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ANOTHER ONE OF THE STATISTICS
Wendy Platón was 19 years old. It was her first semester in college at the University of Central Florida.
And, then, the unthinkable happened.
“I was pregnant…Now you become another one of the statistics; Hispanic girls who get pregnant and will not continue their career[s].”
Platón was not only afraid, but she was certain she'd disappointed her parents. She’d disappointed herself.
How could she turn things around?
STARTED BUSINESS: May 2016
LATINO CONNECTION: Born in Ecuador, parents are from Ecuador
EDUCATION: University of Central Florida - Master of Science degree in Accounting
University of Central Florida – Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting
DREAM JOB AS A KID: I wanted to be a teacher.
BIGGEST GOAL YET: My biggest goal is to hire the correct team to help me grow the business.
MATH TO THE RESCUE
Platón remembered what her dad always told her: “You don’t let anyone tell you [that] you can’t do something…You try it until you’ve exhausted every single option to make it work.”
So Platón focused on the subject matter where she knew she could shine: math.
When she came to the U.S. from Ecuador at the age of 10, the vast majority of her classes were ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. She didn’t understand the words the teachers were speaking. But she understood the numbers.
“I was surprised to see that I was an entire advanced level of math than…the other kids in the class.”
KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE
When she went to college, she wasn’t sure what specific career avenue she’d take. But she was sure of two things:
“All I knew was, I want to do business, and I want to travel the world.”
But she had a baby on the way.
Platón stayed focused. She was not going to play around with her classes. She was not going to take the slow track.
DON'T LOSE THE MOMENTUM
“I always thought, okay, once I have a baby, I’ll take time off. And I never really did. I took a few months right after I had him. But, after that, I was like, no, you’ve gotta keep on going.
If you stop, then you lose momentum. And if you lose momentum, you will never get back up.”
So she kept on going.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME, RIGHT CONNECTION
As luck would have it, during her last semester in college, a friend suggested she join ALPFA UCF (Association of Latino Professionals for America at the University of Central Florida). And that’s where she met a manager who worked at one of the Big 4 accounting firms. The woman helped Platón secure a job there in auditing, even before Platón graduated.
By the time she started the job at EY (Ernst & Young), she was not only a mother, but a single mother. That’s when her family stepped in to help her juggle it all.
That auditing job involved travel. She got to do work-related travel in St. Thomas and within the U.S.
“So I did get to fulfill part of my initial plan or dream” of traveling the world. She later worked at Harley-Davidson and did some nonprofit work before starting her own accounting practice.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
Platón knows who and what helped her realize her goal of becoming a small business owner.
“The right people at the right time were there to kind of just...help me, you know, get into an organization.”
She goes on to say, “Make sure you surround yourself with the correct people that are there, not for their own well-being, but because they genuinely want to pass forward the gift that they have been given.”
FINDING THE "FREE LUNCH"
She also suggests aspiring and early-stage business owners reach out to the resources available to them locally. “Get to know the different chambers around you.”
She recommends visiting your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). “Speak to the people that are giving you the free advice at these organizations that are paid by the government for you…and you will meet the right people.”
Most of all, if you’ve made a mistake or had something happen that derailed you from your dream, don’t let that determine your fate.
WENDY PROVES THEM WRONG
“My teenage years were a little bit on the wild side. So I don’t think that anybody ever thought that Wendy was going to continue moving forward.”
But she says, because of the way her father raised her, she committed to finding a way forward that capitalized on her gift for math and numbers.
“I wanted to show that, hey, just because you’ve made mistakes in the past, you don’t allow for that to dictate what your future will be.”
She’s now married with two young kids. Plus, the baby boy she unexpectedly became pregnant with in college is now 17 years old.
Platón is still learning and wants to share what she wishes someone would’ve told her when she was unsure of what would become of her life and her future.
She says, “You don’t have to be perfect to be able to fulfill, or to be able to do, what you’re called to do. You just have to believe, and you just have to have a really good definition of why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
THE TIP JAR...(tips passed out courtesy of Wendy Platón, CPA)
STARTING OUT: Make sure you understand or know exactly why you’re going into what you’re doing. What motivates you? What’s the passion that’s driven behind what you’re going to do?
