Girlfriends Helping Girlfriends

Interview With Lya Sorano

May 23, 2011 by

We’re excited to launch a very special interview series on All The Single Girlfriends“Girlfriends Helping Girlfriends.” Through creating a forum to tell the stories of girlfriends, who are making a difference in the lives of women and young girls,  we hope to honor these amazing women and inspire us all! Please join me in welcoming …

Lya  Sorano, CEO The Oliver/Sorano Group, Inc.

Favorite Quote: One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship and compassion. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

atsGf/Toby: Who are you beyond your professional resume?

Lya  Sorano: A mother, a grandmother, a gardener, the happy owner of a cat named “Praline” (uh, actually, I think she owns me . . .), and a person very concerned about the preservation of our tiny planet in the huge cosmos.

atsFg/Toby: What is your favorite “Girlfriend” activity?

Lya  Sorano:  A small dinner party with fresh, in-season food, a crusty loaf of bread, a good bottle of wine and an exceptional conversation.

atsGf/Toby: You’ve been helping women build their professional networks, as well as increase their professional skills, since 1992 when you launched Atlanta Women in Business and most recently with your micro loan foundation. Would you tell us the back-story and what inspired you to take the road less traveled?

Lya  Sorano: In 1990, a membership invitation landed in my mailbox from NAFE, the National Association for Female Executives. I had never heard of the organization, but figured that for $19 a month (I think that’s what it was) I could afford to find out. Long story short: two years later, after much research, I founded Atlanta Women in Business, modeled on NAFE, and affiliated with it as a so-called Member Network, which lasted for several years.

It was an eye-opening experience for me that women were still so far away from equality in the workplace in the early ‘90s. I had not had any awareness of that, coming out of college and entering the business world, although, in hindsight, the signs had clearly been there. So that became the focus of Atlanta Women in Business: the pursuit of equality for women in the workplace, which we have been carrying out through networking and educational opportunities.

I have learned a lot over the years, including that women are often their own worst enemies – for an example not going after promotions or contracts because they lack self-confidence, or not investing in their own personal of professional development – and that “women supporting women in the workplace” is largely a myth. Not entirely, or I would have given up long ago, but to a far greater extent than I had imagined.

atsGf/Toby:  When women reach 40, we  enter  what should be an exciting next chapter in our lives. However, often the world, in terms of advertisers, younger people and frequently men, begins to pull a curtain around us and we become invisible. We’re still as vibrant, savvy, sexy as we were the day before .. some times even more so!  However, sometimes we buy into it. How do you not be “invisible?”

Lya  Sorano: Oh, my, now I am going to make myself even more unpopular than I already am in some circles!

Some years ago, I hired a coach. Life? Business? Success? I don’t remember what her specialty was (“success”, I believe, now that I think about it), but one of the things she did with all her clients was to get them to come up with a personal statement, a statement of purpose if you will, that tells the story of who you are. Mine is: “Boldly providing opportunities that add value to people’s lives”.

Well, it has got me into trouble more than once over the years. “Bold” is one of the kinder things people have said about me. “Direct, abrasive, maverick, blunt” are other words people have used to describe me. I think it surprises some that I, an introvert, will speak out and voice opinions that are often contrary to a popular view. The nerve!

But that is exactly what we, as women, have to do to be and remain relevant.  Perhaps it’s a woman’s wish to be liked, to be popular, that makes her invisible as she grows older and gray hair and wrinkles begin to appear.

But I say “popularity be damned” – create your own visibility and speak up about matters that are important to you. And, after a while, you discover that you are not alone – you meet others who share your ideas and opinions and who also wish to speak out.

As is commonly said, “there is strength in numbers.” Look what has happened with Atlanta Social Media Women – one person complained about the lack of women Social Media experts’ visibility and in no time at all there was a community of 50 – speaking up, supporting one another and creating opportunities for greater visibility. Like everything else, it can be done!

AtsGf/Toby:  Every once in awhile a brand attempts to capture the women’s market with variations on a popular product.  Dell tried and failed with their website focused on women. Recently Verizon Android announced it is launching a smart phone called Bliss. What are your thoughts about this type of strategy?

Lya  Sorano: Frankly, I view this as pandering.

atsGf/Toby:  Sometimes when you color outside of the lines you find great success. Sometimes you skin your knee.  Please tell us of a time when you went outside your comfort zone and the lessons that you learned.

Lya  Sorano: I don’t know; I have never colored inside the lines.

atsGf/Toby:  To wrap this up .. the virtual floor is all yours. What would you tell our community of amazing women?

Lya  Sorano: Speak up, promote other women, be bold, never give up, never stop learning, and take care of the planet – it’s the only one we will ever have.

Continue the Conversation with Lya!

Atlanta Women in Business

Georgia Gardener

Traveling The Southeast

Twitter – @lyasorano

Facebook – Lya Sorano


About the Author

Girl Friends Has Written 19 Articles For Us!

All The Single Girlfriends is a social content destination for single girlfriends over 40 who are meeting life with style and denial! Each of us, along with you, brings a unique idea of what it means to be single after the big 4-0 birthday. There is not one right way to do that. However, we double dare anyone to deny that women over 40 are not fun and fabulous!
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  1. debra pearlman

    Toby – thanks for a really nice interview and introduction to Lya. It’s nice to read, and gain indirect support, for what we all want to accomplish by speaking out minds and telling it like it is.


  2. New interview series on #atsGf .. Girlfriends Helping Girlfriends. Excited to profile #Atlanta @lyasorano

  3. Excited about our new series – "Girlfriends Helping Girlfriends" If you know any women we should include let me know ^T

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