Permission to Kick Ass

Episode 57: Leticia Latino

Episode Summary

My guest, Leticia Latino, came from an entrepreneurial family. Rather than join the family biz, Leticia wanted to go out on her own and make a name for herself. She realized that if she was going to work hard, it had to be for something that was important to her as a person. Listen now to find out how following your values in business can put you in control of your entrepreneurial journey.

Episode Notes

Leticia found a lot of success but she also had a ton of challenges. When the massive company she worked for started to go under, she knew she needed to make a change. That’s how she wound up making her way back to the family business and found the power she needed to be in control of her journey. Leticia shares the lessons she’s learned from both failure and triumphs that you can use to be the boss in your biz.  

Can’t-Miss Moments From This Episode:

This one is jam-packed full of advice. Don’t miss out - listen now!

Leticia’s Bio:

With 25 years of Telecom experience, Leticia Latino went from working for Merrill Lynch and Telecom Giant Nortel Networks to accepting the challenge of extending the legacy of establishing her family business in the US back in 2002. Neptuno Group was originally founded by her father in 1972 in South America where they helped deploy some of the first Cellular Networks in the region and where they have built over 10,000 Towers.   

Leticia is a recipient of several recognitions including ‘Women in IoT’ award by Connected Magazine, ‘Revolutionary CEO’s’ by Aspioneer and as one of this years Most Admired Women Leaders in Business in by CIO Look.   She was recently received recognition as one of the  “Outstanding Business Leaders of 2021” by Business Stalwarts.   Her commitment to innovation has led her company to be a finalist in the Certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBENC)  2019 WeInnovate! Program for Neptuno’s Reality Capture and Artificial Intelligence solution. She served as a full member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Development Advisory Committee (BDAC) and as the Chaired the Job Skills and Training Working Group for a two year term (2019-2021).    

In addition, Leticia is a published author (Women in Business, Leading the Way), motivational speaker, mentor to young women and a big advocate of nurturing “Human Connections” through her Back2Basics Podcast, where she has had the opportunity to interview high profile personalities such as Marketing Guru Seth Godin and Sounds true Founder Tami Simon and former FCC Commissioner and WIA’s CEO Jonathan Adelstein. 

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Episode Transcription

Angie Colee (00:01):

Welcome to Permission to Kick Ass. A podcast about leaving self-doubt in the dust, punching fear in the face and taking bold action toward your biggest dreams. I'm Angie Colee, and let's get to it. Hey and welcome back to Permission to Kick Ass. With me today is Leticia Latino. Hi, Leticia.

Leticia Latino (00:25):

Hello, Angie. So good to be here.

Angie Colee (00:27):

I know I'm excited for this one. Tell us a little bit more about you and your business and background.

Leticia Latino (00:33):

All right. Well, that's, uh, I'm 48, so that is gonna take me a little bit.

Angie Colee (00:37):

Um, we got time. We got time.

Leticia Latino (00:39):

Well, all right, so, well, you know, the short version is I'm a CEO, I'm a podcast host, I'm a published author. Um, I'm a mom and a wife and, uh, but basically I, my company Neptuna, it builds, uh, telecommunications towers. So I like to think that we are the ones, one of the components behind enabling communications and, and making sure that everybody has connectivity.

Angie Colee (01:03):

Yeah. Absolutely. Like bringing people together all around the world. That's amazing.

Leticia Latino (01:08):

Yes, it is. It, it is quite, it can get, it can get a little bit, um, how you say tense. Because it's a very fast paced industry, but it it's very rewarding. Absolutely

Angie Colee (01:19):

Interesting. Like, so what about it makes it tense? I mean, this is not a world that I'm familiar with, so just I'm assume I have no idea what I'm talking about here.

Leticia Latino (01:29):

Oh, well, but let me tell you, you know, all about it, because imagine you, when you have no coverage or connectivity, how do you get?

Angie Colee (01:37):

Oh, yes.

Leticia Latino (01:37):

So, so that's a customer our industry serves, right? Like they expect always a on connectivity and, and we forget the incredible amount of work that it's done both on the technology side and also on the workforce side and having the right people to deploy, even in, even it took COVID to name our industry an essential industry. You think about the healthcare workers, of course you think about, you know, police men and firefighters that obviously are essential, but it took a COVID to realize that telecommunication workers are essential because what would, where would we be have not had the technology we had during COVID.

Angie Colee (02:17):

Yeah. If the internet went down while everybody was stuck at home, like,

Leticia Latino (02:21):

Ooh, but they don't get the credit. We don't get the credit that our workforce, unfortunately, um, doesn't get that credit. And I'm very passionate about, you know, sharing that message that the telecommunications workforce is there day and night to make sure you do have connectivity.

