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children leaders, leadership

Teaching leadership: Helping children become leaders and develop strong communication skills

Teaching leadership skills is something every parent hopes to instill in their children. After all, helping children become leaders has many advantages. Kids that develop into leaders generally have a strong sense of self-esteem. Self-esteem provides kids with confidence and the drive to excel.

children leaders, leadership

Kids that develop into leaders generally have a strong sense of self-esteem. (Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels)

As we gear up for the back-to-school season, parents and children alike are saying goodbye to summer and preparing for the changes ahead. After over a year of virtual learning and hybrid classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have announced the return to in person learning. Returning to the in-person classroom will be a change for many, especially children who were young or new to school when the pandemic began.

However, many children are also eager to return to school. Sure, it’s bittersweet saying goodbye to summer, but being around peers again and having daily structure is something many children secretly miss, especially after such turbulent and unpredictable times. In addition to the structure and social aspects of in person learning, school also provides children with the opportunity to take on leadership roles, from leading class discussions and projects to taking on roles in extracurricular clubs and sports, these activities help strengthen and develop those crucial leadership skills. However, school is only one of the many avenues through which children can develop these skills. Perhaps more crucial, is what they are learning at home.

Nurturing and developing leadership skills at home

Many people may wonder: what makes some kids grow up to become great leaders while others grow into adulthood lacking the ability to organize a game of kickball?

Experts argue that certain children are natural born leaders. Some kids are born with an innate ability to take charge and execute on a vision they conceive in their minds. But those same experts also agree that leadership skills can be learned and need not be reserved for the lucky few born with the leadership gene. It is possible to develop leadership skills within all kids – and the earlier the lessons begin, the earlier they develop their leadership style.

teaching leadership, parenting,

You don’t have to wait for a certain age to begin teaching leadership. In fact, the earlier the lessons start, the earlier children will develop leadership skills. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

Helping children become leaders has many advantages. Kids that develop into leaders generally have a strong sense of self-esteem. Self-esteem provides kids with confidence and the drive to excel.

Leaders also develop strong communication skills. As these young leaders accept greater and greater responsibility, they are required to interact with others. These interactions develop within them stronger-than-average communication abilities that assist them in other aspects of their lives.

teaching leadership

Children become leaders by learning from example. (Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels)

Finally, developing leaders acquire the skill of negotiation and learn how to work with others. As these emerging leaders increase their leadership activity they are placed into situations that require collaboration and compromise – skills that are greatly valued.

  1. Make Leadership Part of Your Child’s Vocabulary: “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker

If you’re going to help your child develop as a leader you need to describe what a leader is and does. The best way to do that is to make leadership a term that is used frequently to describe favorable traits. Conversations about leadership can originate when talking about the things other students did at school, the traits of characters in their favorite television shows, or the examples described in books they read or had read to them. Highlight leadership traits such as honesty, perseverance, kindness, creativity, intelligence, etc.

  1. Give Your Child Opportunities to Learn and Exercise Leadership: “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.” – Albert Einstein

Leadership opportunities begin the moment at which your child begins to interact with other children. Beginning with preschool, through Boys Scouts/Girl Scouts to AYSO and Little League, and into cheerleading and science club – every day provides a venue for your child to put to use your leadership lessons. Be sure to observe as much as possible and provide feedback one-on-one. Remember to praise your child for exercising leadership.

  1. Set a Leadership Example: “Example is leadership.” – Albert Schweitzer

Leadership is best taught by example. Be sure to share your leadership experiences with your child. When possible, bring your child along to view you in action! If you volunteer at the local library, belong to the local Rotary Club or serve as an elected official, share your leadership experiences with your child to give your child something that links your conversations to the real world.

  1. Go Easy on Your Child: “Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.” – Soren Kierkegaard

As your child gets older, peer pressure increases. While all parents wish that children would avoid any form of peer pressure, the reality is that they live in a very difficult world. As a parent developing a leader, what is most important is to monitor your child, communicate openly and describe their actions that may be inconsistent with the acts of a leader. Refer to your conversations regarding the traits of leaders. These conversations may become more difficult as your child grows and becomes more independent. Have faith and trust that your child will respond appropriately when outside of your influence.

You might be interested: How MiLegasi’s founder deals with resilience in children during COVID-19

Empathy in the workplace: The mark of a true leader

Empathy in the workplace is not only an important element of emotional intelligence, but also a skill that needs to be developed and practiced to enhance personal and professional leadership.

You may be familiar with one definition of empathy as “feeling someone else’s pain.” It is the idea that if someone is suffering, you are able to feel that person’s pain vicariously.

