Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 029: Latina Leadership

Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 029: Latina Leadership

Yai Vargas
Multicultural Marketing Expert | Founder: The Latinista | Author & Speaker
Latina Leadership

Episode Summary
Yai Vargas, founder of “The Latinista,” is a woman on a mission to help Latinas across America reach their full career potential and grow as leaders. We explore the challenges of entrepreneurship, networking and leadership for Latinas.

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Bio
Yai Vargas is a career & diversity strategist who helps organizations develop engaging programs focused on career and leadership development. With a background in multicultural marketing and communications, Yai is a natural born community builder and is known as the networking and LinkedIn Ninja. Yai is also founder of The Latinista, a national network of women and Latina professionals invested in professional development and career mobility. Today, The Latinista offers a series of skill-building, activity driven, hands-on sessions, specifically designed to help identify and sharpen career and business skills required to achieve professional goals. The Latinista has chapters in New York City, Chicago, Miami and LA.

Website
www.yaivargas.com

Other Website
www.thelatinista.com

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/yaivargas/

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/layaiyai/?hl=en

Leadership Quote
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African proverb)

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Yai Vargas

Transcript

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This podcast is part of the C Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

This podcast is sponsored by Grand Heron International. Through a growing network of credentialed and vetted coaches, Grand Heron International brings you on-demand coaching with coaching on site and the Coaching Assistance Program for corporations. Whether you are a company committed to investing in your leaders, an individual navigating a complex situation or a coach searching for a superb network of coaches, visit us at GrandHeronInternational.com.

Welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, the Leadership Excelerator, Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host, Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact through the power of facilitation, coaching and professional speaking.

In 2012, researcher and Huff Post contributor Angélica Pérez-Litwin said that Latinas are uniquely positioned to become the next cadre of powerful leaders in the United States. There is also increasing influence of Latinas as individuals and as a consumer market. My guest today, Yai Vargas, is a woman on a mission to help Latinas across America reach their full potential and grow as leaders. Yai Vargas is a career and diversity strategist who helps organizations develop engaging programs focused on career and leadership development. She’s also the founder of The Latinista, a national network of women and Latina professionals invested in professional development and career mobility.

Yai, welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast.

Yai Vargas:
Thank you so much, Eddie. I’m so thrilled to be here and excited to share some of what I’ve been working on.
Eddie Turner:
Well, I’m excited to have you. You and I met through our mutual friend Todd Greider and he just thinks the world of you. After I’ve got a chance to know a little bit more about you and see your body of work, I can see why. I’m excited to have you because I think you’re amazing. You’re doing some incredible work out here.
Yai Vargas:
Oh, thank you so much. Todd is actually one of my LinkedIn angels. I do quite a bit of work when it comes to networking online. And we’ve actually done quite a bit of webinars together for a number of classes. So, he’s taught me quite a few things about networking and strategizing and connecting with others to share value.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Well, he truly is a great guy and I’m excited that he has brought us together. So, I want to talk about the things you’re doing and one of those things is you have identified challenges that you see for women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs in America. Can you share those challenges with my audience?
Yai Vargas:
Absolutely. Well, one of the reasons why I started my network, The Latinista, was because during my 15 years in corporate America as well as the agency work, I noticed that my community which was majority of the time Latinas and women of color, they had a challenge, a number of them, one of them being finding mentors and sponsors and champions that can help them understand how to internally mobilize within a large or even medium-sized organization. They simply didn’t know how to approach someone for advice as well as getting some insight as to how to position themselves when it came to promotions.

