Celebrating Latino Environmental Entrepreneurs –Earth Day 2012

Fox News Latino asked me to create a series of stories from  Latinnovating for Earth Week 2012. We proudly presented three  inspirational stories from the book of Latinos doing their part to tread more lightly on our planet while building business value. Here’s the lead.

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Putting Latinnnovating Stories to Work in K-12 Schools; a Call for Expectation Reform for Latino Students

Sec. of Education Arne Duncan followed my keynote with his own

On the stage as keynote speaker in Denver recently, I introduced the words “expectation reform” to the large gathering of K-12 educators and administrators attending the Green Schools National Conference. This came after sharing three stories of three “Latinnovators” and their creatively advantaged childhoods that laid the foundation for them to become innovators and environmental entrepreneurs.

What I said after showing the case studies was this: it’s time to rethink using the socioeconomic term”disadvantaged” when describing the many Latino children in our nation’s classrooms – a word that was used to describe me and my own family during my childhood. I stated that it’s time to start seeing them holistically, as the “creatively advantaged” children they are. It’s time to understand that they share the culture and foundation of the three “Latinnovators” from Latinnovating that the audience was introduced  to in my talk. (Carmen, Humberto, Sandra.)

I challenged the members of the audience to each practice their own expectation reform when they return to their schools. I asked them to stop fixating on the family’s current economic circumstance and using that dirty little word “disadvantaged” which naturally leads to low expectations of the children. I encouraged them to reflect on the stories I had shared, how these three Latinos moved from that “disadvantaged” beginning into higher education, into their careers and into their roles as innovators and business owners. I encouraged them to see, through the st0ries I presented,  instead who these children can become, to use the case studies I presented to see the potential of today’s Latino children. I saw many heads nodding in agreement. I told them that the one thing that made the biggest  difference to those of us who were the first in our immigrant families to go to college, was that someone (usually a non-Latino) stepped in to provide a mentoring intervention and insist that we go to college.  I asked them to read the “Two by 2020 Mentoring Challenge” and commit to mentoring two Latinos to graduate from college by 2020.

I stressed that the green schools movement presents a unique opportunity to better connect with Latino families and students, to challenge the students and parents to lead some of the many initiatives being implemented in schools, from school gardens, to green clubs, to garden-to-kitchen programs to encourage healthy eating, to adopting renewable energy in schools. I hoped my message would resonate with the very mainstream audience of educators.

Afterward, while signing books at the conference bookstore, one woman approached with a stack of 10 books she had just purchased. I asked if they were for her students. She said, “No, I’m a member of a local school board. This one is for me, this one is for my superintendent, and these are copies for each member of our school board, because they need their expectations reformed about the Latino students in our school district.”

WOW. Someone heard me and took action. It’s moments like this that make all the hard work worthwhile.  I was reminded in this moment and since, of how privileged I am to have been entrusted to tell the stories of accomplished, courageous educated Latinos in many forums across the nation where these stories will change minds and change life trajectories.

I’m happy to be able to take on this mission to rebrand the word “Latino” in the minds of millions that have never been exposed to positive imagery of Latinos. It’s time to identify and redefine ourselves as the diverse, complex, creative, contributing community that we are and to put an end to being defined by shallow, old, tired images in this country. I’m happy to play my little part in this movement and to take the message into the K-12 system where it can really make an impact one teacher, one classroom, one school at a time!

 

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Getting to Hispanicize 2012 to Spotlight Latino Innovators in the Green Economy

Why do I want to go to Miami in April for Hispanicize 2012?  Obviously, to connect with  fellow Latina Mom Bloggers and to bring the stories  of Latino green innovators that I’ve been writing (and presenting to live audiences), to a much bigger audience of social media friends.

4 innovators from "Latinnovating," with author Graciela, at Stanford on launch day

My work is all about showcasing the creative, courageous Latino innovators and entrepreneurs in the green economy, from the Latino community, to business professionals, students and educators across the USA.  The pages of my bestselling Latinnovating book are filled with ten profiles of Latinas and Latinos, highly educated, who are transforming industries and honoring long-held cultural values of creative reuse and resource preservation. In three weeks, I’ll bring these stories to a national audience of educators and share the stage with a Cabinet member: our Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. I’m driving to show how the Latino community is not “disadvantaged” as viewed typically through the socio-economic prism but is instead “creatively ADVANTAGED” as evidenced by the stories of today’s Latino innovators in the green economy.

