#016 – On this episode, I interview Maira Hernandez, Author of Aventura, Amor Y Tacos.  She is so relatable as a bilingual and bicultural Mexican-American.  She brings us Personal and Business Lessons from El Rancho.  We sometimes give credit to modern marketing for business ideas, however, we’ve been practicing these skills for generations.


Mayra [0:00] On today’s show, we have my dear friend Maira Hernandez, who is the author of the book, Aventura, Amor y Tacos, and this book is so amazing. If you have not read it, highly recommend it. I love that I was able to… it helped me appreciate my culture so much more, the language, being bicultural and bilingual. I was able to relate to it so much. So I highly recommend that book. Today she’s going to be giving us the things she learned about business while being in El Rancho. So, super interesting, cannot wait for you to hear the interview!


[0:48] Welcome to Debt Free Latina, the podcast where you can finally realize your dream of being debt free and feeling peace about your financial future. And now your host, Mayra Alejandra Garcia.


Mayra [1:07]: Hola, hola. Thank you so much for being here. I have a very special guest. So we’ll get right into the interview with Maira Hernandez. She is the author of the book, Aventura, Amor y Tacos. Thank you so much for being here, Maira.


Maira: Thank you for having me, Mayra.


Mayra: Yay! I read your book, I would say it was the fall of 2019, before the pandemic hit. I loved it. You went back to the motherland, to Mexico, and lived there with your grandparents, correct?


Maira: Yes, I did. It was an adventure, really, of a lifetime. And I’m so glad that we connected in Phoenix and were able to discuss both of our passions. And that’s something that we share in common.


Mayra [2:00]: So tell me about your book and where can people find it?


Maira: Yeah, so I wrote this book. It’s called Aventura, Amor y Tacos, and it was really about reconnecting with all the lessons that I learned in El Rancho. A lot of my book talks about the life lessons, so like the wisdom of our culture, of our ancestors Spanish phrase, and all of that, and just how much it can add to your life, if you’re able to learn and implement those lessons. So that’s what my book’s about. And then in addition to that, just being in Mexico taught me a lot about the hustle, entrepreneurism, and just like working to get to a place that you want. So I saw a lot of innovation. And it’s interesting because we don’t give it a lot of credit because it’s humble beginnings, but the mindset is there, so it was a really interesting thing for me to be able to connect those two things. From having the perspective of my book of bridging both of my cultures, to then bridging passions and just bridging different ideas that I’m able to reconnect when I’m in Mexico.


Mayra [3:10]: Yes. So tell me where were you born and raised?


Maira: I was born and raised in California. I first… Well, my siblings were all born here in the US, in LA, born and raised here in a small town called Wilmington. And we just grew up going to Mexico. And when I wrote this book, it had been, I think, like eight years before I went to Mexico, so there was a lot of stuff that I have forgotten about Mexico and living in El Rancho, and I was able to reconnect with that once I traveled back.


Mayra [3:42]: That’s awesome. So one of the things that, when we were chatting over breakfast a couple, two weeks ago, we were talking about how I love to teach about how it’s not just controlling your spending, it’s also opportunities and how can we make more money? How can we have more income come in so that we can attack debt, so that we can build wealth and create generational wealth? And so you were talking to me about business lessons you learned in El Rancho and so I want you to tell me about, what was your experience there? And teach us some of the business lessons from El Rancho.


Maira: Yes. And I know this is gonna spark a lot of conversation between us because we have so many things in common there, but there’s a lot of business lessons I learned in El Rancho and it was just a matter of me looking at things from a different perspective. Looking at things in a new light. So my very first lesson… business lesson from El Rancho, is really networking. I feel like I used to think that I didn’t know how to network, is the thing that I kind of learned in college or like a skill that I had to develop, and to be a working professional. And networking is this outside concept that I never understood, until I joined the professional environment. But the thing I learned about El Rancho was that networking is basically you meeting all of your family members, people you’ve never knew, from different states, doing all of that is also networking. It is the same skills when you’re talking to a ______5:30 that you’ve never seen, or you don’t know personally, but all of a sudden you’re having a conversation with them. Those are the same skills that you use in a professional environment. We just don’t give it the same kind of credit. So that is one of the things. Another big example for me was when I was a little kid, I used to, whenever we have Spanish phrase 5:53, I would hide in my room. I was that shy kid, didn’t want to say hi to anybody because I didn’t know anybody. But my parents were always forced me to come outside. Spanish phrase 6:04. And saying hi to every single person who was coming to visit, that is the same thing as walking into an interview or to a business meeting and having to say hi to everybody, right? So there’s like all these little moments of, I’m sure everybody can picture in their life, where they’ve had to use those same skills. We just didn’t call it networking because it’s in a different cultural context. So I’m curious to know if you had any of those.


