What a Gen X Lawyer Learned Mentoring a Gen Y Employee

This is a representation of a Christian Mentor and not people mentioned in this story.

The Mysterious Fax

In June of 2019, our office received a fax from a young lady named Karen Sears who had just graduated from Tomball High school near Houston. It was addressed to the name of the law firm. She was a young lady who had been thru financial hardships, her father had lost he job the year before and she was trying to find a way to pursue her dream of going to law school. So, what she was doing was sending faxes out to every law firm in town that basically told her story and were asking for someone to help her financially to go to paralegal school. Her plan was to get a paralegal certificate so she could work as a paralegal when in law school.

Are We Listening When God Speaks?

When I read the fax, I thought, out of 35 people working in this office how in the world did this wind up on my desk? And, of course, being the good and faithful servant who is always mindful of the messages God sends us I took it seriously, right?

Nope. I tossed it in that one drawer where you put those all the miscellaneous papers that eventually get cleaned out and thrown away.  I saw it as one more thing I didn’t have time to deal with. I wasn’t listening.

Lighting Strikes Twice

Four months later, I walk into my office to find another blind fax on my desk. As I start reading it, I’m thinking, “I know this story.”

Girl graduates from high school and needs financial help. Only now the story is a little longer. She has now completed paralegal school thanks to a generous donation from a local Christian attorney, Mark Lanier. She has also enrolled at SHSU on credit with no money to pay for it and she’s asking for help. 

As I read on, I learned that she had begun a business selling items she would order from bulk suppliers in order to raise money to pay the college costs her loans would not cover. It was called itpaysmycollegetuition.com She had a retail website she had managed to set up and was doing craft shows to make the sales. But, sales were not going well.  Buy something. Sponsor me. Whatever you can do to help.

God Delivers

This time the letter caught my attention because I realized she had been sending this out blindly to every law firm in Houston she could find. Twice. I thought, “are you kidding me? You sent almost the same letter out to the exact same attorneys who turned it down the first time and you are now hoping for a different result?”  It’s a miracle it wasn’t thrown in the trash straight from the fax machine since it was addressed to no one.

Then I realized something. I am not a lawyer who deals with the hiring at our firm. I hire my own assistant when I need one and that is it. What were the odds that this letter would find its way to my desk–the desk of the wrong person–twice only four months apart?

She didn’t know what she was doing so she was sending out a plea for help.  That plea found it’s way to me against the odds twice. Suddenly I thought, what if this is a God thing?  What if I ignore him again?   I have always found that when God asks me to do something for a third time, that third request feels a lot like a club to the head. God knew exactly what he was doing when he caused it to be placed on my desk twice.

So I thought, you know, I used to have an marketing online assistant, she seems to have some online skills if she can build a marketing website, I can work with that.  Besides, she’s got more perseverance than I’ve ever seen so what would that look like working for me?

God’s Plan is Not Always as Clear as It Seems

When I got the first fax, I not only wasn’t listening, I wasn’t asking. I saw it as junk mail and went about my business. The second fax was like a wakeup call.  I just knew that God wanted me to hire this young lady immediately and help her.

I began typing an email in which I suggested she consider coming to work for me.  She promptly turned my job offer down. She had a flexible time job as a dentist office receptionist. It was close to home and she was not ready to give that convenience up.

So I said responded back, “why don’t you come meet with me anyway? Worst case scenario I can give you a lot of good advice on how to market your online business better and make more money with it.”   I thought surely once she saw what I do with online marketing, she would want to learn it and use it for her own business.

The funny part is that it wasn’t until I looked back later and was asked specifically how prayer played a part in all of this that the problem I was struggling with was truly clear to me. I thought that I knew exactly what I was supposed to do…I…I…I…  But even after a wakeup call, I still wasn’t listing. I was assuming I knew what God had planned. I should have been praying for God to reveal His plan, not assuming I knew what it was.

Pride Reveals Itself

So, she came to meet with me and she brought her dad with her.  I have to admit, I’ve never had anyone bring their dad to a job interview before. That was a new experience. I showed her what I did and how it could help her website and she still turned me down.

“Can you believe the audacity of this girl?” I thought. But it was not her audacity, it was mine.

My mistake was pride.  I presumed to know exactly what God was doing. Sometimes, even when you truly feel like you are doing exactly what God is asking, you can still let your pride get in the way. You think you know exactly what He is doing and you don’t listen.

