Published on December 9th, 2013 | by Apuntes LJ0
Building the Latino Future
An excerpt from the book Building the Latino Future: Success Stories for the Next Generation
It’s an exciting time for the Latino community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos are the fastest-growing minority in the country. By 2010, it is expected that Latino buying power will reach a trillion dollars. Latinos are taking increasingly visible roles in business, government, entertainment, and many other arenas, and are sitting on corporate boards, heading major companies, and serving as leaders in their communities.
These new Latino leaders have been blessed by the hard work of their parents and grandparents, most of whom were immigrants to the United States, who were willing to take positions as gardeners, janitors, bus boys, and housekeepers, to create a better life for their children. Some worked two or three jobs, took public transportation, slept only three to four hours a day, and did whatever was required to make ends meet for their families.
If you are an immigrant or your parents are immigrants, this book will give you a whole new appreciation for your family’s journey. If you are a business owner looking to gain insight into the Latino workforce, this book is a must. The practical knowledge you’ll gain about Latino culture will help you understand your Latino associates. For example, you will learn that Latinos have a strong sense of community and prefer to work in teams rather than as individuals. You’ll learn the important role spirituality plays in Latino success, and gain many other insights. The authors, Frank Carbajal and Humberto Medina, are well qualified to write such a book, as they are both Latino success stories in their own right.
The prominent Latinos featured in this book are eager to inspire successful new leaders by sharing their experiences, advice, and hope. There’s a popular Spanish saying, “Si se puede,” which means, “It can be done.” That’s perhaps the most powerful message in this book: It can be done, and you can do it!
— Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One – Minute Manager and The One -Minute Entrepreneur
About the Authors
I spent most of my childhood in the barrio of Meadow Fair in East San Jose, California, where my parents still live today. The streets of my old neighborhood are laid out like the keys of a piano, and are named after famous composers — Mozart, Puccini, Chopin, and so on. I remember the day Ms. Sanders, one of my grade school teachers, gave me a ride home because I had missed the school bus. As we turned onto my street, she looked over at me and said, “ Did you know that the street you live on is named after Mozart, one of the most famous composers of all time? ” She also explained to me about the layout of our neighborhood resembling a piano. I had never even thought about it, nor had anyone else I knew, so I was excited to share what I had learned with my parents and the members of my extended family, who lived with us at the time. It was early recognition for me that, unfortunately, the only exposure to culture most chavalitos (kids) — as well as adult immigrants — in the barrio received was to that of the gang lifestyle — drug dealing and using, and early teen pregnancy. Very little emphasis was placed on education, and negative socio-environmental influences made life a constant struggle for anyonewho wanted to succeed.
For children in my barrio, as in many U.S. neighborhoods, it was difficult to acquire the desire to learn without family support and a strong foundation. By their early teens, those who weren’t fortunate enough to be given that structure and supervision often drifted into gang banging and drug dealing. With the introduction of drugs and weapons into the “ street culture, ” intra-gang violence and homicides spiraled out of control. Innocent bystanders often become victims. Today, the influence of such urban street gangs is compounded by widespread media exposure. In particular, certain rap artists who were former gang members have glorified their past by writing songs about it. Some of these records sell by the millions to young listeners worldwide, making the gang lifestyle even more appealing to disenfranchised youth. This phenomenon makes it even more vital to provide mentoring programs and introduce other positive and valuable resources into the barrios.
In my own case, my father was determined to protect me from these negative influences. Thus, my working life started at eight years old. Every summer, my parents showed my four siblings and me the value of a work ethic by taking us out to pick cherries, apricots, and, at times, strawberries, in what was then called Santa Clara Valley (now Silicon Valley). The most difficult part of the day for me was waking up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. and getting ready to head out for another long day of manual labor. I vividly remember splashing water on my face to wake up, since I was too young for coffee. Without a word of complaint or rebellion, all five of us would pack into our father’s 1978 pink Datsun, with silver flames along the side. We didn’t bother with seat belts, but I felt safe, because I was with my parents and siblings. This job taught me early to be respectful of migrant workers, regardless of their nationality. The men and women in the fields of the Santa Clara Valley were my father’s friends, and they were the jefes , the bosses of the field.
