An Interview with Paul Winkler

by Gordon Nary


Gordon: What parish do you attend and what do you find most rewarding about your parish membership?


Paul: My wife and I attend St. Thomas More in Centennial, Colorado. We’ve been parishioners since August 1993 when we moved from New Jersey. STM is a large and vibrant parish so there are plenty of opportunities to participate in various ministries. Our favorite is mentoring engaged couples.


Gordon: When you attended the Catholic University of America you earned a certificate for Catholic Social Doctrine for Professionals. Please provide an overview of what Catholic Social Doctrine for Professionals entails.


Paul: This was an on-line class that is periodically offered by the Catholic University of America. I was interested in this class because of my current work which centers on the integration of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) in the workplace. The class addressed the main pillars or tenants of CST and how they should affect the way business leaders approach their work.


We were able to interact with various professors at the Catholic University of America and with the other students, who were working professionals, and who lived and worked across the country.


Gordon: You are Founder, President and a Peer Group Chair of Attollo. What are your primary responsibilities?


Paul: I founded Attollo in response to reading the document “The Vocation of the Business Leader” that was commissioned by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The mission of Attollo is to help business owners, CEOs or presidents to be a success in their business while they work on their sanctity.


I have three primary responsibilities as founder and president of Attollo; infrastructure development, marketing, and team expansion. Infrastructure includes all the processes, supportive technology and intellectual property (classes, exercises, and tools) to help Attollo members on their path to sanctity and business success. Marketing, of course, covers all the activities to help get the word out about Attollo and team expansion is to help fill out the existing teams in Denver, Columbus, Dallas, and Houston and to help others form in other metro areas throughout the country.


Gordon: Based on your experience, what are the primary oversights that some Catholics in business make in relation to their faith?


Paul: Like all of us, business leaders deal with tension due to our twofold nature, corporeal and spiritual. As our businesses become busier because of success, we naturally tend to think more about the day to day issues of the world and less of our spiritual nature. Unfortunately, this often becomes an ingrained habit – where our thoughts of God or prayer become squeezed into a small bit of time on Sunday, during Mass.


The danger here, of course, is ultimately caring more and worrying more about the business and the success of it versus our spiritual life or even for our own salvation and of the salvation of those they care about deeply and those they interact with during the day.


Our spiritual growth depends on leaders being intentional in that growth. This means scheduling God into our day. It doesn’t seem “holy” or a deeply spiritual act to put prayer on the calendar but it’s necessary for many in business until it becomes an essential part of the day.


We are called to live an integrated life, a life where we are constantly praying and trying to think with the mind of Christ and see the world as He sees it. This includes our daily work.


Gordon: Who was Saint Homobonus?


Paul: Saint Homobonus was a business owner in the town of Cremona, Italy about 65 miles SE of Milan. He lived in the late 12th century and is often portrayed holding a bag of money wearing merchant’s robes. He was canonized less than two years after his death by Pope Innocent III in 1199.


Not much is known about Saint Homobonus other than he lived our Christ’s commands to love God and neighbor by running his business with scrupulous honesty and reached out and served the poor by consistently donating a large portion of his profits in service to them. One could say that serving the poor was part of his overall business strategy. He came to appreciate that his calling to work in the world of business was a divine calling.


He serves as a guide for all leaders and is also the patron saint of Attollo.


Gordon: What are the most common leadership mistakes and how can we avoid them?


Paul: A very common leadership issue is lack of trust. Many Catholic business leaders don’t fully trust God. Many don’t associate their vocation as a business leader is indeed a calling from God. They think that their success depends solely on their own intellect and sweat and don’t view God as a co-creator or partner in their work. Nor do they delegate roles and responsibilities to those in the business who were hired to handle those specific roles.


It’s kind of a natural thing not to let go of “your baby” (your business) into the care of others but it’s the only way for a business to mature to the point that it’s not dependent on the owner every single moment of the day. It’s just like parenting actually. Children will not fully mature into functioning adults until they are given the training, guidance, space, and practice to do so.


Second, to trust is not asking for or seeking good counsel and applying it.

Another issue is not taking time away from the business to assess it. Leaders need time away from fighting the daily fires that come up in order to periodically review the mission, vision, and goals of the business to ensure that they are indeed heading the right direction, that the assumptions from which they started the business are still valid in our rapidly changing world.


Gordon: Thank you for a memorable interview.

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