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9 Power Questions that Will Help You Build Better Business Relationships

 

Just a few years ago, globalization was in full swing, and the world seemed to be bursting with an infinite supply of business. All this bounty lulled us into taking our customers for granted, maintains Andrew Sobel—until the economy tanked and shattered the illusion of endless prosperity. Suddenly, the old-fashioned “trusted relationship” started to look good again.

“In this post-Madoff era of unpredictability and suspicion, people are looking for deeper, more intimate, and more engaged relationships—the kind that reduce risk,” says Sobel, author (along with coauthor, Jerold Panas) of Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others (Wiley, February 2012, ISBN: 978-11181196-3-1, $22.95) and three other books on long-term business relationships.

“This is true of customers but also vendors, employees, and other business partners,” he adds. “The days of getting in, making money, and moving on to the next guy are over. When times are tough and the future is uncertain, people want to put down roots and partner with people they truly like and trust.”

Bottom line: In today’s markets, the most valuable commodity is the ability to connect with others and rapidly build trust. And that begins by asking the right questions.

“Asking questions and letting people come up with their own answers is far more effective than spouting facts or trying to talk someone into something,” Sobel explains. “Telling creates resistance. Asking creates relationships.”

In his book Sobel explores dozens of questions that light fires under people, challenge their assumptions, help them see problems in productive new ways, and inspire them to bare their souls (which, of course, strengthens the bonds in the relationship).

Here are nine ways questions can transform professional and personal relationships:

