While I'm not near my blog this week, I thought I'd share an interesting Q&A with Anita Carman, founder of Inspire Women.
1.How did you make the leap from corporate America to founding Inspire Women?
In my twenties I was furiously climbing the corporate ladder. I worked for major companies like Booz, Allen and Hamilton and Exxon. Then I had a car accident where I was almost killed. It really made me think about my life and what I wanted to do with it. I realized I wanted my life to make a difference in ways beyond just making money.
2. How has your personal story fueled what you do?
Ever since I lost my mother to suicide when I was 17, I was always searching to fill an emptiness in my heart. I was also uprooted from my country when I came to America and frantically searched for a place of belonging. The dream of coming to AMerica began in my mother's heart so when she was no longer here I wasn't sure how the story was supposed to end. That led me to develop a passion for helping others find their purpose because I have experienced the pain of not knowing where you belong or what you're supposed to be doing with your life.
3. What do you find most rewarding about the work Inspire Women does?
I love the fact that we help women of all ethnicities and economic levels. I think the search for purpose is as painful for the affluent as it is for those with less disposable income. I love seeing that peace in a woman's face when she finally settles what she's supposed to be doing with her life. And the fact that we helped her get there is very rewarding to me.
4. What's your biggest challenge?
I find it hard to juggle so many things at the same time. When I write I disappear into that place in my head where I shut out the world. But while there I'm concerned over the ministry and what's needed for everyone on staff to run. So I go between being an "artist" if you will and a CEO. I definitely could not fulfill my role had God not hand picked the staff I have around me. They are phenomenal.
5. What advice do you have for a woman today looking for her purpose in life?
Most people begin with what they like. I don't think God begins there. If we begin with what we like then the purpose is all about us. I believe God begins with what the need is in the community and He then matches the need with the gifts He has put in us. I see women wasting time looking for the right opportunity or hopping around from place to place. I believe the biblical model is to let God show you a need and then go as a servant to use whatever gift you have to fulfill the need. This means God gets to decide what gifts He will use, to what level, and when. We don't even get to decide which our gifts we want to use. We simply go as a surrendered servant saying, Use anything and everything.
6. How can people get involved with Inspire Women?
They can re-teach the materials we share at our monthly spiritual oasis. They can sign up for a leadership certificate and learn how to respond to life the way the daughter of a King would. We're looking into possibly letting women lead small groups over the internet where they can share our signature curriculum on how to respond as a King's daughter. They can fund scholarships and grants. They can use our events and serve as an ambassador to invite friends to our events.
7. What kind of changes do you see in the women who find their God-given calling?
I see them exhibiting the peace of knowing why they were created. Also at Inspire Women I see them finding joy in being part of a community of women who desire to know their purpose and to make a difference in the world.
8. What makes Inspire Women different from other ministries?
We are a ministry that reaches women across ethnicities and economic levels. Most ministries are one ethnicity or have women of similar economic levels. The women we reach range from ministry leaders to top women CEOs and philanthropists.
We are all inclusive in that there are ministries that produce conferences but they don't invest back in the women in the conference. They don't give scholarships and grants. We also have small groups after the conference so I would say our uniqueness is in our followup programs to empower potential and to keep women going in their service.
9. Inspire Women spends a lot of time mentoring women, why does mentorship matter?
Our mentoring is in the message and in the communities we build where women encourage each other. SO we don't have a lot of one on one mentoring. More than mentoring I would say that we create an atmosphere where women feel the freedom to be transparent and to encourage each other through their challenges. The one on one I do is helping a woman in the Leadership Institute design a project that will help her reach her next spiritual milestone. For example one woman produced a CD with her message, another compiled a book of prayers, another produced a women's event.
10. You recently celebrated the ten-year anniversary of an independent Inspire Women. What do the next ten years look like?
We are putting processes in place so that what we have in Houston can be replicated or can easily be passed down to the next generation to operate. So while our VP of Houston builds sustaining programs, I focus on developing the message that brands Inspire Women globally and continue building the financial infrastructure to support the ministry not only in Houston but beyond.