Category Archives: Hispanic Heritage

Read My Blog at http://www.DaGamaWebStudio.com/blog

Hey there! Thanks for coming to my old blog.

I began my new blog a few years ago. You’ll find my latest posts there:  http://www.DaGamaWebStudio.com/blog

Also, join my eZine so you get my latest updates on content marketing, SEO, social media, blogging, video marketing and more online visibility tips.

Thanks!

Lori Gama holding her mobile phone

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Marketing, Hispanic Heritage, Latina Women In Business, Lori Gama, Social Networking

Latinos In Social Media: George Torres – The Urban Jibaro

At what point in life did you realize your inner strength and fortitude?
I have always been a survivor. My life was really tough growing up and I had every opportunity to make a left and accept a life in which I could only just “exist”. It was through Richie Perez that I was inspired to take control of my life and stop being a victim of circumstance. He taught that what happened to me was a lesson and that I did have a greater purpose. This motivated me to learn about my history and understand the root causes of some of the negativity I see in the Latino community.
Regarding the 41% dropout rate among high school Latinas, what do you think it will take for our country and /or our education system to solve this crisis?
I think that the people we elect into office have to engage the community leaders on the front lines to find the root cause of this epidemic. Instead of funding organizations that adress the problem, we should be creating organizations that promote the solution. We need to know the reasons why Latinas drop out and and create realistic solutions that are culturally relevant. I say culturally relevant because culture is most likely to be the single most important factor aside from social class when looking at this rate on a national level especially when that number is consistent in Latinas from all different countries and backgrounds.
What’s your advice for those who may have already dropped out of high school or college?
To quote my friend poet / writer Alberto Cappas, “ It is never to late to make a u-turn”. I am living proof of that. I was a young parent that dropped out of High School at the age of 16. I went back to school and got my GED years later. At the age of 25, I left a great job in the culinary field to start all over and attend SUNY College at Old Westbury. Although I am still not done being a student, the college experience opened many doors for me in regards to friendships, educational experiences and networking contacts I use to this day.
Why did you launch your business?
I launched Sofrito For Your Soul in 1997 so that someone who was living what I was living 10 years prior would be inspired to connect with their culture. I started the website to teach people how beautiful our Latino culture is and how important it is to keep our traditions alive.
The website has grown over the years and has inspired many other projects on other mediums with similar goals such as the Capicu Cultural Showcase, Radio Capicu (the first live Latino talk show on the web), my new upcoming social media blog and now my role in Latinos In Social Media. I want to talk to the people…and create space where they can have a voice.
What is your UVP (Uniqe Value Propisition)?
I have over 12 years experience creating and promoting branded events in a Latino cultural niche. I have utilized strong relationships to combine traditional and new media and translate that into an experience that not only fulfills the Latino that yearns to reconnect with his culture, but teaches non Latinos to embrace it as well.
Describe your ideal client or project or give one or two case studies so that people can clearly understand how you’ve helped clients:
I recently was tapped by a friend Helene Velazquez to assist the American Diabetes Association implement Social Media for their Por Tu Familia – Latino Intiatives campaign. Our goal was to engage Latinos on a grassroots level for their annual Feria De Salud in NYC.
Feria de Salud is an outdoor community event that is intended to reach thousands of local Latinos/Hispanics with the important message that they may be at risk for diabetes. Feria captures the festive elements of a street fair, but maintains the important aspects of choosing and managing a healthier lifestyle for the entire Latino family. The atmosphere of Feria includes music, dancing, nutritional information, cooking demonstrations, speakers on topics related to diabetes, and a variety of product and service booths.
We created a Facebook group for the NYC chapter with the goal of recruiting volunteers, disseminating information and creating a springboard to engage people living with diabetes either directly or through a loved one. We were able to grow the group to 530 people in less than two months. The biggest win for this client was the fact that we incorporated new media to engage a core group of college educated people under 25. This resulted in a more diverse volunteer group than seen in previous years. We learned a lot from this years project and will make adjustments to create a year round platform that will keep the group engaged and grow the base.
What other services does your company provide?
Sofrito Media Group produces an online cultural blog (SofritoForYourSoul), an online BlogTalkRadio show (Radio Capicu) and creates branded cultural niche events via Capicu Cultural Showcase. We have created cultural showcases to raise money for the Orphans International – Casa Ana project in Dominican Republic and the Pa’l Pueblo Christmas Charity Event that benefits the children of Bushwick United Headstart in Brooklyn NYC.
In addition, we are currently developing a new series of consulting / coaching services for social media that will target small to mid sized companies.
How does your Latina(o) heritage help you achieve your goals?
I would not say that it helps me achieve my goals but it broadens my perspective allowing me to provide a wider selection of creative services to my clients. My goal is to be able to provide the right solution for my client and have it be culturally relevant to the end user.
How did you hear about Latinos In Social Media (latism.org)?
I was actually approached by an online colleague and Latism founder, Louis Pagan about working on the Latism project. They were looking to find regional partners that had an audience to introduce the concept of a collective creative forum.
I saw the goal of the conference was to give Latinos/Hispanic professionals and businesses, who want to reach and engage the Latino/Hispanic market, the opportunity to converge and discuss high level strategies and the future of social media and marketing. Having been part of social media in the latino community before it was even called social media, I saw an incredible opportunity to grow with this community…so here I am.
What role are you fulfilling within the LATISM group?
As a regional partner, my role is to develop membership and engage the social media leaders within the NYC / Tri-State community about what their needs are. My objective is to create a dynamic learning / coaching environment that addresses those needs.
What would you like to say to companies who are thinking of marketing to Latina(o)s/Hispanics but aren’t sure of what to do first?
Do your research…and look at the voices that are authorities within the Latino / Hispanic community you are targeting. Remember that cute catchy Spanish words do not translate to culturally relevant advertising. Latino’s will authenticate you if they see you are “listening”.
What would you like people to remember about you after you’ve passed on (many, many years from now)?
I hope that my passion for preserving our cultural legacy will be something that will inspire a movement. I do not want my name to be remembered as much as I want the ideals of what I represent to echo through the passages of time. ..y que se siga eschuchando ese grito…siempre.

