Sheila Robinson: Keeping the Diversity and Inclusion Conversation Alive

Sheila Robinson is the owner and publisher of Diversity Woman Magazine, a professional business magazine for women leaders, executives and entrepreneurs of all races, cultures and backgrounds. Through her magazine and the annual convention where hundreds of D&I professionals gather together, she keeps the inclusion conversation alive.

RSM Hall of Fame

RSM Hall of Fame

After 14 years as marketing director with the textile division of DuPont, when her division was sold, Sheila Robinson, resigned. She decided to pursue her dream to launch a professional magazine for women seeking career advancement opportunities. Her first publication was North Carolina Career Network which in April 2008 expanded nationally as Diversity Woman, available today in all Barnes and Nobles.

Sheila Robinson is a graduate of North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Pre-Law. In 2011, she graduated with Beta Gamma Sigma honors in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Masters Program at Western Carolina University. She received her Executive Doctorate in Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.

Among the many honors and recognitions she has received, Sheila was named as one of 50 Top Women in Magazine Publishing for the significant contribution she has made in her industry.

Sheila Robinson has played a major role in providing leaders from large organizations a space to share best practices, learn from one another and find ways to accelerate inclusion. Her magazine and her powerful annual conference have proven to be invaluable platforms to move the needle in D&I. For this reason, we honor her on the 2018 Red Shoe Movement Hall of Fame.

Sheila Robinson, Hall of Fame 2018

Sheila Robinson, Hall of Fame 2018

RSM—What makes women great leaders? 

SR— In my experience women lead not only to be effective, but to also “get it right.”

RSM— You’ve been organizing your Diversity Women Conference for over a decade now. What changes have you noticed in terms of the issues women are dealing with in the workplace?

SR— “Awareness” is the key term here.  There is a lot of awareness to what problems exist, why things are as they are, and efforts to fix the problems that everyone are now aware of.

“Momentum” is another word.  The momentum is high for gender equality.

With the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movement as a result of Sexual Harrassment, organizations are less likely to bring any negative attention to themselves.

The move for respect, equality and opportunity for women is on the high right now.

RSM— Have you seen changes in the way companies deal with diversity and inclusion?

SH— Many organizations believe that D&I is a “people” issue and have moved many of their roles from business operations to Human Resources.  The positive here is that they are recognizing their talent and “Human Capital” as crucial to their organizations success. And hopefully they are investing in the development of their talent which is just as important if not more important for the innovation of their products and services.

The 2017 Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference

The 2017 Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference

RSM— How is this different in the way they deal with D&I?

SH— The role of the Chief Diversity Office is not to focus on the “people issue”.  It is a business imperative and crucial to the success of ones products, services, talent and customers.  Historically and in some cases today, the Chief Diversity Officer is an executive level role that resides in the C-Suite with direct report to the Chief Executive Officer with its role recognized as the central driver of business results.   Within the last decade, however, many of these roles no longer report directly to the C-Suite but into Human Resources.

I don’t think this is because the role is no longer the central driver of business results, I think it is an innovative approach to increase the value of their “Human Capital.”  Organizations now recognize a more diverse and inclusive talent pool is crucial to the innovation of their products and services making “talent and business” both central drivers of an organizations success.

RSM— What are some of the best practices you’ve seen organizations implement in order to accelerate the career trajectory of their female talent?

 SR—Leadership development programs to bring visibility to the women’s strength

  • Mentor programs to help women develop in their roles
  • Sponsor programs that partner women talent with executive leaders that are in decision making rooms that can support elevating women to a seat at their table
  • Programs that help women develop intangible skills such as confidence, emotional intelligence and Courage

RSM— How will the Millennial generation flip the script on gender inclusion at the top?

SR—Millennial’s lead as “I am the solution” as opposed to hire me and and I will “find solutions” which can be both a negative and a positive.

Sheila Robinson inspires us with her wisdom

Sheila Robinson inspires us with her wisdom

RSM— In terms of leadership lessons, can you share a couple of your moments of personal failure and what you’ve learned from them?

SR—My biggest failures both professionally and in business involved things I had no control of and/or lack of knowledge to include setbacks, disappointments and financial losses.

My biggest lessons include recognizing that these failures or mishaps are lessons I never had to repeat again and took the opportunity to put measures in place not to do so.  Additionally, I learned along the way how to turn adversities into opportunities by many of these very learnings.

One of my roles while working for DuPont, was Pubic Relations Director of the Lycra® brand representing the organization by managing publicity activities, but also as a spokesperson.

I was responsible for being on site at major events.  One in particular was a promotion of high-end hosiery made with Lycra® that was sold at Bloomingdales department store in New York with the movie “Chicago” because of all the hosiery worn in the movie.

On site, also was the movie producer, Martin Richards and one of the actresses Queen Latifah as well as Bloomingdales division head, Donna Wolfe.  Paparazzi were everywhere.  My public relations agency was on-site managing everything and I was pretty happy because all I was responsible for that day was taking a few photos with the talent and answering any minor questions. Activities I was accustomed to doing in a setting like this.  One of the most embarrassing moments in my career, however, occurred that day.

