This is Why You Should Travel

Think about your last trip. What was at least one thing you learned from visiting that new place? You might have visited a town thirty minutes away from where you live, or a country at another continent. Chances are, you experienced something new, or at least learned how to do something you a different way.  That is one of many positive aspects of traveling. In fact, isn’t that one of the many reasons we travel? To experience something new!

Below are reasons why you should travel, and how it can make you a more equipped and adaptive leader.

Here is a simple example. In America, if you are a coffee drinker, it is common to drink one or two large cups of coffee with or without a bit of cream. In Spain most coffee drinkers opt for a “cortado,” which is one shot of expresso “cut” with milk in a very tiny cup. Now, this is not a better or worse way of drinking coffe, but for coffee lovers, it is another way we can experience the drink we love and depend on so. There are many benefits that traveling can bring someone besides experiencing something. Below is a list of three main reasons why you should travel:

It gives you a different perspective- In my view, this is the biggest benefit of travelling. It allows you to learn other realities. What I mean by “reality” is what and how people do things in other places (cities, countries and cultures.) Seeing, living, experiencing and ultimately learning different ways of life allows us to not only put our own lives into perspective, but also helps us realize the many privileges we enjoy by living in the U.S. Benefits like, freedom, democracy and economic opportunity are just a few of many. Although I believe that there are many opportunities for improving our country politically, economically and socially, I must recognize when put into perspective with other places in the world, in the U.S we often take for granted what many can only dream of having.  

Broadening your knowledge – Traveling allows us to see new places, meet new people and live (even if temporarily) a new life. Change is good when It helps to broaden our experience. Learning how to do “old” things we already know how to do in a different way is great. But, learning new things is even better. An inspiring leader must always seek to learn. This is a process that should have no end. Traveling simply allows us the opportunity to not only learn, but also live as we learn. 

Testing your adaptability– Most of us live routine lives. We go to work, go home, and maybe do something different on the weekends such as watch a movie or eat out. Traveling allows us to operate in a new environment using the skills we already have. In this process of dealing with a new environment we also learn skills that can become useful in the workplace as we face new challenges. Having a chance to test how adaptable we are is an effective way to practice our ability to deal with new challenging circumstances in business.

In summary, this new perspective acquired, this learned knowledge and practice gained from traveling offers us essential skills in to better equip us in our journey to success. The U.S is the country with the highest immigration population in the world with over forty-six million immigrants – (worldatlas.com). In business, chances are you have or will work with someone with a different cultural and / or ethnical background. If all we know is “our own reality and way” of looking at problems and opportunities, chances are we will struggle with leading and succeeding in this globalized world. Therefore, my work of advice is travel, enjoy, learn and put into practice the new perspectives you learn by traveling as this this will not only make you a better leader, but ultimately a better you.

Another great aspect of traveling is experiencing new foods. Here is a recipe for “Brazilian Empadinhas de Palmito” from Hungry Sofia blog. The name of this appetizer would translate to something like “Palm Hart Empanadas” in English: https://hungrysofia.com/2013/03/27/empadinhas-de-palmito/

Data Source:

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/highest-immigrant-population-in-the-world.html

Photo Credit:

https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/international-travel-tips

https://wallstreetinsanity.com/10-reasons-why-you-should-travel/

The Power of Networking

We all have heard about the benefits of networking and what it can bring to your professional and personal lives. However, I can count in one hand the number of individuals I know actively, effectively and intentionally practice networking. I personally feel like the word networking is somewhat overused in business and that many of us attempt to convince ourselves we are good networkers when in reality there is a lot more to it than we think. Nonetheless, effectively networking can and does create opportunities that would likely not exist. Below are five steps to help you intentionally and genuinely network in business:

