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Aric Dromi Helps Design the Future We Wish to Live In

Aric Dromi is a keynote speaker, futurologist, digital philosopher and self-proclaimed professional troublemaker who helps people and organizations design the future they wish to live in.

He has one simple mission: inspiring a change in the way the world and the technologies that govern it are viewed and experienced. To question the status quo and stimulate the kind of critical thinking that’ll shift priorities and better equip us against challenges ahead. Challenges we’re not prepared for.

Aric is passionate about the transformation necessary at political, societal and personal levels in preparation of a rapidly evolving future and the technologies taking over it. He is CEO and founder of TEMPUS.MOTU and creator of Dead Rabbit Society – both dedicated to coming up with ways to make the world and its leaders take notice of a fast-moving digital era we are already a part of.

Here’s what the story-maker had to tell Red Shoe Movement about experiencing technology, the importance of critical thinking and creativity, and navigating our way through a new technological revolution that’ll be like nothing humankind has experienced before.

Aric Dromi helps people and organizations think about how to design the Future

Aric Dromi helps people and organizations think about how to design the Future

How to design the future

Aline Cerdá­n— Can you explain a little more about your role as a futurologist and what it entails? What are some of the elements you consider when navigating the future?

Aric Dromi— always take the simple approach answering the question of what a futurologist is. I tell stories about potential futures that could happen and reverse engineer these potentials into concepts and trajectories of futures that should happen. In this context, you can’t merely be reactive but rather build proactive frameworks that can design future trends. If you do that, you control the narratives of the future. Navigating the future is about controlling the waves, then the wind, and the sea rather than building better ships.

AC—How will things like work, life, and travel change? Is there a way to prepare for a digital age?

AD—We live in a world where technology is augmenting almost every aspect of our lives and enabling us to enhance our virtual presence using code. Empathy, freedom, wellbeing, intelligence, education, governance, creativity, economics, and politics are the primary benefactors of the exponential growth and impact of technology.

For the first time in the history of humankind, natural evolution has reached the zenith of its potential. There is no place to go from a biological point of view. Yes, we might become a little faster and jump a bit higher, but we have reached a point where our organic structure cannot evolve anymore. Even with genetic modifications – sooner or later – we will hit the limit of our evolutionary potential.

We live in a world where technology is observing us more than we are observing it, and it is reality, the information doesn’t exist behind the screen anymore – we are the information. Every aspect of our existence is being quantified, stored, and monetized. This has already fundamentally changed (even if not on the societal level) the narratives of work, travel, mobility, and more. The App economy improves the way we book a hotel, order taxi, pay for services, work remotely etc.

I don’t think we should put any effort into preparing for a digital age, as we are already living in one. My main concern is that we keep driving our economic models based on buzz words that force our resources to focus on technology rather on the development of humankind, individuals and strategic thinking.

When we keep building “smart” things (smart phones, smart cities, smart cars) the word smart means Technology. We keep surrounding ourselves with technology and forgetting that our entire infrastructure, that may be cities, legal, educational, political and economic models can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. Moving forward, we need to rethink the fundamental building blocks of societal development and evolution or we are simply building a house of cards.

Sergio Kaufman of Accenture shares how technology levels the playing field for women
Helping design the future you want. Photo Credit Clay Banks.Unsplash

Helping design the future you want. Photo Credit: Clay Banks. Unsplash

AC—How are algorithms affecting us as human beings? How can we rethink the way we experience technology?

AD—What is an algorithm? It’s math and code coming together creating a set of routines that are designed to solve a problem (OK, I’m over simplifying). How many people actually understand what an algorithm is? Yet we are surrounded, directed, and even manipulated, by algorithms every day. From phone notifications, to content recommendations, digital communication, food consumption, online shopping, and social interactions, algorithms are the invisible puppet masters that frame our existence in the modern age. I’m not trying to be negative, but rather emphasize the need to better research and understand the side effects (that are fast becoming the new norm) of living in a world where the control strings are written in code.

