'There are no coincidences'
Charlie Garcia believes everything happens for a reason.
“One of the big things I always tell my children is not to be a victim,” he said. “Life is not coming at us. It’s coming from within us.”
Garcia is the CEO of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), an advocacy organization for Latino economic leaders. Garcia has been the CEO since 2014, before then he was the CEO of Garcia Trujillo, a merchant banking and private equity firm based in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.
Garcia has also worked for companies like Aetna and Winn Dixie Stores and has served on multiple boards. A few years back he was featured on the Huffington Post as one of the top 10 most connected Latinos on LinkedIn.
Garcia was recently on a panel of CEOs on Diversity hosted by AL DÍA News during the 15th Philadelphia Diversity Career Fair. There he talked about what he has turned into his philosophy on the shifting dynamics in business: The “new Latino paradigm.”
“When I give this presentation to CEOs across the country, I tell them ‘In the next 30 minutes, you’re going to notice something important,’” said Garcia. “And that is that not once am I going to mention the word diversity, inclusion or multicultural.”
As the CEO of ALPFA, Garcia focuses on developing a new way to advance and promote the work of Latino and Latina professionals in business. The “new Latino paradigm” is a way of thinking that looks beyond the ideas of diversity inclusion.
“That paradigm was created by the African-American community about 30 years ago,” he said. “We’ve ridden on their coattails for that long. I have met with many influential African-Americans because of the work that I do and that is something that we’ve talked about. That Latino’s need to create their own paradigm.”
Garcia explains that Latinos are already one of the largest groups of consumers and customers for large banks and corporations.
“If I am a CEO and 90 percent of my year over year or 75 percent of my banking customers is the Latino community, why am I talking about diversity,” he asked.
Garcia has written two books on leadership: “A Message from Garcia” (2003) and “Leadership Lessons of the White House Fellows” (2009).
“In my second book, There’s advice and stories from 220 different leaders so there isn’t just one thing that I would recommend to someone. One piece of advice that I would offer is to read often. Reading is an important thing that successful people do. If you learn three or four things from a book and you’re constantly reading your observing all that information. I always remember the advice my grandmother gave me in Panama. She said, if you’re going to learn to shave, try to learn on someone else’s face first.”