  1. Get out of your comfort zone: Part of networking is being ok with feeling temporarily uncomfortable. Whenever we meet someone new, there is always those first few minutes where both individuals are seeking communalities. Try to be in places and situations where you are “forced” to meet new people and experience a few of these awkward moments. This is good way to practice networking skills.
  2. Be intentional:  Make networking part of your routine. You can do that by joining any group your organization offers such as diversity groups and mentorship groups. There are also great organizations outside your company such as the Rotary Clubs and the Chamber of Commerce where many local business’ professionals in your community gather and network.
  3. Use your calendar: Once you have developed relationships in business it is very easy to use the excuse “I am always so busy to reach out and follow up.” Use your calendar and set up alerts for weekly and monthly networking calls, text and emails. I try to set up at least one hour a week where I intentionally call, send emails, and text message individuals I have already built a relationship with but no longer see on a daily basis.
  4. Go to lunch: A great way to network is to start with your inner circle. Invite people you work with out to lunch. You will be surprised how much more relaxed and at ease people are when they actually have time to chat with you. Enjoying your co-workers for a nice meal may not only help you network and meet new people (as they invite some of their peers to join you for lunch), but also develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with those you work with. 
  5. Relax and accept it: Networking should not feel like chore. If you meet someone that you did not “click” with for any reason, don’t worry. Sometimes the setting was not the most appropriate, the introduction was not on point, you or the person were on an off day, or perhaps you simply did not find anything in common with that individual. It is ok not to hit it off with everyone! You are not going to develop relationships with everybody you meet or work with. Accept it as a fact but be sure to always be professional and leave your best impression at every encounter because someone’s perception of you is reality.

The power of networking can truly have lasting effects in your business life. I have spent all of my professional career in networking related business. First as college recruiter, later as a professional recruiter and now in sales. One thing that I can certainly say is, the world is very small, and your networking circle is a lot smaller than you likely believe. I once recruited an individual that happened to be Brazilian to work at a major organization in the Silicon Valley. After several months of staying in touch with the person, I learned that we had a mutual friend in Brazil. Note that we both live in California, however, we are from different states in Brazil. Long story short, we still stay in touch to this day.

To conclude, be intentional about networking, but once you have developed a few relationships do not forget to cherish them. Most business individuals tent to be very transactional about their relationships; meaning we stay in touch and work on the relationship as long as we gain something from the relationship. But, once that benefit no longer exists, we tend to not put much or any effort to maintaining the rapport. The tips listed above will help you be more intentional and have a plan to developing and maintaining long lasting relationships. Being honest to yourself and others when networking is that common sense advice that links it all together. People can tell when you are networking for your benefit only, so be frank, allow yourself to be uncomfortable and enjoy the journey of meaningful networking. Afterall, networking has the power to open doors that alone we might just not be able to open.

I would love to hear some methods you follow to network and stay in touch with those you have already developed relationships with.

Because food helps making networking even better, here is a recipe for a tasty Italian Antipasto Platter from Nutmeg Nanny website: https://www.nutmegnanny.com/ultimate-italian-antipasto-platter/

Photo Credit:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/302630

https://www.jabil.com/solutions/by-industry/enterprise/networking.html

Speak Up! How to Effectively Communicate with Your Audience

Most of us have said or certainly have heard the phrase “I hate speaking in front of people.” According to Psycom.net, studies suggest that 75% of the population suffer from fear of public speaking. I have to admit, I kind of enjoy talking to people and at the same time have some hesitation about speaking in public, but I think I would exclude myself from this 75% category. In a recent past, I too feared public speaking A LOT. However, there are several techniques I was thought during my formal education and professional career that immensely help me in this continuous journey to not only become a better public speaker, but a better communicator altogether. Here are some of these techniques and why I believe they are essential to effectively communicate live with your small or large audience.

1-Know your audience-Who are you speaking to? Being aware of your audience allows you to quickly determine some very important “dos and don’ts;” specially if you are someone that travels a lot and meets people from different cultures. For example, think about how we greet someone in a business setting in the U.S vs in Brazil or Japan.

2- Match your audience’s energy level-This is very important for both public speaking and one-on one conversation. Think about giving a speech to a group of business leaders where you are pitching your company’s products vs speaking to a group of students that are about to graduate from college. Your energy level as a speaker must always match your audience, otherwise you run the risk of losing their engagement because as humans we are always trying to relate and connect by looking for communalities even in the level of energy we have at the moment. 

3- Listen to the queues – Pay close attention to how your audience is receiving your message. When giving presentations or speeches you should be aware of how your audience is receiving and comprehending what you are attempting to communicate. A very effective way to access how your audience is receiving your information and is by observing their body language; crossed arms, leaning back are usually signs of disengagement. Leaning forward and nodding are on the other hand indications of engagement.  

4- Your body language-Just like you can read how they are receiving your message; they can also read what your body language is saying to them. And sometimes the words coming out of our mouths are not in synergy with what our body language is communicating. An open-chest, chain up and a smile demonstrates openness and confidence.  