Empathy is also the ability to understand and share another person’s experiences, emotions and feelings, and not limited to sadness, pain or suffering. It is any and all feelings, even positive ones — to feel — in union with another person, regardless of whether they reflect your own situation or similar ones.

Developing the skill of empathy in the workplace is to work towards intentionally feeling the emotions of another as your own, and to express understanding and support. It is also about giving the gift of the moment by placing your own experiences, beliefs, feelings, emotions and relative situation on pause in order to honor the other person’s moment.

The fact that you may be feeling empathetic towards another person does not necessarily mean that person is feeling your empathy. Empathy needs to be expressed in order to be felt by the person who is experiencing the situation originally.

Empathy in the workplace is being recognized as a team building and leadership skill that improves team productivity, increases morale in the work force and even translates into more satisfied clients and customers.

Five tips to practice empathy in the workplace

Here are five simple tips you can develop, practice and enhance to improve your own process of honoring others with the gift of empathy.

1) Empathy is about the other person, and not about you.

Because empathy is a gift, in order to give it, you need to agree to put yourself and your own experiences on pause for a moment and let it be about the other person, and not about you.

If a colleague shares good news like: “I’m so happy about my second year-end review, it went really well and I also received a generous gift card for dinner at M’s Steakhouse!”

Your reaction needs to remain focused on the topic at hand. A non-empathetic response might sound like, “Oh, I just got a huge promotion, a pay increase and a trip to Hawaii for my twenty years of service”.

In this situation, you are missing an opportunity to give the gift of empathy by switching the focus to your own promotion. Your friend now feels compelled to honor your news, considered a longer achievement. Your friend’s joy will likely be diminished comparatively.

An empathetic response might be, “Congratulations! You are such an asset to the company, I’m glad they recognized your contributions. Enjoying dinner at the best steakhouse in town isn’t too shabby either.”

2) Timing and context are critical when giving the gift of empathy.

A colleague may share news with you that have no connection to another situation of which you are aware. To give the gift of empathy, be mindful of your audience, timing and context.

If you are aware of something unfortunate that happened to someone you know, be aware of the right moment to share it with another person. Sharing at the wrong time could prevent you from being in the moment for someone else.

Let’s say someone you know is going through a challenging divorce. Then someone at the office happily shares her engagement news with you: “Guess what? Mark just proposed to me last night! We’ll be getting married next August!”

To feel and express empathy for your recently engaged colleague, you have to be able to compartmentalized the two situations by not bringing up the situation of the other person’s pending divorce.

A non-empathetic response would be, “Engaged? Good for you! I’m sad to say Jessica in Finance isn’t so lucky, her divorce is a mess!”

This completely changes the dynamic of the conversation. Your newly engaged colleague may now feel bad that something good has happened for her.

3) Empathy is sharing someone else’s feelings, all feelings, negative and positive.

Remember empathy in the workplace is to understand and share any and all feelings, even positive ones like happiness, joy, success, hope and optimism.

If an intern shared with you: “I’m so happy we get to do a lot of fun games and activities during the summer with the other interns.”

A non-empathetic reaction might be, “That’s because you’re an intern, wait until you are a full-time employee. You’ll see, it won’t be all about playing games, you’ll have to work very hard and it won’t be as fun.”

In this example, the senior employee is not able to understand and share the feelings of the junior associate. The intern is happy and expressing something that gives him or her joy.

An empathetic response could be, “How fun! What kind of activities do you guys do? What is your favorite? It’s so nice that they make sure you have team bonding activities and that it’s fun for you!” In this case, the senior employee is joining in on the intern’s feelings of happiness.

4) Empathy is letting the person own his or her experience.

It’s not uncommon for some people to want to help someone who is going through an experience by providing a different context to prevent that person from owning their experience.

However, it can be empowering for people to go through their own experiences, which over time can be self-healing.

For example, if a colleague shared with you: “I’m so sad, my cat Gracie recently died. She was with me for 15 years!” And you react with, “It’s okay; don’t feel sad, cats only live about 15 years, so it was to be expected. Don’t worry; feel fortunate that you had her for so long. I can help you find another cat. Come on, we can go get a new cat this afternoon if you want?”

In this case, even though your intentions are good, they may prevent your colleague from going through her own grief and loss, which is important for her to process in her own way.

You might be interested: How business leaders can spur diversity in the workplace 

5) To express empathy you need to be intentional about it.

Be intentional about manifesting the empathy that you are feeling for a person who is sharing his or her situation. Perhaps responses like, “I’m so sorry, there seem to be no words I can say to help you feel better,” or “Is there anything I can do to bring you any comfort right now?”

No matter how hard the situation, there may be something you can say or do to make the person feel a little better, and that is to give the gift of empathy.

