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“With support, people create the most amazing things” says Latina Executive Coach Elena Armijo on the importance of mentors

When companies are looking to hire a leadership position, emotional intelligence often the most sought after qualification.  A recent survey found 71% of employers said they value EQ over IQ, noting that leaders with high emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, and respond to co-workers with empathy.

Executive Leadership Coach

Elena Armijo, Latina entrepreneur and Executive Leadership Coach. (Photo courtesy of Elena Armijo)

After years as an acclaimed Executive Leadership Coach, Latina entrepreneur Elena Armijo founded The C-Suite Collective, a boutique holistic coaching and training agency with the mission to equip and empower successful C-suite executives, founders, and entrepreneurs with holistic executive coaching programs and customized support for teams that foster culture change, organizational growth, and generational impact for years to come that helps them attain their goals in a healthy, efficient way.

“Emotional intelligence starts with managers being emotionally aware,” Elena says.

Elena offers in-depth and customized executive programs for high performers who are at the top of their respective fields – from CEOs of leading businesses, to professional athletes, policy-focused individuals, entertainers and artists, and more. In addition to her work as a professional coach, Elena also hosts the podcast “In A Manner of Speaking…with Elena Armijo” where she amplifies women’s voices and encourages you to go after your dreams.  

She was inspired to become an Executive and Leadership Coach through her work as a professional opera singer, experiencing first hand the benefits coaching had on transforming her own mindset. Drawn to work with ambitious top performers like herself, she realized she could bring unique insight to the coaching business after spending a decade “on the other side of the table.”

“I was a professional opera singer before I pivoted to coaching.  I had spent over 20 years preparing for a career in opera and came to NY in 2007 to start singing professionally.  My path quickly took off, and at one point, I was traveling 10 months out of the year and only came back to NY to change out clothes in my suitcase.  In 2014, I realized something had to change,” Elena shares. 

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She was burned out at the time, struggling in her relationships and missing family gatherings back home. Working to make a change in her life, Elena decided to hire a coach herself and she soon began benefiting from experience. 

“I was able to see that I had built my entire career from a place of proving my worth to the world and over working.  I had to slow down and learn more about who I was as a person to even begin to find out what I wanted to do,” she says. 

Most of Elena’s own struggles have stemmed from a “core wound” of feeling not good enough in the world. Many with similar limiting beliefs may question their success or doubt their abilities to do a good job and succeed. 

“This has been something I have struggled with my entire life and have done a lot of healing work around,” Elena says. “It showed up for me like questioning whether I could follow through on a contract I just landed, getting a new rockstar client and being in disbelief that I could support them, or worrying that when my team and company grows, that it could all come falling down.” 

After working with a coach, therapist, and healers in the world, as well as sharing what she learned with her family, she has been able to release these limiting beliefs around her self worth and continues to do so today.

“I now have the tools and support system to know that when those feelings come up it simply needs some loving care and compassion. This is something I wouldn’t have known in the beginning of my career.” 

Executive Leadership Coach

“My focus is always on how this benefits ALL of us; no one needs to go without, and better yet, we can all walk away from the table satisfied and happy.” (Photo courtesy of Elena Armijo)

“My mission is to support high achievers in creating more impact”

Experiencing the benefits of coaching in her own life, Elena fell in love with coaching just as much as she loves music, and eventually decided to open her own business in 2015 and become and Executive Leadership Coach to help others who struggled like her. 

“My mission is to support high achievers in creating more impact in the world through authentic expression and experience.  And we all have fun while we do it!  With more support, people create the most amazing things.”

Executive Leadership Coach

“No one does this alone and support changes everything.” (Photo courtesy of Elena Armijo)

Growing up, Elena’s family table was always full. Her parents made sure there was more than enough food for everyone who needed it, and it’s this sentiment that Elena carries with her, both literally and figuratively in her life and profession. 

