We had the good fortune of connecting with Katherine McGraw Patterson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katherine, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
When I was born, my parents were living in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. I’m actually a third generation expatriate. My grandparents left the Ohio River Valley in the mid 1940’s and moved to the Panama Canal Zone, where they raised my dad and uncle. There’s a phenomenon called a “third culture kid” (TCK) – someone who is raised outside of their “home” culture. These kids don’t typically identify fully with the culture of their parents OR the culture of the host country(s) where they are raised. They exist in a kind of third, hybrid culture of their own experience. Lots of TCKs don’t have a strong attachment to any one place or people, and frequently live kind of a nomadic existence when they reach adulthood. My dad is a perfect example of that, and as a result, moved our family quite frequently when I was growing up. Between the time I was born and the time I graduated from college, I had lived in two countries overseas, six states, and ten cities. Which must have made me a TCK nomad in my own way, because since then, I’ve added another country and six more cities. In total, I’ve lived in 39 different homes and made 20 major state-to-state or country-to-country moves in my life. I’m 52 – so that averages to one move about every 2 1/2 years for my entire life. What’s great about this journey is that everywhere I lived was so completely different. More than 60% of the students in my elementary school in Tennessee were Black, and I was one of only three white girls in a Brownie Troop of 12 girls. In West Virginia, the fathers of my classmates mined coal and my friends lived on winding dirt roads that led up into the hills. When we lived in New Jersey, we were a suburb of New York City and the kids I knew had father’s who worked on Wall Street and I spent my 13th year attending a bar mitzvah almost every weekend. In Dallas, my classmates got BMWs for their 16th birthdays. When we lived in Hong Kong, I was a minority as a white English speaking woman. How did all that impact who I am today? Imagine always being the new girl and being slightly out of step with your new peers. You’re not wearing the right clothes. You don’t have the right accent. You’re listening to the wrong music. You don’t know the social rules of whatever new place you’ve landed. I had to learn not only to adapt quickly to new environments and people, but to also discern what was important to ME as a person – what I was willing to change and what I wasn’t. Maturity for a “professional new girl” is a blessing. Choosing my own home and where I wanted to be really grounded me. Finding my people in adulthood has been a Godsend. My friends today accept me for who I am and I don’t have to “try” to fit in – they just let me be my weird self. As the Founder of WEBO Network, I am passionate about is empowering our members to own who they are as business owners. Just like I learned to be ME and find the people who appreciated that, I encourage our members to stop trying to be everything to every person and find themselves and their ideal audience in their business. Our organization is based on masterminding and supportive conversations, and I am committed to bringing multiple points of view and backgrounds to that conversation. In fact, this year we committed to actively creating more diversity on all levels – cultural, economic, educational, etc. Next year, we’ll be pursuing relationships with other business-focused groups that serve minorities to see how we can support each other, and our Managing Directors (current and future) will be required to undergo diversity training so that they can embody that value in their own chapters. One of my mom-group friends in Hong Kong once observed that I was “one of the least judgmental” people she’d ever met – which, to me, was a high compliment. I hope that my varied experience and exposures has made me tolerant and considerate. That I’m able to incorporate different views and see issues from multiple angles. And that I continue to be open to new people, new viewpoints, and new experiences.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a fourth generation entrepreneur and since 1999, I’ve owned a business that supports other small business owners and entrepreneurs. In 2016, I took my own experience of business ownership, and the experiences I’ve had with my clients, and formed Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners (WEBO) Network. We are a business-forward masterminding, professional development, and networking organization that’s building community through the shared experience of being a woman business owner. Our members come together to share challenges and support through their unique expertise and knowledge. We exchange resources, advice, and ideas to help each other succeed. WEBO grew out of my business strategy work with other business owners as well as my own journey. As an “accidental entrepreneur” it took me a long time to create the structures, processes, and operations that allowed me to be truly profitable and successful in my own business. My goal in creating WEBO is to bring together an informal advisory group that other women can use to help advance their business journey and reach success sooner. What I’ve learned in all my businesses – WEBO included – is that you need a deep awareness of what it is you want to achieve, what makes you different, what you want to offer, and who you want to serve. That’s the secret sauce that no one else can duplicate. Once you know that, you can create and purposeful strategy and goals for getting there and take daily, intentional action. And, you have the be confident that what you’re doing is right for YOU. Business owners can’t borrow someone else’s success playbook and expect to have the same results, because every business is distinct and unique (if it’s not, that’s a whole other conversation!). Women, especially, fall victim to the comparison trap – they see other businesses offering freebies, or pricing their services at a certain level, or utilizing a software or platform and they think they should be doing the same thing. Nothing could be further from the truth! I encourage my clients and WEBO members to ask themselves three things – what are you trying to accomplish, what are you offering, and who wants to buy it? Then tailor your services, pricing, and messaging to that situation. You can save a lot of resources – time, energy, and money – by focusing on that question, digging deep, and being exhaustively complete in uncovering those answers before you ever take action. What do I want the world to know about me and my brand story? I made all the mistake. ALL. OF. THEM. And, my mission is to help my clients and WEBO members avoid the same pain and confusion. When I work with business owners – I help them create messaging the tools, but I also empower them to understand the “why” behind them, so that they can maximize their efforts. Again, as business owners, we usually have limited resources of time, energy, and money. If my coaching and advice can help you save – or make more – of any of those, then I’m happy. I succeed when my clients and WEBO members succeed.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’d head to Boulder. First, we would take a Banjo Billy Bus Tour – they are so funky and fun, and the drivers are both entertaining and educational. I love history and trivia and the tours are a combination of both. Then we’d go to the Dushanbee tea house to sit outside and enjoy some yummy food. It’s a beautiful setting and I love the story behind the building. We’d take a nice long walk on Boulder Creek and then we’d head to someplace like Wonder Wonder and get goofy with selfies – because in my brain, I’m only about 16 years old and I love to be silly. Our next stop would be Halfmoon Creek campground outside Leadville for a couple nights camping. There’s a beautiful dispersed camping spot along the creek that is my kids’ all time favorite place to stay. We’d set up the camp chairs on the little beach and listen to the rapids. The campground is tucked at the base of Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, and Williams Mountain and the scenery is breathtaking. We’d probably fish for trout in the creek and do some hiking and wrap up the day with a big campfire (as long as there wasn’t a fire ban!). On our way down the hill, we’d stop in Idaho Springs at the original Beau Jo’s for a Mountain Pie and a stroll through town for some shopping. We’d wrap up with a concert at Red Rocks with some local talent or Lyle Lovett and a Mexican dinner in Morrison.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m going to dedicate my Shoutout to my dad. Not only am I the child of a third-culture kid who gave me a ton of life experiences before I became an adult, but I’m also a fourth generation entrepreneur. I watched my dad buy his dream business when he was 42 and I’ve seen him struggle and thrive for the past 38 years. He made his kids and stepkids (and now grandkids!) work in the business during our summer breaks – we all had to learn how to drive the forklift and weld. But, we also went with him to visit vendors and customers, worked alongside his employees, and got to see him be the boss. Without being exposed to the risk tolerance, and the excitement of creating something for myself from an early age, I wouldn’t be where I am today. At 80, my dad is still working in his own business every day, and is still one of my biggest fans and greatest teachers. Although, today we share knowledge as much as he imparts it to me.
Other: https://www.meetup.com/WEBONetwork/ https://www.meetup.com/WEBO-Network-Northern-Colorado-Chapter/ https://www.meetup.com/WEBO-Network-South-East-Denver-Chapter/