Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Latinos: No Power Other than “Purchasing Power”?

Friday, August 5th, 2011

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In my Op Ed about the lack of Latinas on the list of “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” published by Crain’s New York Business, I suggested the culprit for the blatant absence might simply be the homogenous network of the editors. Namely, not knowing people beyond their own circle of Anglo Saxon women from which to draw candidates. Some readers quickly suggested the creation of a list of the “50 Most Powerful Latinas,” something that in one form or another already exists thanks to the compilations put together by publications such as Latina Style, Hispanic Business, Working Mother Media, etc.

Besides, the whole point of my column was to suggest that we stop thinking of each other as belonging in one bucket or another and get us to start thinking of people who impact and influence society at large. The purpose of pointing out that there were no Latinas (and very little diverse talent) on the list that inspired the post wasn’t to segregate Latinos into a separate cluster but to integrate us into the group portrayed as powerful.

You may think that I’m blowing the importance of these lists out of proportion – That they are frivolous and that “nobody really cares about them.” To me, however, they reflect who we consider influential in our culture and who determines who is influential.

And besides, for the people who make the cut, there’s a boatload of free publicity, and their visibility coefficient shoots up substantially bringing along a series of other subtle and perhaps subliminal side effects like credibility, employability and overall power.

Power brokers trade in circles with other power brokers. So, if you’re not featured on those lists and you think you are a leader, doesn’t your consistent absence imply that maybe you are not so powerful?

Now, there is something to be said in terms of our own responsibility as Latinos in all this. We, as a plural, multi-national community with various degrees of acculturation, need to step up to the plate.

If for years you’ve been hiding your background from your employers and colleagues so that you wouldn’t be pigeonholed, you need to reconsider the implications of staying in the shadows as a Latino. Now that U.S. Census figures are forcing everyone to understand Latinos as consumers and develop a more inclusive workforce, you might actually be missing out on leveraging your cultural insights and standing out as a leader.

On the other hand, if you spend most of your time attending Hispanic events and notice that you have few non-Latinos in your network, you may want to sign up for some general market conferences where you can mingle with people who navigate in different circles than you. This healthy interaction will eventually result in more Anglo-Americans becoming more aware of the kind of work you do and how relevant you are in your industry. As you forge these relationships, they will hopefully lead to invitations to attend powerful events, present at general market conferences, join VIP committees and volunteer in beloved charities.

The point is, if we stay in a silo it’s harder for others to find us. Regardless of your level of influence, the only way to make it known more broadly is to transcend your own circle, and for that you will have to get out of your comfort zone.*

*This column first appeared in AOL Noticias 11.7.11

Reinvent yourself

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

With the economy getting even worse, what is one to do to find a job? Well, it really depends on your skill set and the industry where you work.

Many of my friends who work in the media business and in the financial markets have lost the jobs. Unfortunately, these are jobs that are unlikely to return. At least, they won’t be exactly the same and I’m sure there will be less of them than before the crisis. So in some cases, it makes sense for you to re-think about how smart it really is for you to try to get another job in that industry.

If you’re a journalist and have both English and Spanish skills, you can branch out into other areas, such as writing consumer market research reports for companies such as Mintel www.mintel.com or Nielsen www.nielsen.com.

Or you can work at the public relations or communications department of a large company that is currently doing well such as Walmart http://jobs-walmart.icims.com/jobs/intro

Or McDonald’s http://sh.webhire.com/Public/491.

You can also try to start your own business, something that Latinos are naturally prepared to do. As immigrants and children of immigrants we still have that great entrepreneurial gene that makes us great entrepreneurs. Look beyond what you were doing before you got laid off and come up with a business plan to make it happen. It may be the fastest way to getting back on your feet and you may be much happier than you were before.

There is no lack of great opportunities out there that you can take advantage of: from repairing household appliances (people will be less inclined to throw them out and buy new ones!), to buying and selling brand name-used clothing, to providing financial advice to families sending their kids to college or who need to refinance their homes, to coaching people on how to improve their resumes, to tutoring adults on using the Internet to improve their skills. The list is endless. Just take a deep look at your skills and experience, match it with one of the opportunities available in the market right now, and you will be on your way to a new career path.

There are plenty of online universities where you can acquire additional skills to help you in the new field of your choice such as Kaplan http://www.kaplan.edu or University of Phoenix http://www.phoenix.edu and you can also check your local community college.

Don’t let the general gloom and doom environment get you down. There are always diamonds hidden regardless of how tough the economy gets!

Aspirantes

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
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They are the energetic, professional leaders of the future and they are here now! The high school students members of ASPIRA, called Aspirantes, develop a strong bond amongst themselves that last a life time. I met several the other day at the Aspira of New York Annual Circle of Latino Achievers luncheon.

Whether they are still in high school or they were Aspirantes 20 years ago, everyone expressed great passion for the people they had met through this organization. And just like when you are a member of any meaningful group, they help each other along the way.

Joining organizations like ASPIRA (www.aspira.org) that help them develop leadership skills while still in high school is a wonderful way for teenagers to open doors. Above and beyond all the mentorship and guidance they received during their years as Aspirantes, all of the students attending the luncheon got scholarships for college.