Sep 28, 2011

The Power of Latina Voices

Author Margarita Hernandez

Kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month at the Hispana Leadership Summit in Aventura, Florida last week definitely impressed me with the strength and variety of the Latina voice. For any Latina woman in the business field –whether an entrepreneur or a corporate executive- this conference offered great advice and inspiration for how to succeed not only in your career but in your life.

The event was energizing, after all, fill a room with Latin business women and there is no doubt that the energy level will go through the roof.

We heard from an exceptional panel of Latina entrepreneurs titled Passions to Profits who shared their messages of success, which can be applicable for anyone in the business world – work hard, be authentic, learn from mistakes, take risks, find your voice, seek balance, and my favorite: love what you do, and do what you love. Easier said than done, but hearing from strong voices such as Ivette Mayo (@ivettemayo), President of Yo Soy I Am, tell her story of achievement truly had us all walking out the door feeling inspired to follow our dreams, break barriers and find passion in business. Ivette’s advice to finding balance as a career woman was to learn to say “No” – you can’t say yes to everybody – your own quality of life needs to come first. Alternatives to “No” for those who have a hard time: try “I can’t right now” or “Let me think about it.”

When Nati Soto, President of Ferguson Glasgow Schuster Soto, Inc. , a South Florida architecture firm, was asked how she can do it all – family, work, successful career – she said that she finds that the more you do, the more you can do – she feeds on it. “You figure it out, things do get easier, relationships with your family and your career change.”

These are women who have achieved what many may perceive as unachievable, who have surpassed multiple challenges and marched right past nonbelievers.
Maria Marin (@maria_marin), Motivational Speaker, Radio Personality and Bestselling Author, gave a fun and laugh-out-loud “charla” about the multiple roles Latinas play in life: wife, mother, friend, sister, career woman, nurse, chef, psychologist, accountant, teacher.  She talked about the beauty of living in a bicultural world, and how some of the key personality traits of Latina women are what make them stand with such pride – their independence, confidence, authenticity and passion give them a strong purpose and voice. She introduced the latest campaign by Procter & Gamble targeting Hispanic women titled “Orgullosa” (in English means “Proud”) (www.orgullosa.com), for which she is the spokesperson.  Orgullosa is a new initiative that celebrates the diverse collective beauty of Latina women. The movement encourages Latina women to promote not only their own beauty standard, but also their accomplishments as daughters of the new world.

In another session, Meet me Halfway, the Art of Negotiation, Dr. Yasmin Davidds (@YasminDavidds), Founder of the Women’s Negotiation Institute, gave useful tips on negotiating your way to achieving your goal, whether it be closing a deal, or getting a raise. She shared her insights on the important cultural differences you have to consider depending on who you’re negotiating with: what works with a male vs. female; Hispanic vs. Caucasian, etc. For instance, with women, it is important to connect on some level. With men, you must prove your professional competence to set the stage.

Eighty percent of the work in a negotiation is preplanning – set the systematic framework for the negotiation:
1)      Build a strong case – tie it in to the bottom line of what you’re asking for
2)      Conduct a barrier audit – every possible way they “won’t” or “can’t” do it
3)      Create a strategy to counter each barrier – in other words, solve their problem.

Another workshop consisted of Julie Stav (@tweetconjulie), financial guru, author and radio host, giving sound, practical and valuable financial advice on how to invest to set the stage for a financially stable present and future, for both young and old. Her advice on raising financially savvy children: “Teach kids it’s better to have a share of Nikes than a pair of Nikes.” Gotta love it – so true, talk about getting your kids started on the right foot when it comes to learning how to save!

The recurring message throughout the event was clear – Latina women have strong voices and are amazing business women.  The Hispana Leadership Summit was a great event to fuel your passions and creativity and gain inspiration and knowledge that help you at work and at home.  And as a corporation, marketer or small business owner, reaching this coveted demographic has never been more important – with the number of Hispanics in the US at 50.5 million and growing, and Latinas making up 48% of that number. Targeting this key demographic, who has disposable income, often makes the financial decisions at home, has larger than average household size, and loves to shop should undoubtedly be on your agenda.  Some of the top sponsors of the event, companies and organizations that truly embrace the Latina opportunity, were Yum! Brands, State Farm, Macy’s, Susan G. Komen, Walt Disney, and of course, PR Newswire.  How will your brand connect with the Latina market in the U.S.?

Author Margarita Hernandez is a bicultural & bilingual media and communications professional with over 12 years of experience in working with corporate clients in helping strategize their Multicultural Marketing and Public Relations campaigns. She is currently a Senior Account Manager for PR Newswire’s Multicultural Division.

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