Journey of Three - Katherine Martinez

Fact: I get anxiety thinking about what someone’s first impression is of me!

Did they meet me before I had a chance to have my morning coffee? Did they catch me right after a long stressful day? The overall dreaded first impression feeling I have after meeting an Executive...“I hope I didn’t end my career before I even had a chance to start it!” After attending Vanna Novak’s session focused on how to effectively Speak to Persuade, I left with a greater understanding of how to present myself and the content in a natural and authentic approach.

We started the day by being videotaped doing a 30 second intro of ourselves and addressing an audience with a topic of our choice. Talk about yourself and pick your own topic…sounds easy enough, right? No, it isn’t. After the group had a chance to be videotaped in the morning, Vanna spent time later that day to critique everyone’s video. The group had an opportunity to provide feedback, and it was very useful. What I took away from the exercise was I needed to work on my voice inflection. The impression is my voice inflection (the pitch of my voice going up at the end of my sentences) can take away from my efforts of displaying confidence and authority. A person’s voice - the rate of speaking, volume, articulation, quality and pitch accounts for 38% of one’s impact on being an effective communicator!

Within the first 10 seconds of someone seeing you, they will have already made as many as 10 judgments about you, thus forming their first initial impressions of you. Many of these initial impressions are based on the physical appearances. A person’s physical impression makes up 55% of their impact as a communicator. What Vanna showed me was how I can steer one’s impression of me through projecting a perception, which later becomes reality!

“Being an effective public speaker means being no one but yourself at your confident best,” was one of my favorite quotes of the session. It reminds me that I have more power than I think I do in controlling how others perceive me during presentations and when speaking to an audience. I learned a lot this past session- I learned more about myself and discovered more about the type of leader I want to convey to others!

Journey of Three - Christina Lee


I have to admit that until recently I’ve never really given branding and networking much thought. In fact, I didn’t really even know what branding was, and the little thought I gave to networking was primarily in a negative context. I didn’t like the idea of talking to someone with what I thought was the sole purpose of having a person to contact in the future, if and when, I needed something from them. It did not feel authentic to me.  Likewise, I didn’t love the idea of not knowing if someone was talking to me purely because they might eventually need something from me.  For that reason, I was never too interested in going to networking events.

However, last month’s session on networking provided a different spin on what networking is and helped change some of my thoughts about it with a focus in a positive way. At the session, networking was described as building relationships, and life is all about relationships. I can relate to that. I value relationships. What ended up speaking to me the most was the idea of thinking about how I can help others and not how they can help me or what they can provide for me. The idea of approaching someone and establishing a relationship with them because I might be able to help that person appeals to me. It seems different to me than approaching someone because I might need something from them and it also somehow seems different than having someone else approach me because they might need something from me in the future. I previously didn’t think of networking in terms of having meaningful relationships and friendships with people, but now I realize that it can, and often does, include the added benefit of being able to help one another. 

I also found the branding part of the session beneficial and could see how it connected to what we learned in previous sessions, as far as core values, competencies, personality, and image are concerned. The most memorable thing for me was when we were told if we don’t speak out, speak up, and define ourselves, then others will define us for us. This reinforced how I constantly need to consider how my values and personality influence my behavior and how it is perceived by others, regardless of my intent. I’m currently working on how I’m branding myself and trying to align my brand between my peers and managers so there aren’t major gaps between the two.

Overall, I did not know what to expect at the start of the branding and networking session, but took away numerous things I need to work on. I have a much stronger appreciation for how both branding and networking can play an integral role in becoming an effective leader and advancing one’s career.

Journey of Three - Stefanel Castro


What would your personal logo be? What would your slogan be?

Our last session focused on personal branding & networking. You’ve all heard these concepts and the power they have over development and career advancement, but have you really sat down to assess what is your brand and what (or WHO) is in your network? These are the questions that lingered in my head throughout the session and the very questions I sought answers for (honestly) by the end of this experience. I specifically have given some thought to the branding portion and I would like to share my ideas with you.