It is the gift of joining in the feeling, any feeling, and honoring the person’s situation by listening and believing, by staying focused on the person’s situation and by giving your gift of time, understanding, friendship, love and support.

I hope these five tips help you as you go on your quest for building your leadership skills to be there for colleagues, employees, clients, even relatives, friends, and strangers with the beautiful gift of empathy, which is a gift from the heart.


This article was written by Luis Moreno and originally published in 2016. It has been updated for relevancy. 

Healing Leadership

Healing Leadership: A conversation with Dr. Ginny Baro about the need for great leaders

Author of the #1 Bestseller, Fearless Women at Work, delivers her second book, Healing Leadership, that explores the secrets of healing leadership and recommends high-performance habits for improving self-leadership and developing a growth mindset and resilience. 

Ginny Baro

Dr. Ginny Baro, #1 bestselling author, award-winning international motivational speaker, certified leadership coach, and career strategist

Dr. Ginny A. Baro is an award-winning international motivational speaker, certified leadership coach, career strategist, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work. Named one of the Top 100 Global Thought Leaders, she delivers coaching programs, trainings, and keynotes to global audiences to develop individual women and leaders and helps Fortune 500 companies build inclusive leadership dream teams. Prior to starting ExecutiveBound®, Baro, who holds a Ph.D. in information systems, an MS in computer science, an MBA in management and a BA in Computer Science and Economics, was a director at Lord, Abbett & Co., LLC. She also worked for Alliance Bernstein and Prudential. She immigrated to the U.S. at age 14 from the Dominican Republic and speaks fluent Spanish. Healing Leadership (Bavaro Press) is her second book.

You might be interested: Changing leadership after #METOO a conversation with executive coach Dr. Ginny Baro

The genesis behind Healing Leadership: A conversation with Susana Baumann and Dr. Ginny Baro

Latinas in Business CEO and President, Susana G Baumann, sat down with Dr. Baro to discuss her upcoming book, Healing Leadership, which comes out April 14th, 2021. 

The highly anticipated book did not start out as a book at all. Originally it began as a series of interviews with five leaders that Ginny conducted for her Fearless Leaders Challenge, a five day training event for Fearless Women At Work, back in the middle of the pandemic during May 2020. The focus of the interviews was to explore three main questions: What are the critical skills that leaders need right now in the middle of a pandemic, where there’s so much uncertainty? What can companies do to develop their leaders and their talent during this time when people are virtual? And what can leaders do to develop a unique edge?

Healing Leadership

Dr. Ginny Baro’s upcoming book, Healing Leadership. Out April 14th.

Ginny Baro 

Those were the three questions that I was very curious about. So I went through the five interviews. And when I finished, I started to write out a framework for the Fearless Leaders Challenge….Well, what I realized is that intuitively, what I wrote out was the table of contents for a new book, not for a five day challenge. There were way too many subjects to be covered in five days. And that was the genesis of Healing Leadership….I know the last 30 years that I’ve been around working, I have been exposed to so many different types of leaders and I knew  from that experience that leaders make or break an organization, and that so many of us leaders never received a manual of how to be great leaders. And so this became my goal to not only talk about my experiences, but also bring other leaders’ experiences to be part of this project. And that’s how you got involved in this book and 40 other leaders along with you.

Susana G Baumann  15:29  

Yes. And I thank you very much for the opportunity. It was fun to do the podcast and then to read the result of the interview was really very, very humbling. Now, Ginny, what is the core topic of healing leaders leadership? What do you think leadership needs to be healed?

Ginny Baro  15:54  

So yes, by the title Healing Leadership, it implies that there’s healing to be done. So that the healing to be done, from my perspective, is that there dis-ease, disease in leadership today. And like I mentioned, there, we were never taught, we were never trained to be good or great leaders and inclusive leaders. If we’re lucky to have a good role model, then we lucked out. But if we don’t have a good role model that we can emulate, we end up doing a lot of things that create the toxic work cultures that marginalize people at work. And that, quite frankly, doesn’t do justice to the talent that we are leading. And so that is really the core of all the topics that I discussed in the book have to do with: how do we show up as leaders in a way that, rather than create a toxic culture, it cultivates the type of inclusive culture that allows all of our talent to flourish based on their qualities and their abilities? How can we as leaders cultivate those talents, so that we can coach, mentor, and develop them and so that those that have what it takes can rise to the top and continue the leading legacy and be able to lead our teams to higher productivity, to be more cohesive, to collaborate, to innovate, and do all the things that we need our businesses to do to survive and thrive.