AC— What is The Dead Rabbit’s Society? What is it about discomfort that helps challenge the status quo and better design the future?

AD— The Dead Rabbit Society was born out of few lectures I did with students outside the normal academic framework. I saw a need to rethink the narratives of education and the objectivity of the important questions we need to ask ourselves to secure our desired future. In a world of sanitized, politicized and agenda-filled news broadcasts, finding the truth has become a full-time job. We are confronted by a cacophony of trite media stories that have little or nothing to do with our reality in the present or, more importantly, the future. Yet for all the noise there is no clarity, no critical thinking, no objective voices to defend our society from an imminent future for which we are more than ill-prepared.

The Dead Rabbit Society’s role in all of this is to highlight the major questions of our time and to get people thinking about potential solutions the will carry us forward toward our desired future.

We do this via our online community, through hosting events, conferences and keynotes and we are embarking on an ambitious plan to produce documentaries around these questions. The first documentary will examine The Future of Work in a world that will be increasingly run by artificial intelligence and automated production capacity.

Aric Dromi speaks about how to design the future. Photo Credit Owen Beard. Unsplash

Aric Dromi speaks about how to design the future. Photo Credit Owen Beard. Unsplash

People don’t seem to have fully grasped the implications of AI and automation. Our society is on the verge of seismic changes, the likes of which we have not seen since the Industrial Revolution. This revolution will also displace a lot of employees and professions. But it won’t just be truck drivers and taxi drivers that are affected. Lawyers, doctors, surgeons – all manner of professions will be threatened by this technological revolution. But you don’t hear people talking about this. Our goal is to change that. We would like to highlight the issues, the questions, and have people put pressure on their political representatives to come up with a direction, a strategy for a future where we may not be employed as we currently know it. We can either sit back and hope that someone puts the genie back in the bottle, or we can be proactive and try to shape the narrative so that the future we encounter is one of our own making and not the result of a string of poorly made decisions based on incomplete facts that exclude the most important component of our future – people.

What we have seen so far is that most people are blissfully ignorant of the coming changes and have blind faith that things will work out for the best. Guess what – they won’t. Without clear and agreed direction we will be at the mercy of despots, corporations the size of continents and we will be slaves to our own data footprint. We have a choice. The Dead Rabbit Society’s aim is to highlight the choices and instigate an informed discussion.

Companies design the future by thinking differently

AC—How can companies instill a culture of creativity and risk-taking?

AD— I think the keyword here is “culture”. Companies must remember that we are born into culture, we are not born with culture. It is something we learn through the interaction set by our environment. To instill a culture of creativity and risk-taking you must have an assertive leadership team’s commitment to set the example.

Focusing on increasing your core earning model – and forgetting how to nurture and defend it – will never give you the tools and know-how to expand the foundation of your business.

So, this is the end destroying the means. If you focus on how profitable your business is today, your organization will not be productive tomorrow. Engaging in iterative change ensures you follow the pack as opposed to reap the rewards of being a thought-leader. Fear is the spawn of ignorance. If you only consider what has happened – or worse, what is happening – you can’t help us with tomorrow. Learn from the past, be present in the moment and let that insight allow you to think differently about the future.

We are in a major technological revolution. Photo Credit Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

We are in a major technological revolution. Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

Traits we need to prepare for what’s coming

AC—What can we do to educate ourselves on connectivity and the way we experience technology? What traits and abilities will we need moving forward to design the future we want to live in?

AD—I would start by asking the question, what does it mean to be human in a world where technology determines almost every aspect of our existence? I think we have already passed the point of no return where we can “live” without technology and as such we should find way to partner with it to define the next steps of human evolution. We need better-educated leaders and politicians. We need a better understanding of policymaking.

We can easily list the skills that today’s children will need to successfully navigate the future:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Originally
  • The ability to solve complex problems
  • Emotion and passion

But why is that list different from the skills we have always needed to excel in life and rise to the apex of our own potential? The truth is it’s not!