  1. • Questions turn one-dimensional, arms-length business relationships into personal relationships that endure for years. “When a relationship is all business and there is no real personal connection, it lacks heart and soul,” says Sobel. “And therefore you are a commodity—a kind of fungible expert-for-hire. A client—or your boss—can trade you out for a new model with no remorse or emotion. But when you’ve connected personally, the situation is transformed because clients stick with people they like. Bosses hold on to team members they feel passionately about. Your expertise and competence get you in the door, but it’s the personal connection that then builds deep loyalty.”Sobel tells the story of a senior partner in a top consulting firm who had to meet with the CEO of a major client. Other consultants were nipping at their heels to get more business from this company. This powerful, confident CEO, who was in his 60s and near retirement, had seen hundreds of consulting reports. At the end of a routine briefing, the senior partner paused and asked the CEO, “Before we break up, can I ask you a question?” The CEO nodded. The partner said, “You’ve had an extraordinary career. You have accomplished so much, starting at the very first rung of the ladder, on the manufacturing floor. As you look ahead—is there something else you’d like to accomplish? Is there a dream you’ve yet to fulfill?”The CEO was nearly stunned. He thought for a moment and replied, “No one has ever asked me that question. No one.” And then he began talking about a deeply held dream he had for his retirement. That question was the turning point in building a long-term, deeply personal relationship with an influential business leader.
  2. • They make the conversation about the other person—not about them. Most of us don’t care what other people think—we want to know first if they care about us. The need to be heard is one of the most powerful motivating forces in human nature. That’s why one of Sobel’s power questions is, What do you think? Another is, Can you tell me more? “There’s an anecdote I love about a woman who has dinner, in the same month, with two great rival British statesmen of the 19th century, Gladstone and Disraeli,” says Sobel. “When asked to compare the two men she says, ‘After my dinner with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in the world.’ And then she adds, ‘After my dinner with Mr. Disraeli, I felt as though I were the cleverest woman in all of England!’ “When you make the conversation all about you, others may think you are clever,” he adds. “But you will not build their trust. You will not learn about them. You will squander the opportunity to build the foundations for a rich, long-term relationship.”
  3. • They cut through the “blah, blah, blah” and create more authentic conversations. No doubt you can relate to this scenario. A person says, “I want to bounce something off you.” Then, he proceeds to spend ten minutes telling you every detail of a very convoluted situation he is enmeshed in. You do yourself and the other person a favor by getting him to focus on the true kernel of his issue. Simply ask: What is your question? “This is a tough-love question,” admits Sobel. “People will resist it—often strenuously. But you must ask it. It forces them to take the first step toward clarifying what the issue is and what advice they really need from you. You’ll reduce the amount of posturing people do and will move faster toward an authentic conversation.”
  4. • They help people clarify their thinking and “get out of the cave.” The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said that we perceive reality as if we are chained inside a dark cave. In that cave, we see only the blurred shadows of life outside the cave as they are projected on a dark wall at the back. Our understanding of reality is filtered and distorted. By asking a series of questions, Socrates would engage his students’ minds in the learning process. In this way he uncovered assumptions and slowly but surely got to the heart of the issue. The “Socratic Method” is still used at Harvard Business School—and it can enable you to help others see the true reality instead of shadowy representations of it. Instead of saying, “We need to improve our customer service!” Sobel suggests asking: “How would you assess our customer service levels today?” Or, “How is our service impacting our customer retention?” If someone at work says, “We need more innovation,” ask, “Can you describe what innovation means to you? How would we know if we had more of it?” Or if there is a call for more teamwork, ask, “What do you mean when you say ‘teamwork’?”
  5. • They help you zero in on what matters most to the other person. The next time you’re talking to someone and realize you’ve “lost” her—she’s fidgeting, she’s stopped asking questions, maybe she’s sneaking glances at the clock—ask this question: What is the most important thing we should be discussing today? You will instantly connect with what really matters to her—and the conversation that ensues will help her see you as relevant and valuable. “Even if your agenda doesn’t get met, hers will,” asserts Sobel. “And then she will want to enthusiastically reciprocate. In business it’s critical to be seen as advancing the other person’s agenda of essential priorities and goals. When time is spent together on issues that are truly important to both parties, the relationship deepens and grows.”
  6. • They help others tap into their essential passion for their work. One of the highest-impact power questions you can ask is, Why do you do what you do? It grabs people by the heart and motivates them. When they seriously consider and answer this question, the room will light up with passion. Dull meetings will transform into sessions that pop with energy and generate ideas that vault over bureaucratic hurdles and create real impact. “We do things for many reasons,” writes Sobel. “But when you put ‘should’ in front of those reasons, you can be certain all the pleasure and excitement will soon be drained away. No one gets excited about should. In contrast, when you unveil the true why of someone’s work and actions—when you get them to start sentences with ‘I love to’ or ‘I get excited when’—you will find passion, energy, and motivation.”
  7. • They inspire people to work at a higher level. The late Steve Jobs was notorious for pushing employees. He asked people constantly, Is this the best you can do? It’s a question that infused Apple’s corporate culture from the beginning. It’s one that helped revolutionize the desktop computing, music, and cellular phone industries. And it’s one that you can use too—sparingly and carefully—when you need someone to stretch their limits and do their very best work. “Often, we settle for mediocrity when we need to do our best,” reflects Sobel. “Mediocrity is the enemy of greatness. Asking, Is this the best you can do? helps others achieve things they did not believe possible.”
  8. • They can save you from making a fool of yourself. Before responding to a request or answering someone’s question to you, it’s often wise to get more information about what the other person really wants. When a potential employer says, “Tell me about yourself,” you can bore them to tears by rambling on and on about your life—or you could respond by asking, “What would you like to know about me?” When a prospect asks, “Can you tell me about your firm?” the same dynamic applies. Most people go on and on about their company, but the client is usually interested in one particular aspect of your business, not how many offices you have in Europe. Ever seen someone answer the wrong question? It’s painful to watch. Asking a clarifying question can save you huge embarrassment. “A potential client asked me for the names of three references to call,” Sobel tells us. “Instead of running around and drumming up the names, I pushed back, and asked, ‘What particular information are you seeking? Any references I give you are only going to rave about me!’ It turned out the prospect had no interest in actual references. And in fact, had she called my past clients under that pretense, it could have been potentially embarrassing to me for them to make such a big deal about a small speaking engagement. What she really wanted to understand was how other clients of mine had tackled the organizational resistance she was expecting. This question—and the subsequent conversation—turned a small lead for a keynote speech into a major, year-long project.”
  9. • They can salvage a disastrous conversation. Sobel’s coauthor, Jerry Panas, recalls the time he asked a man named Allan for a million-dollar donation to his alma mater’s College of Engineering. Though he knew better, the author failed to gain rapport and explore Allan’s true motivations before jumping in with the big request. When Allan rebuked him for his presumptuousness, Panas realized he had made a serious error. He apologized, left the room, and twenty seconds later knocked on the door and asked the power question, Do you mind if we start over? Start over they did, and Panas ultimately discovered that Allan might indeed be interested in making a gift—but to the University’s theater program, not its engineering program!

“Things like this happen all the time in business—and at home,” reflects Sobel. “Interactions get off on the wrong foot, and someone gets angry or offended or just shuts down. But people are forgiving. They want to have a great conversation with you. Asking, Do you mind if we start over? will disarm the other person and make him smile. That smile will ease the way to a new beginning.”

One of the greatest benefits of becoming a master questioner is that it takes a lot of pressure off us, notes Sobel. It’s a huge relief to know that you don’t have to be quick, clever, or witty—that you don’t have to have all the answers.

“All business interactions are human interactions,” he says. “And part of being human is acknowledging that you don’t know everything about everything—and that you certainly don’t know everything about the other person and her needs. Questions help you understand these things more deeply.