The PR firm were I worked had a relationship with E! Entertainment. The TV channel was on-site and without my knowledge my team convinced them to interview me on-air.  Generally with celebrities on-site, they would only want to interview an actress, but they were honoring a favor asked by my PR firm.  The next thing I knew, the microphone was being held at my mouth and I froze. I literally froze and if anything came out of my mouth it didn’t make it on-air…It was CUT!

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Hall of Fame 2017 graces the cover of Diversity Woman, the publication of a Hall of Fame 2018 honoree.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Hall of Fame 2017 graces the cover of Diversity Woman, the publication of a Hall of Fame 2018 honoree.

It was a great missed leadership opportunity.  A chance to highlight my organization’s product to millions of viewers, to highlight my skills within my organization and give our PR firm high score for getting us on-air.  It was very upsetting to me that I missed out on such an amazing opportunity.

But there was a blessing on the other side of this.  I had worked so hard in my role and had so many other successes that my team did not hold this mistake against me. They actually took responsibility for not training me properly.  Within weeks my boss paid for me and other members of my team to have on-air training for a week in NY, an investment that cost them $10,000 which was a lot of money for training 20 years ago.  Years later I eventually appeared on E! Entertainment on another show called “Stripped” with Sara Blakely of Spanx®, as there is Lycra® in Spanx®. My team had the great fortune of working very closely with Sara Blakely in the early stages and start-up of Spanx®.  The lesson for me from that day onward is the importance of educating oneself on everything you can to be better in your role.  I still to this day am always looking for programs and trainings to help me become “a better me” both personally and professionally.

Don't miss our interview with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises

RSM— Who were some of the most influential men and women in your

Diversity Woman magazine keeps up the inclusion conversation

Diversity Woman magazine keeps up the inclusion conversation

career other than family members? How exactly did they influence you?

SR—Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, President Emerita of Spelman College and Bennett College for Women served as a role model for many years.  I eventually had the good fortune to meet her and over the years we now have a mutual mother-daughter relationship.  We have great respect and admiration for each other.  There are so many ways I have been influenced by this relationship, but one that comes to mind, is how she makes you feel.  Just like the great late poet Dr. Maya Angelou’s famous quote, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ That is Dr. Cole. Once you meet her you will never forget how she made you feel.


RSM— Can you share with us the story of one life/career that changed thanks to you. 

SR—I had a great career with the textiles Lycra® division of Dupont and when my division was sold to Koch massive layoffs hit my office.  Recruiters began reaching out to me. I referred my marketing assistant for one job in particular. His immediate reaction was “I am not qualified.” I sat down with him and told him that just because the “job title” said one thing did not mean he was not qualified.  I shared with him all his strengths and qualifications and the value he had brought to our team.  I encouraged him to apply and he got the job!


You can connect with Sheila Robinson on LinkedIn

Twitter @DiversityWomen


Andrés Graziosi, a Senior Executive in Constant Evolution

Maintaining a flexible leadership style is one of the keys to continue growing as a leader. This is what Andrés Graziosi, President, Latin America Region and Canada of Novartis Pharmaceuticals has always done. Get inspired!

RSM Hall of Fame

RSM Hall of Fame

He was born in a town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina and for the last 15 years he’s had a great career trajectory at Novartis, the pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Switzerland. Andrés Graziosi, Public Accountant with an MBA from ESEADE, started his career at PwC where he spent 10 years as a senior manager.

He arrived at Novartis Argentina as finance manager and then moved for two years to the company’s headquarters in Basel. He then spent several years in Miami from where he directed the commercial area for Latin America and later led Novartis Argentina. In 2014 he was named country leader of the pharmaceutical business in Russia, an opportunity that allowed him to explore a completely different culture, and one of the destinations to which his family likes to return, as he shares with us. Since May 2016, he returned to Miami to occupy his current position.

For his inclusive leadership and unconditional support for female talent, we honor Andrés Graziosi in the 2018 Hall of Fame.

Andres Graziosi honoree of 2018 Hall of Fame

Andres Graziosi honoree of 2018 Hall of Fame

Red Shoe Movement— What’s your impression of female leadership in Latin America and Canada?

Andrés Graziosi— At a global and regional level, female leadership is increasingly present and stronger, which is clearly gaining ground in recent years.

Throughout the region, Latin America and Canada, there are already several cases of women who have reached the top level: The presidency.

Novartis Latin America and Canada have recently named female leaders in Canada, Mexico and Chile and we are proud to have a 50% female representation. We hope this figure will continue to grow.

RSM—What are some personal lessons in terms of leadership that you learned in your position as Russia Country Manager for Novartis?

AG— In general, what I learned in terms of leadership is that what is successful in the Western world, is not necessarily so in the Eastern world. For example, I discovered that Russians are brilliant in hard-skills. They are, however, still in the process of developing soft-skills. One has to change one’s leadership style depending on the context and culture one faces. For example, while in the East showing vulnerability as a leader is not seen as a positive, it could easily be a positive behavior in the Western world.

