“Listening to this podcast of everyday people will inspire your own story.”
Welcome to The First. You have a story! You have unknowingly paved the way for others without knowing it, or acknowledging it. This is where you tell your story so that those who come after you, can walk in your footsteps to build their own firsts!
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The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 15
Linda Hamilton – A Persevering CFO
Linda was the first to go to college in her family and to become a Certified Public Accountant. She was born to very young, uneducated
parents who reinforced the importance of school. After her uncle shamed her for getting a bad report card in first grade, it had a tremendous effect on her – so much so that she never brought home a bad report card again!
After high school, she was not thinking of going to college until her boss on her first job at Lloyd’s Department store recognized that she was good with numbers and encouraged her to go to school for bookkeeping…and she fell in love with it.
After many years of school, and supporting herself, she got her accounting degree, and later became a CPA at Coopers & Lybrand, a prestigious New York financial services company. Now, she is the CEO of her 30-year old company, Linda Hamilton, CPA LLC. Linda gives back by mentoring and supporting the community and other business owners.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 14
Beatrice Weber – Paving The Way
Beatrice Weber is truly a First! She took a path that no woman in her
ancestral Jewish lineage had ever taken – leaving her dowry behind. Beatrice was an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother of 10 who chose to believe in herself over her husband. By choosing herself, she decided to be on her own, manage her own finances, and fight for custody of her children.
As Beatrice said in her Medium post, “Choosing myself over the financial support of my parents was one of the most life-affirming choices I have made. It allowed me to spread my wings, explore new experiences, and connect with my true inner strength.”
Now, the mother of 10 is an Interspiritual Minister, writer, speaker, and coach. She empowers people who have experienced religious, familial, or community trauma to connect with their own inner voice and create
empowered and joyful lives.
I thank Beatrice for her brutal honesty of life then and now.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 13
Jessica Gardner – The Majesstic Party Girl
Jessica Gardner was a 15-year workforce professional who left her job to form an event planning company on December 31, 2016 – she did not want to go into a new year without starting her business. She is the first of her Costa Rican family to graduate from college and to start a business. After watching the women in her family (her grandmother, mother, and aunt) plan events, she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur and decided that she too was blessed with event planning genes. Her company, MaJesstic Occasions, is a full-service event planning & event styling company focusing on corporate, social, and nonprofit events in New York and Georgia. Jessica sees a bright event industry taking off after the pandemic and now is her time to shine in the new Black Hollywood in Atlanta. Jessica is leveraging her professional experience to put systems into place in her business.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 12
Erna Alfred: Caregiver Extraordinaire
Have you ever thought about getting old and who would take care of you? Most of us do. But what if you’re pretty young and something happens to you as it did to Erna’s mom who had a stroke? Erna became an unpaid caregiver at 21! That became her reality. She changed jobs and had to move. Now Erna has decided that this is happening far too frequently, and there should be resources to help people like herself who didn’t know where to turn to get advice or help. She’s creating a platform that gathers all the resources to make it easier to take care of our loved ones.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 11
Rickie James: College Is A Must
What made Rickie James the first in his family to go to college? During high school, he realized his siblings left high school and went to work – sometimes out of necessity. Rickie grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and went to Fort Hamilton High School where they stressed going to
college. He went to NY Technical College because it was the only college in the state that had the course he wanted – The Technology of Architecture. He wanted to learn how to take apart things and put them back together again. He now works for an associate architectural
planner for NY.
His family supported him without fully understanding his need for college. Rickie told his professor that no one in his family would attend graduation because none explained the significance of having a college graduation or the importance of education in his field. He decided he would not attend graduation. His professor singled him out and called attention to him in the hallway, then handed him his degree in front of everyone – that gesture gave him the feeling of getting an accolade.
He looked up to his uncle and aunts who took him to work to expose him to other professions. His aunt gave him a rapidograph—an architectural pen—and a portfolio as graduation gifts. He cherished them for years and called the pen his “sword” and the portfolio his “shield.” Today, his nephews and nieces followed his lead and took it for granted that a college degree was a must.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 10
Full disclosure, @Peggy McHale is my business partner in our current company, Pandi-App, LLC and our former company, Consultants 2 Go. I still learned a lot of new things about her after almost twenty years.