“The right questions unleash a cascade of innermost feelings and vibrant conversations,” he adds. “They help you bypass what’s irrelevant and get straight to what’s truly meaningful. They make people like you, trust you, and want to work with you—and once you’ve achieved that, the battle is already won.”

New York’s Mom & Pop Businesses are Being Replaced by BIG Corporations

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Hey! Want to grab a bite to eat at the original 2nd Avenue Deli in the East Village?

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How about we grab some lunch at Manatus restaurant on Bleecker Street?

Then maybe grab something from Ralph’s Discount City up in TriBeca?

And why not stop by the great home of punk rock CBGB in the East Village, yeah?

Well, you kind of can’t anymore since these notable New York City landmarks are no longer around.

Considered local fixtures in the neighborhoods, familiar and popular mom-and-pop stores, diners, restaurants, and shops are slowly becoming extinct in the evolving city due to staggering rent hikes and a lackluster economy. Unable to withstand the hardship, many of these familiar shops are being replaced by big name corporations like Subway or Dunkin Donunts or banks like Chase and Capital One.

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In their photo book Store Front – The Disappearing Face of New York, photographers James T. and Karla L. Murray take readers on a visual tour of some of the familiar and irreplaceable store fronts that line street after street of New York City.

Choosing places that “look like they’ve been around forever” the duo has in a way allowed such locales to exist forever in photographic form. Organized by borough and then subdivided into neighborhoods, the photographic book poses as an encyclopedia of sorts that manages to preserves the now extinct shops that have become replaced by commercial businesses.

“The purpose of the photos in the before and after project is to clearly spell out and provide documentation of not only what storefronts have been lost but also what is often lacking in what replaces them,” said the photographers.

The book depicts the dramatic alteration in the appearance of many familiar local spots in New York City. From 2001 to 2007, the book contains a good decade of how scathing rental prices are forcing out mom-and-pop shops which are being replaced with chain stores belonging to commercial businesses.

The shop-owners frequently acknowledged that they were at the mercy of their landlords and the ever-increasing rents they charged,” and if the shop-owners could not meet the increasing rent, “big rent hikes meant that many small businesses closed to be replaced by chain stores or banks, which could afford the higher rent.

According to the book, Max Fish, a bar located on the Lower East Side is an example of being a victim to rising rent costs. The bar opened in 1989 and its rent was a mere $2,000 a month, however after a series of rent increases and being opened for a good 24 years the bar closed with a reported $16,000 rent cost. The rent was due to increase again if the bar remained opened.

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Until you place them side-by-side and really look at the two photos, you cannot get the true sense of loss,” explained the Murrays, discussing how powerful the images taken are when you show what was beside the what is.

The two also add, “the trend we noticed very early on while photographing the original stores was that if the shop-owner did not own the entire building, their business was already in jeopardy.

Mom-and-pop shops are not the only familiar local spots being replaced by commercial businesses. Late last year, 5 Pointz–5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’ or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center–was an outdoor graffiti haven considered an art cultural center to many was white-washed—the numerous art pieces that were spray-painted on its wall was marked out with white paint—by the builders owners.

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The white-washing came after 5 Pointz owner and supporters lost am ongoing battle to remaining standing. The building is scheduled to be torn down and make way for new condos and business shops in its place.

While the book can be a bit grim showcasing the demise of familiar shops, shops that are either replaced by corporations or gutted to the group, the book also contains some hope.

Among some of the photos taken, the Murrays have included side-by-side photos of old shops being replaced not by large corporations but fellow and new mom-and-pop shops. These images show some hope that not all is being taken over by large commercial businesses but there are still regular folk with businesses of their own trying to make it in this ever changing world.

Sanders & Clinton battle it out for Latino votes in California!

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Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton are about to battle it out once again when it comes to snatching the next set of Latino votes as the Californian primary is right around the corner.

But which democratic hopeful could win big with Latinos on the West Coast come June 7?

According to some political analysts, when it comes to winning over Latinos in California, Sanders could be clawing at the win considering Clinton is still favored amongst the community and is already described as to having a “near-lock” win in the state.

Amongst Latinos, according to an independent field poll taken last month, it revealed that while Clinton had a 7 point edge with Latinos over Sanders, Sanders could still be a challenge since he is closing in with a 3-to-1 margin attracting young Latinos.

According to Ben Tulchin, a Sanders campaign pollster, Sanders could have “a real potential to win Latinos,” in California because when it comes to acquiring votes from the state he “needs an influx of young Latinos and he’s getting it, it’s happening.”

In California alone, it is estimated that as many as 2 in 10 voters are Latino. And of those voters, many of them are first time voters who are eligible to—and want to participate—in the upcoming election that decides who will be a fitting leader.

