Gwen Boyd Moss is a mother of 3, Justin (Jo Jo), Damon and Brandon. Inspired by her personal experience with her oldest son Justin, who was diagnosed with Autism at age 3 and Schizophrenia at age 14, she decided to create a series of children's books centered on the characteristics of children with special needs to assist their peers in understanding their developmental differences and encourage friendships.
A motivational speaker, it is her desire and passion to continue to bring awareness and inspire hope. Gwen's personal journey has been one of triumph and struggle. She is a professional licensed Realtor of 16 years in Georgia, and has now added to her resume Reality TV personality. She is featured as a main character on the WeTV Reality Series "Selling In The ATL." She recently launched her non profit organization to further her mission called My Special Friendz.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My life has definitely, been one than has had so many twist and turns, highs and lows. I remember sharing some of the highlights of my life with my producer Mr. Carlos King as we were preparing to begin filming for "Selling it In The ATL" , and him joking saying "OMG your life is a lifetime movie." I have learned to appreciate and be grateful for every aspect and scenario that plays out in my life, the good and the bad. I believe that they truly have all worked together to develop the woman that I am today, its defined my purpose and showed me my calling. But at the same time its helped me to understand the definition of a true leader, a true leader is unselfish, one who is not leading for the applause but leading with a cause! A true leader understands that leadership is teaching others how to lead so that they can go out help others and show them how to lead, whether its on a 9 to5 job, or if you you are leading a movement.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position in Real Estate and managing to balance all your roles?
My previous experiences have cultivated my professionalism, my attention to detail and what I believe to be my best assest my relationship skills. Real estate is a very competitive market in Atlanta and the industry is highly staturated with agents. In terms of balance, I have to give that credit to my oldest son Justin, who is diagnosed with Autism and Schizophrenia. When you have a child with mental illness balance and structure is a must, so that everyone in yor household can have a good day. I am definetly the busiest now that I have ever been in my life, but my Type A characterics help me keep everything organised, and on the days or weeks that it gets extremely hectic and say "Jesus Take The Wheel."
What have some of the highlights and challenges been when managing to balance all your roles?
For me anytime my clients are sitting at the closing table excited about the purchase of their new dream home is highlight, that never changes for me its a great feeling and Real Estate is something that I love doing. Honestly, I haven't had many challenges in the field other than not being able at times to take on more, especially since now I am balancing being on a reality TV show, being a Author, a Motivational Speaker, a Mental Health Advocate and the Founder of My Special Friendz. Just saying all that, I feel like I need a cup of coffee, and definitely an assistant. It's important to have a plan and this is something that I have planned over several years, gradually implenting certain aspects and in the midst of all I learn something new everyday.
Tell us about your involvement in Mental health advocacy and why it is so important to you?
Advocating, bringing awareness and assisting families who are affected by mental illness is my passion, my purpose, and my calling. Having Justin who we refer to as JoJo is my biggest inspiration and driving force, He was diagnosed with Autism at age 3 and then Schizophrenia at age 14. I know what other families are going through and its not easy, not just for the child or person that has mental illnes but for the family and friends surrounding them. I know the challenges of dealing with the hurt, denial and sometimes depression that parents feel when they have to deal with the diagnosis. The challenges that parents have getting services, dealing with an IEP in the school system, and dealing with a community of people that may not always be compassionate about what you are enduring. It has become my mission, to inspire, empower, and assist families with children who suffer from Mental Illness, and that is exactly what my nonprofit My Special Friendz is all about. I want to give back and make life a litlle easier for all involved. My Special Friends was created to be used as a teachable tool that could be to open up the conversation with younger children to help them form better relationships with their peers with mental illness, and it brings more awareness. It helps a child that sitting in a classroom understand why Ben may get upset and throw a chair, it's because Ben is bipolar. Each book touches on a different disability, in a fun and delicate way.
What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Have a plan, write it out, every level and aspect of it and be patient with your plan because nothing happens overnight. This is something that I have been planning out for years, little by little preparing myself and going through what I go through. Also never give up, there are going to be opstacles, and even people who won't believe in you or support you but stay focused and determined. Be discerning about choosing your team, because the team makes the dream work, choose people that are passionate about what your are doing and that are quilified to take the journey.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Ask me this question again in about a year, because now I am learning more about balance as the branches are growing! I do however always make sure my children are at the top of my list always making time for them and being apart of what's important to them. It's important to me to make sure I take time to also rest and doing something fun, life can be stressful at times and I believe that we make our happiness so you have to make time for yourself to do what makes you happy.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Sometimes I feel that we have so much more to prove, that we have to prove our intelect or ability to facititate especially if you are very attractive.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I defintely would have to say Oprah is high on my list. I am very inspired by things she has overcome, her determination, and her ability to become the mogul that she is today. Her journey is remarkable and her passion you feel in every aspect of her various endeavours. Also Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G Komen. She started The Susan G Komen foundation with a hope to do more, a vision and $250 in a shoebox!!
What do you want to personally and professionally accomplish in the next year?
Personally I just want to continue to grow to everyday become a better me. Professionally, continue to grow my Real Estate business, do big things with my non profit and change the face of mental illness.