P eggy McHale’s story started with her mom, Beatrice, who had her own real estate business that she sold, and then managed properties. However, even though Bea went to Hunter High School and had a college scholarship, she chose the traditional marriage route. She channeled her energies into making her daughter, Peggy, the first woman on both sides of her family to graduate from college. She felt it
would give her independence. Kudos to Bea!
After college, Peggy went into the corporate world, entering into a management trainee job at a young age. That “job-for-life” position laid the foundation for her career in telecommunications. She also became the first in her family to continue with a graduate degree – an MBA in Finance.
After leaving the corporate world, Peggy and I started a marketing and analytics consulting company, where we grew and sold that business. We learned how to impact our employees’ lives. Peggy now gives back by advising other small business owners and companies. Through her quest for knowledge, she is now the first among her colleagues to be on a paid for-profit Board of Directors, where she provides guidance and oversight.
Peggy is also the first author in her family, co-authoring Black and White Strike Gold, a business book of tips to small business
owners. Now that Peggy has her Firsts, she is contemplating her Next in career and in life.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 9
Allan Berger – The Making of A Man
Today, Allan Berger is a business architect and strategist working with established, successful, privately-held technology, professional services firms, distributors, and manufacturers. But there was a time when Allan was a young man, finding his way to college and becoming the first to graduate. He is the son of first-generation Americans who didn’t have the finances to go to college, so he stayed local – attending Rutgers University in Newark. Like most immigrant families, they chose to
invest their money in their children, ensuring that those children would have a better life. Allan succeeded with not just graduating from college but became the first to also go to grad school, making college education a mandate for his children.
After college, Allan went into the military and went to Vietnam because of the draft. Thank you for your service, Allan! The military taught him leadership skills and attention to detail that he utilizes today in helping other business owners to be successful.
Allan was one of the first advisory board members for my former company, Consultants 2 Go. He is an active member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce where he helps to guide small business owners. He is also a volunteer mentor with SCORE, the nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education. SCORE is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 8
Hear how my Jamaican cousin, soccer superstar, @Shavine Webster, got to play on a male school soccer team at ten years old. She knew that soccer was her future and the means to a better life. In high school, she played for Lennon’s male soccer team and then helped to form the first
female soccer team for the school…and then went on to the Jamaican national soccer team at 15 years old! Shavine was groundbreaking! We hear about girls doing that now, but imagine being the only female in your neighborhood, in your school, in Jamaica, a country that doesn’t tolerate anyone who is not a part of the “norm!” She had to be better than best, so at the top of her game that boys recommended her to their male coach for the male team. Wow!
She tolerated asking to be “searched” to see if she was really a guy because she could keep up with the boys both in stamina and skill. Through all that, her mom has never seen her play the game. She got motivation from the boys and men who recognized her skill. Her mentor was the St. Jago men’s soccer team coach and brought her to train with them; however, he would not allow her to play on the team.
Through her mentor, one of her teachers, and the help of others, Shavine got a soccer scholarship to come to the US and took the opportunity to immigrate to play in Alabama at Faulkner University on the girl’s team. Understand the difficulty immigrant athletes have in the US since they are not supposed to work. What does
an athlete do when they don’t have money to return to their country? Find out! Shavine became the first person in her family to go to, and complete, college.
Today, after being hurt in college, losing her scholarship, finding God and spiritually, getting jobs, Shavine graduated from Bacone College. She is the CEO of her own company, Fitter Than Your Average LLC, specializing in in-person and virtual personal training, coaching soccer camps, and providing super-nice workout apparel. She is also an essential worker at a hospital in the Bronx and will be working towards a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy.
I love this podcast because I get to hear transformational stories like this – I learned a lot about someone who is a part of my family! Listen Here! Give us feedback and if you like what you hear, Subscribe to future podcasts.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 7
Tynesha N. Frazier is a member of my Omni Toastmasters club. Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. This club is a little known “secret” group that helps professionals or family members to overcome speech impediments or overcome their fear of public speaking. Tynesha is the first in her family to join a group aimed at self-improvement and has become an extremely active leader within this organization.
Tynesha has become the first in her family and circle of friends to go on to many firsts! She is now a member of multiple Honor Societies, she has participated in a Rush and pledged a sorority in college, and is also a member of a national fraternity. These college opportunities opened up a new world of education for her and she has gone on to get two undergraduate degrees and a graduate one.
