Hispanics Must Shift Their Focus from Being Valuable to Being Responsible

10/08/2011 10:03 am ET | Updated Dec 07, 2011

During my speaking engagements in support of Hispanic Heritage Month, I have witnessed a new spirit in the air. Hispanics are growing more confident, self-aware and eager to see what the future holds for our growing community. However, with our renewed enthusiasm, comes some concerns. As our Hispanic voices get louder and as our community becomes more influential in America, we must shift our focus and accept greater responsibility.

Here are just a few signs of our increasing power:

• Estimated $1.2 T in Hispanic consumer purchasing power by 2012
• 50.5 M Hispanics in America
• 1 in 4 schoolchildren are Hispanic
• Hispanics will reach 30% of the total US population by 2050

The new Hispanic mainstream story is written each day and we must be reminded that with power there is responsibility; and with responsibility there is accountability. This means we must tone down our entitlement demands and speak more about what our own personal responsibilities are to help advance the impact and influence of Hispanics in America.

Have you ever experienced the difference? Have you ever been amongst a group of Hispanics who believe America owes us something versus a team of Hispanic leaders who want to make a difference to the future of America?

The differences are not subtle, but they are profound. I recently spoke at the First Annual Santa Clarita Valley (SVC) Latino Chamber of Commerce Gala. This is a new chamber chapter that really made you feel proud to be Hispanic. There was so much passion and entrepreneurial spirit in the air that it made you want to start a business whether you already had one or not. The genuine spirit of giving and discussions about leaving a legacy would have inspired the toughest cynics. Leaders spoke openly about the challenges that we face as a Latino community in America and were not afraid to address the issues and talk about the responsibility to solve them for the betterment of their local community. Even Congressmen Buck McKeon shared a few words of gratitude via a video recording. It was a who's who of Hispanic business leaders proudly representing the Santa Clarita Valley. In fact, there were those in attendance that were not Hispanic but simply wanted to be a part of this new vibrate conversation and attitude.

It was an exciting evening. The conversations made you think about how contagious our Hispanic community and its enthusiasm can be, but it was frustrating to know that those leaders creating the impact could not be heard in a wider audience. If only the broader business community and its leaders knew about how the impact of our inherent immigrant perspective, circular vision, passion, entrepreneurial spirit, generous purpose and cultural promise could really drive meaningful and purposeful influence to the renewal of America and our economy!

Every Hispanic and Hispanic organization must trust themselves enough to put forward the same eagerness, willingness and desire to be as responsible as the leaders of the Santa Clarita Valley Latino Chamber of Commerce. If we do so, the often negative perceptions of our community will begin to change. I believe they will change very quickly.

Our Hispanic community must immediately make this responsibility mindset shift as we have only a few years to establish our position in America as real influencers of growth and opportunity. It's time for Hispanics to start leading relevant and responsible conversations - and stop passively following them. We represent fresh perspectives that were born in our mother countries. If we are not heard - if we do not speak out - our identity crisis will continue to escalate, our voices will weaken, we will lose our language and our hope for leadership impact will fade away, perhaps never to return again.

Unlike other communities that continually seek to cultivate influence, Hispanics don't lift one another. Why? We have trouble trusting others let alone ourselves; thus fueling our own identity crisis. It's time to trust ourselves and to lift the responsibility of our Hispanic leadership brand. We must begin to understand what it real means to exercise our responsibilities as authentic Hispanic leaders and take action. Our value gets lost in translation (50.5M, $1.2 T, 30%, etc.). Responsibility, accountability and action are always noticed and respected. Our opportunity is now!

Thank you Bill Miranda, Bob Pacheco and the Santa Clarita Valley Latino Chamber of Commerce for allowing me to witness the tremendous impact and influence of the Hispanic leaders in your community. I hope this message brings greater attention to the accountability we must embrace as Latinos that want to make a difference and a mindset shift to be more responsible for the betterment of a healthier whole.

I welcome you all to share stories about those in the Hispanic community that are accountable with our new mainstream responsibilities.