I’ve been fortunate enough to share some of these stories in The Huffington Post.  It’s time to get these stories in front of larger audiences, outside the universities and conferences where I usually speak! The Latinnovating YouTube channel is loaded with video testimonials of my work and how it’s inspiring people who hear the stories I’m writing about the innovation in our community; here’s just one example of what people are saying.

Please bring me to Miami so we can meet and explore synergies! I promise you’ll love, love, love the stories of my fellow Latino eco-entrepreneurs! I want more limelight for our courageous leaders, who understand that benefits to the economy and environment go hand-in-hand.

Thanks!

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A Very Public Tribute to a Pioneering Green Business Couple as They Retire

One of my greatest joys of being a contributor to The Huffington Post is when I can  showcase Latino entrepreneurs to mainstream audiences.  We have some amazing entrepreneurial tales to tell. It’s my joy and privilege to do so!

Here is my latest, honoring the Maciel family of San Francisco as the green biz baton gets passed to the next generation.“Learning From Latinos: San Francisco Green Biz Pioneer Hands Off Company to His Kids”

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4 Lessons Learned as Bestseller Birthday Wish Came True

A couple weeks before Christmas, I spoke with my buds Beth and Ezra Barany. I was considering running a bestseller campaign for Latinnovating on my birthday, but I wasn’t sure there was enough time. I didn’t know the first thing about running such a campaign. We discussed the possibility of having them run the campaign for me in January; Beth assured me I could probably do it myself.

Latinnovating by Graciela Tiscareno-Sato, bestseller on Jan 25 2012

Due to an ongoing, time-sucking situation with my school district, I didn’t think I had enough time to go at it alone. The weekend before my birthday, I decided to go for it! I stayed up until 2 a.m. a couple of night to create my plan and write the content I would use to ask my circles of friends and supporters to help. The result is here:  Latinnovating made it all the way to #2 in one of its two categories!

I learned many things in the five days that it took to create, promote, re-promote, re-communicate and monitor this campaign. Here are the top 4 things I want to share with authors considering running a bestseller campaign:

4. Aim high, not low. The conversations I had with various people who run bestseller campaigns, some who charge $8000 to help an author get on a list, went like this: “We guarantee you’ll break into the Top 100 bestsellers in your book’s category or your money back. Bestseller means anywhere in the top 100 so understand that if you hit #97 you’ll have a bestseller.” So in my mind, that meant that all I was shooting for was #97 or so and I was going to pay $8000 for #97? Those of you who know me know that was a hard thing to accept, being #97 at something has just not been my style. What I learned was that when you run a campaign and engage all your marketing skill, lose the shyness about asking for help, and ask those who support you to really, really support you, amazing things happen. So next time I will aim for #1, not #97 as I was being led to believe.

3. You don’t need to pay a guy $8000 to become an Amazon bestseller. This is true unless you do not have the asset listed in #1 on this list. Without the next two things on this list, if you’re serious about running a successful bestseller campaign, you should indeed consider engaging the services of someone who has reached the bestseller rankings before (like Beth and Ezra Barany).

2. There is still no substitute for thorough preparation, asking for help and following up. 48 hours before my birthday/campaign day, I began to send personal emails to friends and supporters. The emails contained prepared text to Tweet and share with their social networks, to post as Facebook messages, etc. I also messaged and called key influencers the day before my campaign days. I let them know in advance what I was planning on doing and asked for their help to spread the word into their networks. So by 8:30 in the morning, on my birthday when I first checked the bestseller lists of my book’s two categories, it was shockingly already at #7! Throughout the day, I posted updates about where it was on the list, and this generated even more interest and sharing, which is why it made it to number #2. By the way, at 1130 p.m., one of my friends emailed me that he had seen it at #1. I didn’t see it myself but honestly, it doesn’t matter really. Latinnovating is officially a bestseller and that’s what matters. 

