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The power of creating community

Librada Estrada

Librada_Luly B Earlier this week I was in New York City to attend the 5th Annual Proud to be Latina Conference and to meet with Ana. The conference, founded by Yesi Morillo-Gual, highlighted how Latinas are creating community, why being part of one is so important and the value of being with a group of like-minded individuals.

We heard several dynamic speakers present on topics that we write about including, and not limited to, confidence, courage, self-awareness and self-advocacy. A panel of senior female executives shared lessons learned related to developing their careers, practicing self care, and defining success for yourself. Additionally, Yxa Bazan of JPMorgan Chase presented strategies for negotiating and NYS Deputy Secretary for Labor Elizabeth De Leon Bhargava discussed not letting your past block you from success.

It was great to be in the company of other Latina women that are focused on their professional and personal development. There is so much shared energy, passion and dreams in what we are all trying to achieve. The fact that so many of us made time for the event points to the desire that we have for connection and being part of community with other like-minded individuals.

I did not know anyone else that would be at the event besides Ana and I was curious to meet other participants. After finding a table I quickly introduced myself to the women already sitting. One of them happened to be Luly B, a wife, mom, and entrepreneur. I had been “introduced” to her virtually when she presented on the Empower Hour in 2014. I liked her style and message that balance is bullshit, particularly because I say that quite often. Not being sure of how the day was organized I looked forward to at least hearing her present. I was surprised to find myself sitting at the same table with her!

Luly B. is funny, warm and inviting. Right away she started asking questions about Si Tú Quieres, what we did, etc. At first I was surprised that she was curious and interested in what I did because I was there to hear her present. As it turns out I only heard her speak for a few minutes about uncovering your gifts because my coaching session was scheduled at the same time and I stepped out—too funny!

I was disappointed about the conflict and hoped that I would have a chance to connect with her before she left. She stayed until the end and I had a chance to speak with her during lunch. I found Luly B. to be very down to earth and very generous. I have to admit that when she first started asking me questions I was not sure how to respond. On the one hand I wanted to share and yet I was initially hesitant. Past experience caused me to be wary about trusting others and some ideas were not fully formed yet.

Luly B. made it safe to share because of how she was being-authentic, curious and friendly. Also, by  telling her story, including challenges and successes, she was willing to be vulnerable with us. She was contributing to the community, the space, that we desire. I chose to do the same and to share more than normal. She made me feel comfortable and we spoke about what Ana and I are planning for STQ (more to come!) as well as what we are developing. She was genuine in her desire to support others in their success and her actions conveyed it. During our conversation she shared resources that she is using in her business. Luly B. did not have to and she was open and willing to support other Latinas, other entrepreneurs on their journey.

Throughout the conference I spoke with other women who were generous in different ways. During the day we supported each other by sharing tools and resources to develop personally and professionally. It was wonderful to be around so many Latinas focused on leadership, empowerment and success.

If you desire community or are looking for a group of like-minded individuals, consider the following:

  • Be open to sharing your ideas and dreams- Success is not achieved alone. By telling others what we are doing through Si Tú Quieres and what we desire to achieve we are inviting others to support us and share their experiences, as well as ideas. You don’t know who else might be interested in supporting your vision.
  • Don’t let past experiences dictate your behavior today-If I had decided that my past experiences would influence all of my future interactions I would not have been willing to discuss our ideas. I would not have been open to receiving Luly B’s generosity and recommendations. What might you receive if you share?
  • We are all human beings-Before speaking with Luly B. I had created a story in my mind that due to her success she would be too busy speaking with others to answer any of my questions. Yes, she has built a business, continues to grow it, and was presenting a conference focusing on empowering women. Recognizing these things helped me remember that we share similar interests.
  • Belong to more than one community-Don’t limit yourself to one community. You have multiple interests and each one will help you identify a different way of seeing things.
  • Create your own community-If you cannot find what you are looking for, or a group doesn’t exist in your area (literally or figuratively), create your own. I am so fortunate that we have so many women, and several men, supporting Si Tú Quieres. We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for your support. Thank you for being part of our community!

Your turn: How does your community support you?

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