Knowing the value of a good mentor
By Kris Leonhardt
“I am a firm believer it paying it forward,” said Diane Wolf.
Wolf knows the value of a good mentor. Her appreciation reaches back to time spent as a nontraditional student, after heading to college when her youngest child was in kindergarten.
“I went back to school – went to the UW (Marshfield) – got an associate’s degree; got a bachelor’s from Stevens Point in business administration, HR, and finance; and then, I got my MBA from Oshkosh,” Wolf recalled.
Right out of college, Wolf’s first job was managing Marshfield’s bustling mall.
“There were 37 stores. It was alive; it was hopping,” she said. “It was just wonderful, but that was the day when the mall was a destination. That’s how I first got involved in the community. I got to know Marilyn Hardacre, and she came to me and she says ‘They are revising MACCI (Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry.) We need a program director.’”
Wolf took the job at the chamber, where she spent the next few years networking. Then, she was approached to run a regional grocery store bank.
“I managed the first Associated (Bank) when it was in Tom Karau’s warehouse,” Wolf added.
When Mid-State started a financial services program, they looked to Wolf due to her experience in both business and banking. Diane then began a 25-year teaching career with the technical college. That teaching career extended to the UW system where she has taught for 32 years.
In addition to her professional career, Wolf has also served the community in a political capacity, becoming the first woman elected to the Marshfield Common Council. Wolf served the residents of District 2 for two terms.
The mentorship she received from her days as a student to her days as a teacher have given her the desire to pay it forward and the Central Wisconsin SCORE program has become a major part of that.
“I’ve had some really good mentors over the years and that is what made me gravitate towards SCORE, because I can pay that forward,” Wolf said. “I think about all of the mentors that I have had in this community… I was taught not to sit back by some wonderful mentors.”
“When you talk about SCORE, think about the fact that you can give this back… It’s that synergistic effect, where everything comes together; and because it does, the outcome is so much better. SCORE is just a real small part of that. If you get people with good ideas, and you help show them where they can get resources and things of that sort, it’s only a matter of time and you are going to pay it forward, too.”
Central Wisconsin SCORE is a group of counselors that provide free, confidential advice, and consultation to any prospective or current business owner in north central Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
“I think what score brings is they bring experts in various fields to individuals who otherwise may not have that tool available to them,” Wolf said. “This one person came in and she said, ‘Well, you know, I should have come to you first. I spent $300 on this software package, and I spent $300 on this and all of these things, and it wasn’t needed.’ She could have started with us. We are a starting point.
“You get more than you give. In all of the volunteerism I have done over my lifetime, I have gotten far more than I have ever given.”
The Central Wisconsin SCORE chapter is located in the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 700 S. Central Ave., Marshfield. The group has assisted hundreds of businesses in the Marshfield, Neillsville, Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, and Wausau area.
They currently serve the counties of Florence, Forest, Vilas, Iron, Oneida, Price, Lincoln, Langlade, Clark, Wood, Marathon, Juneau, Adams, and portions of Upper Michigan.
While the SCORE program has many counselors with various expertise, the program currently has a large need for women mentors.
“You don’t have to own a business,” said Central Wisconsin SCORE Administrator Karen Olson, “you don’t have to be a CEO of a business, you just have to have some expertise in an area such as financial, marketing, (human resources), all of those different arenas.
“We are looking for people that aren’t necessarily retired anymore. It is people still in the workforce and just have a couple of hours a month that they may want to give back to the community and entrepreneurs.”
If interested in becoming a mentor, contact Karen at 715-384-3454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.