Andres Graziosi a leader who is in constant evolution shares his vision on a TV interview

Andres Graziosi a leader who is in constant evolution shares his vision on a TV interview

RSM—What are your recommendations for leaders interested in international experiences? What are some strategies to obtain the right visibility?

AG— You have to be extremely receptive, open, and have the ability to listen. Staying open to learning is very important, because, in terms of leadership, you never finish learning.

As an international leader, you have to understand that, in a global world, one has to have certain principles that should be unmovable: such as honesty, or commitment to the other, which should not change, no matter where in the world you are. Apart from this, one must be able to question even his own beliefs.

Andres Graziosi supports the #RedShoeTuesday campaign by wearing red ties (and sometimes red sneakers!) to work on Tuesday!

Andres Graziosi supports the #RedShoeTuesday campaign by wearing red ties (and sometimes red sneakers!) to work on Tuesday!

RSM—Can you share a personal moment of failure and what you have learned from it?

AG—Something at the beginning of my work at Novartis marked my career. I had accomplished everything I always wanted: being part of the company’s finance team. After 6 months of being in that job, however, I felt that I had failed. I didn’t feel happy, I didn’t add value to the company, and worst of all, I wasn’t giving my best. I decided to resign. But my mentor at that time had the vision to see beyond a task or a result and to see my capabilities and potential. He sat with me and helped me see why I was unhappy at work: I missed the contact with the client and being evaluated on my performance. He suggested that I change to the commercial area of ​​Novartis, where I would have these challenges. Through this failure, I was able to find my true vocation. I am extremely grateful that I had someone in my life who guided me along the way. And I was able to get to where I am today, leading the entire region of Latin America and Canada.

Andres Graziosi shares Novartis vision on inclusion

Andres Graziosi shares Novartis vision on inclusion

RSM—With a position of such responsibility, how do you integrate your personal and your professional life?

AG— When your child says “the last three times I asked you to come see me play, you didn’t come”, you realize that your personal and professional life are imbalanced.

The balance between personal and professional life is one of those topics that like leadership, one never finishes learning. Achieving it is not an easy task, but it’s not impossible. What has helped me is to try to maintain awareness of the high level of tension that this type of work causes, where, if one stops being conscious, the wave will under until you are submerged in the work.

Personally, I have achieved a balance through my family. Once in a while, I sit down with them to ask how I am doing as a father or husband, and assess whether I am spending enough time with them and / or paying attention. Thanks to the sincerity (sometimes overly sincere) of my children, I have managed to correct and re-set myself in the right path.

Another survival tip to be able to integrate my personal life and my professional life has been to play sports, to have a little personal time to recharge and relax. It’s something that we all need from time to time. My work teams notice the difference when I don’t manage to have this time.

A leader in touch with his team and his customers, always listening and adapting to change

A leader in touch with his team and his customers, always listening and adapting to change

RSM—Who were some of the most influential men and women in your career? How exactly did they influence you?

AG—Leaders have an extraordinary responsibility to share what they have received with others so that they, in turn, can share these learnings with someone else. Without naming a specific person, mentors have had a great role in my career and personal life. I’ve had the good fortune of crossing paths with visionary and inspiring leaders who have managed to see my potential, discovering things in me that I had not even seen. They have helped me make better decisions, solve complex problems and overcome great obstacles.

That was a huge influence. I managed to improve myself, thanks to dedication and effort, but also thanks to the path that others opened before, and I feel obliged to share what I have learned with those who will come after me.

Andres Graziosi, always moving the needle on inclusion

Andres Graziosi, always moving the needle on inclusion

RSM— Can you share with us the story of a person whose life or career changed thanks to you?

AG— Part of being a leader is knowing how to make the right decisions, at the right time. A while ago, I had a situation in relation to a person in the organization who was not producing the expected results. When consulting with several colleagues, the conclusion was always the same: to dismiss the person. However, despite all the facts, there was something that didn’t convince me. As a leader, my responsibility was to make the right decision so I took extra time to sit down and evaluate why I still had doubts. I knew that this employee had great potential and that in the right place and with the appropriate coaching they could get ahead. After offering the employee a change, today this person is very successful in the organization.

You can contact Andrés Graziosi on Linkedin

Nuria Vilanova Giralt: A Leader Who Rolls-up her Sleeves!

If there is something that defines Núria Vilanova Giralt, it’s her warmth. She inspires confidence as soon as you meet her, a critical trait not only for a communications entrepreneur but for any influencer. Meet her and get inspired!

RSM Hall of Fame

RSM Hall of Fame

Núria Vilanova Giralt began her career at 18 as a journalist. At 23 she founded with her mother the communications company Inforpress (“renamed” ATREVIA in 2015), nowadays the largest communications company in Spain.

With a team of more than 300 people and offices in 13 Latin American countries, in the United States, Belgium and Portugal, ATREVIA’s vocation is to lead communications in Spanish and Portuguese.

Among the many organizations in which she participates, Núria is president of the Consejo Empresarial Alianza por Iberoamérica (CEAPI), a network of influential businesspeople in the region, that aims to stimulate the exchange and cooperation in the private enterprise.

