Think & Grow Rich: A Latino Choice

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9780345485618: Think & Grow Rich: A Latino Choice

“There is nothing that belief plus a burning desire cannot make real.”
–Napoleon Hill

By applying the proven principles of preparation, competence, hard work, and sincerity devised by legendary motivational author Napoleon Hill, Lionel Sosa advanced from painting signs at $1.10 an hour to running the largest Hispanic ad agency in America. In this indispensable guide to prosperity, Sosa shares his inspiring story of achievement, as well as those of other respected members of the Latino community, including:

· Alberto Gonzales, who rose from humble roots in San Antonio and Houston to become the first Hispanic attorney general of the United States
· Linda Alvarado, who defied both racism and sexism to head the biggest construction company in America led by a woman
· Jeff Valdez and Bruce Barshop, the team that created SiTV, the first and only twenty-four-hour English-language cable channel aimed at Latinos
· Patricia Diaz Dennis, who triumphed over many obstacles and personal tragedy to serve as the first Latina chair of the Girl Scouts in the United States

In a clear and encouraging voice, Sosa reveals how Napoleon Hill’s positive, practical, and empowering ideas can help Latinos overcome self-esteem issues, thrive while embracing change, and map a clear-cut plan to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams.

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

The Five Minutes That Changed My Life The first time I heard about Think & Grow Rich, I was twenty-three years old. Married with two kids and another on the way, I was doing what I thought I should be doing—working like hell to earn a living. The year was 1963 and minimum wage was a dollar an hour. I was doing better than that: $1.10. I was okay with that. I had a desk job as a neon sign designer at a small shop called Texas Neon. Still, my weekly take-home pay after taxes and deductions was only $37.50, hardly enough to make ends meet. I worried every day and prayed, hoping one of the kids wouldn’t get sick. How would I pay the doctor?

One day, I got lucky. A woman by the name of Sally Pond came into the shop and asked us to design a small sign for her office building. She wanted it to read, “The School of Personal Achievement.” As she explained her business, my ears perked up. She promised that anyone who took the course and followed the teachings of Napoleon Hill and his seventeen principles of personal achievement would get rich. Every bit as rich as he or she wanted.

Napoleon Hill? Who was that? Was he French? Was he related to Bonaparte? Was he dead?

“No,” she said. “This man is alive, living in Chicago. And as far as I’m concerned, he’s more important than Napoleon Bonaparte. This Napoleon will make you a millionaire.”

In about five minutes, Sally Pond signed me up. And in those five minutes, my life changed. Not only did I get a chance to design her sign, I got a chance to design my life, and to acquire the knowledge I would need to lead a happy life and earn millions. I borrowed the money to pay for the course, joining fifteen other would-be millionaires at the Napoleon Hill School of Personal Achievement. Those seventeen weeks in class changed my life forever.

Hill’s mantra was: “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve.” I believed every word. After all, his philosophy was not just one man’s opinion. It was the shared wis- dom distilled from the minds of hundreds of the most successful people in the world. Napoleon Hill had spent more than twenty years compiling this treasure. He had spent hours, days, and weeks interviewing presidents, heads of state, inventors, and captains of industry. His work was a gold mine of information and success secrets.

My eyes were as wide as baseballs. The excitement inside me was huge. Imagine. I could be rich! I could be happy! I could make important contributions to society by learning and applying Hill’s seventeen principles of personal achievement! Even before the first day of class, something inside me began to change. For the first time in my life, instead of worrying, I was thinking positively about the future.

The course was taught in seventeen installments. Every Monday, we would report promptly at 5 pm, and each week we were introduced to a new lesson. With each lesson, we learned a new principle. During the first twenty minutes of instruction, we were shown a 16-mm movie of Mr. Hill giving an overview of the lesson of the week. Week one: Definiteness of Purpose. Week two: The Mastermind Alliance. And so on. Class discussion was encouraged, and the conversations were spirited. We had workbooks to fill out and homework to do. Sally invited successful people to guest lecture and tell their stories of how their dreams had come true by applying Hill’s principles. Many of the students became good friends, though we didn’t socialize much after class. We tended to rush home to do our homework and get ready for the following week.

Had I been older and more experienced, I might have been skeptical of the whole philosophy. I might have questioned some of it as being too simple, such as the idea that you can achieve whatever your mind believes you can achieve. I might have questioned some of the instruction as being too offbeat, such as the concept of autosuggestion, the idea that you can talk yourself into believing anything, good or bad. Being young and naïve can be a great asset. For me, it was a blessing. I didn’t question anything. My mind was open. I drank it all in.

