Hispanic Small Business Owners Expect 2017 to Be Banner Year

LinkedIn

Hispanic entrepreneurs optimistic about growth, lean on strong support systems.


Owners of Hispanic small businesses are incredibly optimistic about the year to come—much more so than their non-Hispanic counterparts. According to the inaugural Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight, they are significantly more hopeful about revenue and hiring plans in 2017—which, as the fastest-growing segment of the small business sector, further cements their role as a critical driver of local economies and growth.

The study, which focuses on the aspirations and pain points of Hispanic small business owners across the country, found that 71 percent of Hispanic entrepreneurs expect their revenue to increase in 2017—20 percentage points higher than that of non- Hispanic respondents (51%). In addition, more than half of Hispanic entrepreneurs plan to hire more employees over the next 12 months, compared to one quarter of non-Hispanic small business owners. The long-term view also looks promising, with 76 percent predicting business growth over the next five years, compared with 55 percent of non-Hispanic small business owners.

American Dream
“For our community of Hispanic small business owners, the American dream of prosperity through hard work is alive, real and inspiring,” said Elizabeth Romero, Small Business Central Division executive, Bank of America. “They see opportunity for themselves, as well as their families, and are leveraging personal networks and communities to help them realize their dreams. Even in the face of the same challenges and economic concerns that affect all small business owners, they are proving to be not only resilient, but incredibly bullish about their future plans and prospects for success.”

“Hispanic-owned small businesses are a vital driver of economic Bank of Ameicagrowth and American jobs. The Bank of America findings show that trend is on track to continue in 2017. Research such as this is important in highlighting the critical contributions that Hispanic-owned businesses are making to build and sustain prosperity for families and communities across the country,” said Javier Palomarez, president and CEO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Aggressively Planning for Growth
Sixty-eight percent of Hispanic small business owners have applied for a loan at some point during the lifetime of their business, compared with 48 percent of their non-Hispanic counterparts. Of those who have applied for a loan, 86 percent of Hispanic entrepreneurs were approved, similar to the approval rate reported by non-Hispanic small business owners (85 percent). Looking ahead, Hispanic small business owners are nearly four times as likely as their non-Hispanic counterparts to have plans to apply for a loan in 2017 (35% vs. 9%). Despite this, 51 percent believe there is a lending gap for Hispanic versus non-Hispanic small business owners, with slightly fewer (49%) saying the disparity doesn’t exist.

Stronger Ties to Family, Friends and Community
Hispanic entrepreneurs are more likely to look to family and friends not only for financial investments, but also for help with running their business. Sixty-six percent of Hispanic entrepreneurs have received financial gifts or loans from family and/ or friends at some point to help fund their business—29 percentage points higher than their non-Hispanic counterparts (37%). When it comes to additional forms of family support, Hispanic small business owners scored higher across the board than non-Hispanic entrepreneurs on:

• „„The influential role that family plays: 55 percent say their family plays an influential role in their business decisions, versus 39 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs.

• „„Help with running the business: 63 percent say their family helps to run their small business, versus 54 percent of non-Hispanic small business owners.

• „„Financial, emotional or operational assistance: 93 percent say they receive financial, operational and/or emotional assistance from their family, versus 83 percent of non-Hispanic small business owners.

In addition, Hispanic small business owners are more than twice as likely to say they will pass their business on to a family member (42 percent vs. 18 percent of non-Hispanic small business owners).

Community also plays a key role for Hispanic entrepreneurs, as 69 percent say community is important to their individual business’  success (vs. 47% of non-Hispanic small business owners), and 77 percent support local nonprofits or charities (vs. 67% of their non-Hispanic counterparts).

Biggest Challenges
When asked about the single biggest business challenge they face, Hispanic small business owners are split. Twenty-three percent cite maintaining a work-life balance as their top concern, followed by finding qualified candidates (19%), access to loan funding (17%), understanding regulations and policies (17%) and managing the day-today of their business (11%). Only 3 percent cite a language barrier as a challenge.

Although Hispanic small business owners are optimistic about 2017 revenue, hiring, and long-term growth, they are also highly concerned about a number of economic issues. Health care costs are the top concern for 71 percent of respondents—the same top concern for non-Hispanic entrepreneurs (75%). However, Hispanic entrepreneurs are significantly more concerned about:

• „„The strength of the U.S. dollar (62% of Hispanic vs. 51% of non-Hispanic small business owners).
• „„Corporate tax rates (61% vs. 49%).
• „„Interest rates (61% vs. 45%).
• „„Commodities prices (59% vs. 47%).
• „„Credit availability (55% vs. 34%).

For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s Hispanic small business owners, read the 2017 Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight at bankofamerica.com.

HGTV Star Izzy Battres’ Journey from Day Laborer to Entrepreneur

LinkedIn
Izzy Battres poses with HGTV stars

Israel “Izzy” Battres owns multi-million-dollar construction company Battres Construction in the heart of Orange County, California. But it did not come easily for him—he learned how to work hard at a young age, and it paid off.

