On my last day working as a Staff Assistant at African and African American Studies, Professor Mugane, Director of Harvard’s African Language Program told me, “Leave the feeling of being overlooked behind you.” I thought about those words today, in the wake of rebranding and a blog reboot for an amazing client that I am working with. It’s not easy to transform the impact of exclusion in professional spaces, but neither is it complicated. Leaning into feelings of discomfort are critical to success as an entrepreneur and being a woman in the workplace, but there’s also a time to let go and let joy in.
When adversity has been a part of your life during your formative years, it is so easy to compare your success to your most overlooked moments. My struggle has been a source of pride, but it does not define the entirety of my character. I also come from a survivor culture with roots in the colonized island of Borikén (the Taino word for Puerto Rico). As a woman in business, I want to help build a thriver culture and give the up-and-coming generation a realistic account of what it took to succeed and differentiate myself from the limiting expectations of the model minority. In order to build a solid core that won’t break in the winds of change, I’ve deepened a sense of pride in my work that is based on my values that are rooted in sustainability.
In regard to a culture of extraction, where organizations can easily take people’s skills versus develop them, I am reminded that often we treat the Earth the same way. Sustainability isn’t just about going green, it’s about creating your own sustainable practice, starting with the resources that you embody. My work is shifting to reflect the deeper purpose of helping people and organizations committed to social change and transformational leadership succeed. I could not do this work until I made this commitment to myself. Things take time.
What makes a good consultant? If anyone has ever asked you to pick your brain or get free advice, you probably have what it takes.
My work as a communications strategy consultant, multi-genre writer, co-creator of Raíces Borikén Collective and healing justice advocate is integrated in an emerging practice. I am still on my year-long Career Development Leave from Harvard University recovering from the expectation of doing too much to get ahead and (re)imagining the future. I am seeking new opportunities, but also pacing this growth, to the dismay of my inner survivalist who presses forward no matter what the obstacles. As an entrepreneur, taking the time to slow down and understand this obstacles, can open doors rather than close them.
I’ve also disrupted my own thinking at times, and have realized some projects change shape versus come to the end. Café con Cass is the name of the public access television show I created in 2014 while living in Cambridge, M.A.. It’s a platform that I cherish and I am allowing to transform into a communications practice. Through Café con Cass, I conduct interviews with civic leaders, multidisciplinary artists, mental health specialists, and change makers in video, print, and podcast. I combine traditional journalism tools from my M.A. in Journalism Studies from the Harvard Extension School with emergent strategy to open new channels of communication in a rapidly changing economy and world.
In the past year, my world has changed. I’m getting used to the feeling of being overlooked no longer occupying a physical space in my life. Sometimes it returns to me, like the memory of past love that wakes me up in the middle of the night, and for a moment I expect them to be lying next to me, only to see that no one is there. I remind myself, it’s just a memory, rest is OK, and a new day is coming.
To read more about Rivera Consulting, Inc., visit www.riveraconsult.com.
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