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Archive for April, 2012


To those who have been following the career of my brother Fernando Varela online for the last four years, the following video clip below is cool.

Fernando made this STARCAM appearance last weekend, before he went on stage to sing “Nessum Dorma” and “The Prayer” with David Foster and British opera sensation Katherine Jenkins. The event was a benefit for the John Wayne Cancer Institute.

Tonight, Fernando will be sharing a stage and performing with Lionel Richie and Foster. Richie has a new album out called “Tuskegee” and Fernando just might sing a song or two with the musical legend.

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Good to see Florida Senator Marco Rubio commenting about the upcoming November plebiscite question in Puerto Rico. Sure, Rubio, who is of Cuban American descent, represents the state of Florida, which has seen an increase in voters of Puerto Rican descent the last few years, so it makes sense that he would weigh on the island’s non-binding vote to determine its political identity (statehood, independence or enhanced commonwealth). However, Rubio’s opinion reflects what most of the US Congress and President Obama is saying: the final decision by Puerto Ricans on the island has to be a clear majority, whatever that means. Just for reference, the 1958 statehood vote by Alaska won by a 6 to 1 margin, although only about 46,000 voted in Alaska. In 1959, Hawaii gained a 94% voted for statehood. Ironically, the one person who is pushing for a binding resolution of the status question is GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

This is what a report from Caribbean Business chronicled about Rubio’s comments:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party and potential vice presidential pick, has broken ranks with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney over the issue off Puerto Rico statehood.

Rubio said in an interview that 50 percent plus one vote in a status plebiscite isn’t enough to put Puerto Rico on the path to become the 51st state.

“It doesn’t have to be 100 percent, nor 90 percent, but it cannot be, to say a figure, 51 percent of the votes,” Rubio reportedly told a local newspaper.

That puts the Cuban-American lawmaker, often mentioned as a vice presidential running mate for Romney, at odds with the former Massachusetts governor on statehood.

Romney has pledged to support statehood for the island if that option wins the Nov. 6 referendum on Puerto Rico’s political status, saying a simple majority at the polls should be enough.

The position taken by Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, actually puts him on the same page as Democratic President Barack Obama when it comes to statehood for Puerto Rico.

Right now, polls on the island show a virtual dead heat between enhanced commonwealth and statehood. It is highly doubtful that either option enters Hawaii or Alaska numbers, and in the end, the US Congress will still have final say. So, after 114 years of a complex (and colonial) relationship with the United States, Puerto Rico looks like it will still be stuck in the status quo.

One thing all Puerto Ricans, both on the island and the mainland, should agree on is that the upcoming plebiscite needs to be BINDING.

If you agree, let your elected officials know by visiting their official Congressional pages.

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Can the charades just stop about how amazing and awesome the Puerto Rican Wonder Boy, Governor Luis Fortuño, has been for the island of Puerto Rico? The latest news is that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is now telling the Washington Post that it plans to showcase Governor Fortuño, a darling among GOPers who have no clue about how unpopular and divisive the governor is on his own island (psst, he is not even leading in current polls for his re-election bid), so that the Mitt Romney’s campaign can gain more of the US Latino vote.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Let’s just give Mr. Priebus the benefit of the doubt and share the following, since the 2012 campaign is all about jobs, right?

  • Also, let’s really stop to look at the actual stats about Fortuño’s push to make Puerto Rico leaner and meaner when it comes to public sector jobs. Just a few facts, from the same DOL stats: In September 2011, there were 265,000 public sector employees in Puerto Rico. In February 2012, there are now 269,000 public sector employees. Of the total jobs in all of Puerto Rico as of February 2012, roughly 25% of the jobs are classified as public sector jobs. Sure, Fortuño came in when it was a 33% but it is still at 25% and the number of public sector jobs is growing again.
  • When Fortuño took office in January 2008, the unemployment rate in Puerto Rico was at 10.7.%. As of February 2012 it is at 15%. Call us crazy, but that is progress? Romney and the RNC is praising a leader whose unemployment rate is worse that the overall US rate and this is the guy who want to showcase to US Latino voters? Also, does anyone who wants to look at actual statistics want to share the following information: the labor force in Puerto Rico is plummeting, young people are leaving the island for jobs in the US. Where is the Fortuño miracle?

Hey, but if the RNC wants to roll out Governor Fortuño as the new Latino star of the GOP, more power to them. In the end, Romney will be lucky to gain 15% of the US Latino vote, anyway. Bringing out Fortuño to prove that the GOP is listening to US Latino voters won’t really make a difference anyway.

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“Only mediocrity is safe. Get ready to be attacked, and be the best.” Paulo Coehlo

When this blog started in 2008 (you know, when Twitter was still fun and Facebook was still cool), the online world was a playground of possibilities.

Connections were made, real friendships were started, opportunities came and went.

Relationships started and relationships fizzled.

Of those fizzled relationships, some just gradually disappeared amicably and some ended nastily.

Yet many relationships endured and got even deeper. I could not even begin to list how many people I have met online (and then in real life) who are as much a part of my life now than my fanatical love of bad sports teams from Boston.

Fast forward to 2012.