When we think about the term “brand”, the immediate reaction is to associate it with products/services and the companies that provide them. I am sure as you read this and see the word “brand” pop up yet again, you are already picturing in your mind a logo...Coca Cola?! Amazon?! McDonalds?! Not only are you picturing the logo, but you are probably unconsciously repeating the words to a slogan, or some type of emotion – good or bad – has been evoked.

We have been taught to associate characteristics, words, emotions, etc. to these goods/services, yet we neglect to understand that we ARE a product and we PROVIDE services every day. This means we have been teaching our clients to associate characteristics, words, emotions, etc. to US. Perhaps you are reading this thinking “Yes…I knew that”, but have you really put some thought into what your name incites in people who know you and even those who don’t? In an era where Yelp! reviews and how many stars a place, a company, or product has, defines whether we completely ignore it or set it as a candidate. I’m surprised that we – or at least me – are not socially trained to think of our careers in the same manner. We all have a personal brand, but is it the one we want for ourselves?

My biggest takeaway from the session is that a brand needs to be strategic and intentional, so we cannot forget to market, market, market ourselves. In colloquial terms, “we gotta walk the talk” and let people know about it. The first one is the “easy” part…have the awareness to INTENTIONALLY honor your commitments, stand by what you say, deliver on promises, respect your peers, collaborate, and set the example. The trick with the second part of this – letting people know – is sending the message of how good you are, without coming across as arrogant or egocentric. I know many of you reading this will say, “I will outwork everyone and I will let my work speak for me”. My friend(s), by all means, exploit your talents and resources, but, again, think of yourself as a product. The best product out there may exist, but if the consumers do not know about it or are uneducated on it, it will not sell (or at least not to its desired extent). A piece of advice…keep a record of things you accomplish and remind yourself, your peers, and your superiors of them every so often. We sometimes focus on continuing to crank out work and do not celebrate the little accomplishments.     

Join me in this newfound endeavor of viewing myself as a product. I am aiming for a distinguished brand recognition and will settle for nothing else. This requires relentless commitment to customer service and enhanced openness to feedback. Let’s continuously capitalize on what we do right and correct what we do wrong.  I am shooting for a 5-star review from every customer…how about you? 

Alumni on the Move - July 2017

Reina Valdez Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

Reina Valdez

Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

Reina Valdez recently joined the Associate Board of the 253 Club, YWCA.

I am who I am today because of the people around me, who made an effort and cared about me. Whatever I do, I put 100% effort. In EDI, I learned the importance of giving back. I don't have a good method of how to give back most efficiently, but it doesn't matter, as long as I put 100% effort into anything that I do. I feel that community, work, and environment are what we build. We need to build them together to create the result we want to see. Through EDI’s community project, I experienced the process of planning and execution. As a team, we had an outstanding result!

I remember one of EDI's session was on risk-taking. For me, becoming a board member is a huge risk. I will be stepping out of my comfort zone, but I know it will be very rewarding. The EDI program was a nine-month journey, yet it still continues to influence me for the rest of my life.

With the opportunity I’m given as a board member, I’d love to see the organization make a difference in the community we serve. In order for us to become a strong community, we need to nurture the youth with open arms and provide them the skills to be impactful. At the end, these young leaders will continue to do the work we started.

253 Club is only two-years old, but I feel I’m lucky to see the growth as I grow along with the organization. The 253 Club engages rising leaders in building awareness of YWCA’s values and facilitating community involvement. YWCA's mission is to empower women and eliminate racism.

At EDI, I loved learning about behavior styles and have been applying what I've learned - I’m amazed by how effective it is. Recently, I was assigned a task to “execute” on a launch of a new department. Learning about behavior styles definitely helped in this process since I needed to work with so many people and departments who helped make it successful.

I’m blessed to have such a huge support system in my personal and professional life. Special thanks to my parents and my husband. I used to do things to make others happy, but now I try do things for myself. With that thought process, I expected others to appreciate me, provide me with feedback, etc. My husband made me realize that I need to start doing things for me because of how helping others made me feel.

I’m helping others because I feel great by doing so. To me, the more work I put in, the more results I see. If I can see the result, that’s better, but now I simply like the pleasure of making other people’s days, or making a positive difference. It’s really simple, but it took me years to understand this concept.

