#47 | Darine with Maria Carolina Ojeda: Is Emotional Intelligence The New Indicator For Success
[00:00:00] Darine: Is emotional intelligence, the new indicator for success? That's the question we are going to answer today, because being an effective leader means much more than just being able to motivate and inspire people, right? It's about having the capacity to help others make a difference and make better decisions in their personal and professional life.
[00:00:24] Darine: Hello, bonjour, salem anlekoum, welcome to STANDOUT From The Crowd Podcast,, the first live podcast dedicated to no BS leadership. So if you like us, tell your friends and colleagues to go over on Apple Podcast and Spotify and to give us a five star review. We deserve it, right? We are female leaders, female entrepreneurs, female change makers, so let's press the button and encourage us to do more.
[00:00:56] Darine: Our STANDOUT guest today, Maria Carolina Ojeda. So if I wanna say it in Spanish, Maria Carolina Ojeda is the regional Vice President of Primerica and she's also the Founder of Settled In Canada. And what I personally like and love and appreciate and respect about her is her ability to provide advice, her ability to support, and to be a critical friend who challenges you for the better.
[00:01:29] Darine: So join us, as we discuss how she helps people and organization use emotional intelligence to reach their potential. Hello, Maria!
[00:01:40] Maria: Hello, my friend!
[00:01:41] Maria: Am I laughing here? Thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting me. Oh my God. The smart woman is fantastic, thank you.
[00:01:52] Darine: Oh, something I didn't tell you, is the amazing and beautiful energy that Maria Carolina has and shares with everyone.
[00:02:04] Maria: I love your red lips.
[00:02:05] Darine: Ooh, I love yours too. Right?
[00:02:09] Darine: Maria Karina, what a beautiful story! Your journey started 17 years ago in Canada.
[00:02:16] Maria: In Canada, yes, that's right.
[00:02:19] Darine: Right, and you are now the regional vice president of one of America's best insurance companies according to Forbes.
[00:02:28] Maria: Yes, you did your research, girl, that's good. I love it, yes.
[00:02:36] Darine: So do you remember, what was your first thought when you landed in Canada?
[00:02:43] Maria: Wow... When I landed in Canada, my first very first thought was, I cannot find a way that I can get more than a living in this. You know, to stay, because when I came in 2006, our country, Venezuela wasn't that bad.
[00:03:02] Maria: It was going that way, but it wasn't that bad. And I never even imagined that I will become the bridge for my family so that they can come after. So at that moment, it was like, oh, you know, at the beginning when you go to a country, you go in a way, touristic way, touristic mindset until you start living in it and things start changing, you know, it's like a complete different story.
[00:03:27] Maria: when you come as a visitor and then, uh, to stay. But Canada has been good with me, with us, with my family entirely, yes.
[00:03:35] Darine: Yeah, and we're going to talk about it. So as everyone can see, Maria, you are full of a beautiful energy. And you have the ability to get the best out of people.
[00:03:48] Darine: And I know that you primary work with immigrant families, right? So what is the gap that you identified at some point and you realized that, okay, this is something somewhere where I can contribute and make an impact.
[00:04:07] Maria: And very good question. And you know what happened with immigrants, and I can only speak on the immigrant side of it.
[00:04:14] Maria: I'm an immigrant myself, and when we come to the country, when we come immigrate to a country, many things are changing, right? And your culture. Well, your culture is always gonna be with you, but food, family, uh, lifestyle, you come here with the sense that you gotta start from scratch and from zero.
[00:04:35] Maria: Yeah. Even if you have a degree in something and if you do a school here, because I want to Ryerson as well. My career is architecture by the way. And when I went to Ryerson and then finding the job within your career is a challenge. So one thing that I could say, people need to adapt, you know, and I focus a lot on first generation immigrant because I know the struggle and I know you are a professional.
[00:05:02] Maria: You come to a different country to start doing surviving jobs. I started cleaning in 2006, so that was my first job as I was going to school. And I've done, I've done factory jobs, I've done construction jobs or whatever you name it. But I knew there, there was a way to, you know, become more than that, like just to surviving more.
