you're listening to the women will podcast in this series of women in leadership limelight, successful women leaders share their stories of leadership growth and self Discovery. I've probably gone through leadership 101102103104105106. I was willing to rise up and be the leader at 23 That a company with 10 employees needed. What I've had to rise up and become is a different leader. If you're an ambitious woman who wants to live larger dream, bigger blaze trails and manifest your destiny. These conversations will inspire you with new insights and fresh perspectives from different segments of business and society and various countries all around the world. And now your host, laura queen ba Today's guest is Sadie Hess, founder and Ceo of campus home care driven to help people with disabilities pursue their dreams direction and Destiny Sadie founded Her company in 1996 at the age of 23 to provide options support and independent living services to people with disabilities.
Growing the company to over 600 employees and eight office locations. She dreams of making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities throughout the state of California. Sadie holds her B A. And M. A in psychology and her role in the organization is to cast vision for tomorrow and see the clients today. Both happy, safe and healthy in all regions. It's awesome to have you here Sadie, how are you doing? I'm doing really well. Thank you. Thanks for asking. I'm really looking forward to just kind of exploring a little bit of your journey um And sharing that with other women though. Thank you for that. Maybe you could start with telling us a little bit about how you grew up, like what was life like for you as a kid? Sure. So I grew up in rural California, so most people think of California, they think of the beach and they think of you know the Hollywood. But I actually grew up in northern California which is um rice country, we grow a lot of rice.
So I grew up, my dad is a farmer and um I grew up on the oldest of five, so I also grew up um and my dad actually was a farmer for someone else and then had his own ranch. Um That was a big part of our family which depleted our funds pretty dramatically. And then being the oldest of five, my mom stayed home most of my childhood, she ended up going to work with my when my brothers were young because I'm the oldest, so by the time I'm there's 12 years difference between me and my youngest brother. So by the time my brother went, you know was in school, my mom went to work, went back to work, but for most of my childhood she was a stay at home mom, so that meant we didn't have a lot of resources between five kids and then my dad working a rant on a ranch which isn't very profitable, but then trying to run his own ranch that wasn't profitable at all, um, that really depleted our resources. So I grew up really kind of valuing family, but I'm really not having a lot of resources, feeling like the poorest person in the, in the room regularly. I remember, um, God did a phenomenal job providing for us.
So I did see that part of God and my parents very active in our church. So I grew up with faith, which was really, um, definitely a huge part of my foundation. I was kind of jokingly tell people like I had really phenomenal parents with really great value systems and, and love the Lord, so kind of any member mistake I made in life, I was going to have to own it for my own. Like I couldn't blame my parents, I had to really own any of my own problems because my parents really did a great job with me, but we didn't have a lot. And so I got into, um, was really active in sports and I was active in clubs and I just kind of cut myself very, very, very busy. My mom didn't have a lot, but she didn't have time. So she was very supportive of all my activities and going here and there and everywhere and then, um, so when I went off to college, I kind of knew I'd be on my own from college on. And so because my, I've noticed, so they still had four at home and so I knew that financially I need to support myself, so I started getting jobs, especially my first job was that I was in eighth grade and I just kept working and I had that I got sports scholarships and I just really kind of cobbled together my resources and from the time I was, my parents remained very supportive of me emotionally and spiritually, but financially I I did my own thing, I supported myself from the time I was 18 on and I went to Bible College.
Um that was something I had learned about myself, I had grown up in a Christian school for a little, while then I had gone to public high school and I realized that I just arrived personally in a smaller environment, but I also thrived an environment that um had faith as part of its face, I knew I would go into the world and I knew I would, you know, that always get to be in a cocoon of faith, but I really enjoy it. I knew I wouldn't go to college and have that experience, like I wanted to live that life for a few more years and it really was pretty transformational and helpful to me as in my journey, like I went to college and I had all the experiences everyone does, you know, questioning God, questioning myself, questioning you know what I'm gonna do when I grow up having all the questions you have, but having faith around me was super helpful to help me stay grounded, kind of stay on on task and on focus, and I'm continually find him in the process, but my my story really starts to get exciting when I graduated from college because I graduated, didn't know what was going to do, but my internship was helping people disabilities and so helping people with disabilities.
