Fall down seven times, stand up eight

Zena Patillo is a survivor. She’s also an educator, a serial entrepreneur, and the next best thing to sliced bread.

She is a strong woman; six feet tall and bold, “But you’re not gonna find a better employee. Every place I’ve been, I leave it a better place,” says Patillo.

One of the things that drove her to work for herself is her independence. “I just can’t kiss the ring, my mouth just won’t form.”

She has overcome numerous challenges in her career. Instead of feeling defeated, she re-grouped, worked hard, and moved forward, forging new dreams and goals for herself and her business.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Zena was already a highly educated business professional with a master’s degree and a passion for helping others when she first approached GROW, eager to start her own non-profit. However, after attending classes she realized that a non-profit wasn’t actually the right direction for her.

“Going to GROW let me know that I did not want to do that business. I went there to start a non-profit and they were so, so, helpful.  Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.”

Starting Her Own Firm

So, after a great deal of research she decided to pivot and started her own HR consulting firm, Zena Patillo, Training Paradigm Consulting, LLC. Her firm worked with executive level management to develop and implement constructive improvements.

Specifically, they improved the organization’s culture and strategic processes by using inclusion to increase performance and moral.

Her business was a thriving success, she had contracts with major corporations and was busy giving back to the community.

Then her beloved mother became ill and Zena chose to step away and put her career on hold in order to care for her.

“When you go through something like that, you really get perspective” she mentions softly.

After a period of time, Zena went back to her business only to discover that being out of the game for that long had negatively impacted her connections. However, instead of becoming defeated, she came back to GROW to discover her options. She’s a continual learner who wasn’t afraid to attend classes at GROW for new training.

Zena describes herself as a researcher. She’s extremely independent and can figure things out on her own, but she also realizes that “reading a book about a car doesn’t make you an auto mechanic. Sometimes you need a little help.”

She Had the Drive, She Just Needed a Little Direction

She met with her mentor, one of GROW’s staff members.  She was asked  point blank, “What do you really want to do at this time in your life?”

Zena thought about it. She wanted to make sure her new endeavor lined up with her personal mission: to help people and organizations with barriers to success, thrive.

After much research and consideration, she finally had the answer to that critical question.

“Don’t be afraid to humble yourself to learn and start over” - Zena Patillo

She re-invented herself yet again, this time as an insurance agent.

At first she jumped right in and started her own insurance agency. But, she quickly realized that she wasn’t ready to be on her own quite yet, so she pivoted once more and found an agency that gave her the freedom to be independent but also came with a wonderful mentor—owner, Pat Curran.

She now works at Precision Insurance Agency in Wyoming, and her new field is a perfect fit. It allows her to be her own independent operator and advise people in the community. “It’s my own business, so what I make is what I get.” She truly enjoys educating her clients on what they need, why they need it and how affordable it truly is. She also makes sure she’s up to date on the policies, coverages, and new legislature.

Zena covers a broad spectrum of brokerage services including home, life, and auto, and has 16 carriers which allows her to find the perfect quote for her customers’ needs.

Her Advice: Know What Sets You Apart

“Absolutely know what sets you apart – what makes your business different. It doesn’t matter if 1,500 people are doing what you do, your special gift, your superpower will make it right for you. Don’t back away from doing what you want to do, nobody else is you. “

As for Zena, her superpower is combining her educational and HR background with insurance to teach others about money management so that they can maintain their wealth and understand how to best protect themselves.

“I so appreciate GROW for always being there for me” - Zena Patillo

Zena started taking classes at GROW back in 2010 and has also mentored and trained clients. “If they asked me to do it again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

In 2018, her relationship with GROW came full circle when Zena was honored with the Leadership Award at Seeds of Growth.

“I credit GROW with a great deal of my success for the foundational learning,” she says. She now facilitates workshops and does business coaching for SPRING GR.

For those interested in starting a business, she advises, “Do it. Just do it. Figure out how you want to do it. Full or part time. Start small or start big—just start. Get some training and a mentor and go for it. “

Her Proudest Accomplishment

Zena’s proudest accomplishment is achieving the knowledge that she can do it. From where she started to where she is now, knowing that she can actually support herself and do it with integrity and put out a great product that her clients are thrilled with.

She’s grateful to GROW for always being there. “For all the times I went back to GROW and asked questions and just knowing that someone was there. For any research I had, someone was always there to vet it.”

And as Far as Her Legacy Goes?

Zena just wants to be an inspiration for others, showing them that if she could do it, they can do it too. She’s grateful to be in a position to have helped others along the way.

For more information on insurance quotes or upcoming educational insurance sessions about commercial and personal lines, please contact Zena Patillo at zpatillo@gmail.com or at precisioninsurance.com

How Can GROW Help You?

Seeing the entrepreneurs that we work with, like Zena, succeed is why we exist. Our mission is to work with entrepreneurs beginning with their initial idea for a business and support them every step of the way through mentorship, business advice, funding options, and beyond. Learn more about all of the options available by attending one of our free Intro to GROW classes – held several times each month – or contact us today.