To understand how to tackle these questions, she recommends the book, Start With Why, by Simon Sinek.
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): Do something you’re passionate about. Choose whatever makes you want to get up every day and go to work.
I don’t know if this is a cultural thing (Hispanic) or not…I've seen a lot where, if your parent happens to be a doctor, then you must be a doctor. Or maybe they’re not a doctor, but they think you should be a doctor…But you should never get into something that… [is] not going to bring joy to your life.
STARTING OVER: There’s nothing wrong with you shifting to something that’s going to give you joy. You just need to make the decision.
And be compassionate with yourself. Because that’s another thing to learn – self-compassion. So you made a mistake. That just wasn’t the path you were supposed to go. So shift.
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: I’ll never sell myself short again.
When I started out, man, I gave everything for free. I really did. I thought, I don’t have enough experience...I priced [my accounting services] super-low. And I have, the hard way, learned…I will never sell myself short. I’m going to value myself. Because if I don’t value myself, no one else will.
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”/BEST “HOUSE” ADVICE:
Platón says her mom always told her, “Recuerda que tu nunca estas sola. Tienes tu familia. Tienes a Dios.”
TRANSLATION: “Always remember that you’re never alone. You have your family. You have God. “
The advice Platón remembers the most from her dad is this: “No te rindas. Hasta esto pasará.”
TRANSLATION: “Don’t give up. This, too, shall pass.” Basically, keep on going.
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS
Mark your calendar. November 3rd, the National Entrepreneurship Center has partnered with SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), to help you figure out your mission, pinpoint your target market and come up with a marketing strategies for your business. This workshop applies to product or service-related industries. As always, the online course is FREE. Here’s the link:
NATIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP CENTER (NEC)/SCORE (SERVICE CORPS OF RETIRED EXECUTIVES)
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
6 P.M. – 9 P.M.
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help, especially when it comes to emotional health:
BACK IN THE CLASSROOM: RETURN, RECOVER & REIMAGINE
For those of you who are parents, when your children are thriving, you can perform better pursuing your dreams. Based on the description, I thought this online seminar might provide a good opportunity to discuss and address your concerns for your children at school, their emotional health and how you can best engage as a family. It’s being sponsored by Unidos US. Click on the link to learn more and register:
Thursday, October 28, 2021
4 P.M. EST
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
Companies say they want to hire more diverse employees and aggressively recruit to find them. But then we don’t see it.
We’re frequently disappointed and, sometimes, appalled at the actual numbers of minorities hired. It’s worse when it comes to minorities getting seats in management.
While it’s definitely positive that a sizable majority of accounting employees were women last year, the number of Hispanics in the industry came in at only 8.4%, according to Statista.
That includes accountants, bookkeepers and payroll workers, among others in the industry. Keep in mind, the U.S. Census Bureau says Hispanics accounted for 18.7% of the U.S. population in 2020.
Clearly, affinity organizations like ALPFA that pair successful minorities with college students or younger adults are critical in helping form a pipeline of Latino talent.
Wendy Platón almost had her dream derailed, if she hadn’t had that chance meeting in her last semester of college.
I suspect she would’ve still found a way to make things happen. But it would’ve been a lot harder. And who knows if she would've gotten the opportunities she got?
Those of us who have had some degree of success need to step up and offer that helping hand to younger people, particularly Latinos. They likely don’t have Ivy League connections, don’t know people in positions of power or wouldn’t get a second look when competing for prized jobs and opportunities, if someone doesn’t spend a little extra time helping them make those critical career connections.
At the same time, the organizations and networking groups are out there. People just need to put in the time, effort and research. Those who want to break into these industries need to hustle and get in front of people and groups. Don't expect that people will put their reputations at risk, if you don't show some initiative.
More effort, better matching and increased mentoring can help bridge the gap.
Platón is now helping her own niece, Kelly, learn the ropes of accounting. Learning from someone she knows and trusts will go a long way.
Even now, Platón says she met a mentor through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who has not only served as a trusted sounding board for her, but that person has also put her in touch with connections that have been fruitful for her business.
No matter if we’re just starting out, have racked up years of experience or are winding down, we all appreciate a helping hand.
Be that connection that could change someone's life - today.
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