And this is where the early predications for Clinton’s ultimate win may be too quick a draw. With Sanders favoring well amongst young Latinos, he also happens to favor well with first time Latinos of any age.

I don’t ever feel like I believe politicians, but I believe him,” says Mercedes Hart, 35, who lived for years in Mexico. Hart, like many of Sanders’ voters who have been showing support for him, has backed the Senator finding his stance on defending every day, workaday Americans within an economy divided by haves and have-nots to be appealing.

If Sanders is able to win California, snatching the state from Clinton, it is believe it would be a huge dent in Clinton’s campaign and will back Sanders argument amongst fellow Democratic party members that he can stand and win when in a race against the already identified Republican candidate Trump come this November.

However, while there are estimations of who within the Latino community could be voting for Sanders when it comes to Clinton there is a large probability who will likely back her to become the Democratic nominee.

The most likely Latino voter is still an older voter in California,” said Jamie Regalado, former executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, “And those voters, almost to a person, will stay with Clinton.”

With a sense of familiarity with older Latinos, Clinton also has a significant backing from California’s prominent Latino politicians. With endorsements from the likes of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Secretary of State Alex Padilla and U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra as well as many more, Clinton’s endorsements could further sway Latinos in California into voting for her.

With both presidential hopefuls hitting the campaign trail and publicly addressing key issues Latinos want addressed like: education, immigration and wages. While there is no definite knowing who Latinos in California will vote for, one interesting fact is that there is a pulling factor that has made Latinos, of various ages really, become registered to vote so that their votes counts.

And this is in thanks to the unsavory commentary of one Donald Trump who’s hateful comments have resulted in a somewhat positive outcome.

June 7 is steadily approaching, and soon we will have a clearer picture of who—either Sanders or Clinton—will be going head-to-head with Trump come this November to become our 45th President of the United States of America.

Bernie Sanders visits Puerto Rico!

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Bernie Sanders may not know Spanish, but that prevent the President hopeful from visiting Puerto Rico on Monday and speaking before crowds of his supporters.

If elected president of the United States, you will have an ally in the Oval Office” promised Sanders, who began a day of campaigning in the island prior to the Democratic primary which is to take place three weeks from now.

Throughout his campaign trail, Sanders mostly talked about the “greed” seen on Wall Street which may have been a strategy by the Sanders campaign considering the debt crisis currently plaguing Puerto Rico.

When it comes to making its debt payments, the country of Puerto Rico has defaulted on millions in debt payments over the last year and will likely continue to default if Congress does not act soon.

I’m not going to lower the standard of living of the people in Puerto Rico, so that billionaires can have more profits,” Sanders said at a rally held Monday evening, “It is unacceptable that venture capitalists are buying Puerto Rican bonds at a fraction what they cost and they expect 100 cents on the dollar. Together we will not allow that to happen.”

According to Sanders, for the country to bounce back from its debt crisis it should not be met by strict measures that will further harm the lives of the people living in the county economically when it comes to facing the country’s budget issues.

Austerity will not solve this crisis. We must vigorously oppose all efforts at austerity,” he said. “In the midst of this massive human crisis, it is morally unacceptable that billionaire hedge fund managers have been calling for even more austerity in Puerto Rico.”

Rather than simply impose measures on the country’s budget issue, Sanders called for an independent audit of the island’s debt and addressed the U.S. Federal Reserve System to aid the country by using its emergency authority to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its debt through bankruptcy court.

In-addition to the country’s economic crisis, Sanders also addressed the country’s relationship with the United States of America.

The people of the United States cannot continue a colonial-type relationship with the people of Puerto Rico,” said Sanders during a morning event.

In-regards to the country’s relationship with the U.S., Sanders vowed that as President he would increase the island’s political autonomy. Sanders also promised to bring a “binding” vote during his first year in office; this binding vote would allow the people of Puerto Rico to decide their own political status.

Some people I know want statehood, some people want independence, some people want something else. But that is a decision to be made by the decision of Puerto Rico,” Sanders stated, during a town hall event held at an elementary school.

Sanders also laid out his plans regarding healthcare, education, and the environment.

Before his supporters on the island, Sanders proposed a “Medicare-for-all health care system,” and free public college tuition that would expand to the island country and benefit Puerto Ricans as well. As for the environment, Sanders talked about cutting Puerto Rico’s dependency on fossil fuels and bringing a renewable energy sector to the island.

His environmental platform is so much more eco-friendly than that of Republicans and also his opponent, Hillary Clinton,”said Wilson Santiago, a 31-year-old a Ph.D. student and a supporter of Sanders who attended one of his rallies.

