209 Dr. Gayle Carson: A True EntrePioneer
Dr. Gayle Carson built and scaled a 350-person business as a woman in the 1950s and 1960s, balancing entrepreneurship, marriage, motherhood and a gig as the TV spokeswoman for Clairol. Now she’s busy with her first love as a podcaster and owner of SOB Radio Network, and yes, SOB stands for “spunky old broad”. Learn how she did it, and why your mindset is the key to success.
Melinda Wittstock: Welcome to Wings, Gayle.
Gayle Carson: Thank you so much.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m so excited to have you on. I feel like there’s such much to talk about with you, I want to start at the beginning, because you’ve done so many amazing things in your life. What made you get started in business?
Gayle Carson: Well, you know, I’ve always wanted to be in business. I mean, from the time I was a little kid, I always said I was going to have a career. I started working, actually, at the age of 13. I always created my own jobs and always had my own money. But, I did go to college. When I finished, I had a dream that I wanted to live in either Miami or LA. Miami was closer, so I packed two suitcases, and five days after college I was in Miami giving myself 14 days to make it. And if I didn’t make it in 14 days, I was moving to LA. Of course, nice girls didn’t do this in the ’50s. But anyway, there I was and got the job I wanted on the 14 day making $13 a week. While I was trying to figure out, “How am I going to exist on that?” I figured out how to … After being in that position for 30 days, figured out to make a $100 a week. Eight months later, I owned the company, and I was 21 years old.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, wait, wait, wait: just back up a moment. It took you eight months to go from making $100 a week to owning the … Okay. We’ve got break that down. That’s amazing.
Gayle Carson: Well, it was a modeling school, so let’s talk about that. It was a modeling school. The owner decided she wanted to sell. She asked me, because I was, by that time, running the place, if I wanted to buy it. I said no at first. Then I thought, “Why didn’t I?” I mean, this is my dream. This is what I came to Miami to do. So, I had no money, and so I bought it for no money down and paid it off over three years. At the end of the three years, opened my second. Then, at the end of the time, which was 21 years, I had seven office had turned into a bunch of career schools where we taught. We trained real estate, court reporting, medical, and travel, and fashion merchandising, and so forth. We had a talent agency, [SAG 00:12:30] and after did the TV commercials and movies that came to South Florida.
Then, I also started a convention service company where I serviced the conventions that came to Florida, South Florida area. I did theme parties, and industrial shows, and spouse programs, and tours, and things like that. So, that’s what happened.
Melinda Wittstock: Just to give everyone context, this was in the ’50s and ’60s.
Gayle Carson: Yeah. I owned it from 19 … Actually, 1959 to 1980.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay. So it’s not like you had a lot of women role models to pattern after.
Gayle Carson: No, I actually not many. I didn’t have any. I think about 99.9% of people I dealt with were mail, you know? Which is why I laugh at all these issues that come up about women finally getting their say and women doing this, and women doing that. Not that I negate it all, but I just did it because I just wanted to do it. So, I had the advantage. I had the advantage of not working for other people. So, people couldn’t tell me what to do. I mean, they could try, but they really couldn’t tell me what to do because it was my own company. If anybody was holding me back, it would be me. It was a little different situation than if I was working for corporate America. But, I knew I would never fit into corporate America because I could never do what I thought was stupid, and so I just … You know, I knew that if somebody asked me to do something and I didn’t agree with it, I wouldn’t do it, and that is not the way to keep a job, so that-
Melinda Wittstock: Well, a true entrepreneur speaks. I mean, I think this is one of the reasons why I think entrepreneur is such a great way to go for women who are strong, women who known themselves, and know what they want to do, and I’m in that same boat. I’m basically unemployable, you know? For that same reason.
