The Immigrant Perspective Defines Success for 21st Century Leaders

Miguel (Mike) Fernandez is Chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, L.P., a private equity firm located in Coral Gables, Florida that focuses on investing in healthcare service companies nationwide. His book Humbled by the Journey: Life Lessons For My Family…And Yours, with proceeds going to The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, shares lessons learned from his Hispanic upbringing and the values that inspired him to work hard, overcome obstacles, and help others along the way.

These values are very much in line with the six characteristics of the 21st century leader that I often write about and that I discuss here with Mike in our recent interview.

Glenn Llopis:
The immigrant mindset defines 21st century leadership and represents the values that we as Hispanics are brought up with in our families and that we live throughout our community. They are the values that inspire the natural ways we think, act and lead.

Mike Fernandez: Adopt an immigrant mindset. I love that line. Hispanics are the biggest game changer since the baby boom. They are one in four kids in the classrooms of New York and Texas. We are one out of every six people. Latinos in the U.S. are the 16th largest consumer economy in the world! How can we continue to ignore this fact? You can’t help but increase your results by reaching out and learning our culture.

Llopis: Agreed. It’s a tremendous opportunity. In fact, without Hispanics, America’s corporations won’t be able to grow and compete.Which brings me to the first of the six characteristics of the 21st leader: the ability to “see opportunity everywhere.” How does that fit with what you wrote in your book, that it’s better to restructure or reinvent an existing business or product rather than invest in something new and start from scratch?

Fernandez: If no one has been successful at something before, the odds of you being the one who comes in and turns everything around and creates the perfect solution are pretty slim. It’s been my experience that it’s much better – and you’ll have much more success – when you can see the opportunity in something that’s been tried before but didn’t quite work, find out why it failed, and look for potential resolutions to the problem(s). When you’re the second or third one to take on a situation, instead of the first, the execution risk is greatly reduced. So reinventing or restructuring something reduces the risk of failing and heightens the chance of succeeding.

Llopis: The second characteristic is “always staying on your toes.” This made me think of something you said about confidence, that it’s not about knowing all the answers, but about being open to all the questions.

Fernandez: The moment you think you know it all is the moment that you stop learning. That’s why I like to say it’s good to be the dumbest guy in the room, the dumbest guy sitting around the conference table.

Socially, I’m surrounded by friends who play or know a lot about basketball. But it’s not something I know a lot about. So whenever we’re together I’m like a sponge soaking up everything I can learn about the game. And I leave knowing a lot more than I walked in, certainly learning more than anyone else in the room did.

It’s the same in business. Even if you know the answer (or think you do), be quiet and listen to everybody else talk. You might just learn something new. Especially if you keep an open mind at all times. It’s alright to have firm convictions, but don’t them be an anchor hanging around your neck.

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The Immigrant Perspective Defines Success for 21st Century Leaders
immigrant – Yahoo News Search Results
immigrant – Yahoo News Search Results


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