FRANK CARBAJAL is Founder and President of Es Tiempo, LLC, a thought leadership company. He is also the Founder of the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit and co-author of Building the Latino Future: Success Stories for the Next Generation.
JOSE MOREY is CEO and Founder of Ad Astra Media, LLC. He is also an Eisenhower Fellow with the 2020 ZHI-XING Fellows Program. A health and technology keynote speaker and author, he has also consulted for NASA, Forbes, MIT, and the White House Office of Science and Technology.
FROM IMPERIAL VALLEY TO THE SILICON VALLEY
My parents' journey started on an adverse path from Mexico to the Imperial Valley of California, in the 1960s during the Bracero Program, which allowed Mexicans to work on their journey toward American citizenship. The youngest of five children, I was born in El Centro, California, on June 19, 1969. My mother shared with me that she worked "like a burro" up until her third trimester, spending 10 to 12 hours a day in the fields. Sometimes she worked in the blistering heat of 110 degrees, often feeling like she wasn't going to make it. Pure determination pushed my mother through these conditions. My father also worked these long hours; however, he was treated with more fairness as a male migrant worker at the time. My parents simply taught us about a good work ethic, but more importantly to take that hard work into the classroom. My father knew how to communicate his thoughts and express his frustration with my mother working these long hours and having to begin work again only a few days after I was born.
My dad at that point began to realize the importance of being a father, a man of the household. We did not have much of a house with seven of us in a one-bedroom home in El Centro, California.
After I was two years old, my father had the ambition to move us to the Santa Clara Valley, today known as the Silicon Valley. In 1973 my parents were fortunate to find positions in canneries, which was an industry that was considered better than working in the fields.
However, my parents could afford to live in only one place: an area known as Meadowfair, which was based in East San José, California, and known as a barrio (Spanish-speaking neighborhood).
This was a great success for my father because we moved into a four-bedroom home. Everything my parents needed was within a two-mile radius, such as the well-known Mexican shopping center known as Tropicana, which had everything from clothes to food.
From a bird's-eye view, in the early 1970s the Silicon Valley resembled a salad bowl. About three miles east from my childhood home were orchards for picking seasonal fruit. However, to the west and north of my neighborhood the Silicon Valley companies, such as Apple, were beginning to take shape.
I didn't learn English until the second grade. Being integrated into a mainstream school, I realized at a young age that we were at a disadvantage compared with the kids who were White and Asian and who lived in the middle-class neighborhoods known as Evergreen and Creekside. Many of the White kids were from families of the Mormon faith, and their parents worked in the electronics industry. This neighborhood was about three miles from my neighborhood. They appeared to have everything we did not in terms of connectivity to the school, and the inequity was realized early on. However, what we had in my home was an unconditional love that felt so warm and reassuring. For example, my father was determined to instill confidence in me and protect me from any negative influences.
My working life started when I was eight years old, just about to turn nine.
Every summer, my parents showed my four siblings and me the value of the work ethic by taking us to pick cherries, apricots, and at times strawberries in the Silicon Valley. The most difficult part was waking up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. and getting ready to head out for another very long day of manual labor. I remember splashing water on my face to wake up, since I was too young to drink coffee. Without a word of complaint or rebellion, all five of us would pack into our father's 1978 pink Datsun, with silver flames along the side, We didn't bother with seat belts, but I felt safe, because I was with my parents and siblings. This job taught me early on to be respectful of migrant workers, as I was a migrant student. But as a young, curious student I vividly remember gazing out of the side window as we drove to Cupertino to pick some cherries and see some of the neighborhoods surrounding early Silicon Valley companies like Apple, which was based out of the garage of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak as they were about to embark on creating a company that would not only change Silicon Valley, but the world.
My early childhood life centered on staying out of trouble, because my father wanted me to keep busy. When I was just 12 years old, in the summers I went with my father to clean offices, a job that he worked part-time for a janitorial company in addition to working full-time at a cannery. I know that my father's intent was to keep me busy on weekends and during the summers, working in the fields to keep me away from some of the kids who had joined a gang in the barrio. I believe his motive was to make me realize the significance of an education. He didn't want me to work as hard as he had to; he wanted me to work smarter. During that era in the Silicon Valley the industry was electronics and the product was known as a circuit board, and as first-generation Americans we had never been exposed to this language or concept.
On the weekends when I worked with my father as a janitor, throughout the Silicon Valley and the Venture Capital Mecca of Sand Hill Road, I spent many hours daydreaming. I recall what I was thinking I cleaned the office of the CEO of a successful tortilla company. I was slowly pushing the vacuum cleaner as I admired everything in the office, from the rich smell of mahogany to the awards of recognition he received as an outstanding Latino. I also enjoyed looking at his awards hanging on the wall and the ticket stubs from the first Super Bowl they played in the Silver Dome, which were carefully displayed in a case. My father walked in and interrupted my reverie, shouting "Hijo, this is the reason you need to concentrate in school and concentrate on going to college!"
My story, along with those of Dr. José Morey and all great Latino and Latina interviewees, is intended to change the narrative and show how our Latinx Business Success will enable a transformation into recruiting more Latinas in leadership positions in corporate America, from C-suite level to boardrooms, from creating a business idea to receiving venture capital funding to executing a business to becoming a successful entrepreneur, in roles ranging from healthcare to technology leaders.
Also, in the areas of media and arts, we show how it is just as important for these industries to have representation in the top Silicon Valley firms in the country.
We also wish to encourage key leadership roles from academia to nonprofits to rising stars, to show Generation Z Latinas and Latinos that anything is possible. To make these roles transparent and accessible we will be sharing the tremendous success stories.
The book also focuses on the evolution of digital Latino intelligence, but to get to these solutions, the stories all have a common thread of the gaps and the digital divide, and explain that the solution is an increasing number of Latino and Latinas participating in the transformation of understanding their significance to technology and how to not only be part of the Silicon Valley and beyond, but to take ownership of the Latino future to follow.
This is our time - Es Tiempo - it's time to get a piece of that Silicon Valley pie.
San Francisco, California
FROM BORINQUEN TO THE BOARDROOM
I was born in Puerto Rico in the early 1980s and grew up in a barrio called El Verde (The Greene) in Caguas. We were a traditional Puerto Rican family. My grandmother was the youngest of nine siblings and had studied nursing; my grandfather spent his entire career as a card dealer at the famous Caribe Hilton in Old San Juan, where he spent 36 years or, as he used to say, "Till the age of Christ," dealing cards to international tourists coming to visit the Island of Enchantment.
My father was an immigrant from the Dominican Republic raised in a small town called Higuey and my mother was a beautiful, strong woman from the island. They met at the University of Puerto Rico and soon started a family. My father finished his studies while my mother both studied and worked from home to tend to the family.
Our family was a typical low- to middle-income family on the island. My grandparents were of more modest means. Although we didn't have all the lavish trappings that others may have had, I never noticed, for we were wealthy in love, in passion, and in aspirations of what life could be.
It was my upbringing in el barrio that prepared me for the boardroom today. It was my island upbringing that taught me that family goes beyond the boundaries of blood, and the ideal that the growth and prosperity of community far outweighs that of capital. In short, the things that center me as Hispanic from El Caribe are very much the strengths that I bring to the teams and projects I have had the honor to work alongside.
I remember my grandmother, Amelia Tirado de Lasa, always thinking of others. Despite not having much of her own, she always had much to give. She instilled in us the mentality that if one can eat, then all can eat. I remember her always planning and purchasing potential gifts for people in need even before the person arrived at our home. From my grandfather, Victor Lasa, I learned that it is more important to give than to receive. From an early age we would talk about my future as a physician....