If you don’t always think of tech and travel going hand in hand, think again. I chatted with Olga Maria, HipLatina contributor and founder of DreamsInHeels on how she’s become a maven in integrating the two fields. She’s currently back in New York after a nine month stint in Europe and will be speaking at the #UnstoppableLatinas conference on March 27, 2017 sponsored by Web City Girls at Baruch College of the City University of New York. The conference features savvy Latinas like Olga who have made their mark in media and technology. Here’s what Olga had to say about the conference, her latest travels, and what it’s like to be a digital nomad.
For the #UnstoppableLatinas Conference, you’ll be on the Unite & Conquer Panel which focuses on collaboration to grow and succeed. What made you want to participate in this panel—and without giving away too much, what’s the key to success through collaboration?
Olga Maria: I’m so excited that Lynn Ponder invited me to speak at the conference! I’m a big believer in collaborating with others to succeed. I think as women especially we’re more powerful together as allies. A lot of women get torn apart with jealousy or other fears. They don’t always trust other women around them. I believe that you need to compete with yourself to become better, not compete with others.
Not only as a panel speaker but also as a participant, what do you most hope to gain from the conference?
OM: I think this conference is not only about uniting women, but also about collaboration methods, learning about personal development, and learning tips on entrepreneurship. And technology! The women organizing the conference are innovators and tech people. They’re really trending in the market. There will be tons of advice to not just get started in this industry but also to learn to grow if you’re already working in this space.
I think this is everyone’s burning question– how did you make the transition from the cubicle to digital nomad and founding DreamsInHeels?
OM: It takes a lot of things, but what’s most important is positioning yourself in a specific niche. Once you find that niche you can use your skills to provide value to others and find different sources of income. That’s the key. When you’re a freelancer, or entrepreneur, or any kind of digital nomad you want to have that flexibility.
What’s your advice for those who have had doubts about leaving the office job behind?
OM: You just have to take a leap of faith! If you don’t visualize what you really want and embrace your dreams, they’ll never become a reality. You sometimes just have to go for it. Like my favorite writer Paulo Coelho says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I’m a big believer in this quote and I think I’m a manifestation of it. I left Puerto Rico for New York by myself without speaking English when I was only 18. Then I took another leap of faith when I started in the travel industry with DreamsInHeels. And again when I skipped my flight nine months ago, stayed in Germany, and now live between there and New York!
Is there a place you’ve been that really pushed you out of your comfort zone?
OM: It’s hard to say because there are many! But I would say it was my last trip through the Balkans —Romania, Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. I randomly ended up going to Turkey also. That changed my life and pushed me out of my comfort zone. It taught me that you can’t live in fear and that there are good people in every corner of the world. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and you can’t let the media or others scare you. If I had listened to what other people told me, I wouldn’t have gone. But my dream was always to go to Turkey. I planned to go for ten days but ended up staying there for two months. I learned a lot, not only about them but also about me. The locals made Turkey so special.
What’s next for you after the conference?
I’m actually going to Cuba later this month! My father is from Havana, but I wasn’t raised with him and found him through a private detective a few months before I turned 19. I’m going to re-connect with my father and his roots to learn about how he escaped from Cuba in 1969.
I also just launched a top line for LatinasWhoTravel—another community and movement that I founded. The day after the #UnstoppableLatinas Conference I’m speaking at New Rochelle High School to over 400 students. I’m starting a travel fund through the top line which will support a Latina student to be able to go abroad every year who otherwise couldn’t afford it. I’m very excited to make the dreams of a younger girl a reality.
Join Olga’s LatinasWhoTravel group on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to ask for travel advice, plan meet ups, or provide your own travel tips! In your travels use the #LatinasWhoTravel in your photos and Olga will share!
Don’t forget to get your tickets to the #UnstoppableLatinas Conference here. Web City Girls will be live streaming the conference from their Facebook page on Monday, March 27. Olga’s panel is at 2:30. At noon, she’ll be interviewing lifestyle trend expert Mercedes Sanchez about career styling tips from JCPenney. You won’t want to miss it!