When I was asked to speak to an audience of small business owners at Miami Dade College this past week, my boss knew I would jump at the shot. Ya see, I fancy myself a student of public speaking and I’m a bleeding-heart that relishes the opportunity to help anyone, anytime. This was a no-brainer, except for one thing. I had to deliver my presentation in Spanish. Sure, I speak conversational Spanish, with an ill-defined accent. I can yap about music, movies and cuisine all day long, but a professional speech about growing a business? That elevated the challenge. I sorta dug that aspect of it. I was drawn to the fact that I had to stretch outside of my comfort zone if I wanted to provide useful info to this appreciative audience of business owners. So off I went, and discovered that I would learn more about the American Dream than I could ever teach about growing a business.
The audience was compromised of mostly middle-aged Hispanic immigrants with deep accents, humble but hungry to achieve in this foreign land, with its foreign language and laws. Businesses spanned the spectrum from Child Care Services, to Import/Export, to Landscaping — there were over 30 business owners present. In their eyes, I saw fear and hope, struggle but determination. I was inspired by their bravery, not just to leave their land to start anew on our land, but the extra risk they were all willing to endure to fight for their piece of the American Dream.
Later in the week, I was at work. The founder of Zubi Advertising is being inducted, posthumously, into the Advertising Hall of Fame on Tuesday in New York. The children of the founder, and current leaders of the agency, shared with us a tribute video they will unveil at the induction ceremony. It captures the essence of their mother, a Cuban immigrant, with an accent, who founded what has become one of the leading Hispanic advertising agencies in the country. Over 30 years ago, that could have been her sitting at Miami Dade College, listening to a local professional like myself. Wow.
This reminds me that we are all connected to humble and hungry immigrants, who may have been scared, but remained hopeful, may have struggled but were determined to get their piece of the American Dream, and they all had an accent, beautiful accents, from all around the world.