Monthly Archives: August 2010

i-Pod: The Ultimate Multicultural Tool

Like probably many of you, I like to exercise while tethered to an i-Pod.

On a run this morning, music on my i-Pod shuffled through different genres of music, and each had a different effect on me.  It’s a wonderful feeling to be on a morning run with the sounds of U2, Bon Jovi, Gypsy Kings, Mozart, and Javier Solis all playing in my head. I know what you’re thinking – what a cool playlist!  

Everyone in our family adds music to our i-Pod. My wife, who is Italian-Hungarian-French, has added her assortment of music ranging from Deaf Leopard to ABBA… I do like most it. : )  I’ve added my combination of Rock, Latin, Jazz, Classical, and eclectic songs from different countries. My kids still have their favorite Christmas songs on there – hard to sweat while you’re running with Winter Wonderland slamming in your head!

I realized somewhere during the first couple miles that an i-Pod really does serve as a multicultural medium. It serves as a place and time in my day where cultures unite in song. Why not? Definitions of multiculturalism vary. But at its core, we need to remember that culuture is not something we’re born with – it’s not genetic. Culture is learned. It’s learned through interaction, collaboration, and contribution.

And just like some of us speak more than one language, we also share more than one culture by interacting with diverse groups of people. I will be the first to admit that I sound extraordinarily naïve to think that empathy, acceptance, and understanding are possible in a world that today seems fractured on so many levels. However, there’s at least a place, one unlikely place, one instrument, where everything is right with the world.

Follow Your Bliss

Do you work to earn a living?

Or do you love what you do so much that you’d do it for free?

If you work to earn a living, how would your life change if you loved your work instead?

We’ve all participated in those retreats or workshops on how to be more successful. I remember being part of a workshop that asked the participants to draw a picture of what their job would look like if they were passionate about it.

I felt bad for everyone that drew a picture. I didn’t draw one. I pulled out a picture from my backpack and shared a picture of my family. I already had what I wanted from my job.

My passion is being able to do something that I love from home and spend time with my kids.

I realized then as I realize now – how fortunate that is.

Glenn Llopis, Founder, Center for Hispanic Leadership

Next month the Center for Hispanic Leadership(CHL) will be hosting its first annual Leadership Summit whose theme will focus on embracing innovation through diversity. I was fortunate to have been invited to participate in the summit which will take place September 18th in Los Angeles.  CHL Founder and CEO, Glenn Llopis, was gracious enough to spend some time with me on this edition of the HTM Podcast to discuss his perspectives on leadership, diversity, innovation, and the upcoming summit. If you’re not familiar with his Glenn’s work, I’d encourage you to visit his website as well as the excellent work being done by the Center for Hispanic Leadership.

If you’re interested in participating in the leadership summit, Glenn was gracious enough to offer a discounted registration rate of $195 for HTM readers. You can contact me using my company site or DM me via Twitter @MigueACorona .

I’ll be live blogging the summit so you can also follow along on Twitter using the  #CHLSummit .

Hope to see you there!


Definition of Success?

We often get preoccupied with measuring our own success with standards established  by others. This occurs in our education, our careers, and personal lives. When I was choosing a place to attend college, for example, I wasn’t concerned about whether it was 1st-Tier or 2nd-Tier school – in fact – I  didn’t know there was such a “system” until I was in college.

As a college recruiter, there was always pressure to recruit from “top-tier” schools. We did but I also made an effort to recruit from schools that we’re not on anyone’s radar.  I really don’t get why there’s a preoccupation with lists or rankings. An education is ultimately what you make of it. I got out of my education what I put into it. The president of my alma mater (The University of Texas at El Paso) would say at every graduation that the quality of any educational institution can be measured by the performnace of their graduates in the workforce.  

I think it’s good advice. It equalizes the playing field.

