The National Association of Women Business Owners – LA (NAWBOLA) and California Educational Solutions, in partnership with members of the California State Board of Equalization, hosted the “Connecting Women to Power Business Conference” in the Loker Student Union at California State University, Dominguez Hills on March 30. The State Board of Equalization was represented by Jerome Horton (Class of ’79, B.S. business administration), chair; Michelle Steel, vice chair; and George Runner, member.
Jane Pak, CEO of NAWBOLA, and Dr. Kaye Bragg, acting dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, served, respectively, as the mistress of ceremony and moderator of the afternoon session. Welcoming remarks were made by Horton, Steel, and Dr. Susan Borrego, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.
Horton urged business owners to connect with the Board and use its services to their advantage. He also attributed the inspiration for the event to his wife, Yvonne Horton, who serves as co-founder of California Educational Solutions.
“It was truly her vision,” the chairman noted. “She said, ‘Jerome, one of the most underutilized resources in the world is the human resource. And in California, the resource that we need to focus and capitalize on, and to energize and empower, is the resource of women.’”
Steel, who immigrated from Korea to Japan, and then to the United States, told the story of her mother, a single parent and entrepreneur who was unable to advocate for herself when confronted with a major business tax issue.
“That’s what made me run [for office], because I see a lot of women, single moms, and business owners, who don’t know how to fight and stand up for themselves,” said Steel. “Today your job is getting my business card, and my staff’s business cards. They are ready to help you; that’s why we are here.”
Borrego welcomed the audience of approximately 1,300 to CSU Dominguez Hills on behalf of President Mildred García, saying that the university is “a place that wants to shepherd and support entrepreneurial ideas that drive the economy of the state and the region. Our programs reflect the growing business and industry in the area. Seventy percent of our students are women, and 120 of them are joining us today, while on their spring break, to see you as role models.”
Also representing CSU Dominguez Hills was Clementine Sessoms, grant development associate in Research and Funded Projects. She participated in the breakout session, “Branding Matters: Leveraging Technology to Market Your Business.” The keynote for the morning session was Maria Marin, a renowned motivational speaker and negotiation expert. She presented an informative and often humorous talk to encourage women to become successful entrepreneurs by capitalizing on their strengths, including the ability to earn deeper loyalty in business than men, and to multitask.
“Women can entertain many thoughts at the same time,” Marin said. “For example, a woman can be in the kitchen cooking, helping the kids with homework; she’s on the phone, watching the [telenovela], checking her email… because our thoughts intertwine.”
Marin also exhorted women to learn to “ask for more and not expect ‘No’ for an answer” in both business and personal negotiations.
“Our expectations are too low,” she said. “In business, as in life, you expect more, you demand more, and you will get more. One of the reasons why women make less money in the workplace is because we are afraid of asking for more. Studies show that men negotiate their salary eight times more than [we do]. When we go for a job interview, whatever is offered to us, we accept. Men tend to negotiate that. They’re not afraid of asking for more.”
Former United States Treasurer Rosario Marin was the keynote speaker for the afternoon session. The first Latina in California to run for the U.S. Senate, she was appointed by Bush as the 41st treasurer and served from 2001 to 2003. She spoke to small business owners and thanked them for their part in contributing to the local and national economy.
“Not only do you have to worry about feeding your own family… but you have to worry about feeding your employees’ families,” she said. “I don’t think that enough people out there appreciate the work you do as a business owner.”
Marin urged entrepreneurs to register with the state of California as small businesses and encouraged the audience in the wake of an endangered economy throughout the nation.
“We have faced many recessions before,” Marin noted. “Actually, since the Great Depression, we have had 16 recessions, and we always came out on top. And we came out on top because of who we are, not only as a nation, but more importantly, as individuals. We Americans realized that we are bigger than the challenges before us.”
For more information on the California State Board of Equalization, click here.