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Exploring the Soul of Leadership

Recently, I heard Deepak Chopra speak at a conference organized by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He spoke about his book, “The Soul of Leadership.” His words were relevant for Latinos in many ways. We are growing in population, but are not seeing an accompanying growth in education level and representation across sectors. We are visibly underrepresented in politics, media, and entertainment. Many are working hard to change this situation, and Being Latino is part of this movement.

We need more true leaders and we need our young people to reach their potential. But what is a true leader? A true leader leads from within, speaks powerfully to share their message, and cultivates self-power instead of agency power.

Agency power is power that others bestow on you, such as a title or a position. Self-power is independent of agency power. We all know people who attract others to them, who communicate a vision and inspire confidence from others. It’s likely they have self-power. Strong leaders are not dependent upon approval from others or praise. They are also not swayed by criticism. They have an unwavering faith in themselves and their purpose. However, they do actively seek constructive feedback and look for ways to improve. Self-power enables true leaders to have a vision and act upon it.

Chopra said, “A leader is a symbolic soul for a collective consciousness.” I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means. Leaders immediately come to mind- compelling people with fervent followings. Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, Cory Booker, Maya Angelou, Cesar Chavez. I believe all of these true leaders are thought leaders. They are using their voice in any way possible to communicate their ideas to others and shape our society. When they talk, people listen and even act.

As Latinos, we are in need of two things: thought leaders and more exposure for existing thought leaders. We need to hear the voices of our Latino leaders loud and clear on a national level. When faced with a lack of outlets for their voices, thought leaders create their own. We need to be in charge of our own stories. Consider the incredible success of the musical “In the Heights,” now touring nationally. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda told a Latino story and now the whole nation has heard.

Unfortunately, many of our driven young people are focused on attaining material items or a certain position or job title. What if they were focused on changing the paradigm, inspiring others, and cultivating self-power? It would make a world of difference. Also, our successful Latino professionals should challenge themselves to share their voices and stories through public speaking, writing, blogging, or social media. Each person has a unique passion and gift to share with their world. If more Latinos cultivated their voices and became true leaders, and these voices gained traction, society would never be the same.

Original article found in Being Latino Online Magazine.

Currently, Catarina writes about nutrition/health as a contributor to Being Latino Online Magazine. She is also the Co-Founder/Director of Healthy Kids in the Heights, a non-profit program empowering low-income communities to live healthier lifestyles. She’s on the leadership team for United Latino Professionals, a social networking organization focused on friends, culture, and community.

The Native Advantage

We hear so much in the news, in the political arena, and in our communities on the topic of immigration.  But there is a different type of immigration issue—of the technological variety—that offers the ability to position younger generations of U.S. Hispanics uniquely and powerfully.

Specifically, while we can make few assumptions in the rapidly evolving landscape of social media, we can affirm the tremendous possibilities open to the group known as the “natives”—those who have grown up with social media, in contrast to the “immigrants”—those who have migrated at least some of their activities to social media from more traditional channels.

Because they arrive with fewer hesitations and view profiles, status updates and blogs as natural parts of the communication exchange, these generations of natives have the distinct advantage when it comes to creating political, economic, social and cultural change—but only if they understand the power of social media beyond its strictly social uses.

A 2010 Pew Research Center report shows that 73 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 use social networking, up from 55 percent in 2006. This statistic is expected to continue to expand as more and more young people grow up with social networks.

In Defense of Self-Interest

Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand written and published in the Fifties. According to the Associated Content (from Yahoo)[1] this 1,075 page book is the most influential novel of our time. The main argument strongly defended in this novel is that businessmen searching for profit are the motor that keeps the economy alive. This defense of self-interest has brought controversy and debate during its more than 50 years of existence.

The creation of key characters helps the author demonstrate how rational business activity is and how natural self-interest turns out to be in every aspect of life. In the book, profit is the motivation for which the main characters –businessmen– work arduously every day. By looking for their own profit, they not only benefit themselves but also contribute to the society as a whole by creating wealth, generating employment, and offering products and services to the public. Finally, the author argues how likely it is for government officials to chase their own benefit: they look for votes and laws that will favor them. This would not be reprehensible if government’s interest didn’t affect every individual in a society; but it does. In Rand’s perspective, government’s power can result in irreversible harm for entrepreneurs when the former make decisions affecting every business activity. Laws, taxes, and even subsidies coming from the government can be counterproductive to the ones moving the economy.

The movie based on Rand’s novel will be released in 10 days. Hopefully it can be watched worldwide –naturally this will depend on how much money theaters’ owners expect to earn by releasing it, which is not reprehensible. Whether or not the world is able to watch it, Atlas shrugged is a highly recommended reading. Moreover, if you are a college undergraduate or a graduate student I suggest participating in the essay contest that the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) sponsors. Of course there is an attractive profit motivation of over $99,000 in prize money, which makes that thousands of students worldwide participate every year.