[00:05:26] Maria: And things w that happen a lot with immigrants as they remain a surviving job for too long, then they become frustrated and they become disappointed and they blame the country and they blame the system and it's just, you know, that you gotta find a way, be surrounded with great people, and we have something that we're very good, surrounded with good people, with group of women, with IWB for example, we're always surrounded with good group of people.
[00:05:54] Maria: And that's why my main focus is only is like first generation of immigrants because I know they're professionals, I know there's struggles and we can give them a path, we can give them a weight so that they can change that and turn it to an overcomer. That's it, become an overcomer.
[00:06:11] Darine: Yes, you know, and that's, I can't resonate so much to what you're saying because, my first job, so it wasn't that bad.
[00:06:18] Darine: My first job was, I was work working in, in, in the back office of a big bank in, in Canada. And I remember, you know, I was comfortable and I was making what for me, back in time was like really good money. And back in time I remember, but this is basically the minimum wage. But for me, that was a lot, right? As an immigrant.
[00:06:40] Darine: But I remember, even though I was comfortable, I was scared, I was so scared to get too comfortable to the point that years will go by and I would remain in this situation, so nowhere for me to grow the way I had envisioned it because I had a vision for myself and I did resign, and no one would understand why.
[00:07:05] Darine: Even though we didn't have money and we had no way to pay the bills and the rent the following month. I didn't wanna stay in a situation that where I was too comfortable and that would stop me from growing the way I had envisioned it for myself. And this is a trap where many immigrants get trapped into because when they find their first job actually, and that they make some money out of it, they wanna stay there because it's safe.
[00:07:32] Darine: Right? When actually you have to have the gut and you know, to have the courage to go through difficult times so you can grow and become the leader you are meant to be. Let's move on to the next question now. What excites you the most about your job?
[00:07:51] Maria: About my business? What excites me the most is the people.
[00:07:56] Maria: I love lifting up spirits. I love talking to people and see them evolving. So to me, I was talking to one of my colleagues and said, I'm never tired, never exhausted what I do, because I do it with passion and I do it for free if I have to, I can't do it for free. I can sing that with you and give you a strategy on how to change your mindset, what activities you can generate so that you can increase your income or increase your potential. I love doing that. So I love community. One thing that I do a lot of, I'm a very good community servant, even with my church, with IWB, with the things that I do with my surrounding, I'm always, I'm always in that, open heart to say, how can I help you too, so that you can get to where you want to, even if you don't work with me or you don't do it with me, but I love seeing, again, immigrants, being an example, becoming an example so that other people can follow them. And the only way is that, you know, we can multiply ourselves and pass it to other people, definitely.
[00:09:02] Darine: That's very true, and I'm curious to know what was your biggest challenge becoming the leader that you are today?
[00:09:13] Maria: The biggest challenge. Wow. I don't have money to buy food. I'm a single mom. I have two boys. When I became an entrepreneur, my boys were nine and six, and my first two years as an entrepreneur were very, and I remember money going out of my account to pay my mortgage, but I knew I did not have money for food next day.
[00:09:37] Darine: Oh...
[00:09:37] Maria: so it was like, man, like, oh my God, that was a tough, tough night. I remember that night clearly I can, like, I can smell it. And now God was always good for me. God was always providing money was coming. I not, not in, but I had a vision, as you were saying before we got cut off, you had a vision somewhere you could go.
[00:10:03] Maria: Right? So I knew, I knew like everything was gonna be temporary and I knew I have to be consistent and persistent to put the effort, but not being able to buy milk, which is like what at that time was like $4 bag of milk. That's tough to not having $4 to buy. You know, so that was my i, my my toughest time.
[00:10:26] Maria: Like even when clients say no to me, I'm like, yeah, whatever. I don't care. I've been in toughest situation. But that was good. Always good. I always was able to provide for my children and not anymore. That's it, that was that time.