“I make sure everyone eats. As a business owner, I make sure everyone wins with me. I believe this is one way we can create true equity and inclusion as well as legacy.  So anytime I am speaking to prospective companies, clients, or my own team, my focus is always on how this benefits ALL of us; no one needs to go without, and better yet, we can all walk away from the table satisfied and happy.”

Partnering with Elena, clients have created and achieved the professional and personal impact in the world they once perceived unattainable.

Elena shares the story of one client who was able to completely shift her limiting beliefs and find success. 

“My client, a woman of color and an executive, hired me to work on owning her power and voice in the world.  When she came to me she was afraid, burnt out, and resigned around playing “the game” of getting ahead in a system that was not built for her.  By the end of our work together she said something really simple.  ‘I learned through our work that I may not be able to change the system, but I sure can find ways to be fully me within it, own what I want, and choose my path moving forward if it’s not working.  I finally see the freedom I have in choosing how I respond in any situation.’” 

You might be interested: “We don’t need to do it alone” says SBA’s Bibi Hidalgo, to aspiring Latina entrepreneurs 

These words from her client filled her with joy. Being able to help others find the pathways to their own success is Elena’s personal success, she says. 

For leaders and executives in high pressure jobs, taking the time to cultivate emotional intelligence and a positive success mindset is crucial. To those looking to start shifting their limiting beliefs and opening those doorways to success, Elena advises that you start by surrounding yourself with support.  

“There are so many women that want to mentor, coach, and be by your side to help you rise.  No one does this alone and support changes everything.  Hire a coach, therapist, healer, or mentor that will help you see more possibilities than you might currently know exists. This is how we achieve success and growth together!” 


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Latina career coach and author Cici Castelli shares key tips to unlock your success mindset in new book

Mindset is everything when it comes to achieving success. Whether it be climbing the corporate ladder or starting a new business or venture as an entrepreneur, your mindset is what will determine your success. 

Latina career coach and author of Mindset Unlocked, Cici Castelli shares some key insights in mindset management and how to unlock your success mindset to take you to the next level. 

Latina career coach, Cici Castelli

Certified High Performance Coach and author, Cici Castelli. (Photo courtesy of Cici Castelli)

As a first-generation immigrant, Cici came to the US from Venezuela at the age of 17 without her family because she strongly believed she wanted to succeed on her own. For ten years she lived the life of an immigrant while she put herself through school and eventually started her career as the Director of Interpreter Services in two major hospitals in the Boston area. 

After eleven years in this career, Cici decided to make a change during the beginning of the dot.com era, pivoting to the tech industry and starting over in California.  

It was a challenge, giving up her Director’s role to take on a much lower administrative position, moving from Boston to California, and basically having to start at the bottom of the ladder again in a new industry, but Cici had the right mindset and set herself to the task. 

“I had the vision that I would climb the corporate ladder again, now in the technology industry, and attain a much higher salary range and benefits than if I stayed in the medical field,” she says. 

Now, Cici is a Technology Executive in the travel and hospitality industry, a real estate investor, and a Certified High Performance Coach offering coaching services on her site www.cicicastelli.com

As a coach, she works with people that are hungry for success and are willing to change to reach their next level in their career and her experiences as  a Latina who has changed her careers while being a single mom; moved across the USA and the worlds more than once; her success in climbing the corporate ladder in different industries; being a female leader in a male dominated industry; and her strong project management background makes her a remarkable individual who can help others succeed.

Through her work, she helps clients obtain clarity, productivity and courage in order to be successful and achieve balance and personal happiness! 

“My passion is empowering my clients to live a better life by helping them discover and build healthier habits and find their individual success in their own game of life.”

Jumpstart your entrepreneurial journey with inspirational titles on Audible today!

Key tips to unlock your success mindset 

In her book Mindset Unlocked: Do What Others Can’t, Won’t, or Don’t Do for a Successful and Balanced Career, and Life, Cici teaches you how to level up your mindset and maximize your potential by unlocking your ultimate competitive advantage. 

