Gila Kurtz is a #1 international best-selling author and serial entrepreneur who found her deepest passion in working with dogs and their people. Following a career in education, she built a successful dog training business and then co-founded the award-winning, highly recognizable lifestyle brand for dog lovers, Dog is Good. Along with her husband, Jon, Gila took the Dog is Good brand from start-up to a seven-figure company.
She is the recipient of several business awards, including recognition as one of the top 25 women of influence in the pet industry, Woman of the Year by the Women in the Pet Industry Network, and was featured in Success Magazine, Forbes Magazine, and on the Grow Wire Show.
Author of Fur Covered Wisdom…A Dog Can Change the Way You See the World, Gila’s dog-centric approach to life, leadership, and relationships is authentic and immediately relatable. She utilizes her skills as a canine expert and compelling teacher to engage audiences in “muttnificent mastery” and inspires individuals to “fetch a life worth barking about.”
Global Elite Media Group recently caught up with Gila to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur, and here’s what went down:
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
After marrying an “officer and a gentleman”, I quickly realized that maintaining my chosen profession as a teacher would be challenged by the moves that occurred every two years. I decided to launch a business selling lingerie at home parties. As I experienced success, I began looking for other businesses that I could easily transport from move to move. As often happens, with every experience new doors open and those doors opened to the roads which paved the way to where I am today as an entrepreneur.
How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
My life did not look that much different. I am a lifelong learner and have always spent time focused on personal growth and development. I have always focused on delivering more than expected. I have always made my health and values a priority.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
The desire to make a difference and have a positive impact on the world and community around me.
In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Magnetic: I attract what I focus on …and I focus on attracting only good people into my life, only good opportunities to align with, and I stay committed to my vision to change lives one dog at a time.
What were your top three motivations for starting your business?
Create something stylish and meaningful that highlights the dog-human bond.
Build a family business.
Make a difference.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
– Take time to identify the bigger picture vision and get clear on why you want to create your business.
– Identify and focus on revenue-generating activities
– Align with people who share your core values
– Never worry about the “how”…Identify the “ who”
– Ask for help
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
– Costly manufacturing disasters: found new manufacturers, shifted strategy on growing sales.
– COVID: regrouped, assessed core verticals, and leaned in on what was working.
– Team: early on we did not have the right people in the right places…learned to hire for values and work ethic.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Word of mouth, b2c conversations, email marketing, and Facebook.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
I am a bottleneck for growth if I don’t empower others around me. Lead by example, empower others, trust but verify. I hold the vision – but I don’t know everything…learn from the experts I bring to the team.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Focus on where you are going…not on where you are at.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Know where you want to go and who you need to help get you there. Get a mentor, fast.
Cole Sialeipata is currently a Ms. New Zealand World national finalist 2020.
This kiwi was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and left Christchurch soon after the devastating earthquakes to pursue the world.
Cole has a Diploma in Community Services and specialist homelessness services and has been working in the community sector for the past 6 years. Today, she works with homeless youth with varying barriers such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, family relationship breakdowns, court orders, and mental health and disabilities.
When she’s not working you can find Cole mentoring at various high schools with youth who are struggling with school or you can find her at the Wildlife walkabout as a volunteer wildlife ranger. “Not only do humans need care and support so do our wildlife, it’s a really great feeling being outside in nature and with animals”
Her sole advocacy is around community education on childhood trauma and youth homelessness. She’s also a voice and advocate for various domestic violence and sexual abuse campaigns.
Cole is the founder of Project Aria which is a skills-based program for equipping domestic violence victims with life skills and self-confidence to reintegrate back into their communities confidently. This year, she has officially made Project Aria a charity organization and hopes to bring Project Arias program out of its pilot stages.
Success to her is waking up every day having no regrets of yesterday. She wants to leave a legacy behind that encourages women to be strong and continue to support one another and to keep paving the way for our future generations to come.
GEQ magazine recently caught up with Cole to discuss her journey in the pageant world and here’s what went down:
1. How did you get into the pageant industry? How were you actually ‘discovered’?
I was scouted on StarNow by my first director. At first, I was quite a skeptic because I never imagined myself in pageantry. I could see that she was authentic and passionate about women empowerment
2. What do you like most about being a beauty queen?
I’ve never really had someone to look up to so being able to be that person for another person has been a huge honour. I’ve come out of my skin so much and loved learning new things about myself and helping others do the same.
3. The downside to being a beauty queen?
There are times were I get judged a lot for not looking the part. I can be a very passionate person especially for fairness in social justice especially bullying. This sometimes doesn’t sit well with pageantry politics and that’s okay because I’m confident in the values and morals I hold as an individual.
4. What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?
I’ve met so many amazing women and have made long-lasting relationships one especially who happens to be a bridesmaid for my wedding.
5. Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
That’s a hard question I’ve met so many interesting people I can’t decide on just one. Everyone has had there own special thing.
6. What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
I have always lived life knowing there is a silver lining to everything. I haven’t officially won a pageant yet and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t cut me a little bit BUT it has taught me to keep doing what I am doing and keep moving forward to my goals. When it’s my time it’s my time.
7. Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?
Finding passion in something that’s not superficial definitely keeps me grounded. For me, that has been helping my community. A certain realization as well that I am different and I don’t look like the next person so it’s impossible to please anybody. Being content with who I am and who I’ll continue to be will allow me to keep my head held high regardless if I don’t meet people’s physical expectations.
8. Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?
Absolutely, they have been so supportive – even my partner and his family. My mum is also so proud of what I do. My older brother likes to boast about his little sister which is cute (laughs).
9. What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.
Inside of pageantry, I’d like to compete in my first Ms pageant and then eventually a Mrs pageant. From thereafter a year of reign I’d like to direct and give the same opportunity for other women of all ages to improve themselves and enjoy what pageantry has to offer. Outside of pageantry, I’d really like to start a family and continue my work within my community and continue to develop skills-based programs state and eventually nationwide.
The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:
1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Midway
2. What do you consider beautiful and why? A child’s laughter, there’s just something so innocent and warm about it. You can’t help but smile too.
3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? I’d really like to volunteer in underdeveloped countries teaching or helping a community.
4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” I believe fear is important to test ourselves and grow.
5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? I’m quite stubborn and at times this is bad BUT it is also a good trait – I won’t back down in my values and morals.