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126. The Powerful Principles of Latino Leadership that All Leaders Need with Dr. Juana Bordas

This conversation with Dr. Juana Bordas is full of joy, hope, history, and practical leadership wisdom critical for our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world that we can learn from the power of Latino leadership. In this energizing conversation, we talk about:

  • How Latino leadership principles are exactly what we need to lead in today's world in a way that celebrates and capitalizes on the benefits of diversity

  • How sharing stories creates team connection

  • Juana's advice for new and emerging leaders


About Dr. Juana Bordas:

Dr. Juana Bordas headshot
Dr. Juana Bordas

Dr. Juana Bordas came to the U.S. in a banana boat from Nicaragua when she was three years old. She exemplifies the many contributions, resiliency, and determination of the immigrant spirit. She has been a women’s pioneer - designing and leading women’s programs and several national Latina leadership organizations.

Dr. Bordas is unique in that she works across sectors including government, corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and labor unions. She works with well-known brands such as Google, Microsoft, General Electric, Cigna, and Chevron to prepare them for the multicultural age. Her diverse work spans across generations and many of the people who seek her out are Millennials and younger. Dr. Bordas also served as Trustee of The Greenleaf Center on Servant Leadership and International Leadership Association. She was an advisor to Harvard's Hispanic Policy Journal and The Kellogg National Fellows Program. Dr. Bordas was chosen as one of 100 Top Latino Leaders in the U.S. by The National Diversity Council.

Her crossover talent is evident when noting she was the first Latina faculty at The Center for Creative Leadership where she trained corporate executives. At the time, the Center had courses for the Army, and Dr. Bordas had generals in her classes. She quips "How do you train a general? You don't.”

She is the recipient of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from The International Leadership Association, previously awarded to thought leaders such as Peter Drucker, Robert Greenlead, James McGregor Burns, and Margaret Wheatley.

She is the author of the award-winning books Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age (2009) as well as The Power of Latino Leadership (2013), which has made inroads into the emerging Latino book market, tapped audiences in the leadership field, and is the first book that documents the unique and effective ways Latinos lead. The book won the International Latino Book Award for leadership and the Nautilus Award for best Indigenous books. It is considered seminal work in the field of leadership and diversity.

She was a contributor to the second edition of the New York Times best seller Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders (Peter Drucker). In March 2023, she launched an updated and expanded edition of The Power of Latino Leadership. By using the principles outlined in this second edition of The Power of Latino Leadership, people of all ages can form partnerships and work together to build a more viable future.

Dr. Bordas received her Honorary Doctorate from Union University in 2009. Her life’s work is reflective of the many contributions immigrants have made, and continue to make, in the U.S. and the world.


While it's not perfect, we offer this transcription by Castmagic for those who prefer to read or who are hearing impaired.

Teri Schmidt [00:00:24]:

Welcome back to the Strong Leaders Serve Podcast. Today's conversation with Dr. Juana Bordas is full of joy, hope, history and practical leadership wisdom critical for our world today that we can learn from the power of Latino leadership.

Dr. Juana Bordas works with, well known, brands such as Google, Microsoft, General Electric, Cigna and Chevron to prepare them for the multicultural age. Her diverse work spans across generations. Dr. Bordas also served as trustee of the Greenleaf Center on Servant Leadership and the International Leadership Association. She was an advisor to Harvard's Hispanic Policy Journal and the Kellogg National Fellows Program. Dr. Bordas was also chosen as one of the top 100 Latino leaders in the US. By the National Diversity Council. Her crossover talent is evident when noting she was the first Latina faculty at the center for Creative Leadership, where she trained corporate executives. She's the recipient of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Leadership Association, and she's also the author of the award winning books Salsa, Soul and Spirit Leadership for a Multicultural Age, as well as The Power of Latino Leadership, which just released its second edition.

In my energizing conversation with Juana, we talk about how the Latino leadership principles of personalismo, concencia, destino, si se puede and paso a paso that come out of the rich Latino history are exactly what we need to lead in today's world in a way that celebrates and capitalizes on the benefits of diversity.

Juana also shares why today's new and emerging leaders give her hope and offer some advice for getting started on your leadership journey. I'm confident you'll enjoy Juana's spirit and wisdom and will learn at least one idea that you can take back to improve your leadership today.

So let's get to it. I'm Teri Schmidt, leadership coach and founder of Stronger to Serve Coaching and Teambuilding, where we believe that leadership is about courageously using your talents to make a way for others to courageously use theirs. And this is the Strong Leaders Serve Podcast.

