I was fresh out of college, researching up and coming hispanics as part of a project for a wealth management bank in beverly hills when I discovered that the founder of Latina magazine was in the same building as me. She was working as an agent at CAA (creative artist agency). “I have to meet her!” I thought to myself. I wanted to ask Christy Haubegger so many questions as a case study for my marketing project. I also had questions about her because she fascinated me. I wanted to know what it was like to build an empire like that from nothing. What did it mean for her to go from being a law student at Stanford to an infamous entrepreneur? I decided to reach out and little did I know, I would get so much more than I bargained for.
I called the CAA general number and asked to be connected. I got the usual gate keeper questions….who are you with…can I take a message bla bla bla. I was excited to talk to a live person and left a message with her assistant. I explained that I worked downstairs, and wanted to interview Christy to some insights on how my employer could better cater to the needs of latinos like her. I gave them my name and number and hoped for the best.
A few days later, my extension at the bank rang. It was Christy’s assistant. “Christy will see you,” she said. I was so excited. I put the date and time on my calendar and got on my computer to research her. This was before google so I used Lexus Nexus. I wanted to be prepared with insights on her and I wanted to get a feel for what she liked. I wanted to get her a gift. I found an article that said she was from Texas and liked “Texas Ruby Red Cola.” so i did some more research and found a restaurant in Pasadena that sold this drink. So I drove 2 hours to buy a can, slapped a bow on it, and showed up to my appointment with Christy with my gift. I was so nervous and very excited. “Thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me, I read somewhere that this is your favorite drink so i brought you a can from a place in Pasadena.” Her jaw dropped then she broke into an ecstatic laugh. “Oh my god…who…how…I haven’t had one of these in such a long time. Thank you!” She then opened up to me like we were old friends. She was so down to earth and we even joked about how awesome our conversation was going despite the fact that our colleges were rivals. I told her she was pretty cool for a Stanford grad. She said i wasn’t too bad for a Cal bear.
It was one of the best conversations in my life. She gave me the scoop on how the magazine started as a school project for a class in law school that got her excited. So she decided to see it through. It wasn’t easy but she was resourceful and persistent until she got the funding she needed. She gathered a lot of research to persuade investors. “I grabbed hold of the opportunity and wrestled it to the ground,” she said to me.
When I left her office I was full of inspiration and so grateful. I called her a few days later to thank her again for her time. I left a message with her assistant of course because no one connected to her directly, just like that. To my surprise i got a call back about two months later. “Please hold for Christy Haubegger, said her assistant” I was beside myself with excitement.
Christy complimented me on making an impression on her. She told me about a project she had cooking where she would produce a movie for a few months and would need an assistant. “Do you want to join me on a movie set for two months? I’d love to have you on my team.” I was speechless for a moment. I wanted to say yes, of course but instead i said, “let me ask my boss if I can get a two month leave of absence.” She replied “Yes, of course! Let me know.”
I ran to my boss’s office. Irene Romero was a banker, my boss, and an awesome role model. She hired me a few weeks after I graduated at UC Berkeley to work at her bank as a marketing researcher. After I told her about the call and the opportunity to work on a film with Christy, she smiled from ear to ear and said, “yes of course! Take all of the time you need and your job will be waiting for you when you are done.”
That’s how I landed my first job in Hollywood, or Culver City to be exact. The year was 2004 and the movie was “Spanglish,” Directed by Jim Brooks and Staring Adam Sandler. It was produced on the Columbia Pictures Sony Entertainment lot. Many scenes were shot in Malibu and Beverly Hills too.”
Working on a movie set in my early 20s as a direct assistant to a producer was a huge deal. Most people had to work on movie sets as runners for a few years before landing an opportunity like that. I walked into the role less than 6 months out of college. I got to manage the master script, help with casting, product placement and was in many of the most important meetings with the top people on the set. I consulted Jim Brooks directly on the Spanish language and in the true Berkeley grad fashion gave him a few unsolicited tips on sociology to aid in casting and language use decisions for the film. It was an incredible experience to do these things but what was most precious to me during this time was working with Christy.
Christy turned out to be the BEST boss I have ever had in my entire career. I have had some awesome bosses but she left the greatest impression on me. She mentored me during what turned out to be over a year long production and during that time, she affected me in ways that are part of the person I am today.
I credit her with teaching me to be the sort of Boss I am. She was demanding but very patient and led by example, always. I also saw what it looked like to be a fierce confident woman yet down to earth and humble. While she gave me access to her wisdom she always encouraged me to be myself. She celebrated and rewarded my resourcefulness, creativity and ability to connect with people. I aim to do that for others too. When I share what I know, I do it to inspire others, not to make them like me. She taught me that.
Christy also inspired me to fall in love with the art of combining creative decisions making with data analytics. She taught me how to pull data from platforms and I learned how to analyze it by helping her put together presentations. I watched her navigate conversations and presentations with data and I picked up a knack for presenting recommendations backed by research as well. I’ve been successful as a marketing researcher and data analyst ever since working with her.
As an entrepreneur I strive to be like Christy in many ways, every day. I didn’t realize it at the time but she prepared me for that as well. I had no desire to start my own business at the time but I assimilated the relentlessness that characterized her success in my eyes. I can still hear her voice in my head when I am faced with hurdles in my business telling me to grab opportunities and wrestle them to the ground.
I am forever grateful for her influence in my life and I hope to do her justice by paying it forward as a leader as well.