While campaigning in Puerto Rico, Sanders rarely mentioned his democratic opponent Hillary Clinton who tends to have a higher approval rate among the Latino community, specifically Puerto Ricans hailing from New York City. However, Sanders has drawn an impressive crowd of supporters in the mainland.

During an evening rally at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras it was estimated that an additional 3,000 supporters had to wait outside the rally in the dark after the large theater in-which it was held in reached capacity.

To see how much Puerto Ricans on the mainland are behind Sanders we will have to wait until the primary results in three weeks.

Donald Trump’s continued offense of Latinos

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It’s no surprise that there is no love between Donald Trump & the Latino community, especially since last June when Trump verbally assaulted the Mexican community—which also impacted the Latino community at large—during his announcement speech which entailed his intention to become our 45th President of the United States.

In the speech, Trump associated Mexicans, Mexican Immigrants, and Latinos really to “killers” & “rapists” when he stated how in his presidency he would build a border wall between the United States & Mexico in order to keep out such people from entering the country.

Since then, Trump’s continued anti-Immigration/anti-Latino rhetoric has found some acceptance by Americans who believe his rhetoric. However, while this notion is disturbing Trump has been a benefit of sorts for the Latino community since more Latinos have become more politically active to prevent the possibility of Trump becoming president.

Last month, a Gallup poll revealed that 77% of the Latino community have an unfavorable opinion regarding Trump. So, could a recent blunder by Trump be just another typical bigot and lack of common sense posting to social media to mock Latinos or a bigot and lack of common sense attempt to sway Latinos to find him more favorable as a potential Republican candidate in the 2016 elections.

Last week for Cinco de Mayo, Trump took to his Twitter and posted a photo of him before a Taco bowl that was captioned: “ Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”

As expected, whatever his intention was, when the photo instantly went viral, Trump did receive the usual laugh and positive comments from like-minded racists but he also attracted a great deal of criticism from Latino groups who found the photo offensive as well as pandering.

Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza—the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization—expressed what many Latinos felt in a respond tweet to the photo.

Eating a taco or wearing a sombrero doesn’t cut it w/our community in 2016.”

Trump is not exactly suffering in the election. With no real challengers to take the nomination from him and with a great deal of support from some Americas, whatever challengers that Trump may face from in-party challenges won’t hinder him.

What could prove to be an issue is the Latino vote, which as of now probably doesn’t even exist for him; even with 12% of Latinos finding him favorable, so say the Gallup poll. Whatever his intention was, whatever he may plan to do in order to win over Latinos remains to be seen, but there is still a long time for something to arise in-between now and November.

Sidenote, the Taco bowl meal is not an authentic Mexican dish. It was one created in America.

Ted Cruz drops out of Presidential Race!

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There was no real winner last night for the Republican party, or America come November if something terrible & frightening happens if a certain billionaire is elected, but there is no sense of winning for the United States Senator of Texas Ted Cruz who has officially dropped out of the elections.

After his lost in Indiana’s primary, Cruz announced—before giving an accidental elbow jab/poke to the face of his wife Heidi Cruz—that he is no longer seeking to become our 45th President of the United States of America.

Despite his efforts to remain in the race from partnering up with Ohio Governor John Kasich in a “Never Trump” movement & choosing former- CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential nominee, Cruz could not topple Donald Trump who is now all but certain to obtain the Republican nomination to run against either Democratic nominee hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders & Senator Hillary Clinton.

While Trump has been continual forecast as being the victor for the nomination, last night’s victory and ousting of Cruz comes as quite the surprise since Indiana was supposed to be a “more favorable terrain” for Cruz. Cruz was predicted to do well in Indiana primarily because the state is known for being known a conservative, evangelical state.

We left it all on field in Indiana. We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path,” said Cruz, before a crowd of his supporters in Indiana.

With Cruz dropping out of the race, there’s no real threat that Trump will encounter obtaining the nomination. Even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has declared Trump the “presumptive GOP nominee.”

So come November 2016, we could be making history if we make one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to electing our next President.

Who will Latinos vote for in the upcoming 2016 New York Primary?

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As April 19th steadily approaches and New York prepares to cast their vote in who amongst the Democratic & Republican nominees will be one more step closer to becoming our 45th President of the United States of America, a recent poll has revealed whom among the Latino community along the east coast could support.

According to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)—an American nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education at the intersection of religion, values and public life—in unison with The Atlantic, found that Latinos are quite split between one set of nominees while obviously discontent with the other.

Can you guess which is which?

Well if not, I can break it down for you.

According to the poll, when it comes to the Democratic nominees former- United States Secretary of State & Senator of New York Hillary Clinton & Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders, 47% of Latinos are pulling for Clinton to become our next president with 48% wanting Sanders to take up the future leadership.

