I was recently interviewed about how deportations are directly affecting small businesses in Southwest Detroit by Hub Detroit, a publication dedication to telling stories about the neighborhoods. As a consultant working with a number of nonprofit organizations in Southwest Detroit, I spend most of my days working directly with small business owners, helping them to access resources and to solve problems.
Over the last year, one of the greatest challenges for Southwest Detroit businesses is their shrinking client base due to immigration threats. People are in disaster preparation mode, staying out of public spaces and saving money in case of an emergency. The somber change in the vibe of the neighborhood was palpable right after the election, it has now evolved into a state of resignation as people attempt to continue living their lives. Stories of raids, detentions, and the hardship that children and spouses are suffering when the bread winner is deported have shifted from shocking to normalized.
I have a tendency to reflect and plan with the start of each season. January is rarely my time for goal setting or resolutions, rather the spring and fall tend to bring out my dreams and aspirations for improvement or a shift in my focus or energy. Did anyone else have a really long winter? I am working hard at “thinking spring”, but these dark and cloudy days make it difficult.
Spring is a logical time for renewal and for strength. While a Michigan Spring can sometimes (often) be rainy and dreary, it still brings hope. We know that sunshine and warm weather are coming soon, the days get longer, the mornings brighter. It allows us to breathe a little deeper, as we hear the birds chirping and feel the afternoons warming up.
During this long holiday weekend, when many find solace in their Holy Week and Easter traditions, take a moment to reflect on what new beginnings are presenting themselves to you.
Where will your path take you during this next season of rebirth (either figuratively or literally)?
Might you take the “road less traveled” or will you sail the route of springs past?
I’m excited to share my latest project – the BRIDGE Bilingual Business Expo & Networking Event scheduled for May 29th with our BRIDGE Partners, the newly renovated Crowne Plaza Farmington Hills and the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce.
BRIDGE Bilingual Business Expo & Networking Event May 29th 5:30-7:30pm
Crowne Plaza Hotel 37529 Grand River Ave, Farmington Hills, MI 48335
Network with local leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs
Connect with the Greater Area Farmington Chamber of Commerce
Let’s be honest – networking is an integral part of all industries – corporate connections, entrepreneurship and the nonprofit ecosystem all rely on building relationships. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to effective networking. I love a room full of (mostly) strangers, I also love to take a client or an intern with me and act as their wingman. However, I sometimes struggle with a quick follow-up unless I have a real reason to. (I’m working on this!)
So my two biggest networking tips for my clients are:
Know what you want out of the event and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Pick one type of connection or one thing you want to accomplish. Be specific and be bold in your quest for that one thing. Determine your goal before you walk in the door and ask someone to help you make that connection. (If you are nervous to make your own ask – bring someone with you and be each other’s wingman.) Example: I have a client who has an invention. He has created a full business plan, he has his patent, and he has a rustic metal prototype of the product. He needs a plastic prototype made. I invited him to attend the last Tercer Jueves for the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that took place at Armando’s Mexican Restaurant in Mexicantown because I knew that the ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) from most of the automotive companies were invited = lots of engineers with potential access to 3D Printers. I asked the hosts to help me make this connection and walked the room introducing him to engineers. We found two that said they had access to a 3D Printer and would try to help. (Cards were exchanged, fingers crossed!)
Ask one or two open-ended questions. Pay close attention to what other people are saying and see how you can help them with whatever they need. I am frequently so bold as to ask: “What do you hope to get from today’s networking event? or Who do you want to meet tonight?” If you are able to do a quick introduction at the event itself – try to do so even if they didn’t ask. Examples of industry specific introductions: introduce a nonprofit leader to a potential funder, introduce a realtor to a mortgage broker or someone who mentions moving/relocating, introduce someone who is job hunting to a staffing agent or a manager in their field.
So there are my secrets for being a professional “connector”. It’s not rocket science, it’s really about knowing what you want and listening to see if you can help others get what they want. Win-Win!
