Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Archive for February, 2013

Leveraging Hispanics to Assure Growth in the Next Five Years Requires a New Outlook By Terry Soto

Terry Soto

By Terry Soto, Author of Marketing to Hispanics A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative


In a recent meeting with a VP of Multicultural Marketing, one of the top concerns that came across was the desire to sustainably position Multicultural Marketing in the company for the next five years and beyond.  In other words, this VP wanted to succeed in creating a formal strategic plan to integrate Multicultural consumers into all aspects of insights gathering, planning, strategy development and implementation to effect growth for the company’s brand portfolio.

As importantly, this VP was also concerned about the sustainability of the multicultural work already in place as new brand managers and directors join the company.

This type of forethought is just what is required of every company which has identified Hispanics as a growth opportunity. It is especially important because multicultural marketing in most companies is not integrated into the business as a business imperative and often lives as a separate effort which requires constant justification and resource sourcing to keep it going.

Much of my writing supports the value of full integration of Hispanics into business planning and implementation so companies avoid the vicious cycle of false starts and stops which in many cases result in companies walking away from Hispanic marketing altogether when budgets and resources are tight and in a revolving door of frustrated and demotivated Multicultural champions.

If you are interested in leveraging the Hispanic market to effect growth for your companies over the next five years and beyond, I recommend you reflect on and consider the following six steps:

  1. Take a conscientious view of your attitudes, beliefs and comfort level when thinking about, understanding and reaching out to consumers who are different from you
  2. Think about your ability to adopt a more realistic and global view of today’s consumer landscape
  3. Take an objective approach in identifying and profiling consumers who represent viable buyers for your products or services regardless of their culture or ethnicity
  4. Think about how applicable your company’s brand promise, strategy and tactics is to all your buyers / targets
  5. Seek out and acknowledge the changes required to ensure relevance to and effectiveness among all target customers
  6. Take an objective business position so you act with no personal agenda, but rather with an eye on the business opportunity

The consumer landscape has changed dramatically and as marketers we must step up our game adapt to this change. Growth will not come to those who wait and dig their heel in what is comfortable and familiar; it will come to those who take off the blinders, are willing to feel out of their element for a bit and those who take the required steps to create it.


Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in helping her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market.

Micro-Managing: Keeping a Lid on Your Organization’s Growth! By Enrique Ruiz

Rick Ruiz


Could the idea of keeping a lid on your organization’s growth be a real sustainable paradigm? Today’s economic climate demands innovation and greater creativity to solve current problems. Fortunately, all of our organizations can tap into the diversity of thought that resides within our human capital reservoirs and find new solutions, new products, and new markets.

All too often though, personal insecurities, lack of training and management misconceptions suppress creativity, motivation and efficiencies. Do you know of a manager that closely observes or controls the work of subordinates? Merriam Webster indicates that the term micromanage is “to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details.” This may seem like a good management focus area but people are obviously different from machines where constant monitoring is required to ensure variables do not get out of hand.

As the organization was built, we hired our team members for a specific skill set that they could fulfill. Their particular contribution complements and supplements other areas of the organization as well. As a manager, we certainly know some things BUT we do not know what we do not know. What will our employee’s be able to enlighten us on that can be done better, faster, cheaper?

Google reports that the term “micromanager” is searched an average 22,000 times a month and a parallel term “the control freak” 74,000 times a month. These observables indicate that micromanaging is a topic of concern and if it is not arrested in time… some elements of personal motivation is bound to be squelched within the organization. Would you pay for a performance car only to put a governor on the vehicle? That is in essence what happens when we are dealing with genius capital.

To be sure, micromanaging can be beneficial in the short term if we are the experts on a given task and need to create successors that can carry the baton. In time though, we need to step back and realize that there are many ways to get a job done and ours may just be up for a renewal.

Micromanaging on a long-term basis is a survival ploy for self-preservation and a means to perpetuate a “keep the status quo” mindset within the organization. It does not communicate a synergistic tone where cooperation germinates shared ideas that may yield a better solution than any one contributor could offer on their own. Overt and continuous micromanaging will soon translate into personnel mismanagement.

Micromanagers actions communicate one, or more, of the following subliminal messages:


  • I don’t trust you
  • You are incompetent without me
  • I am insecure
  • I don’t care what you think
  • It better be done my way
  • I need to show my power
  • I don’t have anything else better to do
  • I want the credit


Individuals want to be a part of a winning organization but when their own sense of identity is robbed, their spirits diminish and the marketplace becomes an attractive pastime in search of better opportunities. In time, the organization will experience unnecessary turnover, high recruiting costs, additional training and the loss of the original investment made in a former employee.

