FROM GOVERNMENT TO ENTREPRENEUR // HOW THIS FEM MADE HER MARK IN THE WORLD
Dr. Gail Hayes
Dr. Gail Hayes is a FemCity Global Member and I find her so inspirational. She’s done so much with passion and gusto. I hope her interview inspires you as well.
You founded a women’s group in Germany in the early 1990’s. What was your inspiration in doing so?
When I arrived in Germany in the late 1980’s, I could see that most of the women I knew wanted to be employed. They expressed fear whenever I shared that I wanted to be independent and run a business. I had also just left law enforcement so my worldview was a bit different from the average military spouse at the time. The law enforcement culture helped me to create an independence that I had never experienced. Most of the men I worked with had side businesses that stemmed from their job. I learned from them to do the same and had several side hustles.
I always had a desire to work for myself but have to admit that those attitudes impacted me, especially since I was living in a foreign culture. I initially succumbed to working for the US Army. While there, I realized that I was not happy because of the independence I had earlier experienced. I could also see where the organization I worked for needed to make changes in order to serve others better but my atmosphere dictated that I keep quiet and just “go along with the flow” and be satisfied at having a job. I wanted a different experience and realized that if that was really what I wanted, I would have to create it.
In addition to working for the US Government, I also served as a Regional Commissioner for European Girls Scouts. I was responsible for executive oversight of 12 military communities. One of the benefits of this position was a subscription to Executive Female Magazine, the official publication of the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE). I realized after reading my first issue, this was the answer to my situation. I wrote NAFE headquarters in NY and requested a chapter startup guide. Within a few weeks, I was on my way to recruiting members and started the European Executive Women’s Forum (EEWF). It was hard work, but well worth it.
How did this help women?
The EEWF became an international platform for women in the European community (American, German and several other nations) to network and make real personal and professional connections. EEWF was the time, the only organization of its kind that operated in our military community and had access to use military facilities but it was independent from the military. We also had active duty US and host nation Army and Air Force) women who came to just “take off their uniforms” and put on their business attire and connect with other women.
We hosted monthly meetings and other special events that focused on the needs of business and professional women. I was very active in the community and kept my finger on the pulse of what women needed and wanted. Since I was so visible, it also meant that I was accessible. I regularly and frequently spoke to women to ensure we were doing all we could to address their needs. Our organization also hosted the first European Conference for NAFE and brought together women from several countries. I remember receiving calls regarding the conference from as far away as Israel and Morocco! In today’s world, that is not unusual but in 1993, it was amazing!
Did you have any struggles or doubt? If so what were they and how did you move past them?
Absolutely! At the time, there were very few women doing what I was doing. I felt alone most of the time because I was blazing a trail for American women. I worked for the US Government and for AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) for a time but knew that I could not touch women or do the work I envisioned myself doing while employed. There were too many restrictions and the women were programmed to work within established frameworks. Once I started EEWF, it provided a “different” atmosphere.
Before I left employment, I was always developing programs that focused on helping women prepare for their next steps. I developed the Looking Good, Feeling Good Program and since I was in the Family Support arena, I got to travel across Europe presenting the program. Working women and even those who did not work outside the home, flocked to these community supported workshop.
I also developed a certification program called, The Community Relations Specialist Program. Because I loved networking and collaboration, I was able to get several community organizations to work together to support this program by sending experts to present training and provide resources to equip the participants for the work force. I worked with HR and placed graduates in volunteer positions which later became paid positions.
If you were talking to a FEM that doubted herself, what would you say to her?
You live only once and then it all ends. I would advise her to take a look at her life and ask the following questions:
1. What is stopping you from stepping out into the unknown? Give it a name.
2. Why am I allowing _____________________ to control my life?
3. What do I believe would happen if I silenced _____________ ?
4. Describe how you believe you would it feel if you could stand on my own mountain and sing a new song?
Is there a book that changed your life? If so, what was it?
I know this may sound like a cliché, but that book is the Bible. It was not though attending church but rather through independent study and meditation that my liberation came. I am still very much a work in progress and my spiritual health and its evolution is what keeps me afloat.
In moments of doubt, is there a mantra or a thought that keeps you going?
Yes…”If you don’t know who you are, you will NEVER know what belongs you!” - Me
“Three things you must master...your mind, your heart, and your mouth! What you think controls what you believe. What you believe controls what comes out of your mouth. And what comes out of your mouth will manifest in your life!” - Me
About Dr. Gail Hayes
When looking for an internationally recognized communicator who ignites the atmosphere with contagious enthusiasm and a passion for purpose, you have but to look directly at Dr. Gail Hayes. Dr. Gail is an award winning author, media personality, and accomplished speaker and trainer. She is also an Executive Leadership Coach and has been called an “Executive Whisperer” because of her unique ability to “untangle” challenging lines of communication. This gift has helped her to assist her clients to diffuse conflict and bring clarity in business and personal relationships.
Although she has lived and spoken on three continents, she is quick to let others know that her favorite place on earth is wherever she and her children (who are also her business partners) can laugh, love, and serve others. For more information on Dr. Gail, visit her website at www.handleyourbusinessgirl.com