Spring into Optimism


“Optimism is an attitude that shows up around springtime.” –Joel Garcia

The Spring season is my favorite time of year. Have you ever noticed how people’s attitudes change around springtime? It’s a time to enjoy better weather and sunshine, to get into that garden to plant your favorite plants or vegetables, to hike or work out in the open air. Most certainly, springtime has a way of changing people’s attitudes.

Latino Townhall’s Top 25 #LatinoQuotes for #2013 – Part I


I’m currently writing a book on Leadership… and these are some thoughts that have surfaced during the first part of 2013:

Joined in business

“Leaders develop foresight by fostering skills in perception and knowledge.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 1st 2013)

“A leader is the first one to show up and the last one to leave; the one who inspires as well as perspires.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 2nd 2013)

“Passion is possessing an extreme focus and dedication towards achieving a goal.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 3rd 2013)

“A masterful leader exerts influence for the purpose of transformation through collaborative effort.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 5th 2013)

“Eternity is just not a place reserved for us; it lives in our hearts and expresses itself through deeds done to others.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 5th 2013)

“You were created as a mystery; an unfolding story revealed through time.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 10th 2013)

“Vision is an invitation to live a stimulating life.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 10th 2013)

“Passion is evident when optimum energy is released, and dynamic synergy is increased.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 11th 2013)

“Leaders enlarge the Kingdom within to influence the world throughout.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 12th 2013)

“The wise shut up long enough for all the stupid people to stop talking.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 12th 2013)

“Leaders create unrestrained atmospheres where followers feel engaged to rise above their limitations.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 26th 2013)

“Influence is a gift and a study; it is acquired through learning and nurtured by growing.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 27th 2013)

“Leaders dwell in the realm called “above and beyond”, making the extraordinary look common.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 27th 2013)

“Leadership is reflecting the values others want in themselves, then communicating a vision commensurate with those values.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 29th 2013)

“The leader who offers help gives hope.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 1st 2013)

“Significance means, ‘I matter, and have value.’ Purpose is when my journey matters and adds value to others.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 6th 2013)

“A promise is an intangible, until you connect it to a source who can fulfill that promise.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 8th 2013)

“The critical factor in personal development is not what a leader learns but what he or she unlearns in the process of learning.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 10th 2013)

“Chaos is the absence of wisdom.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 12th 2013)

“Influence is the transfer of trust, and with that trust comes power.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 14th 2013)

“If it’s not yours in the first place, you’ve got nothing to lose.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 17th 2013)

“Transition is the ability to perceive change coming, to pause and understand its significance and adapt to it.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 22 2013)

“Leaders who walk in integrity live in controversy.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 25th 2013)

“A leader’s quest is to turn challenges into solutions.” –Joel Garcia (March 16, 2013)

“Competent leaders create stable and secure working environments.” –Joel Garcia (March 16, 2013)

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Please feel free to copy and paste wherever you like… note, I’ve added the date only to remember the date I came up with these original quotes. I google all my quotes to ensure I am not infringing on anyone’s thoughts, ideas or quotes.

The Engaged Leader: A Surprise Visit by a Regional Vice President


Joined in business

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” –Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup

Our morning at the office was akin to any normal day; staff members arrive, greet each other, clock in, make coffee, and do whatever it takes to get the operational apparatus moving for the day. After thirty minutes, we settled into our workstations and commenced small talk with each other before engaging in our daily routine. All the sudden, I observed through the front office window what seemed to be the Regional Vice President entering the office at a fast pace. Somewhat startled, I exclaimed, “It’s the V.P.!” before he entered the office. I was surprised to see the Regional Vice President was by himself, without the usual entourage of the Regional and District Managers with clipboards in hand ready to write down every detail of the meeting. Normally, these types of meetings from out of town brass tend to create a tense working environment, where our district leaders prepare store managers and staff, days ahead of time. During these scheduled visits every office in the region walks on “pins and needles”, hoping team members will say the right things, present the goal board properly (the current performance metrics), and ensure the office is up to corporate standards; clean, neat and organized. Not this time?

As the Regional V.P. walked in, we got up and greeted him one-by-one. We were so happy to see him without the usual hype. In other words, we did not have to conform to a false corporate mold to make a good impression.

