In recognition of Earth Day 2012, I am proud to present a review of the book Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them. Latinnovating, by author Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, explores the lives, ambitions, and influences of ten Latino business owners who have dedicated their entrepreneurialism to maintaining green business ventures. Latinnovating is essentially a series of well-developed case studies of the ten entrepreneurs and uses their stories as inspiration for students and professionals alike. Published last year, Latinnovating has already earned many accolades and propelled Tiscareño-Sato as one of the top Latina sustainability leaders.
Prior to becoming an author, Tiscareño-Sato was a proven entrepreneur herself. She has worked extensively in the global marketing and telecommunications industries and currently owns her own consultancy, Gracefully Global Group. According to the book’s introduction, Tiscareño-Sato wrote Latinnovating as a way to positively reflect the lives of Latino leaders in the U.S. that continue to sustain local economies. After watching the CNN feature Latino in America, she mentions how she felt there was too much of a focus on overused Hispanic stereotypes such as the struggling immigrant or pregnant teenage girl. Tiscareño-Sato asks,
“Where were the college-educated professionals, the people with advanced degrees in business, the entrepreneurs, the college professors, the American Latino success stories, the Latinos who create jobs and opportunities for all Americans?”
Latinnovating is Tiscareño-Sato’s answer to these questions.
The ten entrepreneurs featured in Latinnovating collectively span many industries, backgrounds, and experiences. Filled with plenty of wit and inspiration, the stories set forth each of the entrepreneur’s early influences, work and life experiences, and business successes. Ideas related to sustainability, innovation, and green thinking often stem from a deep understanding of their respective values and relate how each individual’s Latino perspectives have shaped their outlooks and views on business and life. Although the stories are too extensive to compile in a single blog post, I have provided a few brief views below as an outline of whom you can expect to meet within the pages of Latinnovating:
- A former fashion model from Puerto Rico whose experience in the clothing industry influenced her to begin a waste-free printing service.
- The grandson of a small Texas town migrant worker who put his humble beginnings to work in forming one of the lead companies in sustainable packaging solutions.
- A daughter of Cuban immigrants who was profoundly influenced by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to start a consultancy that assists homeowners with “Green Home Makeovers”.
- A native of East Los Angeles whose modest upbringing motivated him to invest in solar energy for local school systems.
One common thread I found through most of the Latino entrepreneurs featured in Latinnovating was how their life experiences affect their views on sustainability. For many, being green is not a business trend, but a strongly held and deeply ingrained value. Last year, I wrote a blog post about how I felt Latinos are “ready made” as green entrepreneurs. As an example, I used my wife’s experiences growing up in Puerto Rico and her recollections of how her family would use rainwater to irrigate crops that would eventually sustain both their business and food. For many families, this sustainable way of doing things has been in place long before North American companies began to capitalize on manufacturing rain barrels and investing in other green initiatives. What Latinnovating has done is capture these ideals and values and formulated them into actionable career paths and methods for innovative leadership skills.
In addition, Tiscareño-Sato makes good use of the book’s real estate to emphasize the importance of education, in particular higher education. For her, one goal in writing Latinnovating was to help reverse the negative trends surrounding Latino youth and education. She writes,
“The stories in this book are therefore instrumental. They show students successful people with similar backgrounds that escaped the community and familial negativity –or collective ignorance– about college, and instead chose the path of higher education. This is tremendously important to me–to get these stories in the hands of the most disadvantaged minority kids in our nation so that perhaps this way they can see that Mami and Papi’s advice to start working after high school is wrong.”
I appreciate Tiscareño-Sato’s achievement by recognizing green Latino leaders, their accomplishments, and the ability to relate their cultural values to current business and social initiatives. Although Latinnovating is a well-documented and researched effort, I believe Latino sustainability in business and leadership is a story far from being finished. I will be curious to see what Tiscareño-Sato has in store for the future. Hopefully she will continue to influence and inspire the next generation of innovators. Like the entrepreneurs featured in Latinnovating, I wonder who will be the future leaders and roles models of tomorrow and how their experiences will influence their paths in both work and life?
For more about Latinnovating, please visit: http://www.latinnovating.com/