I have a question for you first, to start off with: What would you like me to call you? Would you like me to call you Dr. Bordas? Or would you like me to call you Juana?

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:03:18]:

Well, that is such a great question, because I think it really goes into the heart of Latino Leadership, which we'll talk about as well, and that is that you want people to be able to identify with you and to say, I can do that too. You want people to be able to relate to you and you also want to establish kind of a level playing field where you're part of the team as well as maybe the leader at different times because leadership gets dispersed. So people call me Juana and when I work with the young millennials and the Gen Z's, they call me T ia Juana or Aunt Juana because they are really into leveling the playing field and not having hierarchical structures. So Juana is great. Thank you.

Teri Schmidt [00:04:04]:

Well, I love how even that question just illuminated a little bit about what we're going to be talking about today.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:04:10]:

That's great, because in some cultures, your title is real important. And it is important. I once gave a talk at a very prestigious I won't tell you who tech company, and it was to the young. Of course they are young. A lot of them are young in the tech world, and they didn't introduce me. And I could see people going like, who is she? And why is she saying that? Later, I realized that there wasn't a white male in the world who would get up and start speaking without being properly introduced. So that is important, especially in different communities. So I think leaders have to be flexible. What is it people want, need, and can identify with?

Teri Schmidt [00:04:50]:

That's so true. I think we could stop the podcast right there. Leaders need to be flexible. Well, I had the opportunity to read your book. I know you are on the second edition now of the Power of Latino Leadership, and I learned so much, but I want to hear a little bit about the backstory. So just starting with you, about who you are, how you lead currently, and kind of your journey to that place, and then we'll get into kind of the motivation for writing the book.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:05:21]:

Yeah, well, I'm an immigrant. First of all, one of the things I like to say is that I want my life to be an example, not an exception, because immigrants not only have built this country, but Latino immigrants today who make up a third of our community are really the essential workers. I mean, they're the ones doing the construction and the daycare and the restaurants and growing food. I'm very proud of being an immigrant. I come from a huge Hispanic family of eight children. And when I was a little girl, well before I was born, there was a tsunami that wiped out the coast of Nicaragua, which is my ancestral land. And so my family went up to Bonanza, where I was born, and my father ran the commissary for the Bonanza gold Mine. So I was born in a gold mining community, and then when I was three, my father had gone early with my two older sisters, which is a tradition in immigrant families and earn enough money to bring the family to the promised land, to America. They wanted their children to have a better life. And that's really the motivation for so many of our immigrants. People don't leave their home and their country and their family and their culture and their language and the respect they have in their communities for a vacation. They come, they become because of a need. They really have a vision for a better life. So my first memory is actually getting on a banana boat in Nicaragua across the Gulf of Mexico with my mother. And we were in the hall of the ship. They had one big room that had some bunk beds in it, and that's where my family came. And I remember that journey. And there's a picture of us as we got on the boat. And you can see that I'm looking around going like, because I was leaving my homeland too. But that has instilled in me, particularly because of the sacrifice of my parents and also because of their vision and then their determination and resiliency. It has instilled in me a real desire to give back. Because being the youngest daughter, having three older sisters, having all of these people really nurture me to become who I am, being the first American in the family, really being the first to go to college, all of those things has really instilled in me a sense of service, of wanting to give back. Because I was given so much both as a child and through my education in this country and all the opportunities I've been given.

Teri Schmidt [00:07:52]:

Yeah, I love that. And I can see that in your story that I read in the book and in the way that you are so passionate about highlighting Latino leadership and the impact that it can have and will have in the future. And I know you've had some other kind of twists and turns in your career as well. If we talk about servant leadership, I know you are very tied to that in both your professional experience and your passion.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:08:23]:

Yeah. And one thing that in my work, I call servant leadership community stewardship. Because for Latinos, we're on a collective journey. It's a collective culture. It's a we culture. It's a culture where family and community help each other. It's a generous and sharing culture, but very collaborative. The way we lead is also to uplift our community and our people and actually our nation because we're so integral to the American experience. So we not only are serving people and trying to create organizations where people are valued, but we have that vision of community and country where we serve our community, that we're good stewards. We're expanding the concept, I think, of servant leadership a little bit.