For reasons I will go into in a few moments, my colleagues and I were not intimidated at all by his presence. Our meeting with the Regional V.P. lasted about fifteen minutes. After his departure, the office was energized by his presence, so I sat at my desk and wrote down a short list of what I saw and felt from the Regional Vice President. One thing is for certain, I witnessed first hand a masterful leader working the room, and making impressionable connections with each employee. The following observations were noted.

  1.  An engaged leader is personable

The Regional V.P. was uniquely personable. As he entered the office he shook our hands, and called us each one of us by name. I couldn’t help but think, “This guy must do his homework before he visits a store. He knows each one of us on a first name basis.” His demeanor was totally non-threatening and genuine, unlike the meetings of the past. He was very personable, which made us feel like real people, and not corporate robots doing and saying the right things.

  1. An engaged leader gives hope

As he continued his conversation with another employee and I, he said, “We are going to grow old together, right?” We said in unison, “Yes, we are!” Immediately, I understood the meaning of this phrase; it is one used by married couples that are recommitting to each other for long period of time. I felt like he was putting us as ease by this comment. I felt secure and confident about the future. Leaders, like him, offer hope and build confidence for the future in a single and sincere sentence. Without hope you get a sense that there is no future to look forward to; only the daily grind of complying with charts and targets. The Regional V.P. simply imparted hope in a single sentence.

  1.  An engaged leader offers coaching

He soon asked, “How is your store’s performance?” So we led him to the break room where our goal board was located with updated metrics showing our activity, performance and profit for the month. After a brief overview by my colleague, he offered some coaching tips of his own. The coaching moment was helpful and pleasantly welcomed and acknowledged. We have not received this type of coaching even from our direct supervisors.

  1.  An engaged leader knows your status

Just before his departure, he asked a few of us about our status for our next level promotion. He went around the room asking and listening to everyone’s response. When he approached me, he asked, “Have you taken the test for General Manager yet? Surprised that he knew my status, I answered in the affirmative. What I could not grasp was his knowledge of my promotion, which was already in the works. I thought, “He is the Regional V.P. – He has got more important things to worry about.” This made me and the team feel that he cared for our professional development and advancement.

  1.  An engaged leader creates synergy

When he left the office, synergy was obviously present. We were all thrilled about his visit. We could not stop talking about what he said and what he was going to do for each one of us. The atmosphere in our office was literally transformed by his presence and concern for our future. After his departure, we then put our hands to work with more enthusiasm.

  1. An engaged leader follows-through

Some of us had some concerns about certain issues that were not being addressed in a timely manner; like our monthly bonus extensions, and promotions. Within a half-hour, after his departure, we were getting calls and emails from our District Managers noting, “We are taking care of that email you sent two weeks ago.” I was simply amazed at the speed of their responses. I have not seen such follow-through in such a short time frame.

Learning from Others

I was so fortunate to witness a leader who was engaged in what he did, and how he did it. The root meaning of the word engage is “to get the attention of” or “to bind oneself” with another as in a pledge. Our Regional Vice President certainly got my attention and respect. I was now interested in committing myself further under his regional leadership. Leaders who engage their employees, like our Regional Vice President, create empowering win-win cultures by lifting the attitudes and morale of front-line workers.

3 Essential Ingredients for Corporate Change


Lead Change

Let Change Begin

When I think of transitions, both personal and corporate, I can’t help but to think of Joshua’s great task of transitioning a large community from a desert experience into the Promised Land; a land flowing with “milk and honey”. Individuals as well as organizations can learn three simple principles of corporate transition from Joshua’s example. This experience demanded three indispensable ingredients from Joshua. They are:

1. Courage (Mental Fortitude)

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their fathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. (Joshua 1:6, 7 NIV)

Courage is a prerequisite for corporate transitions. We commonly refer to this type of change as reorganization or organizational reinvention. Change is not always easy to implement for any leader since it challenges the status quo culture. “Status quo” thinking is embedded in our human nature; we like to keep things the same because change is too costly and demands too much from us. Courage is simply having the mental fortitude to do the right thing, which is to redirect the organization, regardless of the criticism and the obstacles encountered along the way. Corporate leaders leading change must be ready to encounter resistance from all levels. Therefore, mental fortitude to inspire, supervise, collaborate and lead any change effort is required from leaders.