Angie Colee (02:37):

Yes. Let's, let's all collectively take a moment to celebrate these people that are keeping us in the internet in cell phones. Like I am here for that. People are working hard to support us, to make sure that you can even listen to this podcast. Yay. So much appreciation.

Leticia Latino (02:52):

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. On behalf of my industry,

Angie Colee (02:55):

Absolutely share my love with all of them. Um, I think it's really interesting that like, how did you get into telecommunications in the first place?

Leticia Latino (03:06):

Well, that's a great question because I almost like I didn't have a choice, but I had a choice because I was born into it. My father, um, founded the company. And now we're four, although I didn't go straight to working for him. As a matter of fact, I say, I would never work for you, dad and then, and then the rest happens, but that's another story I can share. But, uh, so yeah, my parents are Italian immigrants, uh, that went to Venezuela, um, you know, in the searching a, a better future. And my dad is no engineer, no tecfhnial person. And somehow he started a company in telecommunications. And they would been up and running for 50 years. And, uh, so, you know, but I having seen that at home and being that's, all I, you know, was around these telecommunications sites. There's a, a picture of my mom pregnant with me at a, at a construction site. And she was wearing her high heels and her, her Sunday dress. And that's how my dad would trear her on Sundays. Oh, let me take you out for, you know, let's go, let's go out somewhere fun. And she would always end at a construction site. Um, and so that's really how I was raised, but I resisted to go into the family business. I wanted to, to be known and gain the credit for myself and my own accomplishments. And, uh, so I decided to start a career in Merrill Lynch, um, right off university. And then I came to Miami to do my masters. And, uh, I told my dad, yeah, I'm not gonna go work for you. He would always try to convince me. And the irony of it is that during my graduate program, uh, I had to do, uh, an internship. I graduated internship for six months in, in a country of my second language, because one of my masters I made, I had to was international business. And so you had to have a second language and it for me was English. So I got to stay here in the US. And I went were for Nortel networks, which at the time was one of the biggest telecommunication companies in the world. And so that was very ironic because then I ended up back in telecom or actually in telecom and, uh, yeah, I stayed there for a few years before deciding to come to the family business.

Angie Colee (05:19):

Oh, wow. That's so interesting. I just like, had such a vivid picture of date night at a construction site. Like talk about just how entrepreneurship works in general. If you've got a partner, who's an entrepreneur, you're pretty much in the business too. Whether you're in the business or not.

Leticia Latino (05:35):

Absolutely. Yes, that's true.

Angie Colee (05:37):

And I would say, you know, that seems to be the same for a lot of family businesses. I know it just winds up that people work in the business. Um, what, what was it that brought you to working with dad in the telecom business, even though you told him you never would?

Leticia Latino (05:52):

Well, I went to work for a massive company, as I said, 120,000 employees, uh, around the world. And unfortunately I saw the demise or our leads through the demise of Nortel being one of the greatest companies in telecom. So we went from 120,000 employees to 50,000 in a year and a half. It was brutal layoffs everywhere that, you know, I realized this is crazy. Like I was working like crazy. I gave, you know, I learned a lot too. I'm very grateful for that experience, but it made me realize how, when you work for a big company like that, you're just a number. And I was very lucky that my bosses were saying, um, you know, you're on this list, you're on the fourth list. You know, the lay off list, they had numbers, right? So this is the first list. It will be the first chunk of people that were gonna go the second list. So I, I have bosses who tell me, you are on the same list I am. So if, if we are done, we're done. But it was so stressful time that, uh, you know, several things happened at the same time. One of my best friends unfortunately died. She was murdered by her husband, believe it or not, who then commit suicide, very, very tough story. And he started to put things in perspective. Then few weeks later, I broke off a very long relationship. We used to work in the same company. So I said, okay, this is my queue. I think time is, time is coming. That I'm going back home. And so I decided you, you know, let me just, uh, tell my boss don't need to be putting me on lists. I wanna go, I wanna volunteer. So I took a very nice lay off package and I decided to join the family business. I say, if I'm gonna work this hard, let it be for something that has a higher purpose and mission.

Angie Colee (07:35):

Yes, yes, yes. I am cheering that on not necessarily the circumstances that led you there, but I, I also like to look at those kinds of really tough life circumstances, not necessarily as a blessing in disguise, but the roadblocks that are kind of pointing you toward where you really need to go. And just the fact that you said something that I think is briliant, if I'm gonna work this hard, I'm gonna work this hard for something that matters. Something that I can build. Oh, that's amazing. That's amazing.

Leticia Latino (08:06):

It's uh, yeah. And any, anybody out there listening to that, there's gonna be lows and highs, but when you drive your own bus, it's very empowering. And, uh, there's a big difference between, as I say, if you're, if you're in the bus, that's someone else is driving, you might be, you might be looking outside and it's not the sight scene. You wanna see there's, you're gonna make stops. You don't wanna make and, and all that good stuff. But if you're driving the bus, then you, you are actually gonna eat at the restaurant. You wanna eat, you go, you're gonna take control of the whole situation. And that's the entrepreneurship journey. It has. It stops and downs, but it's very exciting that, that you get to make those calls.

