Author and TV Producer Nely Galán

The author and TV producer joins us to discuss her new book Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way.

A former President of Entertainment for Telemundo, Nely Galán was the first Latina to head a major U.S. television network. A Cuban immigrant and self-made media mogul, she's created and produced both Spanish and English television programs including the FOX hit reality series The Swan. Galán is the founder of the nonprofit The Adelante Movement (“Move it forward!” in Spanish), which trains and empowers Latin American women to become entrepreneurs. Nely Galán's most recent book is Self-Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way.


Tavis Smiley: Good evening from Los Angeles. I’m Tavis Smiley.

Tonight, first up a conversation with Nely Galán. The entrepreneur TV producer and women’s empowerment advocate joins us to talk about her New York Times bestselling book, “Self-Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way”.

Then we’ll pivot to a conversation with Emmy-winning actress, Jane Lynch, about her musical comedy cabaret, “See Jane Sing”.

We’re glad you’ve joined us. Those conversations coming up right now.

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Tavis: Pleased to welcome Nely Galán to this program. The entrepreneur and television producer is on a mission to help women become self-made, as she calls it, in her New York Times bestselling text, “Self-made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way”.

She pulls no punches and shares valuable and candid lessons from her own path and the inspiring stories of others. Nely, I am honored to have you on this program.

Nely Galán: Oh, my God, Tavis, so happy to be with you again.

Tavis: Let me start–get this out of the way. Fans of “Celebrity Apprentice” will recognize you from having hung out with The Donald on the show. What do you make of him?

Galán : Well, I’m shocked that what I saw in a reality show that was kind of a shtick is a political platform. And I feel bad that he has taken this, you know, thing and spoken so badly about people in a time when we’ve made so many great changes in this country.

And I think it’s very painful. It’s very painful to hear his words and I can’t believe it. At first, I thought he must be making a mistake and he’s going to apologize. You know, you know what they say when someone shows you who they are, believe him. So it’s horrible.

Tavis: How do you process specifically hearing what he’s saying about people of color, particularly and especially your people?

Galán: Latinos, yeah. It really upsets me and I’ve spoken up about it a lot, Tavis. And I really understand that my people are still afraid to speak up. I have been out there saying it’s time to understand our power and to know that you are the number one emerging market in this country, and that, together, multiculturals are about to be the majority and that you can’t allow that.

So I really–it pains me to see that we’re still in a place where we don’t feel empowered enough to speak up. But I’m going to do so and I am doing so.

Tavis: Politically and certainly economically, socially, culturally, how much power do we Latinas have that they really don’t realize that they possess?

Galán: Well, you know, you and I have talked about this in the past. Latinas are the number one emerging market in the world. The dye has been cast. They’ve been born. The babies have been born. We are the majority-minority in this country and, together, with all the other multiculturals, in seven years, we’ve become the majority of this country.

We have unparalleled power, so I think that, when somebody speaks that way, it’s because they’re tapping into fear and tapping into people feeling not good about their position in the world, instead of uplifting a group of people. I mean, you know this, that I work with a lot of advertisers as you do. And when I go into these meetings with advertisers, they understand.

The Walmarts of the world, the Coca-Colas of the world, understand that we are the number one consumer in America. So yet we don’t have the power of the number one consumer because we don’t even know it. We don’t know that we’re the fastest growing entrepreneurs.

That’s why it was so important for me to write this book because I think multicultural women in general don’t understand that they are the growth engine in this country and the sleeping giant in this country through entrepreneurship. And as a result, the world is our oyster, so we have to go get it.

Tavis: If you were running a major company in this country and you know what you know, how does that fundamentally change how you run your business for the next 20, 30, 40 years?

Galán : I am so glad you asked because I say this to all my friends that run these companies. I go, if your company doesn’t look like us, you’re not going to make it. Because if we’re the number one consumer, your company is not going to make it without us.

