For years I was lost in chaos because I had too much stuff. It filled house, drained my bank account, and polluted my mind. I became committed to living without excess. For example, do you need 6 different spatulas, 20 coffee cups, and a salad spinner? Likely not. I have only what I need, and I keep only what I love. I get rid of things the moment that I cannot use them anymore. It is freeing. My mind is clear. I love that my house is always clean.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ally Lozano, a national award-winning attorney, best-selling author, speaker, CEO, and mother of 5. Ally is the founder of AMIGA Lawyers, an international network of mother and female immigration attorneys. She hosts a yearly conference for women attorneys called Women, Power, and Money, and empowers women around the country to do the work that they love while making a great living.
Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve been an advocate for my entire life. When I was 16 years old, I went to Belize and saw poverty for the first time. That experience changed me forever. I wanted to help give a voice to the voiceless. I wanted to be a champion for justice. That lead me to become an immigration attorney.
However, along the way I learned to develop an incorrect way of thinking. I came to believe that if I wanted to do work to help people who are disadvantaged, then I was never going to be able to make a good living. This mindset kept me stuck in underearning for my entire legal career.
That is, until I had my son in 2014. I realized that any time that I was working meant that I had to be away from him, and I couldn’t bare to be apart when he was a baby. On an emotional level, I couldn’t afford to drain my emotions and my resources at my job. I had a living person who literally depended on me for survival, and I had to bring all that I had to him. That is when I decided that I had to become the CEO of my law firm. I realized that I was not running a non-profit, I was running a legal business, and I had to start acting like it.
I had no business acumen or experience, but I was determined to learn to be a CEO. I created AMIGA Lawyers to find support, and I realized that many other women were struggling like I was. I decided that every time I learned how to run my business better, I would share it so that no woman had to suffer through figuring it out. I began blogging, teaching, speaking, and writing on how to help women, whether lawyers or not, run a successful and profitable small business.
By focusing on how to run my business, I went from earning about $20,000 a year to 6-figures in just 3 months. Now my law firm is at 7-figures. My mission is to help other women do the same.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
When I was graduating law school, I went on an informational interview with a well-known attorney in the field in which I wanted to practice. I showed up excited about what I could learn from this lawyer. I knew I had positioned myself well for my career. I had prestigious internships. I was at the top of my class. I am bilingual and bicultural. I hoped that I would make a professional connection that I could leverage into the right job as a new attorney.
I sat down in his office, and after reviewing my resume, the man began to tell me how I was a completely undesirable candidate as a lawyer. He told me that I would be lucky to find a job as a secretary filing papers in a law firm and that answering phones and serving coffee to “actual lawyers” was as far as I was ever going to be able to go. I did not speak during the entire interview other than when I came in and stated my name, because I knew I would fall apart.
When I left there, I broke down into tears. Though I knew that what he said wasn’t true, I started to doubt myself. But I decided that I wouldn’t let one person’s baseless opinion get me down. Within 8 years of my career, I won a national award. I am the youngest person to ever have won the award. I am well-respected nation-wide for my work as an immigration attorney as well as for my work as a speaker, teacher, and author on how to help lawyers run successful businesses. If I would have let him get to me, I would have stood in the way of my own success.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am working on developing more online courses to help women empower their businesses. I run a monthly membership called Six Figure Solo where I teach a business topic each month in a Power Hour webinar. I create worksheets so that members can easily apply the lessons to their businesses, and I host a coaching call where people can ask me anything about their business or mine so that they can achieve on the next level.
I have also become passionate about value-based sales techniques and teaching women how to use them. I am launching the Ally Lozano Sales Academy on September 1, which is a 6-week course. It will honor the great work that we do as women lawyers, and also help us communicate to our clients the value that we bring.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Rigoberta Menchu is an indigenous woman from Guatemala who has become a world leader in the fight for human rights and has given a voice to so many people whose voices had been silenced. This woman had no formal education whatsoever, but found a way to spread her message and revolutionize the situation for indigenous Guatemalans. She spoke only her indigenous language and did not speak Spanish, so despite having no education she taught herself Spanish and was able to align with people who could help her bring to light the human rights violations that she and her people were experiencing. She wrote several books despite her lack of education. She won a Nobel Peace Prize.
