If COVID-19 taught us anything as entrepreneurs, it is that we have to be ready to pivot — and pivot quickly.
If you’ve been in business for a while or have a support system to guide us in these moments of confusion, pivoting can be exciting. They bring new opportunities to tap into different parts of the market and access to new potential collaborators and customers.
But diving into a new career can be extremely intimidating and overwhelming for those who are just rejoining the workforce or starting from complete scratch. The fear and pressure are doubled when there’s a language barrier, you’re over 65 years old, and you don’t have the financial resources to invest in additional support.
But nothing is ever impossible
Laura S. Ojeda was born and raised in Morelia, Michoacan, in the 1950s to middle-class parents. She was one of eight siblings but one of five hermanas. Laura was always an excellent student, and when she wasn’t in school, she was helping her parents at home or their business.
When Laura finished high school, she was determined to be the first one in her family to go to college — and she did. Not only did she graduate with honors, but she then went on to do her masters in accounting and landed a great job with the Mexican government. After working so hard for so many years, she felt fulfilled. She was a career woman, well on her way to being a jefa in her field.
Fast forward a few years, and she meets the love of her life, an American man, and chooses to move to New York City with him after they get married. She spoke little English and had no job prospects and no support system, but she felt it was the right decision as she wanted to start a family. She wanted her kids to have a shot at the American Dream.
When her kids were growing up, she primarily stayed home with them, but she started to seek out jobs she could get with her professional experience as they got older. In between several small gigs as a bookkeeper and senior caretaker, she had a long-term coat check position for over 20 years.
In 2020, Laura moved farther away from the city, and going back to the restaurant would be a long commute for her. Mixing that with COVID’s changes and closures, and she was left with no work for almost two years. When she thought about finding work, she battled imposter syndrome because of her English. She feared she was too old to start a new career and felt like she lacked the technical skills required to get a new job. That was until an unexpected opportunity arose for her to step into her power, pivot, and not look back.
This is where I come in. Yes, your business hada madrina, author of “Jefa in Training” — but in this case, most importantly, Laura’s daughter.
Three months ago, I found myself itching to plan the first-ever Jefa in Training retreat; I had always dreamed of hosting it in Morelia as I consider it my second home. Between all of the book promotion and serving my clients, I knew I needed to outsource help if I wanted to make it happen.
I brainstormed who my dream collaborator would be to help me bring this project to life — someone who spoke Spanish, could keep a budget, and someone who was a natural at connecting with vendors. Then, it hit me. The person I was looking for had always been in front of me. My dream collaborator was my mom.
Immediately, I called her to explain the project and offered her the role of Special Projects Coordinator for my business — and without hesitation, she accepted. The first couple of weeks were a bit of a learning curve. She had to learn how to communicate with a completely remote team — this meant mastering Zoom, sending group emails, and collaborating on Google Drive.
Not only did she pick up on all of these programs entirely new for her almost immediately, but she also came back to me with a fully fleshed-out budget and itinerary only two weeks after our initial meeting. In other words: She understood the assignment and went above and beyond it.
It’s been a huge personal and professional milestone to have been able to hire my mom to assist me in my business. We both know that this is just the beginning of our partnership.
I am so proud of all of the roadblocks she’s overcome and am confident that together we can face any future obstacles that might be in store down the road. We have big dreams of building the “Jefa in Training” movement together, and as she always says, ¡si, se puede!