Susana G Baumann  17:35  

Very, very interesting. Now, you mentioned that you started with five interviews, right? And then you ended having 41. So how did you select the people who were going to be part of your book number one? And second, what was the reaction when you extended the invitation?

Ginny Baro  18:00  

So number one, I just want to say that if you have any project where you’re thinking of involving other people, people, I think, by nature, meet their need for contribution when they say yes to you. And so number one is I made sure that the topic was interesting, “healing leadership”, everybody said, ‘I’ll talk about that.’ Right? Everybody has an opinion about what critical skills leaders need. Everybody has an opinion as to how they should be developing leaders. And everyone has an opinion about how to develop a unique edge, because the leaders that I asked, they had all done all of those things. So I went out with the goal of finding diversity. I wanted to include the voices of leaders who were just emerging, and leaders who had retired. So I speak to Nicole who’s only been in business for four years out of college. And I speak to Jerome and Nick Donofrio who ran IBM, and who also were the CEO of Sealed Air, the inventor of bubble wrap. So everything in-between, including Susana Baumann, the leader of Latinas in Business, of course, and Pilar Avila, who as we know, or everybody who knows Pilar, she’s running Renovad, and she is really transforming how women show up as leaders in business. And so when you get such a beautiful array of people from different sectors, profit, nonprofit, from different industries, from financial services to pharma, all over the place, I believed that that was going to give the book nice texture and background and speaks to the value of diversity and inclusion.

experiential retreats

Pilar Avila, Founder and CEO, InterDUCTUS and Renovad

Susana G Baumann  20:21  

Which gives you a fantastic opportunity to showcase like you said, a very, very wide range of opinions and attitudes towards leadership, and also different modalities and different styles of leadership, which is important for people to be able to choose, ‘Well, this is my my type of leadership that I can follow and service.’ 

Ginny Baro 20:45

Absolutely. Yeah. 

Susana G Baumann 20:47

So Ginny, tell me, just to end this interview: What is the main takeaway? Why do I have to buy the book? 

Ginny Baro  21:16  

For me, it’s really about what I mentioned, we did not get a leadership manual when we became leaders. And I believe that leadership is a skill that can be developed, like anything when it comes to self development, when we take ourselves and our development seriously, and we identify what are those leadership skills are: communication, empathy, empowering our team, setting the vision, being the conduit for change and transformation, leading with flexibility, all those skills that are so important as leaders, that once we know what they are, we can become that type of leader.

Dr. Ginny Baro on leadership: “I believe that leadership is a skill that can be developed…and when we identify what are those leadership skills are: communication, empathy, empowering our team, [etc]…we can become that type of leader.”

And if we’re not leading in our business roles, right now, guess what? We are all leaders in our own life. So my biggest takeaway and desire for this book is for people to have this roadmap. And they can assess, ‘how am I doing against these critical leadership skills?’ And if they don’t have one of those skills, they now know and they have the tools in the book to acquire the skills, and the resources, because I’m also creating a wonderful community of leaders, where they can reach out to any of the 41 leaders, including myself, and learn more, and continue to expand their network. And this is one of the topics that I discussed at length in the book: How to build an inclusive network of allies and supporters that will support your career and that will help you reach your full potential, because we cannot do this alone. And if we even try, we will find out that we will fail really fast.

Susana G Baumann  22:58  

Correct. Yes, we have to create these networks of collaboration among leaders, among businesses, among women, among all the qualifiers and labels that you can imagine, because that’s when you get the momentum that is necessary to develop the type of leadership that we want for our children, for our employees, for our communities. That’s the attitude of service that you have had for many, many years. And I commend you extremely for that. I think you’re a really brilliant professional in what you do. And congratulations on the new book.

Ginny Baro  23:51  

Thank you, Susana, and I’m always so grateful to you.

To get your copy of Healing Leadership, out April 14th, and access everything related to the book from bonuses to downloads and become part of the Healing Leadership community, visit HealingLeadership.com

Thought leadership moral humility

This is why great leaders practice moral humility (Tedx video)

Our sense of moral humility is challenged when we thoughtlessly say that we would never do something cruel towards another human being and find ourselves doing just that when placed in a situation of power. In our society, we seem to be all about boosting and pumping up people’s self-worth and self-esteem, driving people to succeed in their careers and personal lives at any cost. 

By guest contributor Laura Carbonell

Thought leadership moral humility

Humility is when you know your self-worth but don’t boast about it or take it for granted. Sometimes, it would appear that a person is humble when, in fact, they have low self-esteem so let us not confuse the two.
Low self-esteem stems from adaptation problems which may be linked to a child’s upbringing if parents didn’t praise them enough, treated them poorly or had too high expectations of them, as Psychology Today explains. Symptoms are those of fear, low self-worth and often self-hatred resulting from feelings of inadequacy.

