Powerful women owe their success to the examples of Mamá

Powerful women owe their success to the examples of MamáIt never fails: When women receive any sort of public recognition, we almost always dedicate it to our moms or to the woman who raised us, often, our abuelas. This profound tie with our mothers is the first aspect of ourselves that becomes apparent when we reach any milestone or receive an award that makes us proud.

And as expected, this is exactly what happened at a gala organized by New York Moves magazine that took place at the upscale Setai Fifth Avenue Hotel; the magazine awarded more than 20 powerful women, among them–and as the only Latina–María Elena Salinas, the famed Noticiero Univision anchor.

One after the other, the recently honored women spoke about their mothers. Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of organization Scientists without Borders, said: “The seed of every powerful woman is an empowered girl. I was lucky to grow up with a mom who not only came to this country, and established a medical practice in a language that was not her native tongue, but showed me every single day that when I stood in front of my mirror (as a little girl) and I practiced my speech as the President of the U.S. or the anchor of 60 Minutes, that I wasn’t pretending that I was practicing.”

Our own María Elena Salinas recognized that her mom–a seamstress with only a sixth grade education, who was nevertheless able to raise three strong and independent women–was her role model. “She worked long hours and yet my sisters and I never felt there was anything missing in our lives. So growing up I thought being a working woman was very easy, a piece of cake. When it came my turn to do that I realized it was the biggest challenge anyone can face.”

Not all of us have the chance to be honored during a glamorous event surrounded by celebs and powerful women, but we can all equally have a deeply moving moment if we thank our moms in private for everything they’ve done for us and in doing so, becoming role models for our daughters (and sons).

The end of the year gives us the opportunity every 12 months to evaluate our lives up to that point and start anew. Why not finish off this year thanking your mamá (or thanking her memory if she’s passed away) everything that she’s done for you during your life, even if you’re not standing on a stage? It’s a tradition that should replace those oftentimes silly resolutions that we impose on ourselves every year.

And just in case my own mom is reading this, I’ll start: Thank you, Mami, for all the sacrifices you made during your life only to see me happy and for always supporting all my decisions…even those that you didn’t agree with.

Now it’s your turn!

Image via Thinkstock

This article was originally published on Mamas Latinas. 


Paying for College: The 411 on 529 Accounts

Paying for CollegeAfter doing a recent television segment on the issue of college prepayment plans and college investment accounts I received an avalanche of inquiries from parents wanting more information that what can be conveyed in four minutes. If you’ve been wanting to know more about how to save for your child’s college education, here’s the 411 on 529 plans for college. 529s are tax-advantaged savings plans created to encourage people to save for future college expenses. They are sponsored by states, state agencies or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

For starters, it’s important to understand that there are two types of 529 plans: One is a pre-paid tuition plan and the other is a savings plan. And while they are great ways to save money for your child’s future education, you must also know that both of them will be treated as parental assets in the calculations of the expected family contribution towards college costs. This might limit your child’s eligibility for federal financial aid. So as everything else, you must evaluate and decide what’s more convenient for you.


It’s sponsored by some states, not all, and it generally allows you to purchase units or credits at participating colleges for future tuition.  This means that depending on the age of your child at the time in which you enroll in the program, you can either pay a lump sum or monthly installments that guarantee that by the time your kid is ready to enter college, the tuition (and in some plans room and board) will be covered. These plans typically lock in at the tuition rate at the time you start the plan. To find what is offered by your state, visit the College Savings Plans Network.

What you should know:

  • This program locks in tuition prices at the eligible public and state universities.
  • They are usually backed by the state.
  • Most plans have a limited enrollment period.
  • There are no penalties if your child decides not to attend university and none of his/her siblings wish to attend either (hopefully not your case!) You’ll receive a full refund.
  • The money can be used for participating public colleges outside of your state of residency and it can go towards a private college education. But if your child attends a private college, the plan will only cover the cost equivalent of a public education at your state schools.
  • There are enrollment and administrative fees involved that you may be able to avoid by buying the program directly from the plan’s sponsor.


