She created an office that feels like home, and we all benefit.
A woman of three families
Around Lorena Bolivar, there has always been family, and a lot of women.
The first child of seven, with five sisters and one brother, Lorena grew up in an extremely close-knit family in Ascensión, Mexico. At 14, Lorena’s parents immigrated to the United States, bringing her and her siblings along; these days, you’ll find most of them at dinner every Wednesday night at Lorena’s mother’s house in El Paso.
As the firstborn, she’s the natural leader, and the one who feels most responsible for her family’s success and happiness. (If you’re reading this and you’re the oldest sibling, you’re likely nodding your head in agreement.) She’s also a mother of two, a teen and an almost-teen, boy and girl.
Now, Lorena has a third family of women, one not too different from her first, one that shares her first family’s knowledge that they can come to her with anything, that sees her every day. With them, Lorena shares victories and successes, heartbreaks and joy.
Familia Far West, they call it.
I also call it “our El Paso office.”
Walk in, and you’ll feel what I feel every time I visit: loved, welcomed, taken care of. You’ll greet bubbly Tania, at the door, who’ll give you the biggest grin and hand you coffee. “Buenos dias!” echoes down the hall, past Ericka, Claudia, Margarita to the left, Tricia, Laura, to the right, from Stephanie’s desk as she gets a second round of coffee, all the way down the big open hallway to Lorena’s door at the end. Hugs, all around.
As always, Lorena’s door will be open most of the day. As long as it’s open, Lorena is there to listen and help, with whatever you need.
We gave Lorena a mission — and she created a family
You have to understand one thing about Lorena, says account manager Viridiana “Viri” López. Nobody taught her this job.
“Most of what Lorena has learned has been on her own, because she wants to learn,” Viri says.
Like our newest team member Vishakha, who just joined the Far West Capital team after running her own factoring business, Lorena came into this business somewhat accidentally. Through a former boss who knew someone who needed someone hard-working like Lorena, she was asked to take a job at another factoring company — but there was only one problem: She didn’t know what factoring was, and she would be working for a boss who wasn’t the explaining type.
So she googled it.
Of course, Lorena learned quickly. The numbers were the easy part; she quickly realized that this job is about people, and trust, and about family — clients’ family, hers, her team, their own families, and the businesses they were all pouring heart and soul into.
That was then, though, when she worked for a boss who could charitably be described as “messy”, a boss who eventually brought her to work for us at Far West Capital, but who then took credit for her hard work while making a mess of just about everything else.
I had to make a change. So I looked at Lorena, and basically said: “Can you fix this?”
Lorena, as I think she’s done all her life, simply said “Yes.”
We had no problems after that day. None. I swear. It was night and day by nearly any metric. One day, we were losing money in El Paso, the office was a mess, the team wasn’t happy. The next day, I stopped hearing about problems and started hearing about successes. It was that simple.
I gave her only one mission: create entrepreneurial success stories, in everyone she hired and every client they serve. (If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s our mission — and the core of what we call “Far Reaching.”)
Today, in an industry still dominated by men: our El Paso office happens to be entirely made up of women. (Far West Capital as a whole is 65% female — still, unfortunately, a statistical rarity in our world.) I often joke that that’s why they have no problems; but to be honest, there’s something even more special going on there — and it’s all because of Lorena.
“It’s not like we got together one day and decided we were all going to be an all-women office,” she says.
“We had to begin bringing in people, and since trust was a huge issue for us, we decided it would be best for them to be people we knew. And we kept doing that as we grew.”
“I want to be like her when I grow up.”
Everyone is Lorena’s sister, las hermanas de Lorena. I mean that in two ways — team members Susana, Brenda, and Ericka are Lorena’s actual younger sisters; but everyone is Lorena’s sister, and in another sense, her daughters. As they talk about the woman whose door is always open, there’s a bit of awe — the kind of respect you give a mother — or an older sister — who is everything you’ve ever wanted to be.
Viri chokes up, talking about Lorena. “I want to be like her when I grow up. I admire her so much, because she’s created this — this family, this success, her own career.”
Our clients feel it too. They, too, know her door is always open. They write on our TrustPilot page, thanking Lorena, Tricia, and Viri personally. “Thank you, Angel,” she’ll write back to Angel, a client with a small trucking company. “It’s a pleasure working with you and your wife.”
Heather Pinay, business consultant and member of the Forbes Coaches Council, attributes such business shifts to a “woman effect”: the principle that wherever women are, the environment around them alters.
This matters because customer relationships are changing, says Pinay in a recent Forbes Coaches article:
Over the last 20 years, corporations have become more people focused and less commodity focused. Employee engagement programs, a focus on corporate culture, work-life balance, customer service, and content marketing are increasingly valued and expected. The common thread is that people, employees and customers, are becoming more important than their organizational role.
The common thread is that people, employees and customers, are becoming more important than their organizational role.
Lorena’s team brings to their work plenty of traditionally “masculine” traits we’re used to connecting to business success, but they also bring an often-missing feminine approach to finance.
Like us, Pinay believes that companies need balance. “When there is gender balance, businesses can move forward with a focus on profitability through equity and a ‘people-first’ focus with increased value placed on collaboration over competition, on putting people first instead of profitability,” she says.
An open door, in every way
Lorena’s team knows that they, too, can take a lead in shaping our culture — another key value of our “Far Reaching” approach. Everyone is an entrepreneurial hero: our team, our clients, Lorena, the families that support and stand behind them all.
In an office full of mothers, and with families continuously dropping by, Lorena and her “sisters” are always thinking of ways to make their clients’ lives better. Soon, a Far West Capital “Women’s Club” will start holding group wellness events — open to staff and clients alike — to help manage the stresses of work and family life. There will be babysitting, because the team knows that will make it easier for many mothers to participate.
It’s personal for this team. And I love that.
Courage, seasoned with love
When I think about Lorena, I think first about her courage. I think about the moment she said “yes” to me, not knowing in that moment how she’d clean up the incredible mess she inherited. She faced her fears. She went into the arena. She did the work. And I’m so grateful.
Viri, too, sees the courage, sees Lorena’s ability to say “I may not know, but I can learn,” to everything.
“I don’t think there’s any degree out there that can teach you this job. Life teaches you this job. Your experience teaches you this job.”
Lorena, humble to a fault, will always credit her team, and her clients — La Familia Far West Capital.
“At the end of the day,” Lorena says, “it’s our desire to serve people that makes us get up in the morning, start the coffee machine and get to work.
Having our clients drop by with their children, grandchildren, and spouses, and talking about their future, their past and all their projects so openly is what makes it all worthy.”
Cole Harmonson is the CEO of Far West Capital, a company that funds the goals of high-growth entrepreneurs. Know a great company in need of capital to unleash their potential? Send them here and we’ll give them a call.