In this episode, the Broads interview Gail Lara, who is a collaborative mentor to businesswomen. She’s the director of the Women’s Collaborative Mentoring Program.
Several years ago Gail started a company called Made in the Valley – The Valley Girls Grew Up. That company helped women with products to find the right fit and right home, whether that meant getting them into the stores or an online program. Gail has an extensive background in retail and worked as a buyer for many years.
The businesses in that program were originally created as a result of each woman’s passions. Some of the products included coffee, tea, chocolate, skin care, and jewelry.
Gail is now transitioning to a new venture called the Women’s Collaborative Mentoring Program. The idea came from monthly meetings Gail hosted for 5 years for local businesswomen and mentors. She realized that women were looking for mentors they could trust to help them with their businesses. The collaborative is all about women supporting women and helping one another succeed.
There are many business training programs out there but most lack an overall sequenced pattern of training. Gail believes that women need four training ingredients to be successful in business.
- Business Essentials
- Sales and Marketing
- Confidence Builders
- Outside Makeover
For each ingredient there needs to be a qualified mentor and each program must be customized to work with a woman’s individual business.
There are many grants available to help women grow their business. Government and major financial institutions have diversity quotas that allow them to receive bids for funding. When Gail spoke to members of various companies and government agencies, such as the airport or gas company, each said they weren’t able to meet their quota of women business owners because not enough women had applied. This realization spurred Gail to help prepare women to go after these opportunities.
Learning opportunities by major corporations are also available. For instance, the Los Angeles Port hosts classes for women to learn how to export their goods overseas. A wide range of products is being exported to other countries. If a woman has a product to sell, it may be to her advantage to export.
If you make less than $150,000 you are an EDWOSB (Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses) and may be eligible to put in a bid for their diversity program.
If you’re a small company and you want to go after a large government bid, it’s almost certain they will not give it to you outright. However, you can connect with a larger company (in your niche) that will take you under your wing and, if you receive a bid, they will help and support you.
Become Prepared for Funding
Gail’s sequenced training program helps women become prepared for funding. Mentor 1 takes you through the first leg of training, Mentor 2 the 2nd leg, and so on. You will be able to reach your goals much faster that way. Too many women receive funding and don’t know what to do with it. Then they end up having to pay the loan back. It’s a sad situation. They need the training first.
Many women become overwhelmed with the enormous amount of training programs available. They may end up giving up when they’re close to succeeding or attempt to go too big before they’re ready. With sequenced training, a women would work 1 step at a time so that she has a better chance at success.
Gail is currently looking to receive some of the diversity funds to use for training and paying mentors.
National Latin Businesswoman of the Year Award Winner
Gail was recently awarded the NLBWA National Latina Women’s Businesswomen of the Year. She was up against almost 30 other women including Eva Longoria and Eva Mendez. That’s an amazing accomplishment.
Gail also keeps herself busy with charity work. Her current project is the SNN. (Special Needs Network) They are one of the partners for The Special Olympics. It’s particularly important to her because she has a son with Asperger’s Syndrome.
For women in business, Gail recommends becoming established first before attempting to take on a charitable cause. As women, we try to take care of everyone but it’s important to take care of ourselves first. If you want to take on a charity, do it on the side at first. Find a charity that you truly believe in and is a good fit.
It’s not what you get but what you can give.
As in a charity, the same philosophy goes into networking. It’s not just what you get. It’s what you can give.
Gail sees women collaborating, making changes and getting the work done. Collaboration is the game changer. Women are no longer cat fighting in the board room. They are meeting and working to help each other move forward. Collaboration is a win-win situation.
On Nurturing and Other Tidbits
We want to give, give, give and then we have nothing left.
Fill your cup, love yourself and then you can love others.
Be willing to receive.
When women connect and they’re on a mission to betterment, they are unstoppable. More collaboration, more connections. Not allowing themselves to be doormats or to be abused. When they speak their minds as a group they have power.
We are encouraging each other to be brave and go out and do it. We are helping each other build each other’s confidence.
Balance comes from not trying to do everything perfect. We need to pat ourselves on the back and not be alone.
If you have a group of women that mastermind, set goals. Find other groups that are doing this well and learn from them. Mastermind every aspect of your life and not just your business.
If you’re looking for a collaborative mentor, contact Gail on LinkedIn by clicking here.
Last Words of Wisdom
Don’t forget that you are a gift. What you do is a gift and don’t forget how to receive a gift.
Please enjoy our entire podcast by clicking on the player above this post to listen in to all the tidbits Gail has to offer.