Like for most everyone, the pandemic shook the very foundations of my life, especially when it dawned on us that the new normal wasn’t going away, but here to stay.
After a decade on national news networks, chasing storms and politicians on Univision and NBC, you could say I was used to uncertainty and conflict. Not sleeping for days while reporting live from the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the 2018 family separation crisis and the 2012, 2016 and now 2020 election cycles… need I say more?
Yet, I wasn’t prepared for what the Coronavirus –with all its worldwide devastation– would force me to do: take a pause. Me? No way. I had been jumping off planes since college. I had conditioned my body to run on adrenaline, to be continuously on the move, the engine that takes me around the world doing the job I love.
Besides breaking news, I gave a viral TEDx Talk that’s been seen more than 18 million times and translated in 13 languages. I wrote an Apple Books selected memoir. And low and behold, just before the pandemic, I announced I was leaving NBC to launch “GoLike” my own media company. Terrible timing, right?
That’s an understatement.
One of our first major TV projects feel through in the first month. Live motivational speeches we’re cancelled left and right. For the first time ever, there wasn’t anything to chase. There was just silence.
‘Mari, estás bien? Are you ok?’ My mom would ask. She moved in with me from our home country of Venezuela because of the virus. We hadn’t lived together since I left my childhood bedroom in Caracas. Her company and support were invaluable, especially since I also went through a separation and selling my house during the pandemic. It required a lot of adjusting and there were days when I honestly didn’t know if I could handle it all. This time I couldn’t run away on a breaking news assignment.
I tried meditating. I watched every Netflix show. I spoke to my therapist. I felt like I was walking on quicksand when I was used to being on a high-speed train.
The therapist explained that reinventing ourselves is normal. It’s a human need. It’s actually a process called ‘neurogenesis’. Every 7 to 10 years our cells change entirely. Everything mutates: your nails, your skin, your hair.
My body was changing sure, but my mind was stuck in the past, wishing this new reality would just disappear. I needed to develop tools to adapt. And quick. It was the kind of running around I had never actually done.
So, how can we generate new neurons to face our new “normal”?
We have to embrace the inflection point, embrace the pivot, embrace the pause.
By shaking up my life, the important things came into perspective. I doubled down in my search for purpose.
If I couldn’t chase stories, how could I lift others, especially women and our communities of color, with my unique skillset?
I realized I needed to get back to motivating my community through strategic partnerships, live experiences and digital content. I needed to find them where they are, beyond TV. Our production company partnered with the World Health Organization to give a virtual talk to raise funds for Covid19 relief; we teamed up with the U.S. Census Bureau to encourage everyone to get counted; we became part of the leadership boards for Voto Latino -to get more of our Latinx youth registered to vote- and the American Latino Museum, to ensure Latinos have visibility.
Finally, we developed several ‘how to’ series for social media, focused on helping people become corporate leaders and communicating authentically and effectively. Some include helping young girls find their voice, seasoned female executives improve their communication skills and immigrants with their English to have a chance at a better life in America.
The response has been overwhelming.
Adriana Chamorro messaged: “I’m 2 weeks away from an interview for a scholarship to study in the U.S. and you’ve motivated and inspired me so much.”
Olguita Olmos wrote: “I’m getting ready to launch my business. But didn’t know if my level was up to par. You’ve encouraged me to go for it…”
The tsunami of emails and messages showed me we are all going through an inflection point.
How can this be true to you? I encourage you to take a pause and ask: Am I fulfilling my purpose? Am I doing what I love? Am I contributing to the noise or really providing value?
Ultimately, that’s why I left a traditional news path and high-paying corporate job to lead a start-up, GoLike.
GO-LIKE. I came up with the name on one of those sleepless work nights when my mentor kept encouraging me to push through. GoLike emphasizes the power of Millennials and Gen-Z’s and all generations across languages and platforms, to tell their stories in their own terms and always move forward driven by positivity.
GoLike’s first product was ‘Perfectly You’, written in English and Spanish, an Amazon Best-Seller and an Audible and AppleBooks ‘Must Listen’. The end of the book marked our commitment: we want you to GoLike___ (fill in your name). Meaning we want to help you –whether it’s through our reporting, inspirational talks or ‘how to’ series– to be the most authentic version of yourself. That generates a ripple effect of tolerance and positivity that can move mountains.
In a short time, GoLike has become a full-fledged successful media company and incubator, where we are working on TV projects, motivational speaking, books, podcasts and brand partnerships that showcase our Latinx and diverse voices. In our first year of existence, we gave keynotes and virtual experiences at Pepsico, YouTube, Deloitte, LindkedIn, Spotify, the UN Girl Up Summit, Bacardi, Citi Private Bank and P&G. In our second, we signed a year-long partnership with Microsoft for a global digital series to help our communities make everyday decisions and get ahead.
It hasn’t been easy. We’ve had to restructure our team, how we work and access to capital remains a challenge, like for many businesses run by Latinas and women of color. But this has made our commitment to YOU that much deeper. The coming months and years are crucial. They will shape not only politics but also the economy, migrations, climate change, the very conditions of life on this planet. It’s also a historic opportunity to make a better, more equal and just world. This is our time.
Consider this your formal invitation into this magical world, GoLike with us.