El Modelo BRIDGE, impulsado por Puente Cultural Integration, fue diseñado para estabilizar o hacer crecer un negocio establecido o para lanzar una idea de negocio. Todo tipo de negocio es bienvenido: locales, tiendas con ventas al público, restaurantes, artesanos o contratistas, negocios de servicios o asesores. El emprendimiento no es para todo el mundo, pero los que desembarcan en esta aventura tienen que prepararse. Diferente a los cursos tradicionales de planificación de negocio, esta serie de talleres ayudará a que los propietarios identifiquen su “¿por qué?” y aún más importante, saldrán con un análisis financiero completo para saber cuál es el punto de salir al ras para que aseguren un negocio rentable. Cada semana tendrán un Plan de Acción para adelantar su negocio, paso a paso, mientras cruzamos el PUENTE hacia el Emprendimiento.
Los expertos presentarán temas:
asesoría individual por parte de mentor / asesor(a) de negocio.
El resultado de esta primera etapa del programa BRIDGE será un Modelo de Negocio completo y un entendimiento de su estado financiero para que puedan tomar decisiones informadas en cuestión del futuro de su negocio. Más importante, les proveeremos las herramientas y recursos para que sus ideas se realicen – comenzando el primer día. ¡Empecemos!
Somos miembros orgullosos y agradecemos el apoyo de
la Red Global Mx – Capítulo Detroit y de la Cámara de Comercio de Farmington.
We are appreciative of the support and we’re proud members of
Red Global Mx and the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce.
¡Vamos Pa’ Cuba! Puente Cultural Integration is planning its first trip to Cuba. Government policies keep changing and we have been paying close attention to the latest updates. In the last couple of months, the US has opened bids for domestic airline carriers to provide service to Cuba and has eliminated many restrictions for travel. We, like so many others, are anxious to see Cuba before their doors open to all tourism and trade. Interest has been great in the Metro Detroit area. Because this is unknown territory for US businesses, there is value in seeking out a cultural liaison that can help you to bridge the gap between the US and Cuba.
We are working with strategic partners and our initial trip falls under two categories allowed by the US State Dept. for travel to Cuba.
Educational Activities: exploration of cultural centers, museums, music, art, architecture, and cuisine.
People-to-People: our primary goal is to form relationships with various locals in multiple cities that will provide ongoing mutually beneficial relationships. We aim to eat with the locals, find dance instructors, meet musicians and honor their craft, connect with artisans, and stay in “casas particulares” to embrace the daily life of the Cuban people.
As of March 15th, the Department of Treasury has updated its FAQS page which includes the following, “Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain travel related to the following activities, subject to the criteria and conditions in each general license: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.”
I am really proud to be part of a bilingual collaborative that helps provide resources to the business owners in Southwest Detroit. We decided to join forces last year and have had wonderful results.
Estoy muy orgullosa de ser parte de una colaboración bilingüe que ayuda proporcionar recursos para los dueños de negocio en Southwest Detroit. Decidimos juntarnos hace un año y hemos tenido excelentes resultados.
In November, it was my honor to be the interpreter for Don Rodrigo Padilla, from Taquería el Nacimiento, as he received not only a grant award from the DEGC’s MotorCity Re-Store program, but was also asked to tell his story at the event. (He is also featured on billboards around the city!)
En Noviembre, tuve el honor de ser intérprete para el estimado Don Rodrigo Padilla, de la Taquería el Nacimiento cuando no solo recibió un premio por parte de Motor City Re-Store, sino también le pidieron que contara su historia en el evento.
Southwest Detroit received more awards than any other neighborhood, in part due to the hard work of our collaboration. Four businesses from the BID – West Vernor – Springwells Business Improvement District, for which I provide outreach, received grants and eight TechTown SWOT City clients in in my Southwest Detroit portfolio received awards, including:
Follow these businesses on Facebook so you can see the progress as they help to beautify Southwest Detroit with new murals and other exterior improvements.
Southwest Detroit recibió más premios que cualquier otro vecindario, nuevo de cuarenta y uno, debido al trabajo colaborativo de nuestras agencias. Cuatro negocios en el BID – el Distrito Comercial de Mejoramiento de West Vernor – Springwells, por la cual apoyo en las comunicaciones, y ocho de mis clientes de TechTown SWOT City recibieron premios.
Sigue los negocios en Facebook para que puedas ver el progreso mientras ayuden embellecer a Southwest Detroit con murales nuevos y otras mejoras exteriores.
