Have you ever felt discontent in your job and considered branching out on your own? I think that thought has crossed a lot of our minds but with it comes fear about leaving a place of safety and security for something unknown.

Laura Gmeinder found herself in that place. She was a successful Human Resources director for a popular American brand for over fourteen years. Truthfully, she enjoyed her job, but the thought of quitting and going into business for herself as a consultant would not leave her. After coaching on the side for a few years she decided to take the leap and go full time.

In our interview, I asked Laura about leaving the safety of her corporate job and how she was able to venture into the unknown by starting her own business. She gives powerful insight on how to overcome self doubt, take a leap of faith, and even gain your first client.

Hi Laura! Would you tell our readers a little about you and your consulting business?

Professionally you can find me at the intersection of leadership development and business strategy. I lean on my degree in adult education from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, coach training from CTI, HR background and business savvy to provide leadership coaching and training, business consulting and motivational speaking. I’m always looking to one up my skill set. Currently, I am enrolled in a high level laser coach training program with Master Coach Marion Franklin.

I’m also a writer and filmmaker. My passion is female empowerment; I support emerging leaders and female entrepreneurs. In addition, I am the Vice President of Disrupt Madison and Disrupt Milwaukee. Disrupt’s signature event focuses on empowering thought leaders to change the world of work. I’m also in leadership for the Doyenne Group, a women’s entrepreneurial movement that started in Madison, Wisconsin.

I’m high energy and love variety. I’m a Libra so I am always searching for balance which can leave me feeling conflicted or just going with the flow so I have to reflect on my decision. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling (I love the ocean), hiking with my poodle, baking, attending community events, trying new restaurants and volunteering.

I like vodka (which I refer to as Russian water). Quirky is interesting. I’m very spiritual and regularly focus on what I am grateful for to keep my perspective positive. I’m future focused. “Starting” excites me but I lose enthusiasm with routine. After years of trying to figure *it* out, I’m finally living the interesting life I always craved, in the spirit of “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I’ve given up my search for Prince Charming and look forward to meeting Mr .Right-for-me when the time comes. I wake up every day and for a second I’m pleasantly surprised to find this is the life I am leading. And that, more than anything, makes me feel like a success.

Your website states that you loved your job in human resources, but chose to pursue your own business as a consultant. What led you down that path?

At my company, growth opportunities were only available in Michigan at our parent company and I had no interest in moving to Detroit. That’s over simplifying it, but to make the impact I wanted to make in the corporate world I would have needed to relocate to our parent company. My situation is very typical. Women are leaving the corporate world in their mid 30s due to lack of advancement opportunities or because they are not offered enough flexibility to raise their family.

I looked for years at job postings while building my skill sets on the side (I started coaching about 7 1/2 years ago). After finishing my year as president of a women’s non profit I was challenged with the question, “What are you going to do next? That question combined with the fact that in my corporate role big changes were coming, a new President who had never held the role, I decided it was the perfect time to take my side gig to the main event. I gave notice to my employer and within a week had my first consulting client. And I never looked back.

How did you get your first consulting client? Do you have any advice on getting your “first” client?

A friend mentioned during a happy hour conversation that she had a meeting with someone who had a similar business to the one I was creating and then never heard back from her. I slept on that nugget and by the morning I realized if I can’t offer my services to my friend how am I ever going to be successful? If you can’t sell you don’t have a business.

I put together an email sharing how I could support her and courageously asked for a meeting to discuss it. She said yes. The one rule we had for working together was that our friendship would always come first. Since then, we have worked on several successful projects over the years.

My advice on how to get your first client is to believe in yourself and clearly communicate what value you provide. When you get started it’s so much about your passion and asking people to support you. I scored my first coaching client by sending an email to 100 friends/family/acquaintances sharing about my passion for coaching and who I wanted to help. A friend of my cousin’s immediately thought of his sister who was stuck personally and professionally and connected us.

What have you enjoyed about running your own business?

Everything! (Truth: I loathe the accounting piece). I’ve discovered that my sense of adventure, love of variety, and ability to handle risk make me well suited for the entrepreneur life. My blind spot is, I am so future focused I always think tomorrow, next month, or next year will be better (which typically is) but it leaves me vulnerable and often not pivoting fast enough.

