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All Eyes Are on Featured Member Tobi Gary

By Staff

I had the pleasure of meeting Tobi Garythe founder of UChooseDinner.com located in Lemon Grove, California several times during our San Diego local chapter. Now you too can get to know her through our interview. The spotlight is now on you Tobi.

Fab40Describe how you started out in your career field.
TobiI've had a bumpy and diverse career path. I didn't go to college from high school, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. I had no idea what I wanted to be, so instead of spending my parent's money to attend college (which they really couldn't afford) I moved to Maine with one of my sisters. (By the way I have 5 sisters, no brothers.) Anyway, I met my first husband and at 19 settled down to married life. I also started working in the restaurant industry. Over the next five years, I worked at most of the jobs you can do in a restaurant. This is where I got most of my cooking education. I got tired of working every weekend, holidays and long hours, so I got out of the food industry. From there I drifted from job to job with no real direction. I worked as a cashier, mail order warehouse worker, mail order operator, new car industry, administrative assistant etc... Through all of this I got a divorce, lived and supported myself, took some college classes, met my current husband and moved to San Diego. 14 years ago, I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy and have been busy raising him ever since. Like a lot of people, I was laid off my Administrative Assistant job a little over a year ago. When that happened I took stock of my life and decided a few things. First, I didn't want to commute to a "job" any more and Second, I wanted to be able to stay home with my son, but still earn a living. (We couldn't afford for me to not work.) I had been planning weekly dinners for my family for about 3 years and thought maybe I could make a business out of my dinner planning system. The only problem was I had no idea how to start a business. I went to several agencies to get help starting a business and none really had the program I was looking for. Finally I found the Women's Business Center of California. They were offering the First Step Fast Trak business course and it was exactly what I needed. I started the course last September and by November I had a business plan and was on my way to becoming an entrepreneur. My website was launched on April 15th. I still have a lot to learn, but am excited about my future now.

Fab40When you were a young girl did you dream of a certain career path?
TobiI never really had a career path. When I went to high school they didn't really encourage girls to go to college or even have a career. You got a "job" until you got married and had kids. I never in a million years thought I would end up as a business owner.  

Fab40During our careers, there are always challenges we are faced with that may or may not be gender related. I would like to know the most significant challenges you have been faced throughout your career or are facing now, and how you overcame them or plan to overcome them?

Tobi I am a very even keeled person and so have never really let challenges stop me. You just do what is needed to survive. The most significant challenge I have right now is getting my business off the ground and becoming profitable. I have a business and marketing plan that is helping me overcome these challenges. I still have a tremendous amount to learn, but I relish the opportunity.

Fab40What keeps/kept you from giving up along the way when faced with tough challenges or let downs? Where did you find the strength or desire to keep pushing forward?  

Tobi The toughest challenge I have faced in the last year is the lack of confidence that I could start a business. I found the strength to keep going through the encouragement of my husband, mentors and Fast Trak classmates.

Fab40What are your accomplishments you are most proud of and why?
TobiI am most proud of losing 35lbs in the last 2 years. I didn't go on a "diet". I just started paying attention to what I was eating and exercising every day. Diabetes runs in my family and being overweight can contribute to developing this disease. I can say I am healthier now than I was in my thirties and early forties.  

Fab40Did/do you have a support system surrounding you throughout your career climbing and if so, who are they and how did/do they help you?
Tobi I don't really have a support system, but my Mom has always encouraged me in everything I have tried (even if some of the things were a little harebrained). Also, my husband has been behind me 100% with everything I've done.

Fab40What do you attribute your success to?
TobiI contribute my success to the instructors and mentors from the WBCC. I would not have had the courage to start this venture without their encouragement.

Fab40Has goal setting been a key component to your success and why?
TobiGoal setting has been a key to my success, because it has kept me on track and broken down the process, so it wasn't so overwhelming.

Fab40In helping yourself achieve career goals, do you perform any type of mediation, relaxation or affirmations? If so, what has your experience been in relation to helping you accomplish your professional and personal goals?
TobiThe only thing I do right now is have a positive attitude. I am working on changing the way I think about being successful. Your mind is very powerful and if you believe you can achieve your goals (and work hard) you can. I am also associating and interacting with positive successful people.

Fab40Have you had any mentors that have guided you or provided insight throughout your career climbing? Have you been a mentor to others? What was your experience like?
TobiI haven't had the chance to mentor anyone yet, but once I am more established in my business I plan to help others. I am very interested in helping adults learn to read. Reading is a passion of mine and I want other people to enjoy it like I do.      

Fab40What is your experience with networking and do you feel it is important?Please describe any positive or negative experiences you may have had.
TobiI am very new to networking, but I think it is a very important aspect of connecting to my customers and colleagues. The most recent experience I've had with networking is: I wanted to bring an organization called Golden Share Foods to our community. Golden Share is a type of food co-op where anyone can buy groceries once a month and save 50% over grocery store prices. I wanted to have the church I attend become a host site to distribute the food. In the course of being the liaison between the church and company I have become friends with the director of Golden Share. I mentioned my website and told him I could supply them with recipes for their newsletter. Without my asking he offered to feature my website in their newsletter for free.

Fab40Where do you see yourself in your career in 5 or 10 years and how do you plan on getting there?
TobiI see myself as a successful businesswoman in 5 years making 1 million a year and employing 50-100 people. I plan on getting there by learning everything I can about promoting and marketing my business. Implementing those strategies and surrounding myself with people who know how to make my company a success.

Fab40Are you involved in any non-profit organizations as a volunteer or board member? If so, which charity and why did you choose that particular charity? What role do you have in supporting them?
TobiI volunteer with an organization called Grossmont Instrumental Music Association. It is a non-profit group that supports and promotes the Grossmont High School band and musical education. As everyone knows when budgets are cut one of the first things to go is music and the arts. I have gotten involved, because my son has been playing the clarinet since grade school and I want to support him in any way I can. Next school year I will be a board member as well.

Fab40Other comments or stories you may want to share?
TobiI want to thank Fab40 for this opportunity to be introduced to the whole Fab40 community.


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