I gave Karen a lot of tips on how to make her products more presentable as presents so people would buy them as gifts. I gave her ideas on selling sponsorship links to businesses as well as getting businesses to sponsor her booths at craft shows by paying the booth fees. She seemed like she was excited and gung-ho to try these things. I was still stunned she declined the job.

After the second meeting, I prayed that God would bless Karen. Then my prayer finally turned to asking God what He wanted me to do to help and not simply presuming that I knew what He wanted. I admitted to Him that I was confused and did not understand what he wanted of me in the situation. That is when things started to happen.

The Craft Show Flop to Pop

She went home after our meeting to prepare for a craft show starting the next day. Day one, she did not follow any of my advice and had no sales.  That night she repackaged everything as I suggested and promoted additional sales as I suggested.  The next day she made a lot of sales. But it didn’t stop there. Over the next week, she had orders coming in from the website from people who had seen her stuff at the show She had one order over $3000 and several other nice sales.

A Mentorship is Launched

After her sales popped, I became sort of coach for her online business.  I even redesigned the look and some of the layout to make it more professional. I worked with her to teach her how to seek sponsorships in exchange for links back to the sponsor sites.

After awhile she started asking me for help with college.  She asked me to read over a paper before she turned it in.  I hated it. I made her rewrite it. In fact, I made her rewrite it six times.  Most students would have said “forget it, I’ll do it my way.” But she did not. She got an “A” on that paper. I got to review and critique every paper after that!

I have looked at a lot of papers for her since then and she has rewritten a lot. Sometimes I’ve said scrap it and start over, sometimes I say you just need to organize it better.   But she has without a doubt gotten better at writing. She makes A’s on most of her papers and has even nailed it with several 100s. In fact, she’s gone from being a B student to almost straight A’s while working a parttime job 3-4 days a week and running her own online business.

God Blesses Me with an Employee

By The end of December 2019, she realized that working in a law office would be a good idea and she agreed to come to work for me as an online marketing assistant.  At that point I began teaching her how to do things like build links to improve website rank and write and post blogs.  Not only has her writing continued to improve, her last few blogs have been posted without me recommending a single edit or redraft.

Karen still works for me today. She does a lot of writing for me now still, but I cannot wait to see how well she writes for class next semester.

Receiving Blessings by Giving Back

One of the things I told Karen early on is that it is important to give back.  She took it to heart and took it up in prayer. 

In December of 2019 she told me that God had placed it upon her heart to create a special gift basket and give it away to one need child.”  She asked me what I thought of the idea. I thought it was a great idea.

So, she created a social media post saying people should send in a name and why that child should get the gift basket and she was going to pick a winner.  Then came the floods of emails. Sad, sad stories of needy kids that just brought Karen to tears.

She said to me, “Paul, I don’t know how I am going to pick one.” So, we talked and came up with the idea that she could get sponsors to pay for the materials and she could give more baskets away.  She posted requests for sponsors and God sent them her way. In the end, she gave away about 25 gift baskets through the generous donation of friends and sponsors, including taking about a dozen or so to Texas Children’s Hospital for kids who were spending their Christmas time in the hospital.

God’s Pats on the Back Beat Those Third Requests

A few months ago, Karen came to me and said, “I want to tell you something. I’ve submitted your name to several organizations for awards for mentorship and the Houston Young Lawyer’s Association has selected you for the 2019 Outstanding Mentor Award.”

 I said, “The what award?  No way, there’s an award for that?”  

I had never heard of it.  I thought, “I don’t lead any major groups or anything to deserve that, I just decided to help a kid out.”

 Here I was before she came along in my own world doing online marketing the hard way. Writing and publishing and trying to get my firm name out. A Mentorship Award? I could not buy that kind of press and here she is writing letters on her own making it happen.

Let’s face it, all I did was help someone out mainly because I was afraid if I made God ask a third time it was going to leave a mark.  It sure is nicer to get an award for mentoring voluntarily than it is to get clubbed over the head for not listening.

Lessons Learned from Mentoring Generation Y

What I learned from Mentoring a Gen Y Employee is this:

  1. Every employer should be a be looking to hire mentees not just employees.
    1. You will never, ever find a more dedicated harder working person, than someone who’s goal is to become you.
    1. They are more teachable than the average employee because they actually want to understand for their own personal reasons. They are learning to benefit themselves not just to benefit you.
    1. They have the potential to exceed your expectations by applying your teachings to their fresh perspectives.
  2. If you hear what God is saying to you and you do it, He will bless you in ways you cannot imagine but make sure you are asking and listening the entire time.
  3. When you show a complete stranger with a dream that you believe in them too, they will excel like you never imagined.