Urban Jibaro George Torres

Urban Jibaro George Torres

Continuing my showcase of leaders in the Latinos In Social Media movement in my blog, I’d like to introduce you to George Torres, aka The Urban Jibaro, who is a bi-lingual social media consultant, cultural activist, radio personality and founder of cultural online magazine SofritoForYourSoul.com.  Follow him on Twitter as the UrbanJibaro and friend him on Facebook and keep up with his Google Profile. Having been born & raised between Brooklyn & Bayamon, he was reared with traditional Puerto Rican values and incorporated that with what he learned in the streets of East New York. This mixture of elements in his life earned him the nickname “Urban Jibaro” that former Young Lord and Community Leader, the late Richie Perez bestowed on him.

Where did you grow up and how did your upbringing and environment contribute to the person you are today?

I grew up primarily between East New York, Brooklyn and Bayamon, Puerto Rico. If you actually know me you would clearly see how much influence these places had on my life. As the “Urban Jibaro” my life experience has incorporated what I believe to be a healthy balance of traditional values, cultural pride and a strong spirit of creative entrepreneurship. These traits are culturally part of my DNA.

Who were your role models as you were growing up and how did they affect you?

My first role model is my grandmother Gloria Delrio. She came to the US from Puerto Rico with very little education, no English language skills and no money. She is a true example of grassroots leader having persevered, educating herself, raising a family while having spent 30 years serving the community in Brownsville Brooklyn via Meals On Wheels.

The second is the late Richie Perez, a community activist and former Young Lord that fought against police brutality for people of color…and personally served as a spiritual and political mentor to me since the age of 15 after I was a victim of a hate crime.

At what point in life did you realize your inner strength and fortitude?

I have always been a survivor. My life was really tough growing up and I had every opportunity to make a left and accept a life in which I could only just “exist”. It was through Richie Perez that I was inspired to take control of my life and stop being a victim of circumstance. He taught that what happened to me was a lesson and that I did have a greater purpose. This motivated me to learn about my history and understand the root causes of some of the negativity I see in the Latino community. That was further reinforced when I became a brother of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Inc. Membership in Phi Iota Alpha Latino Fraternity is a life-long commitment to the Latin American culture. It provided me with in depth intellectual development, cultural consciousness, personal growth, personal achievement and social awareness in a circle of like minded individuals.

Regarding the 41% dropout rate among high school Latinas, what do you think it will take for our country and /or our education system to solve this crisis?

I think that the people we elect into office have to engage the community leaders on the front lines to find the root cause of this epidemic. Instead of funding organizations that address the problem, we should be creating organizations that promote the solution. We need to know the reasons why Latinas drop out and and create realistic solutions that are culturally relevant. I say culturally relevant because culture is most likely to be the single most important factor aside from social class when looking at this rate on a national level especially when that number is consistent in Latinas from all different countries and backgrounds.

What’s your advice for those who may have already dropped out of high school or college?

To quote my friend poet / writer Alberto Cappas, “ It Is Never Too Late To Make A U-Turn”.  I am living proof of that. I was a young parent that dropped out of High School at the age of 16. I went back to school and got my GED years later. At the age of 25, I left a great job in the culinary field to start all over and attend SUNY College at Old Westbury. Although I am still not done being a student, the college experience opened many doors for me in regards to friendships, educational experiences and networking contacts I use to this day.

Why did you launch your business?

I launched Sofrito For Your Soul in 1997 so that someone who was living what I was living 10 years prior would be inspired to connect with their culture. I started the website to teach people how beautiful our Latino culture is and how important it is to keep our traditions alive.

The website has grown over the years and has inspired many other projects on other mediums with similar goals such as the Capicu Cultural Showcase, Radio Capicu (the first live Latino talk show on the web), my new upcoming social media blog and now my role in Latinos In Social Media. I want to talk to the people…and create space where they can have a voice.

What is your UVP (Uniqe Value Proposition)?

I have over 12 years experience creating and promoting branded events in a Latino cultural niche. I have utilized strong relationships to combine traditional and new media, translating that into an experience that not only fulfills the Latino that yearns to reconnect with his culture, but teaches non Latinos to embrace it as well.

Describe your ideal client or project or give one or two case studies so that people can clearly understand how you’ve helped clients.

I recently was tapped by a friend Helene Velazquez to assist the American Diabetes Association implement Social Media for their Por Tu Familia – Latino Intiatives campaign. Our goal was to engage Latinos on a grassroots level for their annual Feria De Salud in NYC.

Feria de Salud is an outdoor community event that is intended to reach thousands of local Latinos/Hispanics with the important message that they may be at risk for diabetes. Feria captures the festive elements of a street fair, but maintains the important aspects of choosing and managing a healthier lifestyle for the entire Latino family. The atmosphere of Feria includes music, dancing, nutritional information, cooking demonstrations, speakers on topics related to diabetes, and a variety of product and service booths.

We created a Facebook group for the NYC chapter with the goal of recruiting volunteers, disseminating information and creating a springboard to engage people living with diabetes either directly or through a loved one. We were able to grow the group to 530 people in less than two months. The biggest win for this client was the fact that we incorporated new media to engage a core group of college educated people under 25. This resulted in a more diverse volunteer group than seen in previous years. We learned a lot from this years project and will make adjustments to create a year round platform that will keep the group engaged and grow the base.

