I am inspired by the beautiful sea of infinite life opportunities. I gracefully pay close attention to what I create each day as this is due to allowing my inner light with gifts shine brighter for the greater good. On Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, I celebrate 40 years of life and am donating my birthday to the Magic Wand Foundation in partnership with Casimiro Foundation who are creating the next generation of young social entrepreneurs and global leaders. Thinking about my life brings tears of joy and am grateful for every day shared with people who I love and learn from. I dream big and failure is never been an option during my life transitions from being a child to teenager to woman. More than ever, I take continuous inspired action to live the life of my dreams. I recently participated in a three-day conference called Transform hosted by Pamela Bruner, thank you to Mande White letting me know about this amazing event. I am now clear my career in the financial services industry has nothing to do with any involvement in the global economic crisis. The following provides insight on my professional and personal transformations so you are inspired to transform!
Transform had over 180 international executives from entrepreneurs, small business, and corporate America. Thought leaders who create positive impact for the greater good. Some insights caught my attention where many executives (women and men):
- lose money each day due to lack of the love of making money for their business
- do not have clarity on how business numbers work and importance of integrating their big dreams in the “business game” so the company can thrive
- are not continuously focused on business growth implementation
- do not value what they are worth by not packaging their services properly
- do not communicate with confidence using their voice or presence
- have fear to experience the financial success on the “other side.”
This is my personal story with relation to the above. I was born to a family of Ecuadorian immigrants who became residents of the United States. For over 20 years I saw my parents work hard in New York, start a frozen food distribution business and save money to buy machinery to create their dream business and return to Ecuador. In year 1989, we moved to Ecuador to build an automatic frozen food processing company called Bocariccos which celebrated 20 years of service in year 2010. My life was always rich with dreams, spiritual belief, love of family, friends, education, and entrepreneurial drive. I knew you needed money to start and grow a business, but I did not know how to do it. One day when I was 18 years old, my father handed me Bocariccos product samples and requested I start selling. I loved the challenge and opportunity to help bring in money for the business and our family. During four years, I helped the company increase sales with over 100 new clients in schools, colleges, universities, resorts, corporations, and delicatessen while studying computer programming and systems analysis in the evenings. My dream was to obtain a higher education and earn a Master in Business Administration (MBA) and then work for a Fortune 500 company to learn the difference between working in a small and large organization. One major difference I noticed is the amount of resources available to a small business being limited compared to that of a large organization. The lesson for me was this does not mean a large organization is better than a small business. It simply means a large organization has more money to do more and/ or outsource so to grow the business.
While working in corporate America, I strategically accepted or pursued positions in various departments that would expose me to various leadership responsibilities for running a business such as: intern for check clearing, temporary position in trade services, client database project management, and full-time executive secretary in the office of chief executive officer at American Express Bank. This was the first time I broke through the corporate “glass ceiling.” It felt like an amazing accomplishment, but I wanted to have a more challenging role. I worked hard and it is now clear to me that I was “waiting” for a hiring manager to notice my work and offer me a new title with more responsibilities. Instead, I could have taken action to look for more challenging roles that interested me so I could ask for an exploratory interview. Since I wanted more challenging work with opportunity for career growth, I accepted a position as administrative assistant at Merrill Lynch (ML) Leadership Training & Development department. I was determined to stay focused on developing my leadership skills and asked for project work that would help challenge me to learn so I could be in a better position to ask for a promotion.
Until one day my life changed and I was moved to start my first of four companies. The day was Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and I was trapped in the lobby of my office building located one block away from the Twin Towers collapsing. Fellow leadership development colleagues and I were leading a second day of training 250 international new hires who just earned their MBA. We escorted trainees out of the building to safety, but it was too late for my colleagues and I to escape. We felt and heard the earth and building tremble while the first Twin Tower partially collapsed. From the outside total darkness and through the revolving lobby doors arrived people covered in debris, gasping for air and crying in fear. I helped rinse and wipe their faces and mouth with water, juice and tissues I had in my briefcase. I remember one woman said to me, “I just escaped the building and now I am stuck here.” It was that moment my heart felt my death was near, but I kept calm and told her everything was going to be okay. I felt I would never see my family again. Then the walls started to tremble again and it was one Twin Tower completing its fall. I leaned against a building column in the lobby and cried thinking, “God, this is it. It is my time and I will never see my family again. I am grateful for the life you gave me.” I felt fear, peace in my heart and strength all at the same time. I was ready to die. All of a sudden, the trembling stopped and our building was not affected by the collapse. We were given a second chance with minutes to run for our lives to safety while the second Twin Tower building started to fall. It was a shocking and an awakening experience at the same time that changed many lives forever.
