Archive for December, 2007

The side effects of my vacations

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

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I’m just back from three weeks in Buenos Aires and in bad need of a vacation from my vacation! But as most of those who periodically return to our native countries know, the trip hardly qualifies as a vacation.  

    I spend most of my time visiting with my family and friends and have little down time to relax. Even when I am supposed to be relaxing, I stop by a cyber cafe to check my email, or to blog, I call my voice mail to check messages and talk to several of my friends and colleagues in New York. Granted, I’m in a different environment and even a different weather, but for me it’s not like spending two weeks on the beach or sightseeing in a foreign country where I don’t know anybody and I get to disconnect for a while.

But maybe that is the main problem of being on vacation these days. That we are never completely on vacation. We are still connected to work through our many devices therefore not allowing ourselves to create some distance from our everyday responsibilities. Not allowing ourselves to fully replenish our energy.

    Maybe it was not being around friends and family that exhausted me so much but the fact that I never completely left New York behind.Trying to be in two places at the same time, now that is exhausting!dsc01943.JPG

Can´t get a job?

Monday, December 17th, 2007

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There is a higher level of unemployment in Argentina than in the US and although the two countries are very different, lack of proper education, is one of the reasons why some people can´t find a job in either country.

    It becomes evident when I talk to employers who have been looking for employees for a long time and can´t fill their openings. “We´ve been interviewing for sales people for our upscale clothing stores for the past six months to no avail. There is a severe shortage of suitable candidates,” a human resources director tells me.This seems to be the case for a wide range of positions. In an attempt to prepare the future workforce, more and more companies are offering training programs for college students and graduates who wish to enter a particular industry, evidence that the global talent war has not spared this southern country. Parents may have part of the answer to this growing global concern. Patricia Veiga, the mother of a 14 year old says it best: “Teenagers are not interested in school and failing certain number of courses is in fashion. Many parents don´t get involved in their kids education, they don´t ask ´”how´s school,” they don´t tell them to prepare for the tests, etc. And with less kids going to college, there will be a less prepared workforce.”Nothing could be more true. In the US for instance, about 80% of new jobs require some college. So, the best you can do if you´re looking for a job and you´re having trouble finding one is to ask yourself if you have enough preparation for what jobs require nowadays or if you´d be better off going back to school.

It´s a Small World

Monday, December 10th, 2007
  • Saludos from Buenos Aires! I flew down for my annual trip last week and the weather has been gorgeous. Warm and sunny… unlike the cold New York winter I left behind.
    I seriously believe that we live in an increasingly smaller world. Two weeks ago, when I was in Los Angeles at GE´s Hispanic Summit, I sat at the ¨Milwaukee¨table for dinner and found myself next to an Argentine who grew up in Buenos Aires, one block away from my house!My flight to Argentina last week was one more proof that we are really all connected.Right after the passengers boarded the plane and we all took our seats, my neighbor and I began a conversation that would soon reveal that we knew at least ten people in common. When she introduced me to her sister in law, who was sitting behind us– we added another ten.How can this be? I haven´t lived in Argentina for nineteen years and still we found the most incredible connections: one of my new acquaintaces had spent a New Year´s Eve at my cousin´s house in Washington DC when he was in the U.S. studying for his Ph.D, she´s also the sister of the owner of one of my favorite bookstores in Buenos Aires. The other and I share the same Ayurvedic doctor.You may think this only happens because Buenos Aires is a small town, and that may be true, (although with 10 million people, it is one of the biggest cities in the world) but the truth is that there trully are six degrees of separation and once you start talking to someone and exploring their circle of friends and acquaintances, chances are you will find several people in common. It is one of the nicest things about networking: it helps establish rapport with people.It also pays to never speak badly about anyone!!!

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Edit yourself!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Today I was a guest at 93.1 FM AMOR, a wonderful New York radio station that helped us get lots of participants in a recent HACER workshop for teenagers and their parents. We were discussing the topics of my book “The Latino Advantage in the Workplace” and we opened the lines to get listeners’ questions.We took a few calls but not as many as we would’ve liked because when people spoke to the call screener, they took so long to explain their question that they weren’t put through. You see, if you can’t say it to the screener, you won’t be able to say it on the air!This is a common occurrence in radio. Claudia Morales, the co-host and co-producer of the show (and in the picture with me), shared with me some of her experiences as a call screener. When callers are asked “what is your question,” they don’t get to the point, they give too much context and take up all the available time assigned for the Q & A period. So, instead of taking ten calls, you end up taking three or four.The problem is that this doesn’t just happens on the radio. Latinos tend to beat around the bush instead of getting straight to the point. Sometimes this trait is an asset, like when you are at a party and you are telling a story that has everyone engaged. But if you want to be heard in the media or in a business environment, you’re better off learning how to edit yourself. How to get to the point quickly and succinctly. Otherwise you may loose your audience or loose your chance to speak!

    Here are some tips to edit yourself: 
  • First think of the idea/concept you’re trying to convey
  • Practice saying it aloud and time yourself
  • Now try to cut that time in half!
  • Practice conveying your idea to a friend in ten seconds
  • Ask your friend for feedback. Did they understand your idea/concept? claudia-morales-en-amor.jpg

No questions?

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

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 This week I presented two workshops at the GE Hispanic Summit in Los Angeles. It was organized by their Hispanic employee network and many of the top officers and executives of the company were guest speakers and panelists. It was striking to see how very few questions were asked by the participants during the Q & A period. I believe it had something to do with not wanting to ask the wrong thing in front of such a large audience.

Asking the first or second question in a meeting, however, is a great way to gain visibility in a corporation. People notice you and learn about you through your question. Invariably, every time I ask a question in front of hundreds of people, a few people approach me afterwards to talk to me and ask for my business card.

As a matter of fact, that’s the way I got my first book contract. I asked a question to a panel of publishers and after the session was over, three of them asked me write a book proposal. The secret, of course, is to ask something that establishes who you are and at the same time is relevant to the rest of the audience.  

Here are a few rules to maximize the value of this opportunity to gain visibility:  

1. Clearly say your name and title (or your affiliation). 

2. Thank the presenter for his/her presentation, comments, etc. 

3. Establish your credibility in one sentence. I may say something like: “In my books and workshops I usually tell people that asking questions is a great way to gain visibility.”

4. Ask a question that connects with the previous line and with the topic presented. I would go: “I’d like to know what things have you specifically done throughout your career to gain more visibility.”

5. Make sure it’s a smart question but not one that puts the speaker on the spot. Think of something that applies to many people in the audience.

6. Keep the question short.