News Column

On the Bookshelf

March 2007, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

>> Casa y Comunidad: Latino Home and Neighborhood Design
A presentation by former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros to a room filled with city planners, home builders, real estate agents, and others has resulted in a book focused on the designs of homes and neighborhoods in the Hispanic community.

"Casa y Comunidad" (BuilderBooks, $44.95) is a collection of articles meant to help bridge the information gap between first-generation Spanish-speaking home buyers and the non-Hispanic white housing industry. The book notes that a higher goal would be to show how the United States can help Hispanic families feel welcome enough here to establish roots and contribute, in their own way, toward healthy communities across America.

Mr. Cisneros gathered about 20 participants for the 2004 symposium on the housing market and Hispanic communities. Each person offered presentations related to their expertise, and about a dozen were invited to write articles for "Casa y Comunidad," which was edited by Mr. Cisneros and John Rosales.

The authors cover such topics as "A Builder's Guide to Reaching Latino Home Buyers," and "Capturing the Latino Spirit in Interior Design." Mr. Cisneros sets the tone for the book by writing the opening chapter, "The Rise of the Latino Home Buyer." He notes that the expanding Hispanic housing market requires all types of new housing: single-family and multifamily, rental and purchased, urban and suburban, and affordable and upscale.

The following chapters feature ideas that would help homebuilders, real estate agents, architects, interior designers, and others in the housing industry appeal to members of the Hispanic community. While industry professionals and government officials are among the book's target audience, Mr. Rosales says, "Although much of the information is technical and 'how to,' readers will be rewarded with a feast of insights about Latino food, music, and art."

>> The Latino Advantage in the Workplace Hispanics possess diverse backgrounds that are ideal for companies that want a diverse workforce, claims a new book by authors Mariela Dabbah and Arturo Poire.

"The Latino Advantage in the Workplace" (Sphinx Publishing, $19.95) implores Hispanics to "use who you are to get where you want to be." More specifically, the authors contend that Hispanics can use their innate characteristics, such as loyalty, honesty, and respect for authority, to advance in their careers while keeping their shortcomings in check. "It is all about finding the right balance so that we can be ourselves and at the same time succeed in the American market," the authors note.

While Ms. Dabbah and Mr. Poire use general statements about the Hispanic culture, they insist that the traits discussed in the book are not exclusively Hispanic. They explain that the highlighted traits are present in various degrees within other cultures and sometimes they occur more in men than women, or vice versa. But the authors say they chose to use generalizations to help the reader understand certain behaviors and realize which inherent traits work to their advantage.

"Although there are many positive traits that work well in the American system, we have chosen the ones that we think will give you the biggest edge," the authors write.

The book outlines how values, flexibility, and their ability to build strong relationships can help Hispanics succeed in the workplace. It also offers tips for improving other elements, such as communication, conflict management, and networking.

Each chapter is designed with theoretical material, examples of real-life situations, career tips, a profile on a successful member of the Hispanic community, and a practice section that allows for reflection on the topic. It's all meant to help the reader understand the book's underlying message: A diverse background translates into added value.

Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine and, Copyright (c) 2006 All Rights Reserved.

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