I recently had the fortunate pleasure of presenting at Voto Latino's 4th and final Power Summit of the year in San Jose, California. There were hundreds of people from all walks of life eager to learn, become empowered, and implement change in their communities. I was asked to speak on an amazing panel called "Starting from Scratch: How to Start a Start-up" with other successful entrepreneurs, such as Ed Avila, Carolina Huaranca, Jesse Martinez, and Fina Perez. We shared our lessons learned, resources available, and inspiration for those aspiring to start a business.
Throughout the day I also sat in on some other sessions, further developing my craft as an entrepreneur and connecting with other leaders from around the country. It was truly inspiring to be surrounded by so many Latinos who want their voice to be heard through various platforms and social innovations. What was made clear is the desperate need for new voices in our society.
On the plane ride home, I tried to think of how to capture this experience so its lessons would not be forgotten. Here were my main takeaways:
1. A voteless people is a disenfranchised people.
We must exercise our 15th Amendment right to vote and let our voice be heard. Our generation has the power to change the course of history at the polls every year. Let's engage and be a part of the change we wish to see.
2. There is a skills gap that we must urgently close!
We must educate ourselves in mathematics and the sciences in order to compete for some of the best jobs in the coming years. There is a huge opportunity for those that can analyze data and understand the sciences to fill these positions. Unfortunately, due to the current skills gap that plagues young graduates, U.S. companies are seeking elsewhere to fill their open positions.
3. Your idea can become a reality if you put in the time, effort, and persevere.
We all have an inner entrepreneurial spirit, but we must be willing to do what it takes to see our ideas thrive. The road is never easy and usually long, but make sure you fail fast and fail cheap and continue to test other ideas. This will allow you to continue pivoting into new ideas until one finally works.
4. Build your network...and fast.
There are many people in the world that want to help, so get a mentor! Their presence and investment in your success is invaluable. Your mentors become part of your network and are able to facilitate additional relationships that often times are outside of your sphere of influence.
5. What are you waiting for?
Act now before time gets away from you. Your attitude is everything, so live life as if it is rigged in your favor. Ready. Set. Go!
You can bring about the change this country so desperately needs in order to tell a different narrative. Build your legacy. Make it happen!