What other services does your company provide?

Sofrito Media Group produces an online cultural blog (SofritoForYourSoul), an online BlogTalkRadio show (Radio Capicu) and creates branded cultural niche events via Capicu Cultural Showcase. We have created cultural showcases to raise money for the Orphans International – Casa Ana project in Dominican Republic and the Pa’l Pueblo Christmas Charity Event that benefits the children of Bushwick United Headstart in Brooklyn NYC.

In addition, we are currently developing a new series of consulting / coaching services for social media that will target small to mid sized companies and non-profits.

How does your Latino heritage help you achieve your goals?

I would not say that it helps me achieve my goals but it broadens my perspective allowing me to provide a wider selection of creative services to my clients. My goal is to be able to provide the right solution for my client and have it be culturally relevant to the end user.

How did you hear about Latinos In Social Media (latism.org)?

I was actually approached by an online colleague and Latism founder, Louis Pagan about working on the Latism project. They were looking to find regional partners that had an audience to introduce the concept of a collective creative forum.

I saw the goal of the conference was to give Latinos/Hispanic professionals and businesses, who want to reach and engage the Latino/Hispanic market, the opportunity to converge and discuss high level strategies and the future of social media and marketing. Having been part of social media in the latino community before it was even called social media, I saw an incredible opportunity to grow with this community…so here I am.

What role are you fulfilling within the LATISM group?

As a regional partner, my role is to develop membership and engage the social media leaders within the NYC / Tri-State community about what their needs are. My objective is to create a dynamic learning / coaching environment that addresses those needs.

What would you like to say to companies who are thinking of marketing to Latina(o)s/Hispanics but aren’t sure of what to do first?

Do your research…and look at the voices that are authorities within the Latino / Hispanic community you are targeting. Remember that cute catchy Spanish words do not translate to culturally relevant advertising. Latinos will authenticate you if they see you are “listening”.

What would you like people to remember about you after you’ve passed on (many, many years from now)?

I hope that my passion for preserving our cultural legacy will be something that will inspire a movement. I do not want my name to be remembered as much as I want the ideals of what I represent to echo through the passages of time…y que se siga eschuchando ese grito…siempre.

1 Comment

Filed under Hispanic Heritage, Lori Gama, Social Networking

Johnny Rivera: The Latino Edge

Johnny Rivera

Johnny Rivera

Continuing to celebrate Hispanic heritage in the U.S., I’m promoting Latina(o)/Hispanic leaders in my blog.
Meet Johnny Rivera, Co-host for “Off the Kuf” FM morning talk radio show, Syndicated Writer, Social Media/Internet Marketing Guru, Network (Computer) Engineer, Web Developer, Owner of ThinkRivera Technologies. Johnny Rivera is very perceptive about people and has been blazing a trail on the Web for almost two decades.  Tweet with this Latino leader in
Twitter: @John_Rivera and become a friend on Facebook. Read John’s blog, The Latino Edge.

John, where did you grow up and how did your upbringing and environment contribute to the person you are today?

I like to say I was born in Brooklyn and raised everywhere else. It’s true. After my mother divorced my father, we moved to Puerto Rico for two years. My mom married my dad (step dad) who was in the Army. Traveling became the norm after that. When I was 18, I moved out on my own. I spent 11 years in the South and 8 years in the Mid-West. The extensive traveling gave me a deep understanding of different cultural dynamics within America and Puerto Rico.

Who were your role models as you were growing up and how did they affect you?

Over all, Jesus Christ is my primary influence. He taught me to be a man of compassion and substance. He also taught me to look at a person’s heart rather than their pocket (occupation). Jesus was a carpenter. To ascribe wisdom to Him according to His occupation would have been degrading.

At what point in life did you realize your inner strength and fortitude?

There is a point in time in everyone’s life where our mettle is tested brutally. This test is pass or fail. There’s no in between. Often it comes at the heels of suffering a great loss. For me, that life defining moment came twice: when my mother died in 2001 and the other during the Spring of 2008. On both occasions, it tested everything I am. It took faith in God, belief in myself, experience and sheer guts to keep moving forward. Those two events changed my life forever.

Given the recent study done on U.S. Latina high school students’ drop-out rate of 41% , what’s your advice for Latina(o)/Hispanic students who are in high school or college? (This report addresses reasons for 41 percent dropout rate among Latina high school students http://bit.ly/2aNrYz )

Stay in school. I am adamant about education. It may sound cliche but knowledge is power.

What’s your advice for those who may have already dropped out of high school or college?

Try everything you can to get back in, no matter how difficult.

Why did you launch your business?

I always had a penchant for business. My mother was a master haggler. Naturally I followed suit. I could either work for others or for myself. I blended both. I work for my customer but ALL the money goes into my bank account.

What is your UVP (Unique Value Proposition)?

Good question! I’ve never been asked that question before today. My UVP is, oddly enough, similar to the mega-band KISS. When anyone attends a KISS concert, you get good music and a great show that kicks you in between the eyes – all for one price. Their CD’s go platinum and their shows sell out everytime worldwide. Their marketing is unlike anything anyone has ever seen. When a client calls Thinkrivera Technologies, they get most everything under the sun – Network Engineer, Web Designer, Internet Marketer, SEO Guru, Information Architecht – I have the ability to design and build the foundation, the network and cutting edge website including content. Not only that, I have close to 15 years experience with Fortune 500 companies. More bang for you buck. That allows me to be head and shoulders above my competitors.