[00:10:42] Darine: Not anymore. Yes, and for those of you watching, and you may are listening and you may be going through tough times, difficult times, and we know it has been difficult for more and more people than the pandemic and then the recession, and then the crisis and the accumulation, like we go from a crisis mode to another. And of course, many people get impacted by it. So if you're going through a tough time, know that it is temporary. It is temporary as long as you stick to, you know, your dream, your belief, and that you commit to getting out of these situations. That might be one week one month. Sometimes one year, you never know. But never stop believing in yourself. So, you know, you can see the light, um, at the tunnel.
[00:11:36] Maria: Yeah. Let me add one more thing. And don't think that you are alone because there's no growth or help in isolation. Find the help that you need to so that you know, you don't end up doing things that I shouldn't be doing.
[00:11:49] Maria: Because a lot of people, that's why they commit suicide or they start drinking, or they start getting in drugs. Find the help that you ask for help. All you have to do is ask for.
[00:12:01] Darine: Yeah, don't stay alone. Look at networks, look at communities, look at groups. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Maria Carolina has mentioned IWB multi multiple times. It's stands for Immigrant Women in Business. And this is a community where both part of and yes, and I have been interviewing a lot of women leaders from this community, right? So we do support one another, and sometimes when we feel down, you know, being a leader and showcasing the leader that we are, this is part of the job I wanna say. But on the other side, we are humans and we are, we have ups and downs, and we have lows, even more lows. And, you know, knowing that you can just pick up the phone and say, hey, you know, like I feel lost, or I'm not sure about it. And having someone that can tell you, hey, You know, guide you or provide you the emotional support that you need.
[00:12:55] Darine: This is very important. At the beginning I said Maria Carolina is a critical friend in the sense that she helps you get the best out of it. So you really, really wanna pay attention to the people you surround yourself with, because, If you surround yourself, yourself with the wrong people, and there is a part of emotional intelligence here, and we're gonna dive into this topic right now, but you know that I love like showcasing the stories of my guest first, like emotional intelligence is also from your end.
[00:13:25] Darine: On a personal level, being able to identify who are the people that you need to surround yourself with, who are the people that you will hang out with, that you will give your energy and your time to, because it can really be a game changer.
[00:13:41] Maria: That's right.
[00:13:42] Darine: Now transitioning to emotional intelligence.
[00:13:47] Darine: Gaining emotional intelligence takes more than a book to read. Right? And I feel like this is a buzzword that a lot of leaders and people have been using since the pandemic, but can you tell us what is emotional intelligence about? What are we referring to?
[00:14:08] Maria: See, this is a very good topic, and as you said, today's day is like everything about emotional intelligence and the more you grow it, the farther you get
[00:14:17] Maria: And better people are gonna be surrounding you. So emotional intelligence is just passing your emotions through a filter that's gonna help you make intelligent decisions. Because when you tend to do, to make decisions based on an emotion, you might be just stuck tragically affecting your long-term future.
[00:14:39] Maria: So one thing that everyone today say is like, let's talk about our emotions and how can we control them? Because when the, there's different personalities that you have the dominant personality, the stability personality, that action personality, and then someone like me that's action personality, dominant red.
[00:14:58] Maria: We tend to get into our motions very quick, you know. So how can we control that so that we don't affect our environment, our family, and our future and success? So there's, there's a lot of, things you know, that we can talk about emotionally.
[00:15:19] Darine: Sure, I like the fact that it's about, you know, like, owning your emotions and controlling your emotions because you become mindful of the impact that it can have either on your family or the people you are working with, or the team that you are leading. Now that there is this, uh, forever debate are we leaders born or made? I personally believe that leaders are made.
[00:15:49] Darine: Maybe, you know, some of them are born with some traits, personality traits, traits, and characteristics, but I strongly believe that that's something that you can develop. Yeah. Is emotional intelligence something that you are born with or something that you can work on and develop?