Isolated incidences of micromanagement can be construed as a benefit when one is pushing the envelope of normalcy forging into new arenas that are visionary for the very few. Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jeff Bezo’s (Amazon) and Walt Disney (Disney) are all reported famous micromanagers that took on high-risk ventures but their vision was ahead of its time. An accommodating, complacent business paradigm would not have catapulted these companies into stardom on a global scale, and most of their employees understood this concept going along for the ride until they became part of the vision.

For most organizations however, moderate risk taking is the norm with controlled incremental growth being the desired outcome.  Employees will perform their best when they have a sense of autonomy, they understand the purpose of their task (and the organization’s mission) and they are given the opportunity to master their role. As a manager, realize that you can actually achieve more by doing less yourself when you empower your employees. Give credit where credit is due and show your appreciation for novel approaches that are just as effective, if not more. Harry Truman, 33rd US President, encapsulated these thoughts best when he said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

If you are an employee working for a micromanager you can help the micromanager reduce their stress level by:


  • Saying What you Are Going to Do
  • Doing What you Say You Will Do
  • Informing Proactively When Things Change


In business, there is a symbiotic relationship between managers and employees. Mutual respect is a common thread that must flow across layers of our collective human capital in order to maximize potential on both personal and organizational levels. Where could you be tomorrow if you remove the micromanager control lid and enable your organization to perform at its peak?


By Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz, CDE, CM, MBA

Why Should We Celebrate Black History Month?

black history  month


By Leah Smiley

My 15-year old daughter was perturbed that one of her classmates protested against “celebrating black history month”.  The female classmate insisted that there were Caucasian slaves too, and therefore, no need to celebrate freedom for any special groups.


This debate actually occurs on college campuses and in the workplace too:  “Why Should We Celebrate Black History Month?”


A good way to approach this topic is through research, such as one’s own genealogical history. Guess what?  There is bound to be diversity somewhere in everyone’s lineage.


In my family, my maternal grandfather was a Veteran and his father was also a disabled War Veteran. My maternal grandmother’s great grandfather was a full-blood Cherokee Indian.


My father’s family originated from Georgia. I don’t know much about my grandfather, except that he had a big family– 10 siblings. My grandmother’s maiden name was “Mingledoff”, and her father was what they used to call a “mulatto”. His father was a German slave owner. Honestly, it was so interesting to learn all of these facts and to find out about the common threads that we all share.


You may be wondering, Leah, what does this mean?  In short– I’ve got some American Indian and Caucasian relatives– hello family, guess who’s coming to dinner!


In all seriousness, it also means that the uniqueness and richness of African American history contributes something to us all. There are plenty of great black men and women, besides Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. There are some individuals, that we don’t hear about that often, who have been the first to accomplish something, or who contributed something meaningful to your field. We all could learn about these individuals, and many more, during the designated cultural months throughout the year.


Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 professional association for Diversity and Inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto

The Mandate for Courage



Sometimes, it’s easy for us to feel like we are harping on the same old issues in the workplace. Accordingly, we may become apprehensive about discussing certain diversity and inclusion topics, like race, gender and sexual orientation (i.e., the hot button issues). We also don’t want to be labeled as a “troublemaker” or “whiner”.

Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that we were hired to help our organizations get it right. Looking toward the future, think about how much it will cost your organization IF certain diversity and inclusion issues are not addressed.  Lawsuits, turnover, wasted productivity, lost market share, etc., will amount to a fortune. Also, think about how you will be perceived IF you are the person of color who is afraid to talk about the most complex issue in your organization:  race. Or if you are the woman in leadership who is fearful of discussing gender equity. Or if you are gay, and you are doubtful about the benefits of gay pride in your place of business. I could go on, but you get the point.

The field of diversity and inclusion has a mandate for courage. Merriam-Webster’s defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty“. Possessing courage does not imply the absence of fear– it just means that you move forward in spite of it. The key to advancement in this field is to take your fear, feelings, and faithlessness out of the equation. Have a little confidence that your efforts will result in something good.

Courage:  it’s a mandate and an expectation for you.

By Leah Smiley

Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, a global professional association for Diversity and Inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto

The Power in a Name: A Free Reward with Lasting Organization Impact By Enrique Ruiz

Rick Ruiz



What is your name? Why were you given that name? What does your name mean?