Teri Schmidt [00:09:12]:

Yeah, I like that expansion. Definitely. Well, what motivated you to write The Power of Latino Leadership the first time? And then what motivated you to do a second edition? Because we know it's a lot of work.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:09:25]:

Oh, yeah. Especially for in my career, I got into the leadership field in the had been running an organization called Mikasa Women's center, which by the way, today is 40 years old and the largest Hispanic serving organization in the state of Colorado. I'm very proud that people have kept that going first ten years. And while I was sitting there, I thought to myself, which is true, it's 40 years later, I'm now an elder. I could be here for the rest of my life and people would still be coming. Some people in our community need GEDs. They need their high school, they need jobs, they need job training, they need counseling, and our young people need to know how to stay in school. And so we were providing all these services, and I thought, I could be here forever. I have a chapter in my book called Destino Your Destiny. We'll talk a little more about that. So while I'm sitting there thinking about it, I think it's leadership. If we had the right kind of leaders in our society, they could take care of the issues. Like unequal education, where some people are getting better education than other. Or the fact that 47% of latinos still make under. The minimum wage or they're working class people to create the kind of society because my definition of leadership is we create a society that takes care of its people. That's the purpose of leadership, to take care of people, whether it's a team or an organization or your community. While I was thinking about that, I got a call from one of the biggest companies from Colorado, and those of you that like beer know it's coors, and they wanted to start a national leadership program for Hispanic women.

Teri Schmidt [00:11:07]:

Oh my gosh. Right after you decided you could spend your whole life there.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:11:13]:

And because I was running this large women's center that they thought of me, and because they were in my backyard. So that's how I got into leadership. But then I get into leadership and I realize that and I respect totally. Robert Greenleaf that did servant leadership in the late seventy s or early seventy s, and then James McGregor Burns that wrote Transformational Leadership because both of these white males, one coming out of the corporate sector, one coming out of universities, looked at leadership and said, we got it all wrong. It's not about hierarchy. It's not about a few people telling other people what to do. And meanwhile, our economy is changing and we're leaving an industrial society and going to a service and a communications and technology. We're building an economy where you need smart people and need somebody telling you what to do. You need someone who can orchestrate a process where the collective wisdom and people's ideas can be integrated into the next step. While I was thinking that, my mentor who had helped fund the leadership institute that I ended up putting together, she asked me to be a Kellogg scholar. And the Kellogg Foundation at the time was doing all this stuff in leadership. And it's good for people to know that we've been carrying this leadership thing now for decades. And I got to meet James McGregor Burns and work with a lot of the top white male leaders, and I would say to them, Wait a minute. Our leadership is not this way. It's collaborative, it's authentic, it's personalismo, it's CSE Puerte innovation, it's social change. And they stopped me, finally, after I harassed them for a while, and they said, Wanna, you have to write. And I looked at them and I said, what? And they said, in the Anglo tradition, in our tradition, in the literate tradition, if it's not written down, if there's not a model, if you don't have people that say, this is how it works, and this is what happened, then it's not going to have the impact. You can't just go around saying it. You got to write. So it took me seven years to write my first book, and they were right. And so I always say, particularly today, when we have this diversity and inclusion conversation, that it's not about race or age or ethnicity or even your sexual identity, it's not whether you're a man or a woman, it's whether you really care about humanity. And here were these white thought leaders saying to me, we care about this. We want you to write. You need to do this. I think that's the kind of society we want, where we're encouraging people. And I was a fairly young person then compared to that. It was them who mentored and said, me, no, you need to write. This is an important contribution to leadership.

Teri Schmidt [00:14:03]:

And having read it, I would agree. And I'm glad that you wrote that first one, and then I know you added some to the second edition as well. So what brought that about?

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:14:15]:

Well, you have to look, my publisher wanted me to do a second edition way back, and I said, no, I'm not doing a second edition till the 2020 census comes out. And what the 2020 census said about Latinos is that not only did we contribute more than half the growth in America, but we were more than 70% of entries into the labor market. Our growing power and our consumer power jumped to over 2 trillion, comparable to Canada and Australia and all these countries. I mean, that's the GNP of Hispanics in America. 80% of small businesses check that out were started by Latinos because of this entrepreneurial spirit, this immigrant spirit we were talking about when you look at what's happening. So I added the word aura to the new addition. Aura means now, because it's Latino time in America today. This is our moment. And not only that, I was the first in my family to go to college. And when I got to the University of Florida, I never met another Latino. And my junior year, I marched to integrate the University of Florida so two African Americans could come on. We are talking segregation in the south. And so when you look at that and now you look at the fact that our college enrollment and graduation rates have doubled in that period, and that immigrants today that are coming in over 20% have a college degree. So Latinos have finally developed an intellectual class, a group of people who can make a difference and who can bring our cultural assets, which we'll talk about. Amazing, the contributions. Latinos are poetry to make. We now have that power. And that's why this book is so important right now, because this is the moment. We're at the crossroads of power. We just had a 33% increase in voting in the last presidential election. So that's why I want people to wake up and say, wow, the Latino thing is coming, and it's going to benefit me and everybody else in its way.