I just discovered, like, in an instant that I really enjoyed it, I didn't think I won't I won't look back and have a different vision, I didn't think it was gonna be my forever plan at that point, but I did know I super loved it, I did know that I was good at it, I knew that and I can already start to see that people, disabilities had always been a little bit attracted to me as a person, and so I was like, okay, like I like this, I don't know what this is gonna mean, but I like this, and this can be a part of my life well from there, it just worked itself into a social work job, which then worked itself into my career, so that's kind of, my story, my arc is started as a kid, you know, foreign but foundational e really strong and then, you know, just kind of had to continue my own journey to find my resources to do my passion, but that's that's that's been God's been good and I think like I said, one of the things that was beautiful is I saw my parents having full reliance on God's full trust in him and I watched him come through time and time again.
Like, I can tell you one little story, I don't know why I'm getting emotional about, but it is, it's I see his I see God's provisions on my life personally from the time I was really young and my this story is so my dad, you know, my family is dirt poor, like I mean literally we found a bag of rice and we ate it for a week, like we were really important. And so my dad kept saying I'm going to have a suburban, which is a big, I don't know if you know what a suburban is, but it's a big car and it it's kind of like a ritzy car in our area, like it's the wealthy farmers, drove it, not the poor farmers. And so you know, my dad said, I'm gonna we're gonna have a suburban, I'd be like, there's no way we're ever going to have a suburban, like, I don't, I don't know why you're saying that like that is just your dreamer and one night we got a knock on the door and a friend of ours who eventually my dad went to work for this man, but he came and said we just bought a new suburban and we'd like to give you our old suburban out of the clear blue and I had never had an experience like that where God just showed up and gave my dad the car he asked for, even though it was, it was beyond like, ridiculous.
Like it wasn't anything we needed. I mean, we needed a new car, our car was really old, but it's not like it was we needed that exact car, you know, it was, it was, it was a luxury item. And that, that's what my dad wanted was this luxury item and God just provided him with this luxury item just forever followed me as far as God's provision, God's ability to take care of his kids and and his his just extravagant love for us no matter where we are or what are crazy desires are, how he can meet us there and meet those needs. So, so that is kind of, my, my upbringing, thank you for sharing that, that very beautiful story. And and it also sounds like in a sense in the midst of, you know, this background, uh, and the situation that your family was in, uh your dad still had this sense of like, vision, this ability to dream and like, not, not necessarily being able to see like, how do I get this, but still kind of not losing that ability to dream?
I'm wondering like, do you do you think that was something that you also kind of picked up along the way? Just that ability innately remember one time I was in high school and you know and I was, I thought it was a crafty high school, right? Like I was a pretty good kid like I wasn't breaking lots of laws or anything like that, but I was a crafty little you know junior senior and I remember my dad, I walked out to my dad enjoyed woodworking and he had this little shed and he was doing woodworking and I walked out there and I don't remember what I was trying to manipulate at the time, but I was trying to work my way into some decision or something I wanted, I might have just stopped and looked at me, he's like you know, I'm just like you feel like you know, I think like you think you know that I dream like you dream like you are not going to get this stuff past me and I was like like I felt so exposed in that moment that like and he was right, like he has always been a dreamer, he's always seen visions and I did, I grew up like I remember we should go to the ranch and we used to look and be like okay where would we put the cabin, where would we put and we would you know we plan and we come up with these dreams now my dad would tell you this now one of the only thing that makes us different is I do happen to do them a lot more than him.
So I have an execution skill from my mother that my dad doesn't have. My mom was definitely the one that kept the family grounded. She's the one who, you know, paid the bills, got the stuff done. She was definitely um, my emotional support growing up. So I, I definitely got this dreamer side from my dad, but I did get the practical, get it done inside from my mom. So I was able to put those together and a little bit better way than my dad. He, he would not be offended by me saying that, but because he would say yes, we still don't have a cabin at the ranch, but we planned it many many times awesome. So you kind of got the best of both worlds um from from both of your parents. Uh So like while we're talking about like these influences, like who, what were some of the other influences and maybe some of the mentors along along the way. So like whether it was like in childhood or you know, even throughout your business career, you know it you're actually, you're asking a question about something that is probably one of my biggest weaknesses.