Angie Colee (08:41):

I love that. I love that. Um, and I, don't just thinking about how fast things evolve, how fast things change, because there was something that you said earlier about, um, you know, watching this company just kind of go from one of the biggest telecoms to losing such a massive workforce. Just a reminder guys, that this changes fast. I was talking to someone the other day about how it was like 10 years ago that I was in my master's program and I was using a Palm pilots.

Leticia Latino (09:15):

Yeah, me too. I was a big fan.

Angie Colee (09:16):

I know it wasn't even all that long ago that we didn't have the smartphones that we have now. And people are like iPhone. What is that? That sounds kind of, what, why would I need that? And now that's a device that people consider essential that they can't really live without. And I know every time, the few times that Google calendars gone down, I've been like, what do I do with my life?

Leticia Latino (09:36):

Yes, yes. We are very reliant in technology. And, and, you know, just to close that loop Nortel eventually went belly up. The company sees existing altogether. It's not like they, they fire a bunch of people in the, see the company really stopped existing, which is the biggest Canadian company. You know, it's, it's crazy. But in any case, yeah.

Angie Colee (09:58):

Yeah. And I mean, that just further reinforces what you said about drive the bus. You have more power that way. I love that you were like, I'm not waiting to be the fourth, the fourth. And why would they even tell you there's a number?

Leticia Latino (10:08):

It was a compliment because the, the, the, the more remove you went from list one is like, they didn't wanna lay you off, but it was, it was very stressful. And if you want, if I may say I to made that decision, and another friend of mine wanted a career change as well. And so we both decided we were gonna volunteer, which we did, and we booked what we baptized as the layoff cruise. And so, but it was like three weeks ahead. Right. So we thought we volunteer. We're gonna get fired anytime now. So it's like three days before the cruise and we were both still there And so I would go to my friend's cube and I say, have they told you anything yet? Nope. But we are going on a cruise in three days and we still have a job. And we had to talk to our boss to say, listen, we book a cruise to celebrate, so we need to get this done. And, and it was such a funny thing. We always laugh about it.

Angie Colee (11:04):

I think that's great. And, you know, just tying it back to what you were saying earlier about if you're gonna work this hard, like absolutely building those times to celebrate, don't let this run your entire life. I've seen so many smart entrepreneurs that I know that kind of fall into that trap of, I have to work all the time to keep this thing afloat. And if you don't build time to rest and relax, your body will tell you it's time to rest and relax, and it will make you

Leticia Latino (11:34):

Absolutely. Absolutely. I think you hit a, a very important point. Uh, if you saw my desk, I have a bunch of corks, champagne corks that I've popped, you know, on a special locations. And that's one thing that, you know, entrepreneurs, we, we do forget to do that. You're so embedded into what's going on. And the, and the thing is things will never been in my opinion, completely good or completely bad. You have to really live your life in this gray area where certain things are going really good and are very excited and some things not so much. So, so it's very hard to find a good time to say, let's celebrate. But given the pat in the back for every little things, my husband always say, you always find a reason to celebrate well, yeah. I love champagne.

Angie Colee (12:17):

Why not?

Leticia Latino (12:18):

I'm always gonna find a good excuse to do that, but, but it is important to, to give you pat yourself in the back, when there's something good happening and acknowledging and, and pausing to reflect on it.

Angie Colee (12:30):

Absolutely. Yours is champagne. Mine is finding either a really funky restaurant nearby or some sort of weird experience cuz I travel full time. So like a while back I did Llama yoga.

Leticia Latino (12:41):

Oh wow. That sounds exciting.

Angie Colee (12:43):

Yeah. So yeah, building in time to celebrate, I mean that prevents a lot of, I think the mental health struggles that it can be so easy to counter in entrepreneurship, especially when it feels like the pressure is on you to keep that revenue coming into support the team, support the family. Um, I know that we were talking before we started recording about a meltdown. Do you wanna go a little bit further into that?