KISS also has its hands in everything you can think off – from lunchboxes to coffins. That’s what I am doing now. I have a successful blog, The Latino Edge, which by the way jumped from 7400 readers to over 11,000 readers within three days of the re-launch. I also have a book in the works and I write aritcles for seven publications. My articles have been read in places like India and South Korea. Recently, I’ve guested/co-hosted an FM radio show called “Off the Kuf” hosted by Tom Sumner. We’re developing the show to take it national.

Describe your ideal client or project or give one or two case studies so that people can clearly understand how you’ve helped clients.

When I do an order for a client, my main thrust is to do it as efficiently as possible. I cut out all the frills and most of the overhead. For one client, an elite private school, I re-worked the code to a vital computer program, saving them thousands of dollars. For CB Richard Ellis, I helped move their Help Desk from NYC to Seattle, Washington, all online. For another client, I re-negotiated contracts and cut unnecessary services saving him $70,000.

What other services does your company provide?

I also do contract negotiations and technical writing.

How does your Latino heritage help you achieve your goals?

I was raised to do what it takes to get the job done. Period. No excuses. No fru-fru allowed. When I look back in Puertorican history, that’s exactly what my heroes did.

How did you hear about Latinos In Social Media (latism.org)?

Through Facebook. At first I thought it was just another hack job. I was so wrong. I was so impressed with their commitment to the Latino community. There are some organizations that are cheap boloney. LATISM is filet mignon, hands down.

What would you like to say to companies who are thinking of marketing to Latina(o)s/Hispanics but aren’t sure of what to do first?

Some of us are members of the Hispanic Chamber of E-commerce (www.hiscec.com). It’s all in the R&D. There’s plenty of statistics available to give an immense insight on our market. Forget the stereotypes. That’s a big no-no.

What would you like people to remember about you after you’ve passed on (many, many years from now)?

“If a broke down kid from Brooklyn, NY made it, so can we.” Also, when the chips are down, don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hispanic Heritage, Lori Gama

Elianne Ramos: A Geek Goddess

Elianne Ramos

Elianne Ramos

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, I’m interviewing several top Latina(o)/Hispanic leaders in Social Media. Elianne Ramos, known as @ergeekgoddess on Twitter, is a Latina Twitter Queen who operates a successful Hispanic Marketing agency in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.  She has worked with clients such as Verizon Wireless, SlimFast, Anheuser-Busch and many other national brands. She creates “instant brand magic.” I love Elianne’s writing style. Check out her blog: SpeakHispanic.com

Why do you use Twitter?

I think of myself as a communicator, and as such, I get to wear many hats: marketer, publicist, journalist, a public speaker… As a “professional of the word”, Twitter has so many applications for me:


  • It’s a marketing channel where I can find people who have a need for my products/services.
  • It’s a source of feedback that allows me to keep my online reputation in check, to run those ideas floating around in my head and to get the instant advice for people whom I respect and admire.
  • It’s a broadcast tool, as I share my articles and build traffic to my website, my online column and my blog. And the reach is just amazing: I have followers from as far as Australia, Japan, Europe and all over the US that I interact with everyday.
  • It’s a news gathering source, where I can keep up-to-date with the goings-on in the world and in my profession without having to sort through thousands of articles and research. As a journalist, it’s also a way to gather “popular opinion” in a fast effective manner, without much legwork.
  • Finally, and probably most importantly, it’s a “networking event” where I get to meet and befriend professionals who do what I do, go through the same experiences and interests that I do and offer help and advice, without having to deal with the bar food, the cover charges or the pushy salespeople!

How is Twitter different than other Social Media websites, such as Facebook?

Although I don’t do Facebook as much (too many friends divulging too much personal information). To me, the beauty of Twitter is “immediate gratification”. If something is happening anywhere in the world, you better believe it’s being talked about in Twitter. That makes for breaking news you really cannot find anywhere else. There’s also immediate gratification in terms of interaction. I can interact in real time with many different people at the same time, which makes for interesting, multidimensional conversations. The richness of that kind of interaction, in terms of timeliness, insight and learning, is hard to find anywhere else.

Describe your niche and please share how long it took you to find it, after joining Twitter (or perhaps you knew what it was before you joined).

My specific niche varies depending on my function: As a journalist, I focus on Hispanic/Latino opinions, news and empowering information, something you’ll see reflected in everything I write.
As a marketer and PR professional, my niche is building market-specific communications for companies with enough insight to go beyond the mere translation. If you’re a company that really wants to develop your brand into a powerhouse in the market you have got to show respect for the culture. Finding this niche on Twitter wasn’t so difficult as I have been working as a communicator for over 13 years. I am very conscious about the kinds of things I post in terms of whether they will add value to my followers. I’m also very conscious about who I follow. I believe it’s very easy to find followers on Twitter; the hardest part is to keep people engaged with you as a brand.

What are your top three tips for our readers as they begin to build their Twitter tribe?

– Determine the kind of people you want to follow first. This is like choosing what networking event you want to attend. This will make the time you spend there more worthwhile.
– Share, share, then share some more. While it may be a bit one-sided in the beginning, soon people will notice you as a resource and will start to share, interact and recommend you to others.
– This may sound counter to the previous point, but here it goes: it is not enough to use Twitter as a posting tool or a PR vehicle; you have to make following YOU, the person, worthwhile. Have meaningful conversations with people. Let them discover the real you. This works whether you are a person or a brand.

What are your top three “never, ever do this” tips?

