NextGen Collective spotlights Conectados Founder Liliana Cepeda. Read on about who inspires her, how she handles new ideas, the personality traits she attributes to her success, and more.
Where are you from?
My family is from Puerto Rico but I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
What do you do today?
I am currently the founder of Conectados, a project that hopes to connect and uplift the Latino community in New York City.
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
My mom has served as my biggest inspiration for a multitude of reasons. She’s a constant reminder to remain true to my values, to advocate for myself, and chase after my dreams. Once she sets her mind on something, there isn’t anything that is going to hold her back from achieving it.
What lesson did you learn early in your career that still serves you today?
Although I am still early in my career, one thing that I have learned that I truly value is the power of building your network and connecting with others. Many of the opportunities I have taken part in have come directly from my network. I also think it’s important to show up as your most authentic self when doing so, because then you’re able to genuinely connect with people.
How can Latino professionals better advocate for themselves?
Something that helps me to advocate for myself is reminding myself of my value and worth, both personally and professionally. I think we all have skills, knowledge, and experiences that make us unique, and it’s important to be surrounded by people who are able to recognize that. It can be easy to get caught up in wanting to grow and move on to the next thing, but when we’re able to recognize all that we have accomplished and the ways in which we have grown, it’s easier to advocate for the things we need in order to keep going. As a community, we have the right to take up space and be seen in manners that truly reflect who we are.
What is part of your daily routine that you look forward to every day?
I’ll always look forward to a cup of coffee in the morning. Aside from ensuring I’m awake for the day, while I have my cup of coffee, I can take a moment and set my intentions for the day. It’s a reminder that I have a day full of opportunities ahead of me, while also serving as a moment to provide myself with comfort and grace as I prepare for my day.
When you get a new idea what’s the first thing you do with it?
When I get a new idea the first thing I try to do is learn more about it. As someone who is always looking to try new things and enjoys new opportunities, it can be easy to get excited over different ideas. Yet if the idea is something I am truly passionate about, then doing additional research and speaking with others about it helps me receive the feedback needed in order to know if this is something I want to engage with, and how I want to do so.
What behavior or personality trait do you attribute to your success?
My ability to remain open-minded and push myself in moments of uncertainty have allowed me to reach my goals. There have been times where I didn’t have a plan or simply had conversations with people just to connect, and those situations have often led to opportunities and experiences I would have never gone for on my own or thought that I could be a part of.
What is one non-work related goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years?
In the next five years I hope to travel to as many new countries as possible. I love learning about other cultures and having new experiences, and my goal is to continue doing this in authentic ways.
What’s one thing we’d never be able to guess from your LinkedIn profile?
I love learning about my culture and Puerto Rican history. One way I’ve done this recently is by learning more about bomba, a traditional Puerto Rican dance/music style. I take classes on weekends and try to attend as many events as possible. Bomba provides me with an opportunity to connect with myself, my culture, my ancestors, and my community.