Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathi Crawford.
Kathi, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I liken my life story to the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken.” The last line, in particular, is meaningful: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
I was born and raised in a rural town in northeast Ohio, during the ’60s and ’70s. As a young girl in that region of the country and at that time, I felt the options available to me would be limited. I grew up in a blue-collar family and instead of a college prep track, I completed Intensive Office Education in high school. That means, when I graduated, I could type 90 WPM and take shorthand at 120 WPM. I moved out of my parent’s house at age 17, lived with one of my brothers and worked three jobs while attending college part-time. One day, at one of my jobs, a co-worker brought in a newspaper from Houston, TX. There were pages and pages of jobs available that I was qualified for. It was at that moment, I made the decision to move to Texas. I arrived in October 1980 with $500 in my pocket and a car payment due. I got a job in the first week of my arrival. I worked as an Administrative Assistant in the Finance Department of an oil and gas company. It wasn’t long before I was putting together reports and doing the work of a college graduate without a degree. I knew I had to return to college and finish. I wanted a career, not a job.
I completed two years of college part-time at Richland Community College in Dallas while still working full-time. Then, I moved back to Ohio to finish what I started. Over the next three years, I completed my degree at Kent State University. My original field of study was Accounting but I realized I did not enjoy it and switched to Economics. To fund my college education, I was able to get student loans and worked part-time. In my junior year, I was hired by Price Waterhouse in Cleveland. This was a job share opportunity with another college student. She worked two days a week and I worked three (or vice versa depending on our school schedule). My job was to read the Wall Street Journal every day and clip articles related to the Public Utilities Industry – cut and paste them to paper and fax them to our clients. It was the 80’s.
Once graduated, I came back to Texas. I joined the firm full-time in Dallas as a Consultant then moved back to Houston with the firm in 1991. Over time, I discovered that I was not going to make Partner (no accounting degree) and made a transition out of the firm. I worked as an internal consultant for a company and my first project was for the Human Resources department. It was here I found my passion – working to impact the organization through people. I returned to college to complete a Master’s in Human Resource Management while working in the field. I progressed to a Vice President of Human Resources position and, though I had achieved my goal, it was not fulfilling. In 2008, I launched my business, People Possibilities.
Has it been a smooth road?
There have been many challenges along the way. I am the only sibling of five children with a college degree. My family has been supportive of me over the years and my father is my greatest champion. I will never forget, once everyone realized I was serious and moving to Houston, that he jumped in his car and followed me down. He stayed with me the first week and helped me get settled.
I was initially challenged to build new relationships and connections in Houston to support my well-being and growth. Fortunately, people are friendly in Texas and there were many people moving here because of the job opportunities. I have met many people along my journey who are my “angels” who paved the way and made the difference for me. I met my husband through a friend while in graduate school and he is my rock. When I decided to leave my job and start a business, he did not flinch. He has supported me every step of the way.
For me, education has been a game changer. In whatever way possible, my advice is to pursue higher education and embrace life-long learning. As you grow, follow your intuition and be open to changing direction as it relates to your career. Finally, I believe the most important thing we can do is to always lift others up. Find time to volunteer, be a mentor and share your unique perspective and skills with others.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with People Possibilities – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The name of my company, People Possibilities, speaks to my belief that there are endless possibilities to pursue in our business and work life. And pursue we do! It’s human nature to want to grow, expand and feel a sense of accomplishment. Whether we realize it or not, our path is about progress. Each day we make choices that direct our path. And if the path we choose at first seems impossible or a change in direction is needed, seeking clarity and making choices to alter our path, in its own right, creates possibility.
I am delighted to work with my clients to assist them in clarifying what changes to make to reach their full potential. My approach is to inspire, challenge and support them as they build leadership capability, identify career development opportunities and transform their careers. It is a joy to see the spark in their eyes when they realize that they have options and choices they can make that move them in a direction that they feel is right and true to what motivates them.
My journey to coaching began in 2006 at the height of my career as a Human Resources leader. I realized at this point in my life that I had achieved the pinnacle of my career in corporate human resources, yet deeply missed working one to one with people and making a difference in their lives. I started to explore the field of coaching and hired a coach, Mattison Grey, MMC (IAC), to work with me. Mattison inspired me to pursue my interest in coaching and learn the skill sets for success. This included completing my coach certification with the International Association of Coaching (www.certifiedcoach.org).
A tool that I have found crucial to the work that I do is The Birkman Method® assessment (www.birkman.com). I am a Senior Birkman® Consultant and use the assessment for career coaching, leadership development, team building and aligning roles and relationships for maximum productivity and success. It uniquely addresses all of these situations because it integrates behavioral, motivational and occupational data together to predict behavior and work satisfaction. It creates a guide and common language to explore options and choices for moving forward.
In addition to my coaching practice, I have continued my human resources career focusing on providing services to small to mid-sized companies exclusively. I work directly with the Business Owner, Organizational Leader, Entrepreneur, and Game Changer who recognizes and values the contributions of people. My clients recognize that an investment in themselves and their people yields immediate and ongoing results and creates a supportive and success-oriented culture.
One of the more recent offerings I developed in collaboration with my friend, Robin Mack, a massage therapist and yoga teacher, is The World Inside You®. This is a comprehensive, six-week program designed for work communities that promotes mindfulness, well being, self and social awareness. Each session is structured to include movement, mindfulness, and inquiry as a way for individuals to get to know themselves then apply their inner awareness to more effectively work with others.
There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that a lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
Having a professional network is a key to success. Building this network requires nurturing and love. What I mean is that it’s not about adding names to a database. Rather, it’s about being a servant first in the community. When you meet someone, listen more and talk less. Learn about this person and what they are up to in the world. What can you offer this person that is meaningful? Through giving to others, much is received.
I believe that mentors are all around us – people who are positive role models willing to share knowledge and skills and offer guidance. The question is – are you a mentee who understands your responsibility in the relationship? It is incumbent upon you to show a genuine interest in your mentor and be willing to take action on the guidance offered. Consider what it is you are seeking guidance for and find that positive role model who can support you.
- Website: www.peoplepossibilities.com
- Phone: 281-450-6316
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/kathicrawford/
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/kathilc
- Other: www.linkedin.com/in/kathicrawford/