CEO Rebecca Contreras Talks About Her Mistakes as a Young Woman, Working as a White House Staffer

CEO Rebecca Contreras Talks About Her Mistakes as a Young Woman, Working as a White House Staffer


Check out all episodes on the My Favorite Mistake main page.

My guest for Episode #155 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Rebecca Contreras. She is President & CEO of AvantGarde LLC, an SBA certified 8a and Women Owned Small Business firm she co-founded as Majority Partner in May 2011. Her firm offers a “one stop shop” approach to addressing complex organizational, people and technology needs.

Rebecca is the author of the book Lost Girl – From the Hood to the White House to Millionaire Entrepreneur, which recounts her journey from becoming a welfare-dependent teenage mother to advising a sitting president, to driving a successful 100-person company.  

She is a social and business entrepreneur who started her fifteen-year service in government in a welfare-to-work program for Texas icon Ann Richards.

Rebecca then spent nearly twelve years working with George W. Bush, first in Texas as his Director of HR then in the White House as a Commissioned Officer supporting the Presidential transition, followed by other roles in D.C. 

In today's episode, Rebecca shares her “favorite mistake” story about trying to move past some mistakes she made as a young woman. When she was becoming part of the White House staff, she was open and transparent about her past mistakes — was it a “crapshoot” that might not have turned out well? How did Rebecca move past her early mistakes, including dropping out of high school and becoming a teen mom?

We also talk about questions and topics including:

  • Mentoring and coaching girls today
  • When President Bush called you to serve, why did you have imposter syndrome? How did you recognize that and get past it?
  • West Wing protocol mistakes?
  • Tell us more about the book
  • Tell us about your firm… who you serve and how
  • What is it like being the CEO of a minority- and woman-owned consulting firm working in a male-dominated industry?

Scroll down to find:

  • Video of the episode
  • Photos from her time in the White House
  • Quotes
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

Find Rebecca or her company on social media:

Watch the Episode:


Courtesy of Rebecca Contreras:


"I'm a fail-forward kind of gal and have, over the course of my career, learned how to take my past issues and mistakes... to try to figure out a way to get some benefit from them... "
"I actually came from Texas with Governor Bush when he was elected [President]."
"All of a sudden I hear 'Becca get in here.' [President Bush] used to call me Becca. And I walked into this conversation that he and Andy Card and Colin Powell were having. If you look at my eyes in that picture, I'm literally going, 'I can't believe I'm here listening.'"

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.