We do, however, need a set of new ideas for these skills:

  • We can’t use code the same way we use bricks
  • We need to move from managing-for-profit, to managing-for-impact
  • Experience should be measured by the quality of choices and not by the number of its functions
  • Don’t confuse symptoms with the appearance and root cause
  • Assets need to build up into properties and capital to deliver value to society
  • Think of technology as a legal system. The legal system was designed to be used (and sometimes abused) by lawyers – entrepreneurs use technology – technology is never the end goal, but simply a path.

We shouldn’t focus on experiencing technology but how technology can enable us to better experience ourselves and life. Think of technology as fire. Mankind learned how to tame fire (for the most part) – but we have already lost control of technology. This needs to change – quickly.

We have already lost control of technology. Photo Credit: William Daigneault. Unsplash

We have already lost control of technology. Photo Credit: William Daigneault. Unsplash

AC—How can concepts like morality and trust be redefined? Who will determine what the code of conduct in the digital age should be?

AD— I often ask people in my keynotes: If I visit a brothel run by robots and have sex with a robot, did I cheat on my wife? Can she rightfully sue me for divorce? What if someone hacked my artificial intelligence digital assistant and deleted the code. Can I sue that person for murder? I don’t have one simple answer around the future of morality, ethics and trust but rather a suggestion. We need to understand that our current system will never scale into a future that is anchored in code. We need to start telling stories about potential futures and stress-test them in front of policymakers to better help them rethink the process narratives that they use to design their policies. We can do this in a number of ways:

  • Identifying the unknowns in domains critical to the stability and development of humankind’s current societal structure
  • Defining the questions around which leaders and politicians can design a desired vision of the future
  • Developing strategies to realize this future by implementing the necessary tools and processes to deliver on the desired vision
  • Designing a set of experiments and scenarios in various domains to better prepare local, national and global leadership to tackle the upcoming challenges.

This is how we work with policymakers and governments, high business leaders and NGOs with our Think– Do–Rethink Tank, www.tempusmotu.org

Only by bringing the best minds together and providing space for them to develop these potential future narratives can we stress-test them and improve them through an iterative process. This is something that I am extremely passionate about.

In the end it is about defining the world you wish to live in, modelling it, testing it and improving it. If we continue to use the past as the gateway to the future we will not move very far. This is challenge I put to every leader I speak to. We can make the world a better place, if we want to.

Greta Thunberg and the rise of powerful young female voices

A teenage environmentalist becoming TIME’s Person of the Year is one of the things I loved most about a year that was often difficult to deal with. It’s symptomatic of the rise of powerful young female voices that is defining our times.

I’ll be honest, it puts my own inconsiderate teenage years into a harsh perspective, but while the adult part of me is deeply ashamed of needing young girls like Greta Thunberg to take matters into their hands, it provides vital hope in a time of crisis. Hope that these new strong young female voices that are fighting for the world have inherited not just the chaos previous generations have created, but also the courage to bring the necessary change around.

Greta Thunberg striking for climate change- Post from her Instagram account

Greta Thunberg striking for climate change- Post from her Instagram account

One of the most powerful young female voices today

She may only be a teenager, but Thunberg knows what she wants and won’t stop until she’s made sure people are listening. She has managed to get attention where others have failed to do so; she’s achieved commitment where there was none before, inspired young and not-so young to act and shamed those who continue to fail to do what’s right, no matter who they are or how they may retaliate.

She speaks frankly; she doesn’t do sugarcoating. Greta knows that we’re running out of time to right some of our wrongs before it’s too late. She offers facts and expects them to be enough to scare world leaders into action. To scare people into demanding a change from the politicians in charge.

Unless something is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s temperature will continue to rise. According to scientists this will “expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030”.

With a future that’s increasingly bleak and world leaders who don’t seem very interested in doing something about it, it’s no wonder that she’s gone from a muted depression to anger that’s gone viral. Anger that represents thousands.

