nely-galan-self-made-book
photo: Nely Galan

I can still remember the first time I heard Nely Galan speak. The Pompeii Ballroom at Miami Beach’s Eden Roc Hotel was packed with over 300 attendees for the Hispanicize media conference and Galan, a media mogul and entrepreneur, was presenting her Adelante speaker series, a motivational empowerment platform headlined by the likes of Hollywood legend Rita Moreno and the Spanish entertainer Charro. Galan’s enthusiasm was infectious and the supercharged energy that filled the room was palpable. As Galan, Moreno, and Charro shared their stories, I couldn’t help but feel inspired to take action on my own goals. Fast-forward three years and Galan’s Adelante Movement has now birthed a new kind of revolution for our generation. In her first book, Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant and Rich in Every Way, Galan shares how we can all tap into our inner boss babe.  

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Think like an immigrant

After arriving in the U.S. from Cuba as a little girl during the Mariel boatlifts, Galan was able to leverage her immigrant experience in the workplace and later in her own businesses. “I was an intern who became an assistant and worked my way up the ladder,” she says. It is these values of hard work and sacrifice that were instilled in her at a young age that she credits for her success.

Fake it until you become it

We’ve all heard that phrase “Fake it until you make it" before. Galan suggests going one step further and model ourselves after admirable, inspiring women. This month she was honored with an invitation to speak at the White House's Women of the State Summit and admits to having quite the girl crush on the pioneer of the feminist movement, Gloria Steinem, who was also in attendance. “When I am 80 I want to be happy and comfortable in my own skin like [Gloria Steinem],” Galan gushed.

In your pain is your brand

If you want to become self-made you will have to do some inner work. Galan explains that many of us women — specifically Latinas — have experienced significant trauma in our lives and we carry emotional baggage with us. She suggests seeing a life coach, spiritual adviser, or mental-health professional to sort out these issues. Oftentimes these painful life experiences serve as a catalyst for new business ideas. “When you face that pain head-on and turn it into a business then it changes and you realize why you went through that pain," she says.

Make fear and failure your BFFs

Let's be honest: Oftentimes we’d rather not relive our earlier snafus. Galan admits her failure résumé is longer than her success résumé. “If I wasn’t failing, I would not be in the game,” she affirms. It was during her time working for five male billionaire bosses that empowered her to move forward despite the fear. Ladies, let's tap into our intuition and take action as Galan advises: “Are you afraid? Do it anyway!”

"Follow your bliss" is BS

According to Galan, well-meaning advice from career counselors and self-help gurus who tell us to “follow our bliss” or “pursue our passions” are wrong. “If you are a little girl in Afghanistan and your bliss is to be a singer one day, are you really going to follow that bliss [without money]?” She challenges. The key to becoming self-made is self-reliance and financial independence. Now you can pursue your passion, but Galan says “to keep the day job and do what you love on the side.“