How a Latina Blogger Became an International Success — by Connie Harryman

I was born in rural Texas well before the digital age of social networking. I am a Mexican American. For those of you familiar with the digital divide, you know it is not commonplace for an older Latina to carry a laptop, travel internationally, and blog at a major innovation conference. This is a story about the success of a Latina with blogging and social networking in Europe.

When I was quite young, I wielded a machete in the maize fields to whack the weeds. Other times I carried a hoe to cut the weeds in the cotton fields. This was my life through high school. Now I carry a my laptop. My world has changed.

I grew up to be a Latina professional woman in the corporate world. I am now an entrepreneur and recently discovered the world of social media and social networking. Imagine my surprise when I was selected to be a guest blogger for the Front End of Innovation Europe 2010, an event sponsored by the (IIR) International Institute of Research.

I still viewed myself as a novice at blogging since I had only posted my first blog post six months previously. I only had five days notification to fly from South Carolina to Amsterdam!

My assignment is to blog LIVE and post during the sessions while the speaker is actually speaking. I also had to produce ten tweets each day of the conference and post on two websites, the website of Front End of Innovation Europe 2010 and my own website, Develop Your Creative Thinking. I am up for the challenge.

I have a moment of trepidation. I wonder if I am attempting something that is beyond my capabilities. I remember the many times I have trembled. I trembled the first time I went to college. My stomach was in knots the first time I entered graduate school. How many Latinas have these types of experiences and leave their traditional upbringing?

I almost threw up the first time I gave a sales presentation to a room full of senior executives. I take a deep breath; this will be another first for this brave and bold Latina. I know I can master social networking.

When I pack my clothes, I carefully select dark somber colors to make the best first impression. I must leave my favorite vivid colors in my wardrobe at home. My experiences in corporate America taught me that bright colors are not “appropriate business attire.” I select my neutral lip color. It is a beige gloss with just a hint of color. My preferred bright red lipstick must stay home.

I faced several challenges. In my excitement I had forgotten that the hard drive on my laptop had crashed. I can solve this problem; I purchased a netbook that evening. Do you notice how easily I say this?

Once I could not afford the basic essentials. In my new professional and entrepreneurial life I can make many economic choices within minutes. I do not recall taking a look at my bank account. It was a simple and quick decision. I need a laptop, so I go buy one that very same day.

Just like many Latinas, I always had limited choices due to a lack of economic power. Over the years, my life changed for the better due to my relentless pursuit of higher education. I am quite aware of my current privileged life.

I feel enormous gratitude that I now have the financial means to purchase the computer equipment I need. I am always aware of the many choices now available to me. I have a deep understanding of the struggles many Latinas overcome every day. I have lived that life in and out of the corporate world.

I endure the all night transatlantic flight, and arrive at the wrong hotel. When I arrive at the conference the next morning, I am suffering from severe jet lag.

I ensure I am comfortable with my new netbook. So many things are in different places and it has a bit of a foreign feel to the keys. I test the internet connection by sitting right in front of the room where I expect to be blogging all day and it works beautifully. I expect to have no concerns the following day. I am fully prepared.

Upon my arrival the next day, I am promptly informed my conference room has been changed. It is now located outside of the hotel, down some steep stairs, and in a special room with a lovely view of boats and the pier. It is a perfect location for the design symposium. This is where I will be blogging all day.

I hear a great variety of languages around me. I love the melodic sound and the camaraderie. I was forbidden to speak Spanish at home. In school we were punished if we spoke Spanish. Therefore, I was raised to only speak English. I frown at the memory; I am a bit sad about my inability to speak Spanish.

I enter the room and open my brand new netbook and attempt to log on to the Internet. There is NO Internet connection working! I am required to blog and post LIVE! I feel a sense of panic; but I keep my cool.

After all, I am a Latina and I am accustomed to generating alternate solutions when my original plans do not occur as expected. I grew up in a large household with eight brothers and my life was always filled with surprises. Not having an internet connection can be overcome. My solution was to run up to my hotel room to post my blogs between speaker sessions.

I have to pinch myself to realize I am not in a dream. I am in Europe at the Hilton Amsterdam. I am a Latina, who is a guest blogger at the leading innovation conference in the world. Over the next three days, I worked 15 hours per day and generated 22 blogs.

I am incredibly pleased with myself, I am a modern Latina. I emerged from the off-line world in the fields of Texas. I crossed the digital divide. Now I am at the fore front of the on-line social networking revolution. Once again, I have succeeded. I am a Latina who just had a spectacular success with social networking!

Connie Harryman

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