Jennifer Garcia is a multi-faceted business professional and leadership coach with a passion for empowering people and transforming businesses. She is the Chief Operating Officer of Latino Business Action Network (LBAN), a collaboration with Stanford University driving research, providing education, and cultivating a growing ecosystem of 800 scaled Latino and Latina entrepreneurs across the United States and Puerto Rico, who contribute nearly $4.9 billion in annual revenue.
Jennifer is also the founder of Fluential Leadership, a business and leadership consulting firm focused on elevating small-to-medium-sized business performance through developing and executing growth strategies, recruitment, and retaining talent.
Cutting the ‘golden handcuffs’ to start business from zero
Like many entrepreneurs, Jennifer was driven to start her own business out of a desire to pursue her passion and make an impact. For fourteen years, Jennifer worked in the finance industry and in a variety of leadership roles at Bloomberg, a global financial data provider. Through her work, she recognized her strength in developing people, transforming teams and departments.
Her work at LBAN has also allowed her to continue elevating Latino businesses to the next level by creating growth pathways. Jennifer’s passion for helping women and Latino business owners and leaders grow is what ultimately led her to launching her dream project, Fluential Leadership in 2018.
Jennifer wanted to make a greater impact and use her expertise as a leader and consulting coach to help others achieve their own career goals and dreams.
“I positioned myself to equip business leaders and elevate small-to-medium-sized businesses, which are the driving force in the U.S. economy,” says Jennifer. “I have a unique perspective with a long corporate career, first-hand experience as a business owner and a birds-eye view supporting businesses through LBAN and Fluential Leadership. I’ve learned that there are systematic challenges and barriers for women in professional careers, and in entrepreneurship.”
Launching Fluential Leadership was the first step for Jennifer was both exciting and challenging. She was stepping into the unknown and leaving the comfort, certainty, and stability of her career.
“I stepped away from a successful career, a secure job inclusive of all the benefits provided by a top-tier corporation. I often describe it as the cutting of ‘golden handcuffs’. The challenge was going from zero to one, building from scratch, doing the role of a CEO, CMO, CFO, content writer, content deliverer, and much more,” says Jennifer.
However, these initial challenges only helped to further fuel Jennifer’s passion and determination. Launching Fluential Leadership afforded her the opportunity to pursue something she was passionate about and build something that was all her own. She says there were many long days and nights, but she put in the time and effort, determined to make an impact and follow through on her dream.
“Each of our journeys are unique, our entrepreneurial dreams or careers are personal, and so is the price that is paid for it,” she says. “It’s important for me to understand my ‘WHY’. Why am I doing this? Why am I putting in the long hours, why did I step away from a secure career? It is that understanding that sustains me through the season. And I do remember that seasons change.”
Owning your story
Like the changing seasons, life can be unpredictable. However, change is good and necessary for any progress or growth. Every entrepreneur is on their own personal journey and that journey becomes your story. Where you started from, how you worked to get to where you are today, where you stumbled and failed, and where you succeeded.
“My story is my unique strength, and so is yours,” says Jennifer. “It is my story and experiences that shaped who I am today, how I approach business, and the lens in which I propel other business leaders. I grew up selling Christmas trees and firewood on the side of the road with my father, not around the dining room table discussing stocks and bonds or venture capital. The conversations and the work I do today with my kids, with women professionals and business owners, has the ability to empower and elevate leaders, creating exponential and generational impact. Regardless of my starting line, my purpose is consistent and that is to move the needle for women, business leaders and the Latino community.”
For entrepreneurs, both established and aspiring, embrace your story and own it. Your story is what will set you apart from others. Your story is uniquely yours.
“Don’t mute your story,” says Jennifer, “let the world know!”
Writing your story, telling it to the world, and following through on your dreams can be daunting and even downright terrifying. But the alternative is never trying, never sharing, never starting. Jennifer took a chance on her dream, stepping away from the comfort of a corporate job to build something new.
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To the aspiring entrepreneurs looking for that final push, Jennifer says, “Go for it! Jump and grow wings on the way down. There will always be logical reasons why today is not a good time to start your business or aspire for the new career move. I’ve found that opportunity doesn’t always present itself in opportune times and we just need to embrace it. Learn what you can from the season. To borrow a few lines from the powerful poem by William Arthur Ward:
Believe while others are doubting
Plan while others are playing
Begin while others are procrastinating
Work while others are wishing
Persist while others are quitting”