. “You can just tell it’s her passion and she’s in the right career.”

Charting a new course
   Jeffrey Smith had to pass an initial screening before coming on board to work for Drew Schmidt’s Victoria/San Juan Cruises.
   Before moving to Bellingham, Smith had worked for a charter service in Portland, Ore. Schmidt had worked, briefly, for the same man.
   “The guy had fired him on the first day because he said Drew didn’t look “salty” enough,” Smith said.
   On the day Smith applied for a job at Victoria/San Juan Cruises, Schmidt asked Smith if he would ever work for that employer again.
   “When I said no, that’s when I got invited in to talk to him. It was one of those gambles,” Smith said.
   They’d had similar experiences working — or, not working — for the Portland “boat captain,” and Schmidt hired Smith as the captain of a passenger ferry to Victoria.
   Smith worked for Victoria/San Juan Cruises for six years. During that time, he began efforts to launch his own cruise company and Schmidt turned out to be a valuable guide.
   “He sat me down and said, ‘You need a business plan,’” Smith said. “He answered my questions.”
   While Schmidt didn’t directly offer Smith advice, he was amenable to any question Smith asked him about getting a charter company started.
   In 1998, Smith and his wife, Christine, bought a cannery tender built in 1921 called the David B. They spent the next eight years restoring the boat in the hopes of transforming it into a small passenger cruise ship.
   Schmidt lent Smith expensive tools, like a large battery-cable crimper and welding and metal-cutting tools to work on the boat.
   “Because he has been in the business so long, he owned expensive tools that you’d only need once in awhile,” Smith said.
   He also helped Smith navigate the nuances of government permitting and licensing.
   Smith said Schmidt was a role model for how to conduct a successful business. For example, Smith admired Schmidt’s ability to work any job on the line if he had to, but also ensured he scheduled vacation time during the off-season.
   Smith doesn’t think Schmidt was aware of his mentorship role, and Schmidt chuckled at the idea, saying he wasn’t.
   However, Schmidt said he thinks Smith must have picked up on the elements of running a successful charter business from his time working there.
   “Experiencing the way we do business and our love for showing people the islands and a good time, and respect for customers and the environment,” Schmidt said, were all things Smith learned in his position.
   While Schmidt is a man of few words, he had nothing but positive things to say about the man who knew the right answer to his first interview question.
   “He was a great boat captain, and a good all-around person,” he said. “He’s very capable and driven. He does a great job.”

Branching out on her own
   After spending her adolescence as an army brat overseas, Marisa Papetti moved to Bellingham in the hopes of attending college.
   But after failing to get scholarships or financial aid for either Whatcom Community College or Western Washington University, she ended up working in restaurants and bartending to make ends meet. In 2000, Papetti got a job bartending at The Frosty Inn in Maple Falls, where she met Carole MacDonald at a chamber of commerce meeting just after MacDonald was fortuitously elected chamber president.
   “It was like a six-guys-drinking-at-a-bar kind of chamber,” Papetti said.
   MacDonald remembered wondering why the meeting wasn’t starting on time. When she asked one of the members why no one was calling order, he told her it was because they had voted her president, and were waiting for her.
   MacDonald took the reins and began organizing an effort to market the Mt. Baker foothills area and create a visitor’s information center through a revitalized, more cohesive and professional chamber of commerce, enlisting Papetti to help with the monumental task of transforming the six-guys-drinking-in-a-bar cabal into an organized network.
   Papetti remembers MacDonald being instrumental in helping her transition during this time from a drifting bartender to a high-powered businesswoman.
   “Living up there, it’s really easy to settle into a funk, you just kind of settle with life. She knew that I had drive and she couldn’t figure out why I was settling with bartending up in the middle of nowhere,” Papetti said. “She knew I had more potential, so she would give me these absolutely insane tasks in a limited amount of time because she knew I could do it, and it taught me that I could believe in myself.”
   MacDonald also remembers Papetti doing a great deal of work for the project.
   “My recollection is that she went right out there on her own. She was just a ball of fire, and always pleasant,” she said.
   The two experienced some difficult times. Papetti remembered the original six chamber members were unhappy that these two women were taking over their group. Papetti said that through those experiences, MacDonald taught her about politics and “how sometimes you have to do difficult things because they are right, regardless if it makes everyone happy.”
   After a few years, Papetti said MacDonald helped her realize it was time to move on to bigger things.
   “She basically kick-started me,” she said. “Carole was like, ‘You don’t belong here, you need to go to town.’”
   Papetti was nervous about moving to Bellingham, not knowing anyone and job hunting, but said MacDonald encouraged her to take the risk.
   Papetti moved to Bellingham and began looking for work. MacDonald had taught Papetti that she had a choice in how much she got paid, so she got a job at a temp agency doing the hardest, but highest-paying job they offered — working in a cold-storage cheese factory.
   After that job, Papetti worked her way through several positions that gave her the skills she needed to start her own business, 5th On 6th — a marketing and sales firm — where she works today contracting with Cascadia Weekly, among other businesses.
   Since her days as a bartender at The Frosty, MacDonald said she thinks Papetti has grown to be more grounded, and a bit more organized.
   Overall, Papetti said, she learned from MacDonald to never give up, not to make excuses, the importance of follow-through and to be goal-oriented. She also learned the importance of relaxing.
   Apart from a lot of fun and a lot of laughter, MacDonald said she gained a real appreciation for Papetti’s positive enthusiasm and her will to get things done.
   “She’s an amazingly persistent human being,” MacDonald said. “When she left here she went from one job to another and worked really hard and really long hours. She is goal oriented and she goes for it and I have such admiration for her. She is a delightful person.”




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