– Spamming must be the biggest don’t in the Twittersphere. Twitter is built on word of mouth. If you’re spamming, you’ll soon be out.
– Show some respect. This may be my own pet peeve, but cursing, sharing TMI and being abusive to others is the fastest way to be unfollowed.
– Twitter may technically be a “stalker’s paradise”, but please don’t. You WILL be blocked/reported.

When do you take your Twitter relationships to the next level, either through actually meeting in person; or collaborating ?

I’m normally a pretty open person, and I follow everyone back. My motto is “innocent until proven guilty” (at which point I unfollow). Once I get contacted or decide to contact someone, though, I do the usual checks: google, their tweets streams, blogs and personal sites before I decide to contact and/or develop an offline relationship with them.

How do you manage your time for tweeting?

I tend to tweet very organically. Sometimes, I would find myself reading some piece of research, a nice observation or interesting article and the urge to post it on Twitter becomes more powerful than me. I just have to do it. Most of the time, though, I browse to see who’s around and start chatting up. I think it’s more fun when you don’t pre-plan it.

elianne_tweet

What are your top favorite tools to use that help you efficiently and smartly manage your brand through Twitter? For instance, do you do research by using search.peoplebrowsr.com to search the biographies with keywords? Seesmic or Peoplebrowsr or Tweetdeck? A virtual assistant?

So far, I’ve tried many tools for both my Iphone and my computer. I love the flexibility and ease of use of Tweetdeck. Online, and for things like the #latism “party”, I like to use Tweet Grid since it allows me to follow hashtags and specific people simultaneously.

How are you monitizing Twitter?

I cannot assign a monetary value to what I get on Twitter. While I have gotten numerous clients through it, I think the biggest value is in the professional relationships you develop.

What or who influenced you in a positive way, earlier in your life?

My parents instilled a love for learning since I was little. My sisters and I never got dolls or kitchen sets for Christmas, but rather books, puzzles and educational toys. Their rationale, whether right or wrong, was that everything we did was part of our education. Character-wise, I’ve always had a stable of “wise Latinas” around, like my mother and her mother “Mama Clara”: strong women who took care of the kids and the family business with equal aplomb. They taught me early on that a woman could become anything she wanted.

What is your best advice to young Latinas, in middle school, high school?

I have a 14 year-old daughter, Charlene. I always talk to her about the importance of dreaming big and getting an education. No matter how hard or farfetched your dream may seem, an education will get you closer to achieving it.
Also, I advice her not to listen to the badmouthers. Judging by the images of Latinas in the media, you’d think we are all predestined to become maids, mothers at 16 and/or gang members. You have so much potential in you. Let it blossom.

Recently there was a study released that found that 41% of U.S. Latina students drop out of high school. What do you think it will take for our country and /or our education system to solve this crisis?

There are so many factors involved in this issue, it is probably one of the biggest socio-economic problems we, as a culture, are facing right now. While a young girl may be forced by the system to attend class and to go to a determined school, there may be very little incentive for her to actually stay in school. Outside pressures –from being alone at home most of the time because both parents have to work, pressure to marry young/have sex, teen pregnancy, pressure to work to help out the family, peer pressure and/or hormones–may derail them. Add to that constant cuts to education funds and huge inner city schools that are ill-equipped to house every student, and it’s no wonder that these girls end up leaving.

There is really no clear-cut way to solve it. First of all, education must become a national priority, and the way that our resources are allocated has got to change. Education shouldn’t be a political card, it should be everyone’s right.

Beyond politics, we as individuals can have some impact on the problem. I believe that, as the saying goes, “it takes a village”. These girls can largely benefit from strong role models, from the support of their families, their teachers, their communities and policymakers, from people willing to reach out and touch their lives in a positive way BEFORE they drop out.

I have lately become involved with the US Hispanic Youth Entrepreneurship Education, a program that links young Hispanics with professional adults and educational programs. I have to say that to see these young kids thrive and go on to higher education has been a most enriching experience for me. Programs of this kind are essential and it is everyone’s responsibility to reach to these kids before it’s too late. It takes so little.

For those who have already dropped out, it would be a good idea to reach out to them through educational programs that allow them to go back to school while they sort out their lives.

What else would you like to say to the world about this crisis?

It is very easy to say: “why should I care about these kids? Their parents should care.” The answer is not as easy: Children of this generation, Latinos or not, will be the leaders of tomorrow. Ignoring this problem will just feed a vicious circle: Latinas will continue to join the lowest ranks of the work force, which will lead to higher unemployment and underemployment rates among them, which means the loss of thousands of taxpayer dollars and a whole generation of women who will find it harder to compete in today’s globalized economy. What this means is that everyone of us has to get involved, spread the word about services that may help our community, and very important, become more politically conscious. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to do my part.

