5 lessons I learned as a Latino working in a startup

Working at a startup is an adventure. In my almost two years at NationBuilder, downtown Los Angeles’ anchor startup, I lived more excitement than in all my other work experiences combined. I worked with two South American presidential campaigns in helping them hash out their data management and field organizing, facilitated hundreds of trainings on the platform, and most recently led the company’s social media efforts to generate new leads and brand ambassadors programs.

As fulfilling as it all was, a side of me felt like I lacked role models and a guiding light. You see, my family and I immigrated from Colombia when I was twelve, and the quantity of minorities working in tech is abysmal at best.


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Bloggers, PR, Influencers unite to talk best practices

This panel discussion, hosted by the Hispanic Public Relations Association LA at Indie Desk in downtown LA, highlighted how to establish relationships with bloggers and how to maximize a product launch or communications strategy. Knowing a few bloggers can help you, your brand or client uncover the full potential of online coverage and help you reach untapped audiences and fans.

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Community Sustains Movements: 3 Tips on Building Tiny Versions Of It

A few days ago I came across Douglas Atkin’s talk on “Building Movements through Action” from CMX Summit East. Atkin is the Global Director of Community at Airbnb and his story really resonated with me - advertising agency guy thrown into community organizing and technology - because it’s similar to mine.


(Pictured above: Job jackets for various clients and projects, each representing a specific "job" the ad agency is working on. I started out in the accounts department of the advertising world.)

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Make the most of Twitter chats in 8 easy steps

Here is the thing, there will always be new people who should know about your work and impact. Twitter is a great tool to find them, and Twitter chats or parties are some of the funnest ways of meeting them. 

Below are some pointers on participating in Twitter chats and live tweeting, and at the end of this post I’ve included a link to the weekly scheduled chats I participate in. 


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Summary of webinar - "Create Content Your Supporters on Facebook Will Love"

"Facebook helps you bring others into your universe, and with the proper content you can engage them."

Great perspective from Beth Becker (@spedwybabs) on ActionSprout's webinar - "Create Content Your Supporters on Facebook Will Love". 

I participated on the webinar on Tuesday, March 31st, and below are 3 main takeaways along with a whole bunch of easy-to-consume pro-tips, suggestions, and nuggets of wisdom in the Storify:

- Invest time up front on creating "Evergreen" content and in ways to crowdsource content

- "Getting 'Page Likes'" should not be the end goal, the end goal is engagement

- Build community

Also, here is a recording of the webinar for those of you that want to soak up the knowledge and Facebook content goodness. 

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Incrementa los recursos y amplía tu alcance con micro-donaciones y crowdfunding

Cuando hablamos de campañas modernas entramos a los campos de redes sociales, geolocalización, voluntarios, y votos. Ahora, los invito a considerar otros temas – el dinero y las micro-donaciones.

Antes de hablar sobre tácticas para generar micro donaciones, veamos el proceso tradicional de cómo una persona puede donar a una campaña política (bajo mejores practicas):

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Digital Organizing Tools

Tools exist to help us accomplish what we seek out to accomplish. 

In conversation, meetings, workshops, panels, etc. people ask about digital tools to help them with their organizing, outreach, sales, etc. efforts. Below is a sweet list of tools I've used to different capacities. 

There are no amount of words I can type of tutorials that you watch that will replace playing around with a tool for a few minutes. Most of these are free or offer free trial periods, so go forth and digital. 

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Recruit & engage - 5 tips on how to build long-term support

The first interaction between Edna and the campaign happened via Facebook. She expressed support for our candidate on one of our posts and, as we did with many prospective volunteers or donors, I opened up dialogue and invited her to the campaign office to meet the candidate in person. 

Skip ahead two weeks and Edna, who I think was a freshman in high school at the time, shows up at our office with her mom along with hand-made campaign-branded pins for us to sell and give away. 

Slowly and by building a relationship with Edna we offered up opportunities for her to support the campaign in different ways. The more we allowed her to engage with us, the closer she felt to the campaign’s vision and the more support she gave us. When it was all said and done Edna was by far one of our all-star volunteers, and we had a solid group of them. 


Edna, a young Latina leader showing the hand-made buttons she made as a show of support.

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Reclutar voluntarios es cuestión de cultura y participación

La primera interacción entre Edna y la campaña fue en un post de Facebook. El post le preguntaba sobre su parte favorita de Los Angeles. Después de responder, Edna le mando un mensaje privado a la pagina de Facebook del candidato - la cual yo manejaba y supervisaba como el director de digital. Hablamos un poco mas y aprendi que Edna era una joven Latina interesada en la politica y el gobierno. Tambien aprendi que estaba dedicada al studio  su futuro. Entre mensajes, invite a Edna y a su familia a la oficina de campaña a conocer al candidato. Poco a poco la relación entre Edna y la campaña fue creciendo, igual que su participación en nuestros esfuerzos. Desde hacer llamadas, donar almuerzos, y hasta crear botones personalizados apoyando el candidato - Edna se convirtio en una voluntaria estrella.