So you have to tap into these multicultural, specifically women, because they’re the ones that are buying and they’re the ones that are voting. And bring them in and not just have them be–and I tell people this.

I go, “Is the only Latina you have in your company the receptionist ? Or you call me up and you say, “Can you find me a nanny” or whatever. I don’t want to hear that. I want to hear that you’re finding the mes and putting them in power positions and using the mes to attract that customer.

I don’t think people realize that in today’s world, Latinos, African Americans, Middle Eastern women, Asian women, Indian women, you should only be supporting companies that support you and you should only be voting for people that support you because you have that power.

I have to say it over and over and over again. And that’s why I wanted a Latina in a New York Times bestselling book to talk about money, something that people of color never hear one of their own talk about.

The power of money, the importance of money, the importance of us going and getting our own chips and using that money wisely. Because we live in a country that so much of it is based on power and money. Right or wrong, that’s the way it is.

You know, people criticize Hillary Clinton because she’s gone after all this money and I’m not saying that that’s the way it should be. But that’s the way it is today. So to win and to get into these worlds, you have to have money, and the money is there for us to take it. That’s really what I wanted to talk about.

Tavis: How do you strike a balance? I’m all for money, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better. So I’m with you on that.

Galán: Well, money is not about happiness. Money is about choices and freedom.

Tavis: I agree.

Galán: So let’s be clear about that.

Tavis: Tell me more about that. Go ahead. Keep going, yeah.

Galán: That’s why I say in the book it’s about being rich in every way.

Tavis: That’s right.

Galán: I mean, I think people like us understand we have a spiritual life, we’re about family, we’re about other things. But rich in every way means that you have options and choices, and you can’t be waiting for a savior to come and save you.

You know, I say in the book, “Kill Prince Charming”, and I mean it for men too. We can’t think that a mate, a corporation, a boss or a government is going to save us. I think we’re past that. I think we know now that that’s not going to happen. So all I’m saying is it’s very great to say to women, take power.

I love the book “Lean In”. Sheryl Sandberg and I have done events. But most of us don’t get invited to the table to lean in, right? Most of us have lives that have big detours, so what is it like for the rest of us? There is a choice, and the choice is to determine that you are going to become self-made, and becoming self-made is a mindset.

Tavis: One of my friends says to me all the time that, to your point about being at the table–how’s he put it–“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” [laugh]

Galán: Oh, I love that.

Tavis: Yeah. “If you’re not at the table, chances are you’re on the menu.”

Galán: But here’s the story. We do live in a moment that is unique in history. The stars have collided. Guess what? There’s a digital age. So many of our barriers of entry have gone away to make money. There is hidden money in America, Tavis.

You know that there’s a lot of money in the federal government that we don’t even know exists. There’s money in Fortune 500s for entrepreneurs. There’s contests. There’s money in nonprofits. But we don’t have the information. That’s why I had to say this.

I spent a year doing all this research of the hidden money in America and I’m coming out with an app to show people every month, apply. There’s even nonprofits that let you apply. So we’ve got to go on a treasure hunt of this money that helps us begin companies and that helps us have a seat at the table because we are, again, self-made and we have our own money.

Tavis: How do you balance the chase for riches in every way–I take your point–but how do you balance this chase for money with living your life by a certain set of immutable principles that don’t get–where you yourself don’t become a commodity to be bought and sold?

Galán: It’s a great question. I think that I don’t worry about that with multicultural people because, again, our value system is not the same as that chase for greed. Say the chase where you’ve crossed the line from enough money–which enough money for everyone is different, right?

You could retire with $30,000 a year and someone else thinks that they need $30 million a year, right? And we’re spiritual people, so we’re grounded in a different–you know, we speak to a higher purpose and a higher body, right? But I think we need the help in the other direction.

I don’t worry that we’re grounded enough. I mean, does it get any more humble than Latinos, right? It’s almost like I have to get everybody out of the humility thing. So I worry about that for the rest of this country that’s lost their way. This country’s very narcissistic and very entitled.