The face of a youth-led climate movement first heard about climate change at school and tumbled deep into depression triggered by hopelessness and disbelief. How could global warming be a reality if politicians and world leaders were doing nothing about it? How  could adults be so unconcerned by the dreary future being handed down to children? How could they not listen to warnings scientists have given us for years?

Young female voices are leading the fight over many key topics of our times- Photo Credit: Markus Spiske- Unsplash

Young female voices are leading the fight over many key topics of our times- Photo Credit: Markus Spiske- Unsplash

At first, she went quiet and stopped eating, inspiring her family to make changes in lifestyle like giving up meat, growing their own food and installing solar panels to appease her anxiety. Gradually, she began to find her voice once again. An uncompromising, no-bullshit voice that she’s been using to wake the world up to the urgency of the planet’s current situation.

Greta’s Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis may have explained why she took her findings on the condition of the planet so hard, but as her father pointed out to TIME, she’s not wrong. While she has been mocked and bullied, her uncompromising passion and straightforward approach has also reached millions.

Her outrage at being forced to begin a climate strike instead of enjoying her childhood made an impression, especially on other young people who share her anger and disappointment. As they should. The demonstrations that have happened worldwide have brought about the kind of pressure that’s hard for leaders to ignore.

Emmanuel Macron told TIME that these weekly demonstrations by young people helped him change, “You cannot remain neutral”.

So, it’s probably a good thing that youths seem so involved. That Greta is not alone in wanting to make things happen where “grown-ups” have failed to succeed, or to even try. According to Al Gore, a Nobel Prize Winner for decades in climate advocacy, “many great morally based movements have gained traction at the very moment when young people decided to make that movement their cause”.

This could be a good sign considering young people, young women, seem to be at the forefront of change. Different, real, flawed, diverse, eloquent, young women who are making big things happen. It’s pretty inspiring.

I often wonder about the kind of woman my niece will grow into as a product of the world she’s been inherited. Of a world that’s fought for great new freedoms and has bred unlikely social champions unwilling to watch it burn. A world that’s at a breaking point that has forced kids out of classrooms to stand up and do what adults can no longer be trusted to do.

Powerful young female voices being heard worldwide. Photo Credit: Brianna Santellan. Unsplash

Powerful young female voices being heard worldwide. Photo Credit: Brianna Santellan. Unsplash

In recent years, names like Jamie Margolin (climate change), Emma González (gun control), Marley Diaz (diversity representation), Malala Yousafzai (education for women and girls), Mari Copeny (access to drinkable water) and Zoey Luna (trans youth rights) have proved that Greta is not only not alone in her fight to create awareness – she’s in good company. With more young female voices rising above the static as we stumble into the next decade.

I found the women I looked up to making music, or movies or writing stories. It worked for me – their messages were empowering and helped me define who and how I wanted to be in a lot of ways. It felt a little more self-involved on my side though, more limited. More about changing myself than changing the world. It feels like these kids are changing the world.

At sixteen, Greta is the youngest person to take the title given by the magazine every year. She joins Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Pope Francis in the long list of names who have claimed the cover, which has pleased some and, unsurprisingly, annoyed a few others. The unconventional young hero makes me feel ashamed of myself, but also excited about what she means to girls watching.

The women my niece will look up to are fighting for others. They tear through social convention. They are everywhere. They do everything. And, in a lot of ways, they’re just like her.

Read about the Women’s March that took place in the US

What is resilience? Its role in your career

How many times did you run into people who have experienced the worst circumstances and yet, they seem to move on with ease? Today we answer the question, what is resilience? And explore the key role it plays in your life and your career success.

The best way to answer what is resilience is with an example. Over a period of two years, a friend of mine suffered four major surgeries, had a severe accident that required two additional operations plus two months of recovery, the loss of her job, personal bankruptcy and the attempted suicide of her daughter. To tell you the truth there were times when I feared for her life. I though she wouldn’t have the strength to survive the magnitude of the difficulties facing her. But not only did she survive but in addition, she came out of that period stronger than before.

