Teaching Confidence: Eagle’s Patricia Drain Shows Businesswomen How to Find Success By Looking Within
By Chereen Langrill
If you happen to be seated next to Patricia Drain on an airplane and ask her what she does for a living, Drain will graciously answer you, but the whole story might take some time.
“It’s not a simple answer,” she says.
Drain’s home is in Eagle, but her business takes her around the world. Her latest project is an organization called International Women Business Owners, which gives women the opportunity to network and fine-tune their goals and take their businesses to the next level. Members of this organization (and yes, a few are men) receive regular access to business growth experts and also have the opportunity to connect with other business owners in order to find support and advice.
But back to that airplane conversation.
“If I have to gear in and say ‘This is how I make my money,’ I would say ‘speaking and mentoring,’” Drain says.
Yet that is merely a sliver of what defines Drain professionally. She is also an author and a mentor/coach for business owners, and an entrepreneur (she has purchased and sold several businesses). Ultimately, Drain’s most accurate job description can be traced back to her days as a college student. When Drain was about to graduate from college in Billings, Montana (where she grew up), she remembers being asked if she knew her purpose in life. Her reply was swift and certain: “To help people be the very best they can be.”
It is that statement that further illustrates what Drain does for a living. She helps people become their best. It’s just that her help takes different forms, depending on her clients’ needs. Drain’s skills as a mentor help women find their focus in business. As a public speaker she is motivating and empowering. As an author of several books for professionals, she has taught people how to re-invent themselves and discover new careers (“What Should I Be When I Grow Up Now That I’m 40, 50, 60?”) and how to ace job interviews (“Hire Me Secrets of Job Interviewing”). She has even helped children develop their own focus in the form of self-confidence. That book, called “I Love Myself,” tells the story of a boy who overcomes school bullies and name-calling by learning to believe in himself. His secret weapon is a song called “I Love Myself the Way I Am,” and in the story it is sweetly sung by the boy’s mother. The book includes a copy of the song so children can play it and hear for themselves. The lyrics reflect Drain’s emphasis on the value of self-confidence, a key message she often shares with children and adults alike: “I love myself the way I am/There’s nothing I need to change/I’ll always be the perfect me/There’s nothing to rearrange.”
Be true to yourself and you’ll soar. That is the core concept behind each business Drain operates. Be true to your skill set. Be true to your dreams. Be true to your relationships. Know yourself and your strengths, and play to those rather than trying to be something you’re not.
There is no question that Drain knows her own truth. She’s not a blue jeans and T-shirt type of gal. Friends and family give her a hard time when occasions call for a casual look. “For me, this is casual,” Drain says of an outfit she’s wearing on a recent Monday afternoon. She is wearing loosely-draped black slacks with black loafers and a bright blue summer-weight sweater (adorned with a cheerful fabric flower on the collar). A sparkling belt buckle adds a bit of bling without being over-the-top flashy. It’s far from business casual, and yet it seems relaxed and effortless. It is who she is. “I was 9 and I dressed up to go to Safeway,” Drain jokes. Drain’s home echoes her personal style. Warm and welcoming, yet stylish and put-together. She is delighted by some recent purchases for her home office: a desk and chair that are from the Jane Seymour collection. They are white with silver accents. Pretty and feminine without too much flash or frill. Elegant and stylish, but not trendy. Modern but not stark.
Know who you are and run with it. Once Drain was in a cemetery and noticed a man’s headstone. It contained the picture of a motorcycle and the words “I did it my way.” At that moment, she realized who that man was. “And that’s when I realized what mine would say,” she says. “Relationships are everything.” Drain’s life comes down to relationships, whether they are professional or personal. It is evident she lives this philosophy, because it seeps through everything she touches. If you call her business line and get the voicemail greeting, you’ll be instructed to leave your name and number and that someone will return your call within 24 hours (and Drain follows through with this promise). Drain is present when speaking to someone. Her eye contact is steady and welcoming, sending the message “I hear you, and I’m listening to every word you say.” No distractions and no thoughts about what waits around the corner.
Relationships are everything in Drain’s personal life, too. Drain and her husband, Tom, left their longtime home in Scottsdale, Arizona, and moved to Eagle two years ago to be closer to two of their three children and grandchildren. Drain’s grandson, Nathan, is a constant presence at her home office. Now 17, Drain calls Nathan her “Chief Kid Officer (CKO for short),” and he creates most of her graphics and workbooks. He is a talented artist and is working with Drain to illustrate a re-release of her book “I Love Myself.” Drain and a 3-year-old Nathan are pictured on the book’s original inside back cover, and he also shares the name of the book’s main character, a boy named Nathan.
“You have a common thread going back to your childhood,” Drain says. She believes that thread is the key to your professional future. Drain’s husband has had a successful career as a builder, and she says his earliest childhood memories demonstrate his aptitude toward that career. As a 3-year-old he wanted to nail pieces of wood together. And when Drain was 5 years old? “I was showing my friends a bunch of rocks and explaining these rocks to them,” she says. “I’m a teacher.” Today, the teacher proves looking within can reap monetary rewards without.
Improve your business fitness with these tips from Patricia Drain:
- Describe yourself in five words. Those words will help you put your strengths in focus. “Bottom-line it,” Drain says. It’s ok to change your mind about the five words you use (we all grow and change), but always limit it to five.
- Invest in yourself as a business. Women tend to invest in their wardrobes, grooming and real estate. But the greatest investment should be in your business because that leads to your success. Invest in training courses, join organizations that allow you to meet like-minded people, and anything else that will help build the foundation for a successful business.
- Stop being a perfectionist. Drain says sometimes good is good enough. Don’t get caught up in making a situation perfect. Be confident in your skills and move forward.
- Drop your “yabut” habit. If you often begin a sentence with the phrase “Yeah, but…” it is time to stop. Drain calls it a “yabut,” and her grandson, Nathan, designed a mousepad featuring the “yabut” character as a reminder of this unsavory habit. Don’t make excuses and stop focusing on why you can’t do something or why it won’t work. Focus on what you can do and what it will take to make a situation happen.
- Listen. Whether you are in a job interview or speaking with a potential client, listen to what they have to say and make sure your body language indicates they have your complete attention. Strong listening skills impress employers and others who will do business with you, because it shows you care about what they are saying.