Eight years ago, his reputation and impeccable work ethic opened doors for him to star on the HGTV reality show Flip or Flop. He has worked alongside Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead for eight seasons and is ramping up for more. Battres is set to appear on the network’s new show, Christina on the Coast, premiering this month.

HISPANIC Network Magazine caught up with Izzy to talk about his journey from day laborer to HGTV star, as well as his secret to success.

HISPANIC Network Magazine (HNM): You run a very successful construction company. Where did you get your work ethic?

Izzy Battres (IB): As children, we were taught to be contributors to our household. My dad would take us to work and assign us two small tasks. When I was 9, I was a paper boy for the Orange County Register. I would wake up Sunday mornings at 4 am to deliver to my customers. I was even entrusted to pick up monthly subscription fees—it taught me sales and what I know now is accounts payable. I realized quickly that I was only getting a portion of the fees so it gave me the idea to make my own money, I started a second job that was more of a side hustle.

HNM: At the age of 9, you were working two jobs! Tell us more about that.

IB: My grandmother used to pick lemons from her tree and have me sell them for 25 cents; she would then give me a small cut. After I was done working for her, I would go pick my own lemons off the same tree. But instead of selling them for a quarter, I decided to make lemonade and sell it for 50 cents a cup. I would sell it to people playing soccer at the park by my house.

HNM: So, you were an entrepreneur from a very young age. Let’s fast-forward to the start of your business. How did it come to be?

IB: I have two brothers, and we all followed my dad into the construction trades. If my current boss had no work for me, I would stand in front of Home Depot looking for day labor. We never had a problem with working hard, but sometimes there wasn’t enough work to go around. I decided to start a business so I would be more in control of the workflow. Instead of working on someone else’s construction site, I decided to bid for my own jobs.

HNM: Ten years later, you are now on television and own three companies. How would you say you became so successful?

IB: I believe we as Latinos have a natural instinct to survive. It develops at a very young age when we begin to understand that nothing will be handed to us. I learned very young that whatever I earned was to be used to help my family and community. Today, I employ 43 local families—I have a responsibility to make a difference for others.

HNM: Can you expand on what you call an “instinct to survive?”

IB: Latinos are very hard workers; they are innovative and passionate about what they do and have a stellar work ethic. But even then, they have to stay on the cutting edge. Eight out of ten workers are going to stay average, but I look for the 20 percent who are fighting to survive and have the “eye of the tiger,” as I call it. I employ anybody who has that motivation. Whether they are purple or polka dot, race does not matter to me, but that survival instinct does.

HNM: How does your ability to speak English and Spanish help you as a business owner?

IB: In my geographical area, 80 percent of the construction workforce is Spanish speaking. It can be a barrier, so I try and help them by speaking Spanish on the job sites. I will also make it a point to speak Spanish to my work crew when we are filming the TV show. I always want to put out a positive image and help keep Latinos on the map.

HNM: What advice would you give a young Latino entrepreneur who is starting his own business?

IB: I would tell them to never let the environment dictate your success. People will read into your mentality about life, and that creates a culture in your business. So, you need to stay away from toxic people and conduct business with gentleness and humility. Don’t be arrogant or prideful, because people will read into that.

Author: Mitzi Magos

Financial Freedom for Millennials: A Bucket List

LinkedIn
millennials discussing finances

By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List” told the story of two terminally ill men seeking to finish out all the things they’ve always wanted to do but never completed. The duo set out on their adventure with the intention to fulfill all their dreams before they “kicked the bucket.”

While most people associate bucket lists with experiences, you can apply the same concept to personal finance matters, as well. Essentially, you list all the things you need to accomplish in your financial life and then start making moves to get them done. According to financial experts, people should start to tick off money-matter items on their lists while they are still in their 20s and 30s. With this strategy, they’ll achieve financial freedom sooner than later because they’ve set themselves up for a less stressful future as they reach retirement age.

At this point, retirement probably seems a million years away, but now is the time to start thinking wisely when it comes to money. Check out our financial bucket list for millennials.

1. Live with roommates

Most millennials want to move out of their parents’ home but can’t always afford to do it. Why forego and miss out on the pleasures of autonomy you can enjoy living on your own? Get some roommates instead to help share housing costs.

When seeking roommates, always be smart and keep safety in mind during the selection process. Everyone, especially women, should stay away from listings on Craigslist and other platforms that don’t fully vet the people out who post these listings.

Once you’ve got your roommates in the house, aside from the financial savings you’ll enjoy by splitting the rent, you can make some great memories — or at least accumulate a few great stories to someday tell your family and friends.

2. Move to an affordable city

Sure, New York is the city that never sleeps, and Los Angeles sees a lot of action, too —but these cities are incredibly expensive to live in. Instead of struggling (even with the help of roommates) in an expensive city, consider relocating to a more affordable city with a lower cost of living. Kansas City, for example, is not only affordable, but it also offers plenty of great job opportunities and even boasts some of the shortest commuting times in the country.

