“Leadership is the ability to motivate and lead individuals, teams, and organizations through discovery, discussion, and actions they would not have arrived upon their own.”
Fernando Martinez, 2010
About Fernando Martinez
Fernando Martinez leads the Northwest Mountain MSDC as President and CEO. He is responsible for helping develop minority business enterprises (MBEs) into organizations that can support the specific needs of the council’s corporate and public agency members. With over 30 years of experience in sales and operations, Fernando has managed and led business units within Washington Mutual Bank, Xerox, Starbucks, and Westin Hotels. Fernando holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas, El Paso and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. His leadership skills have resulted in successful collaboration between operations and sales to continuously deliver growing year-over-year efficiencies, revenue, and profits.
Position Yourselves for Growth and Success
Bank of America Presentation To
Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership & Advancement (HOLA)
October 6, 2016
Good Evening Everyone. It is a pleasure being here with you today. I would like to thank Angelica and Michael for inviting me to speak. I would also like to thank Andres from Keller Williams Realty for recommending me. I am honored to be able to speak in front of a group of individuals such as yourselves. I would like to share several things with you this evening:
1. Who is the Northwest Mountain MSDC?
2. Value of Affinity Groups/Employee Networks such as HOLA
3. How to position yourself for growth and success at Bank of America - and Others.
Very briefly, I am going to mention the organization I work for. The Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to “Drive Economic Value by Equalizing Opportunities.” Our key focus is to engage Minority Business with our Corporate Members, uncover & engage in opportunities, and convert those opportunities to real contracts. By converting these engagements and opportunities to contracts, we drive economic value downward into our communities of color thereby empowering these communities to flourish.”
Next, I would like to briefly talk about the value of groups such as HOLA. I belonged to the Latino Professional Organization when I was working for another organization. Like HOLA we had C-Suite Level Support – we had a seat at the table. This was very important for several reasons:
1. As the organization was changing the Executive Team was able to:
a. Participate and represent the Latino employees to insure we were not being unfairly targeted during IRIFs.
b. Insure Latino’s were being compensated fairly and equally as well as being recognized and rewarded along with our peers.
2. Equally as important is that these Employee Network Groups expose our various communities to others.
a. Studies have proven that lack of understanding, socializing, lack of engagement create bias’,
b. Studies have also proven that contact between groups can lessen bias. This contact lowers racial animus, drives greater willingness to collaborate, breaks down stereotypes, and results in more equitable hiring and promotions.
3. Given these findings all of you should consider, if you haven’t already, joining another Employee Network Group. The value this exposure brings to our Latino community is immeasurable.
“How to Position Yourself for growth and success at Bank of America – and Others”
Enough organizational advertisement. I would like to share some of my learnings and thoughts around how to position yourselves for growth and success. I have approached this conversation from my personal experience in the Business World. BTW - I have failed more than I have succeeded. But it is the combination of those failures and successes which bring me here today.
Work Life Balance
I was about 14 years into my career when I had the biggest epiphany of my Career – My Home and Work Lives were out of whack – there was no balance. Having work life balance is one key to your success as well as for the betterment of your organization. After 14 years of working long hours, working on weekends, holidays, I discovered that I had missed a tremendous amount of my family’s life. There were several things that happened that year that really opened my eyes. I discovered that I had been wrong for a long time. I justified my long hours and time away from home as part of this is “what it takes to build my career” “I need to work in order to grow my income so I could provide a good life for my family.” This was completely upside down.
Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot during this time. Learnings that I still use today. This epiphany helped me understand that when I put my family first and my work second – good things happened: My family life got better & my career got better as well. I also learned: that I did not need to be at work 12 – 14 – 20 hours a day; that I spent more time on strategy, and I coached the people around me how to execute, I did not have to be there for hours-on-end; and, that if could change my paradigm and work smarter, I did not have to be there for all decision-making. People around me were empowered and growing. So Ladies and Gentlemen – develop your work life balance model and live by it.