Her humble beginnings never held her back. What people said about her and to her never slowed her down. She knew that the world needed her message and she became unstoppable.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
For the last five years I have read mostly non-fiction books about business. I want to learn everything I can, test it, and make it better. I want to take the masculine ways of business that I learn about in books and make them more feminine, incorporating a woman’s perspective and experience.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
I believe that educated women who are passionate about their craft, whether it is being a lawyer, doctor, author, speaker, etc, often find themselves lost and overwhelmed when running their businesses. They create a business (i.e. a law firm) because it is a vehicle through which they can do the work that they love. They want to do the work, not do the business part. But in order to do their great work, they have to know how to run a successful business.
My book, Be the CEO of Your Law Firm: Gain Control, Turn a Profit, and Reclaim Your Life, provides a step-by-step guide and blueprint to run a successful small business. It allows women to stop living in the chaos of financial and business disorganization, take the reigns, and live a life better than they ever dreamed possible.
Also, not enough women write business books! I read business books non-stop, but I feel like they are so masculine. I have never read a business book without a sports metaphor — and I simply cannot relate to that. Women have changed the business landscape, and I believe that adding a female voice to business non-fiction is important.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
Write from the place of experience. People — women in particular — think that they cannot write until they have figured everything out perfectly. Perfection is a myth that holds us back from succeeding. You have done a lot of work to know what you know and achieve what you have achieved. Write from that real, raw, authentic place because any struggles you have overcome to get to this point are struggles that other people currently have. They need a way out, so help them!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I would change the way that people view illegal immigration in the United States and I would find a way for us to help more lower-skilled workers come to the United States lawfully.
The work that undocumented workers do in the United States is the work that allows our entire country to run. They are the backbone of the restaurant, construction, and hotel industries. Our country needs them. I want to start a movement that would help Americans understand how important and indispensable these people are to our country. It would end the anti-immigrant sentiment that has taken hold in the United States. It would also allow for hardworking people to come to the US to fill these jobs without having to put their lives at risk by using human smugglers (many of whom turn out to be human traffickers) to come to the US.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. No one is out there looking to give you an opportunity. You have to create opportunities yourself. When I was in law school, I wanted to work at the Department of Justice’s immigration court. The court said no — they had been burned in the past by students. I asked for a meeting with the court administrator and the judges so I could talk to them in person, and they gave it to me. They gave me the job on the spot, and it created a program that still exists for law students today.
2. You cannot do it all by yourself. You need a team, both professionally and personally. My life functions because of the people I have in it. My husband and I work together. He is the business manager at our law firm and I call him my “life manager” in every other area. He makes sure that all of our projects are running smoothly. I have a full time virtual assistant who does personal and professional tasks. She has an uncanny talent for reading my mind. We are going on three years together. I have a full-time nanny as well as a housekeeper. They are godsends. It’s impossible to do it all alone. If you try, it will take your time and energy away from the projects that you are working on.
3. “The harder your work, the luckier you get.” I’m one of the luckiest people I know. It’s because when I want to achieve something, I will not stop until I get it done. When I wanted to write a book, I had no idea where to start. I started asking people to recommend resources. I set completely unrealistic deadlines for myself and had a team of people hold me to them. In a matter of a few months, I had a published book which quickly became a #1 best-seller.
4. Efficiency is everything. Create and implement systems in all aspects of your life. Time and resources are wasted trying to figure out how to do something every time you have to do it. Routines are boring, but systems work every time. For example, how do you process your personal and business mail? It should be the same process every time you do it.
5. Minimalism equals success. For years I was lost in chaos because I had too much stuff. It filled house, drained my bank account, and polluted my mind. I became committed to living without excess. For example, do you need 6 different spatulas, 20 coffee cups, and a salad spinner? Likely not. I have only what I need, and I keep only what I love. I get rid of things the moment that I cannot use them anymore. It is freeing. My mind is clear. I love that my house is always clean.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have a private lunch with Gabby Bernstein. She has created a movement with her authenticity and openness and has turned it into a powerful business. I have learned so much as a businesswoman not just by following her life advice, but also by watching her grow her business and brand. If we were able to have a few hours together, I would want to know so many things about the “how” of what she does.
If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, Authority Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.