My father also worked part-time for a janitorial service company, in addition to working full-time at a cannery. On the weekends, I went with him, helping to clean offices. I know that my father ’ s intent was to keep me busy on weekends and in the summers, in order to keep me away from some of the bad kids in the barrio. I believe his motive was also to make me realize the significance of an education. He didn’t want me to work as hard as he had to; he wanted me to work smarter. My parents were much like the increasing number of immigrants who come to America: they made sacrifices to provide their children with a better lifestyle.
Those weekends spent working with my father inspired me to believe that one day I could graduate from high school, go to college, and ultimately have an office of my own, like the ones I spent so many hours cleaning. I remember once daydreaming as I was cleaning the office of the CEO of a very successful tortilla company. I vividly recall slowly pushing the vacuum cleaner as I admired everything in the office, from the rich smell of mahogany to the awards of recognition he received as an outstanding Latino. I also enjoyed looking at his recreation rewards hanging on the wall, and the ticket stubs from a Super Bowl the San Francisco 49ers played in, which were carefully displayed in a case. My father walked in and interrupted my reverie, shouting, “ Hijo (son), this is the reason you need to concentrate in school, and concentrate on going to college. This isn’t the type of job cut out for you. I don ’ t want you to work like a burro (donkey). ”
My parents were only able to complete their elementary education, since they had to start working to help support their families when they were very young. They didn’t want me to follow that same path. My father shared the stories and experiences he had living in a camper or a tent out in campgrounds, so that he could work to pick the crops and earn a living. My father demonstrated his emotional support and unconditional love for me by helping me make decisions about which kids to avoid in the barrio, and by reminding me to focus on my education rather than spending my time with the wrong crowd. Thanks to my parents ’ encouragement, I became the first in my family to go to college; I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work and, later, a master ’ s degree in human resources management. Though these were great accomplishments, I still lacked a direction about what to do next. Fortunately, I found my first mentor in a man named John Tweeten, an extraordinary man who believed I could make a difference by working with Latinos.
My family came to the United States almost thirty years ago, looking for a better life. My mother was looking for a new start after her divorce, and decided to move from Venezuela to Arlington, Virginia. My first memory of the United States is of arriving alone a few months after my mother, and having to talk to the immigration officer at JFK airport. I had a few basic English classes under my belt, and I was an avid listener of American radio programs in Venezuela, so I was confident in my ability to speak English. That confidence lasted just about three minutes, until the officer looked at me with a funny face and signaled me to follow him to the secondary inspection area, where my English vanished as I struggled to answer his questions. Where were my parents? Why was I traveling alone?
As it turned out, getting through immigration with my student visa and enrolling in English classes at Wakefield High School in Arlington were the easy steps to starting my life in this country, for in 1987, the Venezuelan economy collapsed and my father was no longer able to afford the money he had been sending each month to help us. My mother then tried for many months to get a job to keep us here. She hoped to be a secretary, but the only job she found was as a maid in a small hotel. My heart ached to see her leave the apartment early each morning, only to return late, exhausted, and still have to make dinner and take care of us. After a few months of making do with very little, my mother lost all hope and strength, and she and my sisters decided to return to Venezuela.
As for me, I had the crazy idea of staying alone and making something of my life in the United States. Somehow, I felt this was the only chance I had, and so I began my new life without my family. I took many odd jobs to try to stay afloat — I worked as a painter, limo driver, truck packer, photographer, and even as Chucky at a Chucky Cheese franchise. I learned many important lessons in the school of hard knocks at that time. My mom worried constantly about having left me behind, whereas my dad thought I would return to Venezuela after getting a good dose of reality.
But I had managed to remain here, and with plenty of encouragement from my folks, I studied to pass the GED. Soon after, I headed for community college to enter a computer engineering program — although I didn t have the money I needed to enroll. My father swore that we would find a way to pay for my education if I was able to get into the program. However, balancing college and full-time work was not as easy as I expected, and soon I was trying to convince my father that instead of helping me pay for college, he should give me the money to invest in my own business career. After all, I was in the land of entrepreneurship.
After a few days of negotiating with my father, he agreed to lend me the money, but only on the condition that it would come out my education fund. I would have to make the money up myself if I decided to go back to college if I failed in my entrepreneurial efforts.