Teri Schmidt [00:16:23]:

Yeah. And I think that last part is critically important for people to hear, just that it's going to benefit everyone. It's going to benefit the communities, it's going to benefit people personally, it's going to benefit companies. And that's what I was taken by.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:16:41]:

The everybody knows we're the hardest workers in America. You can't deny that. We love to work. We think love yeah. Work is a way to contribute, to give, to support our families. Work is a way to have dignity, especially today when we're having this crisis in staffing and so forth. Latinos love to work. You want a good job done, hire a Latino.

Teri Schmidt [00:17:04]:

So true. And I think from a leadership perspective, we'll talk about some of the details, but just high level, what is different about Latino leadership? And why do you think it is going to benefit everyone to have Latinos take advantage of this time now?

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:17:22]:

Yeah, well, I think we should take a step backwards and say, what is a Latino? Because people excellent, right?

Teri Schmidt [00:17:29]:


Dr. Juana Bordas [00:17:30]:

And the reason the book is important is because our leadership is based on our culture, on our history and who we are. And the first one is that you need to know is that Latinos are not a race. We're an ethnic group, much like the Jewish community. There are Latinos in 26 nations, I mean, across the world, and 20 nation states in the Americas, including then next, the Latinos in America. And by the way, there are 62 million Latinos in America, and only Mexico and Brazil have more people of Hispanic descent. So it's a really important part of the American landscape. And so Latinos, basically, when Spain colonized in the whole Southwest, I live in Colorado with a land of red rocks, but there's Nevada, where it snows, Niev, Arizona, where it's arid, Montana where there's mountains. So it was way over a third of the United States was part of this because it was Florida, Georgia, the San Juan Islands. And so what you had was a mix. It wasn't the same kind of settling or colonization that happened in the north. And so, like, my grandmother is a full blooded Central American Indian, and yet the Spanish in my blood was Bordeaux, was actually Spanish name. And so you have this mixture not only of the Old World and the new, but you have the mixture of the European, and 42% of Latinos still claim European background. You have the European with the indigenous. And so you have this melding of these two cultures, and that produced a mixed race or a mixed culture. And even today, 35% of Latinos say, I'mixed I'm multicultural. I'm mestizo is the word in Latin America. So you already have when you're talking about diversity, you already have a culture that's very diverse. My father was French Nicaraguan, and the Germans were in Mexico. That's why we make such great beer. I mean, seriously, that's an example of cultural fusion. And if people love the POCA, we have a thing called ronceta, which is a POCA, same music. And the Bolio is a French bread because the French were in Mexico as well, and that's the popular bread in Mexico. So what you have with Latinos is fusion. You have fusion culture here. You have an incredible spectrum of humanity that's part of our culture. And what binds us together is our history of colonization. So a lot of our leadership is about lifting people up that are in the margins, who have been declared minorities, who have not had access to education and the kind of job opportunities that they needed to have. And so you have this mixture here, and we welcome everybody because everybody's there. And this is really interesting because only 5% of the slave trade came to the United States. 95% went to Central and South America. So black people are our relatives, and a quarter of us claim Afro Latino blood.

Teri Schmidt [00:20:36]:

I'm so glad you brought that up because I had the privilege of listening to all the history as I was listening to the audiobook, your audiobook, and fascinating and the idea that you already have all the diversity and the ups and downs of learning to adapt to.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:20:56]:

It'S a huge challenge for us. How do we create unity amidst diversity? But that's the challenge humanity is facing today.

Teri Schmidt [00:21:04]:

It is.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:21:04]:

How do we create unity among our great diversity now that we're all together? One out of five people are moving every year. Now that we're all together from different countries and different nations, how do we actually take that to a higher level rather than having this, like with the white supremacists? They say, we will not be replaced. Well, nobody's trying to replace anybody. What we're trying to do is make the table bigger, bring everybody in, see what our cultural assets are. How can we lift ourselves to a higher humanity? By bringing the differences together and benefiting from that.