Be intentional in everything you do and say. Be intentional in development of your personal and business goals. Be intentional in your plan of action to achieve those goals – Be intentional in defining what success looks like to you? Be intentional in your “Will” to achieve those goals.
Be intentional in Goal and Objective setting. Be intentional in tracking performance against your Goals. Hold yourself accountable and measure yourself. Do not be afraid to course correct if while in process you find things have changed. It is good to course correct – it says you know where you are in relationship to your goals. These intentional acts will continuously propel you forward.
Be intentional in your communication – do not say things that you do not intend to say or do not mean. If you do not want something repeated – do not say it. I am not saying we cannot have fun and rib each other, but when it comes to business, be smart, be intentional in your communications. The instant you communicate something whether verbally or in writing, you have given everyone permission to share your communication. It does not matter how confidential the communication is intended to be – it will be shared. Once it is shared, it is out of your control. I have seen incidents where comments have been used against my friends and peers to their detriment.
Intentionally Own Your Growth and Development Plan
Commit yourself to your self-development. How many times have you heard that it is your responsibility to continue your development? Be accountable to yourself. Your development should include work in other departments – Cross Train. You only enhance your skills and marketability by following and executing your plan.
Intentionally implement what I call the 1% Umpff into everything you do. Just when you think you are done with a project, plan, proposal, response, add that last measure, that 1% Umpff to it. Just as you are getting ready to finish preparing for a presentation, add that last measure of Umpff to it. If you add this measure to everything you do, you will see improved results in everything you do!
One of the earliest lessons in business I learned was that I need to be aggressive. I was being surpassed by younger, non-Latino looking characters simply because they were aggressively pursuing specific roles – thus I had to become Aggressive. Since then I have modified my position on aggressiveness. You have to be “Tactfully Aggressive.” Ladies and Gentlemen, Latinos are stereotyped as being Reserved and Laid Back. In many respects this is true. What we have to do is take a lesson out of the Majority Male Playbook and be more aggressive in our actions:
Be more aggressive in knowing our business,
Be more aggressive in promoting yourselves and your peers,
Be more aggressive in how you service and support your customers.
I am not saying to use aggressiveness to become a “Used Car Salesman,” a person that does not listen, a person that thinks they know better what my needs are. Be aggressive in a tactful manner and you will be seen and heard.
Know your Competition and the Market
Differentiate yourself when it comes to knowing the competition and market. Two of the most important things I learned were: 1. Understand your Competition: Know - who leads your competition, know who they are, know how they operate, know what they are selling and how they are selling it, get to know their habits. Even more important get to know what they are not doing. 2. Know your: market place; market need; where your market is headed. Once you understand the market as well as your competition you will be ahead of the competition. You will be able to out maneuver your competitor and deliver higher value to your customers. This level of understanding and service will generate and increase deals for you.
Be a Leader
Leadership is hard. “Leadership is the ability to motivate and lead individuals, teams, and organizations through discovery, discussion, and actions they would not have arrived upon their own.” Fernando Martinez, 2010
Leading people to a position or a decision they would not have arrived on their own is difficult to do. One of the other difficulties of being a leader is being valued as a leader. So not only do you have to understand the role of a Leader, you have to understand key characteristics of a leader. I’d like to share what I believe are some of those characteristics:
Be accountable to yourself first before anyone else. The easiest thing to do is deflect and blame others for our problems. I must be willing to look within myself, be introspective, and seek the real cause of the outcome. Step back and take inventory of reality. Be true to yourself and don’t use others as an excuse for you not succeeding. Granted, we have all been in situations where the reality is the other person. We can only get to that conclusion only if we have looked at ourselves first. Make certain that you take all excuses out, peel back the onion, and truly assess your part in the outcome.
Commit to your Role. There are 2 pieces to this commitment. First commitment to your internal and external customers. Second is commitment to yourself.
First, no matter what role you find yourself in on your path towards success, make the most of that time, opportunity, learnings, and position. Anyone can learn the basics of a role, you can easily check off all the activities of the job description, but can you make that role an integral part of your team’s success? How do you deliver the best product and service to your internal and external customers? The way to insure you are doing your best for your customers is to ask yourself on a daily basis “How am I going to enrich my colleagues and customer’s lives today?”
