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3 posts from September 2012


Top 8 Simple Must Do’s for Media Interviews: It’s Your 15 Minutes of Fame, So Make It Count

2012-KASHAPOV-0134You could say it was my 15 minutes of fame back in 1997 when I stood on the front steps of the Miami Beach Police Department shielding my eyes from the South Florida sun as I stared into the lens of a TV camera. I had a plastic device nestled into my ear with a live feed from news anchors in Atlanta who quickly rattled out questions about the unfolding high-profile serial killer saga involving the murder of Italian designer Gianni Versace on the steps of his Ocean Drive mansion. There I stood like the cliché of a deer caught in the headlights. I heard voices saying something faintly in my ear as the producer waved her hand prompting me to answer. I had no idea what they were saying. And to top it all off, it was live and in Spanish. That’s right, en vivo y en español. ¡Ay Dios Mío!

Gianni_Versace_Cover_7_28_97_205x273For the life of me, I cannot tell you what I said that day, but in the chaotic days that ensued in the aftermath of Versace’s death and subsequent hunt for serial killer, Andrew Cunanan who was holed up in a houseboat off the intercoastal, CNN en Español had called the Miami People Magazine Bureau for someone who was bilingual and willing to discuss the story on camera. Being the only Spanish-speaking correspondent in the bureau, I graciously agreed. Apparently my on-camera reporting was not as much of a complete debacle as I thought because they actually called the next day to invite me back!

Since that time, I have faced many crisis-oriented phone calls with journalists and managed to handle them effectively. I have been media-trained several times for broadcast interviews yet I am still hesitant at the thought of being on camera. So when Atlanta Spanish-language stations, Telemundo and Univision called earlier this month to interview me about being named Center for Hispanic Leadership Atlanta Chapter President, I was thrilled, and in a tizzy! ¡Ay Dios Mío!

¡Cálmate! I told myself. I can do this. I might have been a bit rusty from my “live from the scene” appearance but was up for the challenge -- plus this was recorded, not live. With that in mind, I methodically practiced my talking points, selected an elegant outfit, and overall felt prepared for my interviews. However, as soon as the bright lights were turned on (interrogation style), I could feel the beads of sweat forming across my face. “Can you see me sweating?” I asked Univision Atlanta’s Mariela Romero as I fanned myself fervently with my notes. I looked fine, she assured. With the Telemundo interview, I was not as hot -- so no perspiring issue there, PHEW! However, I was concentrating so much on what I was saying that I forgot all about my delivery. I completely forgot to smile and connect with the audience. ¡Ay Dios Mío! (See for yourself, click video below!)


After my latest 15-minutes of fame experience, I have chalked them up and placed them in my lessons learned vault (it’s getting quite full).  That being said, here are my top 8 simple must do’s to remember before stepping into the spotlight.

1)  Do practice your talking points beforehand. However, here’s a tip. Practice by using only the word “la” for your words instead of actual words. This will help you focus on connecting with the audience utilizing only the tone and inflections of your voice to get your message across.

2)  Do practice in front of a mirror or even videotape yourself to see how you look, how you are standing, and how you are sitting. If you are standing, remember to stand with both feet firmly planted and resist the urge to shift your weight and swing back and forth.

3)  Do take three big breaths to compose yourself before even uttering your first word.

4)  Do become a storyteller and share your story, your experiences, your history, to illustrate your points and to help others really connect with you.

5)  Do unleash your inner Latina or Latino by using your hands to express yourself. You are who you are, so let people see the real you and hear your authentic voice.

6)  Do remember to take pauses between questions to collect your thoughts before answering. It may sound counterintuitive – trust me I’m all about the chit chat; however, there is a lot of power in silence. Learn to be comfortable in the absence of sound.

7)  Do stay away from tweeds and beige suits, which do not come across well on camera. Instead opt for dark suits with vibrant-colored shirts or even go for a bright-colored jacket such as red for women.

8)  And last but not least.....DO smile (until it hurts)! Another rather simple recommendation but one I clearly forgot to do in my Telemundo interview!

In the end, I have had many moments where I say to myself, “metí la pata,” (the equivalent to I put my foot in my mouth) but I also try to embrace each step as part of my professional learning and development journey.  Listen, we are all just trying to figure it all out and sharing our experiences with each other is a big part of the incredible opportunity we have to connect and lift each other up.

I would love to hear your “meti la pata” stories, what you learned, and how you’ve applied this learned knowledge in the workplace to advance your career and move closer to your goals. Remember, aquí, somos amigos de confianza!