Leticia Latino (13:07):

Well, meltdowns are always gonna be there and I think, and bad experiences are always gonna be there. And uh, you, you know, when we were preparing for this, uh, podcast, I know that some of your past guests have shared experiences that have been bad so there's one that I will share and it's perfect because actually after I left Nortel, uh, what I did with the lay off packages, I went for six months to France to perfect my French and I completely took it a as I'm gonna disconnect. And when I come back to work for the family business, I wanna be recharged. I wanna be renewed. So I took time to do that. And so when I'm back and I start to work for the family business, you know, because I had been working at Nortel, which it wasn't belly down just yet, I got introduced to a potential customer. And so it was gonna be my very first customer. It was a huge deal, multimillion dollar deal. I negotiated it on the office on the main Nortel office because they were providing the equipment and I, we were supposed to provide the towers. Well, long story short, um, this customer, you know, was very particular. He was supposedly a, a millionaire. And uh, I started noticing, you know, sometimes there will be flowers arriving in my office. Um, things, you know, on, in that you, if you're a customer, you know, you shouldn't be doing so the, the first lesson there is, you know, to stay true to who you are. So as a person, you know, not, not because only I was raised Catholic and I went to all Catholic girls, but to me was like, there's no crossing any lines. So I made it very clear from the beginning, please do not do this. But he kept, you know, sending notes, sending this, inviting me places. I always kept it, you know, at a distance. And well, it turned out that this customer basically, um, requested money from us as a performance bond. And I convinced my dad, you know, if we wanna do business in the US, we have to risk. We have to, you know, total go-getter mode, we have to do things a little bit different. And, and my dad said, yeah, but this is not industry standard fact that Nortel was involved. The fact, you know, I let myself convince, although my intuition was also saying there's something off, I wanted it so badly. I wanted to be successful so badly. I wanted to show the value. I was adding so badly that I let myself be blinded by the whole thing. And so we ended up giving the, you know, the money he wanted and long story short, he basically stole the money. The project never happened. It was, you know, we, we were prepared to ship a lot of towers. So we had invested a lot of money in it. It was very painful for me. We ended up suing that, that customer. And one of the learning thing was my dad told my mom that that day that we gave the money, we pay the money. He said, I wouldn't stop having my name if we ever see that money back. So he knew I was gonna get burned, but he let, let me get burned anyway, because he knew I was gonna learn a lifetime lesson. You know, some sounds too good to be true is probably too good to be true.

Angie Colee (16:14):

Absolutely.

Leticia Latino (16:15):

And this Iesson, you know, one of the things for anybody out there, you know, starting their business and there's people around that and they paint a picture. That's so rosy, you know, when in reality, you know, this is, shouldn't be this easy then beware because you know, so usually there's a flag. And, and then the, when we sued the guy, the most incredible thing happened that in the lawsuit, he basically in, you know, litigation, he told the lawyers, I wasn't in courtroom, that he did all that because he had a personal relationship with me.

Angie Colee (16:48):

What?

Leticia Latino (16:49):

Yes. And so that to me has been the biggest thing to overcome in my professional career because you see how low people would go to get, you know, what they want or to be perceived as, uh, you know, in a certain way. So luckily I didn't let that experience define me, but it was big, big, um, learning moment for me. I'm glad I followed my intuition. I'm glad I stayed true to my, in the sense of, I didn't allow the gray area. I did not. I told my lawyer, if that's what he's saying, you asked him if he was ever alone with me anywhere,you know, and you know, whatever he responded. I know in my conscious, I never did any of that. Um, so you have to do the things that would allow you to sleep well at night and it's cliche, but it's true. You have to be at peace with your conscience and at peace with your heart in your own entrepreneurship, uh, journey. And, uh, and the bottom line, he's about to be convicted. 20 years later, he was involved in a very, very big international, uh, Ponzi scheme that I'm not gonna share details on, but, uh, yeah. So, so justice might be coming after all

Angie Colee (17:56):

Oh, wow. That, that is such a great story. I mean, I was just writing down like nugget after nugget, after nugget there, but there were a couple that I really wanna highlight for people. One is that importance of trusting your gut. Even if you feel like you're new to business and you don't necessarily have the experience in my mind, it's almost better to walk away from a deal that feels like it's slightly off. If you're not super enthusiastic about it. And there's that one thing in the back of your mind, that's just like, I don't know if I like this. I don't know if I like this better to walk away from, from that deal and trust that another one is around the corner. Um, and then I loved, I mean, I'm sure that this was painful at the time, but I love that your dad kind of gave you that safety to, to do it your own way to follow your gut, to learn that lesson, cuz I'm on board with you. That that is one of the best things that business owners can do. Especially if they have a team is let their team fail if they need to, even if you could prevent it from happening, because that is how people learn and get better and adjust. And, and to me that's such a powerful lesson like that with great risk comes great rewards. But if you don't risk anything, you don't have ever get the reward, you know, cuz you're afraid to fail.

