MARIA GABRIELA HOCH

MARIA GABRIELA HOCH - PART I

This international communications specialist uses her energy to empower women and change the world 

My interview with Maria Gabriela Hoch went cul-de-sac when she pointed out, her book, Journal of a Vital Woman covered all the questions I was asking. 

Therefore, in a slight departure from the Latinarrific tradition, I get to play the condenser, think Reader’s Digest. 

The complete reading of  Journal of a Vital Woman  is an engaging romp. I’m hopeful this mini-version may titillate you to seek it out in its entirety (available at: Amazon.com & Bajalibros.com). 

“Let me whisper to you a brief summary of my story. I’m a regular woman. I was born on July 30, 1971. I’m a Leo. I was called ‘Tissy’ from the moment I was conceived.  

My parents got married four months into the pregnancy (some swear I was born after only five months of pregnancy!). The name Tissy was not accepted when they tried to register it in the national ID, so they chose María Gabriela.  

Mom was eighteen, my father twenty-seven. They added “María” so that I wouldn’t be confused with my aunt Gabriela.   

I come from a middle-class family, in Buenos Aires. My dad, the grandson of English immigrants, was born in Buenos Aires, and was into real estate. My mom, from Córdoba, wanted to be an engineer, but she wasn’t allowed to.  

 I was raised to be whatever I wanted to be. Mom stressed that she didn’t want for me what had happened to her… 

 Dad believed in me too. In my early youth, he gave me three books that to this day are keys for me. They have to do with communication, developing relationships and spirituality.  

When I was 21, during my last year of university, I had to overcome a tough loss. My boyfriend died in a car accident. It took quite a while for the wound to heal. But there was my family, making me stronger. Perhaps that’s why I threw myself into graduating with honors and developing my professional career.  

 I joined a budding communications consulting firm. There were four of us. We ended up being forty. In the 90s, press and public relations services were required as never before in Argentina, when foreign companies and capital conquered the world and my country.  

 I could spend an entire day faxing documents to all of the news agencies and national newspapers. The next day I would send them to weekly and monthly magazines. Today, with a click, we get to all the editors of the world at the same time.  

I worked for eight years as an employee; I wouldn’t even go on vacation. I didn’t have time for that. My energy, my libido, was there, in my job. It was 100% adrenaline. I learned everything and more about the world of business relationships, corporate relations, communication, events and media.  

 I thought I could do everything. I could never say “no” to my bosses:  To myself either. If I had to stay until six in the morning to finish a report, there I was. And I was happy to do it.  

 I fell in love. He’d been a classmate from high school. But, we never looked at each other or spoke to one another in all those years. Instead, we found each other during my last year at the university.” 

{Writer’s Note: Ah, but the best laid plans…} 

Motivation has to do with integrity and the desire to make a difference in the world. Integrity has to do with wholeness. When we recognize ourselves as not complete, the search for a better self and to be complete is permanent.

 

“It wasn’t planned. Two children on the way! We sealed it with a wedding. Bautista and Conrad arrived.  

After the Taurus boys arrived, my energy stated to move around. I didn’t understand anything. I loved launching new products and services, dealing with media crises of all kinds. I didn’t have enough time to do everything I had planned for the workday. After having ten, twelve-hour workdays (if not fourteen), I had to switch to just eight-hour days.  

There was definitely not enough time. I had to go back home. I had to take care of my children. I loved them immediately, but what wasn’t instantaneous was re-thinking and re-arranging my priorities, my real possibilities with this new reality. 

I found myself crying in the car, on the way home from the office. We moved from Florida to Tigre (Argentina).  

Fast forward, to the Argentine great depression of 2001. Salaries were reduced by 50%. It was either that, or lay off half the staff. We chose the reduction.  

My husband suggested I reconsider my work schedule. He felt no need for such personal sacrifice.  ‘Never!’ was my reaction.  

A week later I submitted my resignation. I felt a sabbatical was in order.  

The sabbatical was reduced to four months because of a call from an old client. I got involved in this prior client’s company just to help him out for forty days—that was the arrangement. 

The result of this opportunity allowed me to ultimately open my own consulting firm. I started my entrepreneurial career accidentally, without intending to do so.  

I didn’t have an office; I asked my husband, ‘how will I do this?’ And he replied: ‘You do have an office. My office is your office.’  Another lesson learned.  I’d been thinking like one person. He taught me to think in terms of two…  

Suddenly, I was my own boss. Management wasn’t easy for me. I gained courage by reading The Hidden Sex of Money by Clara Coria. This little gem induced me to wondering why it was so hard for women to earn, to be truly independent economically, and be self-sufficient.  

