Media Mogul Nely Galan On Being A Self-Made Woman & Ditching The “Prince Charming” Mindset

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For all the Girl Bosses out there seeking to find role models to inspire them in their entrepreneurship, look no further than media mogul Nely Galan. We cannot emphasize enough what a badass, successful go-getter this woman is! From the time she was a teenager she had her mind set on breaking the mold, and proved it in a unique way (which you can read about below).

Since then, she has amassed a resume that would make every expert on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ green with envy. Nely was the first Latina president of a TV network (Telemundo Entertainment) and has produced 700 shows, including famed makeover show ‘The Swan’. Most importantly, she has been using her success to empower and inspire many other women and girls.

Nely’s new book ‘Self Made’ follows her journey and gives readers some advice on how they too can be financially independent, getting rid of the notion that girls need to find that “prince charming” to get what they want in life. Along with the book, a ‘Self Made’ app has been released, in both Apple iTunes and Google Play stores, where you can have easy access to daily business hacks and advice in the palm of your hand.

So why is this important? Today in the US alone women account for half the workforce, and women-owned companies employ 7.6 million people while generating $1.2 trillion in profit. Experts say this is due in large part to the growth of minority-owned businesses. Nely’s app aims to capitalize on this momentum and bring even more women into the entrepreneur landscape in a number of ways.

We had the chance to chat with Nely herself about the launch of her book, her background and her perspective on millennial women changing the way the world looks at business.

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How did you get your start in the media?

My first job was at Seventeen magazine, which I write about in my book, SELF MADE. I was a high school student in a Catholic school in New Jersey. As a sophomore, something unimaginable happened to me: a nun accused me of plagiarism. I’d had written a short story about the death of an old woman in a Cuban fishing village. I guess it struck her, because the nun thought I’d copied Ernest Hemingway himself!

As punishment, I was suspended from school for three days. I tried to explain things to my parents, to no avail: they took the nun’s side. Since they were new to this country, they were always afraid and shameful. I understand it now, but at the time I was irate! They told me, “You need to go back and apologize to your teacher.” I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, but they wouldn’t listen to me.

But anger can be a very potent tool if channeled properly. It can motivate you to do something grand. I was angry with my parents for not supporting me. I was angry at the nun for thinking that I would ever dream of plagiarizing. The good news is that I found a way to channel that anger. During my suspension, I sat in the attic of our house and wrote an essay: “Why You Should Never Send Your Daughter to an All-Girls Catholic School.” I sent it to Seventeen magazine, which I loved at the time.

Three days later, I went back to school, and the nun called me into her office. “I am so sorry, Nely,” she said. “Something about your story reminded me of a Hemingway story, but I was wrong. I applaud you for writing such a good story. I just can’t believe you wrote something this serious at fifteen.”

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“I guess I have deep thoughts for a teenager,” I replied. And I ended up with an A+.

A few months passed, and things calmed down at school. Then, one day, I got a letter from an editorial assistant, on Seventeen letterhead: “Congratulations! We’ve chosen your article to be published in Seventeen. Enclosed is a $100 check.” Can you imagine being a teenager and getting that letter? I was a Catholic schoolgirl, so of course I felt as if God were giving me a sign. I felt as if I had been chosen, but really, when I wrote and sent that essay, I was choosing myself.

When the article was published, I panicked, and once again the nuns freaked out. The article caused a scandal, which worked out fabulously for me because I was offered a guest editorship at Seventeen. At this point, I also had enough credits to graduate early from high school. So I did, and I began commuting from New Jersey into Manhattan for my yearlong internship. And so began my dynamic, exciting and self-propelled career.

You are the living definition of “Girl Boss”, being the former president of Telemundo Entertainment and having produced over 700 TV shows. Can you tell us what it was like as a woman in such a male-dominated field and whether you experienced any push back because of your gender?

I don’t personally feel I have ever really experienced any push back because of my gender, but that’s also because I make a very conscientious effort to not diminish myself—ever. I walk into the room with the same sense of strength and certainty that any male CEO would, and I make whatever demands I need to make, without worrying about how I will come across. In other words, I show up with a full sense of self. I like to believe that people respond to strength of character, above all.

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What was the turning point for you in wanting to leverage your vast media experience into a business that could help other women?

To understand my trajectory, it’s important to share some background context. Throughout my career—from unpaid intern to TV news producer, to television station management, to starting a TV production business, to being the first Latina president of a TV network and producing over seven hundred shows in English and Spanish, and appearing on ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’, I always made it a point to not live in a grandiose way. I saved a lot, sacrificed a lot, and instead of instant gratification, I invested my money in real estate.