Second, everyone reaches a point where they really understand their role – they feel like they have plateaued. This is a critical time because people will immediately think it is time to move – this is the easy thing to do. The harder action, the more rewarding action is to elevate the quality of that role to a new level. Ask yourself, how can I make this role bigger and better? As you begin to think and design that role into something that it has never been, your learning begins all over again - the plateau is erased. Your learning has been enhanced and your experience has expanded. You have intentionally contributed to your development and the development of better organization.
Learn how to Follow before you Lead. You must learn how to serve as well as lead – one cannot exist without the other.
Lead with Integrity, act with Integrity, and consistently demonstrate your Integrity: Be truthful. Stay true to yourself and do what you say you are going to do when you said you say you are going to do it.
Challenge and do not be afraid of being challenged: be willing to lean forward into risk; willing to be provocative, stimulate thought, and ask the question “So what?” Be ready for the reaction – people are not use to being questioned. But think about the fact that you are making the conversation more relevant for everyone. You are not asking the question “So What” to be difficult but to encourage thoughtfulness, deep level, 2nd & 3rd level thinking – what we call critical thinking.
Think and Act as an Experienced Leader. One of the most common mistakes I see is “Title Arrogance.” All of a sudden you get promoted, the heavens open and you are now christened with all the knowledge in the world. Wrong - Do not knee jerk react to situations. Take a step back and think about how your Mentor, how a more experienced leader would respond and react to the current situation. Do not allow your inexperience to show. You can be inexperienced but act experienced. You only get better by processing, thinking, responding to those challenges intellectually.
Use Good Judgment – another big pitfall which is always in front of us is the use of bad judgement. Be discernful, introspective, and make certain you understand before you act. Act experienced!
Communicate Professionally and Effectively. First key to communication is to Listen with Intention to Listen. Second key is, communicating with clarity and succinctness. As Executives you only have a certain amount of time to read and write – your audience only has a certain amount of time to listen or read something. You want their full attention. Do not try to show how much you know by speaking around in circles or within a smokescreen. This is an indicator that the person does not know how to articulate the message, person is winging it, does not know what they are talking about, and/or the person is trying to demonstrate how much they know. This is too long, too complex, and makes the person search for the information. It is a waste of time for you as the preparer and me as the listener. Be clear and succinct. Communicate professionally and effectively.
Be a Teacher: We are truly leaders when we are confident in ourselves and willing to share: learning from all the work, education, experience we have gained. Part of these teachings should include the sharing of pitfalls as well.
The most enjoyable part for me as a leader is when I am teaching. Even more enjoyable is when I am teaching someone and they don’t know they are being taught. The reason for this is that downstream, the Ah-ha moment hits them – it becomes their learning, not my teaching.
These are some characteristics of a Leader that if you don’t already think about you should start.
Characteristics Not to Pursue
There are a couple of characteristics I would ask you Not do to Grow your Career: 1. Do not grow by stepping/sabotaging others – do not throw anyone under the bus for your benefit. 2. Do not be boastful about yourself in a braggadocios manner - let others boast of your work. Be tactfully aggressive but not braggadocios. 3. Do not sacrifice your integrity, the integrity of your family, and the integrity of your peers for any reason. Integrity along with reputation takes a lifetime to build and no one else can take away – But you – you can destroy it.
Ladies and Gentlemen I have shared some learning which have helped me succeed in my career. Be aware that: Others are watching your behaviors just as you are watching others behaviors. Act Experienced.
Be active within your organization. Be active within several other Employee Network Groups; Serve on meaningful Non-profit Boards; join related associations where peer professionals gather – not just party gatherings – but associations where you will connect and learn. Make yourself visible within the community you wish to grow within.
I trust some of you found some of this information valuable, easily adoptable to fit into your bag of capabilities. Some of it may fit - none of this may fit. But my approach has been to provide you something to think about as you pursue your careers. Thank you!