Is Your Story Worth Sharing?

Sometimes we go through life not realizing that we have amazing stories that can help others.

That was me. I was recently reminded that my story matters. This happend when I was speaking to Ange Wilcock regarding amazing women and what they’ve done. 

Ange had been seeking out women to tell their stories and I responded not expecting my story to catch her attention. But, it did.

So, she invited me to be a guest on her podcast and vióola! The result is a 30 minute conversation about growing up in a rough environment, enlisting in the military and dealing with post-military life facing serious challenges.

One of those challenges allowed me to discover what I truly want to do for the rest of my life. 

I’ve been working since I was 14 (althought I had a chocolate sales job at the age of 10). And throughout all those years, I believed that if I went to college and worked hard, I’d have a great career and a meaningful life. Continue reading “Is Your Story Worth Sharing?”

Should Teachers Resemble Their Students?

I recently read about the importance of representation from a networking group I belong to.

An anesthesiologist (I’ll call her Mary) had a six year old patient (let’s call her Jessica) – a little girl who was about to go into surgery. Mary was assessing her to make sure everything she needed to know was accurate to treat her during the surgery.

As Mary sat next to Jessica, a nurse came by and greeted Mary. As they made small talk about Mary’s daughter, Jessica interrupted to say, “you can’t be a mom and be an anesthesia lady”.

Mary and the nurse were taken by surprise. To think that a child had already created this limitation in her head without anyone having told her to do so was astonishing!

Mary calmly told her that indeed, she was a Mommy and an anesthesiologist. She pulled up pictures of her daughter on her smartphone and explained to her little patient that women could be anything and still be Moms.

I know what you must be thinking. “What the heck?! How could that child think a woman couldn’t possibly be a mother and a professional. Hasn’t she at least seen female teachers before?”

Well, of course, the likelihood that Jessica had seen female teachers before was high. But Jessica had probably not realized that many teachers are mommies too.

Some teachers like keeping their personal and professional lives separate, so kids don’t get to know them beyond their teaching persona.

Therefore, it’s very, very important that children see what people can do and learn more about them.

It’s very important that children are aware that people who look like them or who have similar backgrounds as them do are represented in high profile positions or in positions or authority and leadership.

This is how they can learn not to believe or go along with stereotypes as well as to not subconsciously limit themselves.

The first school my kids attended had all-female staff. It wasn’t until we moved to California where they realized that men too could be teachers.

They were beyond the moon because the staff included a male teacher. While they were not going to be in his classroom, they thought it was amazing that a man was a teacher and that he was nice, fun and could teach.

Sounds crazy, right!? But that’s what happens when we put our children in a specific type of environment without diversity.

And when I speak about diversity, I am referring to gender, people with physical or learning differences, people of different races, cultures, ethnicities, regions, religions and other differences. The more diverse the staff, the more children learn from them not only in the classrooms, but as people.

Aside from a gender difference in teachers in schools nationwide, about 80% of teachers in the United States today are white. In 2014, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reported that the majority of the student population in the U.S. had become the majority while the goal to increase diverse teaching staffs nationwide had not been met.

Of course this might be an exception in certain regions. But the message here is clear. It is widely recognized that diversity matters.

Now, I’m not urging hiring of teachers based solely on their diverse status. That would be ridiculous and wrong. But, now more than ever, we need examples of inclusion and understanding at the earliest age possible.

Kids spend most of their days at school, so what they learn, see and experience at school is vital. It’s very important for children to see role models from different backgrounds so that they do not grow up to believe that all people from one race, one culture or one religion are monolithic.

The more we show our children that it’s not normal for only one type of person to be capable of doing something, the more it will become less surprising and less likely that a child will limit himself or herself the way Jessica did.

A lot of research regarding the importance of diverse teacher staff has been studied in the past and research continues to indicate that diversity matters in academic results and into adulthood.

According to Anna J. Egalite and Brian Kisida from The Brookings Institution which conducts in-depth research for solving societal problems state that:

Racially diverse teachers might be more culturally sensitive and less likely to subscribe to biased stereotypes about their students. Diverse teachers might also influence instructional context, such as through the development of culturally relevant curricula and pedagogy and by introducing a topic from a perspective that students can relate to.

