A Corporate Leadership Journey Built on the Strengths of My Hispanic Heritage06/04/2015 03:39PM
The CHL Academy experience was in a way a coming of age moment for me. I never really gave any thought to the idea that my Hispanic heritage had been so instrumental in my personal journey through corporate America. While I have always been keenly aware of my hispanicity and how I define myself within its context, I had never really reflected and identified how it affected, shaped, and continues to shape my management style. There are leadership programs that focus on leveraging strengths, but CHL Academy has afforded me, for the first time in my professional career, an opportunity to personally delve into, and conclusively identify the genesis of my ability to lead. Through CHL Academy, I was able to see clearly how and why my background was a breeding ground for honing my skills as a leader.
From the very beginning, my experience in the corporate world has mirrored in many respects the immigrant experience. When I first started out, I had no notion of where I was headed or that I would one day walk in the shoes that I now wear. As the youngest son of an immigrant family, I emulated my parents. I pressed forward as I had seen them do every day of their lives. I did the best that I could do and seized whatever opportunity that presented itself before me. I worked hard and never accepted “no” as a viable and permanent answer to my efforts. I knew early on that my ability to learn and adapt was always my greatest ally; that I could turn a “no” into a “yes” if I never gave up.
My parents had to innovate, invent, and create in order to survive and provide for their family. My father was and still is an eternal optimist. A man who always found a silver lining in every stormy cloud. Like him, I too have learned to look for the positives – especially in the darkest of situations. People who look for silver linings are problem solvers. They are people who find possibilities where others see despair. That, coupled with a hearty work ethic, has benefitted me and those I surround myself with. Hard work, talent and outside-the-box thinking are an unbeatable combination.
Quick, flexible thinking in business is essential to staying current and relevant in today’s age. Entrepreneurs the world over succeed or fail because of this fact. Looking for newer, faster, and more efficient ways of doing things is not only critical, but essential in today’s fast moving environment. I look for people on my team who understand that the world is getting smaller every day. You need a team that understands the nuances of doing business in different parts of the world.
To that end, we as Hispanics have an array of experiences dealing with and navigating differences in cultures and languages. Flexibility, mental agility, and anticipation of problems before they occur are key. Knowledge of the landscape and people you deal with is simply not enough. Knowing “why” people do things allows you to approach problems as an ally and solve for the opportunity. A hands-on approach to all things, like my mother showed me as a young boy, is the surest way of leading. If you lead by example, those around you can follow your lead.
I have always been proud of my heritage, and my experience with CHL Academy has shown me that a focused approach towards leveraging the strengths my heritage has bestowed upon me, will refine my leadership abilities and my personal brand for years to come.
Learn more about Daniel Rivera here.