4 Comments

Filed under Hispanic Heritage, Latina Women In Business, Social Networking

Louis Pagan: An interview with LATISM Co-founder

Where did you grow up and how did your upbringing and environment contribute to the person you are today?
I grew up in the Bronx, NY.  Growing up poor with my brother and mother I had no choice, but to look up.  So, being stubborn by nature combined with an outlook for improvement has impacted me greatly and is the cause for most of what I do today.
Who were your role models as you were growing up and how did they affect you?
I’m going to admit what many men do not, and that is I read a lot of comic books and watched a lot of sci-fi.  So, superheroes and major character roles on TV were my heroes.  That may be a little funny or immature to some, but there is a very positive impact.
Superman, Spiderman, Batman, The X-man, Captain Kirk of Star Trek, were individuals who fought the villain, and served as champions for the common person.  Even the best-selling author Stephen King, used this concept and tells the stories of victims, who fights back and wins against insurmountable odds.
In a big way, social media is just like this.  It gives the average person with bold ambitions and drive, the tools to leverage themselves to compete with larger entities and gives them the capacity to move toward greater ideas.
Have you ever faced racial discrimination? If so, what happened and how did you deal with it?
I can’t really say anyone directly discriminated against me.  If they did, I probably chalked it up to other reasons.  I am not one to accept or play the race card, even when someone shows it to me.
At what point in life did you realize your inner strength and fortitude?
Sometime in high-school into college, I realized my passion for writing and reading.  I wrote songs and poetry; read about great people and their work; studied other cultures and religions.  Upon realizing that there were a small percentage of people who walked down this road I felt fulfilled and strengthened.
Regarding the 41% dropout rate among high school Latinas, what do you think it will take for our country and /or our education system to solve this crisis?
Engagement.  Each school, district or city should identify what their specific challenges are in relation to educating students.  Then, custom programs, classes or workshops can be made available to address solutions and give the tools students need to combat problematic topics.
Additionally, students should be exposed to opinions and views outside their own system.  Through social media a Program can connect these students and encourage them to communicate and ask the advice of their peers.
There would be collaboration on two levels.  One by provided by workshops on specific issues, and the other being a social media pen pal program.
What’s your advice for those who may have already dropped out of high school or college?
If you already dropped out of high school, seriously consider getting a GED, if you can’t go back.  You can’t get a job without one.
The best thing I can say about college is that it will increase your chances to get a better job and make more money if you have a degree. However, I’m from the school that college is not for everyone and if you feel you are one of these people, you should have some serious plans, talents or something going for you already to make it out there without a further education.  College works for most, but without it life will be a little harder.
Why did you launch your business?
I’ve been involved in social media for over 6 years.  Although I have a number of grass roots accomplishments, I decided to diversify and protect myself and start an LLC.  The name of my business is Lat3G Media.  It stands for Latinos 3rd Generation.  Third generation Latinos are mostly English speaking, professional and acculturated.  This also best describes me.
Lat3G Media develops broad concepts, event planning, promotion, media-content production/distribution and social media relevant to the Latino market.  You can contact me at “info”  @ followed by domain name (lat3gmedia.com)
Life is about choices.  I launched my business to take more control over my life, so that I don’t have anyone taking most of my choices away.  I like independence and feel my business can give me more freedom.
What is your UVP (Uniqe Value Propisition)?
Identifying trends; remaining ahead of the curve; quitting before it’s over.
Describe your ideal client or project or give one or two case studies so that people can clearly understand how you’ve helped clients:
I am not at liberty to disclose some projects at the present time, so…
My ideal project is one that makes a positive impact in the world we live in.  Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) gives us this opportunity by helping others and engaging our fellow brothers and sisters to boldly step forth toward media literacy and solidarity.
LATISM is grass-roots, is altruistic and genuine.
What other services does your company provide?
Another service is that I promote other people’s work to get them publicized.  I guess that describes what an agent does.
How does your Latino heritage help you achieve your goals?
I’m going to be transparent here.  I did not grow up with a traditional Latino culture.  I grew up in a Latino-urban culture.  We played handball, went to Orchard beach in the Bronx, listened to freestyle, and roller skated.  Back then, in the Bronx you were not Latino, but Puerto Rican.
I ‘rediscovered’ my Latino-ness later through social media, which lead me to publish my first blog – LatinoPundit.com – representing Latinos in the blogosphere and pushing the envelope of diversity along with others online to cause change at some major sites.
Louis: for you, since you are a founder of LATISM, instead, can you tell us what is your vision for LATISM?
How did you hear about Latinos In Social Media (latism.org)?
The purpose of Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) is to engage Latinos online and encourage media literacy through social media.  We support all endeavors in social media for individuals, companies and organizations alike.
That being said, my vision is for LATISM to be used as a vehicle toward solidarity in personal or professional endeavors.  Be you a writer, an activist, a multi-media content producer, a marketer, a business person, an organization, or you just like social media and want to talk and network, LATISM will foster your goals.  The other side of this coin is LATISM provides the opportunity for businesses or others who want to understand or reach this community.
As far as expansion, I see LATISM ‘legs’ in cities, states and internationally supporting all Latinos in social media, and those who want to engage Latinos.
What role are you fulfilling within the LATISM group?
Let’s keep this fun:
When someone looks at LATISM, I want them to see themselves reflected back.  In order to be interested and to pursue anything, an individual must feel they can take away something and benefit in some way.  This concept has been identified by way of promoting our social media conference tour during Hispanic Heritage month..
Fluidity of communication and purpose between the various levels of structure and outreach methods must be maintained.  LATISM must remain multifaceted while simultaneously reaching bloggers and Facebookers, as well as CEOs and marketing professionals, so that dialogue and participation is all-inclusive.
I concern myself with what needs to be done to make certain things ‘stick;’ how to market ourselves; how we appear externally; how to constantly replenish ourselves in order to remain exciting and cutting edge.
That’s what happily engulfs me.
What would you like to say to companies who are thinking of marketing to Latina(o)s/Hispanics but aren’t sure of what to do first?
Do some research.  We love family.
Go to those who know what to do.
Contact any LatISM professional via our directory of services http://latism.us/directory/?l=view
What’s the biggest mistake companies make when attempting to enter into marketing to Hispanics/Latinos/possibly Brazilians?
One of the biggest mistake is not understanding some cultural factors.  Look at Burger King’s Europe ad:  http://bit.ly/139Nnm  The country of Mexico protested it as an insult.
Another mistake is thinking all Latinos are the same.  We are not; we are diverse.  For instance, if you are selling Puerto Rican pasteles and target older Puerto Ricans, but are playing bachata in the background you’ve got a problem.  If you don’t understand what just happened, maybe you need a Latino marketing consultant.
What would you like people to remember about you after you’ve passed on (many, many years from now)?
It’s tempting to want to be remembered.  But in the end, is it really about your message and not at all about you?
I’ve been blessed to express myself through words.  Bringing down barriers and spreading ideas through new media is what I advocate.  Compared to that, I am a mere speck…I am not important.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, I interviewed some of the top leaders in the Latinos In Social Media movement (LATISM.org). I’m very honored and grateful to those who could participate .  Come back every other day to see who else I interviewed. We kick off with a co-founder of LATISM, Louis Pagan (Twitter: @LouisPagan) Thanks for reading.

