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Attollo seeks to close the divide between the office and the pew

Paul Winkler lived what one would call a successful life – he enjoyed a great career working in corporate America, had four kids and raised a wonderful Catholic family.

But something was still missing. While his life appeared successful to those on the outside, he lived what he calls the “divided life” for many years.

“I always felt there was something missing,” Winkler, a parishioner of St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, told the Denver Catholic. “There was a disconnect from the things of the heart and the soul to all the things I was experiencing in the secular world.”

His solution? To start his own professional development program that seeks to close the divide between the office and the pew. Deemed Attollo, which means “to lift” in Latin, the catalyst for the venture came from Winkler discovering a document commissioned by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace called “Vocation of the Business Leader.” The document was intended to help Catholic business owners make better business decisions informed by their faith and Catholic social teaching.

Paul Winkler founded Attollo to help Catholic business owners more fully bring their faith into how they operate their businesses. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

“It’s a high-minded notion that our businesses should be made for a higher purpose, just like our own lives are,” Winker said.

Rooted in the four pillars of Catholic social teaching – dignity of the human being, common good, solidarity and subsidiarity – Attollo empowers business owners to run their business with these four pillars informing the way they do it. In the cutthroat business world, heeding these qualities may seem antithetical, but that’s exactly why they work, Winkler said.

“From those four pillars, you can run a business incredibly soundly, in a sense, without fear,” Winkler said.

A divided life

Andreas Widmer, director of entrepreneurship programs at the Catholic University of America, has written about business and faith for the Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post, and he is an advocate for Attollo.

“I do a lot of coaching and speaking around the country to leaders in the business world with an overlap with faith, and I see that very few people get the right mix of the two,” Widmer said. “I haven’t seen a lot of people who are able to do what Paul does.”

The business world and Catholic faith often seem to be at odds. This is a large contributor, Winkler said, to a person living a “divided life” and keeping their faith separate from work, recreation and other day-to-day activities.

“There is certainly a stigma about being in business and stating proudly you are a practicing Catholic,” Winkler explained. “You can say almost anything else, and people are very sympathetic. Say you’re Catholic and it’s a completely different thing. You lose credibility in the business world … [which] demands that Christ is left at home or in Church. Yet, Christ demands our devotion 24/7.

“As a Catholic [and] a business leader, you can’t live with 100 percent integrity unless you live a whole life. You can’t live a compartmentalized life.”

It’s a high-minded notion that our businesses should be made for a higher purpose, just like our own lives are.”

Attollo members meet with their chapter once per month. The meetings focus on three tracks of development: Personal, professional and faith formation. The three qualities are developed in tandem – which is key, Winkler said.

The personal development track helps the business owner work “on all the stuff between your ears that keeps you from where you need to go – keeps you from greatness,” Winker explained. It enables them to make a business plan for the year and helps them to execute that plan.

The aim of the professional development track is to get the business owner “to a point where they don’t have to be working 24/7,” Winkler said. This includes more goal setting, but also practical training in some of the more mundane parts of business – sales, marketing, customer service, distribution and the like.

The most important aspect of Attollo is faith formation, which is what separates it from similar business development programs.

The local Attollo chapter meets once per month, and focuses on three main tracks of development: Personal, professional and faith formation. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

“It’s a series of modules meant to help business owners understand their relationship with God,” Winkler said. “It’s understanding self, others and then as you start to know God, yourself and others, you start to see the world in a different way. You start seeing the world through God’s eyes rather than your own.”

The ultimate goal of Attollo, Winkler said, is to reconcile the divided life that many Catholic business owners may find themselves living and more importantly, to bring God into the the operation of their businesses.

“If they’re giving everything they are and everything they do to God, it should be easier in the long run,” he said.

For more information about Attollo and a free PDF download of “Vocation of the Business Leader,” visit attollousa.com/dc. If you’re interested in joining an Attollo chapter, contact Paul at paul@attollousa.com or 303-877-1436.

Aaron Lambert
Aaron is the Managing Editor for the Denver Catholic.
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