3. Downsize and sell some stuff

We live at a time minimizing is en vogue, especially for millennials. Aside from being a trendy thing to do, selling off possessions you no longer need or want can net you some serious cash. Try selling clothes, unused gift cards, old electronics and gadgets, pretty much anything.

If you have old toys, video games, or other nostalgic items you don’t necessarily want to hang onto anymore, try selling these too. You’d be surprised at how well nostalgia sells! Set up an account on eBay (or another preferred platform) and get selling. Then take that money and save it or invest it so it grows.

4. Learn thrifty shopping habits

Even if you’re aiming to downsize, there will still be stuff you need. Instead of paying full price for new items, learn the art of thrifting by shopping at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity resale stores. You can find great deals on everything for the home from kitchen necessities to furniture, along with personal items, too, such as clothing and accessories.

Other ways to save on shopping are to watch for sales, try extreme couponing, and follow discount sites such as Groupon for deals on things you want to buy. Also check out Craigslist and Freecycle to find freebies in your neighborhood.

5. Make a few investments

While making habitual changes can go a long way toward achieving financial freedom, you’ll want to find other ways to increase your bank account. Why not try purchasing some stocks and seeing what happens? Some online brokerage sites let users start buying with as little as $100 and make trades for $5. You can buy small amounts and see if you can aggressively make them grow. “Playing the market” is a unique experience that not everybody gets in their lifetime — and watching your stock’s values go up is a thrill.

6. Launch a business

Even if you’re holding down a full-time job, you can launch a business on the side to generate some extra cash and help build your financial future. It could be something as straightforward as buying a property to use as a vacation rental. Or you can build a brand in your spare time, you can market your business by creating a presence on social media and cultivating helpful business relationships. Sign yourself up to attend some trade shows to help establish a name for yourself.

Depending on your line of work, you may need to obtain a license, insurance, or meet other local legal requirements. Be sure to have your ducks in a row and do everything legally. Also, remember that you’ll need to file taxes as a business. An online calculator can help you make the necessary tax calculations.

Achieving financial freedom is a wonderful feeling! The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be that much closer to your ultimate money goals … and then you’ll be able to afford the things on your “other” bucket list.

It All Started in a Garage

LinkedIn
Lorena Cantarovici poses in her apron at the restaurant

By Tyrone Townsend

Lorena Cantarovici took a chance and moved from Argentina to Denver for better opportunities, not knowing that empanadas were the secrets to her success. Now, Lorena owns Maria Empanada—with five locations in Denver—the nation’s leading artisanal empanada restaurant serving Argentine empanadas, tartas, and specialty desserts. More than 50 employees make 80,000 tasty empanadas a month.

Before Lorena started her leading empanada restaurant, she began baking small orders of empanadas for parties. Before she knew it, a caterer approached her for a large order, leading her to shift her operation from a kitchen to a garage. Lorena’s unexpected catering orders blossomed into a business, and Maria Empanada was born.

Empanadas are more than a delicious cuisine from Lorena’s home country, Argentina. The empanadas represent memories of home. She and her mother, Maria—hence the name Maria Empanada—would prepare empanadas for numerous family gatherings, which brought laughter, joy, and unity. Lorena wanted to replicate those feelings for people in the United States and share those memories with everyone. But a lot had to be done before her empanada business originated in her garage.

Lorena was an accountant without any knowledge of owning a restaurant, and she did not speak English. The resources to proceed with her dream were nonexistent. There was no special dough for the empanadas, no customers, and no money.

It seemed as if the dream would stay stuck in the realm of fantasy. Lorena returned back to Argentina to learn how to cook empanadas. She took notes from her mother and the few shops scattered around the country. She returned back with recipes, techniques, and special secrets. Lorena’s dream then turned into a reality, and she is setting an example for Hispanic women.

The United States has nearly 29 million small businesses, which truly are the engines of our nation’s economy. And according to the latest research from theEmpanadas National Women’s Business Council, nearly 1.5 million of them are owned by Hispanic women. Research also shows Latinas are especially successful as entrepreneurs. According to the last report published by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, women own 36 percent of all businesses. Among Hispanic-owned businesses, that share rises to 44 percent. On average, Latina-owned businesses that employ workers create an average of seven jobs and have $766,000 in annual sales.

Lorena is an excellent example of Latina entrepreneurship and also a symbol of the many ways the SBA supports entrepreneurs as they are starting and growing their businesses. Lorena attended a workshop run by an SBA Denver Small Business Development Center that assisted her in developing her business plan.

She received counseling from knowledgeable volunteer mentors on accounting, marketing, legal issues, and risk management. As Maria Empanada’s volume continued to soar, she utilized an SBA microloan lender Colorado Enterprise Fund and obtained a $63,000 microloan and moved Maria Empanada to a larger location in an enterprise zone in the South Broadway area of Denver.

For Lorena, it all began in a makeshift kitchen in a garage. Now, the entrepreneur and her beloved Maria Empanada have won numerous local, national, and international accolades. Lorena’s desire for growth spreads to business, leading it in only one direction—up.

