My First Technology and Networking Mentors

Cloudy Sunrise at Isla Verde

Today is Sunday and I did not want to write as much. But just thinking about two awesome fathers (part of my extended family) who influenced my life, made me create this pretty heavy and long post.

In the past few weeks I have been able to connect with two of my cousins that hadn’t talk to in quite some time.

My cousin Crystal Cruz contacted me via a blog post I wrote about our ancestor Epifanio Presas being a political prisoner of Spain at the end of the 1800’s.

Last night, I got a message from my sister Brenda who wanted to let me know that our cousin Norma Allen was staying within walking distance from my apartment.

I met up with my cousin on my dad’s side Norma, better known to many of us as Normita. I got to meet her cool and relaxed husband and we had some drinks at La Placita.

This morning as I thought about those two interactions, I realized that both of their dad’s left me with some awesome wisdom. Chatting with Norma and Crystal helped me realize how much their dads influenced me.

Their advice was critical to the formation of many of my habits and work ethic.

Advice from a Hard Working New Yorker

Crystal’s dad, Ramon Cruz worked for the New York Department of Education. One summer in 1995 I spent most of my cousin’s summer vacation riding along with them around the island. I got to spend a lot of time with my cousin Crystal and her dad Ramon (my mom’s cousin).

He had many conversations and observations on how the Island could improve in many ways. I remember him creating humor on how people don’t use signal lights when they are driving. How we would set up a business to educate them on the lever they all had in their car they did not know existed. 20 years later it has not changed at all.

Ramon gave me a perspective that I usually did not see. He was an outsider to the Island who left as kid to live and work in New York.

My First Lessons in the Value of Networking

One of the best pieces of advice I got from him was to make sure I always kept networking and stay close to the people that were doing well.

His way of explaining community was refreshing. It’s hard to grow up with a sense of community when I lived in a neighborhood that if you left your bike outside or even a football, it would disappear. I took his advice to heart and curious enough, 20 years later, I run a Digital Marketing agency. Everyday my main focus is to serve others and help them connect and create healthier relationships.

Ramon was a hard working man who took care of his family. It has been probably 10 years since I last saw him, but the fact that these words are going on my blog, are evidence that I’m applying his advice.

If Giving & Kindness Could be a Human it would be Edward

Tio Edward is Normita’s dad. He left us many years ago in a car accident. Tio Edward was one of the kindest human beings that has roamed this earth.

My aunt moved to Bridgeport in the 70’s and fell in love with her English instructor. Titi Norma laid the path towards my Dad’s family making their lives in Connecticut. Just after studying in my Alma Mater, she left to find new opportunities like many migrants from the island.

There are stories of Tio Edward coming down to Puerto Rico to ask for my aunt Norma’s hand. From that moment on he married a bright woman who was optimistic but very committed with the well being of her family members.

My tia Norma is the oldest and now the matriarch of the Colón family. She has 11 brothers and sisters that for decades she has found ways to help.

Her spirit of abundance was nurtured by her caring husband whose body of work was to help and serve others.

Always being Present

I remember my Uncle Edward always being present to help. From driving my family to the airport, to taking care of me when my dad had  medical emergencies. One memory that reminds me of my Uncle Edward  was around the time I was just starting to understand the English language; I was in the third or fourth grade.

On the radio the song Pump the Jam was playing. My uncle who was an educator went on a funny rant of how “jam” was applied on toast, not pumped.

At the age of 9-10 years old, I thought it was funny. Till this day I hear that song and it reminds me of the many kind things Tio Edward did for me.

My First Technology Mentor

Tio Edward also inspired my love for Technology and Science. He use to teach in a technical school. I remember him helping me with my Science Fair project where we created a shadow detector.

The detector would go off as soon as you interrupted the light source. Years later, I applied the work ethic and methods I learned from Tio Edward. In my senior year of High School, I represented Puerto Rico in the International Science and Engineering Fair.

If I look back, Tio Edward nurtured my interest and curiosity for competing in a Science fair. He decided to invest his time in helping me understand Science better.

I am more than sure I thanked Tio Edward before he passed away. I think the last time I saw him was when I came out of the military on a trip to Connecticut. I remember he mentioned how proud he was of my accomplishments. We had a few conversations on my future plans and college degree. Months later, Tio Edward left this world after a car accident.

Now that I am older, I would have loved asking him so many questions and seeing him at least one more time. He will always be a role model to follow.

Two Awesome Dads

Thanks to the influence of these two awesome men who are great fathers, I am surrounded by some pretty remarkable people.

On the weekend before SXSW, I can only hope that Tio Edward is looking in from another dimension and seeing that I am applying his advice.

And that Cousin Raymond (who is more like an uncle figure to me) reads this. I hope he knows the positive influence he left from that summer back in 1995. I can only hope I can do as good a job as they did with their daughters.

That Daniela one day is as proud of me as Crystal and Normita are proud of their dads.

Have you been influenced by someone and never told them? What are you waiting for?

In the mean time make sure to “Pump that Jam”