Rand died almost 40 years ago, but her philosophy still influences and inspires businessmen and academics. In today’s societies Rand’s perspective represents a convenient warning for those governments aiming to destroy businessmen incentives and discourage investment. The release of this movie can be a great opportunity to reflect how entrepreneurs’ profitable activities contribute positively to developed and developing nations.

Paola Ycaza has B.A. in Political Science and graduated with a B.A. in Economics (thesis pending). Currently she is working on her thesis on the Ecuadorian Pension System.

[1] “10 most influential novels of our time.” Associated Content from Yahoo. April 22nd, 2010

La nueva canción “Protesta”

Los jóvenes en Cuba han demostrado que cuentan con disimiles armas de comunicación, aunque en ciernes, para una expresión social de acorde o no al régimen imperante. Julito y El Primario (Rodolfo Ramón), como ellos mismos se autodenominan, hijos de opositores dentro de la Isla sueñan con algún día obtener más de 5 CUC (moneda cubana convertible) para poder grabar sus canciones, que ya en estos tiempos que corren no solo tienen valía musical sino política por ser en esencia contestatarias.

La juventud cubana como fuerza opositora principal, no solamente se encamina cada día más a convertirse en la fuente de información mas confiable sobre lo que acontece en la Isla, sino que ha sabido formarse como ente cultural portadora también de un mensaje que va allende a lo que estamos acostumbrados.

El video consta de 13 minutos pero merece el tiempo verlo, dado que estos muchachos son solamente dos de tantos que luchan por alcanzar un porvenir, que probablemente ellos ni sepan exactamente como definirlo pero que definitivamente ansían esté cargado de bienestar y libertad.

Indira Almeida was born in La Habana on June 27th, 1984. She studied Communications in Cuba and in the US. Her goal: help develop a better Cuban youth.

Where Am I From?

Over the years I continue to get a kick out of challenging people when they ask a simple question, “where are you from?”  I would frequently get stopped perhaps because of my dark hair or the way I may pronounce a particular word.  The 15 years I lived in Florida was the exception, however many assumed I was Cuban-American rather than Puerto Rican.

As a child growing up in the DC metro area, I would respond by saying I was Puerto Rican or my family is from the island, nevertheless some people couldn’t believe it.  Sometimes I was told I wasn’t dark enough or because I had freckles.  What the heck does an American look like? Pretty much the same as a Puerto Rican, full of colors, right?  Next thing you know I’m giving a history lesson to friends and strangers!  I would talk about the Taíno Indians, the settlement of the Spaniards (who are European), the slaves from Africa, and the blending of all those cultures.

Now, as an adult, I give less history lessons and focus more on getting people to think deeper.  For instance, last year while taking my son to a new barbershop, I assume that after calling my son’s name (a mix of Italian and Spanish) the barber asked me where I was from.  I replied, “Florida.”  He said, “No, you know what I mean…what’s you’re nationality?”

Nationality?  I don’t have an accent!  If anything I may have a bit of a country south accent that rubbed off on me during my days in Tallahassee and parts of Tampa.  I smirked inside knowing what he really wanted me to say so I responded by saying, “I’m American.”  The barber gave me an irritated look and repeated, “No, you know what I really mean…what’s you’re ethnicity?”

Hispanic or Latino: When in Doubt, Lay it All Out

You will never completely satisfy everyone.  Some Latinos get offended when you describe them as Hispanic and some Hispanics are offended when called Latino.  Then you have others who get offended when you use either.  Some prefer to be called Mexican-American, Dominican-American, Cuban-American, Colombian-American, and so on.  Others prefer to be associated by their country of origin such as Mexican, Dominican, Colombian, or by region like Tejano or Nuyorican. Then what about Puerto Ricans given that they are Americans to begin with?

Some say we should be called Spanish Speaking-Americans, however many Hispanics (like 2nd and 3rd generation) are English dominant yet they are very in-tune with their Latino culture.  Also, the term Spanish Speaking-American can then offend los gringos and some Hispanics who believe there should only be English Speaking-Americans or yearn for English to be the official language of the United States.

Could I confuse you anymore?  Perhaps this will give you a better idea:

A 2006 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 48% of Latino adults generally describe themselves by their country of origin first; 26% generally use the terms Latino or Hispanic first; and 24% generally call themselves American on first reference. As for a preference between “Hispanic” and “Latino”, a 2008 Center survey found that 36% of respondents prefer the term “Hispanic,” 21% prefer the term “Latino” and the rest have no preference.