“To succeed in every area of your life you need to unlock your mindset, be bold, be flexible, take risks and start doing what other people can’t, won’t or don’t do,” says Cici. 

As a coach, she has witnessed time and time again how a shift in mindset can produce a total transformation and help people achieve the success of their dreams. 

“I worked once with a lady that had worked as an admin for years and that is what she had in mind for herself and what those around her believed that is what she was best at because she was ‘super cooperative and helpful to others.’ After we worked together for a while, through my mentorship and guidance she received the schooling and training she needed and the right opportunities for herself. Now, she has is a senior project manager in technology earning a six-figure salary and having balance in her personal life. She has shuttered everyone’s expectations including her own! Today she is a leader herself!” Cici shares. 

You might be interested: Healing Leadership: A conversation with Dr. Ginny Baro about the need for great leaders

Stories like these are what make Cici so eager to continue to coach others. She wants to help people become successful, whether that be directly through her coaching and mentorship or indirectly through the work of others she has helped, with her book, or her soon to be published online course. 

For other aspiring minority women and Latina entrepreneurs or career women looking to kickstart their mindset shift and start unlocking their maximum potential, Cici offers three key tips. 

  1. Ditch “living one day at a time” and instead plan each day, week, month, and year for optimal goal achievement. Many people are successful for a day, a week, a year but to have sustained success you need to learn how to maintain that success for a lifetime. 
  2. Passion is the key to becoming a better leader—you need to make yourself feel passionate about every single thing you do. 
  3. Take risks, embrace challenges, and never give up. Starting a venture or taking a leap of faith can be daunting, but the key to achieving success is often doing what other people can’t, won’t or don’t do. So take that leap! Don’t accept average when extraordinary is possible—with a simple mindset shift!

“Only you can define what success looks like to you and when you figure out how to maximize your potential and unlock your competitive advantage without sacrificing it all, your whole life will be transformed,” says Cici. “You just need to start doing what other people can’t, won’t or don’t do. And being a minority is part of our competitive advantage!”


*This article contains affiliated links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

Jennifer Garcia

Jennifer Garcia tells you how to leave a secure job to launch your dream business

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 Garcia, founder of Fluential Leadership. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Garcia)

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. 

entrepreneur, leadership, mentor

Jennifer Garcia mentoring at an event. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Garcia)

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.” 

business, leadership, mentor, storytelling

“Don’t mute your story. Let the world know!” (Photo courtesy Jennifer Garcia)

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. 

You might be interested: Employees are quitting in record numbers to start their own business

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

Grow with Google: Lucy Pinto discusses digital tools, trends, and resources for small businesses 

A report conducted by Grow with Google in partnership with the Connected Commerce Council found that since the pandemic began, 72% of Latino businesses are now using digital tools to reach customers online and keep their businesses open. 

Post-Covid Recovery: Trends in technology and digital tools 

Since the pandemic hit in March of last year, the impact on small businesses has been tremendous. Across the country, small businesses have struggled to stay afloat as restrictions continue to disrupt their business flow. Some of the small businesses that have been hit the hardest are minority-owned small businesses. 

During Latina in Business’ March virtual panel, “Latina Small Business Post-Covid: Recovery Resources and Trends,” panelists discussed how the pandemic has shifted our relationship with technology. Now more than ever, businesses are relying on digital tools to connect with customers, grow, and thrive. Lucy Pinto, who is the Manager of Diversity and Community Training programs for Google joined the conversation, sharing insights and resources on digital tools for small businesses. 

As the Grow with Google Program Manager, Lucy works to level the playing field for communities who face digital divides and barriers to digital resources. She manages the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program which delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses. 

Lucy Pinto shares digital trends and resources 

Lucy Pinto, Grow with Google Program Manager.

Pilar Avila, Latinas in Business Board Member and Chair of Finances and Governance, moderated the virtual panel. Below are some highlights from her conversation with Lucy Pinto on how small businesses can utilize digital tools, such as the Grow with Google program to help their businesses thrive. 