[00:16:07] Maria: Everybody's born with emotion, controllable?, Yes, you learn to control them, but nobody, unless what even those people that are very stability with more calm, they have still emotions and they could have a bad reaction to anything or a good reaction, you know? So it's something that you learn as long as you have a goal that you want to achieve, because if there's nothing in front of you that you want to achieve or change.
[00:16:39] Maria: You say, just like that, that's the way I am. If you like it, good, if not, then just go or let's go in a different direction. But when you want something or you want to achieve, let's say you wanna, uh, work with a group of women or grow a team, you need to learn how to control your emotions, number one, yours, and then so that you can teach others how to control theirs.
[00:17:04] Maria: So it is definitely something that you can learn in that I encourage everybody to learn about it.
[00:17:10] Darine: Very true. And we are talking about it, the value of emotional intelligence, and leadership is becoming increasingly important in the modern world. And as I said, especially since the Covid 19 pandemic.
[00:17:26] Darine: How do you develop and cultivate emotional intelligence as a leader?
[00:17:37] Maria: Number one thing that I can suggest, mentorship, it's very difficult that you on your own can find out all the things that you need to, you know, change. So having a mentor is a very good guidance because there's an outsider that's looking at you, that is seeing what's happening or how you are reacting.
[00:17:56] Maria: And there's a lot of books and materials on YouTube that you can watch and see, but being with somebody that's connected with you, it helps you a lot and the way you cultivate thisI personally use an application called Calm for Meditation, so I, every day I make a pause between one or three at any time.
[00:18:22] Maria: I do my 12 minute meditation, do my breathing, if I fall asleep, that's perfect for me. Like, I just need, it helps me to meditate and to do a power nap, but it helps with myself and my emotion because if you're tired, if you are under stress, then your emotions are gonna start jumping, you know? And you gonna get out there.
[00:18:42] Maria: Yeah. Wow. So the way to cultivate is that do your meditation, watch some videos on YouTube also as that, that gives you knowledge. But the mentor is crucial, crucial in this.
[00:18:56] Darine: Yeah. Again, it comes back to not trying to do it alone and not being alone. And actually we have a couple of comments here, uh, from Robert who says, wait a minute, like, you mean we can't learn everything from a book?
[00:19:10] Darine: We can learn a lot of things from a book indeed.. But then when it comes to the practicality of it, exactly, this is another game, right? And we have a very interesting question here. What is the biggest misconception people have about emotional intelligence?
[00:19:28] Maria: The biggest misconception, uh, well, the one is that you think that you can learn it from a book, you cannot, definitely, and, uh, another thing about emotional intelligence, uh, to believe that you don't have a part of it, like you're not, it's not part of you or it's not necessary as well to emotional intelligence because as, as we know, it's something that started to sound nowadays more often than before. And if you get someone that is, you know, conservative back in the days, they don't think that way.
[00:20:08] Maria: They don't, they're like emotionally like, what's that? That's the way we.
[00:20:13] Darine: Uh, yeah. I believe, you know, maybe the biggest misconception about, about emotional intelligence is to believe that this is something trending, and this is for the new generation or maybe the young generations. Yeah. But, but we know that, like, being able to control your emotion and being able to communicate your emotion too.
[00:20:31] Darine: Right? Being a leader is about, you know, sharing your stories also so people, they can relate to you and you create that emotional connection with people. And I see leader that can be thought leader also. So if you believe that you don't need to be able to control and to communicate your emotions to others or that you don't need to learn how to do it, I think there is, there is a missing piece here that if you don't catch up, if you don't change your perspective, you will be missing out a lot sooner than you can imagine.
[00:21:05] Maria: But, uh, just to add on, on that emotional intelligence, the word, it became famous now. Yes, but your emotion, it has always been a thing.
[00:21:16] Maria: Just be able to control your emotion. I don't konw if you ever told your husband, can you just control your emotions? Can you just, you know, keep calm. It's part of the emotion. It's something that we all should learn how to do. And you see that, you can see that a lot in mayor's counseling. You can see that a lot in parenting counseling.