Jazz Jennings came out as trans at age 5. Now she’s helping The Trevor Project support other kids.

LinkedIn
Jazz Jennings posing for camera smiling

Jazz Jennings knows the spotlight better than most. Having come out as transgender at age 5, she quickly became an equality champion as a teenager when she began speaking forcefully about the rights and needs of transgender kids just like her.

Shows like 20/20 came calling, and she became the subject of her own TLC docu-series, I Am Jazz. A subsequent reality show followed, and Jazz soon became a spokesmodel for Clean & Clear dermatology products.

Now 18, and starting at Harvard University in the fall, Jazz took time to chat with LGBTQNation about her latest initiative: a partnership with Macy’s and The Trevor Project to help end LGBTQ teen suicide. Through June 30, 2019, Macy’s will donate $4 of the purchase price of these t-shirts and $2 of the purchase price of these socks to The Trevor Project. And if you round up your in-store purchases through June 17, the extra change will go to Trevor to expand its life-saving crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs to serve more LGBTQ young people.

How does it feel now when you look back on your coming out? 

My coming out was very different than it is for most other transgender people. In fact, my entire trans experience is very unique in that I expressed I was a girl from as soon as I could verbalize the words. It’s crazy looking back and knowing that I had the awareness and conviction to express my truth as early as age 2 and 3.

What was your first exposure to The Trevor Project, and why were you drawn to its mission?

When I was 11 years old, I received a youth courage award from the Collin Higgins Foundation and spoke at a Trevor Project gala. That was the first time I was exposed to Trevor, and I was just so proud and in awe to see an organization that was so active in working to provide a resource for LGBTQIA+ people who feel like they have nowhere to turn.

Even though we have achieved a measure of equality in America, there is more need for The Trevor Project than ever. What do you think explains this seeming contradiction?

At the same time that LGBTQIA+ are stepping out of the shadows more than ever, there is a proportional increase in the backlash directed toward our community. In the current political climate, people feel more empowered than ever to express their views, even if their opinions rest on trying to dictate the lifestyle and identities of those they don’t understand and aren’t directly affected by. It saddens me to know that The Trevor Project is more needed than ever, but I’m grateful that we have an organization doing what they do and I have hope that progress will be made.

That’s also why Macy’s support is so important, because their round-up campaign will raise awareness of LGBTQ youth suicide prevention nationwide, and their contribution will help Trevor support even more young people in crisis.

Continue on to LGBTQ Nation to read the complete article.

Understanding Insurance Benefits

LinkedIn
businesswoman looking in to camera with her hand on the right side of face

No matter where you are in life, whether you’re just starting your career or nearing retirement, it’s important to understand the voluntary benefits available to you that can complement traditional health insurance.

While health insurance can help cover medical costs in the event of injury or illness, sometimes there are additional expenses your health care plan doesn’t cover. Voluntary benefits, such as life insurance, disability insurance and dental insurance offered by your employer or as portable options through a company like Colonial Life can help bridge the gap should an unexpected event occur.

“Even if an employee has to pay a nominal sum for a voluntary benefit like disability insurance or dental coverage, it can be well worth it,” said Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group Inc., creator of the HR Bartender blog and contributor to Colonial Life’s WorkLife blog. “Think of voluntary benefits as those specialized, personalized extras that make your overall benefits package exactly what you’d like it to be.”

Benefits can be complex, but with the right information about the options available, you can make choices that best fit your lifestyle and budget. Consider these common voluntary options.

Life Insurance

While almost nine out of ten Americans agree most people need life insurance, just 60 percent said they have it, according to LIMRA’s Trends in Life Insurance Ownership study. With benefits typically paid tax free to your beneficiary, life insurance can provide peace of mind and help loved ones pay for funeral costs, cover living expenses, pay off debt, finance future needs and protect retirement plans. Policies are often available through employers, but you may lose the coverage if you change jobs. However, portable policies are also available that allow you to maintain coverage even if you change jobs or retire. To learn how much life insurance protection your family needs, visit worklife.coloniallife.com/calculator.

Disability Insurance

No one usually expects to get sick or injured, however, disability insurance can help protect your income and maintain your lifestyle if a physician determines you’re unable to work due to a covered accident or illness. Common conditions, such as pregnancy and childbirth, heart attacks, strokes, cancer and accidents, make up the majority of disabilities that lead to an inability to work. With short-term disability benefits, you receive financial support for a predetermined amount of time to cover expenses like a mortgage or rent, car payments, utilities and more, so you can focus on recovery.

Dental Insurance

Daily brushing and flossing can help keep your mouth healthy, but that’s not always enough as dental problems can lead to other health problems if left unattended. When you see a dentist for routine appointments and necessary procedures, dental insurance can help reduce the out-of-pocket expense. In fact, among insurance benefits typically provided to employees, 61 percent of workers view dental benefits as important, ranking second after medical insurance, according to LIMRA. Dental insurance provides coverage for regular cleanings and more extensive procedures like fillings, crowns, dentures and tooth removal. Some plans even offer allowances for orthodontic work like braces and retainers.

