Do you remember a time when you felt completely comfortable, relaxed and welcomed? Who was with you? Where were you?
Chances are you were surrounded by family, friends and loved ones—people who know you well. That instant feeling of belonging, attributed to subtle gestures and warm greetings that create a sense of belonging. That’s the impact one's culture can have.
Carolina Cardoso and I were recently at the 5th annual PODEROSAS ¡Live! event, which provides business and career development for women at every life stage. From the first "hola" hug, I immediately, without hesitation, felt genuinely welcomed and embraced. I found myself smiling as familiar cultural behaviors resonated so strongly. It all felt so relatable—an experience that lead to a sense of inclusion.
It’s behaviors like these that have been so incredibly empowering in navigating my global career. Here’s a few others I’ve learned along the way:
The smile. Not too long ago, I came across a quote that read, "We all smile in the same language." It’s such a powerful gesture that immediately creates a common ground.
The here and now. Be fully present in the moment—genuinely engage in the conversation, recognize the importance and value of evolving or building relationships.
The compliments. Lift others through simple comments, which sometimes, unknowingly, inspire people when they need it most.
The village. Have a sense of responsibility to connect people to one another; intentionally share your connections, and ignite goodness through alignments.
Let's hear what Carolina had to say about the event.
Thank you, Nellie!
What was visibly different about this event was how quickly the rapport between women around the room shifted from "chicas" to "amigas."
It was a sea of hugs, happy chatter and expansive networking, where one connected to another naturally through a simple but powerful phrase, "Let me introduce you to so-and-so." Or maybe it was the vibrant energy of so many powerful women in one room, or how at ease I felt to simply be me—all of me.
With every big hug, huge smile and kiss, I felt an indescribable sense of belonging and community. I was instantly accepted despite my accent, where I was born or the color of my skin. What made this event so incredible was being among so many Latinas from different nationalities, yet all united in the common purpose of celebrating “poderosa” (powerful) Latinas who are making their mark in the U.S.
For this past week, I have been reflecting on what's truly at the heart of an empowering environment. So, here goes: At the center of it all, everything I felt and saw at this event, is solidarity. Solida is a root word in solidarity. In Spanish, solida means “solid, firm, consistent." An empowering environment requires a solid understanding that inclusion is at the core of celebrating, valuing and embracing diversity. #solida #bettertogether
At this event, I saw the beauty of our Latinx culture—solidarity front and center. I have also seen and experienced the beauty of cultures all over the world. Let’s celebrate and feel proud of our individual cultures—cultural jewels, which should be on full display!
My goal continues to be to create that moment of immediate connection and relatable experiences across cultures. How much more empowering and productive would the world be if EVERYONE felt at ease AND #BelongingFromTheStart.
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