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Meet Beate Chelette of The Growth Architect

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beate Chelette.

Beate, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
“Women can’t be successful until they build their own definition of success.”

I am a 13-year overnight success. Actually, I’m a fairly normal person who had to stretch herself to her very limits to learn how to do extraordinary things to survive. In my 20s, living in Los Angeles, I found the man of my dreams, who had one problem – he lied. But we got married and I gave birth to my daughter, Gina. Then the recession hit, I was laid off, with a small child and a deteriorating marriage I had to figure out what to do next. So I started my own business.

Just before Christmas 2000, I was betrayed by an employee who had taken my business and invoices and set up shop for herself, paid for by one of my own key clients. Not knowing any better, I sued them both. When we settled a year later after paying off the debts I ended up with exactly zero. During all of this, in Summer 2001 my European clients had scheduled $500,000 in productions I was to produce meaning my business would survive. Then came the terrorist attacks of September 11th that tore into the nation. I lost every single client – overnight.

One sliver of my business was still going: the stock syndication segment. I had managed to secure the syndication rights to the images of a world-famous photographer. Here was an opportunity: I set up a stock syndication for architecture, interior, and living-well images. I had only one, rather big problem – I had no money. I stayed afloat by saying yes to all banks’ offers. All in all, my debt was in excess of over $100,000, and I was desperately looking for more money to stay afloat.

With nothing to lose, I wrote a letter to President Bush. I explained what had happened, how I had lost my production business in the aftermath of September 11th. To my surprise, I got a letter back from the White House, which got me to the SBA (Small Business Administration) to assist me and help me find a loan. We were so close I could feel it. On every European trip, my first stop was to see my father in Germany. We’d always been close, and we spent two days together, but something was terribly off. It turns out he had pancreatic cancer that had metastasized everywhere. Cancer had spread into every organ and every part of his body.

My dad was my best friend and advisor. I lost him. On the day of the funeral, I learned I had been served a 30-day notice by my landlord to vacate the premises. All I could think was that the worst-case scenario had already happened; I had lost my father – what else could come now? I had to detach myself from the outcome. What else was there to do?

Upon my return, I retained a lawyer—with more money I did not have—to fight the eviction. I found a bankruptcy attorney and prepared myself to let it all go. Although I had just negotiated a huge deal with the largest image distributor in the world, Getty Images, I might not make it see my business turn a profit.

Finally, a bank gave me the news that it would issue a loan for my business. On a dime, my life turned. Within a few weeks, my attorney negotiated an amicable split with the landlord and I separated my personal life from my business life for the first time in ten years. I moved my office into a real office building, and Gina and I moved into a small house in a great neighborhood. My life was moving forward.

December 26, 2004: I learned that my great friend and colleague photographer Fernando Bengoechea disappeared in the Asian tsunami. Fernando had wanted to spend more time with his partner, and I was going to help him do that by syndicating his photos. Another tragedy, but I was able I was able to ensure his legacy through his work.

During all of this turmoil, my business began to turn a profit. I am certain that my Dad and Fernando had a hand in it. Beate Works became a little star among syndication companies, the world’s most-recognized collection of architectural and interior images.

In 2006, I sold my company to Corbis, a company privately held by Bill Gates and became a multi-millionaire in the process.

That’s my story. The reason I tell it is because I want you to know someone like me. Someone with a dream but way behind the starting line, and almost didn’t make it. It can happen to you, too. Here is a link to my story:

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My story is a decade of bad lack, my path was littered with obstacles.

Let’s see:
– First Generation Immigrant
– Single Mom
– Divorced
– Laid off
– Fires, floods and earthquakes
– Debt of $135,000
– The lawsuit against employee and key vendor who tried to steal my business.
– My father died of pancreatic cancer in the middle of all of this.
– Key vendor – Fernando Bengochea vanished in the big Tsunami.

The key to my survival is perseverance and the audacity to not give up.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Growth Architect story. Tell us more about the business.
Beate Chelette is the Founder of The Women’s Code and serves as the Programming Chair for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-LA). Once $135,000 in debt and a single mother, she successfully sold her business to Bill Gates in a multi-million dollar deal.

Beate’s supports Business Owners and organizations who want to reach them two-fold. As The Growth Architect, she creates training, outreach and sponsorship programs through customized Entrepreneur skills training following the 5 Star Success Blueprint that shows step-by-step how to grow, build and scale businesses.

In addition, Beate provides leadership development programs for organizations that want to implement the ROI of Balanced Leadership through The Women’s Code, her signature system that educates leaders and helps companies achieve gender equality. The Women’s Code creates and implements programs that improve organizational culture, foster productive work environments and help companies improve their people ROI.

Beate is a respected speaker and mentor and is the author of the #1 International Amazon Bestseller “Happy Woman Happy World – How to Go From Overwhelmed to Awesome”, a book that corporate trainer and best-selling author Brian Tracy calls “a handbook for every woman who wants health, success and a fulfilling career.”

If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on Leadership or Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect here.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I overcame a decade of bad luck. My good luck appeared when my being uber-prepared and finally was paired with opportunity.

When my letter to the President of the United States was sent to the SBA (Small Business Administration) and I walked in prepared with my business plan my life changed.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tommy Pham/NFTE,, Kaori Suzuki, CreativeLive

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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