By Gino Blefari
This week my travels found me in New York City and the overwhelming theme of my trip was “steps.” Let me explain …
I was in town for the NAHREP Hispanic Wealth Project Symposium, which brings together stakeholders and national leaders to create measurable financial and wealth-building initiatives to benefit the economy. As with all NAHREP events, this one was fantastic, and served to refocus my energies around the strategies put forth in the NAHREP 10.
The NAHREP 10, if you haven’t had a chance to review it yet, is made up of 10 guiding steps—there’s the first instance of our theme—to direct the Hispanic community toward greater success and fiscal prosperity. (You can read my perspective on Principle 2 here.) While at the Symposium, I was also fortunate to connect with NAHREP CEO and co-founder Gary Acosta, former president and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties VP Teresa Palacios Smith, and Leo Pareja, 2016 NAHREP president elect, who moderated my panel discussion, “Increasing the Success of Hispanic-Owned Small Businesses.” Leo’s expertise in navigating our conversation was not only a testament to the depth of his real estate knowledge but also a reaffirmation that with him leading the organization, NAHREP will always remain one step ahead of an ever-changing industry.
From the Wealth Symposium it was off to New Jersey, where I visited with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties’ management team, led by Broker/Owner Bill Keleher. The meeting proved as productive as the company was engaging, and it is clear New Jersey Properties is making the right steps toward growth.
Speaking of steps yet again, let’s talk about my own … specifically 10,000 of them that I try to take every day. It’s a goal I set (and most often hit), which forces me to get outside and explore. Fortunately, when you’re in NYC, walking is a way of life, and so after dinner on Wednesday, I decided to stroll through Central Park instead of immediately getting in an Uber to my hotel. For those who have never visited, the 843-acre Central park is a grassy, tree-lined contradiction right in the middle of Manhattan. It’s vast, unexpected and transformative in its ability to immediately make you feel as if you’ve left the city altogether and are now somewhere entirely new.
On my walk, I happened to pass the famous Bethesda Terrace and took the several steps down to the Bethesda Fountain, a bronze structure that has long been hailed a landmark of Central Park. Notably, the fountain was designed in 1868 by Emma Stebbins, who was the first woman to receive a public commission for a major work of art in New York City. Her artistry represents a tremendous step forward for women’s rights in America and gave me a sense of Manhattan’s rich history that remained as I returned to my hotel in the heart of Battery Park.
It just so happened that my hotel room not only had a telescope but also provided a direct view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where decades ago my grandparents landed from Italy, ready for the opportunities presented by this fresh frontier. As I looked at Ellis Island, I thought about how arriving there represented hope and stability for my grandparents and felt inspired to be standing so close to the place where they took their first steps on American soil and into their new lives.
So, what’s the message? This week, it’s a simple but powerful one … Always remember that it’s incredible what you can learn, discover and experience when you take things one step at a time.