Someone once asked me, what is the challenge women will face in the next twenty years? I’d risk saying that the great challenge in leadership is becoming aware—gender awareness, spiritual awareness (for both, women and men), being motivated and becoming honest human beings. 

Motivation has to do with integrity and the desire to make a difference in the world. Integrity has to do with wholeness. When we recognize ourselves as not complete, the search for a better self and to be complete is permanent.  

Making a difference is like transferring your values to something meaningful for others. I read somewhere that you cannot be a great leader without being first a great human being. That’s become my mantra… 

I am sharing. There’s a lot to be said and done. This path is made by walking. I am convinced that sharing makes us greater, even if we make mistakes.  

We must commit to discovery; to exalt, to share, to wake up, and above all to develop and exercise a transcendental leadership role. Together, we go hand in hand! 

Editor’s Note:
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Like the caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly. The metamorphosis to become aware, reflect, commit, to be accountable, discover, unlock, record, and ultimately envision, is a process. An invitation to sublimate, to exalt, to praise and be praised, to share, to deal, to distribute and, above all, an invitation to wake up, to wake others up, to start a positive phase both in our lives and other people’s lives.  

For me, everything resonates inside–all the adventures, the experiences, words, ideas… 

The nature of inner strength is your core. You can recognize your internal authority by recognizing your unique characteristics. Your internal power is reflected on the external power.  

It’s all about going step by step along this path of work and internal evolution that inevitably will also be projected outside.  

Ten years ago, during the postpartum period of my third son, Benicio, I went to see a Jungian analyst, just when I was starting to wonder if my true professional vocation was being satisfied.  

I was there on time, wrapped in my favorite black suit, with my favorite high heels. I was received by a woman who seemed to be about 65, with wise eyes and a beautiful and wide smile. I wasn’t used to those smiles. It made me feel uncomfortable. But as she had good references, I walked in. With that beautiful smile on her face, she invited me to take off my shoes. Never! 

But I did it. Maybe that’s why today I want to help get off the heels of other women who perhaps need to do so it as much as I did.  

Slowly, I began to do what inspired me the most and I felt that I wanted to do: to work in press, communication and visibility for issues that made sense. I started to choose clients that I wanted to work with and the causes I wanted to get on board with.  

Esmeralda, another Taurus, was born three years after Benicio.  

I started to understand that life consists of stages, processes. Perhaps this was the most difficult learning for me, in the sense that I had to calm my anxiety, understand that everything is a process, that everyone has a different timing, regardless of the fact that we are a family, a team and we are all going in the same direction or mission.  

Today, I enjoy a beautiful sunny day, or a beautiful morning drizzle. I enjoy and appreciate getting up every day and I am thankful for my health and my family’s and my loved ones’ health. I can spare a few minutes being late to a meeting, and even change it to an assertive telephone conversation, if I cannot make it in person.  

I have allowed myself to connect with my inner self, my soul, my spirit, and today, on top of continuing to add activities to my life, and my schedule, I want them and I need them to be more related with taking more care of myself and those around me. I am focused on all those activities that I couldn’t squeeze in for the past 20 years: yoga, meditation, massage, bioenergy work, comprehensive and holistic health, everything that helps me connect more with my inner self.  

Wisdom in Spanish is Sabiduría, it comes from the Latin word sapere. There are two other Spanish words that come from the same Latin word: “saber” (to know) and “sabor” (taste). These terms actually mean the same thing: a wisdom that knows what life is about by tasting it. In the words of Hugo Mujica, ‘one is not wise at once and forever, to be wise is to sustain a relationship with life, to listen to life, what it says, what it reveals, what it tells us about living and having lived in us.’ 

 I’m already planning my next 20 years of life, assuming the blessing of living them.” 

 {Writer’s Note: Today Maria Gabriela heads up “MGH Women’s Empowerment, a platform for personal and professional empowerment based in Miami, which is dedicated through different Circles of Women to Empowerment, Leadership, Mentoring and Networking for the personal and professional evolution of women.” 

– END OF PART I –

 

MARIA GABRIELA HOCH - PART II

This international communications specialist uses her energy to empower women and change the world 

The press release read in part: On March 10, 2018 more than 150 women will meet in Brickell’s Alice Wainwright Park to participate in Miami’s third annual Vital Voices Mentoring Walk. Vital Voices’ mission is “to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities… 

“This worldwide movement ratifies the power of the voice of women,” explains Vital Voices Miami leader, Maria Gabriela Hoch…  

Founded in 1999 by such notables as Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright—Vital Voices Global Partnership brought Maria Gabriela into the fold in 2007.   

