Living a Real Life Dream in Heels

Picture by Olga Maria - Dreams in Heels

Picture by Olga Maria - Dreams in Heels

"Dare to travel alone, you'll meet amazing people"

Recap of The Latinista: Work, Travel and Wellness event. 

Life is one hell of a journey. It moves fast and flashes before our eyes, sometimes in the directions we least expect. Many of us are standing around waiting for a sign to take a risk or to believe enough in destiny or in happenstance to take a leap of faith. Whether this be in our career, our lifelong dreams or our relationships. We choose to stay on the safe path because its comfortable, it's what we know and what we are used to. So rather than going out and taking a chance on the things we wished we could do, we spend most of our time on social media scrolling through the lives of others and daydreaming about the “what if?” I’m here to tell you, enough with the “what if?” Instead ask yourself the following question: “how will I?”

“Be a smart solo traveler. Always know where the embassy is and stay by your hotel.”

I think that all of us while living a different story, we’ve all had to overcome challenges and obstacles, and have come out alive and kicking on the other side. Now while that may make you a survivor who is alive, wouldn't you prefer to be a survivor that's truly living? The Latinista had the pleasure of hosting Dreams in Heels, Founder Olga Maria in a live conversation on how she overcame fear, challenges, rejection and followed her dreams to New York City. This Latina woman is not only a paid Traveler, Writer, Blogger, but she is living a real life career fairytale. Olga, a proud Puerto Rican, came to the US at the age of 18. “I knew I had to leave Puerto Rico, because I wouldn’t be able to complete my dreams there, so I came to NYC.” While she understood how hard it would be to leave behind all she'd ever known she shared “you have to leave what you’re used to - I knew I wanted something more.”

What many of us wouldn't have imagined while listening to this confident and vibrant woman talk us through her many accomplishments was that Olga grew up filled with insecurity. She wasn't always so brave. Olga was born with a leg condition where her achilles tendon is shorter than average. “I can’t walk with my feet flat on the ground. I walk on my tippy toes.” In school, she was made fun of, kids called her “robocop,” because of the special boots she had to wear. As she got older she realized the power of heels and how comfortable she felt in them. She did everything in heels. They changed her life, and so began “Dreams in Heels.” “I turned a negative situation into a positive one.” Olga has been taking over the world in heels one destination at a time! 

“Separate your personal life from your work life to stay motivated and inspired. Be with yourself in your own thoughts. I meditate and practice yoga. It is important to have balance. Dedicate time to your friends. Talk to people and don’t isolate yourself.”

“Traveling changes your life and it helps create your personal brand. People don’t follow you. They follow your story.” Olga explained how traveling has exposed her to a variety of different cultures and how she has truly immersed herself in those cultures. Olga has learned how to speak German, Portuguese, Turkish, and Ukrainian. She uses Google Translate when there is a language barrier with people she meets but has found that trying to speak a language has worked to her advantage. “Understanding culture makes her creative and helps her understand how to build relationships. If you understand others cultures you will close the deal.”

“Join meetups. Connect with people. Volunteer. Attend networking events. Collaborate with those who do what you want to do!” - Olga Maria

Travel hacks for buying cheap flights:

1.  Google Flights

2.  Hopper

3.  Skyscanner

Written by Cindy Cabral, Storyteller.

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Featured: Olga Maria, Leslie Garcia and The Latinista Yai Vargas.

The Confident Public Speaker: HBO

Yoshida Consulting LLC, The Latinista® and HBO's Employee Resource Group: Alianza partnered to bring a six session series called "The Confident Public Speaker".

Participants learned how to give a powerful presentation, command a room, speak with confidence, and 'tame' their nervousness while in the spotlight. They also learned how to convey their message in a powerful way, as originally intended, as we learn to overcome some of our most common cultural barriers and paradigms.

The Series included: - Six hands-on workshops (2-3 hrs. each) - Access to our full Public Speaking video library - Dynamic assignments and exercises - Networking opportunities for career advancement - A surprise gift from The Latinista and The HBO Employee Resource Group: Alianza.

Click the picture below to watch recap video:

We Are One of Many

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"Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women, who have their back."

This past week at the Ellevate: Challenges Facing Women of Color Today and in the Future event, I was humbled to sit in a room full of women who have this exact philosophy both personally and professionally. I listened to four women in leadership (Leliani Brown, Yai Vargas, Jennefer Witter, and Minda Harts), who spoke to their shared and unshared experiences. These women bravely and openly discussed the biases and barriers they’ve faced in the workplace not only as women, but as women of color. We all sat as one, nodding our heads in agreement, actively listening, and even laughing uncomfortably at the audacious situations women have had to face.

“Women of color are massively under-represented (and underpaid) in leadership, the executive suites, and on boards - not to mention their experiences are mostly overlooked in modern literature on women and leadership.”

Read that out loud, and take that in, not only are we under-represented, but overlooked! Yet, by 2060 we will be the majority in the workplace. As, I read that quote in the overview of the event before I attended, I grew angry yet felt empowered. I felt empowered because I know that I am not the only one. I am one of many women of color who feel a responsibility to take action for the sake of the future generations of women. Most importantly, I am one of many who want to ensure that we continue to have a shared voice.  

The question during this discussion became how do we do this? How do we take action ? How do we stimulate change rather than appear to be gripe? How do we support one another? The simple answer and the consistent one across the board for each of our panelist was “each other”, use each other for help, use each other to dissect and reflect, use each other to learn from, use each other to motivate, and use each other as allies. There was not one response that was shared by our panelists that didn't include others in their responses.

“Include allies in the conversations. Bring people into the mix. Inclusion.” Yai Vargas.
“Have alliances,  workplace alliances. Strong alliances are important.” Minda Harts

“I've had a number of mentors and sponsors either appointed to me by my company, or those who came organically.  It’s really important to have champions, not necessarily people who have the power to get you a bump in a position or raise in salary, but someone who is going to be your champion who could keep you motivated and keep you going. I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of great champions who I could turn to and ask am I doing this right, am I crazy?” Yai Vargas

“Have a champion who is in a position to help you. A high level champion, a sponsor who can push you along and is in a position to support you, promote you and advocate for you, and have a number of those. We are not suggesting everyone can be in your cheerleading squad, but you want the high level sponsor and champion to help you along.” Leliani Brown
“Never stop networking, whether out of college or a 50 year old woman, you always need to network. Develop your own personal brand, so when people think about a great social media person or HR person they will think of you immediately. Build the brand and continue to adapt the brand to keep it fresh. An effective personal brand and network to help you get through the door.” Jennefer Wetter
“We need to own ambition. Tell people who we are versus having them tell us who we are. No one will know what you want until you tell them.” Leliani Brown.
“Make professional development your own responsibility, don’t necessarily put an increase in salary or promotion on your manager. Set up your own goals.” Yai Vargas  

The key thing to overcoming the challenges that women of color face in the workplace will continue to be the need for support from “others”, no matter what experience, race, ethnicity, sex, age, job role, etc. We need humanity! We need humans to remember that we are in this together! We need the collective fight and the empathy of others. We can’t do this alone. There is so much left for us to accomplish, and while our voices have been louder than ever, they need to continue to be heard.

I challenge you, whether you’re a woman of color, or an ally, to be a part of the conversation, be someone who mentors someone else, be a part of someones growing network, be someone's champion and remember that our future generations depend on us to “move the needle” to inspire, and create change. This isn't a one person job, it’s “our job.”

Written by Cindy Cabral, Storyteller.