We are blessed to have this special Guest Post from Paul H. Cannon. Please see his bio below.



 

Paul H. Cannon is an attorney and shareholder at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. He has been practicing personal injury law since 1995. He is Certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2005.

 

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” Luke 19:9

Listen to the lesson as you read along:

(Running Time 1 minutes 59 seconds)

(Right click here and “save as’ to download MP3 audio – 1 minutes 59 seconds)

You may remember this passage from a song in church.  I have heard it quite a few times myself, but I want us to get past the song and into the meat of what really happened in this story.

To summarize, Jesus was coming through town and a tax collector named Zacchaeus wanted to see Him. Zacchaeus was short and could not see over the crowd, so he climbed up a tree to get a good view.

Jesus stopped and looked at him.  He called Zacchaeus by name and told him that He was coming to eat at his house.  Zacchaeus came down and welcomed Jesus.

Let’s break this down.  Zacchaeus was a tax collector.  Tax collectors were known to rip people off to line their own pockets.  They were shrewd businessmen who were considered sinners by profession.

Here we have a business man who was hated in his community.  He wanted to be close to Jesus, but he had some limitations.  He took action to overcome those limitations and got a great view of the Jesus.

Jesus blessed this man by asking to eat with him.  Rarely do teachers, or Rabbi’s, eat with sinners, lest they become unclean.  Everyone muttered.

We don’t know the conversation, but because of the presence of Jesus, Zacchaeus wanted to make his business right.  He wanted to be honorable and offered to pay back any money he had cheated. He paid back four times, which was a customary recompense.

Zacchaeus overcame his limitations and his reputation.  He took action to get as close to Jesus as he could and because of that encounter, he lined his up his business to be in line with Jesus’ teachings.

I don’t know if you have ever thought about Zacchaeus being a business owner.  If we look at it in that context we see a man reaching out to Jesus.  Jesus comes into his house and because of that one encounter his life and his business is changed forever.

How often do you reach out to Jesus and push past your limitations?  Have you allowed Jesus into your house and into your business so deeply that your actions are changed?  If not, call out to Jesus and let Him into your business partner and your house.  Make your business a kingdom business and hear Jesus’ words:

“Today salvation has come to this house.” Luke 19:9a

 

Christian bloggingThis morning my heat did not come on like I expected it.  I was getting chilly so I went to check the thermostat to find out my batteries were low.  Even though it was plugged into the wall, the air conditioning system still needed to have batteries to keep it working.

We have been talking about blogging, but we forgot to mention the power behind what you do.  We are all plugged into the awe inspiring power of God.  Yet, we have to keep our batteries charged up on a regular basis.

Every system in your business, including your blog, should start with prayer.  Ask God, “How can I use this blog post to honor you?”

The true power of any Christian business comes from God and starts with prayer. Click To Tweet

Prayer is the power behind your business.  Prayer is the power that gives the words you use on your blog the energy to connect to people’s lives.

Remember, your blog can show up as a breath of love in a world that is full of negativity.  You don’t have to preach to show the love of Christ, you just have to show how much you care.

Think about this quick instance, Jesus was walking down the road and told Zacheus to come out of the tree so he can go eat with him.  Jesus did not have to preach to show how much he cared.  No one else would dare talk to this ‘sinner,’ but Jesus stepped out of the norm to care for him. (see Luke 19:1-10)

We should all be willing to step out of the norm to care for those around us.  That is what makes Christians different and what makes Christian businesses great.  It may include going somewhere we don’t usually go, writing a blog to help someone or talking to someone in a tree.

Whatever we do, when we start with prayer, we know we are starting right!
Amen and amen!

how to create a GREAT blog postIn our last article we talked about why it is important for a Christian to create a blog to let their voice be hear(Click here to read that article).  Now I want to give you simple steps to create a great blog post for your page.  We should always do our best to honor God with all we do, so I want to help you get a good start.

One thing I have learned is a regular format, call it a template, make writing your blog much easier and the writing goes much quicker.  If you know what format works for you and your readers, you will have a winning formula that can take you far.