One would think that news outlets would occasionally use Google or even Wikipedia to confirm their history, yet, sadly, no. Sunday night, as I was watching the WXYZ-Detroit news coverage of the Mexicantown Cinco de Mayo Parade it was reported that the parade commemorated Mexico’s Independence Day. NO! NO! NO! Apparently, they could’ve just read one of their own publications (featuring some of my favorite Mexicantown eateries) that makes it very clear!
Here in the US – Cinco de Mayo has become of symbol of Mexican Heritage; a day that Hispanic communities throughout the United States celebrate with parades, folkloric dance, and cultural festivals. I was thrilled to see my amiga, who grew up in SW Detroit, is continuing her family’s passion for dance with her children (featured in the photos). Mexican restaurants have really capitalized on this holiday, much like St. Patrick’s Day, marketing to Anglo-Americans with tequila specials & fiestas.
In Mexico – Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday to commemorate the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Kids are off of school and government offices are closed. (Think President’s Day or Labor Day in comparison.) The only place where this day is celebrated with any pomp or circumstance is in the city of Puebla. This battle took place between the ill-prepared Mexican army who were victorious against Napoleon’s army.
So spread the word, especially to your drunken friends and media outlets who didn’t take time to hit wikipedia before they go on the air!
P.S. Mexico’s Independence Day is actually on September 16th, although it is celebrated the night of September 15th with a reenactment of the “Grito de Independencia” where you will hear the country join their elected officials in a resounding “¡Viva México!” & enjoy street parties with fireworks.
Did you know that Hispanics now make up 18% of the total U.S. population? Yet, Hispanic and Latino labels are sociolinguistic and geographical – not racial. It is difficult to generalize the Latino population; it is far more diverse than one might think.
There are over 57 million people who identified as Hispanic in the U.S.(Statistics according to Pew Research, 2015) Recent studies estimate that there are over 470 million native Spanish speakers throughout the world, with over 52 million people in the U.S. who are either native speakers or are bilingual. (According to the Instituto Cervantes, 2015) Understanding cultural norms is no longer optional, it needs to be an integral part of all professional development and market strategy.
With Latinos, you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
We all love compliments, but Latinos are motivated to please and love to make people happy. Provide strong, positive feedback for performance without a “but” and you will find an immediate correlation to their work or response times.
In general terms, blame is passive in the Spanish language. Criticism should be collective or passive (ex: “This project isn’t moving along as effectively as we’d like.” vs. “YOU haven’t met this deadline.” Or “WE need to firm up our target dates so we can deliver to the client on time.”)
#3 is tricky and I will be writing a blog just on this dynamic principle of constructive criticism from a cultural perspective. It will change the way you relate and improve your bottom line.*
We all know that the United States is a diverse society. In every metropolitan area you will find people from almost every corner of the world. Our demographics are shifting, the ethnic population of the U.S. is up 10% over the last 20 years. It is estimated that the combined minority population will surpass 50% within the next generation. Now is the time to embrace cultural understanding and integration. Our social, political, and economic future depends on it.
If your company is in the Metro Detroit or Chicago areas and would like Puente Cultural Integration to provide consulting, cross-cultural or diversity training for your staff or you are in need of Spanish language services, please contact Bridget@puenteci.com for a quote.*
President Obama is in Cuba! This is an historic event for both the United States and this unique island to our south. Cuba is so close, yet has remained a folkloric unknown to their neighbors to the north. The doors are opening and will provide an opportunity for individuals on both sides to finally connect.
I have been obsessed with Cuba for years. It has been on my bucket list ever since I was introduced to the music of the Buena Vista Social Club in the 1990’s. I was so fortunate to get to see them at the University of Michigan and I used their documentary with musician Ry Coder, to introduce Cuban culture to my Advanced Placement Spanish students.
To so many of us, the island seems to be frozen in time. The classic cars that cruise down the Malecón exemplify the Havana of old. We need to go and witness this complex culture. Governments and politics aside, we also need to respect their history and not impose our American values. Modernization and trade will benefit the Cuban people, but the preservation of their culture must always be part of the conversation. In other countries, we have seen McDonald’s & Starbucks put locally owned shops out of business. We have seen ecosystems harmed by Monsanto, both in the US and abroad. Let’s allow Cuba to remain Cuba, while initiating opportunity for trade and providing Cultural exchanges. It is about the people! We must make sure that Cubanos have a voice and are not forgotten in the process of creating a Cuba Libre!