By Brittany Maroney / Photo by Claudia Johnstone
For most of her career, Elaine Gulino had always been in sales, which meant endless meetings, tight deadlines, and little creative freedom. She knew she had more to contribute and the desire to support her family and her community. Her company, Seen & Heard Marketing, was born out of both.
“Honestly, I was a single mother of two young children, so I was terrified,” she says of launching her business. “But I was able to set my own my schedule, and it was so liberating being able to be there for my children.”
Now, Gulino’s business is multifaceted; she not only helps business owners with implementing creative campaigns, she is also an advocate for insurance policyholders – and she’s giving back. Four years ago, she launched a contest called Can You Hear Me Now?, modeled after TV-based music competitions, which gives local vocalists the chance to compete for the grand prize: a year of marketing services.
“I do not have a musical bone in my body, so I came up with the contest to support the amazing musicians in the area. They have the potential but need to build their personal brand,” Gulino says of the contest, which was held last month. “The winners receive one year of free logo design, social media services, studio time, video production, and voice lessons. It’s the full package and a creative way to support our community.”
Gulino sees that the performers are fearless in their passionate pursuit of music, and she finds great meaning in providing budding talent with the same services that bigger stars have.
“Tenacity and perseverance is what built my business, and that is something I can share with these talented contestants,” Gulino says. “My advice is to understand you will get a ton of nos before the yes, and don’t sell yourself short to anybody. Know your worth and never give up. I didn’t.”
By Alison Bailin Batz / Photo by Claudia Johnstone
For Laurel Lewis, every goal is within reach – as long as you’re willing to make the climb. And in her case, it’s figurative and literal.
“After staying home with my kids for the first 10 years of their lives, I set my sights on getting into the commercial real estate business in 1992,” Lewis says. “At that time, it was still very much a male-dominated industry, so I had my work cut out for me.”
And work, she did. Over the past three decades, Lewis – now a senior vice president at NAI Horizon – has sold more than $100 million in local office properties and completed $61 million in real estate transactions.
But that isn’t the only uphill battle she’s won. An avid local hiker, Lewis decided she needed a bigger challenge a few years back.
The result? In recent years, she successfully summited both Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and climbed Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the continuous 48 states.
But it is her newest uphill climb of which she is most proud – volunteering at New Pathways for Youth, helping guide local at-risk youth through long-term mentoring.
“Right now, I have a 12-year-old female mentee who will be with me through college,” Lewis says. “We’ve put together goals for her life – short- and long-term – and meet weekly to hone in on actionable ways to achieve them. We also take part in monthly, structured workshops and, of course, go have fun.”
And that second climb? The organization’s signature event, AZ BizBash.
“We are putting on a fabulous concert, foodie fest and silent auction at The Venue Scottsdale on Oct. 5 to raise critical funds for the organization as well as get some new blood involved with what we do,” Lewis says. “We hope to raise more than $150,000 this year on that one night.”
For more information on the organization, mentorship program or AZ BizBash, visit www.npfy.org.