Pope Francis (rea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service )

Pope Francis (korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service )

In contrast, humble people have an accurate view of themselves but don’t allow their ego to interfere. Humility is a powerful tool to move ahead and grow in life, knowing where you stand, ready to accept that you, like everyone else, will make mistakes. Humble people usually outsmart people who are controlled by an inflated ego who think they are all powerful and right all the time. Since humble people put more thought into what they do and don’t overestimate themselves, humility turns out to be a powerful tool in life.

Negative effects of an ego boosting society
In our society, we seem to be all about boosting and pumping up people’s self-worth and self-esteem, driving people to succeed in their careers and personal lives at any cost. Sometimes, overestimating how far they can go, results in ego-driven individuals with exceedingly over-important views of themselves who will thoughtlessly do whatever it takes to stay in power with horrifying results. According to The New York Times’ Opinion Pages’, David Brooks, in a panel he attended at the APS convention, so much has been done to boost people’s self-esteem in the past few decades that, in many cases, this has created people with unstable self-worth, who bounce back and forth from high pride to low self-worth, creating equal despair for all.

Rigoberta Menchú in the March 2009 march commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Rigoberta Menchú in the March 2009 march commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Why choose to be humble?
• Humility keeps you down to earth, in touch with reality and, funnily enough, this in itself boosts self-esteem.
• Being humble enables you to improve since you are more open to learning from your mistakes, people around you and life experiences.
• Humility enables you to assess situations and handle them with caution thereby accepting your limitations without fear.
• Humility makes you more aware and understanding of others’ strengths and weaknesses, since you are able to accept your own limitations and mistakes without your ego suffering.
• It leaves little room for envy since you don’t compare yourself to others.
• You are more level-headed and success won’t corrupt you, having you do that which you swore you would never dream of doing.
• It will keep you honest because you are honest with yourself.
• You are braver since you are not threatened by fear of failure.

Moral humility: Why you need it

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Public Domain)

It’s important to know that, no matter how humble we are, we will sometimes over-estimate our moral humility and this is something to watch out for. Moral humility helps us be more tolerant and open-minded. We think things over more and assess how we would realistically act in a given situation, and then we are more ready to act accordingly, sticking to our moral principles and values. Our sense of moral humility is challenged when we thoughtlessly say that we would never do something cruel towards another human being and find ourselves doing just that when placed in a situation of power. The following TEDxNewEngland talk by Nitin Nohria: “Practicing Moral Humility,” explains the importance of moral humility.
In general, if you are not humble, life has sneaky, painful and sometimes harsh ways to make you humble. When you make a mistake, you get to watch in awe and shame, how wrong (and human!) you were. So, why not try humility over an inflated ego and sense of self? You have so much to gain and nothing to lose.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Mohandas K. Gandhi
(Public domain)

“Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

This blog was originally posted on “On Life, Hope y Todo lo Demás” under the title “Are you morally humble?” on December 10, 2015

In her own words, “I am a bilingual and bicultural language teacher in San Francisco, the place I call home. Born into a family of writers, I enjoy sharing my vision of empowerment and motivation in blogs and articles, having successfully overcome serious addictions and life challenges.
“My hope is to share my humble views on life and bring some optimism, cheer and encouragement. Life has its ups and downs, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you keep walking.
“If you would like to collaborate with me, please drop me a line at lcb.laura@gmail.com.”

 

 

 

Strayer Portraits -Dr Zoppi Rodriguez

5 Latina Superpowers Dr. Zoppi Rodriguez

COL Zoppi CMD PictureLast October, I was honored to write an article about the Borinqueneers, a battalion formed by thousands of young Puerto Ricans that served in the US Army during World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict.

Their major struggle was not so much related to their bravery in the battlefield –they were known for their fierce and relentless fighting spirit– but for being victims of discrimination within the US Army.[1] They were all men and all Puerto Ricans, and they faced the most perilous battles in each war. Women were not allowed to sign up for the Army at that time.

“Fortunately, not only women participate in the Army today but we also have leaders such as Brigadier Commander José Burgos, who understands that giving women the opportunity to take charge of leadership positions empowers them, inspires them, and allows and helps them to grow,” said Dr. Irene Zoppi Rodríguez, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and the first Deputy Commander in the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico.

With more than four decades of military, academic and professional experience, Dr. Zoppi also facilitates graduate courses in education and business for Strayer University. As a college professor, she brings her passion of empowerment and thought leadership to her students.

“As a teacher, I try to inspire young women and encourage them to grow to be ‘more’,” she said.

More, I asked?