Journey of Three - Christina Lee

Christina uses her behavioral style and tension-reaction learnings during her class' team-building competition with Geoteaming. 

Assume good intent.  That statement has been a game changer for me lately.  Tension-reaction behavior is not uncommon in our workplace due to the nature of our team work, deadlines, and competing priorities.  While I now am more aware of and appreciate the fact that the teams I work on have a mix of Controllers, Persuaders, Analyzers, and Stabilizers, I have definitely let the behavior of others get to me in the past and taken things personally during stressful situations.

Last month’s Behavior Styles (Part 2) session emphasized how people with different Styles have different tension-reaction behavior and how someone’s preferred Style can change during tense situations. I had never really given this much thought before and instead tended to jump to the conclusion that sometimes people were being difficult purely just to be difficult and that we were all possibly letting our egos get in the way. Sadly, I often assumed that others did not have good intentions. I did not take the time to think about preferred Behavior Styles and how those presented themselves during tense situations. I most certainly did not think about how my preferred Style was affecting others in those situations or how I could flex my preferred Style to meet the needs of the Styles I was working with. 

As a Stabilizer-Analyzer, the first thing I tend to do in tense situations is I withdraw and check out. Conflict stresses me out and I prefer to avoid it if at all possible.  Eventually, in order to keep avoiding conflict, I acquiesce and give in, even if I don’t agree with the decision that was made.  While this gives the appearance that I am okay with everything on the outside, I actually often internalize what happened and stew over it for quite awhile. This sometimes leads me in remembering the situation worse than it actually was which then leads to more resentment.  I’m sure it also leads to frustration from Controllers or Persuaders that I work with who want action rather than withdrawal and who want me to be willing to disagree and share my actual thoughts more often.

Over the last month I’ve really focused on pausing during tense situations and reminding myself that in general, most people are doing their best and do not have ill intent.  The things they say aren’t necessarily personal jabs that are meant to be offensive.  They aren’t being lazy by acting or not acting a certain way. It’s just that we all handle stress differently.  As we learned in the class, our differences in Styles become even more apparent during tense situations. Rather than take things personally (internally) and withdrawing, I have focused on being more flexible and working on Bridge Styles based on the situation. Reminding myself to assume positive intent in others has really helped me give more people the benefit of the doubt which in turn has helped me focus on being more flexible to meet the Style needs of others, helping to reduce tension-reaction behaviors rather than contribute to them.

Journey of Three - Katherine Martinez

Coming into the Personal Branding and Network for Leadership session, I was very excited at the opportunity to work on my brand and improve my networking skills. Speaking professionally about myself is something I struggle with from time to time. This can surprise people as I am generally not a shy person; I enjoy conversing with others and value relationships. My cultural background doesn't encourage self-branding, so the takeaways I learned from Colleen Fukui-Sketchley's session really helped me gain a better appreciation for branding and how it can help accelerate your career.

The morning began with Colleen facilitating an exercise with the group to assess each other's perceived strengths and attributes. This was a very interesting exercise as the environment was very open, honest and safe. When I volunteered to have the group assess me, I was glad to hear that they perceived my strengths to be driven, dynamic, confident, a thinker, and passionate. Hearing that from my peers reassured me that I displayed an authentic identity. What I enjoyed the most during this exercise was hearing my peers' assessments of each other; it was inspiring. When it comes to your brand, you are in control. If you don't display certain strengths and attributes that are apart of your brand today, it doesn't mean that you can't working on developing new strengths that enhance your future brand. 

Who you are, what drives you, and what you can contribute are key elements to your brand. However to elevate your brand, you need to be able to network effectively. The Q&A panel with the executive mentors really helped put context around the importance of branding and networking. Lorraine Yu shared a few examples that she had in career where her brand was not reflecting who she really was. How she was able to work through it, identify her true brand, and transition into a career was very helpful for me. Your career is not always going to be smooth sailing, it is how you chart your course after a set-back that is the most valuable. Chee Chew and Nyle Miyamoto were very inspiring on how to stay authentic. Don't be afraid to be yourself and don't shy away from reaching out to those who may not be familiar with your cultural background.