Like I, I've never been great at asking for help. I've never been great at at like drawing that in um, like I hoped I would, or like I think if I had been able to I would probably be even further, but um my when I look back to women that, you know, the women and men that stood out to me and I I definitely had a coach who, you know, I wouldn't say she was a mentor in the traditional sense of the word, but she was somewhere I felt safe like, so she was the place I hung a lot like my best friend and I would hang out at her house with her car, you know, we did all that silly stuff and she was always a safe place for us. So I didn't, I don't look back and go, you know, oh terry, I learned X, y and Z from terry, but I do think to myself, terry was a safe place for me. And I remember feeling like if I needed something she would be there for me, but I didn't, I wasn't good at asking so I can't say I walked away with a lot like the wisdom I maybe could have, but I did walk away with feeling safe and having her as a safe place.
Um in college, I I had a professor that I was really close to and I actually was his assistant for a little while and again I was bad at asking for help, but but I definitely felt again safe and I felt I felt known or noticed like um, he was, he was the one who told me and I, I've given him, let's put it, we've stayed in contact. Um, and, and real recently he wrote me a letter and he was very grateful because I, um, I pointed this out. I got, I was nominated for, uh, and got um, alumni of the year at my college. And so I brought this story up. So anyway, um, so this professor, I was, I noted him in my, um, my biography that they hosted for me. And I just said, no, he, he saw my potential more than I did. And one of the things he said is, he said, you know, I was going to go get this job as a social worker was like, I'm really excited, you're going to go get a job as a social worker, but you're really smart and I think you need to go get your masters.
So I'm gonna recommend you for this job, but you need to promise me you're gonna go get your masters at some point. And it was a big deal. Like I made the promise. It took me 20 years to fulfill that promise, but I fulfilled the promise. And then that's one of our other exchanges of emails was me saying, hey, I did it. I finally did it like I finished what I had said, I was going to do when, um, when you gave me the recommendation for my first job. So I was super grateful for him. Um, and then you know, I, I've had pastors. I mean Danny silk has been a huge influence in my life and a mentor in my life. So again though I'm bad at asking for help. So all along the way I've had people that I've walked alongside of me and I felt safe with them and that has ended up being my biggest influence was just having safe places to go or feel like I could go. But as far as making the big ask for having that conversation where you have a mentor, um haven't been great at that. I do wish that scenario I was better in because I do feel like I've missed having the ability to be, I mean I think I have the humility for it.
I just don't have, I'm just not good at asking. So that's where I do wish I was better. I think a lot of women do have kind of that same sense and it's, it's amazing like how you've been able to utilize the resources that you have around you um, regardless of not necessarily making the big asks but still being able to take that action, I'm wondering you've mentioned the sense of safety? What do you think that did for you? So whether it was like with your coach or um later on like with this recommendation. What what was it about having this place of safety that I guess helped and nurtured you along the way. So I am probably isn't sure this isn't a shock. I'm a I'm a big personality and I come across stronger than I mean to sometimes. So for years I felt like I had many people who would remind me that I wasn't very big. Like you know, I remember um different coaches or seasons where people are kind of like Sadie, you know, in my words, dim it down, like you're being a little loud, you're being a little bright, you're being a little, you're being a little much, could you calm it down?
Like I mean I literally had one coach or one mentor type person, I didn't see it as a mentor, but tell me like people just don't want to tell you your your your your a witch, like you're not good, you're actually use the B word, but it's like you're not you're just you're hard on people, you're you know, you don't even realize it blah blah blah. So I think for me when people see me and they don't want me to be smaller, they want me to be bigger than I feel safe. So like I said I have had many people in my life actually my husband one time asked me, he's like how do you navigate strong people so well and I said, well I think I've I've grown up needing to navigate strong people because many times, especially strong women saw me as some sort of threat. I had many strong women would say to me things like, don't be like me, you know? And I went, I'm like, I don't am I, I don't think I'm trying to be like you, you know, But they don't be like me, you know?