These plans allow you to establish an account for your child with the goal of paying his/her college expenses. You can usually choose among different investment instruments such as bonds, stocks, money market, etc. The portfolio is managed according to the age of the child. The closer they get to high school graduation, the more conservative the investment gets. These accounts have the benefit of being tax free, as long as you use the money to pay eligible educational expenses.

What you should know:

  • This program doesn’t lock the cost of college and there is no guarantee that by the time your kid is ready to go to college, you’ll have all the money required in your account.
  • It covers all higher education expenses such as tuition, room and board, mandatory fees, books, computers, etc.
  • These accounts are not guaranteed by the state and most investment options are subject to market risks. In the last few years, many people’s investments took a hit along with the rest of the market.
  • Enrollment is open all year.
  • If your child decides not to attend college and you wish to use the money for something else, you’ll have to pay the income tax plus a penalty.

Whether you choose one of these options or another route, the most important thing is to plan ahead for your child’s college education. It’s not cheap but it’s the best investment you can make in their future. So, preparing for it as early as possible is the best guarantee that you’ll have the funds when they are ready to send in their first college application.

This article was first published on Mamiverse.

Lady in Red, Caught Unaware But Reacts Gracefully

MarilynIt was one of those visuals that are imprinted in your mind and follow you for days. Time Square on a hot summer morning. As a large group of tourists and locals get ready to cross the intersection, a sudden breeze caught a young woman unawares. Her light dress took flight a-la-Marilyn Monroe leaving her spectacular legs and perfectly rounded butt exposed. Thank God she was wearing a lacy-red thong. Seriously.

While the hordes walking behind her – me included – gasped at the sight, she calmly grabbed at the skirt and held it tightly until she made it safely to the other side of the road. Then she continued walking as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. As if she hadn’t imprinted an image in our brains that would became the anecdote all of us would repeat to our friends throughout the day.

To me, this young woman was the epitome of grace in the face of a stressful situation. A show of ultimate confidence and preparation. How so, you ask?

First of all, confronted with a similar situation, most women would’ve been utterly embarrassed and mortified, a feeling I can’t imagine this woman experienced even briefly. Second, the control she exercised and the calmness with which she handled herself leads me to believe that she was prepared.

Here’s my theory.

She looked more like a local than a tourist in which case, she might be well acquainted with the idiosyncratic winds on that corner of Manhattan. Rather than avoiding the area, wearing pants, or bothering to remember to hold on to her skirt as she approached the intersection, she decided to wear outrageously sexy panties just in case something unexpected like a burst of warm air lifted her dress above her head.

To me, this episode is a great reminder that you never know when something unexpected might happen, but, if you’re prepared, you can manage the situation with confidence and ease. Rather than being caught with your pants down – or your skirt up – you are better able to take the bull by the horns and deal with the difficulty. The difference is that when you put some effort in the preparation, the amount of aggravation, energy and time wasted when something doesn’t go as you planned is considerably less. Instead of stressing, you can explore ways in which you can leverage this contingency and even turn it to your favor. I don’t need to explain here what that could look like for the woman in my story who took the concept of “lady in red” to a whole new level.

I love that kind of foresight and deeply admire her confidence. Now she only needs a pair of red shoes to complete the outfit.
Mariela Dabbah’s new book Poder de Mujer was just released by Penguin. She’s a leadership consultant for corporations and organizations, an award winning author and renown public speaker. She’s the founder and CEO of Latinos in College, a not-for-profit organization that helps students and families find everything they need to succeed in college.

This article was first posted on Fox News Latino

Is Your Passion Getting in the Way of Your Promotion?

As Bond University Professor Cynthia Fisher, who studies emotions at work, has discovered, there are several negative emotions that could interfere not only with a promotion, but with your professional reputation. They include: anger or aggravation, worry or nervousness, disappointment or unhappiness; irritation or frustration, and dislike.