Currently, Clinton has been able to score big amongst Latinos earning victories in key Latino states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas meanwhile Sanders has found support from Latinos in Colorado and Illinois. However, when it comes to another highly populated state like Nevada Latinos are seesawing between the two Democratic candidates.

Latino voters are more likely to be younger than white votes and that’s been part of his appeal,” said Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI, explaining the sudden shift of Latinos backing Sanders pointing the spotlight on this country’s young population or millennials as they’ve been called, “He’s been able to be very strong among younger voters.”

In-regards to millennials, analysts of the upcoming electorate for the 2016 Presidential Elections find that of the voters to go to the polls Latinos account an estimated for 44%. It’s this high number that both Clinton & Sanders have been keen on attracting.

When looking outside of the Latino community, Clinton’s next strongest support comes from Black Americans who favor her an estimated 63% to Sanders who stands at an estimated 30%, so says the poll’s findings.

Now, what of the Republican Candidates?

While it is truly appalling that he is still in the race, Donald Trump is still finding a strong ground amongst Republican voters to his GOP hopeful & somewhat challenging opponent Senator of Texas Ted Cruz. Despite the support in their party, both candidates are finding it difficult to gain support amongst Latinos.

According to the poll, 83% of Latino voters have an unfavorable opinion to Trump meanwhile 51% also find Cruz to be unlikable as well. While Trump has been more antagonistic in-regards to his racist rhetoric regarding immigrants & Latinos, both Trump and Cruz have been confronted on their immigration stances which have a huge importance to the Latino community.

Voto Latino launches voter app directed at Latinos

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In an effort to prevent a bigot from obtaining this country’s 45th presidency, a Latino organization devoted to educating and encouraging Latinos to become agents of change in the country have created an innovated app to hopefully aid in that endeavor.

Recently, at SXSW a Latino organization announced an innovative way of mobilizing millennial Latino voters to participate in the currently election season.

An annual event during mid-March and held in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest—also known as SXSW—is a gathering of like-minded individuals who are changing the scope of film, interactive media, and music that’s all tech-oriented. The conference, of sorts, is a place for young and influential leaders who can shape the future to present their innovative ideas.

So, it makes perfect sense for Voto Latino/strong> to present its downloadable app VotoPal which will be an innovative way for young Latino Americans to vote.

Once downloaded onto your phone, VoterPal will allow users to scan their ID and register to vote. With the online fields automatically populated and a confirmation email sent within a matter of seconds, Non-registered voters will become instantly registered cutting down the time of the usual paper registration process.

So when we’re trying to figure on how to franchise the next group of Americans, we have to figure out where they are, how they talk, and more importantly, we have to use the technology that they crave,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO & President of Voto Latino at the opening of the launch panel of the app.

According to Kumar, the purpose of developing VoterPal was a means to mobilize voter turnout at the upcoming election by ensuring more Latinos become aware of how they can voice themselves within the political world through voting; especially since the current political climate has become quite hostile in-regards to Latinos and immigrant living within the country.

Another purpose for the app’s creation is due to the recent changes to the Voting Rights Act made by the Supreme Court which greatly affected states like Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas which happens to be the five states that have the lowest Latino population.

As we see these sweeping demographic changes, what we find in the Latino community, is that they often don’t know how to navigate the political process. We have to figure out how to modernize our election systems,” said Kumar.

During the panel, Kumar was joined onstage by actress America Ferrera, who happens to be the Chair for Voto Latino’s Artist Coalition. Ferrerra came onto the panel as a source of someone who understands the mind of young Latino voters.

And which is not surprising for Ferrerra, the former Ugly Betty star knew exactly what she was talking about.

Upon entering the panel’s discussion, Ferrerra pointed out the lack of audience members participating in the panel which she noted as being the “the elephant in the room.”

That’s why I feel this work is so empowering to me. There is an answer. We just need to resource and give people the proper tools and educate them, and ask them to be a part of the conversation,” said Ferrera, describing the importance of involving more American Latinos in the voting process by providing a better outreach to the community.

As a way of providing voter outreach, Voto Latino will continue to pursue their effort in getting more Latinos registered to vote by promoting the VoterPal app throughout the election season by present at conferences and college campuses across important electoral states like Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and California, with plans to expand to New Mexico and Florida.

Heighten Racism of the 2016 Presidential Elections

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Initially, when it came to the 2016 Presidential Elections I wanted to forego discussing anything that was going on politically in the country.

Yes, I know that to do nothing means that I am not privy to make any comments when something unsavory results due to my inaction. However, my choosing to be neutral when it comes to either engaging friends in conversations or when it comes to thinking about what to write for LatinTRENDS I wasn’t straying away from the elections because I didn’t know what was going on but I knew what was coming and I wouldn’t be able to stomach it.