5- Use conversational language-This is probably that common sense advice you were waiting for and is a vital skill because it prevents you from “preaching at,” and allows you to “talk with” your audience. Using conversational language will help you better express your points and at the same time have a likability factor. Not only that, but when you use conversational language, you tend to be able to express yourself in a more natural fashion which leads to more engagement from your listener(s). It is also the best way to communicate authentically.  

Communicating exactly what we intend is certainly a difficult task; ensuring that our audience comprehends what our message is an even harder job. We have all had conversations with friends, co-workers and others where we said something believing we were very clear, and the recipient ended up interpreting something completely different. Although more difficult to do when speaking to a large group, we should always allow space for your audience to tell you what they understood your message was. Effective listeners tend to paraphrase back to the communicator in order to ensure correct comprehension and we should always practice that when we are the audience.

The beauty and challenge of effective communication is that every person and every audience is unique. Hence, we must always pay close attention and intentionally use the above cited techniques in order to increase our chances to effectively communicate our message. Finally, although it takes time to build and master the use of these skills, with practice, you should improve your communication effectiveness. Not only that, but these abilities should also help moderate your potential fear of public speaking. 

What are other techniques you know and would recommend to effectively communicate with a single person and/or a large audience?

Because eating comfort food calms everyone’s nerves, here is a recipe for Brazilian Croquettes AKA Coxinha from Tasty.co: https://tasty.co/recipe/brazilian-chicken-croquettes-coxinha

Data Source:

https://www.psycom.net/glossophobia-fear-of-public-speaking

Photo Source: 

https://www.faisonopc.com/office-supply-blog/5-tips-becoming-more-confident-public-speaker

Just Ask!

If you have spent any time with any child in your life, you certainly noticed one thing; they ask questions. A lot of questions! I find particularly interesting that in the early stages of our lives when we are learning the most, we ask a lot of questions. However, we then become teenagers and at that point we know more than Google itself. Jokes aside, I have always been intrigued about the reason why we stop asking questions once we become adults. The website preachingtoday.com reported that “Writer Ralph B. Smith once made an observation that children ask roughly 125 questions per day and adults ask about six questions per day, so somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we lose 119 questions per day.” My opinion about why we stop asking questions once we become adults is that we have created a society that views those who ask questions as less intelligent or capable than those who don’t ask. Maybe that is where the “fake till you make it” saying came from?  

We often see this in the business environment. I still recall a specific situation when I was a professional recruiter and interviewed a high-level individual for a high ranked role at a major corporation. The individual had held many positions throughout his career and fit the role very well. During the interview he assured me he knew how to work with certain tools and that was very familiar with the specific aspects of it. After interviewing with the ultimate decision maker, the individual got the job. He started, and after only 3 months he had been let go. His manager stated that although the individual had the required experience in the field and was qualified, he did not proficiently know how to operate one specific tool and that he did not ask enough questions to help him get up to speed quickly enough. Although we will never find out why he did not ask more questions to learn the tool quickly, I suspect that the fear of being though of not as qualified hindered his courage to seek support. The key to this story is that he was not let go because he did not state in the interview that he did not master that tool (which in my view was already a mistake since that was not a disqualifier for the role), but it was in fact because he did not ask questions when already at the job. 

We hamper our learning abilities and miss out on opportunities because of an illusory pride that stops us from asking questions that will ultimately help us in the development of our professional and intellectual career. It is important to note that there obviously are questions that we should be able to find the answer on our own. We live in the golden internet era that has Google and YouTube as our smartest friends. However, there are many company, culture and role specific questions that only asking someone within your organization will suffice. We should not let our inner fear of being labeled as unapt stop us from asking questions that will ultimately enable us to do our jobs better.

To conclude, I truly believe that a true leader asks questions. We cannot lead or become leaders without asking questions. Asking questions permits us to display humility, curiosity, commitment and ultimately allows us the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with those we serve. Most individuals actually enjoy helping others and the act of seeking help leaves an invitation to the other individual to ask for your help when she/he needs it. Finally, asking questions that allows us to grow does ultimately benefit the organizations we serve. Therefore, I recommend we all be like children again and display our ambition to learn because that is not only an option, but a true responsibility of ours.

Why do you think adults are afraid of asking questions in the workplace? 

