MicroBio: Yai is Founder of The Latinista, which is a network of Latina professionals and women of color that join together to learn new skill sets to further their careers. She is also a diversity, equity and inclusion expert, consultant and speaker.
Talk FAST (summary)
Get the real talk on what it takes to empower yourself, get paid and honor your skills and superpowers!! We also talk about how to be a co-conspirator for women of color.
Yai Vargas self identifies as Latinx and an immigrant, and grew up in Washington Heights, New York City. From early on in her career, she used her Spanish language skills and cultural understanding and experiences to her advantage. Her experiences navigating Corporate America revealed to her just how much the resources and access that were lacking not only herself, but for those in her community. This fueled her to take action and get what she needed, and also help others to do the same by creating an organization that opens pathways, opportunities and information for hundreds of others like her.
Leadership Tips and Life Lessons
Invest in Yourself. Period.
- Pushing through the fear or discomfort of reaching out for help; it’s what we must do to reach our potential!
- Be open to feedback that will allow you to grow in all aspects of life that are difficult to identify on your own. For Yai, she realized it was public speaking and she hired a coach to help her become the highly-sought speaker she is now.
- Acknowledge your skill sets – especially the ones that come easy to you. Start with asking yourself; what can I easily provide for others? Consider how this could even create another source of income.
- Invest in relationships by proactively finding your champions, sponsors, and mentors. It’s so important to surround yourself with people who are to give you that constructive feedback.
- “We should never be ashamed or embarrassed about what we don’t yet know. It’s never too late.”
Talk About Money!
- While it’s still taboo in culture, we must ask questions about salaries to ensure you are not left behind and leaving money on the table.
- Speak to someone who can help you understand what’s happening with your money
- Having a full understanding of your financial situation will help you to discover the road to getting what you want. For Yai, she realized that to reach her goals it was important to make some short term sacrifices in her shopping habits.
- If you are a subject matter expert – you should be getting PAID, especially as a speaker. Yai talked extensively about the need to ASK FOR THE MONEY – as we all to often give our skills and knowledge for free. Also know what else you can ask for that will bring you value – such as social media and press shout outs, recommendations, etc.
- Create options for yourself by creating multiple revenue streams. This is a great strategy to ensure that if you are ever in a toxic situation that you need to get out of, you have the means and ability to remove yourself from this situation. Yai talked about a time when she didn’t have an option and how she came to realize she needed a plan to not be forced into a traumatic situation again.
Build A Compelling Personal Brand.
- Embrace all of who you are; whether you want to embrace a distinctive community, background, or language that you’re a part of, you have the ability to use that to your advantage.
- Your authenticity is what enables you to bring a unique perspective to the table, which also has the profound impact of uplifting and guiding others in their journey to do the same.
- Use resources such as articles, blogs, websites, podcasts, and more to help self-promote and guide you in your journey
- Failure is a chance to learn and grow. From your downfalls you can find new ways to improve so that the next time around you will be stronger than ever.
How To Be An Ally and Co-Conspirator to the BIPOC Community:
- Ask yourself; Am I contributing to this community in any sort of way?
- Yai comments that “the only way that you’re going to be able to advocate alongside them is if you understand their stories and experiences. You’re not here to be a hero or speak up on behalf of someone, you’re there to learn, understand and be part of that conversation”.
- Be open to having uncomfortable conversations about topics such as financial disparities, systematic inequalities, or the effects of microaggression.
- Lend a helping hand in supporting Latinas, immigrants, and women of color to obtain the same opportunities as those who were born with the privilege of having access to these resources.
- “If you’re asked to speak on a panel discussion, and you look to your left, you look to your right and you realize, whoa, all these guys look just like me; your responsibility and opportunity in that moment is to raise your hand,” Yai says. Ask for the organizers to reach out to underrepresented voices so that their perspective and experiences can be shared, and refuse to perpetuate panels that lack diversity.
- The things that we don’t talk about are often the things that are keeping us from receiving what we truly deserve.
- Leadership involves taking a look around you to see if there is representation – and speaking up about it, if it is lacking.
- Access is EVERYTHING. And certain communities do not have the privileges that so many take for granted. This ranges from financial knowledge to connections to a supportive community.
- The fact that we need to have a plan (and the means) to remove ourselves from toxic environments if need be, is such a devastating truth driving the need for Corporate Culture Revolution. You can read more about my thoughts on this here.
- Book: You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience and the Black Experience, edited by Tarana Burke and Bréne Brown