Where did you grow up and how did your upbringing and environment contribute to the person you are today?

Louis Pagan

Louis Pagan

I grew up in the Bronx, NY.  Growing up poor with my brother and mother I had no choice, but to look up.  So, being stubborn by nature combined with an outlook for improvement has impacted me greatly and is the cause for most of what I do today.

Who were your role models as you were growing up and how did they affect you?

I’m going to admit what many men do not, and that is I read a lot of comic books and watched a lot of sci-fi.  So, superheroes and major character roles on TV were my heroes.  That may be a little funny or immature to some, but there is a very positive impact.

Superman, Spiderman, Batman, The X-man, Captain Kirk of Star Trek, were individuals who fought the villain, and served as champions for the common person.  Even the best-selling author Stephen King, used this concept and tells the stories of victims, who fights back and wins against insurmountable odds.

In a big way, social media is just like this.  It gives the average person with bold ambitions and drive, the tools to leverage themselves to compete with larger entities and gives them the capacity to move toward greater ideas.

At what point in life did you realize your inner strength and fortitude?

Sometime in high-school into college, I realized my passion for writing and reading.  I wrote songs and poetry; read about great people and their work; studied other cultures and religions.  Upon realizing that there were a small percentage of people who walked down this road I felt fulfilled and strengthened.

Regarding the recent study that concluded that a 41% dropout rate among high school Latinas is happening in the U.S., what do you think it will take for our country and /or our education system to solve this crisis?

Engagement.  Each school, district or city should identify what their specific challenges are in relation to educating students.  Then, custom programs, classes or workshops can be made available to address solutions and give the tools students need to combat problematic topics.

Additionally, students should be exposed to opinions and views outside their own system.  Through social media a Program can connect these students and encourage them to communicate and ask the advice of their peers.

There would be collaboration on two levels.  One by provided by workshops on specific issues, and the other being a social media pen pal program.

My wife is a teacher, her mother a dean, and father a retired principal who is still involved in the city schools. It would be interesting to get their input on any and all ideas.

Why did you launch your business?

I’ve been involved in social media for over 6 years.  Although I have a number of grass roots accomplishments, I decided to diversify and start an LLC.  The name of my business is Lat3G Media.  It stands for Latino 3rd Generation.  Third generation Latinos are mostly English speaking, professional and acculturated, which happens to best describe me.

Lat3G Media develops broad concepts, event planning, promotion, media-content production/distribution and social media relevant to the Latino market.  You can contact me at “info”  @ followed by domain name (lat3gmedia.com)

Life is about choices.  I launched my business to take more control over my life, so that I don’t have anyone taking most of my choices away.  I like independence and feel my business can give me more freedom.

What is your UVP (Uniqe Value Propisition)?

Identifying trends; remaining ahead of the curve; quitting before it’s over.

Describe your ideal client or project or give one or two case studies so that people can clearly understand how you’ve helped clients:

I am not at liberty to disclose some projects at the present time, so…

My ideal project is one that makes a positive impact in the world we live in.  Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) gives us this opportunity by helping others and engaging our fellow brothers and sisters to boldly step forth toward media literacy and solidarity.

LATISM is grass-roots, is altruistic and genuine.

What other services does your company provide?

Another service is that I promote other people’s work to get them publicized.  I guess that describes what an agent does.

How does your Latino heritage help you achieve your goals?

I’m going to be transparent here.  I did not grow up with a traditional Latino culture.  I grew up in a Latino-urban culture.  We played handball, went to Orchard beach in the Bronx, listened to freestyle, and roller skated.  Back then, in the Bronx you were not Latino, but Puerto Rican.

I ‘rediscovered’ my Latino-ness later through social media, which lead me to publish my first blog – LatinoPundit.com – representing Latinos in the blogosphere and pushing the envelope of diversity along with others online to cause change at some major sites.

Since you are a founder of LATISM, can you tell us what is your vision for LATISM?

The purpose of Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) is to engage Latinos online and encourage media literacy through social media.  We support all endeavors in social media for individuals, companies and organizations alike.

That being said, my vision is for LATISM to be used as a vehicle toward solidarity in personal or professional endeavors.  Be you a writer, an activist, a multi-media content producer, a marketer, a business person, an organization, or you just like social media and want to talk and network, LATISM will foster your goals.  The other side of this coin is LATISM provides the opportunity for businesses or others who want to understand or reach this community.

As far as expansion, I see LATISM ‘legs’ in cities, states and internationally supporting all Latinos in social media, and those who want to engage Latinos.

What role are you fulfilling within the LATISM group?

Let’s keep this fun:

When someone looks at LATISM, I want them to see themselves reflected back.  In order to be interested and to pursue anything, an individual must feel they can take away something and benefit in some way.  This concept has been identified by way of promoting our social media conference tour during Hispanic Heritage month.

Fluidity of communication and purpose between the various levels of structure and outreach methods must be maintained.  LATISM must remain multifaceted while simultaneously reaching bloggers and Facebookers, as well as CEOs and marketing professionals, so that dialogue and participation is all-inclusive.