Summer at the Office

My alma mater and previous employer, The University of Texas at El Paso Career Center, had four UTEP Summer Interns blog about their experiences this Summer. The UTEP Career Center continues to do some innovative things – I highlighted their other strategies in the 4 Year HSI Career Center podcast a couple of months ago.  

This initiative featured five summer interns reprsenting four disciplines. Excellent insights about the summer experiences of four Hispanic interns. Click on the links below to read their respective blogs:

What Leaders Should Read

A few years ago, I went on a trip to Washington, D.C. with a community legislative group. We were there to lobby government leaders for an empowerment zone designation for our community. One evening while in Georgetown, I spent time chatting with one member of our group. When it came to our community, he was always at the forefront: helping, advocating, coordinating, leading. I respected his insights. His thinking was constantly strides ahead of everyone else. As we sat at an outside café, he asked about my studies (at the time I was completing my master’s) and what I was reading outside of course books. I was probably reading the latest management or leadership paperback, I don’t recall now. But what I remember after all these years was his response.      

 “If you want to learn about being a leader,” he said, “stop reading business books.” Surprised by his reply I asked why. He argued that one important strategy leaders should change is what they read. In many ways, over the long-term, what leaders read influences their interpretation of various issues. It helps define their world view. People who aim at developing a wider and truthful leadership perspective must – and should – always expand their thinking. Leaders must begin to read history, biographies, fiction, and the classics.  

Because of that conversation many years ago, I’ve made an effort to supplement my business-related readings to include biographies like those of Washington, Lincoln, Adams, Jefferson, Chavez, and King. I’ve gained a better appreciation of the classics by re-reading books from my high school years by Hemingway, Emerson, and Twain. I’ve also immersed myself in books about art, culture, and society. In short, I’ve always balanced my interest in business with books that remind me about what impacts organizations the most – life.

The Power of Long-Term Change

Over the last month I’ve read a couple books: Made to Stick and The Tipping Point. Both books essentially discuss why some ideas spread (like an epidemic) and why others do not. The underlying theme in both books is change – why change happens quickly and why it sometimes does not. This morning I read a post by Seth Godin on the power of slow change. An interesting perspective given that we live in a society that’s often dictated by short-sighted thinking. Our time horizons have shortened dramatically: politicians driven by the next election are always campaigning; organizations pressed by their next quarterly earnings are constantly selling; and the media motivated by ratings is constantly entertaining.      

As the authors of Made to Stick note, change that’s unexpected usually alters the way things get done. But this is rare. Not all lasting change is driven on this time scale. Issues like the environment, for example, work on a much different timeline. Our environmental problems can be solved but require decades to see the solutions or even progress. The same can be said about issues like immigration, education, and diversity. Many organizations or institutions are unable to grasp the idea of addressing these challenges simply because they’re not able to function within a different time scale.

What time has shown us is that many of these challenges are solvable. Today, organizations that took the long-term view of diversity, for example, are reaping the rewards of the multi-cultural workforce needed to function in a globalized economy. Other organizations are trying to accomplish this on the short-term time scale – an approach that’s fast but not very deep. Diversity teaches patience.         

Patience is a vital characteristic of a progressive organization. It’s advantageous and smart for an organization to function at different time scales at the same time. Technology and business can change rapidly – they must. Culture and demographics change at a much different pace – as they do. Because most organizations focus on change that happens quickly, they overlook the long-lasting benefits of profound measured change. Much like glaciers that take centuries to sheer off the side of mountain, slow deep change can leave behind a landscape that’s beautiful to look at and very hard to alter.

The Tapestry of Leadership

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading a book by Kevin Cashman, Leadership from the Inside Out. If you’ve not read it, the book argues that leaders must transform themselves from task-specific expertise to a type of leadership that is based upon self-discovery and relationships. I’ve enjoyed the book’s leadership perspective. Rather than presenting leadership development as a hierarchical process, leadership is presented as a circular diagram that doesn’t necessarily equate value with one stage over another. I think this is an interesting approach and one I understand.