1. Having invested in email marketing tools and skills was a key success factor in this campaign. When I started my content development, publishing and marketing business, one of the first tools I adopted was an established email marketing platform. Why? I’m a girl who likes analysis, measurement and verticalization of content. Like a good little marketer, I made sure to segment my contacts into logical lists: university contacts, endorsers, those profiled in book, those who have purchased the book, students, etc. Having this key business asset in place proved to be a godsend.

As I prepared content for this campaign, for each group I asked for their support in distinctly different ways. This made a huge difference because what I provided for them to share with their own networks was specific to them: in other words, targeted language for specific audiences…marketing messaging defined. I honestly believe this made the biggest difference, because as my friends, family and different groups of supporters jumped in to help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, they used the text exactly as I had prepared it for them. That validated the time I took to create the words THEY would be comfortable and happy to share. This truly made a huge, huge, difference in the end result. I am truly grateful to each and every one of them.

One word of caution, something of which you MUST beware! Monitoring the bestseller rankings becomes an instant addiction. To watch your book baby, your creation, climb (and drop and climb again) on the lists is a special type of high. Thank God for smart phones – I was able to peek at progress on my way to my relaxing afternoon at my favorite spa; it was my birthday after all!

To all friends, family, endorsers, supporters, customers, and stars of Latinnovating, thank you for making my 15th annual 30th birthday wish come true! I could not have done it without you!

Fellow new and aspiring authors: please feel free to contact me if you would like help getting your marketing messaging and operations in place –perhaps you too can run your own bestseller campaign!

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400 Minority 9th Grade Students, Two Workshops and Gratitude

I had the pleasure recently of leading a pair of workshops for 9th graders, about 90% of them Latinos from San Francisco Bay Area schools. The occasion was the Puente Program Northern California regional conference at the spectacular University of California at Santa Cruz.

This is  an annual gathering of mostly (but not exclusively) Latino high school students who may or may not be thinking of attending college. The goal of the conference was to expose them to people who will expand their horizons and provide the long-term view of higher education. Legendary Chicano educational activist Sal Castro, me and others who presented that day made an irrefutable case for why they MUST go to college. We were present to show them the role models and success stories, while answering their many questions.

I want to give a shout out and gracias to two of the stars of Latinnovating: Carmen Rad of CR & A Custom Inc and Luis Rojas of Evergreen Energy Solutions. Carmen and Luis bought books to donate for the conference; the result was that each attending high school was able to take back two books – one for their library and one for their counseling center. At this event, I felt that this is exactly the model to follow going forward: generous sponsors buying books to give to the students who are chosen for these leadership events. It’s the only model for the middle to high school market that makes sense. Therefore, I will be pursuing these kinds of partnerships and others going forward, since I’ll be speaking in front of many more students in the coming months – I don’t want to leave them empty handed when there is so much they can learn from the journeys of Carmen, Luis and other environmental entrepreneurs!

The back of Sal’s business card says it best “No sean MENSOS. Go to college and GRADUATE!” Thank you Miesha for asking me to be part of this important mission. I look forward to the next opportunity to work together!

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A Teaching Moment About the Green Economy

Thanks to my new friend and fellow author, Mariela Dabbah, I have been blessed with the opportunity to contribute to the Huffington Post. I’ll be writing for Latino Voices and relevant content will also crosspost to the Green section. Enjoy this first article which suggests we don’t get sucked into the negativity and politicizing of the ongoing Solyndra scandal, but instead look at all the innovation and opportunity that lie ahead in the emerging green economy. Please don’t forget to comment and share while you’re there! Plus, if you have ideas for articles you’d like to see me write, I’m always up for listening to creative thoughts.  Thank you.

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Celebrating, a little bit, the Uptick in Latino College Enrollment

My Twitter-loving friends have been abuzz about the recent Pew Hispanic Center Research report that announced 24% Growth in Hispanic College Enrollment from 2009 to 2010. Overall sentiment “It’s Not Enough.” My tweet on this topic: “It’s not enough by tens of 1000s & this is enrollment not graduation!”

Sorry if I’m not jumping for joy over this news (an uptick 2 years ago). It’s good news yes, a positive sign of moving in the right direction; 349,000 more Latino students enrolled in college that year versus the previous. The question is, how many of those students will actually graduate?