She is the founder and co-president of the Observatory of Internal Communication and Corporate Identity, with the School of Business, Instituto de Empresa and author of two books. She has received multiple recognitions among them, la Cruz de Oficial de Isabel La Católica, one of the highest-ranking recognitions in Spain. She has also been awarded the Fidem Prize for Entrepreneurial Women and appears in several rankings as one of the TOP 100 women in Spain and one of the 10 most influential CEOs in social media in that country.

For blazing a trail, breaking down barriers, leading with an inclusive vision, and for being a role model of leadership for the 21st century, today we honor Núria Vilanova Giralt in the Red Shoe Movement Hall of Fame.

Nuria Vilanova Giralt Hall of Fame 2018

Nuria Vilanova Giralt Hall of Fame 2018

Red Shoe Movement—How do you see female leadership in Europe?

Núria Vilanova Giralt—Giant steps towards progress have been taken, but there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equity. It is important that administrations move, but even more so that there are changes in the leadership of the organizations and, fundamentally, in the base of society, where poverty is much more cruel to women, who suffer violence and harassment. Until there are changes in the base we won’t break the glass ceiling.

RSM— As a communications company, one of your strengths is Latin America. What do you think are the strengths of women in the region?

NVG—Latin American women are strong, excited and eager to change the rules of the game. Their talent and tenacity has allowed them to position themselves in traditionally masculine sectors. They have become a fundamental part of any organization, either because of their contribution to their teams or because they occupy positions of responsibility.

Don't miss this interview with a powerful CEO in Latam: Alexia Keglevich

RSM— What makes women great leaders?

NVG—We women are optimistic. What we have achieved compared with the generation of our mothers is incredible. We know that the world will be different in the coming years but, please, let’s make sure that it is also different for women.

Nuria Vilanova Inspirational Quote

Nuria Vilanova Inspirational Quote

RSM—You are personally involved in several initiatives that promote gender parity in the board of directors and high decision-making positions. Could you share about that a bit?

NVG—Yes, ATREVIA is a signatory of the agreement promoted by the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality to increase the presence of women in management bodies and boards of directors of companies. In addition, at ATREVIA we began ten years ago to study gender equity in corporate boards of the main companies listed on the stock exchange. Back then there were 5% of women. Today there are 20%. It is evident that progress has been made, but to deepen this progress, a social commitment is needed.

We have also promoted the Mirada Plural Platform, formed by women leaders in different areas. It promotes the creation of a network to increase the presence of women in the media, committees, institutions, councils and associations, as well as promoting networking and the collaboration from the people with diverse backgrounds.

Nuria Vilanova with her book about the Z Generation

Nuria Vilanova with her book about the Z Generation

RSM— What recommendations do you have for a leader to effectively communicate her personal brand?

NVG—They must be very present in social media, interacting, informing others and informing themselves. Communicating with responsibility and with the commitment to do things well and, if mistakes are made,  apologize and rectify. Today’s society and organizations impose a new model of leaders, imperfect but connected, who move by the imperative of listening. Leaders must be able to get in the front row to reach people, roll up their sleeves and stand by their team.

RSM— What gives you hope in today’s world?

NVG—The attachment to values, solidarity, empathy and the power of communication to transform realities. I think the democratization of knowledge, the globalization and the breakdown of barriers thanks to the Internet that makes our society live an authentic revolution seem very hopeful. Today, more than ever, decision-makers are aware that they must put their hearts and minds to think about people.

Nuria Vilanova, a role model or the 21st Century

Nuria Vilanova, a role model or the 21st Century

RSM— In terms of leadership lessons, can you share one of your personal failures and what you have learned from it?

NVG—Each failure and each adversity represent an opportunity to improve and grow. In 1989, when I had only been an entrepreneur for six months, I lost my only client. I had two options: sink or find something that could help me keep the office and pay my secretary’s salary. So I had no choice but to go get new projects. Since then I have learned to transform negative situations into positive ones.

Every one of my company’s great milestones have taken place after a crisis. For example, in 2008, on the 20th anniversary of the company (called Inforpress at the time), we had 150 employees and seven offices (six in Spain and one in Portugal.) The global economic crisis was starting, and our customers were calling to ask for discounts or to cancel their contracts. I decided to bet on myself and on the team. So we organized a conference with the 150 workers and spent three days together figuring out the strategies to overcome the crisis. We came out of that conference stronger, with clear ideas. Once again, thanks to an obstacle on the road and in the middle of a turbulent time for the communication sector, we were able to grow by 25% and expand by opening offices in Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

Nuria Vilanova motivational quote

Nuria Vilanova motivational quote

RSM— Who were some of the most influential men and women in your career? How exactly did they influence you?

NVG—Among the members of my family, without a doubt, my mother. When I decided to start my company at the age of 23 – then called Inforpress – my mother decided to embark on the adventure with generosity, accepting decisions to open new offices and take risks that she did not want for her daughter. He has been the support of the project. Caring for detail, organizing chaos, monitoring profitability. She took care of everything that I neglected: the financial, accounting, tax, legal issues … and on many occasions she has been the mother for the team, the one who knows when someone really needs a hand. And my husband, who has joined the project, an ally of my mother in taking care that everything works and also assuming the challenge of innovation and technology in a world where what is communication without technology and big data?