Teri Schmidt [00:21:41]:

Yeah. And I think with the hundreds of years of doing that, I was fascinated to learn how the Latino people have learned to get the benefits out of that and how leadership has been shaped by that. And I think there's so much to learn there for our greater community, especially people who may face increased diversity with amount of fear.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:22:08]:

Right. Well, the thing is that the majority of children under 18, I think it is, are already identifying as multicultural. And they are there. They know if you look at their music. One example I like to use, and some people may not know who Bad Bunny is, but Bad Bunny was the top spotify for three years. He was the top downloaded person, and he's considered the number one pop star in the world. And he's Puerto Rican, and he will only sing in Spanish because he says, this is who I am. He was just on the COVID of Time magazine in Spanish. He said, I'm not going to change for anybody. This is who I am. And yet young people love it. They love that money. They love fusion. They have world music, they have world food, they want to travel, they want to connect to their global community. And so it's coming. And so those of us that are leaders, one of the things leaders have to do is look at the future, what's coming, we prepare for that. How can we be part of that? And how can we make sure that it's a beneficial transformation that we go through? Because I really believe this is the next evolutionary step for humanity to become the multicultural people, or at least to benefit from all the differences that are on the planet. Yeah.

Teri Schmidt [00:23:24]:

So let's talk about leadership a little bit. And I know you talk a lot about personal. I like it. But I'd love to hear how can these elements of the Latino way of leading benefit our leaders, our companies, our organizations, our communities, and even our country? And I guess we compare that to pull in a little bit of the CSE Puerte as well and talk about that, how there's so much potential there.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:24:02]:

Yeah, well, one of the values of the Latino community because of our diverse background is bienvenido or inclusiveness. And you can even see it in the I call this the Golden Rule. Mikasa Sugasa my house is your house. It's a sense of collectivity. And so our leadership is based on that. But in all leadership, when I studied leadership, it's about preparation. Leadership. My friend Francis Hesselbine used to say, who ran the Girl Scouts and was a great thought leader, she said, Leadership is how to be, not how to do it right. And Peter Block, who's done a lot of work on stewardship, says that when you come to leadership, you're really going to work on yourself. Leadership is a path of transformation. It's a path of self growth. Leaders have been defined as lifelong learners. So in the Latino community, we take that and we say personal east mo is what kind of person are you? How do you relate to other people? Because we started off talking about I don't want to be called Dr. Gordis because that separates me from my people, in a sense. I want them to respect the fact that I've prepared myself in this way, but I want them to see me as another community person. And so one of the principles that comes out of personal ISMO, is the leader is equal. And I was giving a book event the other day, and I said, the leader is equal. I'm up here being a leader now because I'm talking about my book. When I'm through talking, I'm one of you. So you take the leadership role when it's your turn or when it's a project you're leading. But when you step back, you're the leader is equal. And what that does is it promotes a level playing field. So personal Eastmo says, if I treat you and everybody that I'm interacting with with respect, if I'm honest, if I have integrity, and if I encourage you and look at your potential, and that's what real leaders do. When the white male leaders were looking at me, they saw my potential as a writer, they encouraged me. That's what leaders do. But Personal Eastmo means you have to have a lot of respect for yourself. You have to be secure in yourself so that you can then help other people be secure in themselves and then believe that they, too, can be leaders. And so that's personal ISMO. And the second one that is about preparation is consciensia. They have a lot of self awareness. And again, that's true in all leadership. But in Latino leadership, self awareness implies dealing with your culture and healing those parts of yourself that may have been not recognized, ignored, may even have been. When I first started fundraising and working with corporate people, I actually had a corporate person say, I've never heard a Latina speak like you, meaning our people didn't have that intellectual knowledge. To be able to talk with him at his own level, that's really kind of an insult. And I said, thank you very much. But I'm thinking to myself, well, wait a minute. You need to kind of expand your horizons. Or I write in my book about some of the prejudice I experienced as a child because I couldn't speak the language and so forth. And so for Latino leaders, consciensio means how do I resolve the issues of discrimination within myself so that I feel secure and so I understand it, so I can help other people? And for Anglos, it's conscientia is how do I deal with my own privilege? There's work that you need to do internally in order to be a good leader. All of those things are part of that. And then the final preparation I call destino because each one of us has a unique gift to give humanity. I believe we were born. Like me being the youngest child, me being an immigrant, me being born a woman. At the time that this women's movement was going to I started being in the women's twenty s. And that was a time you have to be right for the time as well. And so destino is really important because it helps you understand your unique contribution. And even Stephen Covey said that leadership is understanding the unique contribution you have to make right. And everybody has that, whether it's it person in your department that fixes. I could not live without somebody helping. In fact, they're much more important than me or I was talking to you today. So those three things are really important in preparing you because the kind of leadership that Latinos do is people centered. Leadership have to remember that for 500 years they couldn't pay people, they had working class jobs, they had to stand up and say this isn't right. They knew they would never achieve it in their lifetime. That's a pretty refined way of leading people to get people to be able to do that under some trying circumstances. So obviously our leaders know how to motivate people. And part of that is if you feel they say in leadership, if you feel valued and like you have something to contribute and you feel good about yourself because the leader has said you're going to be more apt to step up and to give more, to do a better job and to be part of the leadership process.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:27]:

Right? And that's the beginning of all great work, really. That's the beginning of innovation.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:29:35]:

Leadership is a people business.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:37]:

Yeah, definitely. Speaking of leadership, I'd love to hear how those three elements that you were just talking about, particularly of Latino leadership, are in a way a great fit for the leaders that we need in our current time. How is leadership changing today and why are those three so important?

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:30:01]:

Well, I just said leadership is a people business. And the thing is that leadership is about who are you leading and what is the context in which you're going to lead. But in Latino leadership, it's always a collective, it's a collective form of leadership. And that's where leadership has gone ever since we've been making this transition. Leadership is now participatory, it's democratic in a sense, it's collaborative. We now have what we call knowledge workers. You want your people to give you their best ideas and to work with you and to make things work. And so this process of leadership that Latinos have had where it's about the collective is perfectly suited for the times that we live in because that's what we want to do. We want to have more collaborative type of leadership in our organizations and where people identify with and are committed to cause or the mission or whatever, or even the production. And so that's a really important part because I was talking about. The leader is equal. And if you do that, you create another principle for Latinos, which is called leadership by the many. Some people call it critical mass leadership. And in any system you need a certain amount of people that are committed to that vision, that cause that outcome that you're working on. And so leadership by the many. If you treat people with dignity and respect, and if you help them develop themselves, and if you give them meaningful work, and if you acknowledge their work, you're the it person. You keep the place clean. You sure everybody is on time and on schedule, then people begin to see themselves as leaders. They step up to leadership and you get a leadership organization, which we call leadership by the many. And then within that. So those are skills leaders have. But it's the idea that that's actually the engine to drive both innovation and creativity, authenticity. Authenticity is so important for leaders to be themselves and to encourage other people to do that. And so when you do that, you get that kind of an organization. Another real important principle that you and I were talking about is CSE PUE or yes we, which is about innovation, creativity, change, looking for new ways of doing things. Who doesn't want that in their company, right? And the way Latinos have explained it is that through all of these decades and centuries of moving forward, we had to have kind of a change style because we were marginalized people. We wanted to lift our people up. We wanted our kids to get better education. And so we are change. Young people call themselves change makers. That's a term they're really comfortable with because they know that structural change needs to happen and around many things in our society, but also that we're empowered to make things better. So I love that particular one because it creates people that are really thinking for themselves, doing critical thinking. How can I do better and what's the end goal? One? Cute. I call it cute because Paso la Paso is kind of our theme song. Step by Step, which improvement and step by step you'll see, Latinos, I don't care if they're painting or what they're doing, step by step, we're going to make it better. Step by step we're going to learn. And so this Paso Aposto has driven us to keep moving forward year after year, decade after decade. One of the last things I'll say about that is that I like to say that Latino leadership is like a relay race where one leader passes the torch to the next and the next and the next generation. So we also have a very intergenerational and that's so important in the workplace today. Four generations working together, millennials and Z's being the largest generation in history. 10,000 baby boomers. I just did a talk for Johnson and Johnson where I did a thing on generations. There's only one other baby boomer.

Teri Schmidt [00:34:03]:


Dr. Juana Bordas [00:34:03]:

Was me and her. That's how fast this change is coming generationally. And so we have a model of that respect. I'm an elder, they're younger. How do we learn together? The reason I'm on TikTok is because I want my younger people to know that I'm connected to their medium. Not my medium might be Facebook or Instagram, but I'm connected to their medium.

Teri Schmidt [00:34:27]:

Yeah, there's so much power there, and I think we could talk for a much longer time. But one question I did want to ask you is a lot of our listeners are people who are new to leadership. So lots they may be in their first leadership role or maybe their second, but it's a new one. How can they capitalize on what we've been talking about, the power of Latino leadership?