And I'm like, okay, I'm not trying, I'm just trying to be me. Um and so I think growing up, I ran into quite a few people that I can tell you what I can say, feels like it feels like I see you, but I don't like you, or I see you and you need to be smaller, you need to be less bright. And so my languages, I would try to, there'd be times I felt like I had to defend myself, I have to be smaller, I have to be quiet or I have to be more, you know, submissive. You know, I need to be more like, you know, the woman, someone thinks I should be and these safe people made me feel like, no, I can be bigger. I could even like I said that with this, his name is um dr Bullock when Dr Bullock looked at me and he said, you're really smart, like you're gonna take this job and it's too small for you be bigger, Like go to go get your masters and you know, and apply yourself for that. His words were, you're too smart for just a bachelor's, you deserve a master's or a PhD and I mean, I just felt so safe because someone saw me and wanted me to be bigger, not smaller, not not less than be bigger, be brighter.
And so that's what always was said for me is when they said, you know, go be the captain of the team or go, go do that, like we trust you to be big, bu be loud, be bright, be you know, on top of, you know, the team, you know, the authority when people said that that that I could do that, I felt safe and that felt really good to me. I I love that. I think this this idea came up in a previous conversation with a doctor friend Kaslow actually, um when I think I first spoke to him like 2018 and uh she was one of those women who also kind of spoke to me and she's like, I can see you speaking to groups of women and I think that kind of created that same kind of like, okay, like yeah, you know, go bu and we actually talked about this idea of women, women have a tendency to hide themselves to hide their light. He said, um and it's and I love that associating that with safety and finding almost these places of safety that allow you to be who you want to be.
Um I think I I think of it as, you know, it's not that I'm trying to be you, I'm just wanting to be a better version of myself. Um and it's not, you know, it's not about you and I think that's uh, I think that's so important. So how, so how did you, kind of navigate from, you know, getting this initial job into starting your first business? Because that was, you started out pretty young. I did, I started out at 23 And I'm now 47, so I've been doing this longer than I had done anything else previously. Um, this has been my life for over half my life now. Um, so I, what my, my story, isn't it? It is obviously a God's story is I um like I said, I found this little glimmer, I found this little seed, I found this little thing that I knew, I loved, I loved helping with people this filly, I was doing caregiving. So I was doing the lift transfer, I was doing the feeding, I was doing the, you know, the bathing, I was doing the grocery shopping, I was, I was a caregiver, but I knew right then and there, like, I was attracted to people's disabilities, they were attracted to me and I enjoyed this line of work and I didn't, I didn't have, like, this grandiose plan for it, but I knew I liked that.
So, when a job came up to be a social worker in the same field, I was like, I'm in, this is I'll just take the next step and that was the next step. Well then I I did that for a year and it was a pretty tumultuous year. I think I went through four supervisors. Um, the the organization just was having a lot of change and turnover and, and so kind of I just said to myself says I and I had a business partner, well she was my business part of the time. She was a social worker alongside of me, we realized we kind of were just these two people that would have to get it done. And so we started learning pieces that were really other people's jobs, supervisors jobs, other um hr people's jobs, other people's jobs that were leaving. And just because we didn't want it to be undone, we just did it. And so over a year's time, I really felt like I had a lesson in a lot more than just a social worker's job in in this field helping with people's disabilities. So at the end of the year got called into an office which is this office.
Um, honestly, so I'll tell you that part of the story in a minute. But so um, I got called into the office and my business partner, she called her that name is Joanne, this is my business partner, Joanne says to me, Joanne said Joanne and I sit down and our new supervisor says we're gonna discontinue this program, this program is not working, it's too expensive. And Joanne and I looked at each other like they didn't talk to us, we know how this program is wasting money, we know where there's um there's excess and there's duplication and because we've been doing all the different pieces when someone else wasn't there and we know how this program could be a a lot more efficient and effective than it is right now. But no one asked us and so we, you know, kind of looked at each other shocked that they want to close this program down and um she said, well don't worry about your job, you guys are amazing, you guys will, you guys are great, social workers will get you a job here in the organization and you know, we just went downstairs though and she and I both have realized we had fallen in love with working with people disabilities, but we've specifically falling in love with helping them achieve their own lives.
