Breaking Out of Boxes

Sandy Goe


Sandy Goe was the keynote speaker for the UCSB Professional Women’s Association Conference in May. Born in Los Angeles, Goe met her husband, Gino, in Santa Barbara, during college and the couple, together for nearly four decades, remained in town to raise their children. Goe leads the Santa Barbara Business Network & Expo, providing independent business owners with networking opportunities and operating and marketing resources to help them raise revenue and public awareness.

Listen to an interview with Sandy by KCSB's Alex Casavant

What are you most proud of achieving?

Launching a new business network in Santa Barbara that has been a catalyst for so many new business relationships. I love bringing hope to people - helping them connect with resources and people who can help them become stronger and healthier - personally and professionally.

How did your major help you in your current career?

The Psychology and Business Econ disciplines continually come into play as it’s all about serving people in the context of business and helping people develop a new business based on their vision and passion.

Why did you leave your research job?

For 13 years, I worked at a local research center which required security clearance. One day the center had a family day and offered clearance for family members. It was the first time my husband saw where I worked. There was no daylight in my cubicle. Being in construction, he couldn’t imagine going through a day without natural light - THAT would be stressful for him.

He said to me, “Why don’t you quit your job and stay home?” You would think I would have embraced the liberation, but after 13 years I found my identity was interwoven into the fabric of my corporate job. I wanted to help supplement our family income and deep within me, felt the need to serve a bigger purpose yet I was not sure how. My husband helped wake me up to a world outside of the cubicle.

What did you do after you left your research position?

I signed up as a representative for a direct sales company called Premier Designs Jewelry. I love parties and jewelry so it seemed like a good fit.  I literally “stepped out of the box” and was thriving outside of a cubicle. I didn’t expect how much I grew from being self-employed. I broke out of my comfort zone- asking women to host and doing home shows myself. I had difficulty speaking to more than two people at a time. Now I was expected to do presentations for 5-20 ladies at a show! After sweating through a few, I began to see the joy these ladies expressed from gathering. Their defenses were down, and conversation and laughter filled the room. The joy of serving women soon outweighed my fear of failure. I submitted to a greater cause than myself. I asked God to use me, equip me, lead me.  Doors started to swing open with new connections, opportunities and vision. Super exciting!

How did you become a business coach?

In 2011, I recognized the need for a local women’s networking group that addressed both personal and professional growth.  With my husband’s encouragement, I stepped out of another “box” and started what is now the Women’s Community Business Network. We invited guest speakers to share knowledge that we could apply to our businesses and lives. We were the first local network to host a hands-on social media workshop. We hosted a half-day business etiquette workshop, and built a team of 23 participants for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, raising $1661, ranking third out of 31 teams in fundraising.

How did you come up with the idea for the Santa Barbara Business Network?

My husband and I noticed that businesses were closing as our country was going through economic changes and we wondered what we could do. We brought resources together to serve that need, to learn, connect, network and support each other’s businesses. As it grew, doors kept opening. No matter where you are, there are opportunities to break out of new boxes.

What is an important lesson you have learned?

I learned from my parents that empowerment comes with letting go of past hurts and injustices in order to go forward.  It was not until 2000 that I learned about the injustices my parents experienced in their childhoods. Our daughter was preparing a report on FDR’s 1942 Executive Order 9066 for the removal and mass incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S.

Sandy Goe's family 1939

Imagine if an officer came to your door today and you were ordered to vacate your home and business and allowed only one suitcase. You do not know where you’re going, or if you’ll ever return. In April, 1942, my mom’s family was taken to the Manzanar Internment Camp in the California desert. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, monitored by armed guards, had community toilets without partitions, community showers without privacy, people were forced to tolerate extreme weather conditions. My mother entered camp at age 9, and was released at age 12 in 1945 just in time to enter junior high in L.A. They had no home and no business to return to.

My father’s family lived and farmed in Norwalk when they were relocated to stables at the Santa Anita Race Track then to a camp in Jerome, AK. When they were released they also had no home or business to return to. They were shunned even by prewar friends and it took years to trust again.

Fast forward, family members have done well as a result of positive attitudes, hard work, and perseverance. All these years I had no idea. In fact, my father and uncles served in the United States Army when they became of age for service, and all discharged with honors. I’m so thankful my parents chose not to bring the bitterness of their past into our upbringing. They gave us the opportunity to grow up elevated above their painful past.  By their choice of focusing on the positive and demonstrating love and respect my brother and I had the freedom to start with a fresh conscience and the ability to receive others without prejudice.

Reasons We're Proud to be Gauchos

No. 6

I can look back and really appreciate UCSB’s mission, which includes providing “an educational journey of discovery that stimulates independent thought, critical reasoning, and creativity.”