On Leadership: Effective Leaders Own the Message

Effective communication is critical for successful leaders.  An executive’s well-articulated vision to employees or a coach’s inspirational pre-game speech could make the difference between success and failure.  On a historic scale, the famous rallying cries of “Si se puede,” “The only thing to fear is fear itself,” and “I have a dream” gave people hope and promise for a better future.  Cesar Chavez, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were masters of using the media to move bold ideas, inspire a nation, and shape the course of history.

In Silicon Valley, history is definitely on our side.  A recent Santa Clara County Public Health report states that Latinos will make up nearly half of the projected 2.3 million county residents by the middle of this century, and our community is developing Latino leaders who have the smarts and ambition to guide the valley into the future.  Like visionary executives, motivational coaches, and inspirational national leaders, our next generation of leaders must have the ability to effectively communicate a vision for Silicon Valley to ensure success.

Despite the incredible growth of social media and other online platforms, the local newspaper is still the most influential media outlet with respect to shaping public policy that touches everyday life.  The newspaper endorses political candidates who in turn, as public policymakers, support initiatives and public activities advocated by the newspaper, and vice versa.  The local newspaper anoints those it deems smart, effective, and politically acceptable.  For those who are the anointed ones, it’s a pretty good deal.  If one doesn’t fall into that category, the chances of your message seeing the light of day in the newspaper are slim to none.

For Latinos, there’s a problem with this scenario.  We’re not exactly with the in crowd when it comes to the local press.  We’ve proven that we’re smart, effective, and politically acceptable to voters.  Apparently, however, the newspaper’s opinion-makers don’t see it the same way.  In the eyes of the local press, Latino activists and public officials are mediocre leaders who need to be monitored closely to ensure the public trust.

Whether through unintended inherent bias or well-planned institutional racism, the result is the same: newspaper readers are left to believe that Latinos can’t be trusted with the keys to local public leadership.  To address this reality, Latino leaders must find another way to effectively communicate to the public and influence public discourse.  That’s where social and online media can make the difference between success and failure.

For decades, Latino community leaders have been dragged through the proverbial mud by the local media.  Granted, some of it’s deserved because our leaders, like leaders of all creeds and colors, make mistakes.  We just have to realize that the while media has a microscope on public officials, it uses an electron microspore on Latino leaders.  The smallest indiscretion by Latinos will smudge a reputation, and real ethical lapses will land a Latino leader in court, or worse.  One could fill volumes citing editorials, news articles, and headlines providing evidence of this bias.  Unfortunately, there’s no space in this column for such an ambitious undertaking.

As we prepare Latinos to lead this valley into the future, we can address this disparity in one of two ways.  We can complain, protest, and shout racism at the top of our lungs, or we can do what political commentator Chris Matthews’ advises, “don’t get mad, don’t get even…get ahead.”  Of course, Matthews has it right.  We can no longer allow the media to tell our story or share our vision for the future from a perspective other than our own.  We can no longer allow the local press to define us and to perpetuate the insidious stereotype of the incompetent and untrustworthy Latino.

So how do we do this?  Like Chavez, Roosevelt, and King, we have to become masters of the media.  The media of mid-century Silicon Valley will be completely virtual and interactive.  But, we can’t wait until then to harness the limitless value of social and interactive media.  Our leaders should take advantage of every opportunity to learn how to use Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other tools like SVLatino.com to create a platform that highlights our community and influences public life to make our entire valley stronger and more competitive.

For those who are scared or worried about a future Silicon Valley that includes Latinos leaders at the agenda-setting table, don’t fret. Today’s emerging Latino leaders are professionals who serve today as school principals, corporate, public, and non-profit managers, labor leaders, entrepreneurs, and elected officials. We don’t have a “Latino agenda,” rather we have a Silicon Valley agenda that includes a robust economy with good jobs, affordable housing, strong families, excellent schools, and quality health care.  So, despite what the local press might portray, our agenda isn’t really scary at all. And, this is great news for the entire valley.

On Leadership is a Column by  Eddie Garcia, LLA Co-Founder and President

Ladies, Your Workout Prayers Have Been Answered

“Our motto for this year, 2012, is Strong and fearless. I chose it because I want every woman to be strong physically and fearless, meaning not letting fear get in the way of succeeding in life whether at home, at work, or at college,” says Angela Zapien, age 31, founder of The Pink Ladies Boot Camp in San Jose.