[00:21:33] Maria: Like how can we control our emotions with the people that we love, the people that we talk to. So if you don't like the word emotional intelligence, just control your emotions, that is it..
[00:21:44] Darine: I like it. Yes, you know, like people are coming, are coming up and if you have been following me, you know that I like to keep it, keep it simple.
[00:21:52] Darine: Like people, they come up with fancy words, yes words to describe something that has been around forever. Yeah, right? So then my last question to you, which is the topic of today is emotional intelligence the new indicator for success?
[00:22:14] Maria: It is, it's a indicator for success. I wouldn't call it new because as I said, it's just being controlled, your emotions, but it's an indicator for success because when you grow people, you grow business, you magnify something because now it's not just me.
[00:22:33] Maria: I'm working with a huge team of people. If you see, uh, an immigrant woman in. We have a big organization with lots of different founding members from different countries, different personalities. Can you imagine if Atlanta doesn't have emotional intelligence for all these people?
[00:22:48] Darine: Oof.
[00:22:49] Maria: It will be.
[00:22:49] Darine: That would be wild.
[00:22:51] Maria: I know, right? Because Atlanta that is wild. But can you imagine that? So if you wanna grow in business in a massive scale, you need to have maternal intelligence because you're gonna filter your emotion to a level where you'll be able to communicate with people without having to take it personal, uh, without having to say, you know, the wrong message to the people.
[00:23:16] Maria: Because now I'm controlling my language. I'm just knowing how I'm gonna communicate with this person. And you, you'll see, because you learn personality types. So based on your personality, I'm gonna say this way, so that you don't get offended, you know, and yeah, you learn all these things, so definitely.
[00:23:35] Maria: I work with people, I work with a lot of women and first generation immigrants that are frustrated, that want to do something that are driven, some of them are action personality. So I have to learn to control my emotions, to understand their situation and not take any actions that they have personal, so that we grow together.
[00:23:55] Maria: You know what I mean? So definitely emotional intelligence today's day and back in the days control of your emotion. It is important for you to become successful. It is not a trench. It's some, it's a tool now that, yes, as you said, fancy word, it's a tool now that it will teach you how to grow your leadership, how to communicate properly.
[00:24:15] Maria: And I love sales, how to improve your sales skill because when people say no to you, you feel frustrated. You know you wanna quit. No, it's here. I have a mindset of abundance. I have a goal to achieve. I wanna get somewhere, so I gotta learn and that's it.
[00:24:32] Maria: You know,
[00:24:34] Darine: That's it, you know, you gotta learn. If you wanna improve yourself, you gotta learn emotional intelligence if you wanna have an impact.
[00:24:42] Darine: And I know a lot of people, they are passionate, but they don't know how they can leverage their passion to make an impact. Emotional intelligence is definitely one tool. And I like the fact that you said it is a tool and yes, indeed, one tool that you need to understand and to master and leverage in order to become the leader you were meant to be.
[00:25:09] Darine: Maria Carolina, that was a great conversation. So for other people who wanna know more about you, what you do, how they, uh, if they wanna collaborate with you, where can they?
[00:25:21] Maria: If you Google my name, Maria Carolina Ojeda, all my social media will show up in there, linkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, all of them show up in there.
[00:25:30] Maria: I'm available for people you know who's driven, who wants to become somebody who wants to change, and they wanna impact our community. Anyone that's available that, that needs that I'm available. Here I am finally .
[00:25:45] Darine: And let me tell you something. The STANDOUT From The Crowd Podcast is about no BS leadership and Maria Carolina is definitely one of a kind, no BS. If something is nonsense, if something can be improved, she always like will come and provide you feedback with an open heart so you become a better version of yourself. So thank you so much, uh, Maria Carolina for your leadership. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today and share your beautiful and positive energy with us.
[00:26:21] Darine: Thank you everyone. You take care. You stay safe. And I will see you next week for another live episode of STANDOUT From The Crowd. Bye-bye everyone.