“Every human being has a purpose in life. Many discover it at the end of their lives, when it is too late, becoming a wasted opportunity. We cannot put time in a box so it is up to us to realize our purpose in life as soon as we can. By discovering that purpose, we can fulfill our destiny within that purpose,” Dr. Zoppi said.

She explained that most people understand they need a roadmap for a vacation or a trip but many do not have roadmaps for their lives, their education and all the challenges that come with discovering that purpose. Most expect other people to tell them where to go or how to get there.

“Latinas particularly have Superpowers they are not aware of, and they need to find them soon in life. We don’t dress with ‘capas’ like Batman or Superman but we wear our confidence to confront many personal and professional challenges,” she said.

These are Superpowers Dr. Zoppi believes Latinas have:

Strayer University at Festival PEOPLE en Español

Strayer University at Festival PEOPLE en Español

  1. Tenemos audacia (being audacious): Our internal fire overshadows all expectations of how we “should” be by breaking barriers and pushing up to face challenges, such as those trying to reunite their immigrant families.
  2. Somos fatales (being fatalists): We love watching telenovelas with our mothers, grandmothers and daughters, crying and understanding the struggle of the protagonist.
  3. Somos multifuncionales (being multifunctional): Without fear, we perform our functions at the best level and all at once. We cook, we dance, we sing, we work, we ask for permission and we apologize; and we do it in different languages too!
  4. Tenemos esperanza (having hope) We have the ability to do things with hope, always thinking what is next in our journey. We come to this country with the hope that we will find more for our families,
  5. Somos serviciales (fulfilling the needs of others) We are always making sure there is food for everybody, and that is not only in our kitchens!

All these superpowers make Latinas transactional and transformational leaders, according to Dr. Zoppi. “Not only we do the work, giving ourselves totally, but also we pass on those skills to everybody around us, at work, the family and the community.

So, she recommends, the sooner the better, discover your Superpowers and use them!

[1] To know more about the Puerto Rican battalion part of the 65th Infantry Regiment, see the Borinqueneers.

 

Economic empowerment for the poor

Holiday Season time of giving or time of economic empowerment

Economic empowerment for the poor

This time of year we are bombarded with requests from all sorts of organizations who remind us that it is again “this time of year to give.” Giving to charities or to churches is a practice that has helped many. It has built non-profit and religious organizations that are now larger than corporations; it has sustained the poor, the suffering and the needy.

We find different kind of givers: Some choose charities of their preference –not always those that help the most in need– such as the arts, the ballet, or a museum, usually for activities they enjoy the most.

Others prefer to give abroad, malaria in Africa or hunger in Latin America, some unknown place they don’t have to deal with on a daily basis. Then there are those who sustain organizations that sustain their religious beliefs such as anti-abortion and anti-gay organizations, denominational charities and the like.

Still there are those who donate to sick children, animal organizations or the veterans, all good causes that strive to really help. But, in my opinion, the world of charity is a world that sustains a system of unfairness and inequality. Otherwise, we will be not talking about the subject. Here are my views:

Three quarters of wealthy people give to causes that are either of their personal preference or provide them personal benefits, according to Eric Friedman, the author of Reinventing Philanthropy: A Framework for More Effective Giving.

And Dan Kadlec in his article “Why the Rich Aren’t Good at Giving” shares the information provided by the Chronicle of Philanthropy in an annual list of charitable gifts of $1 million or more.

According to the list, in 2012, 95 such gifts and 73 were as follows:

  • 21 gifts of $1 million or more (22%) went to the arts, museums, sports, or historic preservation, or to foundations with a significant emphasis on these areas.
  • 37 gifts of $1 million or more (39%) went to colleges and universities.
  • 15 gifts of $1 million or more (16%) went to health-related charities and hospitals in the developed world.

He also shares that billionaire David Koch donated $65 million to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, for an outdoor plaza renovation, while he spared the National Museum of Natural History $35 million for a dinosaur exhibit hall, as examples.

While the wealthy proclaim giving as a way of helping –it undoubtedly does–, it is also a way of helping themselves. Let’s not forget the large tax deductions that go to those who freely donate their money, which otherwise will go to taxes for government created programs and resources. Those programs are designed for all without preferences or discrimination of any sort.Poor people receiving food instead of economic empowerment

Choosing where to allocate their charity money is a privilege to receive a privilege, one that many don’t have. When a low-income person spares a dollar at the grocery store to see their names go on a green shamrock or a few coins into the Salvation Army’s hanging basket, they don’t run to deduct that amount from their taxes.

However, the same wealthy population that so freely gives this time of year would deny their workers a fair wage, will fight back regulations that protect employee benefits and resist rewarding their employee’s hard work with a fair share of their profits.