Leticia Latino (19:12):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And yeah. And from what you say in, in the family business context, I think this has been one of the recipes for success for us, that my dad always empower us. Even if it's not what he would have done. I always joke around, well it cost you the, the part that we couldn't recover at the end was like $75,000. We recover most of it and, and he said, well, I paid you for your masters. And I'm like that you had paid for my masters before. Well then your PhD and then it was cheap. It was cheap because your brother and your sister also learned from it. So it's a third of that. So he was always, you know, not making those mistakes be very heavy because they could have been. And for a long time, I, it was very heavy for me to, to live through that experience, but to give it full circle, guess what happens after I ended up with 15 towers built for this customer that was basically messing up with us and I get a, an email from a French customer wanting some towers. And cause I had just come back from France. I wanted to practice my French and I responded. And then my dad and my brother is like, oh, you're just losing your time. It's you know, it's impossible, but became our best customer. We sold the towers to the French guys. Thanks to the fact I learned the English. I learned French and out of an investment, something that seemed useless. This is the other thing. Other piece of advice, never stop learning. You can always better yourself. And even if something seems that you're never gonna use it for work or you're doing something, why, why are you doing a podcast? If you have a full-time job and things like that, you never know where those paths intersect. And, and so I'm always been a firm believer of that.

Angie Colee (20:56):

I love that. I love that too. I'm not a very like woo woo predestined person, but I have seen it time and time again in my life. Exactly what you said, where there was something that I think is completely unrelated to what I'm doing now. And it pops up into my head right now and there's some sort of lesson I can apply to this and it just works. It's it's crazy to me how often that happens, where something that you might feel was a waste of your time actually comes back and is the thing that was like, wow, this was really helpful. Or not necessarily even a waste of your time. Something that you did, like you said, you went to learn French and just dis disconnect and get ready for working in the family business. And then it wound up being the thing that helped you recover from this deal, like wow.

Leticia Latino (21:39):

From my most dramatic experience. And that, that is a customer we still have today, 20, this, all this happened in 2001. So 20 years later, later, this is something I'm still, you know, uh, it's a customer that we still have out of that experience. So, so yeah, I'm a firm believer that we co-create our destiny. And so the fact that you do something and you invest time doing something you're, co-creating the end result and the, and the universe is gonna find a way to use that time energy you're putting into something to put it somewhere in your life so that you make the most use of it.

Angie Colee (22:14):

Yes. Oh God. That's so that's so brilliant. I love it. Um, and there was another thing that you said that I really love because I struggled with this before, too, when I joined the marketing industry, just kind of at large, there's it. I wanna be careful how I phrase it, cuz I'm not judging it, but there's the kind of sales at all cost mentality side of marketing that I don't really vibe with. It's always felt a little bit icky, a little bit pushy. And at first, when I joined this industry, I thought that that was the way I had to be. And then I discovered this whole, you know, group of entrepreneurs that believe in operating in integrity, like you were talking about, I didn't even leave room for there to be any gray area with the guy that was trying to flirt with me. I have gotten really good through practice. I wouldn't say that I was good at this, like naturally, but telling people, I think there's a bit of a gray area here. So I just wanna let everybody know what's happening right now so that we can make decisions. And everybody's informed like for a specific example of that was that I worked with two teams at the same time that would often promote the same product and they would be competing for sales. And so I would tell one team, okay, I need to recuse myself from this meeting right now because I know you guys are gonna talk about the promotion strategy and I am working on the promotion strategy for them over here. And I don't want there to be any misinterpretation or think that I'm passing things back and forth. And just by saying things like that, even though I think they knew that they were, that I was someone that I could trust. We'd worked together for a long time, but that left zero room for doubt. The fact that I was like, Nope, I'm not even going to hear it. I want you to feel comfortable that you've got your promotion and that they've got their promotion and I'm not the one that is being the go between weakening either one of these.

Leticia Latino (24:00):

Yeah, No, I think that's a great strategy. That's a great advice, uh, you know, to, to, to, you know, raise the flag and say, Hey, I can stay if you want, but I think there's a conflict of interest or there's a gray area. I think that disclaimer, it it's it's many, as many times I will say, oh, don't worry, but at least you don't feel bad with it because you're already disclaim it. So now you it's on their plate.

Angie Colee (24:21):

Yeah. I think it's kind of one of those things that like you were talking about that feeling in the back of your mind earlier with the red flags, I get that kind of feeling. If I think there might be some gray area that makes somebody think less of me or doubt the judgements that I'm making. And so whenever I feel that little twinge in the back of my brain that they, they might, somebody might look at me sideways and wonder what my intentions are here. So I'm just gonna let them know what my intentions are directly up front and let them make a choice.

Leticia Latino (24:53):

If you are thinking it, chances are someone else who's thinking it too.

Angie Colee (24:56):

Yes.

Leticia Latino (24:56):

That's a good, good way of, of assessing

Angie Colee (25:01):

And it's, I, it turned out almost exactly like you said, every time, 90, 95% of the time, even people are like, oh, it's no problem. I totally trust you. But they trusted me because I brought it up like that.

Leticia Latino (25:11):

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Angie Colee (25:13):

Oh, this is amazing.