Another big challenge that I saw was the fact that women, Latinas and women of color, weren’t necessarily being represented at the events and the summits and the conferences that I was attending. Yes, for the most part I was attending a lot of Hispanic and Latin social and economic and professional development type conferences but even when it came to the general market conferences of really important work, whether it be in finances or marketing or creative conferences, I didn’t see enough women of color and women that looked like myself in those spaces. And when I came back to New York City and I asked my community, they sort of didn’t seem to know what those resources were and they didn’t understand how to plug themselves in. And, furthermore, if they were interested in attending, they didn’t see their own value when it came to asking their managers or their organizations to be able to bring them to those events. And so, you need a champion or a mentor to vouch for you but not only that, you need to know your self-worth and your value so that you can concisely say “Here’s the reason why I deserve to be at X conference because this is how I’m going to take some information, bring it back to my community, to this particular department and my colleagues and how I’m going to champion change for our organization.” And so, there are a number of challenges, unfortunately, when it comes to Latinas and women of color and that’s really the reason why I brought together my community and my network, to give access to those tools, those resources and those conferences on a more consistent basis to these women.

Eddie Turner:
Well, thank you. So, there was a lack of access to resources, a lack of awareness of the availability of resources. And then it sounds like you described the lack of confidence even when both of those options were available or accessible.
Yai Vargas:
Exactly.
Eddie Turner:
So, The Latinista, I love the name of that, by the way, is your organization you’ve established to address this and help women do better in this area. And you’ve established this where because this is pretty impressive? Share that with my audience.
Yai Vargas:
Oh, goodness! So, I started it right here in New York City about seven years ago and then I branched off to Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I mean, I get calls and emails and messages and DMs from women all over the world. I actually have members in California, in Spain, that connect with us online because we do stream some of our content but it’s important for me to give access not only to women who are in cities and communities where this type of information is prevalent but also spaces in which these women can access mentors and sponsors and champions and programming, most importantly, that’s geared towards what they’re experiencing right now in their careers. And so, I get a lot of emails from Nebraska, I get them from Tennessee, I get them from Boise, I get them from Austin, I get them from San Diego and Houston but for now we’re just in New York, Chicago, Miami, and LA. And so, some of those programs, I actually do stream through the computer so that I can give access to those women who just don’t have it in their community when it comes to programming.
Eddie Turner:
What an incredible reach. Congratulations on that. It sounds like an international chapter is in the making.
Yai Vargas:
I would love that. I’ve actually done a number of events in Madrid. I have a pretty great group in Madrid and London and here and there will do a couple of meetup discussions but full-blown chapters, I would love that in the future.
Eddie Turner:
Well, we are speaking it into existence now.
Yai Vargas:
It’s already in my vision board. I’m really big on manifestation and vision boarding. And so, it’s already in my vision board. So, from your lips to God’s eyes and the universe.
Eddie Turner:
Well, we have listeners to the Keep Leading Podcast in both locations. And so, you hear that Spain and United Kingdom, London, yeah, The Latinista is coming for you.
Yai Vargas:
I love it.
Eddie Turner:
Fantastic. So, when we think about leadership, specifically is what this show is based on and what you spend a lot of time helping people develop as. You talked about some of those challenges that your community faced and how you address them but is there a difference in how they look at the definition of leadership? How are Latinas seeing that?
Yai Vargas:
Absolutely. Leadership is an interesting topic for me. I was a people leader when I was in corporate America but it’s challenging because some organizations don’t actually have the resources or the tools to be able to invest when they give you a team, right? And so, sometimes they’ll start you off with an intern or two over the summer and then they’ll say “All right, you’ve got one or two full-time roles under you” but maybe your manager never actually went through the process of learning how to be a great leader. And so, this is a big challenge that I’ve seen in corporate America and some organizations. And so, a lot of the work that I do right now, when it comes to professional development, I do it in the employee resource space. And these are, in essence, affinity groups that large corporations have internally, whether it’s Latinx, African-American, South Asian, LGBT, millennials, women mostly and veterans. So, a lot of the work that I do is developing and delivering content to those middle managers or those individuals that are just about to become leaders but aren’t quite there yet. And so, I spend a lot of time working on their unique value proposition, what is it that makes them special, what is it that sets them apart and makes them just ripe enough for the picking to become great leaders. And so, we do a lot of leading when it comes to delegating skills, negotiating skills, even something as simple as time management and strategic agenda planning so that when you do develop your leadership skills and you receive that first or second employee on you, you’re able to develop a really clear cadence of when you’re going to meet with them, what you’re going to be covering with them in the most efficient way. And so, that’s a really big challenge. And sometimes people just forget to go back to the basics of what it means to be a great leader and understanding that this is something that evolves over time and that also not every leader is cut from the same cloth. So, that’s why I always talk about your unique value proposition, what makes you so wonderful to work with and for and let’s lean into that.
Eddie Turner:
Yeah, absolutely. So, with the work that you’ve done with leadership development inside of organizations and/or through The Latinista, do you have any success stories that you can share with us?
Yai Vargas:
Oh, gosh, I do have a few. It’s so interesting when people ask me why I do this work and what’s rewarding about it. And, for me, I always answer it with as soon as I can get a call from a young woman or a woman of color or a Latina that says “Yai, we had that conversation about my worth regarding that position that I wanted to apply for, I asked for that raise or a stress assignment, and I actually got it.” That’s what makes me the happiest person in the world and that’s really why I do this work. People know me as the LinkedIn Ninja and one of my passions is to make sure that I really truly understand what it is about a certain individual, what makes them so passionate. I want to know what makes you jump out of your bed every single morning. And if it doesn’t currently, what is the right role for you and what organization specifically and how do you envision it? What are you doing at 8 o’clock in the morning or at 3:00 p.m. for that role? And how are you positioning your strengths to make sure that it matches that organization’s ROI and bottom line? How can we match those two? And so, my passion is really just matching people with roles that they can strategically focus their strengths to making sure that that organization strives. I absolutely love it. So, I must get like, gosh, anywhere between like 12 and 15 résumés a week and I work with, I’d say, 30 employers a week to match them to the ideal roles because these organizations are looking for brilliant diverse candidates. And that’s us. We’re right here. And so, my forte is just the fact that I’ve developed that network over the last 15 years in person, on the ground, and online. So, I just love doing it. It comes easy to me. I love it.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. And I can hear your love as you describe it. So, thank you for sharing that with us, Yah.