Accident Insurance

When an accident happens, one of the last things many people want to think about is how they’re going to pay the bills. You can prepare for the unexpected with accident insurance, which provides a lump-sum benefit—based on the injury suffered and treatment received—that can be used to help pay for expenses following an accidental injury, such as doctor bills, co-pays, emergency room fees, transportation, lodging and follow-up care.

Critical Illness Insurance

No matter your age or health status, a sudden illness could significantly impact your financial well-being, and health insurance may not cover everything. When a critical illness such as a heart attack, stroke or major organ failure occurs, major expenses often follow, and critical illness insurance can help off-set costs. In addition to your day-to-day bills, the lump-sum benefit can be used to pay for treatment- and recovery-related expenses including deductibles and co-pays, child care, travel and lodging, gym memberships and out-of-network treatment facilities and procedures.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

ALPFA’s Damian Rivera: The Power of Your Origin Story

LinkedIn
headshot of Damian Rivera, CEO of ALPHA

The journey from Spanish Harlem to the boardroom has been magical. I have the benefit of being able to look back at my 20+ years as a consultant for Accenture, along with my life growing up, to identify all of the “hard times” as a kid, which have made me successful in the boardroom.

As a Latino managing director in a global Fortune 500 company, I have always given back to my community, from serving on the board of non-profits to leading up Accenture’s Hispanic American ERG for six years. With all the experience I have gained, it is my mission to help others achieve their dreams.

With the opportunity of stepping into the role of CEO of ALPFA, I am honored and humbled to continue the legacy built by our members, countless volunteers, leadership teams from our professional and student chapters, and corporate partners that have made ALPFA what it is today. As I think back to my childhood growing up in Wagner Projects in Spanish Harlem, New York, in the 1980s, I can’t believe that in the same way the Latinx community helped give me opportunities in life, I am now in a position to do the same for others. What makes it even more exciting is I am not alone—I have an extended family of 80,000+ members focused on the same mission.

Everyone has an origin story, but the ability to really understand how your story gives you power is critical for Latinos as we strive to elevate in the corporate world. Hearing stories helps inspire, but knowing how your story gives you strength translates inspiration to action.

So, the question I usually get next is, “How can we learn to better understand our story?” There are four components/activities that I tell people to focus on: (1) Journey Line (2) Value Tree (3) Value Mantra (4) Purpose Framework. I’ll focus on the Journey Line and Value Tree here because they are the most critical. I recommend everyone develop their journey line, which is a drawing of your life, starting at any point going to present day. Your level of happiness is on the y-axis, and time is on the x-axis. As you think back on your life, you will plot out the highs and lows, and it’s in these moments that we learn our lessons of life. The high of highs and low of lows are where we build our character and grow the most. When people take time to develop the line, they start to see all they have accomplished and all they have persevered through to achieve success. Once you have done that, you begin to see the strength you have on paper. This is your origin story; it’s no different than a Marvel comic superhero. Once you have documented your journey line, you realize just as Superman had his hero’s journey, so did you. You may not be able to fly, but you definitely have developed your own version of superpowers in finance, accounting, or blockchain. When people work through this, they often have more confidence because it removes the impostor syndrome issues they encounter. They see their story and realize: I belong in the boardroom!

The second key piece is knowing your values. My values are legacy, opportunity, diversity, justice, courage, fortitude, energy, and industriousness. When people talk about being their authentic self at work, I believe that means sticking to your values. Through a person’s journey he or she will change. Everyone should be evolving as a person, and if you stay true to your value system, then you are being authentic as a leader. Know your origin story, enjoy your hero’s journey, and remember to help others along the way.

Here’s How to Make Your Mark at a Big Company

LinkedIn
coworkers chatting in the hallway

Working for a big company has plenty of upsides. A large team means there’s tons of room to explore other areas and learn new things. There’s also a lot more opportunity to climb the ranks and—as an added bonus—the office has amazing facilities.

But like anything else, there are also some drawbacks to consider.

It’s tough to get to know people outside of your immediate team, you can barely figure out who does what, and you may find it challenging to develop any sort of reputation or name recognition for yourself.

It’s easy to feel like just another number in your massive organization. But the good news is there are some steps you can take to find your footing and make your mark at work.

1. Get Comfortable With Self-Promotion

We’re not always good at drawing attention to our own accomplishments because it can feel a little egocentric. However, owning your contributions and being vocal about them is a necessity when your work can easily slip by unnoticed at a large employer.

This doesn’t need to be as over-the-top as you’re likely imagining. It can be as simple as chiming in with a “thank you” when your boss points to something that was done well (that they weren’t aware that you were responsible for).

You can also incorporate some of your achievements into your introduction to new people in the company—particularly if your work is relevant to them in some way. For example, if you’re meeting someone from the sales team for the first time, you can shake their hand and say, “Great to finally meet you! I’m the one who worked on the new application for your customers.”