Often, leadership theeories and models place value judgments on leadership.  We’re told that leadership is a ladder, and we feel that we should be progressing toward a certain level of attainment or achievement.  In reality, leadership is a journey, don’t you think?  Whether it’s through a blog, social media, or research, each of us, in our own way contributes to one another’s leadership development. We all contribute to the body of knowledge as we share our thoughts and experiences. When it comes to leadership, we should strive to contribute to something much larger than ourselves. It’s one of the thing I try to do through my own blog. 

I equate this to a large tapestry.  We may not create more than one stitch in this tapestry but it’s a composition that enables greater understanding as we continue further along on the journey.  Only from a distance, only with time, may we look back and recognize a pattern on this tapestry.  And quite honestly, there is also a chance many of us will never see the pattern but we still have contributed to something much greater than ourselves.  This is what I believe when I  say that leadership is more like a journey.  We are perhaps a spoke in the wheel but we’re also part of a greater whole. There is no final destination but an exploration and self-realization of where we are in our stage of leadership.

Note: Here’s the information on the book – By Kevin Cashman, Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler

Two Reports Worth Reading

There are two reports that were released this week that provide valuable information on the Hispanic college student experience. I’ve not had a chance to read the details of the report shared by Education Trust regarding the differences between colleges and universities in recruiting and retaining college students so I’ll stop short of providing my perspective. The study is yet another indication that colleges, organizations, and other institutions are at least beginning to realize the importance of recruiting and developing Hispanic talent and the Hispanic workforce. Below is an abstract of what you’ll find in the study:

To improve degree attainment among Hispanic students,colleges and universities simply must enroll more of them. But it’s just as important that these institutions also boost their graduation rates and close graduation-rate gaps. This brief calls attention to the colleges and universities that are serving Hispanic students well, as evidenced by small or nonexistent graduation-rate gaps between Hispanic and white students. We also shine a necessary light on institutions with particularly large gaps—the institutions that are not serving these students as effectively as they should.

Another report entitled “How American Pays for College,” sponsored by Sallie Mae and Gallup, supplements some of the information found in the report above. Among the many findings, the study reports that Hispanic families were more likely to eliminate colleges based on cost alone – even before researching a school. The report includes additional information on how Hispanics finance their college education. Two very good reads.

Organizations Doing Their Part in Developing Hispanic Talent

Untitled from Miguel A. Corona on Vimeo.

Some organizations that are doing their part this Summer to help develop Hispanic the Hispanic leaders and talent of the future. Watch the video, the list will make a bit more sense. : )

Colleges and Universities
Here is a short list of colleges and universities that are making an effort to attract more Hispanics to their campuses as well as developing Hispanic talent. While there are many more colleges that are increasing their outreach efforts, I think what make these schools unique is their location. Please note where most of these schools are located and what it says about Hispanics and higher education.

Center for Hispanic Leadership (CHL)
If you’re not familiar with CHL, you will be soon. CHL’s mission is to teach Hispanic professionals and corporations how to propel innovation through diversity. I’m honored to be part of their upcoming Summit in Los Angeles.

The Lumina Foundation
One of my favorite websites for information. They have one overriding mission: enrolling and graduating more students from college. They’re tremendous advocates of increasing the number of Hispanics in higher education and consistently provide valuable information in this regard.

Excelencia in Education
A powerhouse for information on Hispanics in education, Excelencia in Education provides research, webinars, and conferences all related to the development of the Hispanic workforce and talent.

 The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education
Always a great source for up-to-date articles impacting Hispanics in higher education, they’re celebrating their 25th year. Their existence literally chronicles the advancement of Hispanics in higher education over the last two decades.

The Hispanic Leadership Initiative at Harvard
An excellent program geared at developing the next generation of Latino Leaders. Their program is impressive and students can apply for the 2011 session starting now. Please watch some of the videos on their site – inspiring!

Hat tip to @Eliana_Murillo , a Harvard grad, for reminding me to add this great program to the list!