I’m talking to Yai Vargas. Yai is a career and diversity strategist and she is talking to us about Latina leadership. We’ll hear more from Yai right after a word from our sponsors.

This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.

Hey, this is Dave Sanderson. You may know me from being the last passenger off US Airways Flight 1549, the Miracle on the Hudson, from the movie Sully and you’re listening to the Keep Leading Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
We’re back. I’m talking to the amazing Yai Vargas, a career and diversity strategist, and Yai was talking to us about Latina leadership. So, Yai, before the break you said something that I found very interesting and I’d like to know more about it. You said you are the LinkedIn Ninja. That’s a cool name to have. How did that come about?
Yai Vargas:
Thank you so much. I sure am. I am the LinkedIn Ninja. So, 10 years ago when I embarked on a new professional journey, I was looking for a platform that would, in essence, make it easier for me to keep track of all of my professional connections. I didn’t necessarily want to do that on Facebook because on Facebook you got your friends and your family and you don’t necessarily want to add any of your co-worker or people that you’re interacting with on a professional sense, at least not me. It’s really a personal preference but, for me, I wanted an easier, more strategic and efficient way to keep track of all of my professional friends so that I can keep track of where they’re working. So, LinkedIn has been around for 16 years and I’ve been on the platform for 10 years. At the time, I was actually doing public relations and communications and I was doing a number of events where I was interacting with not only journalists but people in the media and entertainment space. And I just got really good at understanding how I could help someone looking for work. And so, for me, personally, I was in the same space as I’m sure you have been and a lot of other people. So, gone are the days when we were sending our résumés to mail, obviously. You have to send through your email but LinkedIn is such a fantastic platform that allows you to make connection with someone at an organization that you envy, right? So, if you can see yourself at X company and perhaps you don’t know anyone there but you know someone that knows someone, it could be made very clear, you can see that all online.
Eddie Turner:
Yeah, LinkedIn does a good job by putting that little image of you at that company right next to your profile sometimes.
Yai Vargas:
Oh, yes, yes, it does. And so, you can find someone that works at X company where you’d want to land an opportunity. And I just got really good at doing that for myself, which is how I landed my last four jobs and 9 out of 10 of my clients. And I’m just really passionate about it because it’s a pain point for a lot of people looking for work and in career transition.
Eddie Turner:
Well, good for you. That’s a very high ratio to be able to boast about. So, give us one tip we can use.
Yai Vargas:
Oh, gosh, there are so many tips. I think the one tip that I like to focus on is when you’re posting on LinkedIn, if and when you do, you have to make sure that you’re delivering value to your community. So, this is unlike many other social media platforms. You don’t just post a picture of you at a gala where you’ve raised some money. You want to make sure that when you post that picture of you at the gala, you want to say “Here’s the mission and the vision of this nonprofit organization. This is why I’m here and who I’m here with and supporting,” right? You want to go ahead and tag them. What you also want to do is engage people on that post. And so, you want to ask that question. It could be something as simple as “Hey, do you want to get involved with the Latino Commission on AIDS? If so, drop your name under where you’ll see my comments and perhaps tag someone who should also be involved with this nonprofit.” And as you start to engage with individuals, you’ll just start to see so many different conversations flourishing. That’s really what it’s all about. LinkedIn is about strategic, efficient, and valuable engagements. You don’t just want to post a picture for picture’s sake. You want to make sure that you’re delivering value so that someone can say “Oh, I want to get involved” and make it easy for them to get involved.