Definitely a big first is her venture into entrepreneurship. Even though she has a degree in Vision Care and that’s her day job, she is an independent owner of Paparazzi Accessories. Go pick up some jewelry at https://paparazziaccessories.com/join/342239/ while you listen to her podcast – everything is $5!
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 6
Liz Castelli: The Ivy-League-School-Teacher -Entrepreneur
Meet Liz Castelli. She is a co-founder and COO of Tinsel Experiential Designs – this name gives me visions of joy at Christmas time! She started this company with college friends when they found each other after separate careers. They entered the Power Up Business Plan contest at the Brooklyn Library and won. Now, they are in their eleventh year of business!
Liz comes from a family of mechanics, engineers, teachers – people who worked for others. She followed the expected family career path to become an educator and did the business on the side. As she put it, she was wearing “rose-colored glasses in a mentally and physically challenging environment.” Her family thought this was a side-gig, but she showed them by becoming The First entrepreneur and grew her company into a multi-million-dollar enterprise with top Fortune 100 clients.
Liz feels the entrepreneurship mindset opened her to new possibilities and made it easier to become a risk-taker. She became unafraid and tried surfing, snowboarding and other activities because she knew that failure is temporary, and you try again. That mindset allowed her to accomplish another First by moving out of New York to Utah during the COVID pandemic, which is a significant shift for a family woman who grew up in NY.
Liz’s go-get-it attitude will inspire you to make some changes if you have been afraid to do so. Listen here on Liz’s First time participating in a podcast!
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 5
Lina Rugova: From Kazakhstan to the American Dream
Lina Rugova is not the typical immigrant – she did not want to leave Kazakhstan to come to America because her mother immigrated here! On June 2, 2021 at 6pm, listen to how a fifteen-year-old Lina arrived in the USA speaking British English and going directly to the Bronx with a Spanish-speaking stepdad in a Puerto Rican-dominant neighborhood! Of course, hilarity…and life…ensued.
She got married young, had a child early, put college on hold – and it brought out the resiliency in a young Lina. She got energized by figuring out the priorities in her life. She got bored quickly, switched jobs frequently, and landed in medical billing. Her first business was as a medical billing contractor. Then she moved on to medical billing and management for clients from the previous company.
Owning a business afforded Lina to accomplish the American Dream of purchasing a home and sending her daughter to private school. However, she closed that successful business because she got burned out from doing it all. She stayed in the medical field by opening a medical collection agency with her husband and learned how to hire people to help her. As Lina said, “that business destroyed my soul,” and she left.
Lina feels her immigrant hustle mentality helped her to move seamlessly from one business to the other without thinking about the
possibility of failure. With the support of her refugee in-law family, Lina chartered new territory by opening up a jewelry designing business. She moved from Bronx, New York to San Antonio, Texas, to explore a new market and culture during the pandemic. She is now funding and launching a nonprofit business incubator in San Antonio to support underdeveloped and underserved communities of minorities, immigrants, and ex-felons.
Her brother followed suit with the entrepreneurial gene in Russia and started his own business.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 4
Tanya Ricketts: Breaking Generational Curse
Tanya Ricketts is the host of The Tanya Experience, a Canadian podcast that she started during COVID. One of her favorite topics is courage.
We all have a Tanya in our lives – people whom we’ve known forever but don’t know anything about them. Tanya is that person for me – I had no idea who the adult Tanya is —a wife, mother, daughter, friend. Tanya discusses how she displayed courage in breaking the generational cycle of women who do not raise their children themselves.
Tanya started to create the idea of what her family would look like at a very early age using Sears catalogs to cut out the perfect family. At 26 years old, she was successful in the corporate world as a marketing executive, and left all that behind when her second daughter was born. Because of the survival mentality of the women in her life, she realized she would be repeating the process of not being there for her children. That realization forced Tanya to step out of the workforce so that her children would have a mother who they see everyday, active and in their lives. She was blessed to have a great husband who supported her without understanding her drive to be perpetually present for her children.
Listen, as she discusses the impact on the next generation of women who she is raising.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 3
Elman Woodson: The Power of Self
Elman Woodson started his young life with firsts! He put some “super” into his “natural!” As an undergrad, he helped to start a college program to teach English in China. He then travelled to Granada, Spain for the first time to fulfill another dream and lived with a family there.
After college, he wound up in the banking industry and knew that was not his calling. He wanted to change industries and jobs, but, like many of us, got stuck with fulfilling the obligations that comes with a great salary.
