What Does Being an American Latina Mean?

Being an American Latina means different things to different women. Las Fabulosas talks to three mujeres about their Latina pride and how nuestra cultura enriches the American experience.

Success and Limits of a Career Professional

“When I became a U.S. citizen, it was very important for me to assimilate. Mastery of English was instrumental in my personal and professional success. In 2007, I founded Diálogo Public Relations with offices in the U.S. and Mexico to help brands have a relevant dialogue.

To me, the only limitations for entrepreneurs are in the mind. The opportunities for Americans of Hispanic descent are infinite. I have taken a special interest in nurturing the next great Latina communications professionals by creating an internship curriculum that provides students real-life experience on PR campaigns. My advice is to work harder than anyone, pay your dues, and be grateful and proud to be an American of Hispanic descent.” - Lucia Matthews, CEO of the Hispanic-focused public relations agency DIÁLOGO

Living Between Cultures

“Being an Argentine in America has its positives and negatives. Even though my life takes place in the U.S., I need to find ways to share my experiences with my loved ones back home. Fortunately, I’m able to incorporate my Argentine culture into my American life.

Professionally, I can better communicate and relate to my law firm’s Latin-American clients. Personally, I enjoy introducing my friends to things I enjoy, such as Argentine wine or a very good asado. Speaking two languages has enriched my life since I am able to reach out to more people and eventually make friends from countries around the world. Plus, having an accent is a conversation starter. Latin people are very outgoing, driven, and have an incredible sense of friendship and care for family. I believe that is the reputation that we have built in America, and that’s what makes me proud.” - María Carolina Gonzalez Diaz, Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP Law Firm

Proud to Be an American Latina

“My culture makes me who I am. I emigrated to America from Argentina, but I think of my daughter as an American Latina even though she was born across from Central Park in New York City. I try to teach my Argentine values and traditions to my children and would love to see them embrace the culture.

The Latin culture is very rich because it is made up of capable, creative and strong people working very hard to achieve their dreams. Whether in science, the food industry, the arts or linguistics, the Latin contribution to America is expanding with strength.” - Luciana “Uchi” Davidzon, an award-winning chef and blogger at Latin Food Lovers

Hispanicize: Ground Zero for Latina Networking

At Hispanicize 2014, held April 1st through 4th, Latino trendsetters came together to share the latest trends in media and beyond. Las Fabulosas spoke with two of the event’s advisory board members about how Latinas are advancing their industries and the lives of other American Latinas.

Claudia Gioia, EVP, Miami Market Leader and Latino Leader at Burson-Marsteller PR firm: “Marketing and public relations are services that grew exponentially as the markets became more sophisticated. Micro-targeting proved a successful formula for connecting with the general public, but is significantly more so among minority groups like Latinas. New generations of Latinas are finding opportunities to grow their careers by supporting brands.”

On how Latinas are changing America:Many Latinas grew up in multigenerational homes, where there was a need to listen and understand family members’ needs. Employers are very interested in these attributes. After the last presidential election, it became apparent that the Hispanic population is so relevant that every general marketing and communications program needs to include them. Latinas added a great deal of authenticity to the whole ballgame in the U.S. by being excellent communicators and engagers, with an open and inclusive spirit.”

Pili Montilla, TV Host, Actress, Producer, Blogger and Social Media Expert: “There’s a beautiful need to go back to our cultural roots. In music we see a resurgence of Latin beats and sounds such as Cumbia. Lyrically, we hear a constant pride in being Latinos. We’re also seeing support for more independent, alternative acts.”

On how Latinas are changing America:Latinas in the industry are strong, ambitious, creative mujeres. We are branching out into other careers within the entertainment industry such as production, script supervising, directing and many more. Jennifer Lopez, for example, is an actress, singer, designer and more. This is inspiring to anybody, regardless of nationality, and will lead to more jobs for Latinas. While having a handful of Latinas in the public eye does not portray the full diversity of Latina women, we are heading in the right direction.”

How to Get the Corner Office

At age 22, Michelle Herrera Mulligan arrived in New York City in 1997 with a dream of working in magazines. She got her first break working as a copy editor at Latina. “It was only a two week assignment, but I stayed extra hours and worked free, helping editors on whatever projects they needed." That level of commitment got the attention of the editor in chief, and two months later Herrera Mulligan was offered an assistant editor post.

