Former corporate manager has reinvented herself as an entrepreneur and mentor

Asked once what single word best describes her, entrepreneur Diva

Mejias answered: “Determination.”

 

“Exactly. You have to have the will to do it,” said the owner of DM

Financial Services and Complete Tax Solutions. The petite double

minority rose through the ranks in the white, male-dominated corporate

culture of United Parcel Service before taking the leap and finding

success with her own businesses.

 

The source of that determination is her 87-year-old Puerto Rican

emigre mother. The family matriarch held things together in the

abusive home Mejias and her three siblings grew up in.

 

“Back then women in domestic violence situations did not leave the

husband  – they waited for their children to grow up,” Mejias

said..”Once we were of age my mom said, ‘That’s it, I’m out of here.’

My father was in the picture until I was about 16 years old. I stayed

very close to him until the day he died.”

 

“My mother is one of the strongest persons I’ve ever met. She went to

school up to third grade in Puerto Rico and then she was on a farm.

She came to the United States and raised four children here.”

 

The family’s lived the classic immigrant success story.

 

“All of us went to college or we have our own business.

We have our own homes and families. We all became something. Our

mother taught us it doesn’t matter where you come from, but it does

matter where you’re going and how you get there. And to enjoy the

journey. But always bring people along with you. I think the

determination comes from bringing as many people as you can on that

journey so they can fulfill their dreams.”

 

Mejias feels too many folks never realize their dream.

“They know what it is, but they’re not doing it.”

 

Overcoming barriers is old hat to her.

 

“I was born and raised in New York City with that mentality of you

have to do everything you can to survive. Most of my corporate career

was looking up at men – because I’m short – and having to be better

and having to always outdo myself.”

 

The East Coaster never imagined living in the Midwest until UPS

promoted her to district controller and she was sent to Omaha to

handle company finances in Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

 

After the culture shook, she found this city to be “a hidden gem.”

 

She got transferred back East, to Pennsylvania, in 2003. But part of

her remained in Nebraska.

 

“My two kids, Robert and Victoria, were at UNO (University of Nebraska

at Omaha). They refused to leave. They graduated here. Each got

married and decided to stay in Nebraska to raise their families. So it

was a no-brainer when I retired in 2010 from corporate America to

return to Omaha.”

 

“To actually go into business for myself surprised a lot of people,”

Mejias said. “To open my agency I had to get licensed on life, health,

property and casualty. All that schooling and testing again after I’d

retired really was reinventing myself.”

 

She bought into the Liberty Tax Service franchise and after a

successful run she sold it two years ago. She has a home in Florida,

which is the headquarters for DM Financial Services. She works from

her office in Omaha.

 

Since going into business for herself, she’s leveraged her character

to differentiate herself from competitors.

 

“Two nonnegotiable in my work are integrity and confidentiality. It’s

engrained in me.”

 

Her husband does all the marketing.

 

Her son was in business with her before going solo. The two are

partnering again starting in January and a new DM office in Omaha is

coming online.

 

An active volunteer, Mejias enjoys supporting the Hispanic business community.

 

“Hispanics are lumped together to where we’re all considered the same,

but we’re not. If we’re all going to be classified as one, then let’s

raise each other up to make sure we do the best we can for our

families and for ourselves.

 

“Let’s act collectively to achieve some things together.”

 

Toward that end, She teaches tax and insurance classes for micro

business programs across the state, including a recent one in

Columbus.

 

She also serves as treasurer for the Nebraska Hispanic Chamber of

Commerce and its foundation.

 

“The chamber was founded by a group of small business owners in South

Omaha that did not speak English who felt a need to learn how to

better their businesses.”

 

Through its Impacto program and conferences, she said, the

organization is “a conduit and a bridge for Hispanic business owners

to learn things they need to know, including codes or permits. There’s

that gap, and the chamber helps bridge that. It also bridges it from

the other side by working with companies that want to tap into the

Hispanic market.”

 

At an August 23 chamber-sponsored Women of Business panel, the

65-year-old shared some advice: “If you have a dream and you feel you

can fulfill it, age should not be a factor. You just do it. If you’re

afraid, you do it afraid, If you don’t know what you’re doing, then

you go learn how to do it.”

 

Mejias, who serves on the board of Bellevue University, where she

earned her master’s degree, enjoys sharing her expertise and

experience.

 

“I support a lot of different things that help women.” said Mejias,

who volunteers with Women on a Mission for Change. “I like to mentor

young ladies. I like to talk to them. I like to let them see that they

can get it done.

 

“It gives me fulfillment to see others step up to the plate and to

move forward.”

 

The community advocate stays busy.

 

“I don’t stay still. I like to serve. The more I serve the more it

fulfills me. It’s just the work that I do. The passion I have for the

work I do is my driving force.”

 

She recently came face to face with the impact she’s made.

 

“My family had a surprise birthday party for me. There were 72 women

there. It was unbelievable. Yeah, a few people know me.”

 

She’s not slowing down if she can help it.

 

“As tired as I may be, I keep going no matter what

because there’s a need for what I do. As long as I can breathe and I

have a service I can offer to people that I know they need, I will

continue doing it.”

 

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.com.

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