RSM—Can you share with us the story of a person whose life or career changed thanks to you? 

NVG—We all change and we influence each other. Each of the people who worked at my company has left a mark. But perhaps an exciting moment was when at a dinner of the Association of Down Syndrome in Spain, her colleagues congratulated the person with Down syndrome who had joined ATREVIA. They lined up as she walked to the podium and applauded her because she had achieved the dream for which she had been preparing for so long: to join the workplace and contribute to society.

You can follow Núria Vilanova Giralt on Twitter

You can connect with Atrevia on Facebook

Ismael Cala: A Natural Motivator Who Stays Humble Despite Success

He defines himself as “life and human development strategist,” an unusual title that very accurately describes Ismael Cala today.

RSM Hall of Fame

RSM Hall of Fame

One of the traits that makes Ismael Cala unique is that he is constantly evolving. This journalist, interviewer, best-selling author, international lecturer, globe-trotter and born inspirer goes through life defining and strengthening his purpose. Helping others find theirs. Since we met him in the interviewer’s chair on his TV show “Cala” on CNN, the Cuban-Canadian has had an amazing journey.

Since leaving his successful program in July 2016, he focused all his energy on aligning himself with his essence. It was with Ismael Cala’s support that the Red Shoe Movement arrived in Latin America. His was the first interview broadcasted to the region that Mariela Dabbah gave when her book “Poder de Mujer” came out. That was the book that kicked off our movement and leadership development company. His support from that first moment and his continued advocacy for female self empowerment have made him a true inclusion leader. Today we honor him in the 2018 Hall of Fame. Here’s an insightful interview where you will get to know our charismatic godfather.

Ismael Cala in the Hall of Fame 2018

Ismael Cala in the Hall of Fame 2018

RSM— In the last two years since you left CNN your life has taken a big turn. Tell us, what have been the greatest satisfactions of taking this leap?

Ismael Cala— First of all, the greatest satisfaction for me is the ability to have self-respect. Because I was obviously feeling in my soul a call to take a break from the cameras, of my work so excessively exposed to the public, of an international media. And my ego said “how are you going to leave so much success, so much applause, so much recognition, such a good salary and such a good contract. ”

Following the dictates of the soul took a period of analysis, of introspection and the truth is that the greatest satisfaction is to realize that what you do is coherent and congruent with your essence, with your being, with your truth. Not with the symbols of the false power that society imposes on us, not wanting to have status, a reputation, recognition, prestige.

I took this for a need to continue growing, to leave my comfort zone, to reinvent myself a bit in my intentions and in my “whys” and “what fors.” I believe that the human being is a being of transformation and that the day you think you are finished as a product, that you are already a genius and that you have reached the top, that day your whole life gets complicated and you start to become someone obsolete.

The comfort zone is slowly making you meet people of mediocre influence and your ideas begin to freeze. Then, jumping and leaving that area (that was already a zone of security for me, and an area where my ego was totally handcuffed by recognition and success,) gave me a new beginning. The Ismael Cala Foundation, Cala Enterprises, Cala Speakers and all the other projects that we are carrying out with my team, all give me a huge satisfaction every day. Everything we sell, promote or the social help we provide is to turn this world into a place where we raise awareness. We provide agile solutions and tools to people and organizations to make this a more productive, more harmonious, more tolerant and happier world.

Ismael Cala Inspirational Quote

Ismael Cala Inspirational Quote

RSM— How did you face the initial stress of launching yourself as an entrepreneur? For many it is a period of great anxiety.

IC— I’m not going to deny it, I think I’ve had an entrepreneur’s mind since childhood. I always tried to think bigger. Even the geography of my small hometown El Caney, fell short of my vision of life when I was only 8 years old. Back when I told my mother: “Change me to a different school. I want to go to the city that is only 8 km away, to Santiago de Cuba,” since El Caney was a very small town and my whole family had lived there for generations and generations.

Then my spirit of adventure, exploration, expansion and entrepreneurship comes from childhood. Now, when we are talking about rolling up my shirt sleeves and taking on a project with the level of Cala Enterprises, obviously that there is anxiety. Especially because my venture has not had up until a few months ago, any type of investment that has not been my own personal investment. My own funds.

I was an entrepreneur at 20% 30%. I didn’t my salary from CNN. I invested part of that salary in what is now Cala Enterprises. There is a very interesting book by Patrick McGinnis (one of our Cala Speaker) that is called the 10% Entrepreneur and I recommend that you read it.

In the book McGinnis recommends good practices for everyone who has a job but at the same time has an idea for a business. In my case, I manage anxiety with mindfulness, emotional intelligence, positive psychology and everything I have learned. I have become, a sort of facilitator for others in the subject of mindfulness and it has helped me deal with my own fears, my own ghosts and my own anxiety.

But in the end all business is destined to die unless its owner prevents its death. I have always had that phrase very present in my mind, and I wonder all the time what I have to do to prevent this business from dying. It cannot die.