Pilar Avila  4:09  

So Lucy, access to technology. Digital Access has been, before, during and post pandemic critical for the growth of businesses. However, in many communities, many families, we have seen that the digital divide, and the lack of access to resources…has been accentuated with a pandemic. However, we know that you at Google are addressing exactly those challenges through your program Grow with Google Digital Coaches. Can you tell us about the program and the impact that it’s having as well as any growth trends that you’re identifying through the program, or any other services and programs at Google?

Lucy Pinto  5:45  

Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for that. And thank you for the opportunity to be here….So Grow with Google is really Google’s initiative to provide digital skills training to Americans across all states. And so, as part of that initiative, one of our main focuses is to really focus on small business communities because we know that small businesses are the backbone of the country. And when you get a little bit more granular, what we do know, as data will show is that the rate at which Black and Latino businesses in the country are growing far extends those of other peers. And so we know that Black and Latino businesses, Latina businesses, as well, are fueling new business growth in the country.

And so in 2017, as part of an effort to help those businesses, those new Latino businesses that are launching and growing, we developed a program called the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program to specifically cater and reach small businesses that are Black-owned, or Latino-owned. And through the Digital Coaches Program, we provide free digital skills training and coaching to help these small businesses grow and thrive online. And since 2017, we have actually helped train over 60,000 small business owners, where we have digital coaches.

Our coaches deliver workshops in English and Spanish as well, because we know that sometimes they’re you know, in these communities, especially, you have a lot of immigrant communities that come in, you know, they’re starting their businesses, they’re launching, and sometimes they prefer to get information in Spanish. And so we want to make sure that we’re not leaving anybody behind. And we have, we have those workshops in Spanish as well. 

When COVID hit, we really had to pivot our own program plan, because all of these trainings and programs were done in person. And so when COVID hit we pivoted to virtual and that April, I remember last April, we saw such a tremendous interest in learning about these digital tools. So much so that as a Grow with Google team, we ended up partnering with the Connected Commerce Council to lead a report on what are the trends that we’re seeing during COVID? What are our small businesses doing? How are they feeling? How are they thinking? And as part of that report, we actually found some very interesting facts, very specific to Latino small businesses.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

Key findings from the report 

  • Since the pandemic began, a large percentage of Latino small businesses are relying on digital tools as a safety net. 
  • 32% of Latino small businesses have been forced to close because of COVID. That’s 1 in every 3. 
  • 72% of Latino businesses (compared to 60% percent of the general public) adopted Google tools and digital tools to reach customers online, to update their customers, and to expand their reach and stay open.

How to grow your business with Google

Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses. The program has trained over 60,000 businesses on digital tools and works on initiatives that invest in communities that are underrepresented online to untap their potential, help them succeed, and drive bottom line impact. As our world becomes increasingly more digital, these skills and tools will be vital to business growth and success so be sure to take advantage of these free resources. 

Additionally, the Grow with Google Small Business Fund through the Opportunity Finance Network provides financial support to minority-owned and women-owned small businesses. The Fund will allow community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to support both the short-term recovery and long-term financing needs of America’s small businesses by providing low-cost, fixed-rate loans of up to 10-years with an option for interest deferral. 

Since the fund launched it has distributed $90 million in funding to businesses across the US through the local CDFIs and there is still $80 million left to deploy. 

For more information on the fund visit the Opportunity Finance Network.

team building Bellaria Jimenez

5 Proven team-building strategies by co-author Bellaria Jimenez

Bellaria Jimenez, President at MassMutual Tri State, and Co-author of The Team Game shares proven team-building strategies for business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs.

Bellaria Jimenez, Co-Author of The Team Game (Credit courtesy of Bellaria Jimenez)

She is passionate about business and leadership. With over 25 years working in finances, she has gained the expertise of leading and coaching teams within a business.

