Nely Galan, producer of more than a dozen TV shows, says people should seek advice from figures they admire and show gratitude if they decide to give you advice.
Nely Galan has made it big in the entertainment world and for this she credits her mentors -- all six of them. The producer of Fox's The Swan and dozens of sitcoms for Telemundo acts as a mentor to two women and suggests that anyone in business can have a mentor if they have guts enough to ask for one.
''It's so easy,'' she says. ``Just send a letter to someone you admire and say you are their biggest fan and want their time. People are flattered, thrilled. Everyone who is my mentor I have asked to be my mentor. But it should be reciprocal. People don't have to give you their wisdom so when they do, show respect and gratitude. Send them cards, notes, presents.''
Galan intends to share her success tips with more than a thousand women when she receives a Business Entrepreneur Visionary Award at the Office Depot Success Strategies for Businesswomen Conference, which continues today and Tuesday in Boca Raton.
This is the fifth year for the conference, which attracts businesswomen from all over the country. This year's high-profile speakers include Barbara Walters, Lillian Vernon, Kathy Ireland and Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy. Among the discussion topics are financial advice for businesses, building brands and selling to the big guys.
Galan says she looks forward to speaking to women about entrepreneurship and mentoring, two subjects for which she has a passion. She is launching a new series called Ms. Mogul that will air on the Lifetime Channel in August. Ms. Mogul will feature women with entrepreneurial promise competing for a bankroll of as much as $1 million. The 15 contestants will get a mentor to help guide them through expanding a business.
''People think I am a TV person. That's just the industry I chose to be an entrepreneur in,'' Galan said. ``I have to make payroll every week. All the money I make comes from my brain. It's scary, but there is no better risk and reward than being your own boss.''
Galan will participate in a panel discussion today on ''Building Your Business, Building Your Brand'' where she plans to talk about her experiences as a Latina and what she has learned from her mistakes in business.
''Being Latina has helped me develop a unique voice in America, and I have used it,'' says Galan, who was born in Cuba and grew up in New Jersey. ``If your business vision doesn't come from your life experience, you are missing the boat. ''
During her career, Galan has produced reality and other programming for both Spanish and English-language networks. She also served as president of entertainment for Spanish-language network Telemundo. She continues to produce programming for the network, including a reality dating series called La Cenicienta (Cinderella) and the male version El Principe Azul (The Blue-Blooded Prince).
Her mistakes: ``There were occasions when I was ahead of my time. I produced some sitcoms that were acclaimed but the market was not ready for them financially. Mistakes are humbling. They teach you that you don't need to be first to market or the smartest girl in the room or put up your own money. My mistakes came from my incredible passion.
``People told me not to do certain things and I didn't listen. Now when my mentors tell me something, I listen.''
Along with Galan, another Hispanic success story, Annette Taddeo, CEO of Miami's LanguageSpeak, will be recognized for her achievements. Taddeo will receive the Businesswoman of the Year award, which recognizes her for leadership, mentoring of other women and commitment to the community.
Raised in Colombia, Taddeo speaks three languages and runs a comprehensive company offering translation services and instruction to corporations. The conference has become a significant networking opportunity for women owners of small businesses. Mercedes LaPorta, owner of a Miami electrical distribution company, attended last year's conference and is participating again this year. ''It is a great way to make business contacts with women you never otherwise would get an opportunity to meet,'' she said.
BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN
The Miami Herald, Monday, February 28, 2005.