Gayle Carson: You know, the funny thing is, Melinda, though, I got an education in a hurry because the first week I was in business I got a cease and desist order from my biggest competitor. I didn’t even know what cease and desist order was. I didn’t have an attorney. So, I had to go hire an attorney and say, “What is this?” It was all because she was jealous of me and thought I was going to take over the world, and she was the biggest player in the industry. So, I had to totally change how I did business in one phase of the company. I had to operate that way for three years because of residency requirements. Then, after the three years was over, I went back to doing what everybody else was doing. But, it was an education. It was an education that I had to learn in a hurry.
Melinda Wittstock: Isn’t it true, though, that all our biggest growth moments, personally and in business, come from those sorts of challenges? You know, I believe that we’re not really given anything that we can’t actually handle. But if I think of how much did I learn from success as opposed to how much did I learn from a challenge, an obstacle, a failure, trying to get around, or over, or through a wall of some kind, either of my own making or someone else’s, that’s where the growth happens.
Gayle Carson: Well, it’s true, because I had to learn. I had to learn. I had to learn how to operate in a totally different world. So, but it, as you say, it was educational, and it was what I needed to do for the moment.
Melinda Wittstock: You mentioned something interesting about your competitor who was another woman. I think back to those days. I’m in my mid 50s, and I think of how women were so much in what I’ll call scarcity thinking, that this idea that there was only so much oxygen at the top. So, women were, I don’t know, almost acculturated to compete only with each other. Or that if one succeeded, then the other one couldn’t.
Gayle Carson: Well, you know, you’re right. Because I taught leadership skills for women in my seminars that I did, and to the letter, if I asked, “Would you prefer to have a male boss or a female boss?” unequivocally, they would say a male boss. Women did not want to work for other women. Now, it could have been at the time that the women bosses were not the kind of people who were very empathic, or were very understanding, but that was the reaction that I got from the women that were in my programs.
Melinda Wittstock: So interesting, because I dial back to, say, the late ’80s, early ’90s, so a young woman, 22 years old. I’m a correspondent on The Times of London. I remember sharing an office space, like one of those pod desks, with three other male correspondents. Really, there were only two female correspondents on the whole of the London Times at that time, right? So, already feel like a bit of a unicorn. We have a secretary. That secretary would bring all the guys their coffee, their newspapers, run errands, but she would literally look at me and say, “Oh. Well, you can do all that yourself. You’re a girl.”
Gayle Carson: Well, and a lot of that had to do with flirting and getting praised. That’s why when all of this came up with the Me Too movement, and harassment, and so forth, and I was thinking back, “Was I ever harassed?” And I’m sure I was, but I never really paid attention to it, you know?
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s like me, too, because I’m sure I was. Or either that or I’m I don’t know. I’m really tall, and loud, and whatnot. I somehow decided in my mind that I just wasn’t going to let that in. I just, right? I think I had a vibe, like don’t mess with me. I’m sure it was going on. I know it was going on around me, but I … Yes, I made that decision that no, this was not going to mess with me.
Gayle Carson: It’s so funny because I could kid now, and I say, “You know, when I was doing all of this, men would follow me off of elevators. They would invite me to have dinner. They would whatever.” And I said, “Now, they meet me on the elevator and they say, ‘Hello’ and that’s it.”
Melinda Wittstock: Well my tactic was to appear oblivious.
Gayle Carson: Yeah. Yeah. I believe it, I believe it.
Melinda Wittstock: That one still works. It’s a good one actually. You know, if you want to avoid it just pretend you haven’t even noticed.
Gayle Carson: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: That works really, really well. Do you think it’s changing though now where women are in more of an abundance space with each other? Because here’s the interesting thing, science bares this out, that when we’re collaborating together as women and working together, we’re actually all producing the feel good brain chemical oxytocin. We were meant to collaborate.
Gayle Carson: Well I think, first of all, I would hate to be a male today, in today’s environment. Because anything you say or anything you do is under a microscope. If you’re aware at all. So I would be scared to death to be a male, ’cause I can see where, if I invited somebody to go to lunch just because they’re mates in a company, it could be taken the wrong way. Or if somebody gave somebody a hug it could be taken the wrong way. So I would be scared to death frankly to be a male in today’s society.