Because children love Lasagna, here is a Lasagna recipe for Natasha’s Kitchen blog: https://natashaskitchen.com/lasagna-recipe/

Data Sources:

https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/november/6111615.html

Photo Credit:

https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/november/6111615.html

https://www.themuse.com/advice/6-questions-you-can-ask-to-keep-your-employees-loyal-and-happy

What Really Matters: Perception Versus Reality

In a previous blog post I talked about the importance of first impressions and how difficult it is to change how someone perceives you after their initial assessment. Not only do we make quick judgements about someone in seconds, but we are also conditioned to look for and certain behaviors that are considered good or bad based on our culture. These assessments and judgments of others become our individual reality. Hence, it is very important to understand what environment you are in and act according to that setting’s cultural expectations.

Here is quick example that highlights the importance of knowing your environment. When you are invited to a party at my home country (Brazil), no one wants to be the first person to show up. In fact, most people arrive around thirty minutes after the start time. Why? Well, there are many difference reasons, including that nobody wants to be the first one person to arrive; people want to allow some extra time for the host to get things ready, or simply because it is “normal” to not show up right at the agreed start time. You might be scratching your head and thinking “huh?” I know it’s different than what is culturally expected here in the U.S. The point here is that knowing your environment empowers you to know what behaviors people will be judging you on.

In business, there is also a unique cultural expectation that most organization follow. Although some aspects of business cultures can greatly vary around the U.S (think about dress code of a traditional east coast company vs Google in the west coast), some other behaviors and attitudes are equally expected. But what behaviors really matter? Is being the first to arrive and last to leave the office a positive attribute? If yes, why? Does not taking time off make you a more committed employee? These are just a few examples of some unspoken cultural behaviors that are seen as positive in many corporations in the U.S. But do they really say something meaningful about an employees’ true commitment to her company or efficiency at her job? In my opinion NO. 

Just because someone “lives” at the office it does not mean they are being productive or working harder than someone that puts in eight-hour work days; in fact, I believe it sends the exact opposite message. Perhaps this person is not capable of performing their job within a normal eight-hour work day. Occasionally staying late to finish a special project is certainly acceptable, but someone that consistently stays late, in my view is displaying their inability to handle their workload within the standard allocated work hours. The same principal can be applied to someone that does not take time off work. Although not taking time off is often seen as a sign of how committed someone is to their job, in reality it displays someone’s inability to disconnect from their professional life. In fact, research suggests that employees that use their vacation are more efficient and more satisfied at their jobs. 

My common sense advice is to find a healthy balance. Being aware of what your audience is certainly helpful and should be your first step. The second step is making sure your behaviors at work reflect your best self and is in accordance to your values (hopefully your values are in line with your company’s values.) Again, spending more hours in the office does not mean being more productive. You can ensure that when you are at the office you are not only producing your best results, but also pushing yourself to continuously deliver more than is expected of you. Taking your earned vacation should not be done with a feeling of guilt, but with sentiment of pride and conviction. After all, you are certain of your commitment and it can be easily be identified through the outcome of your output at work. Additionally, you know that taking time off will also help you be more efficient effective at your job. Although it is true that someone else’s opinions of you is reality, your consistent behaviors and results have the ability to shape how others perceive you at the workplace.

What do you think are some other behaviors that people look for when perceiving someone else at work?

Here is a breaded deep-fried banana dish from Easy and Delish.com that is one of my favorites.

https://www.easyanddelish.com/deep-fried-bananas/

Picture credits:

https://www.seniorhousingforum.net/blog/2016/3/24/how-get-your-people-committed-their-work-you-are

https://www.nascenia.com/tag/positive-attitude-at-work/

One. Thing. At. A. Time.

A couple of years after our weeding, my wife and I went to Texas to visit some family of hers (and now mine) and spend Thanksgiving with this part of the family I hadn’t gotten to know much given we live in California. This was a family reunion that allowed me the opportunity to get to know many family members. While talking to one of her uncles, I learned that he was a very successful vice president of a large U.S medical device company. While further inquiring about his background I learned that he had not only accomplished many great things professionally but had also heavily invested in his education (one bachelor’s degree, four master’s degree, and one doctor degree). I know, it sounds crazy… As I approach the end of my first master’s degree, I can only imagine the number of hours he spent reading, writing, researching, and studying in order to acquire so many degrees in the fields of chemical engineering and engineering management. I then inquired “how did you do it?How did you acquire so many degrees, while having a successful business life and a family” He thought about it for a second or two and replied: “By doing one thing at a time.”