Mayra [6:34]: Yes, so I was the type that Spanish phrase. That’s how I grew up. How to go around the room and give everybody a hug and a kiss. Because that’s just the way we were, that’s the way my family expected us to behave and say hello. Yeah, so that’s interesting. I think, as an extrovert myself, I never really struggled with networking. I feel like I’m comfortable speaking to almost anybody. And I’m not too quick to be intimidated. It takes a lot for me to be like, oh goodness, I’m nervous to talk to this person.


Maira: Yeah, that’s really interesting, because I’m… people don’t believe me, but I’m a total introvert. I’ve learned how to socialize.


Mayra: I can see that. So tell us what is another skill or business lesson you saw in El Rancho?


Maira [7:31]: Alright, so for number two, what I have is… what in the business world we would call cold calling. We are calling a number, you don’t know who you’re speaking to on the other end, trying to figure out how to build that conversation. So same thing, similar to networking. I can already remember so many of those times where my parents are talking to a cousin in Texas or their Tia in Iowa or somebody else in Mexico, who I have no clue who they are. But all of a sudden, they put me on the phone and they’re like, say hi to so and so. And I just remember being awkwardly on the phone, but somehow we managed to have that conversation. That was me as a kid. And I think that really taught me a lot of how to talk to people I don’t know over the phone. And it’s something they have to do in any professional setting, whether you’re calling a client or building a relationship, or doing something like that on the phone. We’ve done it so many times. And more recently, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and I would be the fastest person to get to the phone. So I would always answer it and whoever it was, I always spend like 5, 10 minutes catching up with a Tia who remembers me when I was five years old, but I have no clue who they are or what they look like. So having those connections and just being able to hold that conversation over the phone is something that I also learned while being in Mexico.


Mayra [9:02]: Yeah, that’s a skill, because I don’t feel like I could do cold calling or here, talk to this person, it’s your Tia. No, that’s hard. That’s a hard skill, regardless.


Maira: So for lesson number three, I do have another one that’s very interesting. This one, I see it all the time in Mexico, and it’s what I would call personal branding. So being your own hype person. I see this, because in Mexico, you don’t have a lot of big businesses, you don’t have a Target, you don’t have a Ross, you don’t have a supermarket. It’s all small businesses from Rancho to Rancho, just selling what they have, but they are their own hype person. I just remember, in my grandparents rancho, we had like three or four different people selling Spanish 9:57, and everybody has their announcement on the radio and like, Spanish phrase. This is more Spanish word, come get this, come get that, and everybody’s claiming they have the best one. And I see that all the time of even the names, like Spanish phrase, whatever, this or that. So people in Mexico really just take ownership of whatever they’re doing because they know they’re putting their best out there. And whether or not you believe it’s the best Spanish word, they, the sellers, believe it’s the best Spanish word that they’re giving to their customers. That happens all the time, just with branding, people really put themselves out there and they really believe it. And that was like an awesome thing to really see because it kind of gives you that sort of confidence, like if they could do it, and they’re selling tortillas or selling Spanish word, or they’re selling vegetables. And if you want to start a small business or do something like that, why not right? You are going to be your own hype person to really sell yourself for what you’re doing.


Mayra [11:03]: That’s wonderful. I feel like I think a lot of us struggle with that, just owning who we are and what our best skills are and wow, I like that one. Yeah, definitely have to work on that one.


Maira: We can all learn from it, and it’s cool to see small businesses in Mexico really go out there and get their hustle on.


Mayra: Yes. Wow, okay, great. Any other lessons?


Maira: So another one I have, this one is really interesting because I feel like I hear it a lot, this is the fourth one… multiple streams of income. So you hear it a lot in the US, that’s how you kind of build wealth. You don’t want to rely on one specific income. And we almost want to attribute it to social media and we learned this on social media, multiple streams of income, have a side hustle, do this and do that. But when I actually looked at it, I feel like it’s something that I’ve learned in Mexico, from just watching my own family and people who live in El Rancho have multiple streams of income. One example I have is my grandparents. Back when they were young and in their moment, they had a store, they had a little Spanish word 12:33. So that was one stream of income. My grandpa also raised livestock, he raised pigs, so that was another stream of income. He also grew agriculture, they grew corn, they grew alfalfa for the animals and all of that. So that was another stream of income. And I’m sure there was a little bit more hustle there and around that I don’t know of, but at the very least they have those three major ones. And I think about it now and so many people have different side hustles. I think of my Tio and my Tia, they have a store. Outside of that, my Tia sells catalog stuff, perfumes and clothing from a catalog. She sells tamales on the weekends. She does anything to really amplify that income that she’s receiving. So I see it a lot. People do it all the time. It’s just a matter of, what are you good at and what can you make money at? Because this is something people have been doing all the time.