From that day forward, I was determined to living the life of my dreams by first removing myself from a verbally abusive relationship. I then looked for opportunities that would help me get to the next level in my career. My colleagues and I went to work at ML two days later at a hotel in central Manhattan even though I jumped at the sound of every loud noise. I knew we needed to move forward and stay busy so we could heal to create positive change. I remember vividly the unconditional love and collaboration while everyone worldwide mourned those who passed and were grateful for those who were still with us. Two months later, my manager recommended me to a human resource director for a new position to work with the chief operating officer of human resources as senior executive assistant. I broke through the “glass ceiling” for a second time and although I was humbled by the opportunity, I wanted to show management that I was ready for a more challenging role. I worked 18 hour days for two months because 10,000 employees either did not want to return to work or ML laid off due to economic crisis. Due to lack of rest, I started to forget things and my office productivity was at risk. I planned a three-week vacation to visit my parents in Ecuador to relax. The time off reminded me that I had a second chance to live to pursue my dreams and passions. I returned to New York and asked for a new office schedule from 9am to 5pm. I was inspired to start my first international woman accessory business while working full-time and donated 10% to 100% sales to charity. My office colleagues were my first and best client’s. I continued to ask for challenging projects in the office so I could learn about leading the human capital of an organization. I was then promoted in year 2003 as senior executive assistant to work with the chief executive officer and chairman of the board at ML responsible for the office accounting with audit team among other ultra-high net worth projects. It was my third time to breakthrough the “glass ceiling.” After almost three years of learning so much from this great career opportunity, I had the courage to seek a new ML position in the Latin America sales and marketing department in Miami, Florida. I asked for the assistant vice president title and negotiated my new salary with bonus. The new ML office was offering to reduce my salary by $20,000 and I thought that was unreasonable, so I did my research on Salary.com and found the fair market value of my new role in Miami was only an $8,000 decrease in value. I presented my research summary report to the new hiring managing director and the chief executive officer of ML. I was then offered the position with the $8,000 salary decrease with bonus and new title as senior specialist. I moved to Miami in year 2006 to work with ML, purchased a home and started a real estate team selling our first $1 million property within three months. Since starting my new role at ML, I was mobbed/bullied by an office colleague with no resolution from management nor human resources. I decided I had two choices, (1) search for another open position within the company or (2) leave ML. In year 2007, I was transferred to a new ML role with my first office space. I successfully produced over $150 million in revenue for the company within one year by leveraging cross-organizational business strategies before I was laid off with 4,000 employees in year 2008. I was disappointed after working so hard to develop my successful career in finance and seeing it come to a sudden end. I remained focused on making my dreams come true.
I had started the MBA program at Florida International University and was volunteer treasurer then president of board of directors with my community town home association where I helped decrease annual expenses by $100,000 to avoid receivership. I was achieving my lifelong dream of earning a MBA, but felt an empty space with fear in my heart. Fear about the continuous news about world economic crisis and seeing many jobs lost. My retirement savings was depleting due to using funds to help pay for the mortgage. I wrote a letter to The White House addressed to the president of the United States to share my experience of potentially losing my first home as well as recommended a solution to give all those with a default mortgage, due to being laid off and financial distress, the opportunity to have the mortgage loan adjusted to the market value. I knew commercial properties were being short sold at market value with the remaining balance owed on a mortgage debt removed from the original home owner’s bank debt record. If a bank could do these type of financial adjustments for a short sale commercial property in distress, it makes sense they do same for residential properties.
I was frozen in time questioning the purpose of my life and had reached rock bottom. I knew I had to do something, and fast, to get back on track to living my true life purpose and create a lasting legacy. My spiritual belief and perseverance helps me to create unlimited financial success so I move forward with the flow of life challenges and opportunities. My mindset shifted and I am once again the entrepreneur who thinks big so I create big dreams. You may hear the word “crisis” everywhere you go, but know that you have the ability within you to create the wealth you desire. You can create scalable long-term financial business success for yourself and the organizations you serve in this “new economy.” Everything is possible when you dream big and take inspired action, continuously. You have your own inner power to transform!
© Copyright 2011 Brenda Leguisamo. All rights reserved worldwide.
Want to experience more? Learn how to Leverage Social Media To Fill Event Seats.