2. Community (Engaging People through Vision and Responsibility)

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: ‘Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ (Joshua 1:10, 11 NIV)

Corporate change must involve the whole community under your care. When you prepare people for change, transitions become, well almost seamless. A leader starts preparing people for change by assessing current and critical resources for the change effort, and establishing timelines for task completion. In other words, what is needed for the journey of change, and how long will it take? From the passage above, the people gathered supplies (resources) for their journey, and set a timeline of three days to accomplish corporate consolidation of these vital resources. The ability to acquire and maintain resources is critical for any change effort. You must know what you have, so you can determine what else you need for the journey. Some things must be eliminated, while new resources and people will emerge to help you with the change process. Effective change occurs when leaders engage their team members through vision and responsibility.

2. Consecration (Personal and Corporate Cleansing)

Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’” (Joshua 2:5 NIV)

The most critical element of change is preparing and aligning people with the right attitude for change. This starts with a good communication strategy. Communicating change must permeate the entire organization, every individual must understand his or her particular role in the change effort. Emotions run high during times of transition since the culture is shifting such as positions, responsibilities, position, and new expectations, etc. Therefore, consecration is essential if a team is going to advance with minimal problems. In this process people have to let go of the past by putting petty differences aside.

Consecration is simply looking within for the purpose of critically examining self to remove personal obstacles that will get in the way of change, even admitting our current condition is insufficient for entering the next phase. We must let go of the old paradigms, and find new ways of thinking. Personal and leadership reinvention may be required from you as well. The right attitude for change must be adopted, encouraged and cultivated among all team members from top to bottom.

The community under Joshua’s care was required to prepare and cleanse themselves for transition. Those who cleanse themselves have a higher probability of moving forward while those who don’t may just fall on the way side, meaning the makeup of your team may change. Personal and corporate cleansing is required for transitioning into new beginnings.

What other principles are involved in corporate change?

Learn – Live – Love – Lead


Early in 2011, I began contemplating upon our organization’s fundamental pillars… What would Latino Townhall become? What would be our defining pillars? Eventually, I would sum up the character of Latino Townhall by the following four words: Learn – Live – Love – Lead. Here’s why?

LEARN

We all need to learn, especially the emerging Latino community, since a growing number of immigrants come from other countries where education is limited, or inaccessible in many rural areas. The Latino community’s existence and perpetuity depends upon adopting a learning posture for life. According to statistics, Latinos who attend higher education to acquire a four-year degree actually graduate at a dismal ratio of less than 1 out of every 10 students. This is an embarrassing statistic; we can do better. Latino Townhall is a learning community using the varied tools education has to offer, such as mentoring, leadership development, and coaching to help our community prosper. It’s crucial to use these tools and others to support a community in need of development. Learning equates to prosperity; those who take time to learn are better off than those who cut their eduction short. Learning is one of the central features of our organization.

LIVE

Learning adds value to our lives, and to those we share life with. As a matter of fact, the quality of life stems from the acquisition of knowledge and the application of wisdom in everyday life. Actually, the ultimate goal of learning is the pursuit of truth. As a matter of fact the quality of your life depends on the truth you follow. Misguided multiculturalism, especially in our post-modern world, seek equality as a virtue but in reality, not all cultures are the same. There are those who are living life to the fullest, and those who do not. Life is all about choice based on truth.

LOVE

Latinos have a deep love for helping their own community. Latinos are civic minded; and care deeply about their follow man. They hate injustice since they’ve experienced or witnessed it in their own Latin American homeland. When they see an act of injustice in America they emerge with passion to right a wrong. Love is a major feature of the Christian-Judeo faith. Since Latino Townhall has a faith-based lean, love must be its central theme, which must be taught, cherished and practiced in daily life.

LEAD

In the present moment, and most certainly in the immediate future, Latinos have no other option but to lead. The 2010 Census revealed Latinos are the largest minority group in the nation boasting 50 million strong and growing. Their projected growth in the next ten to twenty years is even more staggering. With these explosive numbers, they have no other option but to lead a nation, or to siphon its resources by its dependence upon entitlements. Leadership is our mantle; it’s our destiny. Latinos are called to be leaders, not followers, contributors not takers, influencers not inferiors. Latino Townhall is dedicated to raising up a generation of Latino leaders by concentrating on the young and the immigrant alike.

NOTE: “Learn – Live – Love – Lead”, in this particular sequence, was claimed by Latino Townhall on Facebook on March 3rd 2011, and it was used previously on a Power Point presentation to 130 Latino youth February 2011.