Since that promising start, she has edited two books: Juicy Mangos, a literary collection of Latina erotica; and Border-Line Personalities, an anthology about the Latina experience in America. She's also published numerous articles in popular glossies like Time, Woman's Day, and House & Garden

Today, she is the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan For Latinas, boosting Latinas’ visibility in the media and other fields. Here are three of her essential tips on how to scale the wall of success:

Master Your Skills: If you want to be an editor or writer, for example, “start a blog and contribute to it one to three times a day. Promote it and pay close attention to what does and doesn't get attention," says Herrera Mulligan. Future editors should also make reading a priority: “Read lots of different blogs and magazines, taking careful notice of what does and does not work."

Triple Your Threat: "The more skills you have to bring to the table, the more valuable you'll be to your potential employer," says Herrera Mulligan, noting that aspiring editors should take classes on copy editing, fact-checking, and web design and development to beef up their résumés.

Work Your Network: "Most professionals I know credit their careers to a series of contacts, mentors and friends,” says Herrera Mulligan. She encourages Latinas to stay in touch with classmates and fellow interns, and to make new connections with others in their field.

Reach Your Career Goals in 2014

Julie Stav has persevered in the face of many obstacles throughout the course of her education and career. Now a financial expert, best-selling author and successful business owner, she dedicates her life to empowering mujeres by giving them the tools to take charge of their lives and finances. Las Fabulosas asks Julie for tips that lead to professional success.

So how can readers get ahead at work?

Make sure you know what you are trying to accomplish. Business owners need to establish what is called a mission statement, the reason for their existence. Employees need to do that too. Everything you do should bring you closer to achieving that purpose. A collective intention sets the tone for a fertile ground of innovative ideas. Don't be afraid to be the leader and take charge in getting your team focused on what really matters.

How do you know when it is acceptable to go beyond your role without overstepping superiors?

Establish a common goal with your superiors and shake hands on the fact that you are creating something bigger than either one of you. Your role should make use of your strengths and talents toward a common purpose. Once you focus on the horizon, it is easier to stay away from the petty distractions of egos along the way.

Should Latinas only pursue projects that they’re extremely passionate about? Or is it worth pursuing others as well?

The most successful and fulfilling projects are those where you aim for the stars while you keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Make sure you are providing a service or product that is not only needed, but wanted. Focus on one thing and give it your all! If you get knocked down, find out why, learn from it, then get up and try a different way.

Did you ever feel like the steps you were taking weren't leading anywhere concrete in your career?

Oh yes, many times!

How did you keep yourself motivated to keep pushing ahead?

I asked myself: “Is this happening because I'm distracted, or because I should be looking somewhere else?” Your goals can change mid-game. Your path can take a different turn at the fork in the road.

Why are the risks worth the effort even when they don't succeed?

Success is not just reaching your goals. The mere fact that you are moving toward your present goal makes you successful already. It's like building a puzzle, where you pick up each piece with each experience, sometimes unaware that you will need it to complete your picture. Some puzzles have 100 pieces and take a short time to put together; others have 1,000 pieces and seem to take forever. These, however, are usually breathtaking.

Financial Resolutions for the New Year 2014

Now that we've rung in the New Year 2014, it’s time to start making promises, the financial kind, which are among the most common ones made each year and the hardest to keep.

Almost half of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution, but only about eight percent of us achieve our goals. The New Year, however, is a great time to start reviewing finances and assessing what happened during the past year. For many, their will power is at its strongest. Former FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) securities attorney Debra G. Speyer gives her three financial tips to live by to help you keep your money-smart resolutions going strong:

Financial resolution No. 1: Check your past investments…

And then re-check them! Speyer recommends getting started by reviewing your accounts and investments with a fine-tooth comb. “Focus on them to see if there were any problems in the past year,” she says. “Were there investments you didn’t authorize? How did your investments do last year?” This will help you determine how well your money moves are currently working and if they’re worth reconfiguring.

Financial resolution No. 2: Read your statements as they come…

That’s right, log on or check your mailbox regularly! Many people do not even open the envelopes containing their financial statements that arrive in the mail. Speyer suggests making a resolution to take an active watch over your finances. “You have to read the statements, track what is going on and see what your money is doing,” she says.

Financial resolution No. 3: Have a monthly review…

In 30 minutes or less! A great way to keep this resolution going all year long is to sit down at the end of every month with your bank or stock brokerage statement and review it. Try to make it fun by putting on your favorite music and keeping the review to 30 minutes or less.

Your financial future relies on what you do now. So while you're hopeful about the coming months, ask the necessary questions to ensure savings are taken care of properly. “People need to make a resolution to watch their finances just like they watch their health,” she says. “It is just as important.”