Why is my response tempered? Because I have the bigger picture in mind; I have the absolute (and shocking) numbers in mind, the number of college graduates we need to be graduating annually to ensure America’s global competitiveness (611,000) when we’re only graduating around 130,000. Here’s what I mean and the original sources.

Mentoring is urgently needed, by all types of Americans, to forcefully crack through the general culture of low educational expectations in the Latino community. I say ALL Americans because the report reminds us that in 2010, only 13% of Hispanic 25- to 29-year-olds had completed at least a bachelor’s degree (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011a).

The percentage of Hispanic high school graduates who are attending college is still only 44% for 2010, and that’s from a pool of high school students with high, double-digit dropout rates that vary across the nation (as high as 57% in some communities.)  See page 4 of the report for the graphic depicting the percent of Asian students in the 18-24 age group enrolled in college (62.2%); compare that to the Hispanic number (31.9%) and the reasoning for my “low expectations” comment becomes obvious.

Only strong, forceful intervention in the form of mentoring, and in some cases hand-holding, will make a difference to many, many young Latino students who have absolutely no idea of their potential.  Please take the “Two by 2020 Mentoring Challenge” and become part of the solution.

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Immigration or Innovation? What Do We Want Americans to Think about When They Hear ‘Latino’?

This post first appeared at PowerfulLatinas.com today, after my friend Aurelia Flores asked me to write for her August theme of  immigration. While I initially resisted the idea (because I’m helping mainstream America see that Latinos care about so many more issues besides immigration), a recent incident in a university classroom made me write this piece. Enjoy and please answer the questions posed!

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Two by 2020 Mentoring Challenge Updated

Ahead of the launch of Latinnovating, I posted the “Two by 2020 Mentoring Challenge.” This is my wake-up call to all Americans, with shocking, absolute, meaningful numbers that truly depict the current crisis and future consequence of America’s fastest growing minority group being the least educated. It includes a prescription of what actions a mentor can and should take to change a young Latino life. Mentoring is the action that made the difference for many of us who were the first in our families to attend and graduate from college. A non-Latino (typically) mentor intervened, told us we had to seek higher education and guided us through the “how.” In my case, as in many, my mentor also helped me connect with funding sources. This knowledge and guidance made it possible for me to leave my small town in Colorado for the University of California in Berkeley. I went there on an Air Force ROTC scholarship which (thankfully) paid all out-of-state tuition, fees, books and provided a stipend.

Scholarship Cadet Graciela Tiscareño at U.C. Berkeley

Since my original blog post, this challenge suddenly got tied to the discussion surrounding the DREAM act, when a young, high-profile man came out as an undocumented immigrant. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jose Antonio Vargas at a fundraising dinner at his alma mater last November at San Francisco State. That night we chatted about our creative projects and exchanged cards. During the event, we screened his documentary about the hidden AIDS epidemic in our nation’s capital city. I saw first hand how highly he is respected by all who know him and his work. I joined many Americans in shock the day this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist broke the news in the New York Times about how he came to the U.S. as a child and how he learned of his immigration status.

Why this connection? It’s simple really. If you read my original post and take a moment to absorb the number of college graduates needed annually from the Latino community for our nation to remain competitive and educated versus other nation states (611,000) and compare to the number of Latino college graduates currently being produced (130,000), you can start to see how the DREAM act plays into this mentoring challenge.

Then, to truly be shocked, look at how many Latino high school students graduate each year (300,000). How many more would there be if we passed the DREAM act? How many more kids would START high school instead of giving up after middle school because they know they’re undocumented and feel there’s no hope and no future beyond high school?

My point is this: we don’t have any Latino students and brains to waste if America wants to seriously compete in the 21st century. We simply do not have that luxury.

Mentoring two young Latinos for the long-term, to ensure they graduate from college, is something many more Americans must do. As side show conversations and reform “attempts” continue, we lose more of our kids each day. To make a real difference, commit to this and take the Two by 2020 Mentoring Challenge. It’s the one thing you CAN do to begin to change a life, and the trajectory of that kid’s entire future and that of his/her descendants, forever. Mentoring is the only way that some of the stories in the pages of Latinnovating became possible. Read them for yourself; reflect on my story in first paragraph, then please jump in! Join me?

 

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