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Author Leticia Latino: “It is about being part of the team”

Each one of us has many unique stories worth telling. If you are attracted to the idea of writing, all it takes is for you to sit down and do it. If you commit to it, your book will find the way into the world. Confidence and believing in yourself will be the defining factors […]

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Each one of us has many unique stories worth telling. If you are attracted to the idea of writing, all it takes is for you to sit down and do it. If you commit to it, your book will find the way into the world. Confidence and believing in yourself will be the defining factors between failure or success.


As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leticia Latino

Leticia Latino is the co-author of the Amazon Best Seller, Women in Business Leading the Way. During her +20 years in the Telecommunication Industry, she has received multiple recognitions as CEO of NEPTUNO and is a regular speaker at national events. She also hosts the Back2Basics Podcast.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

Absolutely! Let me start by saying that I don’t consider myself as having only one career path. I love to learn and consider it part of the evolution path, so I wear many different hats. The author hat is one that I have wanted to wear for a long time. Many years ago I wrote a bucket list. Writing a book was on it, as well as some other seemingly unattainable goals. Actually the most impossible one, in my mind, was to meet my favorite artist Gloria Estefan, so imagine my shock when it happened not even two weeks after I wrote it! I was then hit with the realization that everything in life is possible, you just have to intentionally manifest it and start working on it right away. Oh, and by the way, the magic of meeting Queen Gloria has happened two more times after that . . . so far!

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I am originally from Venezuela, and one of the first things I did in 2002 when we decided to open the family business in the United States was to set up a meeting with an “incorporation consultant,” someone who could be our guide as we established our corporate presence here. I was with my boss, who by the way happens to be my dad, and my first impression was that we had hired the right guy, as he seemed very experienced. After a long conversation, in which I could barely get a word in, he looked at my father and said: “Well, Mr. Latino, the good news is that you have gold at your fingertips. You have a daughter. We can incorporate as a minority business, and that will provide you with some nice opportunities right off the bat!” I will spare you of all the “colorful” things that came to my mind as a potential response, but I was beyond offended and quite simply livid. The so-called “consultant” wasn’t even addressing me; he was talking to my father like I wasn’t even there! At that point, I told him that I had not joined the company just because my gender represented “gold” and that we were taking “no shortcuts.” We wanted to be known for the same reasons we were known internationally: out of the box engineering, high-quality products, and integrity. We left the meeting and didn’t incorporate it as a minority. BIG MISTAKE, but that’s part of a different story, and you can find out more by reading the book!

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

The biggest challenge I faced in my journey to becoming an author was believing in my ability to write something worthy of others to read. My initial idea to write a book was met with a lot of hesitation and disbelief by my inner circle. We focus so much on what others think, that we allow the fear of rejection to prevent us from really going after what we want. It has taken me longer to pursue my writing career in part because I have never felt supported on that front. The way to overcome it is to really look inward and write for yourself, not for others. Be your own critic and your biggest cheerleader and just keep writing. Be an advocate for yourself and your experiences. Bit by bit you will believe in your work and embrace the fact that everyone has the right to like it or not, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that you wrote something you can put your own spin on, in your own voice. Eventually, when you start getting the first bit of positive feedback for your work, the skeptics will have to take you seriously once and for all. We are all authors; some of us just believe it more. Believe in yourself and let it flow!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I started my Telecom career by working at a company that was one of the titans of the industry: Nortel. It was the late ‘90’s, the Telecom Golden era, so my team and I were working around the clock day in and day out. People weren’t happy about practically eating. sleeping and breathing at the company, but we were getting overtime, so it wasn’t all that bad. In any case, my peers and I talked about how great it would be to be able to choose between “time off” or overtime pay. We were simply exhausted and some down time sounded like a dream. Shortly after that we had a companywide meeting and one of the “big bosses” asked point blank if anyone had any suggestions. I couldn’t believe my luck and I knew that I had my peers’ support, so I mustered up the courage only an intern could have, and raised my hand in front of the whole company.. I shared my idea and when the big boss asked if anyone supported it, NO ONE spoke up. My coworkers left me hanging in the wind and all you could hear is crickets and the sound of my own naiveté. Now I realize how funny my mistake was. A young go-get-em Leticia stepping up to the plate and taking one for the team, but realizing I was a team of one. Like a rookie comedian, my timing was completely off. In any case, as irony would have it, fearlessness always pays off. The boss proceeded to announce that since I was the only one who thought a little down time was a good idea, I was the only one who would be getting that benefit! The moral of the story? When actions come from an honest place, courage pays off and good things can happen.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have always regarded my “day job” as interesting and exciting. Helping build the telecommunications networks that bring connectivity to our mobile phones and our homes is indeed something that gives me a lot of satisfaction. This is especially true nowadays, when remote work, telehealth, and on-line learning have taken on such a crucial role and our industry has to deliver reliable connectivity. On a more personal note, I have been working hard on projects that help raise awareness about issues that are dear to me. With this book I am hoping to raise awareness about Diversity and Inclusion. My Podcast ”Back2Basics-Reconnecting to the essence of YOU” delves into the importance to stay connected to our inner self, to each other and ultimately to what makes us ”tick”. More recently I have started to work on my next book “Networking with Heart,” which centers on the importance of making genuine connections rather than just growing your contacts/network simply for the sake of it.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

It wasn’t until I embarked on the journey of writing this book that I realized that for a long time in my career I might have been suffering from what was initially dubbed “Imposter Syndrome” back in 1978. In the book “The Imposter Phenomenon,” the author says Imposter Syndrome is essentially perfectionism. This combined with an inordinate fear of failure, the refusal to take credit for one’s accomplishments, and feelings of guilt about success. These feelings can be particularly burdensome to women whose success is atypical among family members or friends. A 2019 study showed that 66% of women had experienced it, compared to just over half of men. This syndrome has never been taken particularly seriously. Surprise surprise!

