A few months ago, Texas conflict coach Pattie Porter, whom I knew only via Twitter at the time, approached me about being on her BlogTalkRadio show, The Texas Conflict Coach. Ever since, I’ve been listening to Pattie’s show and have been impressed by both her practice-building strategy and the professionalism with which she carries it out.
So Pattie was a natural choice to be profiled in my Success Leaves Clues series, occasional interviews with interesting ADR professionals who have successfully navigated the waters of ADR practice-building.
Here’s how Pattie describes herself and her work: Pattie Porter, LCSW, is the President of Conflict Connections™, Inc. and The Texas Conflict Coach™ in San Antonio, TX. She provides conflict resolution services to individuals, small businesses, and agencies nationally. Pattie has worked extensively in the dispute resolution field for over 16 years providing mediation, facilitation and conflict coaching services to organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, NASA, Department of Defense, the United States Postal Service and Coca Cola Enterprises. Pattie holds the Advanced Practitioner-Workplace Mediator designation from the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), the Credentialed Distinguished Mediator from the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association, and the CINERGY® certified advanced conflict coach and coach-mentor as recognized by the International Coach Federation (ICF).
Tammy: Pattie, how did you get started in the ADR world?
Pattie: Over 16 years ago, I was listening to a peer mediation presentation by Sharon Bayus with Innovative Alternatives, a non-profit organization in Clear Lake, Texas. I was a family case worker and it was the first time I had heard of mediation as an alternative to dealing with conflict. By the end of Sharon’s presentation, God’s light shown down on me and said this is what you are destined to do. I immediately approached Sharon and volunteered my services so that I could learn everything about mediation and conflict resolution. This new journey changed my life.
Tammy: How did you come to choose a conflict coaching niche?
Pattie: Years later, after earning my master’s degree in social work, I was providing counseling and conflict resolution services in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at the University of Delaware. I found that many of the employees who came into my office were experiencing quite a bit of workplace conflict. The cases were either not appropriate for mediation or the employee chose not to go that route. I was looking for an alternative. I discovered conflict coaching in the late 90s when I attended an informative session with Trisha Jones at Temple University in Pennsylvania. This was the perfect alternative to what my clients needed. I trained under Cinnie Noble using the CINERGY® conflict coaching model and have become a certified advanced conflict coach, coach-mentor and an Accredited Trainer in the CINERGY® model.
Tammy: What prompted you to choose podcasting as a promotional strategy for your business?
Pattie: I had been working with a cutting-edge social media coach, Jennifer Navarette, in San Antonio to design my social media strategy. She is the host of her own Blog Talk Radio show “Tech in Twenty” and she recommended I push myself to do something different other than writing a blog. I’ve had some voice training and well, I love to talk so what a perfect fit. I knew that I wanted to give back to the community especially to educate consumers about conflict resolution strategies and resources. In April 2010, I celebrated my one year anniversary as the host of The Texas Conflict Coach.
Tammy: What tech tool (gadget or software) do you find most essential to managing your day-to-day work and why?
Pattie: My Blackberry Storm is the tech gadget I use daily and have come to rely on heavily in managing my work and keeping connected to my social media world, especially when I am on the road. It has so many features and applications from e-mail management, to shooting photos, watching video, managing my calendar, and being able to use UberTwitter and Facebook. I recently discovered Pandora and use it to create my own radio station and listen to my favorite music.
Tammy: What are your favorite three online resources for learning new information you need to keep your ADR-related work healthy and forward moving and why are they your favorites?
Pattie: The first online resource is a new favorite, Kilmann Diagnostics. Dr. Ralph Kilmann, infamous co-author of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) has an enormous amount of information and researched-based articles that are truly advanced in the work I do with groups. You can also find his information on Quantum Organizations at Kilmann.com.
The second online resource is LinkedIn and the specific ADR groups that exist to engage in discussions. There are a number of great discussions happening here and I found new resources and people I have been able to connect with and learn from.
The last online resource I use is Mediate.com. I have learned from the great articles I have read and referenced many times over the years. It is also a great resource for clients.
Tammy: What advice do you have for new and seasoned ADR professionals who want to boost their own practices?
Pattie: The challenge for many ADR professionals is that offering your services is a business. The assumption for many is that if I hang out a shingle, they will come….NOT. The advice is to get real clear about who your target audience is, and that is NOT everyone, and what you are specifically offering. Then think through what your marketing strategy will be to target your referral sources. You might very well need to invest in a good business coach to get you focused.
The next piece of advice is to seriously consider and commit to how you will incorporate social media strategies to build your credibility, reputation, social network and referral base. I would recommend hiring a social media coach to work with you get very focused and fine tune which social networks are appropriate for your business. Proof is in the pudding. Because of my consistent efforts in creating relationships through my social media networks, I have been hired by 4 organizations as a direct result of my presence on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Hope to see you there!
Thanks for participating in the interview, Pattie!