Like now I found another piece of the puzzle, like I already knew I enjoyed working with people disabilities, but what I got to add in is then I found out how much I enjoyed empowering them to live their own lives. Like, yes, you know, it was great too, I know that I liked working with people disabilities, but now I see a bigger vision of empowering them to live their lives to the best of their ability to have their own home, to make their own choices to, to do things that you and I would take for granted and I was like, oh no, I got a chance for this, I don't want to give this up. And so Joanna and I went to lunch and seriously as a joke, no, I swear with all my being as a joke, he said to each other, well we could do this, we, we could start our own company and we both went, but we both knew in that moment the seed had been planted and there was no joke about it. Like we were serious. So we went to one of our previous bosses, we had, like I said for before and we, and we were still, she was a mentor in my life. She was another person that saw me and wanted me to be bigger. And so she came alongside and we went out to lunch and he said, hey with this crazy idea, like we could start our, she knew that the program was shutting down and we said we could start our own business And we just, we laughed again.
Like it was a joke that we just weren't ready to make it big and serious. Like it just seemed too big, too scary. Um, you know, I mentioned 23 and you know, I I'm a kid and she said, I don't think this is a joke, like I really think you could do it and it was in that instant like I've actually acknowledged her, she came to my um my 20th anniversary of my business and I actually um she was one of the people I acknowledged like four different people that were part of my starting a compass and she was one of the ones I acknowledge and I told her like this would not have happened without you. Like you believing in that moment was what gave me, it gave me the faith like it gave me that moment where it stopped being this joke that I already, I got more serious about but I probably would have never stepped into if you didn't say, I don't think it's a joke, I think you can do this And so those words empowered me and uh then it just became this whirlwind like so that was July five And by August 19 I had started my own company and had my first employee so with hose words when she said yeah it's not a joke, you can do it.
I think there was honestly at that moment no other path, I mean like at that moment this was my path and it was her words that made this path Like all of a sudden possible. So we started on July five and by August 19 serving our first client, it was a whirlwind, I worked, you know, I don't even know hundreds of hours um seemingly well I mean I remember sometimes finishing working on, you have to put together a service design. Um, it's it's you have to present to the government paperwork, saying what your plan is and how you're going to provide this service. That's how we do it in in California. And um, I was still working at the other at the organization that was going to stop the services and I was transitioning the clients from their organization to our own organization and um kind of along the lines of things that were said that were like the impetus. So the last impetus and I started to tell like this office story was actually right here, right, right, right here. I was in this building when the company um when I was in the process of starting my own company and it's come full circle and now this is my building.
I own this building and which has just been for me just to kiss from God to essentially come completely full circle. So it's in this very office, which is why I kept it as my own office that the director at the time said, you can't do this? I don't know what you're thinking, you're 23 years old. You know, you you have no idea this program is too hard, this is, do you understand how many employees will have to have, do you understand what you have to do? And you know, looking back, she was right, like she was not saying things that weren't true, but it was a moment for me where now it went from. So the first moment was you know, we spoke it ha ha ha started to become serious and then we had a mentor that said we could do it and became like real, but this was my moment where I picked it up and it was my own and we were in this office and I said, and she says, you can't you can't you can't and pretty intimidatingly so, and I was 23 and I, you know, I was feeling really intimidated by her in that moment and I remember and she said, you can't even look me in the eye and I just snapped my eyes up and I looked her in the eye and like, I can't look you in the eye and I can do this and I understand what you're trying to tell me, and I appreciate it, I don't appreciate everything you're saying, but I appreciate what you're trying to do and I'm gonna tell you I can do this and I will do this.
And that was my defining moment. So it's like I had a strong woman say yes and I had a strong woman tell me I can't and both ended up being the people that brought me into what I'm doing today. So I started with 23 Got all these Signposts from God that I was supposed to do it and it was beautiful. But looking back I needed everyone in the signposts? Because it also has been one of the I mean, I can't imagine a harder thing to do and then start your own business to help people with disabilities who are very messy and have staff that are outside of your control way out there, helping people that have some messiness in their lives with their own messiness. And then I'm here in the office trying to help them way out there away from me, you know, manage themselves and make their lives better. And It's um it's overwhelming. It's every day can be slightly overwhelming. We've mentioned before, I've told you I have over 625 employees um throughout my organization. And so every day becomes this like moment of trust in this moment of faith because I cannot be all those places at one time and I cannot.