But Elman was different…he believed in himself, and that belief pushed him into the law field. He lives by his mantra, “faith without works is dead,” and take the steps to put his belief into actions.
Now, he’s living his dream of being an attorney. That’s what he wanted regardless of what anyone said to him. He’s teaching others how to live their dream – how to get their birthright of creation to create the life they want with the power of choice.
His new book, Looking Up, hits Amazon in May. I’m sure it will be as amazing as Ellman since it was brewing inside of him for ten years!
Listen to our discussion of how society puts us into a box. Were you put into a box? Who put you in a box? Are you in a box now? Mmmm! Food for your thoughts.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 2
Nell Merlino: A Living Legend for Women’s Rights
Nell Merlino is an icon and a legend in her own right. She has a list of firsts that will impact generations.
She was at the forefront to change the outlook on AIDS during the AIDS epidemic by handing out condoms with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis as an Awareness campaign.
She utilized that campaign opportunity to springboard starting the first girls’ initiative, Take Our Daughters to Work Day, while she worked with Ms. Magazine – yes, the Gloria Steinem magazine that changed women’s outlook.
After reading some research that said girls’ self-esteem dropped dramatically after reaching adolescence, she decided to change the way
that girls see themselves by bringing them to a physical space where they could see themselves differently – the workplace! That movement is still around today and has expanded into Take Your Daughters and Sons To Work Day.
Every year in April (this year, it’s April 22), children trek into the workplace with their parents to understand what they do and learn about different career options in preparation for real life. This year, quite a few of them will be leaving their at-home classrooms to invade the work-from-home environment created by their parents. For a few hours, they will listen in on how to negotiate, make tough decisions, and have fun doing at work.
Her next adventure was Make Mine a Million $Business, where I met her. She was on fire to help women grow their businesses to the million dollar mark. Again, research showed her that only about 3% of women business owners ever passed the million dollar revenue goal. That program was sponsored by corporations like American Express and closed when sponsorship declined.
Now, during COVID, Nell was moved to restart that venture to help small business owners take advantage of loan opportunities and to discuss the issues they are having during the pandemic; now in her next chapter with Count Me In Revival, she’s again following her calling.
As I spoke wi Nell, I couldn’t help wonder what it’s like to be her – from kicking down doors for women business owners to hosting Queen Raina of Jordan – all the time, fearless in forging new paths for women! Listen in and see if you feel the same way.
The First with Dr. Sandi Webster – Episode 1
Dr. Larry McCord: Life Beyond Belief
When you listen to Dr. Larry McCord tell his story, you swear you saw the movie! He is someone whose life is simply beyond belief!
He has so many firsts that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. In this podcast, we focused on some key turning points in his life.
His athletic career made him the first in his family to win college scholarships, which enabled him to leave his hometown of Lutcher, LA. Since then, he was the first in his family to graduate from college and has received several degrees ending in a Juris Doctorate and a Ph.D. He was the first in his family to be President of a School Board and now teaches young people that they can get academic or athletic scholarships for college.
The Voice of A Woman
Dr. Sandi Webster immigrated to Brooklyn, New York City in the 70’s as a kid with her parents. Settled in the United States, she had to face a lot of discrimination starting from her childhood days. The Voice of Woman reached out to this strong lady to learn more about her story, how she became the entrepreneur that she is today, her lesson learnings and lots more. Watch this video to the end where Dr. Sandi Webster also shares how people of color were treated back in the 80’s in the US.
REALTALK PODCAST WITH MAUREEN BORZACCHIELLO – EPISODE 2
Dr. Sandi Webster
How do you keep a business going in a failing economy? Can you really have a multi-million dollar business and work from home? Dr. Sandi Webster and her partner Peggy McHale not only started their business as a result of 9/11 amidst a corporate layoff from American Express – they then survived the financial crisis in 2008 grew, scaled and sold a multi-million business and Sandi shares some of her key challenges and learnings. So, if you are navigating your business through the Covid-19 crisis, you’ll want to listen to this interview – you’ll get some great insights and feel inspired and empowered to keep moving forward.
Find out more:
Sandi Webster, Helping Companies ScaleUP, Build Systems & Advisory Board Internationally
As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sandi Webster Coachsulting, Sandi has developed workshops and programs that have transformed businesses – How to Do Business with Corporations, How to Become a Better Leader, How To Form an Advisory Board… and have helped business owners to move forward in developing a sustainable company.