Balance Is A Myth!

Yesi Morillo-Gual

In my office is a tall figurine of my favorite super hero:  Wonder Woman.  My staff members gave it to me as a birthday gift.  When I received it, one of them said, "No one can see that cape you have on, but we truly admire how you balance it all".

Daily I manage my career, handle an intense workday, care for two children, and run a small business.  Then around 11 pm or so, I try and get in some work for my doctorate dissertation.

Like many women with similar loads, I get asked how I manage to "balance it all".  I too have asked the question of others, both men and women.  Every single person eludes that this demon called "balance" can actually be tamed.  

It can't.  Balance is a myth.  Bull.  A fallacy.

A perfect day at work means no drills, drama or interruptions, and I get to eat at a reasonable time in a relaxed setting. On the really good days, I may get to the gym.  Home is also easy.  We get through homework, dinner and everything else smoothly while still having time to relax and get to bed at a descent hour.

Ha!  There are no perfect days. Each day is unique in delivery and challenges. I hardly get to eat at a descent hour, sometimes not at all.  There's always some urgent matter, a fire drill, people behaving badly and many things beyond my control.

What stays constant however, is my approach:  I don't expect, nor do I strive, to be balanced. Instead I work on prioritizing, staying flexible and focused, and not sweating the small things.

We have all bought into the concept that we can only be successful if we learn to balance; yet in the process of attempting to balance we drive ourselves into insanity, overwhelming guilt and just plain exhaustion.  The more we force ourselves to be balanced, the more challenging it gets.

Here are a few things that may work, not for balance, but rather for building a strong sense of accomplishment and a life where you're productive and robustly active in all that you do.

  1. Schedule Your Day - Make a to do list but don't overload it without a thousand things.  Instead try to carve out what your day can look like, leaving room for those unexpected interruptions.  If you find that you're left with some time (probably rare), use it to prepare yourself for the next day.  Personally, I make a list of the top five things I wish to accomplish in the coming week so I can stay focused on what needs to be done.
  2. Schedule "Me" Time - This sounds almost ridiculous, but I have to put "Lunch" on my to do list, in order to mentally recognize that I need to eat.  Do the same for any activity that helps you destress and refocus.  From getting a manicure to working out, it’s important to disconnect from the hustle or you will soon crash.
  3. Prioritize and Delegate - We waste a lot of time doing things that are not important, because we simply get distracted or engaged with someone else's problems.  Before you jump on the unexpected make sure you know why you're doing it.  Don't be afraid to push back.  Take a closer look at your responsibilities.  Is there anything that can be outsourced or given to staff?  Women are not good with having others do things for them, and as such, take on more than they should.
  4. Get Rid of The Guilt - In the past, if I missed a day of work, or an event at school I would carry the burden of having disappointed someone for days.  Let it go!  It is never your intent to be absent, but sometimes the unexpected has to be addressed.  I may miss a game but I've never missed a championship, graduation or performance and when I am there, I am fully present.
  5. Say No and Set Boundaries - Others can be quick to dump on us, or we often raise our hands for projects we simply have no time for.  Every time you say yes to one more thing, you are saying no to your priorities.  Let people know what you're willing to do and what you're not.  Never allow anyone to make plans with your time, space or money.  People tend to assume that because you're capable they can commit you without permission.
  6. Talk To Your Family - My children and husband understand my job (well just a little), my business and why I am seeking a PhD.  They are always willing to chip in and help.  Whether it's letting me sleep a little longer or helping around the house, our motto is "We're doing this together because your success is OUR success".  I respect and do the same for what's important to them.
  7. Ask For Help - Women in general are nourishers and the first to raise their hands to save the world, yet, are too prideful to say they need help.  It's okay to ask.  Never see it as a sign of weakness or inability.  You don't have to do and be it all.   
  8. Embrace Reality - Don't think about how hard it is, but rather how accomplished you will be.  Anything worth accomplishing is worth working hard for.  Roll Up your sleeves.  Quit complaining.  Suck it up.  Get moving.
  9. Stay Positive - It's easy to feel beat up by the end of a tough day.  We can start again tomorrow.  If your day goes bad, have some wine, put on some comedy and destress.  Vent with a friend or find any other positive outlet.  Try your best to discuss and let it go.
  10. Set Goals - If you know what you're working towards, and how you're going to accomplish it, setting priorities and staying focused becomes easier.  Embrace your higher purpose.