On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with being feminine, and I don’t see anything wrong with be assertive and strong. And I don’t see anything wrong in being friends with men. So, I mean to this day, I mean I still go to dinner with so many men because they are still in my world. I just think it’s a really interesting time, because I just think you have to be careful on both sides.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s true. I’ve always had male buddies and just, you know, moments ago we were talking about the lack of female role models. And so all my role models were men. And all my mentors were men. And so I had a lot of great sort of friendship and kind of, I suppose tutors or whatever. But it was a delicate balance. But I think you’re right, it is tricky for men right now because apart from anything else, there’s so many mixed signals too coming from women as we figure out, you know, how to be in our authentic feminine power. Not trying to be dudes, ’cause we’re not. But still being true to ourselves, true to our femininity, and being strong.
Gayle Carson: It’s true. I mean I think it’s a very difficult time right now. And even to this day, if I go out to lunch or dinner with a guy, I’ll say, “Separate checks.” So that, you know, unless then they say, “No, no, no. I’m taking care of it.” That’s a different story. But I will always put it out there first so there’s no tension or embarrassment about who’s going to order what or pay for what and so forth. So that’s important to me. It’s also, and I never really thought about it as much as I do today, although it doesn’t affect me today because people aren’t hitting on me today. But it’s, why put yourself in circumstances that could get out of control? And that’s very important.
I mean, I hear all these stories about, “Yes he invited me up to his room, we were going to have this discussion.” Well today, hopefully a young woman knows, “NO let’s meet in the lobby or let’s meet in the restaurant or let’s have our discussion over coffee.” Or something like that. Because the minute you go to somebody’s room, you’re a target.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh this is so true. I mean, with all the allegations that have come out around, you know the #MeToo allegations really around Silicon Valley and women in the technology space going out to raise money. And so many people and in fact a few who’ve been interviewed on this podcast, have had terrible experiences raising money from venture capitalists. Really it’s very important to meet in the office and all of that. But this has been a big issue, so many of these things are coming to light now.
Gayle Carson: That’s right.
Melinda Wittstock: You can get in to that kind of desperate situation in a business where like, “Oh my god how am I going to meet payroll?” And this is your chance, this is your, this meeting better go well. And it’s tricky, and it can be tricky at times to really hold your ground on that. How would you advise women to navigate a situation like that?
Gayle Carson: Well you know, I’m even going to talk about a person that I, I was brought in to a law firm to do coaching and consulting for them on productivity and various things like that. And in interviewing their people, one of the, there were four lawyers, four partners. And one of the paralegals for one of the attorneys almost broke down while she was talking to me because she was really being harassed by her boss. And he would really put the make on her and she needed a job. Her husband was disabled, and he knew she needed that job. And she got paid well for that job, but she was beside herself because she had fended him off and fended him off and she just didn’t know what to do.
And so I said to her, “Well,” I said, “you know, I’m here. They’re paying me, so I will bring this up.” And then she was afraid of the retaliation and I said, “Look,” I said, “I want you to do something for me. If this,” I said, “I’m educating these men. That’s what I’m here to do. If this happens again, then I want you to call me and I will take care of it. And it won’t come down on you, and you don’t have to face him.” Well I never got the phone call, I don’t know what happened. But here it is, attorneys who know better. I mean they’re the ones that are doing the suing, and they’re hitting on their people.
So my advice is, you got to speak up. You have to say, “I don’t think this is a proper situation for what we’re talking about. I’m here to raise capital, I’m here to give you information on my company, and that’s it. And are you interested in that or are you interested in something else?” And frankly, if they know that they’re interested in something else, if the guy says, “I’m interested in something else.” You got to walk away. And that’s not easy to do when you need the money.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. So much of this comes down to knowing your value. I think when women go in to these situations feeling like, I don’t know they’ve got a begging bowl kind of in their hands or they’re automatically in a more subservient position. As opposed to thinking about it in terms of, “Wow.” Look, you’ve just created a company. You’re creating, you’re solving problems for people, you’re creating value for other people. And understanding that value in this company is you.
