In the News

NAWBO Member Q&A: Claudia Schabel

Claudia Schabel is the founder, owner and president of Schabel Solutions, a company focused on helping organizations build a more inclusive workplace. She’s a native of Brazil and speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English and some Japanese. A graduate of Drake University, Schabel has made Des Moines her home and continues to give back to the community through professional and volunteer service.

She’s a recipient of the 2008 Business Record Forty Under 40 award, the 2010 Robert D. Ray Iowa Latino Ambassador Award and the 2014 Iowa International Center Passport to Prosperity Award.

What is your business all about? What is your mission?

At Schabel Solutions, we help organizations diffuse the dangers of unconscious bias — from overlooked potential to outright train wrecks.

Schabel Solutions focuses on providing diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and effective practices to solve workplace, workforce and marketplace challenges for our clients.

Schabel Solutions helps organizations continue to build a more inclusive workplace and workforce so that all employees from all backgrounds can thrive. We help businesses and organizations understand the types of programming and strategies that can be implemented to increase inclusivity among their current and future employees.

How did you get into entrepreneurship?

I started my business accidently. A dear former colleague of mine reached out to me for help with one of his clients who had requested training to mitigate unconscious bias. I thought that it would be fun and agreed to do a one-time engagement. I developed the content and delivered the trainings. And the rest is history. I have not stopped since 2016 because I continued to have organizations seeking my trainings.

I love what I do. I love the impact that my work has on people and their professional and personal lives.

I simply want to help employers and communities understand that when we overlook people and the talent that currently exists in the marketplace, we’re contributing to a very large problem. The problem is the labor shortage of millions of people that are not in the job market today. When we begin to change the organizational cultures and mindsets, we can not only improve our workplaces, but also provide people in our communities with opportunities.

With our current labor shortage, it is extremely competitive for small businesses to attract and retain employees and it will be even more challenging by 2025. The important questions remain: What is your organization doing to compete for talent? What is your workforce planning strategy? How is your organization preparing for the demographic trends? Start to address these questions by making your organizational culture more inclusive of all people.

What makes your heart race? 

Besides the smiley faces of my nephews and niece, what really makes my heart race with excitement and joy is when I get to travel with my spouse and learn about new places and cultures. Having new experiences broadens my perspectives and helps me gain insights into other people’s lives and beliefs.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

You are powerful. Know that you are powerful and leverage it. Dream big and continue to update and upgrade your dreams. Life is a blank canvas and you should not limit your vision of your future for any reason or anyone else. Think long term about your goals and learn to anticipate challenges, but don’t give up. Instead, strategize and ask for help. Yes, ask for help. You are not the only one experiencing your circumstances in life. Trust that you can find your way through life, because you will. And, girl, please wax those eyebrows.

What’s a unique story you can tell us?

I have a twin sister who also lives in town. She and I play pranks on our friends once in a while. When I met my in-laws, we switched identities by changing clothes and playing each other. This was supposed to be funny but it did not go well. We confused them so much that it took a week for them to get things straight again.

How to grow your network — and your business

Anyone who operates a small business knows it’s essential to invest much of their time in day-to-day business operations. But have you thought about investing more time in growing your professional network?

Relationships can help expand your business — often through word-of-mouth marketing. But a strong social capital can also directly help you financially. Take, for example, the 2012 sale of Eloqua, a marketing automation and intelligence platform, to Oracle. The sale was completed for $871 million, more than 200 percent of Eloqua’s estimated public market value.

A big reason? Eloqua co-founder Paul Teshima said it was because he built a strong network with people at Oracle, making the entire process seamless.

It’s clear networking and relationships bring countless benefits, but how and where can you start to expand your own network?

Join organizations with similar interests

Do a little research to find an organization aligning with your business and interests. Joining them can connect you with other like-minded individuals, making relationship-building easy and fun. Trade associations are an obvious place to turn to, and there are many throughout Iowa. For example, if you work in the insurance space, it might benefit you to join the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa. Or if you operate as an independent real estate agent, consider joining the Iowa Association of Realtors.

NAWBO Iowa is a quality organization for connecting you with other women business owners. And who knows? Members might end up using your product or service.

There are also opportunities within your community, especially if you operate in a small town. Networking in small towns is even more important because of how residents in that community choose businesses — often based on who they know and trust.

Here’s a small list of easy-to-join local organizations:

  • Your local chamber of commerce.
  • Rotary Club International.
  • Your regional SCORE Association branch.


Find community events — both big and small

Events within your community can be a great way to connect with other influencers and leaders. The size of the gatherings can also alter your approach to networking.

The bigger the event, the more of a plan you’ll want to formulate. With hundreds or potentially thousands of people in one space, there’s simply too much to do all in a matter of a few hours. Make sure to research the event: who will be there, the dress code, the itinerary. You can either meet as many people as you can or actively seek out a few key people you have in mind. Either way, it’s important to have a 30-second elevator speech and business cards to quickly explain your business and who you are.

At smaller events, the assumption is it’s much more casual. There are fewer people, meaning more time for conversation. Because smaller events are generally more intimate, it helps to have a previous connection there to move across the space with a friend. 

At the end of an event, follow up with your new connections over the next few days. Whether that be a LinkedIn request, an email or a handwritten letter, the follow-up will help your name and business stick in the minds of others.

Find sponsors

Piggybacking off the previous tip, having a sponsor — a person you know well — can help broaden your network, especially if they have large networks themselves. The sponsor can be your boss at work or another mentor in the community.

The benefit is they can introduce you to new people and encourage you to go to places where you can make connections.

Stay confident!

One of the biggest issues for women business owners is having the necessary confidence when discussing or selling their business. A 2013 study from Montana State University found that women often are afraid of touting their achievements for fear they may sound arrogant. Men don’t typically have this problem.

Remember, when you’re networking, it’s OK to talk about your accomplishments, especially if they are impressive. You don’t want to dominate the conversation, but when you’re asked, don’t be afraid to brag a little bit. You worked hard to achieve what you’ve done, and you’ll stick out.