So, while we know we cannot have a diverse teacher body by wishing on a star, we can definitely ask our schools to have mandatory diversity training for all staff and teachers. It’s already a requirement in many places of employment, so, why would we not include it at schools?

Diversity is a win-win for students, teachers and staff.

When diversity exists among teachers, they all get to learn about how each of them overcame the realities of their own situations that got in the way of their learning.

Therefore, having this knowledge can help teachers aid students who might be experiencing similar situations.

Lasty, children get to experience and learn that people who are different than them care and do try to understand them and vice versa.

While it’s not a teacher’s responsibility to educate their students about social behavior, the reality is that they do. They end up role modeling social behaviors simply through interaction.

Great teachers make personal connections with their students all the time and successful students are the result of a teacher who has impacted them in a way that pushes them to go beyond their limits.

You might ask, “what do I do if I live in a city that has a predominant race?” Volunteer. Be the example. Read about people who debunk or make a stereotype untrue.

The point is that you don’t want your child to think that he or she cannot do something because he or she doesn’t fit the profile. That’s why we need  more representation.

Want to know how I tackle this issue? I currently offer schools a program called Embracing Differences: Combating Bullying By Debunking Stereotypes and in the fall, I’ll be opening an opportunity for parents to buy my 6 week program called Sticks & Stones: Protecting Your Kids From Bullying (which will also include cyberbullying).

If you’d like to be sent updates on the launch date, subscribe to our list below to get notified as soon as it’s available!

Do you make sure that your kids don’t subconsciously limit themselves? Share your thoughts and please keep it cordial. I understand this might be a controversial topic, but that’s what helps us understand different points of view, right?

   Much Love,

They Weren’t Trying To Be The First

There’s been so much talk about the need of new leadership in the country at different levels of government and a lot of existing and new organizations have created programs to encourage people of different demographics to run for public office.

Being the curious person that I am, I started searching for data that would give me an idea of how bad the disparity is between various demographics.

So, found a post that listed some of the first African Americans to achieve something BIG in American history.

To my surprise, I found out that a former black slave was elected to the Senate only a years after the abolition of slavery. Talk about debunking stereotypes and challenging social norms. AWESOME!

Although all of the people on the list were very interesting, The Honorable Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi got my attention because he was listed as the first African American (and only former slave) to have served a full term in the U.S. Senate from 1875-1881.

Out of curiousity, I Googled more information on the first black or African American in the U.S. Senate and found out that the first person of color to the Senate was actually Hiram Revels (1869–1871), a freedman born in North Carolina (46 years after the first white Senator).

There were a few things that first came to mind when I saw the years these two Senators were elected.

First of all, for a person of color to have become a Senator in the 1800s is amazing! Why? Well, BECAUSE only 6 years prior (January 1, 1863), President Abraham Lincoln had made the official announcement that “slaves within any state, or designated part of a state…in rebellion,…shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Later, the 18th Amendment, adopted late in 1865, officially abolished slavery although it wasn’t received all too well as we’ve all learned through history classes.

And of course, we still have some very contemptuous people who are very sour about blacks and other people of color having freedom.

So, then, I thought what about women? How long did it take the first woman to become Senator? Well, I found some pretty interesting stuff that I was already aware of. However, seeing the huge time lapse between Senators of different races and genders was staggering!

Here’s what I found.

From 1869 to 1993 (YES. 1993), NO. WOMAN. OF. COLOR had been elected into the Senate. It was until January 3, 1993 that Carol Moseley Braun became the first black female Senator.

That’s a 124  years difference between the first black man and the first black woman and 170 years between the first white male Senator and a black woman Ludicrous, right!???!

The first white woman elected to the Senate was Ophelia Wyatt Caraway in 1932, while the first white male Senator was Andrew Jackson. YES. That Andrew Jackson (1823-1825), also the 7th President of the United States. Only a 9 year difference.

So, having figured this out, I thought of looking up the differences between people of other races to see how long it took them.

