Mary Stelletello is the Founder & CEO of Vista Global Coaching & Consulting. Mary brings 25-years experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to her coaching and consulting work in the areas of governance, leadership development, strategy development, strategic partnerships, training, facilitation
Mary designs and facilitates learning communities for executive directors and emerging leaders and capacity building workshops in the areas of strategic planning, governance and program impact. She customizes trainings that are culturally responsive and interactive.
I recently connected with Mary to learn about her path to becoming a solopreneur, her work as a B Corp Champion in Wisconsin, and her advice for aspiring Arc Benders. It’s safe to say I was a bit jealous that Mary joined our call from Mexico where she is working remotely with her husband for the next few months.
What initially inspired you to make a difference and what career path did you follow?
When I was 9 years old, I started working in my father’s restaurant on the weekends. What “working” entailed at that point was hanging around the kitchen, sitting and talking to the hostess and really observing what was going on with the customers and the staff. What systems were in place that were working and where there were problems. At the end of the day (a few hours later) I would have a “meeting” with my dad to talk about what I observed and learned. I learned a lot about people from different backgrounds, I was a precocious kid, I asked a lot of questions! I was learning Spanish in junior high school and high school and I wanted to practice so I spoke to any of the employees who spoke Spanish. I learned a lot about Latin America.
All through high school and college and graduate school, I worked in restaurants. I knew I didn’t want to do that for a career because I saw my dad work 7 days a week for years.
My senior year in college I spent a summer in Ecuador through a program called Amigos de las Americas and it changed my life. I learned how simply you can live and be happy. It also made me very aware that when you have privilege, you can use it to change the world for everyone.
When it was time for my first “professional” job, I was living in Albuquerque, NM, actually still in graduate school and I saw a job in the paper that I was drawn to, as Executive Director for a small nonprofit providing childcare services to homeless families. I took the job knowing that they weren’t sure how they would make the next payroll. That was the beginning of a 20-year career working in the social and philanthropic sector. I held 5 different executive director positions for organizations that provided services for children and youth and spent 4 years working for a foundation supporting youth development internationally. My last job in the social sector was running a youth exchange organization placing 1800 high school students in homestays across the U.S.
I knew that my next chapter would be to continue supporting the social sector through consulting. I took a position as a Senior Associate with a national consulting firm, La Piana Consulting serving the social sector and struck out on my own in 2011.
Tell me a bit about how Vista Global Coaching & Consulting is working to make a positive impact?
To continue to support social change makers as a consultant was not even a question. It was an obvious next step in the evolution of my career. I knew about certified B Corps in 2009 when I was still at La Piana through a research project we conducted about the trends in the social sector. One of those trends was the blurring of corporate structures to demonstrate a commitment to positive impact. The social sector was no longer able to “hold court” as the “do good” sector. Things were changing.
Over the past 7 years, Vista Global has supported more than 50 social sector and socially-minded business through organizational capacity building, training, leadership development and coaching.
In 2016, Vista Global launched an initiative called the Vista Leadership Academy for community-minded leaders who are at a crossroad trying to determine what next in their career. The Academy is a 6-month program that provides virtual classes in
This initiative brings my experience and passion for being a catalyst for changemakers so that everyone who participates in the program creates their own Odyssey Plan to align their passion, talent and impact in their work.
More now than ever, the world needs to maximize the number of changemakers who are creating a world that is more just, equitable and sustainable.
Also, when I started Vista Global, I immediately went to B Lab to go through the certification process. In 2012, Vista Global became the first certified B Corp in the state of Wisconsin. I have recertified 3 times and our scores, and our impact, have increased each year. After going to the Champions Retreat, I was inspired to launch the B Local Wisconsin movement. We’re really just getting started. For 3-4 years, Wisconsin only had 3 B Corps. Since 2016, approximately 3 more companies have become B Corp Certified and a few companies are ‘pending’ Certification as well. We’re really starting to build momentum locally. In November, we had our first meeting to pull all of the currently Certified B Corps and B Allies together in one room. The B Allies are non-profits that are committed to sustainable business – including the Sustainable Business Network and the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. We hope through partnerships will help accelerate the interest in Certifying. We also are about to pass benefit corporation legislation in Wisconsin in February of 2018, which will also help build this momentum.
What are the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome thus far?
As a solopreneur you are doing it all- business development, client relations, project management, curriculum design, delivery of services and products and bookkeeping! As I scaled my business, I needed to figure how to find the right rhythm of saying yes and saying no to projects so that I didn’t find myself working that 7 day a week job, I said I didn’t want when I was starting my career.
When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work, however it is still important to step away from the business every day, to allow the rest of your life the room to breathe and unfold. My dog forced me to step away from the computer every day to get some fresh air. I can’t understate how important that ritual is for staying energized.
What advice do you have for people that want to change the world or pursue their passion?
That question is what compelled me to design the Vista Leadership Academy. As a credentialed coach, the foundation for pursuing your passion is your core values. When you have clarity about what are the principles that help you feel like you are doing your life’s work, you are on your way. It is then a matter of clearing out the clutter, the fears, the gremlins in your head that send you all the limiting beliefs to block your path forward. You can’t do this alone. The power of community, support