Mayra [13:32]: Yes. Wow. I never thought of that. Because if let’s say the crops sometimes don’t work, then you have other sources of income that can support you still. That’s wonderful. I love that. Okay, tell me more.


Maira: Another one I would say is I think this is an important one, especially if you want to be a business owner, is get to know your customer. I feel like in a place where you have a lot of big business, it just feels very transactional. If you go to Target, you buy something. You don’t know anybody who works at Target unless, you happen to run into them. But in Mexico, what I realized was that people really make an effort to get to know you as a person. So the small business feel. A couple of examples that I have here is, there is, out of the four trucks of Spanish word 14:35 that came by every day, there is one that I really love the conchas. Another one had a really good Spanish word. The other one had very good something else. But the one from the conchas, what I really appreciated about her was that every time I bought bread, she actually had a conversation with me, even if it was 2-3 minutes. So I’ve been in Mexico 5, maybe 6, times in the last few years and every time she’s like, oh, you’re back. How are your grandparents doing? How is this? How is that? And she remembers that I’m there visiting and she remembers my grandpa’s favorite bread. So there’s like these little details that she remembered and that makes the experience so much better. And something that’s really about the small business to really get to know your customer.


Mayra [15:25]: Oooh, I like that. So really just getting to know the person, right? That’s wonderful. Okay.


Maira: Tying in close to that is also meet your customers where they’re at, to know who you’re selling to and what you’re selling and all of that, to really knowing your customer. And part of the reason I bring this up is because different sets of people are going to require different things and how you deliver that to them. So for example, in El Rancho, food gets delivered all day, every day. The tortillas come in the morning, they come in on motorcycle, the gas gets delivered, vegetables, even the Spanish phrase 16:10 rolls by with meat in his little cooler. The Spanish word comes by every single night. And that’s partly because people in El Rancho don’t have a lot. A lot of them don’t have cars. A lot of people, like my grandparents, they didn’t have ability to go places. They were homebound. So if you meet your customers where they’re at, that’s kind of where you’re able to make the service of whatever you’re offering. In the case of El Rancho, it was very much meet people at their door because they don’t have cars and they don’t have a means to go to the store and do that. So similarly so, there’s places where I think in the modern times, is where do your customers hang out? How do they speak? How are they receiving your services. There’s a lot of different details that you can think about that can actually get you closer to that customer, to really get to know them, and then meet them exactly where they’re at.


Mayra [17:06]: I think that’s really good and I’ve learned that I’ve had to describe who my customer is, who my ideal client is, and understanding how they are, how they speak. That goes into the whole, understanding where they’re at, how they shop, how they, whether they have transportation or not.  I can see that being really meaningful.


Maira: Exactly.


Mayra: That’s so good.


Maira: Yeah. Because if not, your business won’t work as great as you want it to. That’s the thing. And that’s something that I really learned, is meet your customer where they’re at. Another thing is, everyone does it different, so do it anyway. Going back to the example of the Spanish word 17:56, there’s four different Spanish word, but in that sense, every single truck has something that they did really well. So some nights I would buy Spanish word from two trucks because somebody has a good conchas, the other person had the good Spanish word. So it’s like different things that you want, you’re going to prefer from different people, because everybody has a unique way of serving their customers, doing a specific thing. The flavoring, everybody just has different tastes. So that’s the thing. I think what I see all the time is that people are always hustling and what I see in Mexico all the time is that people are always helping each other out because they know their neighbors and their business, their business neighbors. So we go to Spanish word 18:40, if they don’t have something, they’ll say like oh, homie over here has that, maybe you should ask him across the way. People are always helping each other in that sense. And that’s just kind of how a community thrives. It’s never a competition. It’s just people have different tastes and people recognize that. So really acknowledging and supporting each other in that way is a good thing. And I think I see that all the time in Mexico.


Mayra [19:05]: Community over competition. I love it. And I think that’s something that a lot of the people around us have tried to cultivate. I know that Sonia from Spanish word? has really done that. I know that Eliana has done that with Latinas who branch. We’ve been surrounded and lucky to be around these women that have built communities and have really supported each other and have been really open about if you have something to share, let us know and we’ll put it on our social media as well. And that’s been really… I think that’s what really attracted me to them when I first got to Phoenix and I started hearing about them. Not when I first got to Phoenix but when I first started here in Phoenix going around to the different community groups and realizing that they follow, that they really do what they say they’re going to do. And I know I reached out to Sonia a couple of times like hey, can you share this and… It’s great to have that support from your community. I think that’s really great. Especially because I know that there are several women in the financial world that are Latinas and are speaking about money to the public and we all have our own ideas and processes and we’ve all done it differently. We’ve all achieved some sort of success with when it comes to money and money management. But we’ve all have had our own process and I think that’s what makes it really nice that you can get different perspectives because, I mean, personal finance is personal, and everybody has their own priorities.