The first Latin-American man elected to the U.S. Senate was  Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo (1928). His election, however, was a fill- in for the unexpired seat for Andreus Jones who died at the end of 1927. That’s a 105 year difference between the first white Senator and the first Latino Senator.

We hadn’t had a Latina Senator until this past election. On November 8th, 2016 former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto won retiring Senator Harry Reid’s seat. That’s 193 years after the first white Senator.

The first Asian American male Senator was Hiram Fong (1959-1977) as Hawaii was added to the union (136 year difference), while first Asian American woman Senator became Mazie Hirono, from Hawaii until January 3, 2013 (a 54 year difference between the two and 190 year between her and the first white male Senator).

Then, the first person of Native American descent to become Senator was Charles Curtis (1907-1913; 1915-1929) in the state of Kansas. He filled a republican vacancy in the term ending March 3, 1907, due to the resignation of Joseph R. Burton.

On that same day, Curtis was elected for the full Senate term until March 3, 1913. Senator Curtis later became President Hoover’s Vice-President. There has yet to be a female Native American Senator (an 84 year delay after Senator Andrew Jackson).

So, after analyzing the time gaps in between each Senator based on race and gender, the time laps are too large and we’ve yet to have a Native American female Senator.

I strongly believe that representation is needed from different groups of people because no one understands the needs of a group of people than members of that particular group.

I realize that prejudices, biases, stereotypes and many other factors prevent people from running due to fear of scrutiny, fear of not belonging and fear of failure.

So, if you’re not running for office, you can get involved in your community in some way.

Volunteering is an undervalued job, but it has surmountable benefits beyond economics. I’m aware that many obstacles have prevented women and other people of color to run for public offices as small as being part of Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs).

But if we continue to stand back without trying to debunk the false assumptions and stereotypes that our people are not interested enough, that we don’t care or that we aren’t educated enough to become involved, then we will always be left behind.

Today, we have many organizations that support citizens who want to organize, who want to run for offices, who want to start social programs…you just have to start by attending meetings and being part of the conversations.

Your concerns need to be heard, and your suggestions need to be shared. Women are needed in every aspect of our political system and all minorities need to step up and something.

Difference Between Men and Women within their own race

Men Women Years
White Andrew Jackson (1823) Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (1932) 9
Black Hiram Revels (1869) Carol Moseley Braun (1993) 124
Asian Hiram Fong (1959) Mazie Hirono (2013) 54
Native American Charles Curtis 1907) N/A
Latinx Octaviano Ambriosio Larrazolo (1928) Catherine Cortes Masto (2016) 87

So, it looks like we’ve still got a long way to go, but it won’t change unless more women run for local, state and federal offices. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another 145 years to see a woman become President of the United States.

I’ve created a list of organizations that provide resources if you want to run for office with a short list of ideas on how you can get involved as a supporter in public service. You can download this free list here.

If you decide to run for office, PLEASE come back and let us know in the comments.

Go and leave your mark!

The Value Of A Life

Have you ever wondered why things happen? I used to ask myself that question a lot when I was little and into my teens. Every time not so good things happened, the more I’d question WHY?

I hadn’t asked myself that question for a very long time until recently due to a very unexpected event. More on that later.

Here’s something you might not know about me. I’ve been called an “anti-pet” person, but a pro-animals. What I mean by that is that I love animals, but I’ve never really wanted the responsibility of caring for one because I’ve seen it as a huge responsibility.

However, I’ve always cared about pets and as a way to help indirectly, I’ve always donated things and money to organizations that help pets.

I think I formed this mentality about pet responsibility when I was very little. I was probably about 5 or 6 years old and still living in Nicaragua. I had a doggy name Dunky.

I don’t know where the name came from. I’m assuming I was trying to say something similar to that and I just remember calling my dog “Dunky”.

Well, I remember that Dunky died and my parents buried him in the back yard. I was very sad about it, like any other kid would be. But I think I learned about the big responsibility of a life through that experience. Continue reading “The Value Of A Life”

No Secret To Success

You know when you see articles online stating topics like, “10 Things That Billionaires Do Each Day” or “Highly Effective Habits Successful People Practice”? Well, those titles grasp people’s interest because they infer that if people adopt some of those habits, they too might become very successful.