They support –with unbelievably large amounts of money- those in government that deny the right of people to earn fair wages to live with dignity and in safety. They would fight back on giving immigrants the opportunity to build a decent life for themselves and their children. They would prevent veterans the care and services they desperately need after offering their lives –and their families’- for the country.

The philanthropic act of giving is an act of otherness; the “haves” and the “have –nots” are separated by that act. There is no link, no bond in between that would change the status-quo. Philanthropic giving is not an act of kindness, it is an act of selfishness; it does not strive for community economic empowerment but it underscores individual humiliation.

If you ever had to depend on charity of any kind to provide for yourself or for your family, you know that receiving charity is not a good feeling –it is mortifying and deprecating. In a way, it is a “reminder” that we are vulnerable, inept and unable to provide for ourselves. We have fallen off the ladder and it is unlikely that will be able to climb up again.

When asked if they would prefer to receive charity or recover their dignity, I’m sure most people would choose the latter.Begging With Sign

So next time you are thinking of giving, think less in terms of what you want to give and more of what others might want to receive: give another human being their dignity, their ability to fight for their own rights, their ability to feel whole again, and the ability to choose their own destiny.

Lina Llona, MCRCC President introduces the first panel

American Conference on Diversity at Women's Leadership Summit

Elizabeth Williams-Riley, President and CEO American Conference on Diversity

Elizabeth Williams-Riley, President and CEO American Conference on Diversity

Are you ready for what’s next?

Over a hundred women responded to this call from the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce (MCRCC) during their 2014 Women’s Leadership Summit in Somerset NJ. Highlight of the event was the presence of Elizabeth Williams-Riley, President and CEO for the American Conference on Diversity as a keynote speaker.

Elizabeth was recently distinguished as one of 2013 Women Worth Watching and featured in national publications such as Diversity Journal and Diversity Best Practices.

“Our organization is rooted in the New York’s National Conference of Christians and Jews founded in 1927. New Jersey, one of the most diverse states in the country, started its initiative under the name of American Conference of Diversity in 1948 to promote respect and inclusion among our communities,” Elizabeth told LatinasInBusiness.us in an exclusive interview.

Through experimental learning, dialogue, activity seminars, role-playing and other all-encompassing techniques, the organization offers conflict management and preventive diversity education and awareness in school-based programs and workplace training sessions.

“We do not respond to incidents,” Elizabeth explains, “but we create an environment for the understanding of differences and opportunities for growth building positive messages in early childhood and among our youth. We also extend our activity to the workplace through community partnerships with main stakeholders such as government and industry leaders with whom we build action plans,” she shared.

Elizabeth invited the audience to visit the American Conference on Diversity and become involved with their pursuits as a volunteer, a strategic partner or requesting some of their services.

The Women’s Leadership Summit also included a panel of young leadership speakers: Abby Kohut, better known by her site “Absolutely Abby” selected as one of “Top 100 Websites for your Career” by Forbes Magazine in 2013; Taryn Lamb, President of Organized Havens LLC, a company she founded in 2006 to help people get organized and improve their lives; and Maybelle Jadotte, Business Community Manager for Port Authority of NY/NJ Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Roundtable breakup sessions also featured 10 facilitators with topics that offered the audience a wide range of choices, from social media to wealth management. The event was crowned by the 2014 Health and Wellness Expo which featured a dozen expositors and offered health screenings and information to the attendees.

Lina Llona, MCRCC President, cited U.S. Labor Department statistics in her introduction. “Women account for at least 50 percent of all workers within the financial, education, health services, leisure and hospitality sectors,” she said. “As women continue to play a more dominant role in our economy and the economic recovery, it’s important to look at how and what our policy makers can do to ensure equal access and opportunity.”

Click on pictures to see some of the 2014 Women’s Leadership Summit moments and get ready to participate next year!

And watch our first video production on our LatinasInBusiness.us YouTube channel.

 

 

Honoring our veterans with Dr. Zoppi Rodriguez

COL Zoppi CMD PictureLast October, I was honored to write an article about the Borinqueneers, a battalion formed by thousands of young Puerto Ricans that served in the US Army during World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict.

Their major struggle was not so much related to their bravery in the battlefield –they were known for their fierce and relentless fighting spirit– but for being victims of discrimination within the US Army. They were all men and all Puerto Ricans, and they faced the most perilous battles in each war. Women were not allowed to sign up for the Army at that time.

“Fortunately, not only women participate in the Army today but we also have leaders such as Brigadier Commander José Burgos, who understands that giving women the opportunity to take charge of leadership positions empowers them, inspires them, and allows and helps them to grow,” said Dr. Irene Zoppi Rodríguez, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and the first Deputy Commander in the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico.