Leticia Latino (25:14):

That's a good story.

Angie Colee (25:17):

I've got lots of good stories.

Leticia Latino (25:18):

I love it.

Angie Colee (25:19):

The funny thing is for years, I thought, you know, that I wanted to be someone like you and I don't, I hope that you feel the spirit that I'm saying that because I grew up hearing that you spend, you know, years and years and years, and you build your way up to the success and you get recognized as an industry expert. And that success is somebody that can say confidently 25 years of telecom experience. I've worked with Merrill Lynch. I've worked with, uh, my, my family's company up to, you know, group. I'm like looking at my notes here.

Leticia Latino (25:49):

That's OK.

Angie Colee (25:50):

Um, and I always felt like a failure because I was waiting tables and I was bartending and I was, you know, I was firefighter over here and a lifeguard over there and none of this stuff connects and I have no path, no clear journey, but then kind of like we were talking about earlier, a lot of the lessons that I learned from each one of those jobs has come back to help me in some form over my entrepreneurial journey. And it still resonates these like with a lot of people that I know that wanna start businesses, but they're like, what am I good at? I've had like 20 million jobs.

Leticia Latino (26:21):

Yeah, no, but it's, uh, but, and I totally understand that because I have the same thing, you know, coming from the family business. You know, where I invested most of my career now in the family business at the very beginning people, when I left Nortel, instead of asking, what is she doing? No, they were asking, what is she doing instead of saying, well, she's working for a telecom company or a tower company that would say she's working for her dad. And that was very hard for me because there was so much more, and it took me years and I hearing people and that created like a little bit of an imposter, which we all suffer from. And the imposter syndrome we, we hear about. But in my case, she's working for dad. Um, how do you overcome that? No matter how hard I work, what I did, it was always like, or the family business. And if we were doing something good, it's probably not her to her credit. It is probably because she's already working in a established business, well known. So it took me a lot of time to kind of find my, my path and my way. So we all suffer a little bit from that. But I, I always also think that we all like plants. And when you put, you know, that when they start growing, you don't see them growing under, under the earth, the, they, they are putting the, the roots and all that. And it gets to a point where we all different types of trees and, and plants, but we are all beautiful and we all contribute the same way. Um, the fact that, that we have different shapes or different paths doesn't mean that, that it's not a, uh, the same kind of journey anyway.

Angie Colee (27:54):

Oh yeah. And I, I think that is great too, because a lot of that development is happening. Like you mentioned, with the plant analogy, it's happening underground out of sight. It, these seedlings that are pushing through dirt and they're struggling to gain the roots that are gonna allow them to grow. And then often a lot of these plants, once they start growing, they just shoot up into the sun.

Leticia Latino (28:16):

Yes. And for the older entrepreneurs out there, that's how, what has helped me a long time is to imagine that visualize that I'm put in the roots and plant, you know, planted the seed and that is growing. And then after years of work, when someone recognized something you've done or praises you, then, you know, those roots are, have been planted there and well, and that work comes back to you. Uh, and, and you feel it, you now you can admire it because it's not under the earth anymore, but it takes, it takes time.

Angie Colee (28:46):

It takes time. And then exactly like you said, which I think is so brilliant. We're all different plants, but we all have a purpose. So your path looks very different from my path. And yet we're both here contributing and we're, we're both podcast hosts, and we both have businesses. So we have a lot of overlap, but we don't do the same thing. And I think that that's beautiful because I've, I've encountered a lot of people, particularly that I coach that feel like, like there's a one, one stop shop that can own this particular slice. And I know I, I work with a lot of writers, but they're like, I can't specialize in case studies because this person already does it. Or I can specialize in emails cuz this person already does it. And I have to point out, there are 8 billion people on the face of the earth and that one person can't serve all of them. So it's okay for you to say, I also wanna play in this space. Maybe they wanna work with you. Maybe there's different ways to work together. It's not necessarily that you're entering their space and being competitive with them.

Leticia Latino (29:47):

Yeah. My, or maybe your own style is so different. You know, because people focus on the product and they kind of remove themselves from the product, but the truth is whatever you're gonna make it, has you in it.

Angie Colee (30:00):

Yes.

Leticia Latino (30:01):

So it has your own particular imprint.

Angie Colee (30:03):

Yes.

Leticia Latino (30:04):

And there's only one product like that because there's only one of you. So if you make it good enough and you, and you work the angles and, and say, what am I doing? That's a little bit different from what it's being done. Even if the end product is the same, you're gonna find your, you're gonna find your audience.

