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Lynn Weirich

Lynn Weirich


NAWBO's High School Mentorship

SUMMARY KEYWORDS program, business, young women, year, garza, college, helping, financial literacy, high school, students, support, kickoff, women, piper, employees, learn, graduate, business owner, create, manage


Lynn, thank you so much for joining me today I'm excited to talk to you about the HSMP program. You've been such an important piece of this program since it began. So I'm really interested to hear your thoughts on on where we are today.

Lynn: Great, thanks for having me.

Zahra: So let's just start off with the history because you have a unique point of view. You were actually a part of the high school mentorship program, when it first began in 1999. Is that right?

Lynn: That's right. I was mentoring at business careers High School, actually, about eight years prior to that, and had a connection with the principal at the time Dr. Betty Garza. I learned of a similar program that was being done in Detroit by one of our other chapters at a national NAWBO convention. I was so excited about the idea of bringing that to San Antonio that I approached Dr. Garza about helping us basically recruit students from the business program to gauge an interest on whether this more formal mentoring program could be could be of interest. So in that first year, we actually had 50 students from business careers that Dr. Garza personally recruited into the program. We also included some college students from UTSA. And our kickoff breakfast was at Petroleum Club, and I remember having almost 100 high school and college women in attendance. And our national President flew in from New York to talk about financial literacy and mentoring. And so from there, the girls and the and the students and the teachers and counselors were so excited about the possibility that we decided to form a committee to basically guide a program, put together a conference and financial literacy training, and ultimately provide scholarships to young women that wanted to participate in the business plan competition. So it's really exciting to be still participating after all these years and see how many young women have, you know, gone on to great careers, have learned from the process and formed relationships with our members. And, you know, it's really a tribute to NAWBO San Antonio as a whole, because we've had so many great leaders over the years, Barbara green, Melanie Kirk, Dana protrusive, Melissa M, and now our fearless leader this year. It's, been so rewarding to see how with each leadership style, the program has grown and prospered and expanded and just has reached so many young women.

Zahra: Yes, it's tremendous. I think, the fruits of your labor show up year after year. I was fortunate enough to be at the kickoff event a few weeks ago. And one of the speakers was Piper Banks, was a winner of the program a few years prior. And what was astounding to me is she's about to graduate college and she's taken what she learned through this program, and she's going to be able to graduate college making a full time income from her artwork. She started her business in college and it's thriving because she had the tools that she needed in high school. You know, there are so many artists who spent a lifetime trying to make a full time income and the fact that she was able to do that before even graduating college, I think just speaks to the profound effect that programs like this have on the individual. It helps you understand the impact beyond just the number just to see a young woman's future changed through education.

Lynn: Absolutely. I'm a school champion with HSMP at business careers, and that was one of the first things that they mentioned when I had a session with them last month following the kickoff. Several just said that Piper made it seem real. And it didn't seem out of reach that someone just like me could learn that much from the program and actually, as you said, develop and build an income before she is even graduated. So yeah, so I think her her talk was very inspirational.

Zahra: I was inspired for sure. I wanted to ask you something specifically about the financial literacy piece, because, you know, there's a lot of of programs out there that offer support to would be female entrepreneurs in a variety of ways, and they're all very important. What made you circle in and identify financial literacy as you guys are creating this program? Was there something in your personal history as a as an entrepreneur, as a woman CEO that that kind of brought that to the forefront?

Lynn: Yes, actually, it was a number of things. First of all, when I was growing up, my my father passed away when I was a senior in high school. He was a very hard working, man, you know, just always wonderfull dad had a great mom, great family, all those things. But he really didn't have a financial plan that could sustain a family if something happened to one of them. And so, it was my first exposure to the issues a lack of having a plan in place can cause. Ultimately, I was able to pay my way through college, and I pursued a degree that turned out not to be a good fit for me. So ultimately, I found myself in the financial services world, and I was a financial planner for a period of time before I started my company. And so in that process, I also saw families go through sometimes some very devastating situations. And not having that plan in place could have made the difference in those scenarios. So that was kind of always in my background. Also, I had kids at that point and I saw just their perception of managing money through the years as they were growing up. Seeing the lack of awareness, even though they had a mom and a dad, a stepdad that were financial planners, until we really sat down and worked through budgeting, talking about credit cards, and how to balance a bank account. You know, just becaming aware that it was not something that's being taught in the schools and to this day, very few schools have a formal program for that. So our students are getting out of high school and now sometimes even out of college without a good, solid foundation of just basic principles that will really help ensure their success when they when they're ready to go into the workforce.

Zahra: So tell me a little bit more about your company because I know your company is very impact driven, and does a lot of good in the community. So can you tell us a little bit more about about what you do in your professional capacity?

Lynn: Sure. We started our company in 1998. My partner and I and we're still 25 years later partners and good friends. We started working in San Antonio primarily with small and medium sized business owners. And so we realized pretty quickly that their largest asset really was their business. And within that business, the most important asset, of course, are the people and the employees within it. So we created Business Financial Group to continue to work with the business owner on their financial strategy and their succession planning. But we added four other service areas that essentially helped them take care of their employees, We have an Employee Benefits Division, a corporate retirement area, we are a payroll provider, and we have HR consulting. So a client, a business owner, can essentially turn over the back office functions to us. And we will manage that for them, provide financial education for their employees to teach them how to use their benefit programs, their retirement plans, and just allow the business owner to function on their their core business. We've found that most business owners don't go into business to manage back office stuff. They created their business out of a passion for something they love to do. And so we try to take all the administrative back office management off of their plate so that they can focus on growing their business.