When you procrastinate about cleaning your own house or avoid facing that pile of laundry that has been sitting in the laundry room for the past two weeks, it is often because we think about the task as a whole. We might think: “it’s going to take the whole day to wash all of those clothes.” Yes, it likely will if you sit there and wait, BUT it will only take one hour to do one load of washing and one load of drying. We tend to think about tasks not as individual activities, but as a whole job, as if once we started doing laundry you wouldn’t be allowed to leave the laundry room until every single piece of clothing was washed, dried and folded. If we tackled our tasks by breaking it down into smaller assignments, we would not only avoid procrastination, but also be much more effective in starting and finishing something. 


It is a fact that setting goals that are challenging, but attainable is a much more efficient way to motivate employees in the workplace. The same strategy should be used in our personal and professional life. If someone told every engineer or doctor how many mathematical problems or medical books they would have to solve and read in order to acquire their degree, we would have an even smaller number of engineers and doctors graduating every year. But, by segmenting each step of their education in weeks, months, and semesters, students are able to “endure” the arduous journey of becoming medical doctors and engineers. 

This same concept can and should be applied in business. In sales, aggressive targets are given to sales individuals. It can be intimidating or even discouraging to think that one person is required to make X amount of calls, sell X number of products, or convert X number of clients. But, by breaking these ambitious goals into steps / sections (our uncle calls it hoops), you quickly realize that you can indeed achieve these goals by jumping through one hoop at a time.

Even though this conversation happened years ago, I still relate to it in my daily routine. We are all busy, we all have “too many” things on our plate, and it is very overwhelming to even think about how we are going to do everything we want to do in the limited amount of time we have. We all get this feeling that we are simply tacking too much at times. Perhaps at times we are, but before you decide to give up on your goal (s), try to follow our uncle’s tip and just tackle one task at a time. 

What are some tips you find helpful when facing large projects and goals? Does doing one thing at a time work for you? 

Because you need lots of energy for tackling long and challenging projects, check out this Brazilian Açai Bowl recipe from “The Spruce Eats”: https://www.thespruceeats.com/brazilian-bowl-acai-na-tigela-3029431

Picture Credits:

https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/feature/revolutionising-motivation

Work Life Balance

We all know or at least hear about the benefits of balancing our work load and personal life. However, we can probably count on one hand the number of individuals we know that do a good job at managing both aspects of life. Coming from a different culture (I am Brazilian if you are wondering), it quickly became evident to me that the work life balance in America is something that most business professionals struggle with. In my twelve years living in the U.S, I have noticed that one of the many attributes that make America the number one economic force in the world is the work ethic embedded in each individual. However, if not managed and harnessed properly, this great attribute can also play against each and every one of us, including our employers.

The fact is that Americas in general do not take nearly as much vacation time when compared to almost every other country in the world. According to a Forbes article titled “Why America Has Become ‘The No-Vacation Nation,’” a study conducted by Kimble Applications has found that 47% of Americans did not take their vacation time in 2017, and 21% of employees left more than 5 days of vacation on the table that year. This not only highlights the cultural influence on American workers, but also demonstrates an American believe that work comes first, sometimes even before our own health. Although not taking time off may appear to demonstrate your level of commitment to your career, the negative consequences of not “unplugging” from work can be more detrimental to your productivity level on the job, and more importantly your health than most tend to believe.

According to this Forbes article, the most common reasons people give when questioned why they do not take their time off allowed are for the most part very similar among most workers. The typical answers are that they feel that their company or boss does not like when they take time off; that it is harder to unplug because of technology; that vacationing adds stress; and that it may negatively impact their career progression. These reasons are probably familiar to you, especially if you have convinced yourself with one these reasons as to why you don’t use your allowed vacation.

My opinion is that because American business’ culture has glorified the “workaholic” behavior and reinforced it for its own benefit, employees are led to believe that this is the only or shortest way toward career growth and success. In turn, scientific studies suggest that employees that take time off not only display higher levels of job satisfaction, but are overall happier and healthier individuals, which inevitably leads to more productive and efficient workers. We could be playing against our selves here…

What are your views on taking time off? And why do you think Americas tend to underuse their vacation time?

Because you need to try some new food during your next vacation. Here is a recipe to one of my favorite Brazilian specialty foods; Brazilian Pastel by Tastemade.

https://www.tastemade.com/videos/brazilian-street-fair-pastel

Data source

https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2018/05/21/why-america-has-become-the-no-vacation-nation/#704fb054c53b

https://www.forbes.com/sites/adp/2018/06/01/science-says-your-employees-need-days-off/#6f0f56442218

Photo Credit:

https://www.paycom.com/resources/blog/using-self-service-technology/