My first business venture began with the purchase of a car that needed some repairs, which I made, so that it passed inspection. I cleaned it up, then published an ad to sell it in the Washington Post. I had purchased the car for $450, put another $200 into it, and after two weeks sold it for $1,600 to the second person who responded to the ad. I remember thinking, wow, that was easier than working forty hours a week! If I could make this happen twenty times a month, I would be set. A few years later, I leased a lot after getting a license to sell cars. It was a one-acre lot, large enough to hold sixty units. Eventually, I had up to twelve people working for me. So, at the age of twenty-two, I was making more than any of my friends at school, and I could drive a different car every day if I wanted to. Even my father was impressed enough to travel here to see my business first-hand.
Nevertheless, my friends and family continued to push me to go back to school. So, when I was twenty-five, I decided to sell my part of the business and make getting an education my top priority. I had saved enough and my dad was still willing to help; plus, the federal government was also ready to lend a hand with student loans. I also became the oldest recipient of a Spanish Scholarship from a Latino Organization in Washington, DC — which I could hardly believe was real until I made out the check to George Mason University.
I also got myself a job with a catering business in the area, one that gave me flexible hours, allowing me to attend school. The best part of the job was that I had the chance to serve many important people in the four years I worked in the Washington political scene, some whom left big impressions on me, especially actress Susan Sarandon and former President George Bush, Sr.
At school, I became very focused, and got my Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in just three years. I immediately enrolled in graduate school and earned my Master of Science degree in organizational development from the American University. This master ’ s program opened important doors in my life. There I met a community of professionals who have played an important role in my career. At school I also had the good fortune to sit next to a beautiful redhead, Debbie Blanchard, who later became my wife. Through knowing Debbie I got the chance to work for Ken Blanchard, a wonderful mentor who has helped me grow immensely, both professionally and spiritually. Today, I lead The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Latin American Division, where I have the extraordinary opportunity to help the next generation of Latin workers in my motherland become better leaders.
As I look back on the development of this book, I realize that, like many of the people whose stories are told in this book, I have also benefited from the FUTURE acronym that we now share with you. I too decided to get laser-focused on what I wanted to do. In overcoming adversity and challenges, I have come to rely on a network of professionals and friends who are always there to help me, and I become more successful as I continue to learn, teach, and share my experiences with others.
I have always strongly believed that hope was the glue that held everything together for me when I decided to stay in the United States on my own. Hope is the first thing that we bring to life. As we come to life, our parents are filled with hope that all will be well with us and that we will be successful in life. As we grow and learn, we hope to be successful ourselves. Once we graduate from college or graduate school, we hope to be able to manage and execute the mission and goals of the organization or company that hires us.
Once we become leaders, we then carry the hopes of our organization, as well as the people who work for us — leaders are the keepers of hope for organizations and the people who work for them. Our team hopes that we can carry out the company strategy, while also helping them grow and fulfill their individual goals. The ultimate objective is to instill hope in others for the future, as the great leaders have done, leaders like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Simon Bolivar. Theirs was a leadership of service and hope for coming generations. Their leadership transcended their physical existence into our own.
I can’t say that I am anywhere close to “ transcending hope ” with this book, but I surely appreciate the opportunity of carrying on the promise for this country. Thank you all for the opportunity of sharing my dreams and hopes with you!
Our personal experiences impelled us to write this book, to share the success stories of Latino leaders throughout the United States, men and women who have risen to the top in their respective professions and have become proactive in creating their future today. We hope that you will be inspired to follow in their footsteps, that you too will find your own way to help “ build the Latino future ” at the same time you make your own dreams come true.
Introduction: The Future Leadership Model
This book is the result of a series of interviews with fifty-seven individuals who have each overcome obstacles to reach their dreams of success. Throughout the success stories told by these individuals were common threads: each contained elements of six key principles — focus, unity, tenacity, unique ability, resiliency, and education. To explain these key principles of success, we have created the FUTURE Leadership Model. This model is not meant to be a sequential, step-by-step process, because each element is interconnected with, and strengthened by, the others. Rather, it is a tool for increasing your chances for success, gaining perspective, and determining what is lacking in your effort to reach your goals. Each letter of the FUTURE Model represents a strength a successful person needs to possess. When combined, these strengths can be used as a guideline for reaching your goals and success.