When I look at the current contenders battling it out within the United States of America I do not hear the promises being made by Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, or Ted Crus, but what I do hear is a monolith of ignorance, bigotry, and hatred being tossed about so loudly that it makes an air raid siren sound no louder than a miniscule mouse.

I wanted to abstain from talking about Donald Trump and his traveling circus of hatred—also known as his campaign trail to become our 45th President. I wanted to avoid it because it is impossible to remain opinion-free lately when it comes to anything Trump.

However, what once seemed to be an impossibility is so slowly becoming possible: Trump could very well be our next president. And since this may be an actuality, I am breaking my “if you have an opinion don’t write about it,” rule in order to discuss what is really going on within this election season.

This election doesn’t appear to be about politics anymore, in fact it appears solely to be about one very problematic social issue within our society. This election is showing a deep-rooted issue in our society that has been overlooked for far too long and has resurrected a monstrous sentiment from our past: Racism.

Since making his announcement that he will run for president, Trump has been steadily making this country become accustomed to his irrational and racist rhetoric regarding those he views as being opponents against making “America Great Again!.”

The one thing these opponents appear to have in common: they are all non-white.

Trump’s rallies have become a hotbed of racial aggression for those viewed as non-whites thanks to Trumps continued degrading of Latinos, Blacks, and Muslim citizens living in the country. His continued condemning and blaming of non-whites as to being the reason why our country isn’t “great” has resulted in his rallies being attended by white supremacist as well as members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Trump has even become endorsed by the likes of David Duke who is the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan stating that Trump is the only candidate who is “best of the lot.

The appearance of the racists showing up at Trump’s rallies eerily reminds me of footage taken throughout the 50s & 60s in-which non-white civilians are verbally and physically assaulted by whites around them solely because of the color of their skin. And sadly, recent captured footage only adds to the sickening feeling the above images illicit.

Earlier this month, at two separate Trump rallies young black students were forcibly removed from the rallies. They were yelled at, they were shoved, and some were even physically assaulted after Trump ordered the crowds to remove any potential disruptors. These students weren’t merely thrown out because they appeared to be possible disruptors but were removed by the largely white crowd because they were Black.

The incident became a viral showing a group of men, some reported to being associated with white supremacist organizations, physically shoving and yelling at young woman named Shiya Nwanguma as she was led out of the rally.

Since this incident numerous protests have sprung up—more so than before originally led by Black Lives Matters movement—in order to show that while some are accepting Trump’s message there are a great deal of others who are not.

Last Friday in Chicago, protesters stood outside a Trump rally being held at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion and because of the large presence the Trump rally was cancelled thus leading to a confrontation between Trump supporters and protesters outside. One moment from this event will forever be a part of history occurred when a Trump supporter encountered a protester outside.

In the image seen above, Birgitt Peterson—aged 69—is caught giving the “Heil Hitler” salute which has become a gesture linked to Nazism. Michael Joseph Garza, who appears in the picture, took to his Facebook page to write about the incident which has received its own viral firestorm.

According Garza, he was trying to help Peterson and her husband along with other Trump supporters leave the Pavilion by waving his hand through a clear route made for them. After indicating for Peterson to go, Garza stated that she responded with:

Go? Back in my day, you know what we did—” And then ended the exchange with the Hitler salute.

Now, Peterson has refuted claims that she and her husband or Nazis or White Supremacist—she’s alleges that the gesture was merely her attempt to correct protests who equated Trump to Adolf Hitler by showing them the difference. An attempt she clearly failed in doing.

No.

The fact that he attracts racists and bigots doesn’t appear to bother Trump, in fact it seems to only empower him because as Trump has noted on several occasions those who attend his rallies are either passionate or fed up with the state of the country. And in-response to the aggression his supporters have displayed, well according to Trump that’s the protestors fault. So, while it is easy to blame Trump for the recent racial tensions that is currently unfolding in this country he is not to blame.

I recently saw a meme which stated—to a certain degree that—the racial issue in this country is equivalent to the lights being turned on in an apartment and spotting all the bugs scurrying away because of the light being cast upon them. Basically, the meme is addressing how 1) the issue of race is only a problem for most until a light is shined onto it and we see how disgusting it is because it is right in our faces and 2) if it continues to go unnoticed it will lead to a greater infestation that could possible become far too great to stop.

The racial issues in this country has been on a steady rise; it has been sitting in a boiling pot for a good long while now and it is beginning to boil over to a point that everyone can see just how problematic it is.

The campaigning for the 45th presidency has shined a huge light on how the continued ignorance and lack of addressing this country’s issue regarding race has become more troublesome. If this issue continues to go unchecked, if we do not find a way to address it, and we permit an individual like Trump or a candidate who will not resolve this ongoing issue then the notion that we are all created equal is nothing more than dead, poetic words.