When she began her career, she had the desire to help people understand what to do with their money and empower individuals and business owners to make smart choices to grow their assets and protect their family. Beginning as a financial advisor, Bellaria worked her way up. 

During her time as assistant manager she grew her leadership skills by supporting the training needs of her office and stepping in whenever someone needed support. These leadership experiences fostered her love for coaching and would eventually lead to her love for team-building.

“Throughout the years I felt the most energy and joy when I was coaching individuals,” says Bellaria. “When I began focusing my time and attention to developing teams, I became even more energized. This became the start of my love for team-building.” 

Why teams?

Throughout the years of team-building, Bellaria has seen firsthand the impact that collaborating and combining unique skills and abilities has on the overall success of a business. 

“Financial advisors, for the most part, build their practices as solo-practitioners,” says Bellaria. “When we started partnering advisors that had different skill sets to complement each other we were pleasantly surprised with the financial results and an improved experience for the client.” 

After fifteen years of coaching, mentoring, and developing their own teams, Bellaria and business partner, John Brucsek, finally share their proven methods in their book The Team Game: “How Your Business Can Dominate Year After Year.”  

Described as “the definitive playbook for business leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and managers to build and develop highly efficient teams,” The Team Game takes Bellaria and John’s unique process of creating, coaching, and doubling productivity through teams and breaks it down into strategies that can be adapted to fit all businesses. 

Growing with change

Bellaria Jimenez with her son (Credit courtesy of Bellaria Jimenez)

One of the key takeaways from The Team Game is how teams can allow businesses to continue to exponentially grow ones’ practice in an unpredictable, ever changing business climate. 

In such a competitive business climate where change is so rapid, businesses need to stay competitive and flexible to stay relevant. Often though these changes happen too quickly, and individuals struggle to keep up. Technology is one of the key culprits to staying competitive. Another key issue top performers battle is time capacity. 

“There gets to a point when top performers just can’t keep up with the high demands of the business or growing client base,” says Bellaria. “They reach capacity and their business stalls. Teaming allows them to continue to exponentially grow their practice.”  

You might be interested: Bellaria Jimenez, a Latina leader’s passion helps others achieve their dreams

The 5 Fundamentals of team-building

team-buildingFive key team-building strategies to form a successful, long lasting team: 

1. Compensation: Having transparency on how team members get paid and the positive results of attracting new clients creates a strong culture within each team. How will my actions impact my compensation, including in a commission/fee-based business or an incentive-driven practice? We teach you how to come up with a compensation agreement for both fee-and non-fee-based practices. Once you receive the input from the team, that agreement can be refined. 

2. Client SegmentationSegmenting your book of business is a key to marketing your practice effectively, but it requires you to go through each client and categorize them as your A, B, C, or D clients. Once they are categorized, assign each segment to the appropriate member of the team who will work with them. The top achiever should be focused on the A clients.

3. Roles and Responsibilities: Making sure that everyone on the team understands their role on the team is a critical part to a successful team. It provides clarity and transparency. It is also a key part to good communication. It’s like football. There are 11 players on the team. Each one has a different job. If each one carries out his or her job effectively, the team is going to be successful. Whether you like the New England Patriots or not, most of you know what Bill Belichick says: “Do your job.” That’s critical.

4. The Sales Process: Allow team members to focus on a specific part of the process. You must have a uniform process that all team members are following. That uniformity allows you to identify team players with specific skills and to efficiently meet client needs and create superior customer experiences because everyone on your team has a specific role to play and each does it well.

5. The Client Experience Matrix: The most valuable assets a business has are its customers. If they feel loved, if they feel they are being serviced and getting attention, then they are going to do more business and they are going to refer more people. Remember, we live in a referral world. Think Yelp or TripAdvisor. Referrals can greatly impact your business, both positively and negatively. Just think how videos can quickly go viral.

In her book, Bellaria further breaks down in detail just how team-building works to increase growth and productivity with her top fundamentals from the team-building process. With these tried and true methods, any business leader or entrepreneur can create a winning team.