With more than four decades of military, academic and professional experience, Dr. Zoppi also facilitates graduate courses in education and business for Strayer University. As a college professor, she brings her passion of empowerment and thought leadership to her students.

“As a teacher, I try to inspire young women and encourage them to grow to be ‘more’,” she said.

More, I asked?

“Every human being has a purpose in life. Many discover it at the end of their lives, when it is too late, becoming a wasted opportunity. We cannot put time in a box so it is up to us to realize our purpose in life as soon as we can. By discovering that purpose, we can fulfill our destiny within that purpose,” Dr. Zoppi said.

She explained that most people understand they need a roadmap for a vacation or a trip but many do not have roadmaps for their lives, their education and all the challenges that come with discovering that purpose. Most expect other people to tell them where to go or how to get there.

“Latinas particularly have Superpowers they are not aware of, and they need to find them soon in life. We don’t dress with ‘capas’ like Batman or Superman but we wear our confidence to confront many personal and professional challenges,” she said.

These are Superpowers Dr. Zoppi believes Latinas have:

Strayer University at Festival PEOPLE en Español

Strayer University at Festival PEOPLE en Español

  1. Tenemos audacia (being audacious): Our internal fire overshadows all expectations of how we “should” be by breaking barriers and pushing up to face challenges, such as those trying to reunite their immigrant families.
  2. Somos fatales (being fatalists): We love watching telenovelas with our mothers, grandmothers and daughters, crying and understanding the struggle of the protagonist.
  3. Somos multifuncionales (being multifunctional): Without fear, we perform our functions at the best level and all at once. We cook, we dance, we sing, we work, we ask for permission and we apologize; and we do it in different languages too!
  4. Tenemos esperanza (having hope) We have the ability to do things with hope, always thinking what is next in our journey. We come to this country with the hope that we will find more for our families,
  5. Somos serviciales (fulfilling the needs of others) We are always making sure there is food for everybody, and that is not only in our kitchens!

All these superpowers make Latinas transactional and transformational leaders, according to Dr. Zoppi. “Not only we do the work, giving ourselves totally, but also we pass on those skills to everybody around us, at work, the family and the community.

So, she recommends, the sooner the better, discover your Superpowers and use them!

 

culture of poverty Latinos and social security

La cultura de la pobreza, a stigma in minority communities

When I woke up this morning to the elections’ results, I remembered this concept of “la cultura de la pobreza” or culture of poverty, a theory that anthropologist Oscar Lewis developed in the 60s. I am a girl of the 70s, the time when everything seemed possible, and younger people might not remember but back then we gained a lot of terrain in women’s rights, civil rights and human rights.

culture of poverty

The culture of poverty is associated with race, age and gender in the US. (Photo Credit Free Commons)

In his work, Lewis mentioned some seventy characteristics distinctive of the culture of poverty, and he argued that:

“The people in the culture of poverty have a strong feeling of marginality, of helplessness, of dependency, of not belonging. They are like aliens in their own country, convinced that the existing institutions do not serve their interests and needs. Along with this feeling of powerlessness is a widespread feeling of inferiority, of personal unworthiness.”

Among other characteristics, the original theory described poor people as having distrust in institutions –police and government–, as strongly oriented to live in the present, and having little interest in planning their future.

The concept was introduced in American politics by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1965, the assistant labor secretary during the Johnson administration, who described the urban black family as incapable of escaping the cycle of poverty, and the makers of their own bad by transmitting those values from one generation to the next. The same has been argued for other sectors of low-income and minority populations.

culture of poverty

Carol B Stack, Emeritus Professor at UC Berkeley (Photo credit UC Berkeley website)

The theory was harshly criticized for blaming the poor for being poor and for developing ways to cope with poverty. Anthropologist Carol B. Stack criticized the theory saying that this explanation was political in nature, and that it served conservative interests.

The truth is, whatever comes first, the egg or the chicken, the American ethos –the belief that freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and that upward social mobility is only achieved through hard work – has done a good job at reinforcing these ideas. Those who fail to make it have only to blame themselves because they do not make enough effort or they do not take advantage of opportunities.

In addition, large sums spent in pounding these ideas while discouraging people to have a saying only help to continue the status-quo.

Conservative strategies have proven time after time that they do not favor the interests of the working poor. While they continue to oppose decent minimum wages that would help families rise from the claws of poverty, keep undermining the chance for large parts of the immigrant population access to a lawful participation in the working and political life of this country, and avert the access of low-income people to higher education, to public healthcare and to better economic opportunities, the culture of poverty will continue to persist.