After Angela lost her job in 2009, and after months of searching for a job and questioning what she wanted to do with her life, she created The Boot Camp to accommodate women’s workout needs.

The Pink Ladies Boot Camp was launched on May 7, 2010, when Angela reached out for participants on Facebook. “Does anyone want to work out? I am studying to be a trainer.” She started with five women.

“It really kicked off that summer. Everything that I knew about fitness I wanted to share.”

When the group grew to 20 plus ladies, Angela invited her husband, Alex Zapien, 32-years-old this February, for feedback while he was on vacation from his job.

Fitness Trainers Alex and Angela Zapien (Founder) of The Pink Ladies Boot Camp | Photo by Patricia Ruiz

“He basically taught class that day.” The ladies liked the couple’s training dynamics. Angela adds, “So I hired him.”

In April 2011, seven Boot Campers including the Zapiens, participated in Walk by Faith a 5K walking event.

“Some people never thought they would participate. Never thought they would run or walk. For some of them it was their first 5k in their life.” Tearfully, Angela continues “And it’s because, we inspire them. I get emotional because I am very passionate about what I do. And just seeing someone walk or run three miles… That’s big.”

Alex adds, “That’s the biggest gift we can give someone is to inspire a person that has never done 10 or 5K and have then say, ‘Thank you so much! You have changed my life’.”

“It takes las ganas to do it. You know?” says Eva Carbajal, age 59, currently the eldest participant. Carbajal is not new to working out because she bikes 10mi every other day, and has been a marathon runner for over 25 years. She pointed out that her daughter Lisa comes with her and brings a group of friends.

Many of The Pink Ladies continue to walk and run marathons as a group. Seven (Five ladies and two men) including including the trainers joined Marsh Madness 10K (6.2 mi) held at the Palo Alto Baylands and another group participated in the 2011 San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon last October.

“Men are invited and join the boot camp, as well, but they never come back.” Along with Alex, there is one male participant in the group.

“I started with the Pink Ladies in September 2010 and since then have lost over 40lbs,” states Pink Ladies Fitness Assistant Elena Bermudez, age 35. “It’s just an inspiring place to come when I am feeling really down. It’s not just about getting in shape it’s also about support and spiritual growth and that’s what keeps me coming.”

Angela began working out with Alex over 10 years ago, and she tried out for the San Jose State University Sabercats cheerleading squad. Since then she pursued individual training and workouts, is certified in CPR and in TRX a Fitness Anywhere LLC bodyweight-based training. Currently, she is training for for a full marathon San Francisco 26.2 miles this July 29, 2012 on her birthday.

Alex is trained in Martial Arts since 14 years old and the power lifting of weights. He works for Comcast during the day, but holds an obstacle course one evening every week, called VIP Tuesdays.

Sonja Garcia, age 34, has been with the Camp since April 2011. “A lot of us are on Facebook and Angela puts a lot of quotes and assignments.” This week they created a vision board and last week they listed five achievement goals to be accomplished within 60 days. “Everything that we do, we post on Facebook.” Not all participants are on Facebook so Garcia adds, “Also on Tuesdays she emails recipes, and then there are Motivation Wednesdays where she sends out emails to everyone about a quote or the lady (Pink Lady) of the month.”

These fitness motivators offer this workout camp to the community for a reasonable fee; it includes support via story time talk sessions, cooking workshops, along constant social-media communication.  Alex suggested incorporating prayer into the workouts but Angela didn’t agree immediately, yet after attending a retreat in October of 2010, she embraced the concept and incorporated it into the Camp.

Angela believes, “You can look amazing on the outside but if you don’t feel amazing, it’s not going to work … It’s so important to fix the inside, too.”

The Pink Ladies Boot Camp is open to people of all sizes and beliefs. Angela and Alex will accommodate workouts to one’s physical condition and needs like pregnancy or as per doctor’s recommendations.

To find out more contact Angela Zapien via email pinkladiesbootcamp@gmail.com and visit The Pink Ladies Boot Camp on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ThePinkLadiesBootCamp.

Written by Eydie Mendoza  |  Photos by Patricia Ruiz