Angie Colee (30:22):

Oh, I love that so much. I love that so much because I don't think I can state it enough that people like working with people. They like, yes. So it's totally okay. If you're differentiating factor in business, is that you're being you a hundred percent you. Um, I know that I struggled to bring my business to life because, and I I've had a lot of help recently because there are authors that wrote like, um, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and You are a Badass. So that's allowed like permission to kick ass, to not be such a, oh my God. In your face thing a as it would've been 10 short years ago, again, things have changed so dramatically. But I do remember hearing that, you know, you need to be less, you need to be not so much, don't show your tattoos, stop swearing. That's not how business people behave. And the funny thing is the more that I was myself, especially at business events, the more I would see people literally like lean in and get excited and we would actually build a genuine connection. So just by being myself, I've built my business a lot faster than I think trying to be some sort of professional version that other people want to see. And that differentiates me from a lot of other coaches because people that like me may not like another person's style or they may not like my style and they like that other person's style. And that's fine. They're getting the help that they need from the person that can help them the most.

Leticia Latino (31:43):

Absolutely. No. And, and you're very, very right. Is my experience too, when you try to hide something or not to showcase something it's crazy. I never used to tell that my family's story, like how my dad went from Italy to Venezuela. And, uh, because you know, again, I wanted to be, you know, gained reputation on my own and it was not too long ago. Maybe six years ago I gave a presentation and I, I found a very old picture of him like black and white. And I found my mom's picture with me pregnant. And I put, I started my presentation with that. And you know, telling a bit of the story and people came after the minute, like what an amazing story. And then I realized, yeah, how many companies are out there that can show the same people, 50 years working the same, you know, we've had a continuity that in telecom is not common, even Nortel doesn't exist anymore. So, you know, so you had already that journey. Why am I hiding it? And then I started embracing it more and, uh, it's been great because then I realized that it doesn't define me, but the story can inspire others. And then if you think that Venezuela where I was born and raised, it has had the worst 20 years, what anybody can imagine. We are in the worst political turmoil we've had to endure. I mean, our company has lost a lot just because our headquarters were there. And I was always trying to hide that fact too, so that the international customers wouldn't get worried that they're working with a Venezuelan company. And so it is been very challenging. But then I, after so many years, then they are realizing, wow, if these people can survive and they've reinvented themselves, you know, countless times at this point to, to, to really overcome the hardship, the same kind of hardship people are experiencing right now with COVID where you might have been doing something. Now you have to do something else that as a company we've had done that many times, just because of the political environment. So I think it tells a story of resilience and that's very powerful.

Angie Colee (33:46):

Yes. I love that. I, I love how you took what could be a perceived weakness and literally turns that into a strength. Like, no, I, I know that there might be some people out there that think Venezuelan company Ooh, risky, but then the other people are gonna see, Ooh, a Venezuelan company that's been around for years and years and years, not risky because look at exactly what they've survived, what they've come through, how they've had to get innovative and ingenious sometimes just to stick around. Like, I love that. I think that's one of my goals in life to help people see a weakness and turn it into a strength.

Leticia Latino (34:23):

Yeah. And, and to be open because now to overcome that I have to found Neptuna USA here in Florida. So that was one of the reasons why we eventually founded the entity in the United States. And not that we don't have international entities, but it was a point where we, I, we also have to come to terms, whatever was parent or the bigger child of these companies is not now needs help. Yeah. Because they're, they, they cannot sustain, you know, what we were doing anymore. So we had to start from scratch and it's something, to be honest, that I'm still doing right now, it's the US market is very, very hard to penetrate. So when you're here and you have 50 years of, of experience somewhere else, they tell you. Yeah. But that's somewhere else what you've done in the US? And you say, well, I'm trying to start, but it's not easy. You know, we work with all the CA like the massive companies and we are a small company here and the reputation we have internationally, doesn't come for nothing. Like people evaluate you only like, if you are here, I wanna see what you have here. So even in even opening a bank account, when you come from no past, it's hard. So, so it has been a challenge, a nice challenge, but you know, happily, you work it one day at a time, that's only way to get around it.

Angie Colee (35:38):

I think you're eventually gonna find the people. I think that value that 50 years of experience, cuz I think, I mean my, my opinion and I've seen it happen time and again, but those people that really just look through this narrow window and this is the only thing that matters. And this is the only thing that works. The train of history just runs them over while things are being developed.

Leticia Latino (36:00):

Yes. Yes. And, and, and the thing is to go back to how you develop this podcast, it goes back to, it just takes a lot of, um, courage to stay, stay your path because you're gonna see others that, you know, are, are not doing as much as doing and they're getting ahead. And uh, you feel like I'm doing everything right. But you know, I see all these people doing stuff that I would never do there, cheat, lying to their customers and not having a product ready. They're selling a PowerPoint of something that doesn't exist. And yet they get contracts and you, because you are, you know, you know, you've been there, you've done projects. So you don't wanna lie. You don't wanna say I have this product ready when it's not. And so it takes a long time to be at peace with, okay, they're getting ahead now. But then to your point, they're gonna be run over at some point and the fact, and that's why one company is there for 50 years and the others are not

Angie Colee (36:54):

Oh yeah. That's and that's exactly what has the company, or for 50 years, is people acting in integrity and in their customer's best interests, even when it's hard.