That statement not only highlights your work, but also pulls out a common thread between the two of you that you can use to get the conversation rolling.

2. Don’t Skip the Pleasantries

Speaking of conversations, I know how tempting it is to avoid small talk. It feels, well, small and completely inconsequential.

But here’s the thing: small talk can actually be quite memorable, particularly if you know how to do it well. So don’t be afraid to strike up pleasant conversations with people you don’t already know.

Maybe you’re waiting in line for coffee with a director from a different department. Introduce yourself and then get a conversation started—even if it means you just recommend the breakfast sandwiches.

These small interactions are a great way to expand your web of connections within your company and lay the groundwork for a continued relationship. Who knows, the next time you see that person, you might just move past small talk.

3. Raise Your Hand for Opportunities Outside of Your Team

When you’re part of an especially large organization, the bubble of your own department or team feels comforting. It’s daunting to venture out and surround yourself with strangers.

You already know what I’m going to say: If you’re eager to make your mark, you’re going to need to get over that and get used to saying “yes” to all sorts of different opportunities.

Is the product team putting together a golf outing that needs some more volunteers? Step in and help. Is there a happy hour or training program that you’d normally skip or a project that could benefit from a few extra hands? That has your name all over it.

Jump on those opportunities and you’ll meet more people, strengthen your impact, and feel more connected to your company as a whole.

4. Speak Up in Meetings

Do most of your meetings have a lot of different people packed into a crowded conference room? Do you still speak up and actively contribute—or are you too intimidated, so you choose to sit in silence and fly under the radar?

Of course, there’s no reason to chime in unnecessarily for the sake of being noticed. But if you do have something valuable to contribute, gather your courage and make it known.

It’s better to voice your thoughts and your opinions in the moment, rather than following up afterwards with an email. That way you’re giving people an opportunity to associate your face with your name.

5. Be Transparent About Your Career Goals

This tip is important whether you work at a company of two or 20,000. But, especially when you work for a big organization, you need to be upfront and vocal about your professional goals.

Your manager can’t read your mind, and you can’t expect them to advocate for you and your ambitions if you don’t make those known.

Whether you hope to eventually move into a management position yourself, want to learn more about a different department, or would like to pursue some additional training or education, have those honest conversations with your boss.

Not only does this investment in your own career and development help you stand out to your immediate supervisor, but being transparent about your goals also opens the door to other opportunities to make an impact at your company.

6. Solicit Advice From Others

Do you really want to know how to make your mark? Why not ask somebody who’s already successfully done it?

Within your organization, there’s bound to be someone who’s been there for years and successfully climbed the ladder. Reach out to see if you can take them out for coffee and find out more about their journey, as well as pick their brain for advice on how you can follow a similar path.

Even if you don’t walk away with a super-detailed action plan, you still have the benefit of forming connections and relationships with people outside your department.

When you’re one of hundreds or even thousands of employees at your company, it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a ginormous pond. Does anybody even notice all of the hard work you’re doing? Wait…does anybody even know your name?

You can’t snap your fingers and change the size of your employer, but you can change your own actions. That’s right—making your mark all starts with you.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Rosario Dawson: Called to Action

LinkedIn
Rosario Dawson Summer Issue Cover

By Erica Sabino

Rosario Dawson is more than just another famous face in Hollywood. In addition to her high-profile film career, she’s a philanthropist, activist, and entrepreneur. Not to mention producer, singer and comic book writer!

First and foremost, Dawson is fiercely passionate about her philanthropy and her desire to serve her community. Her early life wasn’t easy. Her family lived in a squatter’s apartment in New York’s East Village, where she grew up seeing poverty, sickness, and suffering all around her. “Growing up here in New York, with a mom who was a teenager when she had me, I had family and friends who were either trans and/or had HIV or AIDS and/or had drug problems or housing issues or issues with access to education,” Dawson said in an interview with the lifestyle website mindbodygreen. “I saw the whole maelstrom of privilege and access.”

Growing up in a liberal-minded family, she was raised to understand the value of social change at a young age. “My mother worked for a women’s shelter when I was young,” she said. “To see strangers helping other strangers, just showing up and giving, was so inspiring to me.” It’s not hard to see how her experiences have inspired her to make a change for others. She serves as a board member of V-day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. She supports charities like the ONE Campaign, Amnesty International, Oxfam, International Rescue, and Lower East Side Girls Club, and the Environmental Media Association, among many others. She is also active in such programs as Conservation International, Doctors Without Borders, National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy and Save The Children.

In 2013, Dawson partnered with her longtime friend Abrima Erwiah to found Studio 189, a fashion and media brand based in Ghana that produces African and African-inspired clothing and lifestyle content. In an interview with Google, when asked about their decision to launch in Ghana, Dawson and Erwiah had this to say: “We were impressed by the culture of creativity, craft, and innovation and the rich history present in Ghana. We felt it was a wonderful place to develop social infrastructure, to add value to natural resources, to create opportunities for work and support capacity building. At the same time, we wanted to support the growth of a local market of consumers as well and help create a space for more people to enter conversations and be included in the growth of the global fashion industry.” For these two partners, Studio 189 is not just a business, but also a social enterprise. Through their brand, they have been able to make changes in the community through educational workshops, counseling, and employment.

Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson are seen prior to the Latinas Stand Up rally ALEXANDER TAMARGO/GETTY IMAGES
Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson are seen prior to the Latinas Stand Up rally ALEXANDER TAMARGO/GETTY IMAGES

Politically active for much of her life, Dawson says, “The American future is here, and there’s great news: the future votes.” She co-founded the pioneering civic media nonprofit organization, Voto Latino, in an effort to boost Latino participation in the political process. Established in 2004, Voto Latino’s mission is to provide culturally relevant programs that engage, educate, and empower Latinos to be agents of change. It also seeks to transform America by recognizing Latinos’ innate leadership. Whenever we do voter registration, we ask, ‘Why haven’t you voted before?’ The response is often, ‘No one’s asked us.’ It’s not about telling people what to do—it’s about sharing what they can do.

“Voting is the umbrella to everything else that I’m doing,” says Rosario. “Women’s issues, health and disease, poverty, housing—these all fall under that voting power.” In recognition for her efforts, she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2017.

Also a health advocate, Dawson, a self-proclaimed oat enthusiast, recently partnered with Quaker Oats to create a three-part video series that encourages people to incorporate healthier practices into their everyday lives. “I’ve been eating Quaker oatmeal since I was a young child, ever since my aunt taught me how to make it from scratch, so I’m excited to team up with them to help spread the word about the benefits of oats,” Dawson said. “As an advocate for health and wellness, I never want to short-term my health—I think it’s so important to have long-term plans. And what’s great is that you don’t have to start big, because even small steps can make a difference.”

Rosario, Abrimaand guest
Designers Rosario Dawson, Abrima Erwiah and guest attend as STYLE360 THOMAS CONCORDIA/GETTY IMAGES

Dawson’s first step on her journey to fame happened by accident when she was just 15 years old. Sitting on the front porch step of her apartment building, she was spotted by photographers Larry Clark and Harmony Korine. Aspiring screenwriter Korine thought Dawson would be perfect to cast in the 1995 film, Kids, where she played Ruby, a sexually active adolescent. From there, Dawson went on to star in more films, like Rent, He Got Game, Men in Black II, Seven Pounds, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Sin City, among many others. In the music industry, she had a speaking part in the re-release of Prince’s 1980s hit, “1999,” renamed “1999: The New Master.” She also appeared in the music video for Out of Control by The Chemical Brothers and was featured on the Outkast track, She Lives in My Lap.

Currently, Dawson is set to voice the iconic heroine Diana Prince in the DC animated original film, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, a character she’s voiced since 2015’s Justice League: The Throne of Atlantis. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actress has also been cast in Sony Pictures’ next installment of the post-apocalyptic comedy, Zombieland 2. She will be working alongside original cast members including Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, as well as newcomers Zoey Deutch and Avan Jogia. In addition to these roles, Dawson will both produce and star in the upcoming drama series Briarpatch from Sam Esmail, the creator of Mr. Robot. Based on the Ross Thomas novel, the first season of the series will be produced by Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television. In this drama, Dawson will be playing a Washington, D.C.-based investigator who returns to her hometown in Texas to help search for her sister’s murderer.

Last year, she announced her guest collaboration on La Borinqueña, an original character and patriotic symbol presented in a classic superhero story created and written by graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Her powers are drawn from history and mysticism found on the island of Puerto Rico. Dawson and her writing partner David Atchison joined Dawson’s uncle, comic book artist Gustavo Vazquez on the project.

Although she has a full workload, she still finds time to make an impact outside the world of Hollywood. From being a political activist to running a sustainable fashion line, Rosario Dawson is continuously showing her passion and commitment to the causes she advocates for.

Using her platform to make a difference, Dawson’s activism has allowed her to not only witness change but also effect it. “I’m really moved by everything I’ve seen achieved over the years, and there’s so much that’s being worked toward now with many more people,” Dawson says in an interview with InStyle. “I’m inspired to just do whatever I feel called to do and to be of service and to be of use… There are so many different ways that we can serve, and I want to figure out as many ways as I can to fit into this lifetime.”

Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough Releases Single Off Upcoming Family Album Based on His Childhood

LinkedIn
Howie Dorough posing for Album Cover No Hablo Espanol

He may have just kick-started the DNA World Tour with the Backstreet Boys, but Howie Dorough is never too busy to release more (yes, more!) music. On Friday, the musician released “No Hablo Español,” a fun new single off of his upcoming family album, titled Which One Am I?

“The song is loosely based upon me being half Puerto Rican, half Hispanic, and my dad being Irish Caucasian,” Dorough, 45, tells PEOPLE exclusively about the single.

