Eva Hughes Inspires Latinas at Art Basel Dinner in Miami

Thirty Latinas gathered to hear Eva Hughes speak at the Leading Latinas x Art Basel Dinner, hosted by Northwestern Mutual

Eva Hughes sits at the long dinner table at the Leading Latinas x Art Basel Dinner in Miami on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Photo: Cass Davis

Eva Hughes, founder of Adira Consulting, looked out at the Latinas in front of her. “Changing the way we live, the way we think, and the way we look at ourselves might be the best decision you might have to do,” she told the group.

Thirty inspiring Latinas were gathered to hear from Hughes at Hispanic Executive and Northwestern Mutual’s Leading Latinas x Art Basel Dinner in Miami, Florida, on December 5, 2018. Seated at the table in The Sacred Space Miami, to name a few, were Telemundo’s Vanessa Hauac, PBS’s Alicia Menendez, legendary journalist Maria Elena Salinas, celebrity chef Ingrid Hoffmann, and i.am+’s Karli Henriquez.

“I am so humbled and excited to be looking out at this incredible group of women—of amazing Latinas—who have gathered here tonight all the way from LA, Chicago and, of course, here in Miami,” said Vianni Busquets, vice president of Hispanic division at Guerrero Media, publisher of Hispanic Executive. “Our Leading Latinas series helps to recognize, elevate, and promote women who have helped break the glass ceiling, who are pioneers leading by example, and who are paving the way for future generations.”

Kevin Lawhon, managing partner at Northwestern Mutual, echoed Busquets’ words. “We are here tonight to celebrate the many accomplishments of Latinas, but more importantly to advocate for your continued development and success,” he said.

Up on stage was Hughes, the evening’s keynote speaker. That Wednesday night, she wanted to impart the importance of change. “Change is about making things better, not worse. If you’re exhausted, if you’re tired, then what kind of change can we really do?” she said. “So, the one promise I have made myself was that I take responsibility, and I’m going to be the only one driving the car.”

Last year, Hughes left her previous job at Condé Nast to found Adira Consulting. It was a month after her mom passed away from a terminal illness that she decided to quit and pursue her own business, she told the Latinas seated at the table.

“My mom had said to me two weeks before dying, ‘It is time to come back home. You are not happy,’” she said. “I became emotional, because I wasn’t happy. It took my mom being in a hospital, dying, for me to see that I wasn’t happy. I don’t want anybody to reach that moment.”

For Hughes, it was the moment for her to take the leap and give herself permission to fail—to let it go, as Elsa sings in the movie Frozen.

Elsa faces her own fears, wrestling with the power to create ice and snow, said Hughes, who told the audience that she’s probably seen the movie more times than anyone could imagine. There are four life lessons Hughes pulled from the movie:

  1. Listen. “Sometimes we can shut people out when change knocks on the door.”
  2. Embrace your dreams. “Never let the improbable discourage you.”
  3. Let it go. “No amount of worrying will change the past, but it will rob you of your chance for happiness in the present.
  4. Be yourself. “Look at Elsa—the magic she was determined to conceal is often the same thing that makes you unstoppably powerful, unique, and amazing.”

Managing through change isn’t far from the Disney movie, Hughes said. You need to build trust, win hearts and minds, be good at team building, and live honestly. “I had to have the courage to move forward and walk into change,” she said. “And take your time, because it took me twenty years to get to this very station.”

But how can one change if they don’t have time? Hughes’ advice: Learn how to stop, how to pause and enjoy things in your life. Then be brave, curious, hungry, and move on from the past.

“There is one thing that no one talks about, and that is fear,” she said. “Fear is very intimidating and paralyzing. But if we use fear the right way, then we can do whatever we want.”

To prepare for the future, we have to change, she continued, because 10 percent of your life is what happens to you and 90 percent is how you react to it.

“Just go out there and make the change,” Hughes said in closing. “On the table there is a piece of paper that says, ‘I am a Leading Latina and I am ___.’ And I want to tell you something. I am a Leading Latina and tonight, I am a friend.”