Career Whisperer


When you want to start something new in your career, whether a new project or an entirely new field, it’s often an exciting but scary notion. Deborah Brommer discusses how her mentor, Susan Tolles, helped her make a big change (professionally and personally) through her mentorship.


4word: Deborah, tell us the challenges you were facing, prior to beginning your mentorship with Susan.

20160730_165425Deborah: One of the challenges I was facing prior to meeting with Susan was the feeling of being overwhelmed in starting my new venture. I have been out of the workforce for over twenty years as a stay-at-home mom and am now starting my own business. Susan was able to relate to my experience since she was a stay-at-home mom for 24 years and then started her own business. Her story brought me great comfort as she shared with me her experiences, what she learned and what she wouldn’t do again. Susan and I were able to talk through a plan and list the steps I needed to take in order of importance. Having her as a mentor was helpful in seeing the bigger picture.

4word: Susan, upon learning of Deborah’s struggles, what were your initial thoughts/strategies to effectively mentor her?

Susan: Purpose, priorities, perseverance.

Deborah is where I was just a few years ago, a stay-at-home mom facing the empty nest who wants to do something rewarding in the next chapter of her life. She has dreamed of creating t-shirts with her own beautiful designs that have scripture verses on them, using part of her income to support women’s ministries around the world. Deborah had several goals with this exciting vision, and needed help sorting them out.

Tolles GrandchildrenMy first step into being a solo-entrepreneur was creating a website for women over 50. Like Deborah, I had a great idea and ran with it. But after the first year, I didn’t even know why I was doing what I was doing. If I’d had a mentor and a coach early on, I would have had a better grasp of the “why” behind my new career, understanding who God created me to be, not what I thought  should be doing. Because I didn’t want Deborah to fall into the same trap, we first started with discussions on purpose and she developed a mission statement for her new business, which was a major turning point, providing the focus for the road ahead. Then, as she laid out her goals, we explored the why behind each one, which provided clarity and motivation needed for success.

Deborah’s vision is BIG! But we worked to prioritize and scale it back in the beginning. It was important to “do the first things first,” which is often not the fun part! But putting the steps into a logical sequence reduces overwhelm, and saves so much time in the end.

I knew that Deborah was navigating uncharted waters, and needed lots of encouragement along with the accountability and guidance. It is easy to get discouraged when things don’t happen on your own timeline, so having someone in your cheering section is crucial to staying motivated. I think that encouragement to keep “running the race set before her” was some of the most valuable input I had.

Mentoring Deborah was like re-living my own journey, only this time I had the wisdom and experience to help her avoid many of the mistakes I made early on. I was able to blend the knowledge I’ve gained over the past few years with my coaching skills to give her a good framework for success.

VZM.IMG_20160727_1353394word: Was the mentorship fulfilling for you?

Susan: Absolutely! I always looked forward to our phone calls, and it was so exciting for me to be part of her “ah-ha moments.” I know God used me to bring order to Deborah’s plan, and being part of her journey was so rewarding. I have been called to help women find clarity, purpose and direction in their lives, so this was in perfect alignment with what God created me to do.

Deborah: The mentorship was fulfilling to me. I don’t take it for granted that God brought Susan Tolles into my life at the perfect time to mentor me.

4word: Deborah, what drew you to the 4word Mentor Program over other mentorship opportunities? Susan, why do you invest your time in the Mentor Program?

Deborah: What drew me to the 4word Mentor Program over other programs is that 4word is unique in being that is a faith-based program. I was excited to have this opportunity to partner with another Christian woman and learn from her experience.

Susan: I am a mentor because I wish I’d had one myself! As I look back, I realize that, if I’d had mentors in my life early on, I might have done things differently—smarter and more intentionally. Now that I have experience and wisdom to draw on, I love sharing it with someone who is hungry for guidance. Life is truly a team sport, and we simply must have others on our team to help us succeed. It is so fulfilling to support another woman’s journey.

4word: What advice would you give anyone considering a mentorship? Would you recommend the 4word Mentor Program? Why?

Susan: Everyone needs a personal advisory board, with a coach (to help you create and implement your strategic plan), mentors to share their experiences and friends who will be brutally honest, to brainstorm ideas, give feedback and share wisdom. Having women of faith on that team is a huge bonus, because God is present in the relationships, which brings an entirely different perspective to the discussions. As we struggle to balance faith, family and career, it is both comforting and motivating to have a like-minded mentor as your accountability partner, cheerleader and task master when needed. When they have “been there, done that,” mentors can help avoid mistakes, navigate challenges and give her mentee as sense of peace knowing that she is not alone.

For someone considering becoming a mentor, do not think you have nothing to share! Each of us has rich life and professional experiences, so just be willing to open up, be transparent and pour your heart into someone else’s life, which will have long-lasting effects. You will change a woman’s life in just 10 short weeks! Just be you and let God do the rest.

I especially appreciate how 4word trains the mentors and mentees, providing guidelines to make the relationship successful. Plus, having the mentees do some self-discovery work prior to the first session is a huge help, allowing her to be focused and to better understand her unique giftedness and how that relates to her work.

Deborah: The advice I would give anyone considering mentorship is, just do it! I’m reminded of the verse in Proverbs 15:20 that says, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” Having advice from a Godly Christian woman is taking steps towards advancement in reaching your goals!

I would absolutely recommend the 4word Mentor Program, because it is beneficial as a professional Christian woman to have advice and direction from other professional Christian women. This excellent mentor program offers that!

4word: Anything else you’d like to share?

Susan: When you need guidance, don’t be afraid to ask for help! If there is someone you admire, tell her you’d love to spend a little time with her to learn how she got where she is today. A mentoring relationship does not have to last a long time, and often a couple of hours over lunch is all someone has to offer. Also, you might experience “mentoring moments” when you receive a golden nugget that changes the way you do things. Women are genuinely interested in helping one another succeed, and most of us will be honored that someone wants to learn from us.  


Does your career need the guidance of a mentor like Susan? Have you been through career transitions like Deborah’s and feel like you should invest your knowledge back into other professional Christian women? Do what they did and take part in the upcoming session of the 4word Mentor Program!


Susan Tolles is a Certified Life Purpose Coach and mentor who works as a guide, strategist, cheerleader and accountability partner for women who are ready to achieve their God-given potential. Susan leads each of her clients through a customized, proven process to discover her life’s purpose, overcome her limiting beliefs and create a strategic plan for personal and professional success. At the end of their time together, her client knows exactly where she is headed, she is taking action on her goals, and she has the confidence to live an authentic life, defining success on her own terms, not the world’s. Susan leads the Austin chapter of 4word and volunteers with several non-profits around the Austin, Texas area, where she lives with her husband Jim. They have been married 37 years and have three married children and three grandchildren.

Deborah Brommer attends 4word in Arizona and is excited about starting a new chapter in her life as a small business owner. She is in the process of creating t-shirts with scripture and artwork. Deborah is hoping to profit enough from this business to support ministries that help victims of human trafficking. She lives in Glendale, Arizona, with her husband Phil of 22 years and their 4 children.