If you live and network in Miami, you probably know Michelle Villalobos.
The former magazine exec and networking diva is a bit of celebrity in the Magic City. Through her consulting firm, MIVISTA, she creates skills-building workshops, seminars, and events to help women, and women-owned organizations, become more successful.
Born in Colombia, and raised in the United States until she was 12, Villalobos’ dad — an entrepreneur in the manufacturing business — moved the family to the Dominican Republic. There, she learned firsthand what it took to run a profitable company. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1996, she spent time trying out options in different locales—New York City, New Hampshire, and Boston—before deciding to make Miami home.
That was in 2000, the year she landed a job as an editorial assistant at the Spanish edition of Ocean Drive magazine. It didn’t take long for her to work her way up to the position of executive publisher. “While I was working at the magazine, I was also getting my MBA from the University of Miami,” she explains. “After I graduated, the publisher got wind that I was considering leaving. So he offered me the option to put my degree to work for him. It was a challenge I couldn’t pass up.”
After six months, Villalobos began to see the fruits of her labor. By the end of her first year at the helm, Ocean Drive Espanol was thriving thanks to additional revenue streams that she initiated, including a celebrity golf tournament, a new concept called The Power Party, and other sponsorship-driven events. But in 2006, a new CEO was brought in. “Suddenly, I had a boss, and although I liked him, he was a bit of a micro-manager,” she shares. “I had been on my own with little supervision for so long, and I was resistant—and maybe even a tad resentful. It started to wear on me emotionally and physically, and I finally I decided it was time to make a change: No more bosses.”
In March 2007, she founded MIVISTA. Is it harder to run a company than work for one — even if you aren’t happy? “It’s never easier to be unhappy; the key is to find something that you love doing,” says Villalobos, now 36. Indeed, she has made a business helping women entrepreneurs — as well as those climbing the corporate ladder — learn to take control of their own destiny. “I spent years trying to do my best in my job, while battling lots of undermining, back-stabbing and ‘Queen Bee’ behavior from some of the women in the office,” she recalls. “I knew there had to be a better way because, conversely, I had also experienced very positive female relationships and mentoring.”
Villalobos knew she had a passion for sharing empowering tactics about taking control of your life. So she began creating workshops and seminars for local Chambers of Commerce. Word got out about her interesting, powerful talks, and within a year she became a sought-after speaker. The topics of her presentations range from, “How To Communicate More Powerfully (Without Being a Bitch),” and “The Perfect 10 in Sales: The First 10 Seconds,” to “The Next 10 Minutes & 10 Days Later,” and “You’re Not Crazy, It’s Just Your Personality Type.” She also offers a free special report, Why Women Play Dirty.
Why do women play dirty? “Research indicates that women are genetically and socially programmed to be rivals,” Villalobos explains. “But there are ways to prevent and manage it.” In this presentation, she offers eight secrets to protecting yourself from gossip, backstabbing, and jealousy. “You’ll learn to avoid over-sharing and stop gossip in its tracks, unveil your ‘frenemies’ through a simple face-to-face tactic, and find ways to have women champion you — even when you are not there.” Click here to get a copy of her free report.
Helping women find their power, as well as ways to play nicely together, was the impetus behind the Empowered Woman Success Summit, Villalobos explains, noting that this is not your typical women’s conference. “There’s no rah-rah useless mumbo jumbo. This is about getting practical tools and strategies for building your brand, raising your profile, and generating profitable opportunities.” And yes, there is an onsite “beauty lounge” with free, express treatments. “Being a woman has its benefits. Embrace it.”