What I love most is seeing my clients lives change. For example, I had lunch with one of my first clients the other day (who is now a dear friend). The lady in front of me was almost unrecognizable from the lady I met almost six years ago. She is confident, down 50+ pounds, and she speaks up for herself which has improved her relationships with her family and friends. She went back to school, wrote a thesis, got her masters degree, and started a business. I’m blown away by her courage, determination, and ambition.

It’s inspiring and it energizes me to know that in a small way I was able to support her during a period of significant growth. It’s beautiful to see what happens when someone believes in themselves and takes action to go from dreaming to doing.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

The hardest thing was the inconsistent income. My self worth felt tied to my income and moving past that mental block is hard. For example, I had one month where I made nothing, NOTHING. It was so frustrating. I was working so hard. When business wasn’t working out the way I thought it would I was so stressed and down on myself.

Because money was a hot topic in my relationship I hid it from my (now ex) boyfriend which made it worse. However I am very future-focused, so I always was optimistic that I was planting seeds even if nothing was growing. Often after a month like that, I would have one of my biggest months. It was just how the money came in. I had to learn to chase opportunity without attachment and separate effort from results. As an entrepreneur, there are so many things out of my control. While I set monthly goals, I really focus on my annual goal and strategies along the way that will help me reach it. That big picture focus has empowered me to double year over year in 2017 and set a goal to do that again in 2018.

What is the best leadership advice that you have ever been given?

Make sure you are running towards something, not away from something (my last and favorite boss challenged me to reflect on that). I appreciate that she gave me that advice as I was transitioning from the corporate environment into my business full time. It challenged me to pause and think about it. Truthfully I was doing a little of both and am grateful I found everything I needed and more in my entrepreneurial journey.

How can we best empower this next generation of women?

By setting an example, you never know who is watching. Encouraging women to discover their potential and then lean into it. When you take action and build on small wins you quickly gain confidence which empowers you to take bigger risks.

This is my calling and why I am proud to share that I am co-producing a short documentary, “If You Don’t, Who Will? Empowered Women Empowering Women” on this subject with Coreyne Woodman-Holoubek. It’s such an important focus! It’s hard to lead and it’s something we need to focus on every day. I always ask myself, “how do I want to show up?”. And it’s one of the reasons I was named one of 2018’s Woman to Watch by BRAVA Magazine.

If a reader feels stuck in her current employment, what advice would you give her?

Get to know yourself. What do you like? What do you dislike? Try something new. Also, reflecting on what is holding you back will give you some insights as to why you feel stuck. My challenge was that I hadn’t processed my emotions, which kept me stuck because it was safe. If you can figure out what you are good at and what you like to do, and find a job or start a business at the intersection you will be fulfilled.

When asked about their future ambitions, most children will declare their desire to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or another related profession. I, on the other hand, was unaware of the word entrepreneur, yet I knew and desired to be rich – and to do so by not working years and years for someone else’s company.

I was already in college and working at my first professional job by the time I encountered Cheryl Broussard’s Sister CEO book—and, it had a huge impact on my life and decision to go into business for myself. In addition to the knowledge from the book itself, I also wanted to share Cheryl’s motivation for writing this amazing work. At the start of the interview, she told me, “My inspiration for writing Sister CEO: The Black Woman’s Guide to Starting Your Business came when I noticed a disparity in the media of recognizing entrepreneurial ‘women of color.’ I knew these ladies were out there, but I never saw them in any of the top business magazines. I also believed that women of color would never reach income equality working in Corporate America. My goal was to show black women the value in starting their own business.”

Cheryl, like yourself, the women in the Leaders in Heels community are simply extraordinary. Your brilliance has spanned across multiple industries, including being a successful financial professional, a multi-bestselling author, being a coach/mentor to other aspiring female entrepreneurs and soon to be a magazine founder and editor – of these roles, is there one that excites you more than the others? IF so, why?

