It happens. You’ve got an idea. But you’re too afraid to tell anyone. Or commit to it. Out of fear of rejection, being made fun of, or discovering you lack the skills to pull it off.
This, according to a panel at yesterday’s (October 13) Los Angeles installment of Hispanicize—the largest annual event for Latino trendsetters & newsmakers in digital content creation, journalism, marketing & entertainment—is when you’re supposed to call on your “tribe.”
Featuring hosts Marty Preciado (Editor-in-Chief,Nylon Español) and Zoila Darton (Artist Manager and Creative Marketing Director, Mayimba Music) and panelists Chuey Martinez (Radio Host, 102.7 KISS FM, iHeart Radio, Sirius XM), Pili Montilla (TV host and music afficiando), Victoria La Mala (Mexican singer-songwriter and performer) and Gil Gastelum (Artist manager and indie label exec, Cosmica), the panel gave insight into how tapping into your community, or “tribe,” can help you professionally. Here are 13 things I learned at #HispzLA.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help…
Pili Montilla: We all have to wear so many hats nowadays because we’re all entrepreneurs and we have so many ideas and so many ways of creating things and creating our own opportunities and, while you’re creating those other opportunities, that’s when you have to tap into your tribe. That’s when you have to pick up the phone and ask for favors.
…because relying on the talents of your tribe could turn out to be pretty rewarding.
Chuey Martinez: My agent called me maybe four years ago and said, ‘Chuey, you need to put yourself on tape today. You need record something and send it back to me today.’ He sends me a quick email with the objective and I have to scramble because I have four hours, so I call all my boys, like, ‘You got a camera, you got a camera, you got a camera; meet me here in an hour.’ I was like, ‘You edit and do graphics, come meet me.’ So we’re in a parking lot in Burbank at Ribs U.S.A. I show up with a camera crew. I put myself on tape. My boy goes to his car and edits the tape. I send it over to my agent maybe 30 minutes after he needed it. That tape gets sent to Travel Channel. And two weeks after that, I was the first Latino to have his own show on Travel Channel.
But don’t be stingy; return the favor.
Zoila Darton: You have to give back. When you find your tribe, it’s not all about asking them for things. I think we’re living in a great moment where people are like, ‘That’s great. What can I do for you?‘
After all, there’s a reason they’re in your circle, no?
Victoria La Mala: I surround myself with people that have the same ambition as me so that together we can get to the end goal.
Because compatibility—whether it be with business or buddies—is key.
Gil Gastelum: If you have an artist that doesn’t drink alcohol and you’re talking to Jack Daniels, you’re probably gonna have a problem at some point.
But so are your morals…
Gastelum: You have to maintain integrity. Do you wanna do [this]? Is that who you are? As long as you’re true to yourself, let the haters hate.
Because being you is bankable and there’s no one better at it than, well, you.
Martinez: I keep it 100, I keep it real, I’m myself. I’m a fat, bearded, Mexican-Domincan guy from East LA. What you see is what you get. By being that genuine, opportunities naturally happen from that. People and opportunities gravitate towards you when you’re yourself. You don’t have to compromise who you are to make it. You don’t have to be 100 lbs., you don’t have to be white, you don’t have to be from a certain area. You can be who you are and make it.
And it won’t go unnoticed.
Gastelum: The thing that I look for is that you’re genuine and you have something to say. And by extension, that inspires me to fight for you.
So, be patient, because good things come to those who wait.
Montilla: MTV was opening a network in Puerto Rico, so I auditioned to be a host and, after a five-week grueling audition process, they called me–they were between three VJs–and said, ‘You didn’t get it.’ And I was devastated. Like, my parents we’re worried. And after three months, MTV called again, like, ‘You know that other VJ that we cast? Well, it’s not really working with her, so you’re the new VJ for MTV Puerto Rico.’
But be relentless, too.
Martinez: My first opportunity in radio was when I was 16 years old. A radio station came to my high school and I saw the DJ on stage doing giveaways and I looked at the guy and was like, ‘I could do that for the rest of my life and I’d be happy.’ And I applied to that radio station if not every day, every other day. So I went to the lobby of the radio station and filled out applications until they hired me. The marketing director walked in and he goes, ‘You’re Chuey Martinez. Follow me back here.’ So I went back to his office and he said, ‘You see that stack of applications right there? Half of those are yours.’ He gave me a stack of T-shirts and he told me, ‘You start next week.’ I’ve been doing it every since. I’m 33 years old and I never looked back.
So, don’t be afraid to be independent…
Darton: It’s so important to network, to go out, to talk to people, to contact them but at the end of the day, it’s your career and no one’s gonna want it more than you. No one’s gonna be as hungry as you. Your manager and agent have 10 other clients.
But don’t forget about your tribe.
La Mala: Do it for you, but with a passion that’s bigger than you.
Montilla: Don’t be afraid to say no.
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