There are some women in the world that make having it all and still striving for more seem effortless. Vicki Gunvalson is one of these rare and inspiring female role models and spoke to Women Make Waves about family, being a reality TV star and being a business mogul.
Women Make Waves (WMW) – Vicki, your achievements are almost too numerous to mention, but before I ask about your incredible business acumen, I would like to talk a little bit about what you call your “most distinguished role”, being a mother. Has family always been your main focus and reason for driving yourself forward?
Vicki Gunvalson (VG) – My family has always been and is my first priority. I was raised in the Midwest and am 1 of 5 children. My parents always taught us the importance of integrity, hard work and family first. Being a young mother at the age of 22 and then a single mother at age 29 taught me life lessons that I still adhere to today. Hard work, perseverance and ethics will allow you to achieve the goals that you set your mind to. All of mine were accomplished by putting the needs of my children in front of mine. They are my everything.
WMW – Your children are now grown up with Michael following you into a family business and carving his own impressive reputation and Briana becoming a mother. Are they a constant source of pride for you and a reminder of how hard you worked to get where you are now?
VG – Yes, my children are a direct reflection of my hard work. Michael graduated University of Colorado/Boulder 5 years ago and although he never intended to work in my business, he quickly realised after attending outside interviews that Coto Insurance and my business would provide him with the opportunity to be his own boss and to set his own salary based on his sales. Briana became a Nurse and received her Bachelor Science of Nursing Degree in 3.5 years, where most of the students achieve that in 6-7 years. Briana being a mother of 2 small children has put her career on hold, but in the next year she is looking forward to resuming Emergency Room Trauma nursing which is what she loves doing.
WMW – Ok, let’s talk about you as an individual. Tall, blonde and gorgeous, what is your secret? Businessmen seem to show stress on their face so easily but you look incredible, would you say that happiness is the secret to remaining youthful?
VG – Thank you for the compliment! Although there are times I am stressed, I really try to look at my glass as 1/2 full and never 1/2 empty. Our minds are our most powerful muscle and if we think about all the stress and negativity in our lives, it will appear in health issues, our outward appearance and the way we treat others. I am relentless on the pursuit of happiness and I finally feel I have achieve it in all areas of my life.
WMW – We love that you are referred to as the ‘OG of OC’ due to being the only buy tamoxifen research remaining original cast member of The Real Housewives of Orange County. Do you think the nickname suits you? With a catchphrase like ‘bring it on’, it certainly seems to.
VG – Yes, it’s funny to think of myself as the longest standing cast member and YES I think the name suits me. Being privileged enough to be on a Reality show for 9 seasons is somewhat surreal. There are many times when I think “why me” but then I say to myself “why NOT me”.
WMW – Right, let’s talk business. Your no nonsense approach to life lead to you founding Coto Insurance, an enormously successful financial services organisation. Why did you decide to start it and did you know it would change your life as dramatically as it has?
VG – I started Coto Insurance after moving to Southern California to a gated community called Coto de Caza. It was previously under the name of ‘Gunvalson Insurance’ and I quickly realised I did not want to have my husband’s last name as part of my brand. I re-filed all the corporate documents and became a Corporation instead of an LLC. I have proudly owned Coto Insurance since 2009 and I was first licensed in 1991 in Chicago, IL.
WMW – In addition to Coto, you have added Woo Hoo Productions to your portfolio of businesses and even have a fabulous diamond jewelry line. You make having it all look so easy, is it?
VG – No it isn’t easy by any means, but I truly have to say assembling the right team is the answer.
WMW – Your latest endeavor has been to co-author ‘Let’s Talk Money: Women’s Guide to a Lifetime of Wealth’ with Dennis M. Postema. Why did you decide to write a book?
VG – Dennis and I both are in the same line of business, which is retirement planning for people that are within 5-10 years of retirement and providing our clients with an account that will offer them income forever. We believe in ‘safe money’ investing and this book was just another way to show my clients how important it is to protect their principle while investing in their golden years.
WMW – Can you tell us what readers of the book can expect?
VG – The readers will get a glimpse of how I got into the Insurance & Financial Services industry and a real life story about how this business has changed my clients lives. It will also educate the readers on why we believe in safe money in retirement and how you can achieve a forever income stream without any exposure.
WMW – As the book is aimed specifically at women, do you think it offers relatable advice for all of us?
VG – Absolutely!
WMW – Are there plans for any more books, perhaps a follow up to ‘Let’s Talk Money’, or anything else?
VG – Yes I have several more books that I have in the making so stay tuned. It’s going to be a fun ride.
Vicki’s book is available to buy here.