Tag Archives: Thought leaders

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