With regard to anxiety, I manage it through mindfulness. I have converted anxiety into a mindful anticipation, I believe that when you manage your fears, then anxiety is no longer anxiety but it becomes a relaxed and serene anticipation of the uncertainty. Because the path of the entrepreneur is uncertainty, volatility, ambiguity and complexity. After all we live in a world VUCA, the acronym of volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

Ismael Cala with Cala Enterprises team

Ismael Cala with Cala Enterprises team

RSM— You have spent the last couple of years taking your conferences around the world. How do you see female leadership in Latin America compared to female leadership in Europe and the United States? What are the strengths of women in Latin America and what could they strengthen?

IC— The truth is that I am very proud of Latin America in terms of female inclusion. There have already been several women presidents, some even being elected twice, as was the case of Michelle Bachelet, whom I had the opportunity to interview.

There are women representing us at the UN, globally, internationally and not only in politics where many of our congresses already have a significant female representation.

If you look at Venezuela, for example, you can see how the Venezuelan opposition movement has had Maria Corina Machado among its strongest leaders as well as Lilian Tintori defending the rights of her husband, and not only as his wife but also as the great social activist she has become. I believe that female leadership in Latin America is a leadership of resilience, it is leadership without resentment.

I think the Latin American woman doesn’t compete with the man. She realizes that she’s earning her place and respect with her femininity, the energy of the motherhood of nonviolence, tolerance and love (because that is a mother.) It gives me a lot of pleasure to see that.

What could be reinforced? I would say that the issue of self-confidence in women should be reinforced in Latin America. And that when they become mothers, women themselves should not reinforce those inherited patterns they have received through education over hundreds of years. Things like the differences in norms and roles that are acceptable in boys and girls that we see from childhood: that boys don’t cry, that girls can cry.

These differences then put women at a competitive disadvantage, because the mother herself is telling the man that he must be emotionally illiterate and that the girl can kick and scream and it does not matter why. I believe that we should be more aware of the education we give children so that they suffer less from the consequences of this macabre differentiation of the social roles and norms of men and women.

Ismael Cala an inspirational leader at heart

Ismael Cala an inspirational leader at heart

RSM— What makes women great leaders?

IC—I believe that women have an emotional intelligence allowed from childhood that enabled them to explore the horizon of their emotions and better understand themselves. When you know yourself better, you can more easily be the voice and soul of a group. It is harder for men to know themselves so they cannot connect emotionally with others and can not communicate their vision. I believe that there are many women who have that passion and connection and who express it and use it in a very good way.

RSM— What recommendations do you have for a leader to effectively communicate her personal brand?

IC— This is why we created Cala Speaking Academy, which starts in March 2018, and there is already a second session planned for May. All the information is on the website.

This program was born because I feel that creating a personal brand and above all your communication style that you use to tell your story and your message, is very important. More than 85% of leaders’ success depends on their skills and abilities to communicate. So I really suggest that a leader studies his/her history in order to take ownership of it and purge any traumas, prejudices or stigmas. Once you are free of them, your story will empower you rather than enslave you.

Then, my recommendation is to build a differentiating message. What are the topics on which you will focus? We cannot talk about everything and we cannot please everyone. We have to be “bamboo leaders.” This means having principles and values ​​as our roots that are cast deep down into the ground. That nothing can break us, neither events nor circumstances. Like bamboo. Bad weather can bend us but not break us or split us into two pieces. But you also need flexibility, adaptability and above all an incredible ability to learn quickly.

Today more than ever we must learn and unlearn at a great speed.

RSM— What gives you hope?

IC—It gives me a lot of hope to know that young people are living a more abundant world than the one I grew up in. When I was a child, there was no global interconnectivity or exponential technologies. The moment of reaching singularity, that is the possibility of artificial intelligence to have the capacity of the human brain or of all the brains in the planet, for example.

The fact that we’ll be able to digitize the human brain in the near future is very encouraging. In the coming years we will experience some momentous changes that will leave us perplexed. It is the most abundant time and the time that as humanity when we have the largest amount of information, so that is a privilege.

Ismael Cala motivational quote

Ismael Cala motivational quote

Don't miss our interview with 2017 Hall of Fame honoree, Rosemary Rodríguez

RSM— In terms of leadership lessons, can you share some personal failures and what you have learned from them?

IC— Today, what I coined as failures when I was younger have become my great painful learning lessons, because one should not fail backwards. One must fail forward.

One of my failures was this. I took the risk of leaving everything I had in Miami, (two very important contracts in the local radio and TV market) to pursue the dream of conquering Mexico. It was going to be through the large Mexican platform Televisa, (the number one media platform in Latin America) but it was not the right time. I pushed and pushed and it happened but the moment was not right. It was the year 2008, the international financial crisis, the devaluation of the Mexican peso. But also maybe I wasn’t ready to take on a project that demanded comedy skills that I had not developed yet.

That project, which I thought would be totally successful, lasted only 2 months on the air. I took it as a professional failure at that time. Thanks to that experience in Mexico and my reflecting on what I wanted to do with my career and what I didn’t want is that the possibility of returning to CNN in Spanish appeared. To do “Cala” the talk show that Cynthia Hudson, the president of CNN en Español, put on the air. That was a big stroke of luck with a lot of hard work and effort from my production team.