What is resilience? — Definition

There are many definitions of resilience, a word that refers to the quality in objects to hold or recover their shape, or the quality of people to stay intact in the face of adversity.

What is resilience? The ability to overcome adversities. Prepare for eventualities and learn to improvise.

What is resilience? The ability to overcome adversities. Prepare for eventualities and learn to improvise.

Psychological resilience is the ability to bounce back from a negative experience with a “competent functioning”. Neuroscience considers that the most resilient people have stronger emotional balance when faced by stressful situations. This better prepares them to put up with higher levels of pressure. It gives them a sense of control over their circumstances and an expanded ability to face challenges.

How resilience impacts your career growth

It’s not enough to answer the question what is resilience, but it’s critical to understand how it affects your career. Consider that the more resilient you are the easier it will be to:

  • Overcome adversity
  • Adapt to change (whether it’s change you seek or that happens unexpectedly)
  • Manage highly stressful situations
  • Face crises
  • Go through hard personal and professional times

Traits of resilient people

Many studies on resilience have been done over the past few years. They are helping identify people and organizations that conquer extreme adversity. (For example, people who are able to overcome a severe recession, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack and those who can’t.)

One of the best ways to answer what is resiliency is to explore what resilient people have in common.

According to Diane Coutu, author of a great article on what is resiliency and how it works, many of the

What is resiliency? You can tell right away by watching people who overcome major natural disasters.

What is resiliency? You can tell right away by watching people who overcome major natural disasters.

latest theories agree that resilient people share three characteristics:

1A staunch acceptance of reality– This is what enables them to consider the real possibility of extreme and adverse situations that might happen in the future. It’s what enables them to prepare for this eventuality.

2A deep belief that life is meaningful– This is what enables them to strengthen their relationships with others, seek solace in their values, interpret what happens as a challenge, and find hope to keep going. Rather than getting stuck asking, “Why is this happening to me?” they adopt a proactive attitude towards their new circumstances.

3 Unusual ability to improvise. This is what enables them to adapt to any new situation, regardless of how challenging it may be, and find a solution.

If you think about it, many of these are typical traits of people who grew up in Latin America and other countries in the developing world where the unexpected is the norm. People in those areas are used to having a plan B and plan C at the ready. They are creative, problem solvers. And history has shown that they are able to overcome any challenge put in front of them. If you grew up in that region your make sure to use those innate strengths to your full advantage.

Now, if you have a tendency to come undone when faced by an obstacle or if it takes you way too long to recover from an unexpected situation, it’s time to strengthen your resilience. It will not only help you in your career but also in your personal life.

Test your resilience with this quiz
Like the bamboo that bends with a strong wind but doesn't break, so can you if you develop resilience.

Like the bamboo that bends with a strong wind but doesn’t break, so can you if you develop resilience.

Here are a few ideas on how to do it:

  • Face the reality that unplanned, stressful things often happen and prepare for them the best you can.
  • Understand that there are circumstances out of your control and focus on those you can control. For instance, your interpretation of what is happening. If you find a meaning to the situation it will be easier to go through it.
  • Strengthen your personal relationships. They are key to support you during high- pressure times.
  • Practice using improvisation and creativity to resolve problems on the spot.
  • Build self-confidence so overcoming adversity becomes second nature.

Nowadays, resilience is one of the most valued characteristics for employers. They guarantee your adaptability to new situations and your quick response time. It’s a quality you can continue to develop throughout your life. So go for it!

 

 

Best Way to Overcome Adversity: Give Back!

Best Way to Overcome Diversity: Give Back! Says Kaitlin Roig Debellis

Best Way to Overcome Diversity: Give Back!

Lessons from Sandy Hook Teacher Hero

If the way in which you overcome adversity signals your level of motivation in the workplace Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis must be one of the most motivated teachers on earth.