Before I went into entrepreneurship, I’d click on those type of articles out of curiosity and to be honest, I was looking for an answer about how I could become successful.

I wondered if I was doing something wrong or if I needed to adopt a new habit to get to my goal. I also compared myself a lot – which is very damaging to anyone who does it (another topic for later). While a lot of those articles are interesting and they can help you learn new ways to do things, they don’t guarantee success or wealth.

It’s kind of the same rule of thumb as, “if it’s too good to be true, then it is”.

Success Happens Gradually

No one reaches success overnight. No one! Just think about it. Think about very successful people who made it big and their stories. For example, I recently read an article on AARP’s March 2017 issue that Morgan Freeman was 50 years young when he came out in Driving Miss Daisy.

Before that, he’d been a dancer in broadway shows because he’d been advised that desirable actors where those who could act, sing and dance. So, he learned to dance. Continue reading “No Secret To Success”

Free Resources For Start-Up Entrepreneurs

“When did you realize you wanted to be your own boss?” someone recently asked me. It stunned me because I hadn’t even thought of it. It’s always felt as if I’ve had crazy ideas that no one really understood.

But as I thought of this, I started remembering my entrepreneurial attempts.

My first job was when I was 10 years old. I worked for an entrepreneur who would provide his kid employees a box of candy. He’d drive us kids around “rich neighborhoods” to sell the candy bars.

It was hard work for a 10 year old because we had to walk house-to-house and get a lot more NOs than Yeses. We’d make a profit from the sales and the kid who’d sell the most would get a bonus at the end of the day.

Then, I started working for a lady who would give my Mom patterns to sew from home. By the time I was 14 years old, my mother had become a single mom of six.

She’d try to find any way to earn money and take care of us and in a way, I think she’s who taught me to be resourceful and to use what I knew to earn a living. She’s been the best role model of survival in my life.

My younger siblings would help my Mom with minor tasks while the my two middle kids and I helped sew some of the clothes. Later, I asked my Mom’s employer for a job. So, I became her helper at her clothing boutique during the week and I’d go sell the clothes at a high-end flea market with her on the weekends.

While working for someone was not exactly me owning my own business, it felt good to work on my own terms and to chose what I wanted to do. I loved being able to go to school and being able to earn money.

Years later, when I was in the military, I became a Mary Kay consultant. I did pretty well despite the fact that I was not a good seller and I wasn’t into make-up or skin care products.

Later, as I was getting ready to leave the military, I became a Realtor & Real Estate Consultant. While I did great, my career was short lived due to the market crash in 2007.

While in college, I learned about a program called the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) with Disabilities. I applied and was accepted.  Continue reading “Free Resources For Start-Up Entrepreneurs”

Teaching Kids The Real Meaning of Happiness

     I recently overheard a conversation going on right next to me between two people. They were discussing the outrageous amount of money that rich people throw away every day on non-sense type of stuff. One of them said that if they could only have a few million dollars, all their problems would go away.

That comment really caught my attention. It made me wonder how many kids believe that money solves all problems or that money can create complete happiness because I was that kid. I used that used to think that because I’d heard people say that around me.

But very soon after, when I became a teenager I learned that those beliefs were merely myths. Overhearing that conversation and thinking back to what I used to believe about people with monetary wealth made me reflect on what “rich” people’s hardships might look like.

I thought a bit on what it must feel like to wake up each day knowing that if something were to happen to their loved one’s health, the last thing they’d have to worry about would be how to pay the insurance bill.

Sure, they’d be devastated about a health challenge. But in a way, is their angst lessened due to their wealth?

I don’t know. I’ll never know because everyone is different. The point of this story is that we all have different views on wealth. I used to think that I’d want to grow up to become rich, own a big mansion and drive a Lamborghini.

Maybe I thought I wanted this because the first home I lived in was no more than probably 800 sq. ft. As I got older, my parents were able to afford a bigger home and as an adult I’ve had the opportunity of owning a spacious home. Continue reading “Teaching Kids The Real Meaning of Happiness”

Beating The Odds When Everything Is Against You

I’m baaaack!!! And it feels so great! I appreciate your patience and still hanging in there for me. I’ve learned so much the past month with my business challenges, which were nothing compared to other people’s more serious situations. But, if you’ve just recently subscribed I’ll catch you up.