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:34:53]:

Well, emerging leaders, that's such an honor to talk to them because they are the future. And so what I'd like to do is just say a few things about the future that they're preparing for because we talked about the intergenerational change, their generation. Remember back when John F. Kennedy was elected president and I was in college? He said, Let the word go forth from this time and place that the torch has been passed to a new generation of leadership. And that's where we are now. We are going to pass this torch to these emerging leaders. So I want them to get ready, but I also want them to understand that they're going to have the critical mass is what I call it. But there are going to be so many of them that are involved and that are stepping up to leadership and that are going to be leading that they're going to have a cadre of people. In my new book, I have a whole chapter on intergenerational leadership. And I really interviewed leaders who are in the process of creating great change. One of them is Richie Torres, the congressman from the Bronx. Got elected at 34. The first LGBTQ person elected to the New York City Council. Afro Latino. And he says my mission, because he grew up with a single mother that made 475 an hour. He says my mission is to eliminate urban poverty. And so just like you find your destino, you also have to find your mission. What are you here to do? What are you here to do? You want to build a company that really cares about its people and its customer and shares its rewards. So what do you really want to do? Because that time is coming. The other thing that's real important for young people to understand is that there are people like me and you and people that are in the older generations that want to work with them in establishing because we're going through a transformation. We're going through an age transformation, a multicultural transformation. We're going through a global transformation. And young people are global. But how do we bring all these things together as leaders so that we create a new paradigm of leadership that's inclusive, that's diverse, that understands that we're here to protect and create the future because young people are concerned about climate change. How do we really restructure society? And so the young people I talk to really have a much deeper look at where we're going. And I think we had that when we were young. We wanted to promote women and we wanted to promote civil rights, but they're going to close the deal. They're going to actually look at institutional racism and how do we change that? How do we really create diverse and inclusive organizations? Because now we know that that's where the power is. That's where the creativity is, that's where the energy is. Even Stanford, when they did their study on teams, if you had a more diverse team, even functionally, somebody from marketing and budget and some of the upper management with some of the people that actually implement the work, you're going to get a better solution. Because this idea that leadership was a person, it's not a person, it's a process in which you bring people together to share a vision about what they're going to do, find out who can do what and what they're good at, share that work and then share the benefits and have that vision of where you're going.

Teri Schmidt [00:38:13]:

And I think that right there I was going to follow up with, where should these emerging leaders get started? What would be the first couple of steps? But I think what you just said right there about that viewpoint, that mindset, that leadership, is that process about building community, discovering and bringing out the best, and discovering what each unique individual has to contribute. Yeah.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:38:37]:

And this is something when I was writing the book on young leaders, I got the privilege to interview some Dreamers, the doc students. And these are students who were brought to the United States at a very young age. And they've grown up here. Some of them don't even speak Spanish well, and they're Americans. And so together they were able to get Obama to pass the Dream Act, or the Dream. It's not even an act, it's an executive order. But what they told me was that because they came from all these different countries and all these experiences, but they're really talking about our workplace now, that what they had to do was to share their stories, to share their narratives. And when they figured out how powerful that was, they did it nationally. That's really why everybody got behind the Dreamers, because they heard their stories of how their parents had worked and how they came home and never knew if their parents were going to be there or if they were going to get deported or they had to lie and hide in the shadows. And so telling your stories, because when you sit down at your workplace, if it would have been a century ago, you would have known everybody. You would have known their grandparents. We would have had that sense of community and that sense of place. Well, the job of the leader today is to create that. And we do that by sharing our stories and by being authentic. And when I do this with corporate America people, they say, you know, I worked with Charlie for 20 years. I really didn't know who he was till he told me his story, what he learned from his family, what his values were. And once you do that, once people have that sense of connectedness, which communities of color and Latinos are connected, we have that sense of connectedness. You create a real team or a real family or an authentic community that can move forward together. So I think for young leaders, but building that sense, and they do that a lot because think about that. When they first got on Facebook, they called each other friends. And I have a millennial daughter, and they have this sense of connectedness that comes out of communities of color as well. We need to bring that into the workplace.

Teri Schmidt [00:40:38]:

Yeah, there's so much power in sharing your story and listening to others, and.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:40:45]:

Then you take care of each other. By the way, another great thing in communities of color, that leaders take care of each other. And that's part of our job. So, yeah, I think that it's very exciting today because the millennials and Z's are also the most educated generation, and so they're going to have the firepower to be able to create a different kind of reality in society.

