On work, community, and what's next

The brief post I wrote earlier this year spoke about leaning into the theme of “abundance” for 2019; in other words, refusing to allow a scarcity mindset, and to let myself enjoy life more than closing myself off to its opportunities. I’m happy to say that I think I’ve kept this promise. As Labor Day weekend rounds out and the down-hill sprint to the end of the year begins, it felt time to take stock of this.

Here’s the latest:

Work:

This year started off with some of the toughest events I’ve experienced in life and work yet; but, it put me in a place to decide that I was going to make 2019 - the last year in the 2010’s and in my 20’s - one of my best yet. Early on, I entered my new position in business development at frog design, a global 50 year-old design and innovation consultancy that has stealthily influenced world-changing products such as the first 1980’s Apple Macintosh and the Sony Walkman. This position has allowed me to deepen my education in human-centered design/design thinking working at a firm at the top of the industry, and to fuse my passions for business systems and improving people’s lives and experiences.

Since then, I’ve dug my heels deeper into the philosophy that business needs to serve people. At frog, we do this through a design thinking approach of speaking with the “users” of products, experiences, and services - large enterprise workflow systems, corporate websites and customer portals, global organizational transformation initiatives, physical things you can buy off the shelf - to discover people’s latent, sometimes, hard to articulate needs. Then, we create better products based off of them.

My inspiration to enter a human-centered business consultancy comes from my relentless desire to improve lives, particularly for people of color, women, and marginalized communities. At frog, I’ve been part of beginning to re-organize our diversity and inclusion efforts. I am excited to leverage the organizing skills I sharpened in my early career in lobbying and politics to make an impact across an 800+ person firm around the world.

Read some of the brilliant pieces on design and inclusivity from my colleagues here on designing for accessibility and our Breaking Barriers panel series .

View from the roof of my new job in Dumbo, Brooklyn + my first sponsored wine content!! Embracing being    that    millennial.

View from the roof of my new job in Dumbo, Brooklyn + my first sponsored wine content!! Embracing being that millennial.

Community:

Late last year, I wrote a piece about how moving to NYC two years ago left me feeling disconnected from a community in which I belonged, despite a large network here. “Community” is one of  the aspects people rave about about a place like Austin. In a smaller city, where things move slower, and it’s less physical and tiring to get around (though, I admit there is a traffic sitch there), it was easy for me to build a sense of belonging quickly within my first year of moving back. I was accustomed to seeing my best friends multiple times week, even during busy times, driving 5 minutes to get to my favorite neighborhood bars and dance joints, and literally walking across the street to my community gym.

In New York, it has taken me about two years to feel a semblance to what I built in Austin, because building community and connection is something you have to put real effort into - especially here.

For this reason, this year I decided to step into being more of a “ring leader” and committed participant to create the sense of belonging I missed:

  • In April 2019, I co-hosted the first event in NYC of the national meetup movement Latina’s Who Brunch, created by my amazing friend Eliana Murrillo from Google. My friend Paula and I joined forces to start carving out this space for self-identified Latina women to be vulnerable, ask for help, and connect more authentically than your typical “networking” events in the city.
    Email or DM me at @anvrreal if you or someone you know wants to join!

  • I participated in my first formal master-mind coaching program specific to Latinas for 5 months, Harry Lopez’ Latina Coaching Accelerator Program. I LOVED how culturally-oriented it was, as it spoke a lot to healing and challenging limiting mindsets that can come from our immigrant backgrounds (despite this background’s many strengths). And, I was incredibly grateful for the rock-star cohort of women from around the country I met through it. I came out feeling more capable to going after my audacious goals, as well as reminding myself to slow down and check in with myself. #Selfcare.
    Here to talk about this program and refer anyone, if curious!