Bernie or Hillary? Who Could Win the Latino Vote?

thebernandthehillsm

It’s been stated throughout numerous media platforms that when it comes to the 2016 Presidential Elections that Latinos could very well be the deciding factor to whom snags the 45th President Presidency. So with that being said whom among the top leading contenders could it be: Hilary Clinton & Bernie Sanders.

Yes, this week I will forego mentioning any of the Republican candidates because 1) they are quite tiring with their “crazy circus” debating…I’m sorry, that’s offensive to circuses who have done nothing wrong; 2) this post will look at the two Democratic contenders who are see-sawing the Latino vote.

When Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders threw his bid in to become our next president he was looked at as the underdog candidate amongst Latinos because very few knew his name and therefore new very little (apart from the fact that when it came time for Congress to vote, he voted against the comprehensive immigration reform placed before them).

But that was then and this is now.

Becoming somewhat of his own “celebrity” during this campaign season however, Sanders has become quite popular amongst a particular set of Latinos: millennials.

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all the Latino voters across this nation will be millennials since thousands more Latinos are turning 18 prior to November’s election and will become eligible to vote.

Latinos will play a pivotal role in Sen. Sanders’ path to victory in important states like Arizona, Illinois, New York, California, and Florida, and we’re confident he can continue to win in battleground states with their help,” so stated Arturo Carmona, a deputy political director in Sanders’ campaign camp.

And this could be very true.

So far this could be very well true considering the one weakness Clinton has when it comes to the Latino community is generating enough excitement amongst young voters. Sanders is able to attain this by inspiring youth across America—Latino youth as well—to cast their vote for him by hitting what matters to them by promising: higher wages & free college.

With this being a large platform in his campaign, Sanders’ stance on immigration reform—now—could give him the necessary push to continue siphoning off a majority of Latino millennial votes if Clinton doesn’t act wisely.

As president, I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in this country. But I will not wait for Congress to act. I will take executive action to accomplish what Congress has failed to do and build upon President Obama’s executive orders to unite families,” said Sanders, back in December 2015.

It’s Sanders “new” rhetoric that’s pulling in a large majority of his voter-supporters. He represents a change (not to be confused with President Obama’s change) that could be a great threat to Clinton if she doesn’t manage to sway the youth vote soon.

However, Sanders may still find the path to becoming the next President of the United States difficult due to Clinton having an ace in her pocket that Sanders does not yet have: a familiarity within political world.

During the recent Super Tuesday, Clinton displayed why she is a threat that should be taken serious despite what some may some. Yes, I do think she lacks the youth vote however she could very well turn that around and says, promises, or does something that could change the game between she and Sanders.

Unlike Sanders, Clinton recently showed just how much support she has within the Latino community. In Texas alone during Super Tuesday, Clinton snagged the state by 42 points with Latinos making up 32% of it.

Tuesday’s results show that Hillary Clinton has overwhelming support from the Latino community. In Texas alone, more than 315,000 Latinos voted for Clinton, which far exceeds the total number of votes Sanders received in Colorado and Nevada combined and shows the excitement for Clinton in the Latino community,” said a campaign spokesperson, Xochitl Hinojosa. “Our campaign will continue to fight for every vote and invest in states where the Latino community is critical.”

With stars like Ricky Martin & America Ferrerra backing her up, Clinton is a contender against Sanders because in her political career she’s been a political figure that’s been there for the people—and by people, the Latino people. When running for Senator of New York, Clinton’s large support came from the Latino community who found Clinton to be similar to her husband, former-President Bill Clinton, only slightly more better considering her stance in social action.

However, what could hit Clinton with her current supporters could be her stance on immigration which has a rocky history.

Back in 2014, Clinton responded to the capturing of unaccompanied minors caught at the U.S. border by stating they needed to be deported to “send a message” to other Central American families.

Statements like this along with a lack of confirmation to immigration reform advocates who asked that she’ll enact comprehensive immigration reform within her first 100 days in office by responding she’ll introduce legislation within that time frame could hurt Clinton later on in the race.

All-in-all, there is some promise that Clinton will stick to what she is stating she will do in the campaign especially when it comes to immigration reform—which will appease many Latinos.

We need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to full and equal citizenship. If Congress won’t act, I’ll defend President Obama’s executive actions—and I’ll go even further to keep families together. I’ll end family detention, close private immigrant detention centers, and help more eligible people become naturalized,” said Clinton, back in January.

Overall, expect to see some see-sawing between Clinton and Sanders before the final decision is made regarding which candidate will snag the democratic nomination and prevent a disaster from occurring in the office come 2017.