Nely Galán, Entrepreneur, on Her Inspiring Self Made Mission and Movement
By Catherine Anaya/February 21, 2017
Editor: Haley Christopher
Nely Galán, is a women’s empowerment advocate, an Emmy Award-winning television producer and the founder of the Adelante Movement whose goal is to unite and empower Latinas. Her new book Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way inspired me and I want to share it with you. Her message is her mission and it’s becoming a movement.
“When you take a risk, when you dip your toe in the water, when you just take a small action, the repercussions of that action in your life and your family’s life are immense.” Nely Galán
Nely arrived in America from Cuba when she was a young child and worked her way up from her first job as an unpaid intern to the first Latina President of a U. S. television network, Telemundo. I couldn’t wait to chat with her on The Women’s Eye Radio Show. Here is an excerpt…
EYE: I heard you speak at the Hispanic Women’s Conference luncheon in Phoenix. You are so dynamic! You really do talk with passion when you’re speaking about self made women and women becoming empowered.
NELY: I think it’s because the starting point of becoming self made is to realize there is no Prince Charming in life. I mean that in terms of thinking that the corporation you work for is going to save you or the government or the President of the United States.
The Adelante Movement
The truth of the matter is when you finally realize you are all you have got and you have everything it takes to be self-sufficient and to create happiness in your life as well as financial well-being.
That’s the starting point and I’m very passionate about that. I think that’s the part of my life that I really did well.
EYE: Your book is devoted to teaching other women how to become entrepreneurs such as yourself. Please share your story from immigrant to millionaire and becoming a self made mogul. What was your turning point??
NELY: I think it is important to say I am an immigrant. I came to this country when I was five years old from Cuba. My parents had lost everything from a Communist regime. When you come here as an immigrant, you’re in it together as a team and you’re family. We all knew our parents had sacrificed very much to bring us here. My brother and I worked to help my parents.
I think the turning point in my life was in the 7th grade and my parents had sent me to an all-girls’ catholic school. I overheard they were having a hard time financially. I had a neighbor who was selling Avon and so I started selling Avon in my school to pay for my tuition. I think sometimes in America, we forget bad things can happen.
When you think from the time when you’re very young that you realize you can do it, that we are in the greatest country in the world with incredible opportunities for all women specifically, I think it changes your whole life.
EYE: Where did you start your professional life?
Women’s Empowerment Advocate
NELY: I got into television at a very young age. I was a television manager; I started out at a rinky-dink station and worked my way up. I became president of a network and from there I started my own production company. I like to say I’m the ‘Latina Tyler Perry‘ because I have produced about 700 shows in English and Spanish. In 2008, I was the first Latina to appear on Celebrity Apprentice.
I say to women all the time, “Don’t leave your job! Start thinking of a business as a side hustle first.” I always wanted to have my own business and I finally did.
EYE: You did that when you were 25 years old, but you didn’t find that financial success that you talk about right away and you imagined that you would, right?
NELY: No, when I started my first business, I did not make a penny for four years. All the pressure in my life from my family and my friends was to give up. Everyone would tell me it’s not going to work out. The universe conspires to tell you how stupid you are and that you shouldn’t do it, but I think that’s fear in other people.
I hung in there and in the fourth year I started making money; after that I made a lot of money. I think that’s why I feel uniquely qualified to talk about this with women because I’ve been through every stage of entrepreneurship. The new ticking clock for women is to become self made because in our lifetimes we will be laid off; our companies will be disrupted; and you’ll be fired.
Self Made–Becoming Empowered Self-Reliant and Rich in Every Way
EYE: You talk about being self made. What does that mean exactly?
NELY: One meaning for me is that I think to be a successful human being, we constantly have to be introspective and say, “How can I be better? What is the highest and best use of my skills, of my gifts?” Another meaning is that it’s someone who really understands that they have to be independent financially. I think it’s a combination of those two things that help you achieve it.
EYE: Why do you think some women get empowered by failure and others don’t?
NELY: I think it would be unfair to say all women are afraid. I say in the book that I had to turn fear and failure into my best friends. Failure and fear are normal human traits. We have to cultivate the idea that fear and failure have to be your guiding light instead of your enemy.