Leticia Latino (37:05):

Yes.

Angie Colee (37:05):

Cause I know I worked with a company for a while that made me doubt my instincts still like we're coming full circle here. Yes. When you were, when you were talking about the red flags, you know, early in my copywriting career, I was working inhouse as a copywriter and this company would make lot of choices that just didn't make sense to me. And I was like, how, how can you make that choice? That's, that's lying to the customer. That's not a smart business decision. I mean, I might not have all the numbers here, but it sounds to me like we're losing money on that deal. Why are, I don't understand why we're making that? And I always convinced myself that they knew more than me. They knew better than me. There was something that I was missing that led them to make these decisions. Well, a year and a half after I quit, that whole company went under a hundred physical retail chain stores closed in a matter of months. And that really taught me a lot to go back to what you were saying about trusting my instincts and when I'm questioning something. And it doesn't make sense to me, don't dis count that due to, I don't have enough experience or I'm, I don't know enough. These people have some secret that I don't, you might actually be spot on that they are not acting in integrity. They're not making smart decisions and you need to go in another direction.

Leticia Latino (38:14):

Absolutely. I think the mission, uh, you know, leaving your purpose and your life per with, with, uh, values and, and aligning them with your life's mission is super important. And I've said this before, uh, you know, I also shared that through the past 20 years, it's almost like we've had 20 years of COVID in, in our case. Mm. Uh, because it's a political, like, we have a big factory. We cannot ship out from Venezuela right now. Like all these things. But, uh, you know, I say I could go and work for other people who pay me a lot of money, but would I have the life I have right now? No,. I can, I can go pick my kids at school. I, I am, I'm, you know, I'm an involved mom because I run my own business. And I know that if I have to work at different times, I will do it. My customers trust me because they know that if I promise something, I always deliver, we always, as a company deliver that's, you know, uh, our motto. So I'll do whatever it takes to stay true to that promise. But at the same time, I have the opportunity to live more truthful to the kind of mom and wife, uh, that I wanna be. And, uh, and sometimes it boils down to that. If things were different, you might have a kick ass job, as you say, or, um, you know, that pays you great. That has a lot of, uh, reputation, but then would you be able to do the other things you wanna do?

Angie Colee (39:31):

Absolutely. It's the power of driving your own bus.

Leticia Latino (39:34):

Absolutely. Full circle.

Angie Colee (39:37):

I know! Full circle. This has been a fantastic conversation. I could keep going with you all day long, but for right now, why don't you tell us more about where to find you and your company online?

Leticia Latino (39:48):

Well, um, I'll tell you where to find me. Something. I work on, uh, during the pandemic and I made my own webpage. We Leticia latino.com, L E T I C I a L a T I N o.com. And I, I really wanted, what I wanted to achieve with that webpage is really that what we were talking about, having a place where people can get to, to meet me, not only the CEO, not only the podcast host, uh, not only the mom. So it's, it has a, at 360 on who I am. And, uh, you know, if you like this podcast, maybe you wanna check up mine. I am hoping that Angie will be my guest.

Angie Colee (40:25):

Absolutely.

Leticia Latino (40:26):

At some point. Back to basics, that's the basics reconnecting to the essence of you. And it's very similar to, you know, what we are talking and how, how you stay connected to what makes you tick.

Angie Colee (40:37):

Oh, that's so amazing. I'm gonna make sure that they have clickable links in the show notes, uh, and at the risk of being presumptive, I think we have to do a follow up

Leticia Latino (40:47):

Anytime. I love this kind inspiring conversations are really what fills my heart. So I will be here, uh, chatting with you all afternoon long too.

Angie Colee (40:55):

Me too. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Leticia Latino (40:58):

Thank you, Angie. Thanks for having me.

Angie Colee (41:03):

So that is it. Another awesome episode of Permission to Kick Ass on the books. If you want to know more about the show or if you want to know more about me, Angie Colee and the mission I'm on to help entrepreneurs punch fear in the face and do big bold things, then head on over to permissiontokickass.com. That is all one word together, permissiontokickass.com. Make sure to sign up for my email list so that you know whenever there's a hot, fresh and ready podcast episode out for you. And also on Mondays, I like to send out a little newsletter called Kick Monday's Ass. I'm sure you're totally, totally surprised by that. So thank you for being here with me today. I'm Angie Colee. Make sure that you share this with a friend that needs to hear this message today. Like it, share it. Comment wherever you're listening to this today and let's go kick some ass.

Speaker 4 (41:52):

I.