So much so that in time, the income from my real estate business meant that I didn’t have to work anymore; I could live very comfortably off the income from my investments. And that gave me freedom—the freedom to do the work I wanted to do, not work I had to do—and what I wanted was work that would nourish me creatively and intellectually and spiritually.

When I realized I was financially free to pursue whatever I realized I had some unfinished business to attend to. I went back to school, finished my BA, and then spent four years getting a graduate degree in psychology. I worked on my emotional baggage and came to terms with a lot of stuff about my heritage, my culture, and more. Once I had my degree, I realized that my most meaningful success had come from financial self-reliance, and I wanted to teach that to other women.

In 2012, I started a nonprofit, the Adelante Movement, a live event and digital learning platform that would empower women and train them in entrepreneurship. In Spanish, adelante is a great word; it means “move it! now! let’s go!” I crossed the country, speaking initially to my community of Latinas, a group I knew well, but in time others started showing up, first women of color and then all women. It became clear to me that women were looking to connect with each other. They were hungry for information and hungry to build bridges to other women in their communities. That’s when I knew that women needed to know that the self-made revolution was well under way and it is only getting stronger.

You recently released your book called ‘Self Made’ where you talk more about your career background and help women grasp the idea of making it on their own. What are some key things you learned about being a “self made” woman?

One of the key things I learned about being a self-made woman is that it all starts with choosing yourself. If you don’t choose yourself, how can you expect others to choose you? You have to start by deciding, with real intention-laced-with-gusto, that you truly want to own your financial future.

I have also learned that in life you have to walk a parallel track of mission and money. You have dreams and goals, right? Those are your mission. But you also have the day-to-day of life, which requires money. In a best-case scenario, your mission and money align, but it isn’t always the case. So you have to be ok with working to earn money while you work on the master plan for your goals. Sure, it’s hard work. But that’s how dreams are eventually actualized.

Finally, I have learned that to become self-made we all have to be willing to “kill Prince Charming.” This means that we have to come to terms with the fact that we cannot rely on a partner, job or corporation to rescue us (because anything can happen in life, including breakups and getting laid off), so we really have no choice but to be our own Prince Charming. It’s called taking the bull by the horns, and having the courage to follow through for your whole lifetime.

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There has been a recent surge in momentum of women creating their own businesses and wanting to follow in the footsteps of other female moguls who have paved the way, such as yourself. Why do you think there is more room for women-driven businesses today than ever before?

Honestly, the momentum of women wanting to start their own businesses goes beyond what I happen to think. It’s a data-driven fact. According to a 2016 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses report, women own 30% of all businesses nationally, starting more than 1,000 new businesses a day, at a rate of five times the national average. And women-owned businesses aren’t just putting food on the table for their families; they’re also pumping up the U.S. economy, generating more than $1.6 trillion in revenue and employing close to 9 million people nationwide. A self-made women’s movement is clearly starting to take off, one that I will advocate for and support with all my heart and soul.

Along with your book, people can download an app called Self Made, which has business tips, hacks and advice for putting what they read in your book into practice. What are some of the things women can learn from this app?

The app will be a great companion to the book because it will elaborate on insights related to what I call the hidden money. These are tips and leads that will help women become informed about the myriad resources available to them in the form of grants, contracts, government programs, and private sector resources that specifically target women. The point of the app (Apple & Android) will be to help fill the information gap that I feel is keeping many women from getting to the opportunities that are out there.

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For the women out there who have no interest in business at all, how would you encourage them to be a self-starter and encourage them about the importance of financial freedom?

Often, the women who shun the idea of going into business tend to be more of the creative type, so I would find a way to show them that opportunities are brimming with creativity when it comes to becoming self-made. Thanks to the shared economy, there are thousands of apps out there, focused on creative pursuits, that allow for and encourage financial growth. I would tell these women that becoming self-made does not have to be a grandiose feat; to focus on their side-hustle, as a way to start flexing their entrepreneurial muscles. Everyone has a different path, and for some, it starts with baby steps.

How do you predict millennial women will forever change the world of business?

Millennial women will be key in changing the face of business because they are being raised on the concept of disrupting. This means they are being groomed by the very society they inhabit to think outside of the box, in an effort to shake things up, and change the game. As such, they are naturally armed with many of the tools to become self-made.

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