Ahora Edna colabora con fundación que apoyan sus sueños de participar en el gobierno, esta involucrada con otras campañas e iniciativas, y la ciudad de Los Angeles tiene una líder joven que puede impactar la política por muchos años.

Como profesionales en la política y el gobierno, tenemos una responsabilidad de crear experiencias como la de Edna. Con voluntarios las campañas pueden hacer mas con menos, los gobiernos tienen acceso a nuevas perspectivas que representan varias partes de la comunidad, y los ciudadanos abren las puertas para tomar parte en las decisiones que mas los afectan.

Como? Veamos lo que campañas y gobiernos pueden hacer. 

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Collaboration + Data (Vision) = Positive Pipeline

There are a million examples around us that show what happens when a kid in elementary or middle school is OR is not inspired as he/she develops. The “no inspiration” end of the spectrum, gets us chains of painfully bad decisions, wasted and stunted potential, and entire eco systems that feed right into wastelands like the school-to-prison pipeline. 

On the “inspired” end of the spectrum we get things like positive leadership, innovation and discovery, community-wide improvements, solutions to common problems, better ways of doing things, etc. etc.

I’d like to propose a pipeline that fights back against things like the school-to-prison pipeline with hope that the model is duplicated and improved so far and wide that the school-to-prison pipeline is utterly and completely eradicated. The MVP (most viable product) of this is based on technology, collaboration, sharing, and piecing together what is already there. 


I’ll illustrate via storytelling because that’s the best way to roll:

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Nueva tecnología e integración promueven movilización en Latino Americana

Check out this blog post in English on the NationBuilder blog

En esta última ronda de elecciones Colombianas tuve el placer de trabajar con campañas presidenciales  en mi bello país. No solo aprendí acerca de los procesos que existen dentro de la política Colombiana, también vi el potencial para movilizar comunidades usando tecnología que se enfoca en entender y activar al/a seguidor/a.

Esta experiencia me motivo a compartir con ustedes tres cosas que aprendí, y para darle más contexto a estas lecciones hable con Andres Achury, administrador tecnológico para la campaña de Enrique Peñalosa, ex-candidato a la presidencia de Colombia.


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Integrating new tech spurs action in Latin American politics

Lee este articulo en Español.

I was fortunate enough to work with three presidential campaigns fighting for El Palacio de Nariño (the Colombian equivalent of the White House) during the last round of elections in my beautiful home country of Colombia. During the experience, I saw the potential to truly engage and mobilize communities using integrated community technology.

Before I wrote this blog, I spoke with Andres Achury, the technology administrator for the campaign Peñalosa Presidente. Andres and his team used NationBuilder to enhance his online community and create a space where Colombian citizens could be part of the democratic process. Together, we developed the three most important takeaways from the our campaign experiences.


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Community organizing and technology in Latin America

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with the bright men and women who are helping establish the tech community in Latin America. We’re talking about go-getters — those involved with local startups, co-working spaces, accelerators and social enterprise models in technology hubs across Colombia (my hometown!) and Argentina. Communities in Mexico, Chile and Brazil are quickly following suit. Before joining the organizing team at NationBuilder, I worked with digital ad agencies followed by a handful of opportunities in politics and nonprofits. Those experiences helped me understand that real change takes place at the intersection of community and technology — a concept that inevitably emerges in my daily interactions with young entrepreneurs across Latin America. I’ve collected their feedback to come up with a few key takeaways that I want to share with you —everything from tips for cultivating the best talent to understanding the relationship between the Latin American tech movement and the U.S


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Wynwood uniting for-profit resources and social enterprise vision

Business and technology move fast, no surprise there. Accelerators, hack-a-thons, incubators, lean enterprise, MVPs, blah blah blah are nothing new. With cities like Hong Kong, Telaviv and Washington D.C. making moves to catch up with Silicon Valley and New York, innovation is brewing in all parts of the world. So where will it happen and what will it be? What does the next step of tech+business look like and where will see a glimpse of it? South Beach is raising up it’s hand and showing one possible example. Miami-based Momentum International, The LAB Miami, and GivingBackPacks are three organizations that combined, are mixing it up in interesting ways by bringing together: Resources, mentorship, capital that comes along with an accelerator, and the vision for true impact behind social enterprise


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Mom and tween daughter by day, study buddies by night

The two sit side by side doing very different homework assignments. One might lose focus for a second and think about tomorrow’s work, paying bills, and dinner. The other might space out and daydream about Justin Bieber, Instagram posts, or how awesome the next Hunger Games movie will be. When my mom, who is in her mid 40’s but looks like she’s in her late 20’s (I got you covered, mom), puts her head down and closes her eyes, my 12-year old sister – who is by far one of the smartest and most mature young women I know – perks up, pokes our mom in the side, and says “No, mom, you can’t go to sleep yet. You still have homework to do.”


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