Zahra: And that's, I feel like that's becoming more critical over the past two years when hiring and onboarding and recruiting has become such an overwhelming thing. And there's a lot of new things to navigate like hybrid workspaces, contract versus part time. All of a sudden, there's all these new ways to be employed. And so sometimes that can be some muddy water to go through yourself.

Lynn: Absolutely, I think the other thing I would mention that we're really proud of, and we enjoy as, as part of our businesses, we have an internship program. And I've actually had some of the young women from the HSMP program participate in and work for work for us. We have had to date in our 25 year history, 36 interns who spend time with us and earn credit for it. We've actually hired some full time interns from that program, and we give them real work, we don't just give them tasks like filing. We give them real financial work, where they're helping us build education presentations, they're helping us analyze investments and that sort of thing. So that's been really a lot of fun and rewarding, and it kind of ties into that whole mentorship opportunity, because our our own associates get really engaged with seeing those students learn something, and then and stay in touch over time. It's great to hear on the other side, when they do graduate, how they took that experience and used it either in finding a job or actually in managing their responsibilities once they're hired somewhere.

Zahra: That's incredible. Why do you think it's so important for women to support other women, the next generation of female entrepreneurs, what, does that do you? Do you think this mentorship means for some of these young women? What have you seen on a personal level? What have you seen this education accomplish for them?

Lynn: Well, I see a huge level of confidence. Often, in first part of the program, the young women can be very intimidated. And you know, everything feels like a competition that with NAWBO though there there is no competition. We have a very collaborative supporting group of people, even if there are competitors, we don't look at it that way.We look at how we can collaborate together and maybe bring something better to a client. So I think that, first and foremost, over time, as they're seeing that these incredibly successful women come from all walks of life, all levels of experience, all levels of education, and they've been able to create their own jobs and create their own income, it just instills an incredible level of confidence. And it happens really quickly. It's fun to watch just over the course of the program each year, how the lights go on, and you suddenly see that young woman who maybe didn't make eye contact or was a little scared coming in, just, just blossom and get very confiden. They learn to ask questions and go up to a very successful person and just have a normal conversation. So I think that's probably the first thing that that I noticed early on, but also to have those relationships and the ability to build relationships, as entrepreneurs, especially because, we all know that we're in business by ourselves a lot, right? Yeah. And so we always have to be on, we always have to be positive, even though the world is blowing up behind us. You know, it's, it's very rewarding and satisfying to see an impact that you could have, however small that may be, and still learn from those students. I mean, I learned new perspectives each year. As four generations come through, there are varying perspectives, and it helps me gain insight into how to better support my own employees in the business, especially those that are coming in from a younger generation, and maybe a different perspective than I than I have. So I think I get as much out of it as the students do. I learn every year from them.

Zahra: Gosh, I couldn't agree more, especially when you were talking about the confidence. It just brought me back to a moment in the kickoff event, when the girls first get there, and they're sitting down, they're kind of eyes on their lap, like facing forward. But by the end, they're shopping together, giggling, looking through the clothes, making friends. II think it's that NAWBO community and culture that that translates to the HSMP program. And I think that's so hugely important, like you were saying, for these, for these girls to learn how to build their support system because you're right, it is sometimes very lonely in business. And you're oftentimes the wildcard in your family. Most people have a nine to five, and so they don't always get it. And so it's nice to have these "goal sisters", right, that, get it, they're doing what you're doing in some capacity, and they're there to support you. And they deeply understand what you're going through. And so to teach them from an early age, how to kind of create their own support system, even if they don't naturally have one in their environment. I think that that just makes such a world of difference.

Lynn: I agree. Absolutely.

Zahra: So before I let you go, and I want to thank you for all of your time. I know you've given so much to this program over the years. Where do you see the program going over the next few years in terms of impact? Where do you were, what would be your dream for for the high school mentorship program?

Lynn: Wow, that's a great question. I would love to see the alumni come back, whether they were scholarship winners or not, to be able to see fast forward 10 years from a time when they participated. I would love to see a way for them to help pay it forward as well and to help sustain the program. Going forward, I think that, just like seeing Piper at the kickoff, having that kind of role model that the women that are participating in the program, the young women that are participating in it, someone that they can relate to, I think is is really important. So don't know how that would happen, but would be just thrilled to see it happen.

Zahra: I love that. I just lit up when you said that. I believe the young ladies would love to even just get on a kickoff call with someone who's been through the program and can kind of give them some support. Well, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you sitting down to talk with me about the high school mentorship program. Any final thoughts?

Lynn: Well I just I'd like to thank you and all of the women of now though that continue to you know give their time and money to this. It's just confirmation that NAWBO is one of a kind and so I'm so grateful to be a part of it

Zahra: Agreed.

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