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  • Nina Calabrese

What it's like being a SHORT WOMAN in Business...

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

To be honest it hasn’t made a difference. Being a woman, let only a short woman at 4'9 has never affected how people have treated me. I have also been talked to with respect and I think like any person who is claiming to be any professional in an industry it all comes down to confidence. This blog post isn't about the reasons life treated me badly because of how I looked, it's about teaching you that anything is possible as long as you try. It all comes down to YOU.


Confidence is Key

Now I didn’t always have confidence. I started building my confidence after I left my ex-fiancé. Our relationship was based on “the women stay at home and cook while the men work”, which I wouldn’t mind, however we both worked and I was still expected to do all of the house work, cooking, food shopping, etc. Anyways when I ended that and went off on my own it was a big deal especially because I was moving to a town where I didn’t know anyone. I started out getting a job in the healthcare industry and decided to get my degree in social work. My first job when I moved was working for a group home with intellectually and behavior disabled adults. These male adults were very aggressive and most of them non-verbal. Because of this they had to certify us in a number of things including what was called Physical Restraint Training. We had to learn how to physically restraint huge men when they were having an episode. I remember my first time restraining one of the members there. He was actually my client who I watched most of the time I was working. They gave me him because 95% of the time he was caring, easy to take care of, and had an a very calming voice. The other 5% of the time he turns into a maniac and wants to stab people. He actually did stab his foster parents which is why he was in there. He called himself Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons show. When he started doing that we knew what to expect. So one day, just like a any normal day all of the members were eating lunch together and he was asked to put his dish in the sink when he was done. WAMMM. He tosses the kitchen table over and starts throwing chairs at us. Immediately 4 of us run and grab him. I went for his one leg trying to avoid any part of him that would seriously injure me. I barely could keep control over that, I accidentally let it go and it smacked the other coworker in the face. Ops. After about 5 minutes he said he was ready to be released and he was perfectly normal again. It’s safe to say I was burnt out in about 6 months of working there. So this being my first real experience coming out of my comfort zone I can say it did its job.



The Turning Point

My next job which has been the turning point in my entire life was becoming a Realtor. I had no passion for real estate except for the fact I can work on my own schedule. The only thing I completely misunderstood was the fact that I had to sell myself. I thought that once I got my license every person looking to buy or sell their home would flock to me and I would be rich. Looking back it makes me laugh, but that’s how most people are in business. They spend all their time trying to perfect something and forget the hardest part is getting people to trust it. Then I found out since people were not going to flock to me that I had to start reaching out to my inner circle which is close friends and family because you have already built trust with them. The problem was they all lived in Jersey and I just moved to the area 6 months ago. It’s safe to say I had to either go out everyday and start meeting people or figure a way for them to come to me. I chose figure a way they would come to me. My idea was to create groups on Facebook designated for homes for sale. I knew by providing something people were looking for they would contact me about the homes that I was showcasing. It worked I had 5 different groups in each of the surrounding areas with over 1k of members and I was able to close my first deal in 4 month of being an agent.





True Agent Match

This sparked something in my mind. I thought if it was so easy for people to connect with me and use me as an agent just from a Facebook group then I could do this with others. This soon grew to the idea I called True Agent Match were we would match people to Realtors based on their personality, skills, and specialties. Now I didn’t know anything about business, I even had my best friend partner with me which almost made us lose our friendship. We did pretty well though considering, we knew we needed a website so we looked for someone who builds websites, we started talking to brokerages and pitching to their agents, we went to as many Realtor events as we could and we got great feedback. After 6 months of working on this concept it was finally time for people to sign up. The launch was exciting. The moment after that not so much. Immediately we had over 50 signups and over 100 people contacting us that they couldn’t sign up. The website basically only worked ⅓ of the time. The web developer went a-wall. So now after 6 months of work and all of our money dumped into a website that didn’t work and people who lost trust in us we had to take a step back. I decided to join a program called WeVenture which is a Women's Entrepreneur Organization. It was a 6 week course only for women to teach them how to start and run a business. The next 6 weeks began to define me as a professional women in business. I learned from other women who all supported each other, I watched as the room next to me pitched their idea to investors. The same idea that was pitched on the show Shark Tank, who remembers TROBO! I knew this is where I wanted to be, I knew I would forever be a women in business. After the 6 weeks I still didn't have a website, however I met a new person that instead of building me one she would teach me to do it myself. I agreed and we spent hours on screen share building what would be the new True Agent Match. The company continued for another few months, I pitched it at 1 Million Cups (a once a week program that allows entrepreneurs to get feedback about their idea), I even made a few sales, but by the end of those months I realized I lost my concept. The site was so congested with trying to be everything I forgot about what our purpose value was. I became broke and on to my next venture.