What at one point could have been considered a failure, not to have triumphed in Mexico, was really my great learning curve. It enabled me to know what I wanted to do, what my skills were and what they weren’t. It enable me to develop those skills in which I wasn’t fully competent so I could succeed in the next attempt. So, bingo. There are no failures!

RSM— Who were some of the most influential men and women in your career above and beyond your family? How did they influence you exactly?

Ismael Cala is a leader in constant change

Ismael Cala is a leader in constant change

IC— I learned a lot from my father and my mother who were my life gladiators. I admired my dad’s intelligence. He was a brilliant man until schizophrenia kidnapped his mind and then at the young age of 40 he was disabled to continue working.

But I could see that my father had a mind dedicated to learning. I think I inherited his thirst for learning. And from my mother I got her intuitive intelligence, her vivacity and eloquence, her perseverance and passion. That’s why I wrote the book Un Buen Hijo de P … because I think I was born of two good children of P … children of passion, patience and perseverance to do something interesting with our lives.

Then Nilda G. Alemán, my radio teacher and at 8, instilled in me the love of reading, of children’s stories, poetry, writing, speaking, and acting. She changed my life as she planted the first seed towards me becoming a communicator. At 86 this lady still lives in Santiago de Cuba. I visited her just a year ago and very soon I will visit her again because I love her and she is a second mother to me. There are also many people who have influenced me professionally, but I would say that Oprah Winfrey is my great inspiration in terms of life story and as a communicator and philanthropist.

RSM— Can you share with us the story of a person whose life or career changed thanks to you? One of those stories that reinforce your life purpose (And of which you don’t normally speak.)

IC— Wow. The truth is that I don’t often talk about these stories, but I can tell you something, there are many. And humbly they make me think that all I do is worthwhile because one adds value to the lives of other people.

A book, a conference, an event can transform someone’s way of thinking and when you transform a person’s way of thinking, you transform their reality and transform their life.

There was a 20 year-old young lady who came to a book signing in San Jose, Costa Rica. I didn’t realize she had difficulty walking, but when she arrived in front of me she said: “Ismael you’ve changed my life.” To me that seems too broad, strong and really too shocking. I never I pay much attention to a phrase like that so that my head doesn’t get bloated and I can remain humble and with my feet on the ground.

I said “Why do you say that? What could I have done?” And she replies, “A friend of mine gave me one of your books when I was 15. Un Buen Hijo de P… (A good son of a p…) I was about to have my legs amputated, because I had a very rare bacteria in my feet that was moving up. The doctor was afraid that gangrene would reach the rest of my body so my legs were amputated. ”

Sure enough at that moment I looked down and realized that she had marks on her jeans above the knees. She was wearing prostheses that I hadn’t noticed. She says, “That book made me A Good Hija de P … a daughter of passion, perseverance and patience. From then on I knew that I would have many more reasons than my legs to stay alive, to continue to be stimulated, to continue wanting to smile, to be happy and to do something important in my life.”

When that young woman told me that, the tears came to my eyes and I said to myself: Ismael, everything, even those things that seem tedious to you (because reviewing a book a thousand times becomes tedious, for example), they’re worth it. When someone gives you a testimony like that you say, it was worth the insomnia, the hard work of my team advising me, helping me to make the book as good as possible.

This is one of many examples. Another one was a 14 year old boy in Argentina who came up to me and said, “You have changed my life.” and I said incredulously:
“Oh my God!” And then his mother, who saw that I didn’t believe her son said: “What my son just said is quite true. He listens to you since he is 11 years old. He watches you, he follows your shows, buys every book you write, he listens to your podcasts and he speaks to me with your language, Ismael. This child is an old soul “.

The truth is that there are many examples like this, and I want to say the glory is from God and from my team that makes a titanic effort to execute all the ideas and ensure that I, as a spokesperson for these messages, can have the correct information, the right accessories, the best means to share them.

You can connect with Ismael Cala on Twitter.

Ring the Bell on The 7 Seas Shows Support for Gender Equality

For the first time ever, people around the world will signal their support for gender equality while navigating our planet’s beautiful oceans. Don’t miss this inspiring initiative!

Echoing the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality,” on March 8, 2018 we rolled out the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality global initiative with Celebrity Cruises. (Another amazing initiative, this month we rolled out our 2018 Hall of Fame and our new Red Shoe Leader Award!) We are beyond excited to have celebrated this International Women’s Day across the world’s oceans with people from the most diverse cultures!

Lisa Lutof Perlo quote about Ring the Bell

View of Ring the Bell on 7 Seas- Supporting Gender Equality

View of Ring the Bell on 7 Seas onboard the Celebrity Summit- Supporting Gender Equality

UPDATE: Our Global Gender Equality Initiative Takes Off! A Day to Remember

We couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect day to launch the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality global initiative. It was 60 F with bright blue skies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The only uninvited guest was the wind. And yet, nothing would’ve been the same without it.