Eddie Turner:
Very nice. And so, is there something different that women should consider when they are working with LinkedIn and their profiles than men should consider or is it the same for everyone?
Yai Vargas:
I’d say, there really isn’t a difference between men and women. I do have a lot of clients. I do see that women are a little bit more humble, right? And so, LinkedIn is, in essence, a self-promotion online tool. The women that I deal with and I work with on LinkedIn are a little bit more humble when it comes to their contributions, their accomplishments. I think it’s important for you to name what you’re doing not only in the community but professionally as well. So, say you’ve just finished a course at school or internally at your employer of choice, you want to make sure you’re sharing that. You want to make sure that you’re also promoting your employer. So, say you did something really great for pride month, for LGBT awareness. You want to make sure that you’re promoting that so that other people that are thinking of working there can say “Wow! It looks like Yai is enjoying her time at that organization. And look at the type of work that they’re doing not only internally but also in the community. I can see myself working there.” And so, make sure that you’re just not only promoting yourself but also your organization. Brag about it. You deserve it. You’ve worked hard for it. So, I think that’s something that people should always take into account.
Eddie Turner:
That’s a really good advice. I recently interviewed another leadership development leader, pioneer, in fact, Sally Helgesen and she mentioned that same thing that she’s seeing that a lot with her female clients across the globe that they’re humble and don’t want to brag about their achievements. And that, in fact, holds them back and affects their career because people don’t know what they’ve accomplished.
Yai Vargas:
Absolutely. And it’s quite a challenge because say your quarterly or bi-annual assessment comes up with your manager. If you’re not continuously reminding your manager of what you’ve accomplished and achieved during those last three to six months, they may forget. They’ve got a lot on their plate. And so, it’s so important for you to not only keep a personal tally but to also share that with others because if you’re not sharing how you’ve evolved as a leader or as a sole contributor, they may know. And so, why do you deserve that promotion? Why do you deserve that bump in your salary? It’s so important. And it’s also important to do it in the most humble way. It’s absolutely possible.
Eddie Turner:
Absolutely. And I’ll take that a step further too because I was with Marshall Goldsmith this week and Marshall said that the other thing that he has seen his female clients say is “Essentially, my work should speak for itself. I shouldn’t have to brag about what I’ve accomplished.” That is actually a lack of humility to think that your work should speak for yourself.
Yai Vargas:
No way. That’s the worst. I mean, I respect that opinion but I think there’s a way for you to share with people like “Hey, I just completed a course at NYU for Integrated Marketing Communications and I couldn’t have done this without my employer actually paying for my tuition reimbursement. I’m so thankful I work with the said organization. It helped internal mobility. And because I just finished this course, I’m going to apply to another one and I’ll attend this conference. Who’s interested in also finding out more?” Do it in a very humble way but share it because it’s a lot of work and you worked so hard for it. I think it’s fair.
Eddie Turner:
I like that suggestion of how you position that and how you frame the wording. So, yes, women can definitely get their accomplishments out there. People need to know either through the fact that we’re all busy or simply just human. We forget. We don’t remember. So, we need to be reminded through using LinkedIn, as you’re telling us to do, Yai, to get your accomplishments out there and get noticed.