I concern myself with what needs to be done to make certain things ‘stick;’ how to market ourselves; how we appear externally; how to constantly replenish ourselves in order to remain exciting and cutting edge.

That’s what happily engulfs me.

What would you like to say to companies who are thinking of marketing to Latina(o)s/Hispanics but aren’t sure of what to do first?

Do some research.  We love family.

Go to those who know what to do.

Contact any LatISM professional via our directory of services http://latism.us/directory/?l=view

What’s the biggest mistake companies make when attempting to enter into marketing to Hispanics/Latinos/possibly Brazilians?

One of the biggest mistake is not understanding some cultural factors.  Look at Burger King’s Europe ad:  http://bit.ly/139Nnm The country of Mexico protested it as an insult.

Another mistake is thinking all Latinos are the same.  We are not; we are diverse.  For instance, if you are selling Puerto Rican pasteles and target older Puerto Ricans, but are playing bachata in the background you’ve got a problem.  If you don’t understand what just happened, maybe you need a Latino marketing consultant.

What would you like people to remember about you after you’ve passed on (many, many years from now)?

It’s tempting to want to be remembered.  But in the end, is it really about your message and not at all about you?

I’ve been blessed to express myself through words.  Bringing down barriers and spreading ideas through new media is what I advocate.  Compared to that, I am a mere speck…I am not important.

4 Comments

Filed under Hispanic Heritage, Social Networking

Hispanic Heritage: Claudia Goffan, CEO Target Latino

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month,  I’m featuring Latina and Latino leaders in my Social Networking blog. I asked my friends, who, actually feel more like my primas y primos (cousins) than “just” friends, to contribute their thoughts on Social Networking with Twitter.

We’re kicking off the celebration of our heritage with Claudia Goffan, president and CEO of Target Latino.

Claudia Goffon

Claudia Goffan

Today, September 16, 2009, LISTA (Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association announced that it named Target Latino as its Agency Of Record. Congratulations, Claudia! And congratulations, LISTA, on choosing a smart, creative, thought-provoking Latina to market your organization.

1.Why do you use Twitter?

I started using Twitter after a good friend of mine, a total SEO genius, asked me to give it a try. I was horrified at the fact that I had to limit myself to 140 characters but I gave it a shot. About one day later, I was hooked. Not only did I see its value for me and my consulting firm but also for my clients. Everybody has a different social media goal, Target Latino’s social media goal is to inform and educate onLatino Marketing, Advertising and Latino issues.

2. How is Twitter different than other Social Media websites, such as Facebook?

Twitter has a sense of urgency that other social media

sites don’t have. Everything happens now. And you need to know how to take advantage of that.

3. Describe your niche and please share how long it took you to find it, after joining Twitter (or perhaps you knew what it was before you joined).

See #1 – My social goal and the ones for my clients is well defined before entering the social media arena.

4. What are your top three tips for our readers as they begin to build their Twitter tribe?

First tip: Define your social media goal. What are you
about? What do you want to share with the world? What are you trying to accomplish? Second tip: Always be courteous and return the follows – If you do not want to follow somebody, don’t but don’t follow them and then unfollow for the sake of getting followers (that’s being a tease) Third tip: Be patient. Imagine you are at a party. Not everything happens on your schedule, right?


targetlatinotwit

5. What are your top three “never, ever do this” tips?

Never, ever spam. Never, ever tease. Never, ever get carried by emotions and say the “wrong” thing.

6. When do you take your Twitter relationships to the next level, either through actually meeting in person; or collaborating.

I usually follow my instinct. And usually you have a pretty good chance of seeing who the person is by following their tweets. You don’t get this opportunity, even in dating sites!!!

7. How do you manage your time for tweeting?

I like my tweets to be personal so I rarely schedule them (unless I am trying to help advertise a good event or worthwhile cause) I try to tweet first thing when I start my computer and then go back when I have a few minutes to spare. Same thing before going to bed. On the weekends, I try to prepare information as articles or postings on my blog to share through the week.

8. What are your top favorite tools to use that help you efficiently and smartly manage your brand through Twitter? For instance, do you do research by using search.peoplebrowsr.com to search the biographies with keywords? Seesmic or Peoplebrowsr or Tweetdeck? A virtual assistant?

I love Hootsuite. I can see my tweets and create a stream of my friend’s tweets so I can find out what they are up to. It really helps me bond!!

9. How are you monitizing Twitter?

It was never my intent to monetize Twitter for Target Latino, but I have been getting people asking for my expertise and consulting engagements. As far as my clients, I can tell you they are very happy with their results!!!

logotargetlatino10. What or who influenced you in a positive way, earlier in your life?

My mother. Youngest daughter of immigrants to Argentina. She is a retired dentist now but she always used to say to me: “Claudita, nothing in life is certain. But if you have a diploma under your wing you may not end up rich, but you will always have job security.”

11. Recently, a study done by MALDEF came out that proved that 41% of Latinas drop-out of high school in the U.S. What is your best advice to young Latinas, in middle school, high school?

You may not think it’s important. You may see many people getting rich with no studies. Not everybody gets so lucky. And think of it this way, if you are already brilliant, imagine how much more brilliant you will be if can back it up with knowledge. Keep on studying. Be a proud and accomplished Latina.

12. What is your best advice for teen-aged Latina mothers who dropped out of high school?

Having a child is a lot of work and you may not find the time to do anything else but take care of him or her and work to support yourselves, but this is 2009, you can enroll in school via the internet – take some short courses in things that interest you. You never know where it may lead and you may be pleasantly surprised!!!


1 Comment

Filed under Hispanic Heritage, Latina Women In Business