Our CEO, Mariela Dabbah, our Head of Communications, Gustavo Carvajal and our social media team and photographer boarded the Celebrity Summit to find the entire crew — from the kitchen staff to the captain of the ship— dressed with red shoes, ties, scarfs, and ribbons to honor our mission and our #RedShoeTuesday campaign.

Waitstaff welcomed us onboard with red drinks

Waitstaff welcomed us onboard with red drinks

As we walked down the side of the ship to the top deck a line of wait staff welcomed us with red cocktails and roses while the DJ blasted a playlist of female singers through the speakers. In no time the deck was filled with around 200 crewmembers, Celebrity Cruises’ executives including their CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, media and guests. We all stood behind the beautiful red podium holding The Bell.

Lisa Lutoff Perlo reads Ring the Bell manifesto

Lisa Lutoff Perlo reads Ring the Bell manifesto

Mariela framed the occasion by sharing how the ceremony was echoing the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality being held in 63 stock exchanges around the world. She invited everyone to ring their own personal bells at home. But of course it was hard to pretend this was a normal speech. As she talked, the wind took over her hair and it pretty much looked like she’d fly away any minute.

Then Lisa, underscore how fitting it was to Ring the Bell in such a windy day when we were all feeling the winds of change. She read the event’s Manifesto while Captain Theocharis Charalampos and a bridge officer had to hold down The New Leader Times so it wouldn’t be blown off to the sea.

Mariela Dabbah with Celebrity Crew after Ring the Bell

Mariela Dabbah with Celebrity Crew after Ring the Bell

While the formalities were dispensed with, the party really started. People truly celebrated the occasion. We took pictures with a beautiful member of the entertainment team who wore a long red dress several feet long, which became the perfect live background, constantly morphing with every gust of wind.  The icing on the cake of this perfect event was a luxurious lunch onboard!

Lisa Lutoff Perlo and Mariela Dabbah after rining the bell

Lisa Lutoff Perlo and Mariela Dabbah after rining the bell

Ringing the Bell for Gender Equality Again and Again

Throughout the day, we received pictures, videos and Boomerangs from all over the world. The most amazing images bore witness of how far the initiative had traveled and how much people had engaged with it. Adding red balloons, and dressing up with their best red outfits for evening parties!

We’ll soon share the recap video here!!

Can’t wait to see how we top this celebration next year. But you know we will!


Ring The Bell on the 7 Seas | Support for Gender Equality

Ring The Bell on the 7 Seas

What is the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality?

Carried out by UN Women, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges, IFC, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges, the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” ceremony “raises awareness of the pivotal role that the private sector plays in advancing gender equality to achieve SDG 5.” (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.)

For the third year in a row, on March 8, International Women’s Day, (or very close to that day) women ring the bell at stock exchanges around the world. This initiative was launched in 2016 and it has been adding new participating countries every year. In 2017, the Argentina Chapter of the Red Shoe Movement brought the Ring the Bell to that country. Our team rang the bell alongside Argentina’s Vice-President, Gabriela Michetti. (And we are proud to say that we were the #1 contributor on Twitter to the conversation generated by this amazing occasion under #GenderBell used in conjunction with the initiative.)

The Red Shoe Movement Argentina Chapter, Rings the Bell for Gender Equality with the country's vice president Gabriela Michetti in 2017

The Red Shoe Movement Argentina Chapter, Rings the Bell for Gender Equality with the country’s vice president Gabriela Michetti in 2017

What is the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality initiative

As we continue to find ways to amplify our mission and awaken the global community to reach a leap of consciousness in gender equality, we created the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas.” An initiative that would expand not only the message of the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality, but that also intents to echo the proverbial school bells welcoming girls everywhere. Particularly in those countries where girls education is not yet a reality. It’s our way of enabling the inspiring sound of bells to reverberate across the planet from sea to shining sea.

Sailing toward gender equality!

The “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas” is a symbol of a world joined by oceans and by travel. An experience that opens our minds. Helps us see new perspectives, different cultures, and ways in which people live and do things. Hopefully, an experience that leads us to understanding that we every human being deserve equal treatment and respect.

Sailing towards gender equality


What happens during the “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas”?

On March 8, 2018, all of Celebrity Cruises ships will host a ceremony onboard for passengers and crew. Everyone will wear red shoes, ties and accessories in support of the Red Shoe Movement’s mission —to accelerate representation of women in decision-making positions— and our ongoing #RedShoeTuesday campaign.

Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

The captain will read a message from Celebrity Cruises’ CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, one of our 2017 Hall of Fame honorees and keynote guest at our 2017 Signature Event.

Then each captain will ring the bell to echo the bells ringing across the globe both on the water and on land to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, of equal pay for equal work, and of shared power. And then, from the Caribbean, to the Arabian Sea, and from the Indian Ocean to the Tasman Sea, each ship will blow its horn. A similar ceremony will take place at Celebrity Cruises offices around the world.

Let this be a unifying moment when we all raise our glasses to toast to a new era of gender equality. An era of fresh, new leadership with innovative ideas that bring answers to 21st Century challenges. A leadership that is inclusive of everyone. Join us on social media #GenderBell #IWDleader #IWD2018.

The wind is at our back. Let the journey begin!