Diana Bolivar, Principal Diana Bolivar & Associates
Diana Bolivar is the immediate past president/CEO for the award winning Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando where she served for seven years as Director of Marketing, Vice President and the latter 4 years as the chamber’s President/CEO. With more than a quarter century of experience at the local, national and international levels encompassing the nonprofit, legal, medical and construction industries, Bolivar is the principal for Diana Bolivar & Associates.
Bolivar is a native of Medellin, Colombia, whose first language is Spanish. At the age of nine, she moved to the US alongside her family. Bolivar is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, with a degree in Political Science.
Her firm contributes to the success of companies and organizations across the globe because they invest in results. Diana’s cultural elasticity has allowed her to become an expert in reaching both the Anglo and Hispanic markets for her clients through training, advocacy and business development.
Diana is a graduate of Leadership Florida, Leadership Seminole and Leadership Orlando. She serves on several boards and committees, including Heart of Florida United Way, Florida Abolitionist, Children’s Movement of Florida and Valencia Community College, Dr. Shughart’s advisory committee.
Diana’s most recent recognitions and awards include:
- 2016 Latina Role Model of the year by Latina Role Model TV
- 2015 Ana G. Mendez University Presidential Medal of honor and graduation commencement speaker
- 2015 Leadership Award, Women of Distinction, by Girl Scouts of Citrus
- 2015 Executive of the Year, by Florida Association of Chamber Professionals (FACP)
For a complete list of awards and recognitions, or more information visit: www.dianabolivar.com
True Grit and 6 Other Tips for Change
From immigrating to Massachusetts at age 9 to starting her own business in 2017, Diana Bolivar has experienced many major life shifts. I sat down with her to glean a few tips for thriving through change.
1. Remain Open and Malleable
Change is difficult (and constant) for everyone, she points out, yet we are not typically taught to how to handle change. Immigrants, Diana believes, are more comfortable with change because they have had to be. Leaving one’s country, culture, and language to move to another place is huge change on many levels. When she was little, “Coming to this country…and seeing what my parents and my older and younger sibling went through with schools, language—that was a very difficult time,” she says.
As a little girl, she learned to not be afraid of something new—and even to embrace it. When you deal with huge change by accepting it right away, changing as quickly as possible, and remaining malleable, she reports, incredible opportunities lie around every corner.
2. Embrace Diversity to Find Happiness
After a lifetime of change, Diana says it’s people never have the same likes, beliefs and customs as you. To embrace those differences allows you to avoid self-segregating, following your pack and sticking with what you know. And that is when you become wealthy in knowledge and happiness. Diversity enriches us all.
For her, life’s most important lesson is to understand what love and happiness are. “When you accept that everything out of your comfort zone is different, you’re going to be filled with love and happiness, which is what every human being should strive for.”
3. Make the Call when “This Is Not Working”
Being afraid of change spills over into every aspect of your life. Yes, it’s very difficult to make the decision that “this is not working out” when you’re not happy or fulfilled. It’s easy to wonder, looking back, why you didn’t make that hard decision sooner. So often we prefer misery to not knowing what tomorrow may bring. Yet a difficult transition is what can bring true joy and happiness in the long run.
Diana loves Oprah’s philosophy of do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. We all have things to do because it’s a commitment or we have to feed our families. Then, when you get to a point where you can take the plunge to do what you love to do, whether in marriage, a job or a friendship, then you give the best of you.
“I find love and happiness in what I do because I truly enjoy it,” she says. “I love selling Orlando to the world and I love seeing the companies I help succeed. It’s pretty exciting to be doing, every day, the work that makes me happy, that contributes to my community, that impacts the economy.”
4. True Grit Moves You through Changes
To accept change in your life, you need true grit: perseverance and passion. It’s not intelligence or skills that help you succeed as much as grit. Then, when there’s something you really want to go after, you won’t stop. Life ebbs and flows; there will be plenty of down times. That’s when you need to take the lemons and make lemonade.
Diana says that it’s better to be prepared by saying the hard thing: “Ok, this isn’t a fit, I’m unhappy,” rather than waiting for someone to point it out TO you (“You’re not inspired, so you’re fired.”) It takes grit to embrace change and make it happen.
5. Failure Is NOT Permanent
Diana finds that women tend to ruminate, overthink everything, obsess, wonder how did this happen, and make mountains out of molehills. When she mentors young girls, she tells them to stop that incessant thinking. Failure is not a permanent condition… unless we let it be. It’s up to us.
Every situation of pain and suffering contains a huge lesson that can be received with gratitude. Diana knows pain, has been on her knees with tears rolling down her face, but it’s through that pain, she says, that we grow and in the end she is grateful for all that happens. What we might consider a failure is an opportunity for us to grow. When you can eventually see the beauty in the pain, that’s where you grow.
I agree. The beauty of pain, or suffering, or failure is not obvious right away, but we can always ask for guidance and surrender. Then we can go through change and open doors to opportunities we didn’t know existed.
6. Speak Your Needs for Support
“Sometimes as women we want people to read our minds [when we need help],” she says, “But I’ve learned to feel comfortable explaining myself and being understood. You can get more support this way.
As for her own support network, Diana counts on her current husband and her family, especially during the last year. “My husband is very different [from me[ and I love the way he challenges me when he asks questions I’m not comfortable with or haven’t thought about.”
She draws inspiration from her 26-year-old son, who is a Navy pilot. She admires how his generation is so concerned about the earth and their own purpose. He loves to learn from the wisdom of others and is always asking questions. She admires that approach, and is working on breaking her habit of wanting to figure things out herself. “I am definitely a work in progress,” she says.
7. Diana’s Book Recommendation for Thriving through Change: The Four Agreements
Diana’s favorite book, which she has read over and over, is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. I love this book too—it’s a good one to return to when you are in the throes of change.
When she first read it about 15 years ago, Diana confessed that she thought it was cheesy and didn’t think it would help her. Today she understands this is not a book you read once. Your understanding and implementation of its principles is a work in progress. For instance, to be impeccable with your word helps you be a role model. Don’t take things personally gives you freedom. To not make assumptions gives you the courage to clarify, which improves results. Always do your best helps us stop lying to ourselves, embrace change, and find that love and happiness. When you follow your passions, you can best grow as a human being and contribute to society.
Connecting US and LatAm Businesses
With 25 years of international business development as well as sales and marketing experience, today Diana connects businesses in Florida with those south of the US border, and helps them expand their market share by building ties with each other. After setting roots in central Florida, she led the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for seven years. Then, when she realized her expertise could help businesses directly, she launched Diana bolivar Associates in January of 2017. It’s been an amazing journey, she says, full of change, but very welcoming.
Diana considers herself a citizen of the world. If you are not doing business with the world, she says, you are missing a huge piece of market share.
Diana Bolivar: DianaBolivar.com / Diana@Dianabolivar.com