How to write a GREAT blog post

Start with a good headline

Make your headline relevant to your reader and include your key idea.  Don’t try to be too catchy or cute.  Just tell them what the article is about and why they should read it.

Create a compelling first sentence

The first sentence is where people decide if they will read the rest of the article or not.  Use this sentence to engage the reader. Ask a question.  Issue a statement that draws them in.  Use your key idea and expand that idea as it unfolds in your writing.

Have a single focus

I mentioned having a key idea.  Each post you write should have one focus message. Create a single sentence that tells what your entire post is about.  If you can’t get it in one sentence, create a mini series of posts.

Speak to one person

When you write, always have your reader in your mind.  Write as if you are talking to a friend.  The more personable your writing is, the more likely it is to be read and shared.

Make it easily digestible

Break up long paragraphs, use lists, use bullets, and definitely use images.  The more information we can see by glancing through the article, the more likely we are to stay and go through the entire article.

Have a call to action

We write to cause people to take action.  Have a challenge or an action item at the end of your post so that your reader knows what they should be now that they have read your post.  Your call to action should tie directly into your key idea.


Take Action: Write a blog post and share it with us on Facebook.

We should do our best to honor God with excellence in everything we do. Click To Tweet

Here’s a basic outline (template) to get you started:

  • Start with an interesting title.
  • Share an image that relates to your key idea.
  • Write your first sentence to make people want to read the rest.
  • Break up your writing into chunks (I suggest three big chunks: idea, problem, solution.)
  • Conclude with a call to action.

 

Here’s a couple of articles if you want to dig in and learn more about blog templates and outlines:

 

Christian Entrepreneurs Can Be Heard Online Through Blogs

Christian entrepreneur blogI work with many entrepreneurs as a business coach.  I am amazed at how many people do not see the value of creating a blog on their webpage.

No longer are blogs are simple rambling of some lone person typing words from a basement.  Blogs are an integrated part of many successful businesses and almost all online marketing plans.  You can look at them as a platform for the world to be a better place.

Christians need their voice to be heard. Christian business owners are the leaders that need to be heard the loudest. Click To Tweet

I am tired of seeing all the people ranting about stupid things online.  All the little squeaky voices are being heard, but the only time you hear about Christians is when they mess up.

Isn’t it time that honest, intelligent Christian leaders take responsibility to be heard?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we all need to go out and post our soap box sermons online.  I think we need our professionalism and intelligence to shine with the light of Christ. When we have a message of hope but it is hidden behind judgement and hate, we miss the mark.

(Ok, I will get off my soap box.)

Aside from the fact that your business is more likely to be noticed when you have fresh content (a blog) on your website, it is important to have the Christian worldview online.  We can’t just hide in our Christian bubbles and wait for Christ to come back. We must engage the world, especially if we are in business.  Remember, we are to be ‘in the world and not of the world.’

  • Christian business owners need to blog to show Christians can be intelligent.
  • Christian business owners need to blog to share their wisdom about business.
  • Christian business owners need to blog to show other Christians they are not alone.
  • Christian business owners need to blog to show faith.
  • Christian business owners need to blog to show hope.
  • Christian business owners need to blog to show love.

“. . . and the greatest of these is love.”

blog questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Blogging

“What if I can’t write well?” 

You can only get better by writing.  Just do the best you can and as you grow, so will your writing.

“What if I don’t know what to write?”

Start with your own Frequently Asked Questions and go from there.  Here is a handy blog post that may help.

“What if I don’t know how to create a blog?”

There are literally thousands, of Youtube videos about blog posting.  Take twenty minutes a day and learn what you need.  There are plenty of free blog platforms.  I suggest WordPress.  (We will be doing a training on that in our members area soon. Join now and get a tremendous deal.)

“What if I am not sure people will listen to me?”

Write it anyway.  Just get your voice out there and let God do the work.  If more Christians let their voices be heard, we will see the world can be a better place.

 

Quick Wrap up:

The Christian voice needs to be heard more online.  We live in a world that readily and willingly promotes sinful ways that hurt society.  When Christians let their voice be heard with love, there will be a revolution that brings people back to Christ and away from sin.

The plan for a blog is simple:

  1. Pray about what to write.

  2. Write it.

  3. Let God use it.

You can figure out the details as you go.

When Christians let their voice be heard with love, there will be a revolution that brings people to Christ. Click To Tweet