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Linda Hollander: I'm a Sponsor Passionista

Twenty years ago Linda Hollander left a dead end job and an abusive boyfriend and started a multi-million dollar business selling promotional bags. She became known as The Wealthy Bag Lady and now she shares the knowledge she gained while navigating her way through the world of corporate sponsorships. Linda knows that women have a hard time asking for what they need, typically undervalue their worth and think, “Why would anyone want to sponsor me?” Well Linda, the Sponsor Concierge, knows the answers to all those questions and many, many more.

If you are part of the Passionistas community, Linda is offering a free consultation to set you down the right path to the following your passions with the financial security you need. Listen to her episode for details.

Here is an excerpt from our interview with Linda.

Passionistas: What's the one thing you're most passionate about?

Linda: Oh wow. Just one thing. I am actually a Sponsor Passionista and that's what I'm most excited about. I love empowering women financially, so they can make better choices in life, so they can live their passion, as you teach them to do. So they can send their kids to better schools, so they can have better lives. Everybody has a challenge and my goal in life is to have people discover and achieve their greatness.

Passionistas: Tell us a little bit about your background and how that led to you getting into the world of corporate sponsorships.

Linda: Before I started my business, I was in a dead end job. I wasn't making enough money at my job. So I borrowed on credit cards and my hand would literally shake when I opened that mailbox because there were bills there that I could never, ever afford to pay. And I wasn't living large or anything. I was just kind of trying to make my rent every month. And sometimes it was a struggle. A lot of times it was a struggle.

I had to work with people that I didn't like. I had a very abrasive relationship with my boss and my heart and my soul were absolutely crying out because I had the fire of an entrepreneur. And this was a toxic situation to be in, in that business. Sometimes at lunch, I would go into my car and I would cry.

And in my personal life, I was in a relationship with an abusive man. And I stayed in that relationship for many years because basically I thought that was what I deserved. And I couldn't see a way out of it. Fortunately, ladies, one day I had an epiphany and I fired my boss. I dumped the abusive boyfriend and I called my friend Cheryl. And I said, "Do you want to take the biggest adventure ride of our lives together and start a business?" And fortunately she said, "Yes."

Passionistas: What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when they're looking for sponsors?

Linda: The first is not charging enough money. If you don't ask for enough money from your sponsors it's going to hurt you in the sponsor world because you're telling your sponsors that you have nothing of value to offer and it's not worth their time. Basically, sponsorship is kind of a team sport. So what you do is you have one person in the company, that's your hero. And then they tell other people in the company about you. And eventually they decide to give you money and sponsor you. So not asking for enough money is one of the biggest mistakes that people make in the world of sponsorship because they don't take you seriously. And then they have to spend some time to convince their colleagues about the value that you bring to the company.

So that's one mistake, and then a second mistake, is just not believing in yourself. Because when people are just getting started in the world of sponsorships, one of the things that holds them back is why would a sponsor give money to little old me? Who the heck am I?

And that's what I thought too. I live in Los Angeles. So guess what? I was in a traffic jam and I'm cursing the traffic jam. I'm hot, I'm bothered, I'm tired. But I look up and I see a billboard for Bank of America. And I said, "Oh my God, what if Bank of America could sponsor me?"

Now at this point, it was just an idea in my head, I didn't have any events under my belt. I didn't know if it had legs. I didn't know if people would come. So I went back to my office and basically what I did was I self-sabotaged. Because I said, "What am I crazy? I'm just a little frizzy haired, Jewish girl here in her kitchen. They're not going to take me seriously. And I'm going to get rejected and I really don't want that." So I buried it for about two weeks. But my passion, like yours, to help women was so strong that after the two weeks I said, “What have I got to lose? Let's make a couple of calls.”

And I did call Bank of America. One person led me to another and I got a guy saying, “Yeah, come on by.” So when I came by to meet them, I wore my one good suit. I had a car that was more rust than paint and it was embarrassing. So I parked it like two blocks down so nobody would see that car. And I gave them my proposal.

Now, when you meet with your perspective sponsor, don't just bring one proposal. I brought four proposals so he could share it with his colleagues.

Thank God there was a desk between us because my knees were knocking. And so he read over my proposal. He said, "Great. We'll sponsor you." And it was a five figure sponsorship, my very first sponsorship. And I had to act like I did this all the time. And then he wanted to shake my hand and my hand was all sweaty. So I had to wipe it on the back of my one good suit to shake his hand. And man, when I got back to my car, I did the happy dance and I waived all the Bank of America's on the way home.

So I want to illustrate that even if you're just starting out, even if you have no experience, even if you have no following, I didn't even have a following or a fan base at the time. I had my parents and my brother-in-law and that was it. If I could have put the cat on there, I would have, so I didn't have a following either but you can do it because everybody has to start somewhere.

To find out more about Linda visit Sponsor Concierge.

And be sure to schedule your sponsor strategy session with Linda. Listen to her episode for details.

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