It now makes sense to me why, back then, I allowed other people’s opinions and my own value set to convince me that I didn’t deserve my career. On the other hand, I understand that at the time, a young female executive had a hard time being taken seriously, especially in our very male-dominated industry.

What many people didn’t know is that I was practically born into the telecommunications business. My father, an Italian immigrant who arrived in Venezuela in the 1960s in search of a better future, understood incredibly early the imminent boom that the communications industry was going to have. Without any type of engineering or college degree, he risked it all, and NEPTUNO eventually became one of the Leading Companies in the Wireless Towers manufacturing sectors in South America. With over 10,000 sites built and about 250 employees overall, that legacy is not one that’s easy to carry on one’s shoulders.

Luckily my father, at 85, is still a force to be reckoned with, and my brother, sister, and sister-in-law are heavily involved in our business as well. Together we are a great team. I still cherish the memories of our Sunday outings, where we would accompany our father on site visits, and we would make our own fun by playing with the earth that had been removed from the tower foundation excavation. In contrast, our father, ever the perfectionist, was hard at work making sure that everything was going according to plan.

The rebel in me resisted it (as all young people do at some point). Still, eventually, I realized that our business is in my DNA and that nothing brings me more joy, and I can’t find a stronger WHY, than to help expand my father’s legacy and vision to the next level. Our family and our mission have intertwined to a point where we don’t know which is which.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

Because this is a book centered on the concept of Diversity and Inclusion, this is the lesson I feel needs to be shouted from the rooftops: ‘It is not about being one of the boys; it is about being part of the team’

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.

  • Unleash your Story.

Each one of us has many unique stories worth telling. If you are attracted to the idea of writing, all it takes is for you to sit down and do it. If you commit to it, your book will find the way into the world. Confidence and believing in yourself will be the defining factors between failure or success.

  • Start writing and do it consistently.

Journaling and writing on a consistent basis are key. People think that each time you commit to writing, you should finish a section or a chapter. It seldom happens that way. Writing as much as you can and in no structured way allows you to generate a ton of content that you can use strategically to create your masterpiece. Imagine how much content you would have if you decided to write down those thoughts that pop up in your head, even for 30 minutes a day for a month. If you are on the go and are hit by a compelling thought or idea, just use voice note and record it. Technology is a great ally these days. You will be surprised when you realize how much material you produce! I have been journaling for over thirty years consistently, and although I haven’t tapped into my journals just yet, it makes me feel great to know that I have documented all my ideas and emotions somewhere. Those thoughts and stories are waiting there for me to re-live them and to transform them into a new book.

  • Focus on Structure.

This needs to be done sooner rather than later. Spontaneity is great when creating content, but structure is essential to make sure that no reader gets lost in the journey due to a confusing plot. Take time to decide how many chapters you will have and the main points/events to cover in each chapter. Create structure but remain flexible so that the story takes you where it wants to go. Draft a book that you would want to read. If you are writing a novel or fiction, pay particular attention to character development. You want your readers to emotionally connect with your characters. When things start going in a direction you don’t like, stop and be patient with the story. Remember that YOU can make anything happen; you are the one in charge of what happens next!

  • Trust yourself and be your own critic.

I avoid asking for feed-back from my inner circle until I feel the book can hold its own and is ready to face the world. Other people’s opinions are often intimidating, and if you allow them to influence your writing it might take your work in a direction that is not the one you intended to go. Write the book you want to write, tell a good story, keep it simple and be the judge of your own work.

  • Every NO is getting you closer to YES.

Don’t write for money or fame. Write because you enjoy it. Be brave and take risks, and the rest will come if it’s meant to. Sure, we all would ideally love to have an agent and get a nice book deal, but let’s face it, that is the hard road, and every no takes a toll on our confidence. Don’t give up on the “formal” path to getting published but keep in mind that luckily nowadays Self-Publishing is an option. There are multiple platforms that allow you to publish your book and start selling it right away too. Social media is a great platform to start building your fan base. Invest some time sharing tidbits of your creative writing on social media, start a blog, and yes, get on Twitter and send out some tweets! One post at a time, you will be creating your own loyal fan base that will want to buy your book once you do publish it. Do your own PR and commit to tooting your own horn. Why not? You are proud of your work!

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I am convinced that being a CONSISTENT is the common denominator in everything I do. Showing up every day to do the work, no matter what. There have of course been times when I have felt down or feel defeated, and I just needed a few days to “grieve”, but I have always tapped into the need to keep on moving, with consistency, one day at a time. In my opinion, Success is a marathon, not a sprint.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I am a curious person and I delve in many genres, but my favorite is Paulo Coelho, author of the Alchemist. I’m drawn to books that entertain me while inspiring me in my daily life.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Funny you should ask, a year ago, right around the time when I started my Podcast, I felt the itch to start a movement called #Time2Reconnect. The idea is to promote the concept of “unplugging to reconnect”. We are so attached to our screens these days that we are not allowing #Time2Reconnect to ourselves and others. For those of us who work with our computers and with email every day it is even more challenging. I believe that at the end of each day or while on vacation, we should turn on the Automatic Response #TIME2RECONNECT after work hours so that people respect your personal and family time without you feeling guilty about emails going unanswered. Many European countries have already started working on legislation that forbids employers to write emails to their employees after work hours. I don’t think we will ever get there in the US, but we should aim to take back our ‘human connection’ time, and make #Time2Reconnect.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram and Twitter: @letilatino

LinkedIn: Leticia Latino van-Splunteren

FB: Back2Basics Podcast

www.leticialatino.com

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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