Gayle Carson: That’s true. And I think for someone who is, who can really make a difference for you, I still think it’s very hard to tow that line. But once you cross it, you cross it. So you’ve just got to stay tough and hope that there are enough ethical men who want to invest and want to help and want to be a mentor to you, that they will show up. And if not, then you’re going to have to do it on your own.
Melinda Wittstock: So there you were Gayle, at one point you’re managing over 350 people. So you grew that company and you’re managing it. At any point did you look around and say, “Oh my god how did I, kind of, get here?” Is it where you wanted to be? Did you visualize it before you got there? Or did you just kind of happen?
Gayle Carson: Well a couple things, first of all, all 350 people weren’t working in an office. Because I had tour guides, I had models, I had talent, I had teachers. I had, you know so they were all different kinds of people in there. So that’s number one. Number two, no none of it was planned. The only thing that was planned was I was going to own this one business. But me, when I get something under control, then I’m ready to move on and do something else. So every time, for example, when I paid off that first business that I bought, and now I realized I couldn’t service. Now we’re talking about schools, and Miami is a large area so I knew I had to have schools in different places. So I opened my second one, and then when that got settled then I opened my third one, so on and so forth.
So it wasn’t planned, but ideas came to me. For example, I was supplying models for various hotels and so forth for different, for fashion shows and for, you know, when they had golf tournaments and things like this. And one of the top hotels said to me, “We are doing a lot now with spouse programs.” Because this was the 60s and women were coming. They weren’t working but they were coming with their husbands. “And we need spouse programs. And you’ve done such a good job for us with the models, would you be interested in developing a whole group of different spouse programs for us?” And I said, “Of course.”
So I put together maybe twelve different programs, and they gave me the exclusive contract, which then grew to other hotels. And then because I did that well, then they said, “Well can you handle scene parties and industrial shows?” And then everything else started coming from that. And that was all under the banner of a convention service company. So it kind of just grew one to this other, and that’s really what happened.
Melinda Wittstock: You know, it’s so interesting right now, this is a big theme that comes out in the podcast; but only 3% of female business owners make a million dollars or more in top line revenue in their business. And even when they hit that million dollars, not all of them are profitable of course either. That’s such a low percentage, only 3%. What do you think stands in the way of women being able to not just grow a business or maintain a business, but actually scale it?
Gayle Carson: Well I think it depends a lot on their support system. I had a very supportive husband. I mean I didn’t get married til I had been in business for three and a half years, but I had a very supportive husband. As a matter of fact, he used to say to me, “How come you get the idea and then I do the work?” Because I would want to get, open a new school and so forth and he would go build it for me. But, I think it depends. I mean, if women want to have children and they want to be home with their children, and they don’t want to work twelve hours a day, that, especially remember in corporate America this is true, but in your own company people think, “Well it’s my own company. I can set my own hours.” And yes you can, but you’ve got to stick to it.
If you say, “I am going to scale this business but I’m going to be home every night for dinner at six.” Then that’s something you have to work out, and you have to plan for it. And it may be tightening up your schedule, it might be getting up earlier, it might be delegating more. But a lot of it is, I think, the family issue. That’s number one. And then number two is, a lot of women, and this is not all women and I’m sure that the 3% are not part of this, they’re not as interested in the money aspect as the service and the pleasure aspect of it.
In other words, I want to do this because I love this. And I want to do a great job for my customers, be a value to them and charge a fair price. But whether I make 100,000 or whether I make a million, is not the issue for me. It’s, do I have a company that I am proud of that my customers can talk about well and I keep doing business and get referrals? So I think there’s a couple of different things that are going on there. On the other hand, I think if you find a women who is single, and does want to scale her company, she will find a much easier job of it.
