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President Trump and the recent election cycle made U.S. relations with Mexico and Latin America a pivotal subject and has led to polarized opinions on whether the U.S. should put itself first and ignore other nations’ needs. International speaker and writer Brian Rashid thinks it’s more important than ever to unite, rather than divide, the Americas.
Rashid, who is half Lebanese and half Irish, calls himself a “Latingo” — Latino of heart, gringo of blood. His interest in and passion for boosting access to entrepreneurship in Latin America began when he worked in the Dominican Republic while in law school, where he was instrumental in forming laws to protect children in an impoverished orphanage.
He spent a summer helping shut down a toxic dump behind the orphanage that was spewing fumes of burning trash into the children’s home. Though they had no physical possessions and had come from dire situations, each of the 125 children gave Rashid a gift on his last night in the country. “As I lay in my bed that night, I promised I would spend the rest of my life giving as much of my talents and experiences as I possibly could to Latino communities,” Rashid said.
For the last 10 years, he has done just that for Latino communities in the U.S. and across the Americas. Rashid has particularly noted the immense business potential of the global Latin community and has focused his speaking and coaching work in those markets. Here are some of the things he is most excited about as he shares his message.
1. Success is defined by skill.
Latin America has a troubled history, but this market has recently shown itself to be full of valuable entrepreneurs, services, products and companies. In the modern marketplace, if you are talented, customers will buy from you.
As tools, opportunities and connections continue to flow across the Americas, these communities will see more and more success filling their neighborhoods. Rashid has worked diligently to showcase Latin talent, correct ill-informed American stereotypes and help Latin businesspeople access the resources they need, follow best practices and connect with U.S. companies.
2. Social platforms have connected the Americas.
Rashid says one of his favorite things about Latinos is that “they want to solve real, local problems.” In the past, this was not always scalable for an aspiring business empire. Now, however, social platforms allow people to scale like never before.
A local business can now drive sales via Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns. Once they understand these platforms, they can scale a business globally. Similarly, they can use social platforms to see what their clients care about and can surprise and delight them based on those interests. This is a game changer.
Latin entrepreneurs can now do business with people in San Francisco and New York by simply logging onto Facebook. Bringing the world together, eliminating the barriers of entry and connecting the Americas is one of the biggest advances social media has given the world. This new development will give the Latin region a chance to become a global leader for the first time in the history of entrepreneurship.
3. Storytelling will drive Latino success.
Watch any episode of Mad Men, and it will be clear that storytelling is at the heart of a good brand and company. With the recent explosion of startups, storytelling has become even more crucial, as it allows companies to differentiate themselves from the competition. Latinos have amazing stories to tell, but are just scratching the surface on how to use that ability to create real business opportunities.
With the digital era has come a slew of platforms for making storytelling a viable means of running a business. Content channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram let businesses and figures connect and engage with viewers.
Podcasts and vlogs can be up and running in seconds. Launching a website is as easy as signing up for Squarespace. And publishing a book just needs a quick trip to Amazon.com. Rashid aims to educate Latinos about all of these opportunities and help them use their heritage to tell vibrant and valuable stories to the world in a way that sells.
“The key is to understand that your end user is consuming content everywhere, so you have to distribute your story across many channels. If you don’t, you are missing a huge opportunity to get attention, add value, build trust and ultimately make a sale,” Rashid said. “I want to teach people to be irreplaceable. If you can build a personal brand that people trust, you will always be relevant, regardless of changing technology, robots and the economy. Trust and value are the only way to have real job stability.”
Related: The Secret of Storytelling
4. Latinos are ready to inspire and innovate like never before.
As a “Latingo,” Rashid spends a lot of his time speaking and coaching in Latin America. Over the last five years, he says he has noted “an increased desire to be global leaders across Latin America.”
“This next generation has an appetite to be respected as business leaders and carve out their own niche in the global marketplace,” Rashid said. “They want to shed the past stigmas and be future leaders, and are taking proactive steps toward that goal.”
Latin people traditionally have a rich culture, impassioned drive and an incredible work ethic. Regardless of the trade or immigration legislation the United States puts upon them, they will find a way to compete and thrive in the new global economy.
Rashid never imagined his law school trip to the Dominican Republic would be the start of a decade-long journey around Latin America promoting and educating people on new business practices, but he is thrilled about the journey he is on. As the world continues to become more technologically advanced, borders will become less relevant, and the history, heritage and drive of the Latin people will provide them with massive business growth and impact in the years to come.