Let’s have Maria Gabriela take it from here…  

“I recall it being a rainy morning in early April 2007.  After finishing my chores at home, I drove to my office.   

I have always possessed something of a sixth-sense; call it a vibe, a portent of important things on the horizon. In any event, on this particular morning I was on high alert.   

I arrived at the office, made some phone calls, organized some files and carried on—business as usual.  

And then I received a call from the Embassy of the United States.   

A gentle voice explained that a mentoring program for young women with leadership potential was in play. Leaders from around the world were being sought. I was advised that my profile fit the initiative.   

The voice wanted to know if I was interested in participating.   

My resume was no secret. I’d spent the past fifteen-years leading over a hundred communication programs for large companies in different markets and industries.   

I was honored and accepted the invitation to deliver a presentation.   

Three weeks later, I was told that I had been selected as a representative of Argentina, to be part of the Fortune-State Department International Women Leaders Mentoring Program.  

The program was aimed at providing women in positions of leadership and growth potential the opportunity to develop those leadership, management and networking skills.  

Top executives from large corporations, Fortune’s most powerful women, were the mentors who would guide us, advise us, and direct us in our professional growth.    

I was thrilled, yet at the same time riddled with anxiety. The position would require me to leave my family for a month while I traveled to the United States to participate in the program.   

My children were very young. Benicio, my son, was not yet two-years old, and his brothers, the twins, were only six.    

Nonetheless, when opportunity knocks!  

I remember the anguish I felt for three nights prior to boarding the plane. I woke my husband, sobbing and babbling that I didn’t think I could bear to be so far away from my children for thirty long days.    

As always, my husband encouraged me and supported my participation. And not only that, he also devised a plan so that our separation wouldn’t be so long and stressful. He didn’t say a word at the time, but he gave me a great surprise two weeks into the program when the entire family showed up to spend a weekend with me. That weekend turned into an entire week!   

I wasn’t alone. Seventy percent of the women in the program were also moms, brave and powerful enough to take advantage of the experience.  

The program began with a three-day orientation in Washington DC and continued with three weeks of mentoring in different cities of the United States. The wrap was in New York City.    

Along with my colleagues, I had the opportunity to meet amazing women in both the public and private sectors, to visit the White House, the State Department, the Capitol, the Labor Department, the World Bank and Georgetown University.   

We went to seminars and training sessions on leadership and media management. We enjoyed cocktail parties and receptions with government officials, ambassadors and representatives of the most admired and respected social organizations and companies in the United States.   

Personally, the highlight of the experience came when we met Hillary Clinton. Her light blue eyes and her look—both intense and motherly, dazzled me. Hillary was astute, direct and transparent, she addressed us concisely—her words etched into my mind and in my heart.   

She invited us to become “ambassadors” of this enriching experience in our own countries, so that we might motivate other women to take a proactive role in their communities, either in the private or the public sector. Her message was convincing:  ‘The voice of women must be sounded where political, economic and social decisions are made.’   

I think that meeting, and her words, were the trigger for the emotional process that afterwards, would become the fuel to ignite the engine of my change in viewpoint and in life.    

After the first three days of orientation in Washington, DC, each of the 32 women who were in the program headed to our mentorships. This phase involved sharing three full weeks with a woman leader of a Fortune 500 company.   

I was tasked to go everywhere with my mentor—observing her behavior and how she interacted with her collaborators. I participated in her meetings, interviews, gatherings, trips, events, and so on. This phase of indoctrination was called shadowing. And I literally shadowed.  

My mentor was Deborah Fine, at the time president of iVillage Properties, part of NBC Universal, a group of online communities with twenty-seven million registered female members.   

Deborah had twenty-three years of media industry experience. She had held senior executive positions in prestigious media companies such as Glamour, Vanity Fair, Brides, the New York Times and the Rupert Murdoch organization.   

You can imagine my trepidation meeting this woman.   

Our first encounter was in her office. When I entered she wasn’t present which allowed me the opportunity to absorb the grandeur of her station—huge windows overlooking Fifth Avenue, a big, beautiful wooden desk with a picture of her family. A living room with comfortable beige armchairs with decorative objects and picture frames portraying her career path—achievements, awards, photos with celebrities (including several presidents).  

She invited us to become “ambassadors” of this enriching experience in our own countries, so that we might motivate other women to take a proactive role in their communities, either in the private or the public sector. Her message was convincing:  ‘The voice of women must be sounded where political, economic and social decisions are made.

 

Debbie was an amazing woman and an event generating machine! A true expert in the development of brands and companies led by women (iVillage, for instance, offered various services based on online and offline media through which it enriched the lives of women, teens and families in general).   

