In general, business is about figuring things out. What is this business going to do? Who is going to do it? How will it be done? How can it be improved? What are the business’ core values?
These questions are not that different from the questions that I ask myself. Perhaps the main difference is that the "who" is clearly me. Whatever I decide to do in my career, it is my responsibility to look for opportunities, decide how to pursue them and, in the midst of the quest, always consider my faith, values and beliefs, because it is easy for one to get lost in business.
I believe these questions are ubiquitous. These are not black, female or Latina questions. I have had the opportunity to talk to people from all walks of life and found that most of them are trying to answer these questions. This pursuit is a perpetual journey requiring vision, hard work, sacrifice and patience — all the ingredients for success.
But what about being Latina? What about being black? Yes, biases exist and I have encountered them in business. And yes, they can present hurdles that need to be overcome in order to ensure success. But please understand that my first experience with bias happened in Puerto Rico when I was 4 years old, well before I entered the corporate world. Being the only dark-skinned person, or the only woman, or the only Latina in any given situation has become my comfort zone. This has been my lifelong reality.
Thankfully, I was blessed with parents who helped me deal with this reality by putting to use the spirit, the heart and the brain that God has given me. They taught me that these gifts have no race attached to them, which means that I have the capacity to succeed if I study, work hard, continually learn about the people and the world surrounding me, show compassion, take risks, understand what I am willing to sacrifice and know where my limits are. These are the tools that have helped me as a Latina in business and that perhaps could help others as they, too, embark on their journey.
Belimar Velazquez is vice president of marketing and product management for eHealth Technologies.