On December 14th, the tragic day of the Newtown, CT, school shootings, Kaitlin’s fast thinking saved the lives of fifteen first graders. She packed them all into a three-by four-foot bathroom and kept them calm and quiet while the shooter killed 26 people including 20 children. One month later, when most of us would’ve still been experiencing shock, this young woman, now 30, created Classes 4 Classes Inc., a nonprofit organization that lets elementary school classes sponsor educational gifts for other classrooms. She believes that positive social change needs to start with the youngest members of society so her organization teaches K-8 students compassion, caring, kindness, empathy and other lifelong lessons.

A graduate of UCONN with a Masters of Education from NEAG School of Education, Kaitlin is a member of several honors societies, and was named New England Scholar in 2005. She began teaching first grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2007 and is now on leave to focus on her nonprofit.

Given last year’s tragic Newtown Shooting, how did you overcome adversity and promote motivation in the workplace?  

Motivation in the workplace begins at a young age

Motivation in the workplace begins at a young age

After experiencing this tragedy, immeasurable in its scope, I know there are no words of explanation and that there never will be. When I asked why, I heard silence in return. Sometimes we focus so long on what we can’t answer that we forget there are a lot of questions we can.  So for myself I had to look inward and ask: If there is no answer to ‘Why?’  then what does that mean? Where do I go from here? What is there to do? Those were two questions I could answer: I knew which direction to go, and I knew that there was something to be done. I needed to go forward, and I needed to create something positive for myself and my students, as to not let the destruction define us.

Time passed, days, weeks…(pause) Time is a funny thing, after enduring a tragedy, (do you know what I mean?) It just puts distance between you and it. It doesn’t diminish it, doesn’t change it, doesn’t erase it. It’s there. It’s constant. All one can do is to make the most of the good that is also abundantly around. Good and bad are both always present.

When I thought of my students, I knew we had to make a choice for ourselves, our nation, our world. If after such terror and destruction we were going to choose love, kindness, compassion, empathy, and hope, then I needed to find a way to teach this to my students. But at this point, I still had a large question to answer, and that was: How?

For myself, the answer to this was in founding Classes 4 Classes, Inc. This was how I gave control back to my students and myself. It was also how I came to find that this tragedy would not define my students or myself.

What advice would you give others to successfully overcome adversity ?

Things happen to us in our lives that impact us, influence us, change us.  We don’t have control over what happens to us, only in how we choose to react to it.  It is all in the power of positive thinking.

Perspective is amazingly powerful. Outlook determines how you react, or not to every situation in your life. You have the choice. You have the power.  You can choose to see the best in everything, to see the positive, to appreciate your many blessings. Having this perspective will make the challenges, hiccups, and upsets in your life so much more approachable. It will make the impossible, FEEL possible.

Tell us a little about Classes 4 Classes and what inspired it. Talk about a way of creating motivation in the workplace.

When we returned back to school in January the support from around the world was incredibly uplifting. So many gifts were coming into our school.

How you overcome adversity signals your level of motivation in the workplace.

How you overcome adversity signals your level of motivation in the workplace.

I stepped back and I realized that while my students were beyond deserving of all of these special gifts,  I needed to teach them a very important lesson. That in life when you get, you have to give. After all that is what makes our world a better place.

One afternoon I brought a large box a friend of mine had mailed to my class and I placed it in front of my class. I said to them, “This box is filled with things for us to use during recess,” and I started pulling out puzzles, games, balls, coloring books, markers…and their eyes grew wide.

I paused and then I asked them, “Do you know why someone sent this to us?” Their hands shot up and they started answering “Because they wanted us to be happy, “or “They wanted to be nice” or “They wanted us to have fun at recess.”

I told them, ” You’re all exactly right! Someone did this for us, for all of those reasons. In life when someone does something nice for you, you have to do something nice for someone else, and that is what we are going to do! We are going to find a class somewhere in the United States and we are going to make them feel the way we do right now…Happy”

Their eyes widened with excitement and their hands started to raise. They were so excited, ” Who are we going to help?” “How are we going to help them?” They asked. They were equally, if not more excited, at the thought of helping someone else, as they were for the gifts they had just personally received.