All my roles as a woman entrepreneur: financial professional, author, coach/mentor and now magazine founder, stem from one passion – empowering women, from all parts of the world to their best selves. Each of the roles has been enjoyable, as they are similarly interconnected and elegantly feed each other. Presently, I’m excited about my current passion project, Jet Set Girl Entrepreneur University, and magazine. Because of the effectiveness and reach of the internet, it is feasible to inspire and help an untold number of women, no matter where in the world they live.

Have you always followed a personalized development plan, and had a mentor/coach for professional direction, support, and feedback?

Yes. Actively pursuing a personalized development plan and utilizing the services of a mentor and coach are traits of success-minded and focused individuals. I’m also a voracious reader. My books serve as virtual mentors and coaches. I highly recommend women read and continue gaining new knowledge on leadership, finance, and business.

Initially, I remember you from your black woman’s financial independence book. However, it was not until Sister CEO, where I was gob-smacked by its wisdom, that I felt the need to reach out and connect with you directly. Sister CEO is still one of my all-time favorites, even all these years after its initial publication. What was/were your motivation(s) for writing your books?

Sister CEO, I’m happy to announce, is still popular. I am very proud of this book. I believe and embrace my purpose in life—as a teacher of improvement and increase. My message is always about how to improve one’s business, life, and money. We are not put on this earth to suffer. We are here to prosper and live abundantly. And we each have the power within ourselves to make it happen. Unfortunately, few know of this power. Nor do they understand the tools that are needed to unlock it. Teaching about abundant living and using one’s mind power, as well as effective success-producing tools, brings me great joy and satisfaction.

Effient use of time is the mark of a truly successful professional. How do you prioritize your time to accomplish all your goals?

Efficient use of time is definitely important for an entrepreneur and leader! It’s so easy today to get distracted. I’m still working on using my time more efficiently. My biggest challenge is taking on too many projects at once. Now that I’m wiser, I aim to do better about overextending myself. I do my best to not work on more than two goals/projects at a time. I recommend when you are prioritizing your projects, work on the goals/projects that will help you get the fastest results first, then pursue with fervor the other things you want.

Please share with our readers at least one or more signature books/quotes/sayings that keep you motivated.

There are two books I read over and over. The first is The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder; and, the second is The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. Both works keep my wealth consciousness at a high vibration. A quote that I repeat over and over throughout the day is “God is my Source; and, I am Eternally Grateful!” This quote keeps my mind right when I have challenges. I believe everything will always work out.

Presently, what are your Top 3 to 5 entrepreneurial aspirations?

Today and for the foreseeable future, my sole aspiration is my current professional and passion project. It is my intention to build a successful online university for women entrepreneurs, and reach over 100,000 women. I want to start a global women’s entrepreneur’s movement that will empower and invigorate. Just recently a report from the U.S. Census Bureau stated a very slim closing of the gender wage gap. The median women’s earnings were 79 percent of men’s in 2014, up slightly from 78 percent in 2013. When you look at the numbers, it’s worse for women of color. “African American women make only 60 cents, and Latinas make only 55 cents compared to white men.” This fact is crazy in 2017! My goal is to help all women earn 100% of what men earn.

… And now, the signature questions asked of all interviewees

What do you do with fear?

I do my best not to let it affect me. I read something empowering, and I recite affirmations all day long to block out the fear. I also write in my journal and get out on paper what is causing the fear. Once it’s on paper, it doesn’t seem to be as strong. I also visualize the result of my goals and dreams. The more I focus on my positive desires, the easier it seems to deal with fear.

Would the you of today advise the you of yesterday (when you began your career) differently than the path you have traveled—knowing what you know now and after all you have experienced?

I would tell myself today to build a business that can be run without me. Now that we have the Internet, that’s 100 percent possible. The online university and the magazine can be put on automatic pilot and continue to grow for many years without my daily involvement. That’s a truly successful business, and this is what I’m now teaching to women entrepreneurs.

Simply for visiting www.thejetsetgirl.com, Cheryl is graciously offering everyone her latest complimentary e-book: “The Jet Set Girl’s Guide to Building a Million Dollar Online Empire.”