  • After months of brainstorming and planning, I hosted our first “Meet & Tell” storytelling gathering - a concept two friends and I came up with as a way to give people an opportunity to tell their stories and connect more authentically than the transactional nature that defines so many meetups in the city. The format is 20 friends of friends get together, there’s an intro story by the leaders, then 7-10 minute TED-style stories either with or without a presentation by a selected few. Afterwards, we leave time to connect and reflect on how to take action over wine and snacks. My girls from college, Laken and Carlissa, were some of the storytellers in our pilot and KILLED IT. They spoke about their 12+ year journey getting their product ECWorldGirls on the shelves.
    Check our their dolls! And, email me if you’re interested in attending a M&T in NYC!

  • Giving Back - I created my own framework to help women within 4 years of graduating college find direction in their careers and get aggressive about their job searches. It’s currently in pilot mode. It has felt GREAT to formalize my learnings from my multitude of job and industry changes in my 20’s, and create a structured offering around it. I also started some volunteer startup advising via Alley to woman and minority-led companies. Using my skills and build a connection with others through helping out has felt very satisfying!

  • Having Fun - During all of this, I’ve also been an active participant in local NYC activities such as dinner x comedy combos , storytelling classes at the Magnet Theater, and 6am, pre-work dance parties with Daybreaker. All important things!

DayBreaker atop a Brooklyn hotel with my dear friend Jenn! 6am sober dance parties (that really start earlier than that with a fitness component) are phenomenal ways to start your day :)

DayBreaker atop a Brooklyn hotel with my dear friend Jenn! 6am sober dance parties (that really start earlier than that with a fitness component) are phenomenal ways to start your day :)

Travel:

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel almost monthly this year (and not for work). I’ve visited :

New Orleans for Lauren’s bachelorette party in March; Nashville to be part of the special day of Suzy, my best friend since I was two; Austin for my friends Lauren and Alex’s beautiful wedding at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden; I took a quick weekend trip to my alma mater, Amherst College, in Amherst, MA to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their Multicultural Resource Center, revisit old haunts, and mentors. I also spent 36 hours in Los Angeles to attend Harry’s in-person coaching retreat. Oh, and San Francisco 3x.

I took a mid-summer break to spend time in Madrid and at the beaches of Cádiz, and Málaga in the south of Spain with my bestie from my Austin days, Valeria (just formerly a Madrileña, now in Barca). Lots of paella, some run-ins with the cops (as you do), hitching rides with strangers, and copious 2 euro glasses of wine later, I have to say it was a success. Plus, it was fantastic to visit my old stomping grounds after studying abroad in Madrid in 2011.

Later this month, my older brother Tomás is getting married in the mountains of Durango, CO with my now sister-in-law, Kayla. I’m very excited to see the first of us siblings take this step, just as my parents become true empty nesters! (My younger brother left Austin, after attending UT Austin and living there after school. He also just moved to Colorado - migration is in our blood!)
 
Up next, I’ll be in Austin the first week of October for the first weekend for the Austin City Limits music festival (shoutout Childish Gambino, shoutout Lizzo, shoutout Carid B ;) ) and to spend time with family and my team there. Hit me up if you’ll be around!

I’m planning another international trip likely in December, potentially to India and Bali. Super excited - will keep you posted!

Posing on the way to the beach in Málaga, España - the birthplace of Picasso

Posing on the way to the beach in Málaga, España - the birthplace of Picasso

What’s Next:

Besides travel and life events that revolve around them, I’m focused on and excited to finish the year strong!

I signed up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon in October, in a new goal I’m trying to adopt to try to run at least one half or full a year and stay in “half” shape as a fitness rule.

November is my birthday month (I turn the big 3-0!!!)… so you can probably expect some kind of think-piece around then ;) I’ll be in New York, and looking forward to local celebrations.

I have big plans for next year and beyond that I’m already chipping away on. I’ve been thinking of all the businesses I want to launch; books I want to write; doing more public speaking; I’m in talks about a podcastmore writing and potentially some media opportunities.

LOTS to come. But, I wanted to make sure you heard from me first :)

Wherever you are, I hope all is well. And, that you take a moment to think about what you want to feel and accomplish in these last four months of 2019.

The next “roaring ‘20’s” is about to be upon us. It’s time to go after your biggest life yet!

At Google Venice Beach, CA in July 2019

At Google Venice Beach, CA in July 2019