Selling It Latin Style
19 Dec, 2011What community outreach efforts are you involved in? What spurs you to devote time and resources to the particular causes you choose?
Both as a corporate entity and as individuals, we are extraordinarily involved in the community we serve and represent. Our own corporate culture fosters that belief system down to the individual team members.
Over the 21 years of being in business, we have a history of being very involved in various community outreach efforts—and most of the time, it has been several organizations or causes simultaneously. We try to create a balance between giving back to our community by becoming involved with groups and issues that most affect our community, and with organizations that also help further our industry. Then, there are those that I am personally passionate about, such as the arts. Beneficiaries in the past have involved The United Way, Sheltering Arms, Casa Juan Diego, Child Advocates, AAMA (Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans), and most recently, La Rosa Family Services. It’s important to put your time and money where you will see an impact: changing and improving lives. On the business side, we have historically been very involved in trying to not just foster Hispanic business, but also playing an active role in furthering Hispanic marketing. Thus, you will note our involvement in the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Houston Partnership, the NAHJ (the National Association of Hispanic Journalists), HAHMP (Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals) and, of course AHAA (the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies). I am proud to be Immediate past-chair of AHAA, to whom every single Hispanic agency in the nation owes a debt of gratitude as it has been key in elevating the discussion of the value of Hispanic marketing into boardrooms all across America.
Over 21 years, you can imagine the list is long. And we’re very proud of that. However, Cathy and I see education as being one of the biggest challenges and threats to our community in the future. We must find ways to keep kids inspired and able to stay in school, get a formal education, and fulfill their potential. There is nothing more important. We hope that this is the year our dream of creating a scholarship program comes true. We’re working hard at that right now. It’s truly inspiring.
What advice would you give to a young Latino who sees you as a role model and who wants to attain the success that you have? What ingredients are key?
I would advise them to:
- Be passionate about what you do. To do it because you see a higher calling in what you do, and not just a financial opportunity. That is what I mean by your intent being true. If you can’t be passionate about your work and if you don’t truly love it, there will always be someone right behind you who does believe in what they do and is passionate, and will do it better than you.
- Tear off the rear-view mirrors and always look forward. Never look back. Choose your path and walk down it with optimism, confidence and a sense of purpose.
- Erase from your mind the phrase ‘I’ve made it.’ The moment you think that way is the moment you’ve lost. Thinking of yourself as the eternal underdog gives you a completely different perspective, an edge, and forces you to become a better version of yourself every day.
- Surround yourself with people you are willing to go into the trenches with, people you genuinely like, share a common moral and emotional ground and sense of mission with, and surround yourself with people who are better at their craft than you are. A leader inspires and seeks other leaders. Not followers.
- Never settle for ‘good enough’ in anything and embrace hard work as a blessing and not as a chore.
- Never compromise yourself, your company, or your associates ethically. Ever. One must do the right thing every time, whether it’s convenient or not.
- To always be fair and equitable with your people. Fairness rules the day. Period. Of course, I could go on, but these are some of the core tenets we live by, and they have served us well. Eventually anyone who is in business successfully for any length of time learns these lessons, one way or another.
What key attribute do you personally possess that fueled your successful business ownership? That’s an extraordinarily difficult question to answer without sounding arrogant. So, I won’t. I will only say these two things: a) I work diligently every day to earn my right to lead this team. You can’t make people follow you. Quite the contrary—you have to be worthy of being followed; b) I am blessed to have an extraordinary partner in both life and business. I look at other entrepreneurs who don’t have a partner, or a partner as good and steadfast as Cathy, and I feel badly for them. Clearly, having Cathy as a partner allows each of us to pay close attention to what we need to do and trust each other blindly. She has also been a source of confidence, inspiration, and strength over the years, through thick and thin. This is not an easy business, to say the least. And one does get tired and challenged. It’s amazing the strength you draw from having a partner who sees the best in you and expects no less. I don’t call that an attribute—I call that a blessing, a secret weapon!
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