Whatever your age, experience, or level of maturity, pretend you’re a kid again as you read this book. Keep an open mind. Don’t come on this journey carrying the baggage of cynicism and doubt. Understand that baggage of this sort is the by-product of experience and rationalism—behaviors we learn as adults. This baggage is too heavy to take on our trip to success and riches. Lose it.

Also, soak up all seventeen principles. You may not master them all. That’s okay. Several of the people I interviewed for this book (many of whom are disciples of Napoleon Hill and Think & Grow Rich) tell me that they apply no more than a handful of these principles each day. But they do apply them each day. That’s what’s important. Looking back, I realize that I have mastered only four of them. Yet, those four were so powerful, they were all that I needed and exactly what I needed. Later in the book, I’ll tell you which four I mastered and how they continue to work for me.

Latinos and Success

Perhaps you’re reading this book because you are Latino or Hispanic. Perhaps you are simply curious about the almost fifty million of us who reside in the United States and Puerto Rico. Maybe you want insights into the one billion of us who inhabit the continents known as the Americas. Did you know that the Americas are two-thirds Latino?

Note that I use Latino and Hispanic interchangeably. Personally, I prefer “Latino.” I agree with the comedian George Lopez, who shies away from the term “Hispanic” because it has the word panic in it.

Why do Latinos need their own version of Think & Grow Rich, a book that has been around since the 1930s and has helped turn tens of thousands of ordinary people into leaders and millionaires? Italians didn’t get their own version. Jews didn’t. Why Latinos?

Good question. Two reasons:

1.No group of people is better prepared to take advantage of Think & Grow Rich than Latinos.

2.On the other hand, no group of people is more poorly prepared to take advantage of Think & Grow Rich than Latinos.

Sound crazy? It’s really not. Let me explain.

Latinos in the United States have a lot to be proud of. We are the largest minority population in the nation. That makes us big and powerful. We’ve come a long way since the days when restaurants would hang signs that read, “No Mexicans or Dogs Allowed.”

Today, there’s plenty of good news: Hispanic income is at an all-time high. So is our buying power, and also our home- ownership levels. Our entrepreneurial spirit is legend. Every year, Latinos start more small businesses than any other group of Americans. We have the political power that has helped elect two presidents. Latinos are big in popular culture, music, entertainment, and the arts. Many Anglos aspire to be Latino. It’s wonderful!

Some of the news is not, however. Our high school- and college-completion rates are the lowest of any ethnic group. We earn less money per capita than non-Latinos. Few of us are represented on corporate boards or in top management. Our immigration woes still get national attention.

Professor Samuel P. Huntington of Harvard University wrote a book titled Who Are We? In it, he depicts Latinos as a menace to all that America has achieved and represents. He disagrees with my position that the Americano Dream is for everyone to share and says so in his book. “[Sosa] is wrong,” he says. “There is no Americano Dream. There is only an American Dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. Mexican Americans will share in that dream and in that society only if they dream in English.”

Who says Mexican Americans don’t dream in English? We dream in two languages, and English is one of them. It is Dr. Huntington who is wrong. Dead wrong. Latinos are attracted to America for the same reason every other immigrant has ever been: for the opportunity to make it big, based on our own talent, heart, hard work, and initiative.

For all the press we get, good and bad, very little is known about who we really are. Truth is, we know precious little about ourselves. How many of us know that Hispanics settled in North America seventy-eight years before the Pilgrims ever landed at Plymouth Rock? Or that Spain and its territories such as Mexico and Cuba, in large part, financed the American Revolution? Or that Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans, and other Latinos together have earned more congressional medals of honor to date defending our country? How many Americans can name a dozen of the fifteen hundred cities and four states in the United States with Spanish names? We know the city of San Franciso by its Spanish name. Otherwise, we’d call it St. Francis. The same is true for the state of Nevada. In English, it would be called Snowfall. Hispanics named those cities and states because we were in North America before the British. Spanish-speaking Americans comprise the third-largest Spanish-speaking “country,” right behind Mexico and Spain.

That’s just the beginning. What’s more important is who we are now, how we think, and how our success will impact this America.

The Latino Experience

Let’s get down to business. Just who are Latinos? For starters, we are a complicated group—an amalgamation of people from twenty-five countries throughout Mexico, South and Central America, and the Caribbean, as well as Spain, and Portugal. As we grow and become part of the mainstream, we become more complicated, more difficult to understand.