Owning and running your own business is empowering and deeply fulfilling. And yet it can also be one of the most crushing and difficult times in your life. That’s the truth about entrepreneurship. And it’s this darker, tougher side of being a female entrepreneur that we don’t discuss enough.

We look at social media and think “Gosh, look at her, I’ll never be able to do that”. We don’t think we’re deserving of something: “I can’t believe they picked me, when so-and-so is so much better than me”.

Or, we attend networking events, and every woman there seems to have everything so together – and all they seem interested in is talking up their businesses.

“Running your own business … can also be one of the most crushing and difficult times in your life.”

Winning and Not-so-much Winning

One entrepreneur in a group I’m a part of on Facebook, started sharing every stat, every win from her latest product launch. Virtually daily, she would post how many email sign-ups she had received, how many people had watched her videos, how many people had bought her product and how much money she was making – which was in the thousands.

And while most people were publicly celebrating her wins (and good on her for her wins were impressive), I noticed that there were a few of the less gregarious in the group that stayed super quiet. Finally, one of them posted a comment.

“I realised that instead of celebrating her first win … she felt she wasn’t good enough … She had compared her progress with someone else’s and felt inadequate.”

She announced that she had just made her first ever “5,000 …..cents”. She had made $50 from her business after having working for months. She finished her post by telling us how she was going to give up her business.

I realised that instead of celebrating her first win – something that should be her first positive sign for her business – she felt she wasn’t good enough. Instead of looking at her first income as a milestone, she had compared her progress with someone else’s and felt inadequate.

“Women generally don’t spend enough time applauding ourselves … for every woman who is gloriously happy … there are probably 10 others feeling deflated … ”

I want to make it super clear that this isn’t about being unsupportive of someone else’s success, nor is it about feeling like we need to downplay our wins.

In fact, I’m the first to say that we need to be proud of our successes. I’m also the first to say that women generally don’t spend enough time applauding ourselves. However we need to be aware that for every woman who is gloriously happy and shouting from the rooftops, there are probably 10 others feeling deflated, defeated.

The Real Truth About Entrepreneurship

There are two sides of this coin.

First – it’s hard to remain completely optimistic and idealistic about our business 24 x 7. Especially when you’re having a less than perfect day in your business, and being surrounded by perky, happy, “life-is-amazing” entrepreneurs can greatly amplify our deflation.

We really have to coach ourselves (what I call the “mental battle”) and remind ourselves that we shouldn’t define our success against someone else’s “highlight” reel. Most entrepreneurs aren’t likely to drop their guard and show off their bad days, so what we see and hear is usually just that – “highlights”, and not the whole story. Ultimately, our strength is in how we choose to deal with our emotions when looking at someone else’s highlights.

“We really have to … remind ourselves that we shouldn’t define our success against someone else’s “highlight”

The flip side of that is that we need to remember to look out for each other. So in your community, take the time to celebrate the wins, but also to ask if everyone is OK, if anyone needs help or is feeling overwhelmed.

For it’s in the support of each other that makes us truly worthy to call ourselves women entrepreneurs and women in business.

Featured photo credit: Alfred Hermida via photopin cc

Wendy-Mak-Leaders-in-Heels-profile-img Wendy Mak

Wendy Mak is a speaker, presenter, author and mentor in both the fields of fashion and business. She has appeared on Today Tonight, The Morning Show, Channel Ten news and in New Idea, Women’s Agenda, The Daily Telegraph, SMH, AFR, Woman’s Day and more.

Wendy is passionate about supporting women in business grow as entrepreneurs through training & mentoring, delivered via The Growth Club with Wendy Mak. Wendy’s signature program is Smart, Savvy & Rich, a ‘start and grow your business’ course rated 9.5 / 10 out of 10 by participants in its first year of operation.

Visit www.wendymak.com and http://thegrowthclub.net/ for more.

The True Face of Entrepreneurship Interview Series
To highlight the topic in this post, Wendy has been interviewing a number of women entrepreneurs about the truth behind their success, including Angela Vithoulkas, Suzy Jacobs, Gillian Franklin, Jac Bowie, Bianca Monley, Robyn Foyster and Sarah Riegelhuth.
You can watch the interviews here.