I will probably get asked time and time again, how I balance.  My response:  "I don't balance.  I live in the moment, with a higher purpose in mind, while prioritizing, staying flexible and doing the very best I can.

Your peace of mind comes not from attempting to balance, but rather from doing the very best you can.


Why Immigration Might be the Salvation for America

Carli eli

With the presidential election less than 70 days away it’s just a matter of time when the heavily contested topic of immigration will be debated by political parties to persuade potential constituents and voters. In the end, whether or not laws are reformed or introduced the action itself will significantly impact the people but more importantly the future of the United States. 

If you’re a world traveler like I am then you will immediately agree that the hardships in a 2nd or 3rd world country have taught many of their citizens to confront life with a keen sense of survival, work ethic and sacrifice. The old cliché “I came to America with zero dollars in my pocket” really isn’t a cliché after all, it’s actually the modus operandi for many immigrants that come to the United States.  Of course, there are exceptions to this rule and for those that come here to exploit the American taxpayer and mooch off I will not support you or your lifestyle.  What type of immigrant should America welcome and retain? Well, how about the talented and gifted A+ students who dream of becoming doctors, engineers and neonatal nurses? Unfortunately, for many of these overachievers their illegal status is getting in the way of their success. 


For example, not too long ago I was honored to attend the 2nd Annual Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony hosted by the Dream Project-VA and perhaps after you know more about its purpose your thoughts on immigration may change.  The Dream Project-VA http://www.dreamproject-va.com/ is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships for talented students who pursue a college degree or a higher education. In order to be considered for this award, each student must exemplify excellence in academic achievement, leadership and community service. Even though the fourteen Hispanic students had a very unique and inspirational story about overcoming their challenges the one thing they all had in common was their gratitude towards America and their desire to contribute to their community. Each individual’s bio on the event program, started with, “I was born in Buenos Aires/Bolivia/ Colombia and I came to the United States as a child because my parents thought I could have a better life and opportunity; however, my journey has been difficult because I am not a US citizen”. Financial hardships and limited opportunities usually accompany most immigrants whether they are legal or illegal. Interestingly enough the one thing they can relate to is their resiliency and perseverance for success or survival.  Ever wonder why some immigrants with limited English do a lot better than a 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation American? Perhaps their strong work ethic, living within their means ideology and their unyielding focus and determination are the secrets to their success. Instead of being on the victimization bandwagon, maybe it’s time Americans should take lessons and start applying it themselves. Our country is in a national state of a financial and an educational emergency and the moment  to take action is now.  With the national debt reaching 16 trillion dollars http://www.usdebtclock.org/  and where our educational ranking in math is 25th in the world, http://broadeducation.org/about/crisis_stats.html

this country needs to be run like a shop. I’m not an economist or a politician just a regular citizen who’s concerned with the direction my country is headed and what we should do to get it back on track. As a pragmatist, here’s my solution to the immigration issue and why I think every person citizen or non-citizen should be vetted for in America, yes I said vetted. First and foremost, we must remind ourselves that being an American is an honor, a blessing and a privilege because America is the only country on earth that stands for freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and as Americans we should never take that for granted. 

If I had to define the “ideal” American for example someone I would want as my neighbor, my client, my teacher or leader, I suggest they match my code

1) pay your taxes,

2) don’t commit heinous crimes,

3) you are an entrepreneurial or productive individual who’s an asset not a burden to the economy/country and

4) respects our culture, history and learns the English language.

If there are immigrants from any part of the globe either legal or illegal who meet these tenets I think this country should do whatever they can to facilitate the paperwork for them to stay here. With that being said we also need to vet every American citizen, US born and naturalized. There’s no sense in having US citizens living here if they are unpatriotic, been on welfare for decades, commit heinous crimes or don’t pay taxes. For those who commit multiple infractions, we should install a system of reversal citizenship. Yes, reversal like your citizenship status will be demoted from a citizen, to a green-card status, to a worker’s permit to eventually an outright self-deportation via a one-way first-class ticket to your country of choice. Millions of people would risk all their savings and even their lives to have a shot at the brass ring in America. These Hispanic students are no exception and for those who may be in a similar predicament they should be considered to stay here as well.  Our country needs all the talent we can get in order to catch up with the rest of the world and perhaps this is a starting point to get our domestic human resources up to par. Here’s to our future and may the bright and talented take us there. 

"Remember, the saddest thing in life is wasted talent. You could have all the talent in the world but if you don't do the right thing, then nothing happens. But when you do right, guess what? Good things happen." Memorable quotes for A Bronx Tale


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