The Next Venture

This venture came just in time. If it wasn’t for getting hired here on the spot I don’t think I would have been able to pay my next bill. The next job I got was court reporting. I know what your thinking, don’t I have to go to school to be a Court Reporter, and the answer is no. My job was record everything that was going on and indicate who was speaking. I got to travel everywhere too. It was like working on my own schedule again except for the depositions they put on my calendar, but on the off time I could do what I wanted. I got paid well too. I loved the job and the people there. I was also doing great at it, my first review I was told I was doing everything right and that I was above their expectations. The cases were pretty crazy, it opened my eyes to what was really going on in the world. The one case I can still remember to this day was video taping a 13 year old boy who was telling us about his witness to a gang-rape on a 12 year old girl. The girl couldn’t be there because they baker-acted her the day before, but I still think about her and hope the trauma that she went through is behind her now. On my off time I decided to try out another business call Social Flare Marketing which was a social media marketing company. During the time I was a Court Reporting I was making landing pages for the company that I worked for and a few other people. I spent hours learning about landing pages and how to advertise them through Facebook ads. I even tested a few out myself and got a crazy amount of leads. I’m the type of person that really wants to help people anyway I can, so one day I saw a need that I could fix. It was a day we were very slow at the Court Reporting firm so we were doing blind mail outs by simply looking up lawyers in a directory. I knew from research that in blind mail outs you only get 1% back. So I factored in the cost of paying us hourly to do the mail outs and the cost of all the postages and realized through social media marketing we could drive way more traffic to our site and pick up more lead for a fraction of the cost. I considered all of us in the company a team and decided to talk to the marketing manager and let her know that I would love to help out with it. She told me great idea and that I should make her a Marketing Plan then she would talk to the owner. After learning how to create marketing plans through WeVenture I spent hours putting something perfect together. I was excited to hear her feedback once I sent it, but two weeks went by and nothing. Then when I finally asked her she told me that the owner said that he would only use my Marketing Plan if I didn’t work for the company anymore. I found that weird, I just told her it was a different form of advertising and that I could explain it. A week after that we had a meeting and it was brought up that someone had been disrespecting the marketing director and since she was close to the General Manager he took it very personally. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. A week after that I was called in immediately to a conference room and I was fired. I was in complete shock and it hurt me emotionally because I knew that I was doing everything I could to make the company successful. I asked him why and he told me i wasn’t a good fit. That’s when I first suspected it had something to do with the marketing director and I ask him, he said that she did mention something. By that time I could barely grasp the fact on what was happening. I tired to ask him if I could improve and he said there was nothing I could do.


I GOT THE JOB

This incident sent me into a depression. I started to think I couldn’t trust my employers anymore and I was becoming broke again after just paying off 1k in student loan dept almost all that I saved in the 6 months of doing court reporting. I reached out to one of my friends from WeVenture and told her I was ready to start up my social media company. She recommended I go to this event which became my next life changing moment. The Red Elephant, it is part of a coaching seminar where you pay $197 and attend a 3 day program designed to help you come out of your comfort zone and realize your full potential. It did just that. I met one of my best friends through there along with many other I still talk to. It helped start up my social media business. Now at this point I still didn’t know much about how to start and maintain a business all myself so the next few months were trial and error. I made some money and did well, but it still wasn’t enough to get me by. So just searching for jobs I saw one in particular that caught my eye. It was a part-time job working at Canvs’s new location. Canvs was where WeVenture was held and the 6 week course that helped change my life. I went in for an interview and didn’t hear back for a few weeks. At this time I was pretty panicky and I was starting to become really broke again. It was also during this time I became so broke I ended up working for a one night event busing tables for an extra $80. If it wasn’t for that night I wouldn’t have met the man who has made everything in life possible for me again. I met my now boyfriend that night and ever since this night life has been happy, loving, and successful. Anyways fast forward a few more weeks I GOT THE JOB. I did both, worked on my social media business and worked part time driving 1 hour away to Canvs. It was such a great job I still can’t even believe it’s mine. Through working here I was able to shape who I am personally and professionally. I decided to start education programs “Lunch & Learns” where I began meeting other business professionals in the community. I have been able to use my innovation and skills to create a place where businesses can be successful. Today we decided to break away from Canvs and now I am working full time as the Operations Manager. I have been working here almost a year and a half now and in that time I have built them a new website, set up google ads, ran Facebook ad campaigns, managed inventory & budgeting, created new programs & events that changed people’s lives. Really, lives were changed, because of my events we managed to introduce a couple together, business partners together, and overall change the way people see business.


Where I'm at Today

In the works of keeping now Coworking Winter Park alive, I was able to start a few other ventures. One my boyfriend and I co-founded together called The First Noel. The First Noel was created Nov. 22 2017 when my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to instead of buying ourselves something give to a kid in need. I can never stop at just helping on person so I created the website, we raised over 2k, and delivered toys to 36 families in need on Dec. 21st 2017. This past year we continued it, like we will each year, and we gave to over 100+ kids. I always believe in giving back. Another one of my ventures which I’m not 100% sure I want to continue is selling CBD oil called Vibes CBD Oil. Being the little creative person that I am I wanted to figure out how to start a product business. Well I picked out CBD because it will grow into a 22 billion dollar industry by 2022, but god I did not know how hard it would be. For those who do not know what CBD is, it comes from hemp, while hemp is not legal CBD still has a grey area because it still contains .03 of THC. This is not enough to get you high and falls under the regulations, however this industry is uneducated and become saturated with phony companies.





Life Starts At The End Of Your Comfort Zone

So what does all of this have to be with being a short woman in business, it doesn't because I never felt like it stopped me from striving to reach my full potential. I came across many obstacles and I never let them stop me whether it was being short, moving to a new town, or even being a women. I chose to share my story because I know there are people out there who wake up each day unhappy with the life they live. Although I have had an emotional rollercoaster of careers, that is still ongoing, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learn everyday and I choose everyday to live beyond my comfort zone because I know it's not until you do that, that you are really living. I don’t know what else life is going to bring, but I do know that each of these moments have shaped me into the person I am today and has led me to a life where I can wake up, look to my amazing boyfriend next to me, and smile uncontrollably.

#Entrepreneur #ComfortZone

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@2018 Nina Calabrese

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