Focus: Focus Your Strengths and Energy
When you clarify your goals and objectives, you create a positive flow of energy that will help you fulfill your dreams of success. Focus gives you a sense of purpose and enables you to be clearer about who you are. In several of the personal accounts in this book, you will learn how the individuals maintained their focus, at the same time they remained flexible to inevitable changes in their plans. They took advantage of opportunities that came their way and never lost sight of their ultimate goal. Without focus, how can you know where you are going? It has been said that those who do not have a goal are used by those who do. If you do not have your own goals, you will end up working toward someone else’s goal. Without focus, your ability to lead will not get you where you want to go.
Unity: Unity and Community Are Key
Unity is essential in life and for success. No one, no matter how focused, can achieve success by themselves. All successful people are empowered by a network of peers, which helps them to get ahead and achieve success. It goes without saying that an individual becomes more powerful with the support of others. However, you must seek out these support networks; they will not come looking for you.
Everyone needs two networks. First is the one composed of your family and friends, and which you may tend to take for granted — don’t! The second network comprises peers, colleagues, role models, and mentors, those you seek out and rely on for professional advice and support; people you admire and want to emulate. Surrounded by such a network gives you reliable sources for collaboration and brainstorming, which in turn lead to further clarity of goals and direction.
Tenacity: Tenacity Builds Character and Humility
Each of us must persevere in order to reach our personal goals; we must learn to be tenacious, for doing so builds our character and keeps us humble. As you will see throughout this book, all of the individuals profiled had to work hard and overcome obstacles before they achieved success. Neither athletic champion nor political leader nor corporate executive achieved his or her success right away.
Approach your goals with by balancing tenacity and humility. When you do so, you will be better equipped to face challenges, and you will learn when to be patient and when to be assertive. Just as important, you will learn to get out of your own way.
Ken Blanchard, noted author and inspirational speaker, has often said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Being humble gives you staying power, an ability to endure while you evaluate your situation, and assess what needs to be done to move forward.
In conducting the interviews for this book, we also found that successful people know how to be patient — they learned to never give up.
Unique Ability: Everyone Has a Unique Strength
We are all unique in some way. To succeed, first determine what comes naturally to you and what you do better than anyone else; then focus on that unique ability and build on it. By connecting your skills to your goals in this way, you learn more about yourself, and are therefore better able to make the most of your gifts at the same time you learn where you need strengthening or improving. Learn to draw energy and momentum from your strengths. Build on that energy and focus on those areas where you are strongest.
There is a powerful connection between strength and passion. Those things that you are naturally good at are most likely the things you are also passionate about. Successful people draw on this combined source of energy to achieve their goals.
Resiliency: Resiliency Builds Strength
Learning how to bounce back from adversity is a necessary ingredient of success. All the successful people profiled in this book demonstrated resiliency — the ability and willingness to recover from setbacks. Such resiliency, of course, requires focus and tenacity, as already described.
When successful people hit an obstacle or are thrown off course, they look at the situation as a learning experience. They might ask what they have learned not to do, or what to do differently, to avoid a similar obstacle in the future. The knowledge they gain from introspection, and from evaluating the setback honestly, gives them the strength to push on. Resiliency emerges when you learn to incorporate the knowledge gained from setbacks into your future actions.
Education: Educate Others and Grow With Them
Without exception the individuals profiled in this book point to the importance of education to achieving their success. They also stress the importance of passing their knowledge along, and to helping others become educated themselves. When you teach others, you are likewise taught by them. So teach, but also be teachable — when you stop learning, you stop growing. If your education ends with you, you will leave nothing behind to sustain future generations.
A vital aspect of education is mentoring. Look for mentors everywhere, in your family, your community, your schools, churches, even on the street.
Then return the favor: be a mentor. An integral part of success is to help others by sharing your strengths and passion. Keep the success going and growing, beyond yourself.
Into the Future
As you can see, the six elements of the FUTURE Model are integral to one another; they combine to provide a person with balance and direction to a clearer path to success. Each of the individuals interviewed for this book exhibit, to varying degrees, how these concepts can work in practice. They also demonstrate how to use them not just for the benefit of the individual but for the greater good as well. To be truly successful, we believe you must be equally strong in all six areas.
To learn more about Frank Carbajal and his work go to http://svlls.com/estiempo/