Social media has gone “mainstream” and everyone is offering advice and opinions. Brands are paying attention (which is both bad and good). Now everyone has the way to “succeed” in social media, to share the WAY that will work for you. But the fact is simple: there is no RIGHT WAY, there is no ONE WAY, there is no WINNING FORMULA to succeed, no matter what you use social media for.

The ONLY TRUE WAY to find that success is this: never, never, never stop being yourself. Never ever lose your passion of why you do what you do in the first place. Be real, be true, be helpful, be giving, be authentic, and be transparent.

Which leads me to the point of this blog: don’t ever give up. For example, if the world is questioning the fact that you are just a “crab in a bucket,” go build your own bucket and find like-minded crabs. Walk away from the negative energy and move on. Use that block feature on Twitter and Facebook, it’s ok, we all use it. Stop worrying about what others say about you and just focus on what you can control. By being who you truly are, others who see you true essence will begin to show up. And they will stay. Those who don’t will never care, so why waste your time trying to win them over?

We are at a momentous moment in the world’s history, where 140 characters or one photo can impact change. The old business guard is freaking out because the one-way world (me have product/me market product/you buy product) is over. Now the business model is two-way (me have product, so?, me want you to buy product/no, because your product sucks, I am going to make my own product/ok, how can I help?). Everyone and everything, from the big Fortune 500 company to the blogger in some corner of the world, are on the same playing field.

That is the crossroads where we are at right now. There will be those who see social media as a logical extension of how business has been done for centuries. They are the mainstream, the safe ones, the ones who will tell you, “Hey, don’t rock the boat because if you do, you will bring others down with you. You’ll be a crab in a bucket.” Then there are those who see social media as the NEW WAY, and it will crush the OLD WAY eventually. Those who thought safely will wonder what happened. Those who didn’t, who created their own buckets and invited their favorite crabs, will be leading the charge in the paradigm shift.

My dear friend, Sarah Robinson (she of the original posse), wrote a piece last year that has resonated with me the last few months. Called, “Crabs in Bucket,” Sarah tells of the time she tweeted Paolo Coehlo after the great writer tweeted the quote at the top of this post. Let her words explain:

Fast forward to this morning. As I was drinking my coffee and perusing my twitter stream, and up pops this gem from @paulocoelho (He wrote The Alchemist, one of my all time favorite books): “Only mediocrity is safe. Get ready to be attacked, and be the best.”

Maybe it was the early hour. Maybe it was my post-event mushy brain. I don’t know. But the minute I read Paulo’s tweet, I thought of those crabs in a bucket. So I sent him this tweet: “I’m thinking of crabs in a bucket. They always try to pull down the one who’s figured out how to escape.”

So now I’m thinking about the Escaping Mediocrity journey with this lens. There will always be people who will subtly or not so subtly try to keep us from escaping. Why? Because our escape threatens their mediocre existence. Pulling us down, sabotaging our efforts, picking apart our brilliant ideas – all of that keeps them feeling safe. And living undisturbed mediocre lives.

So what if we added a new piece to the crab mentality picture? Imagine a crab, or a group of crabs on the other side of the bucket building a ladder to aid your escape. They managed to crawl out of the bucket in spite of all the energetic attempts to pull them backwards. Because they’ve tasted freedom and they know your struggle, they are putting energy into aiding and abetting your escape.

I believe that for those of us determined to get out of the bucket, such a group exists. It may take some time to find them, but they are there, ready throw a safety rope over the edge and pull us out.

Start listening for them. Start looking for them. They are there. Reach just a little further and they’ll meet you at the edge of the bucket.

Escape the big bucket now. Go get your own bucket and fill it with the coolest crabs you know. Together, you can change the world.

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When we first posted last month about the importance of engagement over numbers when it comes to Facebook pages for organizations and brands, our intent was to offer a sampling of the thousands of Latino-theme Facebook pages out there. The list was no way near exhaustive, and like we said last month, if you are a page that would like to be added to the list, just post your link below in the comments section and add it.

Before we share the latest list, just a quick reminder that this is all about engagement. The goal is to ensure that you achieve the maximum results in the number of likes that you have on a consistent basis, since the more people are talking about you, the better your chances are at establishing real relationships and getting more interest in your online content and properties.

This month, we decided to just list the Facebook Level of Engagement (FLOE) percentages. Of course, many pages have a lot of likes but imagine if you are one of those pages and you can push your FLOE over 15%? 20%? 30%? These  FLOE percentages are all based on real-time stats taken this afternoon, April 2. We also decided to make one master list, and encourage other brands and organizations to pass on their Facebook links to us so we can add you the the May list. Why are we doing this? Here are our reasons:

  1. We want to start curating a master list of Latino-themed Facebook pages.
  2. We want to see if all these pages can achieve a consistent FLOE of 15%. Once that happens, imagine the possibilities.
  3. Don’t just work to get the numbers, once you have the numbers, curate content that will have people talking about your page.
Ok, here is the April list. (Full disclosure: Latino Rebels is my organization.) And like we said, Facebook is just one part of your strategy, it is not THE strategy. The key is always about your main content hub and how a place like Facebook can get you more engaged followers and loyalists. It is interesting to note that in the case of the Rebels, our unprecedented spike in web traffic correlates nicely to our increased level of engagement on Facebook as well as other social platforms.

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