Failure is what happens on the road to success. When I fail, I mourn the failure, but I get back on the horse and keep doing it because around the corner from my greatest failures have been my greatest successes.
EYE: So when you talk about women becoming self made, does that first step start within yourself or is it an action?
NELY: Everything in life is a thought and then an action because without action there is nothing at all. You might be frustrated in your job. You might be thinking I’m really talented and I could really be doing great things but I don’t know where to begin. When you have that thought, that’s the starting point that means you’re hungering for something greater. The starting point of becoming self-made is to not leave your job.
An example of how to start? Carve out one hour a week on Sunday. Start by taking something out of your closet you no longer wear; take a photo of it and post it on eBay or Amazon. Then go back to work for the week and Saturday your item will be sold. You’re going to go “Wow!” I hope that one action inspires you to make you sell two items.
Nely Galán in Conversation with Entrepreneur Jovanka Ciares/Self Made Channel
EYE: You have some really important advice in your book that falls under some very clever headings. The first one is “Don’t buy shoes, buy buildings!” Tell me about that.
NELY: I think that’s both a metaphor and a real story. In my life it’s a real story. I have made X amount of money in television, but when I started making money, instead of buying myself a car or even a house, I invested all the money I was making in buying buildings—commercial buildings for my business. Over a twenty-year period, buildings have made me ten times the money my TV life made me.
For me, I wanted to be able to retire at an early age. I’m probably never going to retire, but I wanted to know that I could.
My goal was to retire at 65 but I was able to retire at 45. We have to invest in something that makes money while we sleep.
EYE: That brings me to another clever heading and that is “The Hidden Money.” Explain that one.
Self Made Entrepreneur and TV producer
NELY: When I am on the road, women say, “How do I get my business funded and what do I do?” There is so much hidden money in America for women. That money is in the federal government at the Small Business Administration and at the Department of Commerce. I detail it in the book and I even detail it further in my website, becomingselfmade.com.
I feel the need to really put that out there because what’s the point of living in the greatest country in the world with all this money for us, all of these programs, if we don’t even apply for it.
EYE: You feature a lot of women who are making use of some of your tips and your tools on your website and with your webinars. What has been the biggest takeaway for you in terms of what these women have been able to do in just the short amount of time they’ve been touched by you?
NELY: I love the success stories. When you take a risk, when you dip your toe in the water, when you just take a small action, the repercussions of that action in your life and your family’s life are immense. To me, it’s the women that then affect their families and change the course of the destiny of their family that inspire me.
My own son has been so moved by my movement with my desire to change my own life. He is 16 years old and started a YouTube channel teaching kids how to dance. He’s got 5 million views and he is getting advertising on it.
EYE: You also founded a nonprofit, it’s called the Adelante Movement, which means move it forward in Spanish. It’s about training and empowering Latinas to become entrepreneurs. What kinds of women reach out and join the movement?
NELY: I realized so many Latinas were interested in entrepreneurship as a necessity and that I was uniquely qualified to teach them and train them. Right now, 40% of Latinas are breadwinners in their family. I also realized there was a cultural filter that was all about a patriarchal society that all women were breaking out of.
That’s what I needed to talk about. It wasn’t just entrepreneurship. It’s how do we grow and still be authentic to the culture and religion we come from?
EYE: Are there ever times or days you, the epitome of self-confidence, are not as confident as you like to think you want to be?
NELY: I think whether you’re very confident or you’re not confident, the world constantly tells you you’re not enough. I think when you make growing by any means necessary your number one value then it doesn’t matter because you’re always growing.
That’s why I think learning and growing and putting yourself in a situation where you admit you don’t know anything is great.
Empowering and Uniting the Latina Community
EYE: You provide some amazing resources on your website. You have these webinars where you teach women really important tools. How often do you do the webinars?
NELY: I love doing webinars because I love to be inspired and inspire others. I also think you have to get to the meat and potatoes and do the work. Webinars are the place where step by step I show you how to do it.
I still have a lot of work to do. I have been to 100 cities in America and have to go to more cities and reach more women.
EYE: Nely, thank you so much! Keep up the amazing, empowering and inspiring work that you do. I appreciate you joining me here on The Women’s Eye.