Some gringos (I use the term affectionately) think we are aliens. To many Latin Americans, we are some sort of gringo hybrid who has forsaken the mother country. Other minorities in the United States are easier to understand, perhaps because they share a common experience, and often a common injury. For Jewish Americans, it is the Holocaust. African Americans get their sense of identity and unity from slavery. Even non-minorities have their symbols: Texans have the Alamo, Southerners have Appomattox.

What do Latinos have? As Cantinflas, the Mexican comedian, used to say, “Allí está el detalle.” Loosely translated, this is a hedge that really means “who knows?” Our story is hard to define. Our injury is not apparent. Yet it must be there. Why else would we be labeled a minority even in cities like San Antonio where we have always been a majority? Why else would we have higher levels of poverty and lower levels of achievement?

The experts all have answers. Some say the situation is caused by the steady wave of new immigrants who enter this country poor and undereducated. Others say Latinos are inhibited by lower expectations of themselves and of their children that stem from their history and culture. Still others dismiss us as simple optimists who measure success differently. Roberto Suro, in his book Strangers Among Us, believes that whereas we may see ourselves as being respectful, American society sees us as being subservient. Raul Yzaguirre, founder of the National Council of La Raza, believes that the “system” works against Latinos and that prejudice and lack of adequate government funding is to blame.

Maybe they are all right. But there’s something else that impacts our low economic status. My own research of the last twenty years indicates it may have to do with a lack of self-identity. And thus a lack of self-confidence. Did the conquest of the Indian by the Spaniards and Portuguese leave an imprint that makes us feel less worthy today? To explore this issue, we must peel back the onion. One layer at a time. Even if it hurts.

Noted theologian Father Virgilio Elizondo often makes this observation in his writings:

We are the mestizaje or “mixture” of the Spanish and the indigenous native of the Americas. As such, we were both the welcomers and the welcomed. We were both the explored and the explorers. We were both the settlers and the settled. We were both the conquered and the conquerors. We were both the victims and the victimizers. We are the mother and the father as well as the children of this land we call the USA.

And because our origin is so new—500 years, compared to Europe’s 48,000 years—we were here to witness and record our own conception, as well as our own birth.

Pretty heady stuff, huh? Father Virgil is a genius (you’ll find his story in the final chapter of this book). Examining his insights, two big things jump out at me:

1.We share a uniquely Latino injury, the conquest. It produced an unconscious macho/servant dichotomy. We can be as tough as a conqueror one minute and meek as a slave the next. In public, many of us put on our subservient hats. At home, the macho steel helmet.

2.We share a uniquely Latino characteristic. Our quiet but relentless energy and optimism arose from the need to survive in the face of recurring oppression.

Now let’s see how we can make these observations work for us in terms of thinking and growing rich.

Making Think & Grow Rich Work for You

The cultural baggage derived from our roots subtly influences our successes and failures. Our roots make us who we are. They determine our core values. These values dictate our beliefs, and our beliefs drive our behavior.

Are you carrying negative cultural baggage on your journey to riches? Are you carrying some you are unaware of?

To make Think & Grow Rich work for you as a Latino, first understand what makes us tick:

1.our unconscious servant/macho psyche

2.our relentless energy and optimism

3.our values compared to Anglo values

Let’s explore these points, one at a time.

1. Our Unconscious Servant/Macho Psyche

Many Latinos get upset when I bring up the concept of “unconscious servitude” (although they don’t seem to mind the “macho” part as much). They assume I’m putting down our value system. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love our conservative core values. I believe them. I embrace them. But I always press on.

“Okay, tell me something. What did your parents teach you to say when an adult called your name?”

“Mande usted.”

“What does ‘mande usted’ mean?” I ask.

“It means, ‘Yes?’ It’s an acknowledgement.”

“Come on, what does it really mean? Think!”

“It means, ‘Huh?’ Only much more respectful.”

“Think,” I urge.

I spell it out. M-A-N-D-E—M-E.

“Command me? Order me?”

Oops!

Have you ever heard an Anglo parent calling out to a child and the child responding, “Order me?” Of course not. Yet we Latinos say it every day. Gladly. Thinking we’re being respectful. Kids respond to their elders that way. Workers to their bosses. Maids to the ladies of the house. It’s so engrained, that even after we realize what we’re saying, many of us keep right on saying it.

Other examples of this phenomenon:

A sus órdenes, “At your command.”

Para servirle, “Here to serve you.”

Con su permiso, “With your permission.”

Como usted mande, “As you command.”

Por nada, “For nothing,” after Gracias or “Thank you.”

In Mexico, we’re being respectful. In the United States, we’re being subservient. That’s unconscious ser...

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