Maira: Yeah, exactly.


Mayra [21:12]: Bueno. Are there any other life lessons? Business lessons?


Maira: Yes, I have one final one, and I think this is one that kind of wraps it up in a bow. So we’re talking about like business lessons and the hustle, but I think one that’s really important is taking a break. And I saw this all the time in Mexico, because people appreciate their downtime, and no matter who had a business… I remember going into town and I was at a Spanish phrase 21:47, which is the cyber cafe and here I was thinking, oh, I have to work until 5, I’ll get home and then eat then, but the thing is people in Mexico eat lunch usually around 3. And around 2:50, the owner was like, hey, like Spanish phrase 22:05, are you mad, are you gonna finish soon? Because what people do is they close down and then they actually go home for a home cooked meal. And I think that’s an important thing of acknowledging a break and actually taking it fully. I think right now, with work from home and being able to do all of that, how often… I know I’ve done it, like sat at a computer, had my lunch while working. It’s kind of very mindless, whereas in Mexico, they’re very intentional. The town’s kind of shut down. You go home and eat. And then the businesses open up again in the evening. So there’s something very intentional about taking a break, Spanish phrase 22:46, to just like rest and enjoy the rest, and not just take a break for the sake of taking one, but actually enjoying and being fully in the moment. I think that’s something that I really appreciated from Mexico. It’s like really acknowledging that hard work. And I think what I saw a lot was people eating in community, like sharing your lunch with somebody and doing something like that. So something I haven’t mentioned is my grandparents, they actually passed and we went to go by their tomb, and I remember seeing like all the guys, they were all working on different, I forgot what the columns but you know, actual Spanish word 23:28, because they’re very over the top in Mexico, and I think we got there around lunchtime, and when it was lunch, they all stopped working. They brought out their tortas and they all sat together and they all ate, it’s just a community thing to really enjoy that time off, enjoy your food and enjoy the company that you have it with.


Mayra [23:47]: That’s so awesome. I am guilty of eating at my desk and since COVID, I feel like I have taken breaks, I have said, I’m gonna take a full hour to step away and be away from the computer, but that’s not the norm. I feel like I rather just power through and be done with my day job and then do my business stuff. But it’s something I have to think about because I do need to prioritize that. And taking the break in the middle of the day would be very refreshing.


Maira: Yeah, I can attest to that because I know I was the same way. I mean, we’ve been in the pandemic for so long that there was periods where I would eat lunch at my desk. And then there is the very intentional few weeks where I was like, no, I’m gonna cook, and with cooking in my lunchtime, it made me feel really accomplished, because now I had meals for more than one day. And that was really refreshing of not feeling that hurry to get through the day, and I think I really appreciated that, but it had to be very intentional. I don’t think American culture, these things don’t actually happen all the time in American culture, where it’s like competition, your individual selves your this or that. But I think what I appreciate is that I also come from a culture that is very community based, and it’s very people based. So that’s what I love about, kind of bridging the gap between these two.


Mayra [25:28]: I love it. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for that, Maira. I love it. And I want… where can people find you?


Maira: I am in Instagram, aventura.amor.tacos is my handle for Instagram. And if anybody wanted to look up the book, it’s on Amazon. So that is that. I tend to write blogs about all of these different perspectives that, little lessons that come to me and little ideas, because I like to look at life through the lens of a bicultural experience. I think earlier my times I used to look at it as very American or very Mexican, and now I try to bridge the gap between the two.


Mayra: Yes, I love it and I, as a bilingual and bicultural person, I appreciate that because there’s not a lot of people that are embracing both. We don’t fit in 100% American, we’re not Spanish phrase 26:35, because when we’re in Mexico, it’s like although it’s Spanish phrase. And, you don’t fit there either. You’re like… so it’s just, it’s really nice to see how the two can merge and how we can learn from both and it’s beautiful.


Maira [27:00]: That’s what I love about it. I mean, we get to be both. Spanish phrase.


Mayra: That’s right. All right, well, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and for you coming on the show and telling us all about the business lessons that you learned in El Rancho.


Maira: Thank you so much for having me. I hope that everybody gets something they could take away from this.


Mayra: Yes. All right. Thank you so much.


[27:27] Thanks for listening to Debt Free Latina. Make sure you hit that subscribe button so you can take Mayra with you on your journey to become debt free as you build financial wealth. Looking for more? Follow Mayra on Instagram @debtfree.latina, on Facebook @debtfreelatina, and online at debtfreelatina.com.