I don’t worry about that for people of color. I worry for people of color to say abundance is okay for your family. We take the money and bring it home. Women take the money and bring it to their home and their communities. So I’m not worried about that. That’s a lovely high cost problem we might have 30 or 40 or 50 years from now.

Tavis: But not now.

Galán: Right now we need to get everybody to stand up and take their power. Power is not given. It’s taken and it’s there for us. Our numbers are there, our power is there, our voting power is there, our consumer power is there. We need to demand it. And I have to say, I think African Americans have done a better job of it. My Latinos need to stand up.

Tavis: I mentioned Donald Trump at the start of our conversation. I know from my friendship over the years that you have worked with three or four billionaires…

Galán: Five billionaires.

Tavis: Five billionaires, some of whom sought you out personally. Who are they?

Galán : Well, I’ve worked with Rupert Murdoch.

Tavis: Rupert Murdoch.

Galán: You had over here Norman Lear and his partner, Jerry Perenchio. I ran their first TV station many years ago.

Tavis: Jerry Perenchio.

Galán: Haim Saban.

Tavis: Right.

Galán: Emilio Azcárraga in Mexico.

Tavis: All right.

Galán: Mr. Murdock, the other Murdock, who ran Dole, and…

Tavis: I only ask that question because I’m curious what as a Latina, as a person of color, what did you learn from hanging out with these billionaires?

Galán: That’s such a great question, Tavis. I’m so glad you asked me because so many people come up to me and they said, “You’re fearless” and I go, “They’re fearful too.” When you’re around billionaires, you realize they’re not smarter than we are.

But you know what the difference is? They have, you know, hutzpah. They roll the dice and maybe they roll the dice because they can, because they’re not so afraid that everything’s going to go away like an immigrant would be.

But I realized a long time ago from them that fear and failure have to be your best friends, that fear is not real. It’s not this. It’s not a chair. It’s a cloud. It’s like going in an airplane through clouds. It shows you where you need to go and you need to just walk through it and know that it’s not real. And failure, I realized I had to reconstruct failure in my brain because, as a Latina, failure is shameful, right?

And for these guys, failure is just one more thing on the way to success. It’s like, oh, you got to fail 10 times more than you succeed and you’ll eventually get to success. Get back on the horse and do it again. Get back on the horse and do it again. And that’s very difficult if I were to think like a Latina. “I’m gonna run out of money”, which is how I was raised. Oh, my God, my family.

But I had to kind of get in their body in the beginning. And in the book, I say, “Act as if.” I had to say what would Norman Lear do in this moment? What would Rupert Murdoch do ? Sometimes what wouldn’t they do? What shouldn’t they do? But what would they do?

And almost embody them for a moment to get me through that hump, and then find my own voice that’s not quite completely like them because I am Latina, I do have family values, you know, we’re spiritual people. So I can’t completely take them on or I’d lose who I am.

Tavis: I got a quick exit question. My time is up here. How do you sustain your hope? Put another way, what allows you to remain hopeful in a moment where your people politically are being treated like a piñata?

Galán : Thank you for saying that. It’s true. I mean, we have to say that. What gives me hope is that I know that we’re opening doors for our people, and I know that life is a long spectrum and that we are still a young group of people in this country.

And I think that the more we keep going and the more people like me and people like you keep saying this is your reality, and I think the more of us that don’t work for other people, we have to stand up. That is why I’ve done this because I want all of our people to know exactly all of their power and they need to go get it and not be afraid. And I hope to help them, walk with them, to not be afraid.

Tavis: The book is called “Self-Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way” with a foreword by our friend, Suze Orman. It’s authored by entrepreneur, Nely Galán. Nely, good to have you on the program. Good to see you.

Galán: Good to see you too.

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Last modified: July 11, 2016 at 5:10 pm