Melinda Wittstock: This is so true. I mean, early on we have to learn to ask for help and to delegate. And I see a lot of women trying to do it all, perhaps confusing the concept of doing it all with having it all.
Gayle Carson: And that’s true. And of course having it all means something different to everybody. People always say, “Oh I want to be just like you.” No you don’t. You’d be exhausted. I mean, “Oh I want to go in your suitcase and just” I think, “No you don’t.” Because, I mean I have a tremendous energy level and people would just flake out if they followed me around everyday. So I think a lot of it is, what’s balance for you? I mean I, most people would have thought I did not have a balanced life. Because I worked very long hours and I traveled a lot and so forth. But I had a great husband who really didn’t want to travel, loved staying home, loved being with the kids, and so I was lucky that way.
Now when I started my speaking career for example, I spoke in Australia five times, and he came twice and he said, “That is enough.” And when I went to Indonesia I was there five times, he went twice and that was enough. So I was lucky because he didn’t care that I, in fact, and another issue with women who are married is, the spouse gets really masculinized when the women makes more money than he does. Whereas my husband said, “Make all the money you want. I can buy more toys.” You know? So he never was threatened. We were in totally different businesses and he was not threatened by my success.
Melinda Wittstock: This is a really important point when it comes to mindset. And specifically our money mindset. Because do you think we put so much more value on the mission and all of that in part perhaps because somewhere deep in our subconscious we’re worried about overshadowing our men?
Gayle Carson: I think probably more in the past than now, but definitely, but not because of us. It’s because of the men. It’s because of how they thought. It’s because of what they said to us. See that’s why I was so blessed, because my husband just, we did a lot of real estate investing and he knew that it was going to be my money that was going to be buying these properties and he was going to do the construction. I mean that I wouldn’t know what to do first there but he did. I mean he could go in to a place that was a rat trap and know exactly what to do to make it a palace.
I would look at it and say, “Are you kidding?” So we were a good team in that. But he was not threatened, and I think some men are threatened. And I think maybe now it’s more equal, ’cause you hear about power couples and things like that. But I think in the past it was definitely something that women thought about.
Melinda Wittstock: Well yes, so everybody listening to this, marry wisely. I mean I know to my cost, because I wasn’t so lucky in marriage. I have a great man now, but if you are with somebody who doesn’t really have your back, it takes a terrible toll on you over time.
Gayle Carson: Well it’s true. It’s true what you’re saying about time. Because I think, let’s say you do get married to someone who is not supportive, but you don’t really know that in the beginning.
Melinda Wittstock: No you don’t.
Gayle Carson: And so I think it takes two, three, four, five, maybe even six years before all of this comes to a head. Because by that time your business has grown, you probably have a child if not more than one, and all of this is happening, and now the resentment starts. I don’t think it’s there in the beginning. I do think it develops after [inaudible 00:36:08] years.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh yes. So thank you for describing my life. Because that really did happen. No but it was interesting, it was kind of like, you know if you put a lobster. Into a pot and it’s all cold water and it’s nice and the lobster’s all happy. But the water heats up very gradually.
Gayle Carson: Right. Exactly.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s not just our spouses or partners, but it’s also our friends, having mentors, having coaches, having people around us. Having a supportive, loving environment with people who genuinely, unconditionally care about you. But also are going to call you on your BS. But also support you from a loving standpoint and have you really keep aiming higher. Everyone that I know who’s succeeded as an entrepreneur, including myself, has architected those kind of support systems for themselves. Business networks, mentoring networks, masterminds, good friends around them, the right partner. This is so, so important.
Gayle Carson: I think so. And the other thing that is, for example, my husband was very strong. He was very sweet, and he was very caring, but we had, really we had not a lot in common except each other. We just really had a great time together. But he, if I did something that he didn’t like, he let me know. I mean he was no pussycat. And so it was, I think you need that as well. I could not run over him. I mean I knew what was important to him and I would never do anything that intentionally would hurt him, but I mean he was not a pussycat at all, believe me.
