Latino community leaders give motivational talks

ROCHESTER — A business model called "Mi Casa es Su Casa." An inspirational motto gleaned from a mother, "Always play to win. Never play not to lose." Advice on how to manage the chaos of one’s life.

All were topics covered during the area’s first Latino-style TED talk, "The Power of the Latino Voice."

The Jan. 15 event attracted about 220 participants and was hosted by TEDxFlourCity in collaboration with the Rochester Latino Theatre Co.

The "x" in TEDx stands for an independently organized TED event. National TED talks promote "ideas worth spreading" in the form of short presentations that focus on "technology, entertainment and design," according to

The Rochester talk took place at the Kodak Center for Performing Arts and featured short, motivational talks from several Latino community leaders. The Latino theme provided an opportunity to present information through a "Latino lens," said William Monteith, TEDxFlourCity’s founder.

"The topics are universal," he said.

That Latino voice is important, said Shalym Nater, who works for Ibero-American Action League. He enjoyed all the speakers, he added.

"I’m passionate about advocacy for the Latino community and us expressing our ideas," Nater said. "This was an empowering event. … We definitely have a voice. We are a sleeping giant."

Melisza Campos’ message about setting priorities and being grateful resonated most with him, he said. Campos, vice president at Rochester’s Dale Carnegie, also is a Rochester city school board member and the mother of three children younger than 5 She spoke about the chaos many people, especially women, find themselves trying to manage.

"People often come to me and ask, ‘How do you do it?’" Campos said. "Once I realized what allows me to get a lot done, I start to be intentional and have more and more successes. … We cannot do it all. I wish we could. But we can’t."

In order to manage chaos, a person has to be strategic in choosing the right opportunities based on his or her vision, she explained.

"Then, we can move forward," Campos said.

Her other strategies include focusing on gratitude, being present in one’s own life day by day, and communicating effectively by asking for help and letting things go.

Setting goals and sharing them with others were part of the advice espoused by Luis Martínez, an executive goal and leadership consultant. He spoke of the philosophy of playing to win gleaned from his mother.

His family emigrated from Cuba to Florida when he was a child. Together, his parents worked to ensure the family’s security by seizing on an opportunity to purchase a second home and continuing on that path, he said.

"They were resourceful; they were frugal," he said of his parents and role models. "They put together a plan… (and) they built a beautiful nest egg of income properties."

His parents set ambitious goals and worked hard to reach them, Martínez noted. He encouraged the participants to set their own goals, which force them to go outside their comfort zones, and write them down as well as measure and share them with others.

Businesses that fail to measure their progress and don’t look ahead play not to lose and eventually will, he said. He cited such examples as Blockbuster and Eastman Kodak, which lost their huge leads in their industries because they failed to keep up with technology. Kodak invented the digital camera but didn’t take advantage because the company wanted to maintain the "cash cow" of chemical film, Martínez said.

"If you’re leading the race, you have to drive hard. … You don’t slack off so No. 2 catches you," he said. "It pays to be a visionary. It also pays to be a good team."

Businesses also would witness "transformational management and leadership" by employing the welcoming, nurturing model of "Mi Casa es Su Casa," said Mauricio Riveros, a vice president at the Pike Co.

"This wonderful concept (is based on) two elements that are extremely important: the concept of love and the concept of hospitality," he explained.

The concept is found throughout Latin America, even though the Latino culture is so diverse, he said.

"You can be a total stranger and they (Latinos) welcome you like you are part of the family," Riveros explained. "Society is forgetting about this basic concept that allow us to love each other to transform organizations, institutions."

When you love someone, you treat them with respect, Riveros explained. Such a work culture produces employees who feel valued and thus are confident and willing to step up as leaders, which in turn makes the company stronger, he said.

"’Mi casa es su casa’ really becomes the element of understanding that it’s not only about you, but it’s about we," Riveros noted. "If we incorporate that concept of loving others and understand that we can be different, but … I engage (in) a relationship and understand your needs first than my needs, we can build a better society. We can build better companies. We can build better organizations."

EDITOR’S NOTE: To watch the presentations from TEDxFlourCity’s "The Latino Voice" salon, which included one from Michelle Faust of WXXI, visit

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