Guest Post by Alyssa Avant, Vickie Minnella, and Kate Powers
This is part 2 of our series, Uncommon Friends.
Friendships are often forged through commonalities, but sometimes friendships are found in the most unlikely places. We’ve all read some amazing stories that have been formed through “online” connections—it’s a whole new world out there.
Three such women, NACWE members, forced one of these unique bonds through their association with the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs. Their relationship is a snapshot of the heart of NACWE. We caught up with these women to get each of their stories on how they met and what their friendship as well as NACWE means to them.
NACWE: Describe how you three came to be friends.
Alyssa: A little less than a year ago, we attended an online retreat where speakers like Diane Cunningham of NACWE shared enthusiastic and educational messages. Kate, Vickie and I were among the attendees and chatted with each other for the two days of the conference in the online chat area.
After the conference, I contacted Kate via Skype to continue our conversation. At the time I wasn’t sure what would become of our new relationship. During this same month, Kate and I both joined NACWE as a part of their friendship month promotion. I joined with another online friend of mine and Diane kindly paired Kate and Vickie with other women as “friends” in order to take part in the special.
Kate, Vickie and I all work from home. We found ourselves chatting on Skype, on the phone or email frequently throughout our days of juggling kids, work, and the many other things in our lives. Soon we developed a friendship; my kids know Kate and Kate’s daughter Abbi loves to see me on Skype. Vickie and I worked together as a part of NACWE when we planned NACWE’s annual conference. We also participated in a mastermind group together with Diane at the beginning of the year.
Kate and Vickie understand my work from home lifestyle much more than anyone I’ve ever met before. Plus, all three of us were growing our businesses and we found our skills and talents could complement the other. Kate has helped me in the areas of accountability and coached me through many of my business and life challenges over the past year. I have helped Kate overcome some of her fears of technology, and helped create and revamp some of her websites. Vickie has shared her organizational genius with me, while I have helped her to tackle technical tasks and to build a new website.
Our friendship grew to a new level in April of this year when we all three attended and spoke at NACWE’s first conference, the Inspired Women Event. We anticipated the conference for months and were excited to share a room and spend time together face to face. It was like meeting an old friend for the first time when Kate and Vickie ran up to greet me in the lobby. We giggled over our accents, shared meals together, and plotted about all the things we would work together on in the future. We stayed up late into the night (oops. mornings) each day because we couldn’t stop talking.
Kate, Vickie and I enjoyed each other’s company so much that less than a month later we met in Dallas, TX, for another workshop and enjoyed another weekend of fun, along with one of our NACWE sisters, Jo Ann Fore.
Though it’s been a few months since our face to face time, we still communicate daily. I often call Kate just to hear her voice or text Vickie to check in.
Kate: A year ago, I could not have imagined where my journey was about to take me, or the blessed friendships God was sending my way. I came upon the online event, Called2Shine, while on Twitter one night. The hash tag kept appearing in my stream so I clicked on it. It was as if it were calling me. I was still learning my way around Twitter; I followed what others were doing and introduced myself. From that Twitter party, I learned about and joined the Called 2 Shine event where I met Diane Cunningham of NACWE.
I emailed Diane about the Join With a Friend offer for NACWE because I didn’t have a friend to join with. I think that was the subject line of my email to Diane: I don’t have a friend. LOL!
I remember those first times connecting. What a refreshment to connect with such dynamic women on a more personable level, instead of a strictly professional one and simply trying to sell to each other. There were no ulterior motives – just true friendship and sisterhood.
Through our many conversations as a group and one-on-one, we shared our common ground. As moms and entrepreneurs, the day to day juggling of family and business is the same, whether in the deep south of Mississippi, the mid-west, or on the east coast in Boston. Through our connection, the three of us realized we were not alone in our struggles, or in our successes. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely sometimes and having someone to share victories and success with is as important, if not more so, than sharing the struggles.
It quickly became apparent that we had complimentary skill sets and were well matched for each other! Opportunities to support each other appeared and we each jumped to the task with enthusiasm. Those experiences allowed us to be our full selves with each other in a way that is rare in most business circles these days. We see each other as equals with expertise in different areas, which allows us to ask for and give each other help when needed.
Vickie: I had prayed for many months, while freeing myself from the ‘rat-in-a-cage’ job that I was trading for the bliss of entrepreneurial caffeine. I prayed for God to remove the negative influences in my life and replace them with Godly friends who would challenge me, understand me, and affirm me in faith. I knew I was designed to do far more than I was accomplishing at my corporate job, but I had no idea what amazing connections He had in store, let alone the way the three of us just click, like we have known each other forever.
The Called2Shine event was an answered prayer in itself. Someone posted the info on a list serve I belong to about the 3-day retreat. It was virtual; I was able to listen in while I sat in my office and when I taxied my kids to and from school. This was a big deal as I was still in my first 4 months of corporate-free business ownership and a single mom. Let’s just say a nanny is not so cheap for 3 days of travel. I was blessed by this event in a huge way. Diane and I bonded right away and I joined NACWE.
As Diane was wrapping up her Inspired Business Toolkit, she sent an email asking for quotes about certain topics. I shared one about boundaries, based off the Cloud and Townsend book Boundaries that I had read. Now anyone who knows me, and as Kate and Alyssa have seen more than I care to admit, I press boundaries of my day to the limit. All the time. I forget there are only 24 hours in a day and I am not invincible (if only my body didn’t need sleep—deep sigh).
As Diane and I got to know each other and talked on the phone a few times, she expressed an interest in where she felt NACWE was headed. A conference was one idea and since I love to plan events and had some experience with event planning, I began to call around and start gathering details of this illusive dream. I also continued to connect with NACWE women through Facebook. I was overflowing with inspiration!
The conference came together just two short weeks following my grandma’s death. It was the coolest thing ever to meet women all over the U.S and Canada, who were crazy, sleep-deprived, motivated dreamers that actually made their dreams a reality. Kate and Alyssa were go-getters and made things happen — I had met my match. God is good.
Our friendships were solidified and nurtured by meeting face to face. It was if we were walking through Facebook, live and in person. Since then we have continued to keep in touch and help each other grow our business as well as our faith. I don’t know where I would be without these best friends.
This is part 2 of a 4-part article series and will be continued next Monday.
Alyssa Avant is a published author, professional speaker and tech magician. Find Alyssa at http://AlyssaAvant.com.
Vickie Minnella is a Professional Organizer, Productivity Coach, Speaker, Trainer and Published Author. Find Vickie at http://VickieMinnella.com.
Kate Powers is a published author, speaker, consultant and coach. Kate has been helping women in business achieve greater success while achieving live balance for over 10 years. Visit Kate at http://KFPowers.com.