Melinda Wittstock: Well yeah, ’cause we want someone to be strong as well.
Gayle Carson: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: We want someone to really meet us.
Gayle Carson: Exactly.
Melinda Wittstock: Understand us but also be strong. I came to this conclusion actually, I was deep in the middle of the Amazon rainforest of all places where I just thought wow, the most highly evolved women and the most highly evolved men are kind of like this forest. They’re balanced in their archetypal feminine and their archetypal masculine women’s energy which is a little more intuitive, more collaborative, more about attraction. When you can combine those two things you’re unstoppable whether you’re a woman or a man.
Gayle Carson: That’s true and I didn’t know about masculine and feminine energy believe it or not until about 10 years ago and I definitely had male energy. There was nothing feminine energy about me at all strangely being in the very feminine profession of modeling and so forth but I just didn’t have it. And then when people started talking about this and I realized what the differences were I calmed down a little. I did bring a little bit of the feminine energy in. However I’m definitely male energy oriented and it’s very hard for me to bring that feminine angle in when I’m on a mission. When I’m focused and I’m on a mission that male energy is definitely out there.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh gosh, well you and I have that in common in a big way. Like I don’t think I even started to get in touch with like you my sort of feminine energy until ironically and this is funny, this is the first time I’ve told this story. But it was several years ago and I had a health issue, it was actually kind of like a women’s health issue. And one of our clients at the time for one of my businesses was the Red Cross. And as we were talking about how to do the social media and the social intelligence for the Red Cross I was having this like bleeding issue. Okay so this is maybe TMI for people, I’m very sorry if it is. But I kept ignoring it, ignoring it, ignoring it, ignoring it. And people would say “Melinda you don’t look too good.” “Like you really don’t.” And I’d say things like “Oh I just need a steak.” And finally like seriously it took my staff to just like take me to the hospital. I had a big cyst and the whole thing right. But I actually had to have like two pints of blood. I worked through that and what was interesting is at the time I was trying to figure out how to be more in my feminine energy. And so how odd that a health issue that was specifically about my femininity should challenge me right at that moment.
Gayle Carson: That is interesting. And yes I think although I will say women do a better job of taking care of themselves than men do. I do think that we check things out more and we pay attention more. But again when you’re focused on building your business your health takes a backseat.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah there’s a lot of things that I think I didn’t really notice and that stuff like that catches up with you so now just got back from … like I’m seeing this really interesting integrated medicine specialist, very, very, holistic and you start to realize wow okay so over prolonged, over say 20 years, 25 years I just like totally ran my adrenals down or like I was producing way too much cortisol or whatever just by overlooking those things being in my masculine.
Gayle Carson: Yeah. And it’s true, it just keeps you going so I think we have to pay attention to all of this and thank goodness I think women today are much more in tune with all of this.
Melinda Wittstock: So Gayle I want to turn the conversation back to you’re in Emerson college and you’re getting a degree in broadcasting and theater and speech and you had radio shows. You were doing all of this and you took a detour into business. But fast forward you got these amazing three podcasts, you’re this renowned speaker and you teach people how to find their voice and appear and do very well on radio and TV. So was that always your first love and you just kind of took a little while to get back to where you always wanted to be?
Gayle Carson: Well it is almost full circle but I didn’t really intend to build a big business. When I was in college which I never wanted to go to by the way, all I wanted to do was sing and dance. That was my whole thing, singing and dancing. But I had to go to college. My parents said I had to go to college. So I went to college, went to Emerson which had everything I wanted. And while I was there I found that it wasn’t that hard. So I thought well I’m going to have … this is how silly you are at 17, 18, 19. So I said “Well you’re going to have your mind a lot longer than you’re going to have your body. So what can you do to combine everything that you love and use your mind instead of your body?” And I came up with a modeling school. So I was going to school in Boston so I went to a couple of the modeling schools there and got a job teaching speech as a matter of fact.