Um so you end up trusting your systems of course, but you also just have to trust that you know, that God put you here and he's taking care of you and he's giving you the wisdom. And I just also trust that every day I get a little bit better at what I do because everyone around me deserves, that is for me to be the best version of me as their leader. So it is, it has been a wild ride. It's awesome how you've kind of selected this office and like just the backstory behind this. I'm just like, wow! That that's incredible. What what was it in that moment? Right? Because you're because you're saying like this person was telling me, no, you can't do it. And then like just something happened, like what was it in that moment? Because a lot of people, like when we do face that sense of like opposition or someone coming against you, uh you either believe it or you shrink back, but it actually like seemed to cause something in you to rise up. So what was what was going through you like in that moment when you were like, okay, this is it, I'm taking ownership of this and making this happen.
How did that no turn into a yes for you. Well for me, like I said in the moment I realized for a minute I thought she had my best interests at heart. And so for a minute I was like, oh wow, maybe right, this is a lot. But then when she, when I when she tipped her hand, if you will and it was not her, it was not her with the heart of, you know, of love for me, it was a heart of criticism and judgment that for me was I just kind of rose up inside of myself and I do have a giant justice button. Like I just have been built with this big justice button and she pressed it and I was like, no, no, no, like, okay, I'm sorry, that's you know, now I need, you're not on my team. I need to see not you as a person, but you, oh that the spirit you're operating in is not one of of love and you know, and affection towards me, it's one of, of opposition and I tend to, that tends to be a trigger for me like, okay, no, no, no, no. I know now I know I see where you are.
You're not for me, you're against me. So now I'm gonna rise up. I got, I got, I know who's on my side and someone I know love and trust has already said I can do it and I've wanted to do it because I, I see what's possible for people disabilities. So someone said I could and now I, and I really want to, so now you're saying that you don't think I can, that just just became the, you know, maybe a little bit of the fire. I needed to make it a solid Yes. For me, that's why I love that. That that is so awesome. You started like you started your own business at the age of 23 as you said, you've kind of grown from doing the work, the actual, you know, like hands on to now like running this team. Um and being able to, like you said, just from your office kind of dealing with the messiness of, of life and of you know people and being able to support them. Um what was that transition like for you? Because it's going from, you know like you said the doing to the almost orchestrating other people to execute your vision and like your idea and some of those ideals of this is you know, we want to empower people, this is the way that we want to do it.
Um So how did that kind of come about in terms of maybe shaping your leadership philosophy and the culture of your organization as you lead? You know, this force of humanity forward. I definitely I really believe that we have to approach our our lives is always a journey towards becoming more Christlike becoming more like him. And so for me, I mean I would say I've probably gone through 100 you know, leadership 101102103104105106, You know, so keeping this kind of like humble heart that I don't know at all and I need to continue to grow is has been part of my own journey. So I would say I I was willing to rise up and be the leader at 23 that a company with 10 employees needed. But what what I've had to rise up and become when I'm a Um a company of 26 employees is a different leader. And so that process like you were discussing like you know going from being the one who actually lives through out of the chair and pivot transfers her to the bed.
That that has that's good and that is a beautiful thing but when you're, when you're walking alongside of God and you see okay now I'm supposed to take my next step, you have to let go of that and that that kind of has been part of my personal leadership journey is oftentimes when you see what he has for you next you have to let go of where you're currently at. And the hard part is it's good like there's nothing bad about pivot transferring someone nor is there anything bad because then from there I went to being a very young entrepreneur that essentially was the primary social worker so I had my own caseload so you know I did quickbooks at night but I was doing the case work during the day and you know and that was good like I I saw good things happening and breakthrough happening but I just I've known for a long time my D. N. A. Is God's calling me to more and so then when when I felt like he we were ready for leadership 103 I had to let go of that you know and that was really hard to let go of because again it's good it's good to do, you need to be the practitioner in in my my business but it's not what's best for my entire business, it's not what's best.
And I just continually had to learn that lesson at greater levels over and over and over again. That's this week's episode of the Women Will podcast with Laura Quinn ba. Subscribe to our podcast for updates and join us to chart the way forward for women in leadership. Subscribe rate and give us a review on itunes to dive deeper into these conversations with show notes, episode transcripts, case studies, topical summaries and community engagement, join us on women will dot world craft your own path to achieving your destiny through deeper self awareness, clearing self saboteurs, unlocking an empowerment mindset and healthy beliefs, developing individual success skills and building your team or organization so that you can make a bigger impact and leave a powerful legacy. Thank you, join us again next week for another episode. Thanks for listening.