Nely Galán Talks To MBG About Being Self-Made, Letting Go Of Prince Charming & A Trump Presidency
Every now and then, someone comes along that raises the bar for the next generation. Someone who inspires those who follow to be stronger, smarter and bolder. Such is the case with Nely Galán, a media powerhouse who served as the former President of Entertainment at Telemundo, making her the first Latina president at a major network. She has owned and operated her own media company since 1994, is an Emmy Award winning producer and currently spearheads the non-profit organization The Adelante Movement, which empowers and trains Latinas to become entrepreneurs.
MBG spoke with Galán during her book tour for her latest endeavor, Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant & Rich In Every Way (currently on books stands). Galán's straight talk and no nonsense guide to success gave everyone at the MBG office motivation to last a lifetime.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us during your book tour!
You're welcome. It's been so much fun but also really intense.
You've had an entrepreneurial spirit from very young age. As a teen, you submitted an article to Seventeen Magazine that led to a permanent position. Where did you get your drive and ambition? Who were your role models growing up?
I'm an immigrant and that says it all. My parents came here when they were in their 30's and lost everything. They were completely broke, with all that being said, they had to re-establish their entire lives. They did it with a lot of grace and humility and they never complained. They were extremely grateful to be here. This mindset really inspired me. My book has a chapter entitled, “Think Like An Immigrant" and I believe that’s the key to my success. I don’t expect anything. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m not entitled. I just work really hard. Nothing comes easy, and I never think it’s going to get easier, because it never does. After one mountain, there is always going to be another. You have to roll with it or else you’ll want to give up, and you can’t give up if you want to succeed.
Your book “Self Made” is an economic revolution for women, instilling into the reader how making your own money is so important. Do you think our society supports that? Especially for mothers?
Absolutely not. I don’t think anyone supports anybody to do anything. If you’re waiting for somebody to save you, be it a significant other, a boss, a new president of the United States, a Prince Charming, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. You need to come to the conclusion that you are your own Prince Charming and you need to make it happen. No one is going to make it happen for you.
I absolutely love how you proclaim that “There Is No Prince Charming” – I blame the media (and especially Disney) for embedding that idea into young girls' brains. What are your thoughts?
I think it’s a very innate human desire to feel, deep down inside, that someone is there to look after you and save you. It’s this image of someone that's God-like who is going to see you, understand you and change you for the better. We all want to be taken care of and saved, either through a God-like figure, through a significant other or through a boss and/or mentor. But everyone has their own problems. When you aren't being paid attention to, you may wonder, why aren’t they helping me? Everyone has their own battles to face, and you need to be self-reliant and save yourself.
This human instinct, this desire to find someone who will save us parallels religion – a belief that God will save us. What is your take on religion?
I consider myself religious. I am definitely very spiritual, but I don’t expect God to save me if I don’t save myself. This is an existential question that everyone considers. This is very primal stuff. We all grow up wanting the perfect person to save us – the perfect mom, the perfect dad, the perfect spouse. We are all human and make mistakes; you can pray but you have to take action. The same goes for starting a business. If you sit around doing nothing, nothing is going to happen. But if you get up everyday and do something, guess what, maybe something will happen. Do miracles happen? Perhaps, but it’s not out of nowhere. It's after a lot of work and preparation and self-reliance.
In your opinion, who are some women in the media that are kicking ass and embodying what “Self Made” is all about?
On the website, there is a series called Self Made Stories. There, we tell the stories of the women who are embodying the Self Made message. They are real life heroes who, out of difficult situations, are realizing their potential as Self Made women.
As for the media, I think women now are just crushing it. There are so many amazing examples out there. But you don’t have to be the lady that invented Spanx or have the next billion-dollar idea. You can do anything.
Famous women like JLo or Beyoncé are great, but that's a one-of-a-kind talent that most of us don’t have. We can still have an extraordinary life. We can create something magical with talents that are right under our nose.
Are some people just born with the passion to become entrepreneurial? Or can anyone take it on?
No, it's not something you're born with, it’s a mindset more than anything else. It's like a muscle that you have to engage. If you're working in a corporation and you’re unhappy, change your mindset or move on. You need to think like an owner - someday I may do this for myself or someday I may run this company.
You have to engage the entrepreneurial muscle while you work for other people. I’m not telling women to quit their jobs and start their own business. What I’m saying is to work out that muscle – and if anything were to go wrong, you know that you can support yourself in any situation. You always have yourself as a backup plan.
You participated in Celebrity Apprentice, with Donald Trump, as the first Latina contestant. What are your thoughts on Trump as the Republican Nominee for President?
What can I tell you? He continually disappoints me. I had a wonderful time on Celebrity Apprentice, but the Donald Trump I see now is disappointing. I keep thinking that he will apologize for the negative and awful things he continually says, but he doesn’t.
He has raised wonderful kids, but he is negative and not uplifting at all. As a Latina, I feel called to speak out. We are the #1 emerging market, the #1 consumer in the U.S., so how stupid is it of Trump to put us down?
Culturally it’s our fault because we are still allowing him to remain on this platform – we are taking the abuse & we are allowing it. African Americans wouldn’t allow it and neither would the Jews, so why are we?
We can’t allow it to happen – we need to get out and vote. Latinos need to speak out. I need to go crazy! Maybe it’s because I don’t work for anyone, so I don’t care what anyone thinks, but I need to speak out. I look at all of you young women, I see you as my daughters, and I wouldn't want any man to treat you or speak to you in that manner, so why are we allowing Trump to do the same? For someone that comes from a dictatorship, Trump really scares me, and I don't scare easily!