Fun fact: Dorough’s 10-year-old son James, and his mother, Paula Flores Dorough, star in the video for “No Hablo Español”

“Kids would see me and talk to me in Spanish, and I would be like, ‘No hablo español.’” And they’d be like, ‘What?’ And it’s almost kind of like that look of, and I hate to say it’s a disgrace, but like, ‘You’re not proud of it? You’re not carrying on tradition.’ And it was never that — I was just a little kid.”

The album, which follows the path of a young Howie D. overcoming his insecurities to discover his true self, has been in the works for the past five years and is something Dorough is “very proud of.”

“It’s definitely not your normal kids record,” he says. “This is more of a twist on a kids record. The goal is to teach people that no matter what they’re going through, they can overcome any obstacle in front of them. I want people who listen to the music not to worry, everything that happens is meant to teach you how to be the person you were meant to be.”

Howie Dorough’s Which One Am I?

“I went through a lot of common issues that a lot of kids go through nowadays, including worrying and being shy, feeling small, being in somebody’s shadow, monsters in your head, bad dreams,” he adds. “I was definitely always trying to find my place and where I am and how I fit in with people. I wasn’t your tall jock, I was more of your shorter guys. I was more into music and musicals and dancing. Eventually I did find my place, and I’m very proud that I stuck to my grounds of knowing that I was a true entertainer.”

Now, a father of two (he’s also doting dad to Holden, 6) with wife, Leigh, Dorough said he wanted to create an album that was entertaining for both parents and their kids.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

7 Tips to Help Mentally Overcome an Employment Gap

LinkedIn
woman interviewing candidate for a job

Here’s advice on overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create before they sabotage your job search, from those who’ve been there.

William Childs loves his new job. He is Marketing Director at  Kitchen Magic, a growing national kitchen remodeling and cabinet refacing company. “This job is a creative person’s dream. The product, the people, the collaborative ideas we are generating, it’s totally amazing,” Childs says. “This is what I spent my 14-month employment gap searching for, and I am so glad I didn’t give up on my career goals.”

Employment gaps do not define you

According to a recent Randstad U.S. study, the average job search today takes about five months. When Childs was laid off late in 2017 from an executive-level marketing job, he did not anticipate a longer-than-average employment gap. He explained: “When my old job was eliminated, it was the first time in many years that I had no specific job to go to next. I had always benefited from people just knowing me and my work, so starting from scratch while unemployed felt pretty weird.” When a few leads at the beginning of his job search didn’t materialize, he felt a bit demoralized.

According to a 2019 Monster survey, 59 percent of Americans have had an unexpected gap in their career. For a lot of people looking for jobs with a gap on their resume, there can be internalized feelings of shame, says Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist, CEC-certified executive coach, and author of “The YOU Plan.” “Shame puts on a lot of added pressure to an already stressful time, which can lead to obsession,” Dr. Woody explains. “Don’t victimize yourself over a lost job or a failure in the past. It can be debilitating.”  He advises readers to recognize their setback as just that, a setback — then deal with it and move on to better things.

Childs did keep moving forward. He designed an online portfolio and kept adding to it during his hiatus by taking on freelance work. He wrote for an online magazine and volunteered his talents to local non-profit groups. A year into his search, he took an advertising sales job as he continued to apply for positions. “The sales job was what I needed to do financially, and what I needed to do for my own piece of mind,” he reflects. “I was earning income, learning, and connecting with people. It helped me a lot.”

While he did not give up on finding an innovative executive marketing position, Childs needed ways to stay focused and positive on his continued career search. When it comes to overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create, the following advice can help keep you more focused, motivated, and confident.

1. Honesty really is the best policy

Susan is happily employed in Reno, Nevada at The Slumber Yard, a specialty online clearinghouse of reviews, comparisons, and deals for mattresses and bedding products. Prior to taking the job last year, this mattress review specialist (whose name has been changed for this piece) had left the workforce to care for her young son after he was injured in a serious accident. When she was ready to re-enter the workforce, Susan crafted a very targeted resume and cover letter that succinctly addressed her employment gap. Still, the two-year pause in her career had her a little nervous. “I wasn’t exactly sure what the job market would be like for me,” she remembers.

“Her resume had everything we were looking for, and when she told me why she had a gap in her employment history, her honesty really impressed me,” says Matthew Ross, The Slumber Yard’s Co-Founder and COO. Ross immediately called Susan in for an interview. “Her experience and knowledge of our industry are what got her the job. But, the way that she explained her employment gap really showed her character, both as a person and as a professional.”

You can explain your employment gap without oversharing, says Dick Lively, Partner and HR Consulting Director at RAI Resources in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “On a resume or in a cover letter, saying you took time to care for a family member who was ill or that you relocated across the country for your spouse’s job should be enough detail. Keep it professional but not too personal,” he says. It is also OK to exclude a gap explanation from the resume altogether, so long as you are prepared to address it during the interview if you are asked. Just don’t make something up. “At the end of the day, the truth always comes out, explains Lively. “You don’t want to face a potential employer or a new boss and try to explain why you lied.”

Continue on to Top Resume to read the complete article.