A lot of us contend with similar issues daily at our jobs or as owners of small businesses: We speak louder than others, we gesticulate too much, the passion just pours out of us and there’s nothing we can do about it. Or is there?

There is plenty we can do without sacrificing our personality or betraying our culture. The secret is to understand your audience.

Different audiences react differently. Ask any politician and they’ll tell you that they don’t deliver the same speech in New York that they do in Nebraska. If you are talking to a group of Latinos, they are more likely to expect and welcome your intensity. But when your audience is dominated by Anglos, keeping the volume of your passion at high, might not be as productive as you’d want. So what do you do to manage your passion in a strategic way?

Ask friends and colleagues for honest feedback. Sometimes, it works best if you ask via email, so people can “hide” behind their words. Simply ask: “Do you think I could benefit from toning down the passion with which I express myself? See what they say. Ask people you know will be honest with you.

• Practice at home or with a good friend. Communicate about an idea, product or point of view taking your passion down a notch. Don’t gesticulate that much, keep your tone a little lower, and place a little bit less emphasis on your statements. Pay attention at how it feels and ask your friend for feedback.

• Implement your new delivery to a group of Anglo colleagues and note their reaction. Are they more receptive to your ideas? Do they seem to engage more with you?

Your style is everything. It’s what is most particular about you so I would never suggest that you change it. Only that you recognize your strengths and manipulate them slightly to your advantage. If the results of keeping your passion at the highest volume are not as productive as you hope, then turn the volume down a bit. Sometimes, people are turned-off by those who have a different style and don’t bother to pay enough attention to see that behind it, there may just be someone they’d really like to get to know. Or that they might hear some brilliant ideas that could benefit them and their companies. You open up this possibility when you adjust the volume to your audience.

Passion in itself is not a negative trait to be discarded. On the contrary, it guides people towards what interests you and it makes you more attractive, which in turn makes people become more receptive to what you have to say.

This article was first published in Mamiverse.

Create New Traditions with Your Family

Food: Many of us who grew up in Latin America or Spain, are used to eating traditional foods, such as Pan Dulce, turrón and garrapiñadas, something not many Americans eat. But you can feed your cravings—and thanks to globalization—find these treats and numerous others in many local supermarkets or online at places such as Latinbag.com. Bringing back this tradition from when you, your parents or grandparents lived overseas can be a fun way to create a “new” tradition for the younger generation.

Home Video/Scrapbook Night: Celebrate the events from the past year by spending each New Year’s Eve bundled in front of the TV together watching home videos or by collecting the past year’s photos and putting them in a scrapbook together.

Time Capsule: Have each family member gather one or two items that reflect the past year, then put all of the items in a box. These items might include photos, drawings, the kids’ Christmas wish lists, tickets to a movie you saw or a journal. Seal the box, then open it on New Year’s Eve the following year to see how much has changed in the past year. Knowing that this is how they’ll be spending every December 31st, I bet your kids will start collecting things throughout the year to place in the box!

Game Night: Staying up until midnight is usually a struggle for tired moms and young kids, so pass the time on New Year’s Eve with a Monopoly marathon. Or let each family member choose one board or card game, then play the games back to back until midnight rolls around. There’s nothing like toasting the New Year right at midnight.

Obstacle Course: Have your kids help you create an obstacle course in the back yard (if you live in a warm climate) or a smaller one in the living room. It could be as simple as jumping over a stuffed animal, crawling through a cardboard box, tossing a ball or crumpled piece of paper into a bin or through a hoop and sprinting to the finish line. The family member with the best time gets to choose the movie the whole family will watch the next time you go to the theater.

The end of the year is like a hinge, something ends and something new begins. Adding some new traditions to your existing ones makes the process of ending a cycle and starting a new one that much more exciting.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.