How I used the Law of Attraction to draw the many mentors who helped in my journey

This post is part of Coldwell Banker’s Women in Leadership Series. We’ve been sharing the unique, uplifting and trailblazing stories of women leaders throughout the Coldwell Banker Network, and larger family. Check out Felicia Hengle’s, president of Ohio operations at Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies, story.

This is a contributor post by Felicia Hengle, president of Ohio operations, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies

Here is a little background on my story…

I am the oldest of five siblings. I grew up in a divorced household with a lot of chaos. I moved out of my house my senior year, graduated and moved to Florida. Shortly after, my mom, who was just 39 years old, was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and died at 39. I was 20 years old and I chose to raise my two youngest siblings- my half-brother Aaron who was 11, and my half-sister, Michaelle, who was 6 years old.

For the first two years, I became a martyr, sadness, loneliness, why me? Victimhood set in – I worked hard, hid my pain and buried it in my work as a Friday’s line cook. Luckily someone took an interest in me and in my story; my first mentor, Rick Long. He was the general manager of the TGIF in Clearwater, Florida and he gave me an opportunity, my first management position in predominately male leadership environment. Shortly thereafter, I started to feel empowered with a sense of importance. And that is when I started to attract the right things into my life.

Within three years I met my second mentor and lifelong friend, Nick Kostis. This relationship was my gateway back to Ohio. I believe God put Nick in my path when I most needed a friend. Nick introduced me to my second opportunity and next level of leadership in the restaurant industry where I made the move to the entertainment industry through the world of comedy. It was here that I met my husband of 31 years, Benny. I visualized the next steps in my career as though they had already happened: regional manager/director of operations at more than four locations. Sure enough over the next several years, everything we did in the organization went through me. Our final endeavor was a 27,000 square feet flagship location in Cleveland, Ohio with 150 employees, 10 department heads, a full service kitchen, marketing, accounting, box office, showroom and restaurant all reporting to me. At no time was I ever made to feel insignificant or held back for being a woman in a major leadership role within the organization. The confidence I gained with Nick’s support would help mold and shape everything I ever did in leadership going forward. Nick allowed me to succeed and to fail, all without judgement, just guidance, support and trust. I always felt like his partner and will be forever grateful to Nick for that experience.

It was time for a change which led to my third opportunity as a Coldwell Banker real estate agent. I now had confidence and believed I could be successful – and I was. It was here that I met my third mentor and business partner for the next eight years, Promila Sehra. I visualized our private office, becoming the No.1 selling team in the office, No.3 in the company and having a rewarding career. Promila gave me experience and the leverage that I needed to be successful. She was an Indian woman and showed me her bravery of moving to this country, learning the language, overcoming bigotry, etc.  Yet when she retired and moved away, I found myself yearning for a path back to leadership.

I visualized my fourth opportunity and it manifested itself at Keller Williams, where I spent four years as the team leader/CEO of a large office in the Cleveland market. It was difficult to get in and it took me almost two years to get an interview. It was very clear that it was a male dominated leadership culture. The operating principle had two gentleman interested in the position and was reluctant to allow me into the mix when the interview process took place. Fortunately, there was an entire ownership team and after all three candidates were interviewed I was awarded the position.

Here I had many mentors and lessons. I was back in the saddle of leadership and in my comfort zone. I set goals, reached them, set new ones, reached those. I was in my element, respected and flourishing, but I reached a ceiling of achievement. So now what? I worked with a coach, my fourth mentor, Mike Fleming. Mike taught me to be aggressive with my goals and not let being a woman in leadership stifle my growth or potential. I wrote myself a future letter visualizing my life in 12 months; the results showed up when I met the Schmidt’s from Traverse City, Michigan.

That introduction led to my fifth opportunity as I became the president of Ohio for the Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies. This was my homecoming and where I met my fifth mentor, Tom Gray. I wanted to continue to grow and learn. I knew instantly that this company was not about gender and that opportunity was available based on merit, skill, experience, and drive. I was given a challenge and the opportunity to take a stagnant company and restore it to greatness under some tremendous leadership where I could be completely empowered and trusted to use what I had learned up to now and “move the peanut forward,” as Tom likes to say.

Why do I think the law of attraction worked for me? Like attracts like, good leadership attracts good leadership. People like me absolutely crave it. I often ask new agents, “if you knew that devoting yourself to your own business could be so transformational, would you do it?” There is nothing more empowering than to be the creator of your future and not the victim of your life. This industry has offered me a platform in which to grow and it is truly a business that rewards you exponentially for what you CHOOSE to put into it.

Everyone’s journey is unique and each person will leave their own legacy based on that journey.  I believe in offering “inspired leadership” which truly can make a difference in the lives of those around me. The role of a leader offers a platform and many opportunities to do this. Leadership has allowed me to grow personally, enjoy a life with my dad in our home, adopt a daughter I never would have met and live a life by design and not by default. I’m eternally grateful to God and all of my many mentors. I’m grateful for the opportunities that have been placed in my path and the journey I’ve been able to call my life. My wish for aspiring leaders everywhere is that you tap into your greatness and go find your mentors who will share their wisdom and create the opportunities that you were made for.

One of my favorite quotes:  “The people around you will grow to the extent that you do” – Leadership is a lifestyle that is always evolving. You never truly master it, but you aspire to in all that you are, all that you do and all that you touch.

Inspirations – My Dad, for his positive outlook and unwavering faith in me… always, John Maxwell, who’s mission is “to add value to someone every day”, Darren Hardy,  “Success Magazine”, John Ashraf, “Having it All”, Rhonda Byrne, “The Secret” – Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Jon Gordon, Patrick Lencioni, Napoleon Hill, and countless others.

Senior Manager, Public Relations for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. Grew up in south Florida as an avid Seminole fan and attended college in the mountains of North Carolina. Athena wanted to wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep so headed to Madison Avenue to start her marketing career. Athena has worked for Coldwell Banker for 15 years where she can be found generating buzz about this awesome brand in every way possible. On any given day, she can be found crunching numbers to searching for amazing Coldwell Banker properties to serve up to the media for features. In her spare time, you can find her either digging up a new area in her yard for another flower bed or scouring Etsy for that next amazing handcrafted gem. She resides with the Bukowski of our generation (AKA her husband) and her cat (Jolene) in Atlanta, Ga.

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