We then reached out to another class to see how we would help them, and make them feel happy. That is how the idea for Classes 4 Classes came to be!

What advice would you give others who are contemplating starting their own business and might be unsure about how to overcome adversity even when it’s different from the one you faced?  

It sounds very cliché, but you can do anything you put your mind to.

Persistence is key in meeting any goal. If you keep working hard, keep trying, always keep your goal in your forefront you will be met with success. You will always end up farther than where you started from. Always persevere.

“You must be the change you wish to see in our world.” Gandhi

We each have many gifts, and it is our job to share them.

You can connect with Kaitlin via Facebook

Twitter: @Classes4Classes

LinkedIn: Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis

Website: www.classes4classes.org

Email: Kroig@classes4classes.org

Overcoming Adversity: Sonia Velasquez, the philanthropic journalist

sonia velasquezSonia Velasquez is one of the best examples of overcoming adversity you will find. After the loss of her left eye to family violence, this beautiful woman embraced a career as a model, as a well-respected journalist, and a successful producer. Her passion for helping others has shaped her brand of philanthropic journalism and social activism.

Although we all know stories of famous people overcoming adversity, Sonia’s case is unique for the in-your face contrast between what happened to her and her generosity of spirit.  Born in Colombia, the host of Extreme Makeover Home Edition Latin America spends her time between Colombia, Miami, and Argentina.

Many successful stories begin with overcoming adversity. But when you are actually experiencing it, it’s not always easy to find a way out of it. When you think back about the time when you lost your eye, could you tell us what kept you going? How much influence did the mentor who introduced you to the eye patch have in your ability to pursue your career dreams?  

What kept me going was faith. I am convinced the universe brings you angels in the path. I was 18 and needed a push to move forward. My mentor at the time, was an incredible woman named Irma Airstizabal. She is a talent manager and a visionary who lit up my career. She knew something was missing… and she suggested that I wear an eye patch and introduced me to Adriana Eslava, who also wore one. They gave me the confidence to wear it. It was a leap of faith.

The most satisfying part of my work is trying to alleviate the pain of others by listening to their needs and helping to build their homes and dreams.

The most satisfying part of my work is trying to alleviate the pain of others by listening to their needs and helping to build their homes and dreams.

You’ve never been a traditional journalist and as the industry experiences dramatic changes, your style seems to be perfectly suited for the present. What kind of decisions do you make on a daily basis that challenge the way things have been done in your industry in the past?

My philosophy is based on social responsibility and the importance of our actions. The question: “How can I help others” is a way of thinking that makes many people uncomfortable.

Overcoming adversity is obviously in your DNA. What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your job and what strategies do you have in place to overcome them?

Everyday I deal with very skeptical people. For me the main challenge is their lack of hope in a better world. The way I balance this is by responding with understanding. Sooner or later they realize that everything is possible.

What do you find the most satisfying part of your work?

Trying to alleviate the pain of others by listening to their needs and helping to build their homes and dreams. I also have the need to connect with vulnerable women sending messages of hope and empowerment by sharing my story.

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What advice do you have for other women who have unusual career goals?

Connecting with the spiritual world no matter what beliefs you hold. By doing this I have found the strength I need it.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?

In Extreme Makeover Home Edition Latin America we help to build houses in which women are in charge. Beyond the material aspect, we send a powerful message of faith: You are not alone; we recognize the importance of your life, we recognize your challenges and your suffering. We send messages of love and recognition to people in similar situations.

I also work for the More Peace Less Aids Foundation, creating awareness about prevention and digging deep into the real causes. AIDS is not a medical issue but a social one who affects the vulnerable women population.

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For more on Sonia Velasquez:

Fan Sonia on Facebook

or Follow her on Twitter!

and, of course, visit her page! www.soniavelasquez.com