Our name, a perfectly crafted combination of characters distinguishes us among 7 billion people on earth. It is our being, it carries our heritage and it was a gift of love from our parents. Our name gives us human definition in our early years and as we grow older, we further define our name in the global landscape. Are we smart, successful, kind, strong, talented or another characteristic that helps set us apart?

Will we forge new ground? Will we blend in with the masses? What difference will our difference make?

Our name may be common, complex, ethnic or unusual; in all cases, it was carefully selected just for us. It is inscribed on the very first certificate we will be given in life, and on our last. We carry the label given for life. It is a word that proclaims our existence, and value. We protect it, announce it and we sign it.

Our name will ideally command respect and be recognizable. Some of our names may be on marquees, the news, a business registry, our home titles or the titles to our vehicles. Its very existence is easily printed and sent around the globe introducing the individual behind the words, the deeds, the actions and even our potential.

In our youth we learned to pronounce our given names with fluidity honoring those who bestowed this familial identity. As time passed, we continued to build our persona in the world landscape. It is the most valuable symbolic possession we have had to offer the world on a personal level. It is a treasure that conveys meaning and purpose.

If a name is all of these attributes to us, could it not convey the same worthy characteristics to another person? Do we carry that message? Do others show their respect to us and, conversely, do we in turn show others our respect by pronouncing their name correctly?

In our organizations, as leaders, we cannot say with all honesty that we truly value and respect the individual in our ranks if we do not take the time to learn how to pronounce their names correctly. All too often, our team members will use a pseudo name (e.g.- call me “Sue” instead) to make it easier for their teammates OR we will volunteer a name for someone, such as “We will call you Pete,” because their name is too difficult to pronounce. When this happens we can clearly see that what we say does not match what we do. There is a mental disconnect within the organization.

I started my career having a very difficult time remembering names, any name. I had to work on this mental shortfall and develop ways to remember my team members as my organization grew. Invariably though, I had customers, team members or other associate’s names that were also very difficult for me to pronounce. I would ask once, twice and three times over several days as I mentally rehearsed their names until I was able to master each of them. The joy and twinkle in the eye that you witness when the individual sees that you remember their name, or realizes that you have made an effort to pronounce their name correctly, is a free and extremely valuable reward tool. We all want to feel valued. When we see that our organization really cares about us, we are more apt to give back to the organization in innumerable ways. Will your employee’s enthusiasm be evident with their sales calls, will it enhance your organizational synergy, will they be more willing to share new ideas with you or go the extra mile to get a job done?

“Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you” is an old adage that easily applies in our daily communication habits. Have you felt a twinge of ire when someone has mispronounced your name? Do you feel they care? If they do not care to correct the pronunciation… how apt are you to give that person your full attention?

Take a moment and reflect on your own personal habits, and your organization. What example are you setting? What values are you communicating? Consider a exercising a free habit that has rewards of its own and which has the power to build up your own name!

By Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz, CDE, CM, MBA, PgMP

Excerpt from “The Biggest Problem Faced by Hispanic Marketers Today” By Terry J. Soto

Terry SotoWe talk endlessly about the Hispanic market’s size, its language preferences, the deep and multi-segmented insights, the culture, and the “right media spend,” whatever that means. And, we continue to live in a Hispanic marketing world of soccer sponsorships, celebrities, concerts and festivals, media properties, in-language and in-culture creative and a host of other above- and below-the-line investments which seldom tie back to corporate growth platforms.

Let’s face it; internally and externally, we aren’t doing a good job of thinking and talking business first and marketing second. We complain about not being invited to sit at the “adult strategy table” to participate in the big conversations, but have yet to elevate “our talk” to the required levels – the levels that track with industry threats and big picture direction setting. And we aren’t having the conversations about using our deep market insights to help organizations become business ready to leverage company assets to their fullest potential.

As a result, we perpetuate a view of the Hispanic market as a separate endeavor and as the end in and of itself. Two problems arise from this approach – the first is the inability to attribute any portion of top and bottom line strategic growth to the Hispanic market. And second, we can’t justify the value of our existing efforts because they are irrelevant to the focal points companies have set for growth.

We must elevate our thinking. If we expect corporate America to “walk the talk,” we must be prepared to talk their talk – and to help them take more productive steps. So what are you doing to make a difference for your organization today?

Learn more.  Join the Society for Diversity and Terri J. Soto, Author and President of About Marketing Solutions Inc., for a webinar on How to Identify and Attract High Profit Hispanic Consumers to Your Brand on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1:00PM (EST).  Register at

Also, read more about marketing to the Latino community at

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