And so from that I decided that I wanted to own a modeling school and I wanted it to be warm so that was where Miami and L.A. came into it. And I just came to Miami with two suitcases and my dream. So it was not really to build a business, it was to work in a modeling school. And so that’s what I did and then I bought it and then as I say it just kept growing and growing and growing. But the master plan was not to own a huge business, it was to love what I did, combine everything. Because I was teaching, modeling and television and radio and I was producing fashion shows and I was just doing all the things I loved to do. But it translated into building a business. I never ever had a business course in my life.
Melinda Wittstock: Me neither. I never had a business education, I never had a journalism education. I’m an award winning journalist. But like you I was also a former TV host as well. But yes I’ve always just, we have so much in common. I’ve always just kind of learned that whatever it is, let’s go, okay, how hard could that be. I’ll just learn that.
Gayle Carson: Exactly. I mean for example I was on a panel and this is when Janet Reno was Attorney General and she was on the panel, I was on the panel, there were a couple of other people on the panel and it was sponsored by Clairol. And I think really Melinda I think I said five minutes’ worth of stuff. And at the end of it this woman came up to me and she said “I really like the way you speak. I represent Clairol and would you be interested in being a television spokesperson for us.” Well I was flabbergasted and still I had the modeling schools and everything and I said “Yeah.”
So for a year I was a TV spokesperson for Clairol going from city to city doing women; one in their 20s, one in their 40s, one in their 60s and we’d do a three day thing. We’d do Tuesday it was the before, then Wednesday I’d completely redo them and on Thursday we’d do a split screen with the new them and I adored it. But it wasn’t something I had ever planned or looked for. It was just something that kind of happened. And they brought me up to New York and they glamorized me and they did all kinds of things but I mean things just happened. I ran the Miss Florida Pageant for 11 years. And Larry King was my emcee for seven of them. And I had the mother daughter beauty pageant and Dick Van Patten was my host. And I got the first Miss Model pageant which I sold to Eileen Ford after the first year.
And that’s a whole story on how I mean I actually walked into a Madison Avenue ad agency and sold them on the idea of a modeling pageant. And I had George Hamilton and Barbara McNair as my host and hostess. And my board, my modeling board because I was President of the Modeling Association of America and the board wouldn’t approve it because that was going to be my own separate trip to glory. And I said “I’m going to be on camera thirty seconds maybe crowning the winner, you think anybody’s going to be looking at me when you’re crowning the Miss model?” So anyway they wouldn’t approve it. And I was determined I was going to do this thing. So I said “Fine.” I said “Don’t approve it. I’ve got the contract so I will put all of my own girls in there and I will definitely make a mark.” And that was it. That’s all I had to say. And they signed the contract and that was it. And I sold it after that to Eileen Ford. But lots of things that kind of I just kind of fell into and then everything went on from there.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s so wonderful when you can open yourself to spotting opportunity. I think sometimes we can get so kind of focused on the tasks and our heads down we can miss those chances and I think a big part of entrepreneurship is staying focused of course but keeping that part of you open that you can manifest or spot at least opportunities and be quick to act on them and it sounds like you’re a master at that Gayle.
Gayle Carson: Well I don’t know about being a master at it. I know that as I get older and as the world changes and as opportunities change and I’m a technophobe, I’m not great at anything technical. It’s harder and harder to get the right opportunities because all this young great talent is coming along. And it’s like somebody that I do some contract work with, I mean they do it for me and the person said to me “Well I made 175,000 a year in my last job.” I said “Yeah but who’s going to pay you that now?” I said “Could you go anywhere and get that kind of money now at your age?” And he looked at me and he said “No, probably not.” So it’s a different world and it’s a different context out there and it’s a lot more challenging.
Melinda Wittstock: So Gayle with all the people that you work with and help them to find their voice or at least a way to articulate their message with confidence either on television or on radio. When you look at women in business right now what are some of the mistakes they’re making and why do you think it is? And how can we all get better at this because it’s so important for us to articulate our own value and the value propositions of our businesses?