Teri Schmidt [00:41:09]:

Yeah, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:41:15]:

I love those kids. I love them. They're the future. I'm so happy they're here.

Teri Schmidt [00:41:22]:

Me too, definitely.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:41:23]:

By the way, 60% of them are Latino. Speaking of the Latino wave oh, I was going to say, one of the reasons that people can join with us is this whole bienvenido idea that we've been talking about, this welcoming, inclusive spirit. And so I like to kid around because my Uncle Carl, who's actually German, and my brother in law Howard, they're Latinos now.

Teri Schmidt [00:41:45]:

Would you say Latinos by Corizon?

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:41:47]:

Carl actually has an iguana. He lives in Florida and he grows mangoes and all this stuff in his yard because he just loves it, and they've both learned to dance. Latinos have this bienveno spirit. And so I welcome people to join with us. And I have in my book the idea of Latino by affinity, which is an old tradition. Tribes would initiate you, or people would call you an auntie, or you would become part of the family. And so Latinos really welcome people to join with us and to learn about our values and our vision for the future of creating a humanistic and multicultural America, bringing diversity and inclusiveness into the core of our country and revitalizing the American dream. Because Latinos do not take more than their shared. I'm very proud of many Latino leaders because they don't have four or five houses. And all this I live in, house I've lived in for 42 years. That's not my motivation. My motivation is how can I help others, their own home and their own sense of place and be able to contribute and find their own power? So I invite them all to become Latinos by Corazon heart, and let's get this party going.

Teri Schmidt [00:43:04]:

Speaking of that, what is the best way for people to get connected with you? And of course, as I mentioned, definitely go out and get the book because I think just the combination of the history, the spirit in it, the examples and stories that you've included of leaders, I think there's so much to both enjoy and learn from that book.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:43:28]:

Yeah, well, I said I was on TikTok, and that's one of my learnings from millennials. When I first started, I thought, how can I say anything in a minute or in a minute? Because they're used to a lot of information and going back and forth and googling things. TikTok is a great platform for them. But I'm on Instagram and I'm on LinkedIn, juanabortis and have my own website, of course, and there's some resources there for folks, but really and truly, it's Juanabortis at Gmail.

Teri Schmidt [00:43:58]:

Okay, direct to you.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:44:00]:

I have to feel that. But I was going to tell you, but one thing about Latino leadership, and it's the principle, goza la vida, enjoy life. And we're talking about how hard Latinos have worked and how long it's taken us to get here. But one of the ways we've gotten here is to enjoy life. And that's a strategy. It's not pinatas all of that. It's about keeping people motivated and creating collective memories together and celebrating our successes. You need to do that at work, too. You need to do that wherever you are. People have special days, and every time you accomplish something, you're going to take the next step. Pasoa paso, step by step, you celebrate that step. And so Latinos spend more on music and dancing and going out to eat. We even go to more movies. We're on cell phones more to connect with each other. And so it's a festive culture. When you think of Latinos, you think of music and food and margaritas, and that's part of leadership.

Teri Schmidt [00:45:05]:

That's so true. And what a great note to end on as well, because I think we need to all go do that.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:45:13]:

I am so appreciative, Terry, of you taking the time to talk with me, but more than that, for your work with emerging leaders and leaders, because it's a door that's open to everybody, and we're fortunate now to have this platform where we can talk to people across the waves.

Teri Schmidt [00:45:30]:

Yeah, well, I'm grateful for your time today, and I think it's an exciting time. And like I said, reading your book just made me even more excited to be supporting other leaders because it's such a transformational and important time for everyone, but particularly those who really want to lead the way.

Dr. Juana Bordas [00:45:52]:


Teri Schmidt [00:45:58]:

What will you take away and apply from today's episode? Maybe the idea of paso Aposto. Or step by step. Or thinking about how you can strengthen your team's bonds by giving them an opportunity to share their stories? Or maybe for today, you just need to focus on gozalavita enjoy life. I'm here to support you as you integrate what you learned into your leadership. Be sure to connect with Juana via the links in the show notes and check out her book. And finally, if you've enjoyed this episode or others, it would mean a great deal to me if you could rate it and review it so that others can more easily find the podcast. Thank you so much, and until next time, lead with this quote by Gandhi in mind, "Our ability to reach unity and diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization."


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