Since attending this last session, I have been inspired to update my internal one-pager I use for my information interviews. I find myself more self-aware of my environment and identify opportunities to reach out to individuals who I would have never thought of reaching out to prior. As with everything I'm learning in this program, practicing and pushing myself outside my comfort zone is how I will grow. Looking forward to continuing my career development!

Alumni on the Move - June 2017

Linda Sok Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

Linda Sok

Asian Discovery, Class of 2016

Linda Sok has been working for The Boeing Company since 2007, starting off as an interior mechanic. Due to her leadership abilities, she had progressed her way through the ranks and into management. She has always been a key player in any area she was placed and has earned her way to being promoted as a Tactical Senior Manager. Originally from Texas, her path took many turns. With the heart to go into nursing, she attained her RN degree only to find she didn’t fit the role. Continuing with her search, she eventually worked for Heath Techna, which provided interiors parts to Boeing, but she later settled inside Boeing itself.

Bea Querido Rico Asian Discovery, Class of 2013

Bea Querido Rico

Asian Discovery, Class of 2013

The EDI training, experience, and network inspired me to be a stronger leader and step up to run for office. I'm so grateful for the coaching and tools provided by EDI to help me take this leadership step.


Bea Querido Rico recently left her job at the Port of Seattle to run for Port of Seattle Commissioner. Learn more about her story and the plans for her campaign at

Journey of Three - Stefanel Castro

Gamification: the concept of including game-like elements to non-games in order to motivate participation and engagement. I know what this concept is now after having “googled” it and I have to say that I feel kind of deceived by the EDI team and the facilitators. For an entire day, I played a board game and ran around downtown Seattle (wearing a really stylish bandanna) geocaching! All fun and games…I thought! In reality, using these games as educational media, I learned about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and was able to experience firsthand the power of behavioral adaptability for team bonding while trying to reach a goal. The audacity of these people to sneak in learning while I think I’m playing is preposterous ;)  

Now that I’m done with my rant, let’s talk about the learning…Our session started with a board game on EQ. The board game was an excellent vessel that progressively expanded on the concept of EQ and provided very helpful tools to improve our EQ. EQ has two major components to it: the “self” and the “social” sides. My main takeaway is that the key to EQ truly is knowledge, acceptance, and, more importantly, awareness of one’s thoughts, behaviors, biases, etc. Only when we truly know ourselves and understand how we think and what makes our emotions swing – self side – can we actually allow ourselves to not be reactionary but make conscious, rational decisions when interacting with others based on how a situation is developing – social side. Believe me, there are occasions where the Puerto Rican spice within me wants to come out. Having this knowledge and awareness gives me the power to control situations in a manner that leads to a more productive work environment and better relationships.   

After the board game, we went onto geocaching as a team. I will start by saying that The Lucky Siete (our team) came in second place, but the real win of the day was how much we learned through the execution of the game. If you have never geocached before, I’ll give you the scoop…You go around diverse locations looking for clues and completing challenges. Everything about the game promotes team building. Starting by defining goals, moving onto designating roles, continuing to strategic planning, and finally, when you think you have it all figured out, resorting to “on-the-spot” decision making, creates a setting where working as a team is the only option to succeed. It was amazing to witness how we fed off each other’s energy, and organically switched roles. Without knowing it, we capitalized on each other’s strengths and worked around our weaknesses. Meeting the goals we had set was the priority and we creatively came up with ways that maximized our chance of reaching them. The funny thing is that I am realizing more and more of what we actually did as I type this down, and to me, it is the perfect reminder of the following undeniable truth…When goals are clearly defined and a team is having fun, is committed and empowered, the team’s greatest potential is unleashed.

I am excited for what lies ahead and to continue to share my journey with you. Today, I’ll leave you with this final thought…let’s gamify our lives and go all in (specially our personal and professional development), new learning is at every corner waiting for OUR next move!   

Journey of Three - Katherine Martinez

Katherine's EDI team reinforces what they learned about behavioral styles in their Geoteaming activity.

