Love what you do and do the best job you can is the key to success from Gina Champion-Cain. She should know. From middle-class Michigan beginnings to 2015 recipient of San Diego Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” award, Gina is an amazing role model for women and men. A serial entrepreneur, she is CEO of American National Investments, Inc. and now claims the titles of real estate investor, business developer, restaurateur and inspirational speaker.
The important aspect of Gina’s background is that no one ever told her that she couldn’t do something because she was a girl. Her father told both her sister and her that they could do anything. Her grandmother worked with her grandfather in their business and provided a strong female role model. So the limits she encountered surprised Gina when she entered the man’s world of commercial real estate development.
Overcoming Gender Obstacles
Gina describes the men in commercial real estate as ego maniacs. She says it’s necessary to have a big ego to push past the obstacles to get developments off the ground. But in her first corporate job in the field, Gina encountered one more obstacle. People told her that she was crazy to enter this male-dominated, hyper-competitive profession. The CEO in the first big company she worked for actually told her that she was the smartest person in the company, but she was too pretty. She should ugly-up. At 24 years old, her response was to put her head down and work harder.
This first barb did prick her self-confidence though. And this conversation touches on how women have to encounter the image battle and deal with it in different ways no matter what career they choose. The media teases women with unreachable criteria that have nothing to do with how well they do their job.
Mentoring and Giving Back
Mentoring the young people in her businesses is one of Gina’s favorite things to do. First of all, she tells them that if they don’t love what they’re doing, pick something else. There is so much to choose from, there is no reason to do something you don’t like. You can’t be the best you can be if you don’t love what you do.
Gina also feels it’s a duty to give back to the community you live in. She was raised to take part in her community, but she also feels it’s a requirement to support the community that supports her business. It’s all give and take. Gina has helped San Diego to grow and it in turn supports her business.
If you’re planning a trip to San Diego, check out some of her projects: vacation rental homes in Mission Beach, The Patio Restaurant in Pacific Beach, The House of Blues in the Gaslamp Quarter, Saskas Steak and Sea Food, Swell Café and the coffee they serve there, Luv Surf leisure beach wear brand, and Luxury Farms gourmet kitchen and home store.
Listen to this conversation to learn more about how this very successful entrepreneur looks at work, life and how to get the best of both.