Gayle Carson: Well I think one of the reasons is because women talk more. In fact they’ve done studies and they know that the amount of words that come out of a woman’s mouth compared to a man’s mouth is four times the amount. So we just say a lot more. And so it’s very hard sometimes to get to the basis. In other words we get lost in all the verbiage that they’re talking about. For example when we were at the summit some of the women went on and on and on and on. And I was thinking now if I went up there I would say “Okay my name is Gayle Carson and I work with women and people over 50. And my topic are the three worst mistakes you make when starting a second career. And I can give those to you very easily and that is what is important because they are considered the new unemployables.” And that’s it. And they’re either interested or they’re not. And I’ve gotten booked on oh I can’t tell you how many television shows just by saying that. And I don’t think that even took a minute. So either someone is interested in what you’re doing or not. But I felt at least, well I’m talking now about the women at the summit, they went into all these stories which they don’t matter unless the person is interested in your topic.
Melinda Wittstock: So just to be very, very, clear I think sometimes if we’re lacking confidence we can fall into the trap of trying to please all people. And that is disastrous in a pitch. I mean you say so many things that no one can remember anything.
Gayle Carson: Well that’s true and also it’s the same thing in negotiation. When a woman approaches an opportunity whether it’s an investor or whether it’s a prospective client or whatever. If they don’t believe they can do the job or they are lacking a part of that they don’t go for it or they don’t promote that part of it. A man does it. And he says I’ll figure it out later. If I’m offering something that I can’t do I’ll find somebody who can do it and bring them in. Whereas a woman says that’s not for me because I don’t have those qualifications.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Yes, we cancel ourselves out of things.
Gayle Carson: Right. Exactly.
Melinda Wittstock: And so Gayle what’s next for you? You’ve done so many things and you’re helping so many people, all your radio shows are amazing and you’re this wonderful speaker. Where do you see your career and your life going in the next decade?
Gayle Carson: Well that’s a very good question. Number one I hope it keeps going. That’s number one. Number two I would really like to continue with the radio shows and then they of course morph [inaudible 00:53:36]. But I would love to be able to have even more impact mainly because of the people that I interview. I interviewed for example two women today from my over 50 show and they’re fabulous, they’re great role models and one is I guess she must be about 60 and she’s a former beauty queen. And I mean a beauty queen Miss America style. And one is 80 and she has had several health challenges. So she’s morphed from speaking into coaching and doing very well with it. But she and her husband built a 150 million dollar business. So I just want to have an impact on other people in the positive way. I want to be an influencer in a positive way. That’s number one.
Number two. That’s really all I care about. I mean I don’t really need to set the world on fire anymore and I don’t need to travel all over the world. I’ve spoken in 50 countries and 49 states so I don’t need to do that anymore. However if someone wants to bring me in to do a speech that again will have an impact on the audience I’m willing to do it. And that’s really it. And I think my whole life will be changed once I move to Palm Springs full time and meet a whole new group of people.
Melinda Wittstock: That sounds wonderful and exciting. And so and so Gayle tell everybody how they can find your radio shows and also how they can find you and work with you.
Gayle Carson: My over 50 show is on SOB, that’s SOBradionetwork.com. My Living Regret Free show and my Women in Business show are on the radioearnetwork.com. It’s on several other places as well but that’s a major place you can find it. And it’s on I Heart Radio and Spotify and all those other places as well. But if you go to Radio Ear Network you’ll find it. And for me personally my Web site is spunkyoldbroad.com. My email is Gayle Carson, G-A-Y-L-E C-A-R-S-O-N 13 @gmail dot com and you can find me there. I’m on Facebook at spunkyoldbroad1. I’m on Twitter as Gayle Carson. I’m on LinkedIn as Gayle Carson. So you can find me just about anywhere.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. Well thank you so much Gayle for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Gayle Carson: Well and Melinda it was just terrific. You are a great interviewer and I loved every minute of it.