Like a coin there are two sides to emotional intelligence, self and social. The self-side is the awareness of one’s understanding of who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived. The social-side is the acknowledgement of other people's perspectives, willingness to support, and building/maintenance of positive relationships. From Thursday’s EQ session, both the 'Quest for EQ' Board Game and Geoteaming scavenger hunt helped me assess both my self-side and social-side.

My emotional intelligence is linked to my natural behavioral style of being a stabilizer-controller. My social-side is something that has always come natural to me. Thus when people first meet me, my level of engagement with them can be viewed as strong leadership quality. This can be a double edged sword for me. How did I traditionally lead? By developing strong personal relationships as a means to motivate others and accomplish tasks. Why is this ineffective for me at times? Under pressure, my behaviors can shift to be very direct and blunt which is off-putting for those who perceive me as friendly, warm and personable, prior to a situation.

What I struggled with before starting the EDI program is why my behaviors and actions change in a high stressed environment. Why do I become someone that I don’t think I am? It was during the board game that an AHA moment happened. During the game, we had an emotional intelligence self-assessment. It was through the self-side portion of the assessment that I realized that I don’t have a clear understanding of who I am in certain situations. While I am first to applause others on their accomplishments, my own accomplishments aren’t something I value enough at the same level. Recognizing others' feelings and wanting to understand why they feel the way they do is more of a priority than my own at any given moment.

My realization is this, while is it great to have a strong social-side, my self-side must be just as balanced to the social-side, if not more. An effective leader can inspire and lead others by embodying the values in which they expect others to have. Being more self-aware and self-guided in situations at work is something I have to continue to practice! I do believe that by focusing on my own feelings and valuing them just as high as I value others will also help continue to build my confidence and distress myself during key situations at work.

Journey of Three - Christina Lee

Christina flexes to different styles in her EDI team.

Over the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to continue developing skills in areas outside of my comfort zone with the goal of becoming more effective working with and leading others. One of the primary areas of focus for me revolves around decision making - specifically, making decisions in a timely manner without having all of the information available to me. This is VERY challenging for me.

At our Behavior Styles workshop, the self-assessment indicated that my primary Behavior Style is Analyzer-Stabilizer. It was eerie how spot on the style pattern description was for me! One of the statements that really spoke to me was, “Making the ‘right’ decision is important, even to the point of not being able to make any decision.” At work, I want to continue analyzing things until I have uncovered every possible detail that could affect the outcome of a decision. In teams, I often want to do all of the work so I know what exactly was done every step of the way. I know this is not realistic or productive because there is not enough time to do this. It is not a good use of resources. Even knowing this, it is still my natural tendency to gravitate toward wanting to work this way. At the same time, the Stabilizer in me has a strong distaste for confrontation and always wants all parties involved to be happy, which can also lead to indecisiveness.

My intent at work is to provide the most value to my group and company by performing studies that are detailed and accurate and make sound decisions based on the results of those studies. My intent is to do the RIGHT thing. It is also my intent to do this in a non-confrontational environment. However, the Behavior Styles workshop reinforced that although my intent might be positive, the impact of getting caught in the details could potentially be negative to others, especially when working with people with different Behavior Style preferences. I need to choose to be more flexible to meet the Behavior Style needs of others (especially Controllers and Persuaders) and this means making decisions in a timely manner (that are still sound and based on engineering judgement) without feeling the need to uncover every last detail to confirm that I’m right and without the need to make everyone happy.

At a recent training I attended at work, we discussed what makes us trust a leader, and a lot of emphasis was placed on decisiveness. Like so many other things, this is unnatural for me, but I’m hoping that with intentional practice it will become easier. I need to remind myself that even when making decisions without all of the details, by using sound engineering judgement, I usually come to the same conclusions that I would have from digging into the details further. More importantly, I realize that I need to be more comfortable with the fact that I might not always make the right decisions. I need to work on toning down my strong fear of failure.

Meeting the Behavior Style needs of others and being more decisive will have a positive impact on others and myself, and increase my credibility. It will result in increased trust, which is an integral part of being an effective leader and team member. So, here’s to being more decisive and becoming more comfortable being uncomfortable!