Well, what’s the first step? If a Latina that’s listening to this episode and she find herself in any of the scenarios that you have described what should she do next?

Yai Vargas:
Gosh, the first thing she should do is find me on LinkedIn and Facebook. You can find a lot of tools and resources and we’ve got some incredible women who are so interested in actually giving back to the community, women who’ve got 25, 35 years of experience, who want to be mentors to someone. And so, join The Latinista community on Facebook and LinkedIn. And then second, what they should do is really an honest self-assessment. Think about some of the opportunities that you see for yourself. So, for example, think of what your next big career opportunity could be. So, say you’re a manager and you want to become the vice president. Look up what are the job descriptions within your current role and see if you have half or 60% or 70% of those requirements met. And if it takes you getting another certification or going out to get a confident public speaking certification or taking on more responsibility, write that down as a goal for yourself and set up a timeline, right? It’s really important to continuously do this every single year and say “Am I ready for the next role? What does the next role require? And what do I need to do today to prepare for that opportunity?” That’s what they say success is – Preparing enough so that when that opportunity comes, you’re already ready.
Eddie Turner:
Yes, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.
Yai Vargas:
Yes, that’s one of my favorite quotes. I should write that down on my wall. I love it.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Well, you told us that we can find out more about you on Facebook and Instagram or Insta, as young people would say.
Yai Vargas:
By the way, I’m a millennial, believe it or not.
Eddie Turner:
Are you? Okay.
Yai Vargas:
Which is interesting because a lot of people generalize. They’ll be like “Oh, those millennials, they’re so entitled” but they forget that millennials are between 19 and 36 years old. I am 36 years old. You can’t really put me in a bucket with someone who hasn’t worked a day in their life. So, it’s a bit of a challenge when it comes to millennial in professional development workshops.
Eddie Turner:
I can imagine. So, very nice. So, we will definitely put the URLs to how to find you and connect with you and join your organization in the show notes so that folks can do just that.

How would you summarize our conversation we had today?

Yai Vargas:
This has been energizing. This really has been energizing. I love the fact that you have this community to be able to give me the opportunity to share with a lot of women who are, frankly, just lost and they’re not really sure what to do when it comes to their next step in their career. I actually decided to become my own entrepreneur and business owner a year and a half ago. And it was a very brave decision on my part but it didn’t take me more than, I’d say, two days to make that decision but, like you said, you’ve got to be prepared for anything that happens. So, I had already been in talks with my financial advisor. I already had two or three years’ worth of living expenses saved up to be able to take on this risk. I work with a lot of women who want to do the same thing but they’re bogged down with so much student debt or responsibilities that they can’t be their own entrepreneur just yet. And so, for me, I just love opening up all of these resources and tools and these are the conversation that we have at the workshops. So simply preparing in them for their next step, whether they’re a coach, employer or being their own boss like me – “Hey, got a lot of work by I love it.”
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Well, this is the Keep Leading Podcast. So, do you have any words of wisdom so that our leaders can keep leading?
Yai Vargas:
Gosh, you know what, one of my favorite quotes is “If you want to go fast, go alone. And if you want to go far, go together” but when it comes to leadership, just find someone who absolutely energizes you, motivates you, and inspires you develop a vision board and a self-assessment of yourself and every single day think “Every conversation that I have is going to lead me to my next big career or personal development accomplishment.” It’s all about continuous improvement.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Yai, I have thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you. Thank you for being a guest on the Keep Leading Podcast.
Yai Vargas:
Thank you so much for having me and for your entire community for supporting you.
Eddie Turner:
Thank you, Yai.

And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.

Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on The Keep Leading Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to The Keep Leading Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.

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The Keep Leading!™ podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.