I had serious tech issues that pretty much stopped everything I was doing in the online part of my business. I couldn’t deliver my blogs, I lost tons of material I had already prepared for upcoming social media distribution and I couldn’t even log into the back end of my website.

These issues got me thinking because I felt horrible about myself. I started to beat myself up for not being able to foresee this problem. I started to doubt that I should continue my entrepreneur path and wonder if my blogs or program were good enough.

Then I realized I was being hard on myself because I push myself to do my best. I care about the quality of my work and I always feel like I let people down (in this case, you) when I don’t do what I set out to do on time.

As I was venting to a friend about my challenges, he (thank you Gerardo) told me to create a list of successes where I’d look at my past experiences and write down every negative challenge – personal or professional – that I’ve overcome.

So, I did. And after I finished my list I realized how insignificant my current tech problem was. Accepting this, I allowed myself to relax a little and I became confident that it would all work out. As soon as I did that, things started moving a little faster and I started working more efficiently.

From that moment of self-reflection, I was inspired to write this blog about overcoming challenges. So, I began to think about people who have amazing stories of trials and tribulations that have helped me get over my pity-parties. And I remembered something that I realized I’ve always purposely kept in mind that has helped me make impactful decisions. Continue reading “Beating The Odds When Everything Is Against You”

How To Get Cool Points From Your Kids

Every time someone asks me what I think of parenthood I think of myself before kids and now.

How I Describe Parenting

I remember having the feeling of some sort of a veil coming off from in front of my face. Suddenly, I saw the world in a very different way. It was incredible!

And to be frank, it wasn’t all that great. I’m always honest when people ask me about parenthood. I’ll tell you the good, the bad and the ugly. Parenthood is a wonderful thing, but it’s not all peaches and cream.  

There’s so much joy in knowing that you’re raising a little person to be the best human being possible.

But while you think you’re doing your best, you often wonder how you’re messing up your kids. I describe parenting as internal self-induced torment because a lot of time, parents think of the worse case scenarios that could happen to them and their kids.

We do that because we wish we could control what could happen to them and while we want them to become independent we’re a bit scared to let them slowly go off on their own.

We think of all sorts of things happening, not because we’re crazy (although sometimes parents might question their own sanity), but because we think of how we’d be able to help them avoid bad situations.

I believe this has been happening more the past decade due to public shootings, bombings, the rise in human trafficking and cyber bullying. Continue reading “How To Get Cool Points From Your Kids”

One Of These Tests Can Help You Become Happier

I always knew I wanted to help others and I noticed how naturally it came to me.

When I’d hear people say, “make what you love doing your career” I’d wonder how the heck I’d be able to do that and how to know exactly what my strengths were.

Years later, when I applied to use my military school benefits, I was required to take a personality test to identify what types of jobs I’d be more likely to thrive in.

Then, while in college I discovered what the Myers-Briggs® test was and took it as a requirement of a leadership course I was enrolled in.

Then, when I attended Larry Broughton’s workshop as part of the Entrepreneur Bootcamp
for Veterans (EBV)
program I took another personality test called the Kolby A™ Index and again, throughout a job hiring process I was required to take yet a new personality test I’d never heard of.

Each test was very precise with identifying my personality and it allowed me to feel a sense of security about my own assessment. It confirmed my assumptions of what I thought I was very good at and it also showed me areas of weaknesses that I could work on.

Every time I took a test, I was provided with a printout or email of the results. Over the years, I’ve compared all of them. I must say, it’s amazing that they all have consistent results.

I’ve met people over the years who have taken a personality or strengths test, but they have not known how to read them or what to do with them.

The results are usually pages long. So, I’m not sure if people are discouraged from reading such long results or if it’s simply that they don’t have any interest in reading them and learning how to implement the results.

I learned to do that because Larry did an excellent explanation on the purpose of theses tests and he went over a few people’s results and broke them down.
Continue reading “One Of These Tests Can Help You Become Happier”