I was allowed to join in her fast-paced life. I saw how she would take advantage of every opportunity, not only to showcase her project, but also to promote her personal skills.   

I quickly learned that there is no leadership or energy to produce change without some “personal promotion,” and this promotion is a component of strengthening our projects and ourselves. I have taken this lesson to heart throughout my own career.  

What impressed me most while participating in this program was meeting women from all around the world. My group consisted of women from Russia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Hungary, Vietnam, China, Lebanon, Egypt, Rwanda, Poland, Nepal, Nigeria, Bosnia, Palestine, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru, and so on.   

My perspective of the world changed drastically. Suddenly, I was able to picture the globe in my head—one hundred and ninety eight countries! I could visualize the “big picture.”   

All the members of my group were aged between thirty and thirty-five (the vast majority, mothers of young children), all of us in leadership positions in our own start ups or within established companies.   

Despite what made us different we all had something in common—similar aspirations and the same social concerns. Each of us desired to continue growing and developing, both professionally and personally.   

I remember well the night we arrived, the beautiful room in the ground floor of a top hotel in Washington DC where we received our induction and heard a welcome speech by Alyse Nelson, the executive director of the organization (currently president and CEO).   

That was my first introduction to Alyse—a youngish woman from California, with a seriously professional demeanor.   

I was stunned by her magnificent public speaking skills. It was as if she could read our minds. ‘You’re here because someone believes in you. Your leadership style drew attention and they see an extraordinary leadership potential, a transformational potential.’ That’s how she addressed us.  

Meeting my colleagues and sharing was an extremely inspiring experience. Here we were, women from all around the world, surrendering our comfort zones in order to share in this unique opportunity of personal growth.   

Upon returning to my family, I was endowed with the knowledge of a newfound network of thirty-two, newly minted friends, from all over the world. Thirty-two women immersed in an organization which combined over 1,000 professional and powerful women, 14,000 emerging leaders, who themselves influenced more than 500,000 women and girls from around the world!   

The program gave me a vision of leadership that was different from anything I had known. It enlightened me to the synergy that ought to be established between the public and private sectors—taught me that women have the responsibility of bringing their voice to all areas of life.   

I’ll never forget the morning I was packing to return to Buenos Aires. There was a knock; I opened the door and was greeted by one of the women from the program, Rashmi Tiwari (a social entrepreneur from India).  

Rashmi was holding something in her hands; she looked me in the eyes and said: ‘This is for you. It’s the sari I love so much. I’d like you to take it with you, because I learned a lot from you.’ 

We departed with a big hug, knowing that we might never meet again.   

The last day of the program was May 25th, coincidentally, the birthday of Argentina. That seemed somehow apropos.  

I returned to Argentina with the certainty that what I had lived would become a transformational experience for many other women. I went back with enough motivation to replicate the experience here. I knew I needed willingness and generosity.  

Today, ten-years later, we’ve empowered over 10,000 women throughout Argentina. I have since brought the movement to Miami—beginning a network of female leaders committed to advancing women’s leadership in Latin American and the Caribbean. 

I had verified something, a teaching that would change my whole life, ’We can only grow and develop if we help others grow and develop.’ 

 

Latinarrific salutes Maria Gabriella Hoch…  

HOW DO I JOIN?

At this time we are only asking you to join our sisterhood and participate in the development of our family.

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Kent Wallace
Senior Correspondent at Latinarrific
Kent Wallace has worked in the mainstream media for over 30 years. He has been a journalist, publisher, performer, art critic and marketing strategist. He has written for such magazines as Esquire, Source, Ear, ArtSpeak and Notorious (to name a few).

Wallace was a contributing writer for “High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max's Kansas City,” he co-authored and authored several published books.

Wallace has hosted radio shows on ESPN (Reno) and KPLY (Reno). Wallace has appeared on Montel, The Tyra Banks Show, The John Walsh Show and the Rikki Lake show. Wallace also served as a consultant on an HBO’s hit series.
Kent Wallace
Senior Correspondent
Kent Wallace has worked in the mainstream media for over 30 years. He has been a journalist, publisher, performer, art critic and marketing strategist. He has written for such magazines as Esquire, Source, Ear, ArtSpeak and Notorious (to name a few). Wallace was a contributing writer for “High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max's Kansas City,” he co-authored and authored several published books. Wallace has hosted radio shows on ESPN (Reno) and KPLY (Reno). Wallace has appeared on Montel, The Tyra Banks Show, The John Walsh Show and the Rikki Lake show. Wallace also served as a consultant on an HBO’s hit series.

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