Perla Tamez: “Leadership to me is to lead by example.”

Leadership to me is to lead by example, pay it forward, and expect nothing in return. As a leader, you empower your people to be the best they can be and activate them to be problem solvers. That is how you lead and create leadership within your own organization. I had the pleasure to interview Perla […]

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Leadership to me is to lead by example, pay it forward, and expect nothing in return. As a leader, you empower your people to be the best they can be and activate them to be problem solvers. That is how you lead and create leadership within your own organization.

I had the pleasure to interview Perla Elizabeth Tamez. Perla is a visionary serial entrepreneur, speech pathologist assistant, and public speaker. For the last decade, she has dedicated her life’s work to empowering others to unlock their truest potential. From her thriving outpatient pediatric clinics to her advocacy work for healthcare and children’s rights policies, this powerhouse is only at the beginning of creating her legacy.

Perla’s story begins in McAllen, Texas, where she was born and lived in the small town of Hidalgo, Texas, where she learned, at a very young age, to run fiercely in the direction of her dreams. She graduated high school with fifty-two college hours and at the impressive age of twenty-one, she founded her first outpatient pediatric clinic, which, over the last eleven years, has grown into one of the largest providers in South Texas.

With Perla’s unbridled energy, she has been at the helm of startups ranging from healthcare clinics facilities, staffing professional services, publishing a local magazine, owning a high-end furniture store, real estate development, to the import and export of fruits and vegetables. In addition, she is passionate about lobbying politics, international travel, youth outreach, prison rehabilitation system, and launched a business model in real estate private equity investments.

In 2014 Perla’s unmatched and innovative talent for business was honored as she received the Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Region VI, representing Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Today, she is committed to sharing her hard-earned knowledge and experience with others to equip them to become the best they can be.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up, I watched my parents thrive as they grew their various businesses in agriculture, oil, gas, clothing manufacture, health care, and real estate development. They taught me at a very young age to run fiercely in the direction of my dreams. My parents also inspired me to explore my career in entrepreneurship and ultimately start my company, Dynamic Rehab Group, at age 21. When I was a teenager, I often visited my mother’s adult daycare center. During those visits, I noticed speech therapists working with elderly clients who experienced issues with their speech following traumatic brain injuries or severe strokes. It was amazing watching these people find their voice again after facing major setbacks with their health. This experience inspired me to pursue a career in speech therapy.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

The most interesting story that happened to me was when I allowed a childhood friend of mine to come and shadow my staff in the clinics to see firsthand what we were doing to change children’s lives, rehabilitate them through speech therapy services and to have them speak and understand expressively at functional and appropriate age levels. She was so inspired and moved by what she saw when my staff worked on a patient and another patient that was her cousin. Then she decided to do become a speech therapist as a career path. Having people see what we do on a personal level with our patients began a movement. I began to see a lot of people from my generation — friends and cousins — choose to earn a degree concentrating on communication sciences and disorders. Sharing the stories of the life changes that we do on children created a big impact on people and those powerful experiences led them to become professionals in this industry.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One time I took some people to tour the clinic and I was speaking very professionally about the services that we offer. I was touring with a state auditor and I remember wearing 6-inch high heels. Suddenly, I turned to open the door and fell to the floor. The state auditor said ‘Mrs. Tamez, what happen to you? Are you okay?’ That was a funny mistake. The lesson that I learned was that when you are prepared to show your operation, you must be very proud of who you are because it is very natural that people doubt themselves. I was very nervous having this auditor visiting the clinics. I was not sure if I had done a great job because I was young and falling in front of the man was very embarrassing. The lesson learned is to stay focused, be proud of who you are, and be proud of what you have done.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

We are making an impact in children’s lives by offering speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Our young patients need these services to be at functional age-appropriate levels. It is extremely important because this is a foundation of early intervention to help children become the best they can, therefore being successful in their education and their lives.

Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?

In one of the clinics, we have a child who has a slight Down syndrome condition. He has been a patient for eight years and we have assisted him in his progress. During his time with us, he has progressed very slowly as a patient. Recently he went to a competition and won a poetry competition. Hearing his about his success in this competition was a very special moment for us.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership to me is to lead by example, pay it forward, and expect nothing in return. As a leader, you empower your people to be the best they can be and activate them to be problem solvers. That is how you lead and create leadership within your own organization.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I was only 21 years old and with many lessons to learn.

  1. I wish I had been told about real business tax guidelines. I was not filing on time at the beginning of my business and was audited and fined. However, I learned a lot and never again did I not file taxes in a timely manner.
  2. I wish someone had told me about workforce employment guidelines. I didn’t find out until an employee placed a complaint for not getting a break every four hours of work.
  3. I wish someone explained to me how important it is to do pest control in the facilities. One time I was walking in very early in the morning to find a huge cockroach land on my head.
  4. I wish someone told me that banks are very conservative and don’t readily approve loans to new dreamers in business. I was rejected for five bank loans when I was 21. That experience helped me to craft a clear and definitive business pitch to bankers.
  5. I wish someone told me how important business and personal credit are for the buildup of one’s business. Without credit, you are no one. One time I missed one credit card payment and my score dropped like five points which made me have to wait an additional six months for a bank loan. Entrepreneurs need to take debtors’ payment seriously.
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