“One of the best ways to break the ice is to give that person a nice compliment,” said Andres Lara, known as ‘The Cuban Guy’ in his role as a motivational speaker. “You’re looking good. You’re beautiful. You’re awesome. This is a good one! Look at the person and say you’re sexy!”
Students from Thaddeus Stevens Institute of Technology, Franklin and Marshall College and Millersville University joined together in the evening of October 1, 2015 for some insight on facing challenges and reaching goals. Sponsored by the Society of Latino Affairs (SOLA), guest speaker Andres Lara shared with students from his personal experiences during his youth when he escaped Cuba for a shot at a new life in America.
“Back in our boat we were scared,” said Lara. “Some wanted to jump out of the boat. Some wanted to stop the boat. Some wanted to turn around. The captain of our boat steps forward. Then and only then he said, if you think that moving forward now that the going got tough, now that you feel intimidated, moving forward because of all this is going to be painful, try turning back.”
Using the goal of freedom, which Lara pursued as an example, the students interacted in dialogue with Lara who reinforced the importance of facing failure and taking an active role in decision making.
“You should be saying I’m happy for [others’] success because when you are happy for other people’s successes what are you saying to your subconscious?,” asks Lara. “You are saying that it is okay to be successful. If we are hating other people who succeed or get the opportunity, we tell our subconscious that it’s not okay to be successful.”
In addition to the encouragement of accepting the risks of failure, Lara reminded students of the importance in acting upon goals and the temporariness of life and obstacles.
“If you ever find yourself in that position, when you feel like you want to turn back, it is at that time that I encourage you to ask yourself which is going to be more painful: moving forward or going back.”
Having started from scratch in America, Lara finished school and created multiple companies over the course of a decade. Lara’s experiences challenged him not only in language barriers and transitions but those landmark achievements both large and small led to his profession of helping others facing their own challenges today.
“In my own personal life and the life of thousands of people I talk to around the country, the emotional scars are kind of like the landmarks in the life, which are at a time when they happen are not so positive,” said Lara. “Those negative things that happen in our life can be guide poles to make sure that as we move forward, we don’t fall off our path. The positives were the mentors I encountered along my way, the people that gave me constructive criticism even though I didn’t necessarily agree with them at the time. When I really put them into practice I was able to move ahead.”
SOLA president Johana Reynoso spoke in support of bringing guest speakers to college campuses.
“I think it’s pretty important because by the time midterms roll in, students get really overwhelmed and a lot of us don’t have that family backbone, that group at school that we can go to that will come and bring us up,” said Reynoso. “It’s always a good idea to bring someone else in to try to get the students back at that level where they’re like ‘yes, I can do this.’”
As Lara interacted with the students, there was a continual shout of “O.Y.A.,” representing Lara’s acronym meaning get “Off Your Anatomy and take Action.” Through the emphasis on appreciating what one has, Lara noted that hard work, taking action and the cultivation of one’s efforts allow a person to help themselves and help others in return. Present with Lara was Andres Calderon, representative of the United States Hispanic Leadership Group.
“Start realizing that there are people in your lives that are teaching you life lessons,” said Calderon. “Reflect on those that are behind you. Realize the life lessons that they’ve already given you. Open your eyes and ears for the future ones to come and make this a better campus, but for [family] that will follow you.”
For more information, students may access Lara’s audiobook online at http://www.thecubanguy.com/ChallengeTheVoi…Unstoppable.mp3