Meet Patty Leonard Founder/CEO of Family Values Cinema and The National Board of Mothers in Camarillo,  CA

Patty Leonard & Romeo

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally. I am an entrepreneur. I started my first business when I was 25 years old and have since started 3 very successful home video distribution companies. My businesses always specialized in “alternative methods of distribution”i.e., direct to consumer versus retail. Prior to starting my first business, I had no prior experience (nor or the money evidence that I could get a business off the ground). Just a good idea and a lot of passion, stamina and persistence. Three essential qualities for any successful entrepreneur.

2. What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? I enjoy the creative thinking required when carving out new methods of distribution. Actually, the business chose me. I was an executive secretary and during a conversation I was having with a couple of printers I knew, heard them say that they had used their life savings to produce a video on how to train a bird dog! Their wives had just found out about it accidentally and boy were they in big trouble….and they said that they had to figure out how to get some of their money back but could not for the life of them figure out how to sell the video. So I told them I would do a little investigating. That very investigation led me to the idea of providing other video producers of special interest videos a method of getting their videos into customers hand. That was the beginning of my first business. Of course I had to write a business plan (I figured that out too on my own at the local colleges business library) and then I had to go out and raise the money to actually start the business ($500,000 27 years ago!) and I did.

3. Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why? Today I have a very different company and we support organizations that somehow benefit families and/or their children. I decided about 3 years ago that I wanted to find a way to give back. And so I came up with the concept of Family Values Cinema and figured out a way that with the help of key influencers from these family organizations, we might be able to build a wonderful family member base while at the same time contribute to the referring organization for every new member they referred to us for as long as they remained members. A sort of “passive fundraiser”.

4. What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome? The biggest risk was walking out of a board meeting in New York City about 20 years ago after disagreeing with the Chairman of the Board on the direction we should take. He made some inflammatory remarks about my heritage and gender and I simply said “you can have my share of the business, just let me out of my contract” He laughed thinking where I was possibly going to go with no money. Well I had done it once and I could do it again. I left New York during that same trip with 2 new contracts and enough money to start up my next business….

5. From where do you draw inspiration? I am not certain where I draw inspiration from. I have been blessed. Ideas flow easily for me. What distinguishes me is my drive and my desire to succeed. Who have been your role models, mentors, etc? Simply stated “Two men and a lady”. My uncle, who was like a father to me. My father, who passed away when I was seven years old, and my mother, a real beauty from Mexico City. I inherited the best of all of them!

6. How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization? Unlike my other two companies, I self-financed this startup. As we all know, credit lines are being reduced and in our own little world of subscription based businesses, we find some of our member families are having to cancel their memberships to cut back. It is forcing us to be even more creative. I am up for the challenge!

7. What one thing would you like to learn this year? To remember to trust my initial instincts. They are usually spot on.

8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Running a fabulous B&B in the Big Sur Highlands.

9. What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment? Believe it or not, I love going to the movies and eating popcorn. I also really enjoy taking day and overnite road trips with my husband Kevin. Just love to explore little towns I do not know.

10. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Trust the power of prayer and the love of family.

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