We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Diaz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, we’d love to hear about the influences and inspirations behind who you are today. Who or what had the biggest influence on your career?
When I was 28 and working at Staples, Inc, I was assigned my first executive boss, Mike O’Brien. We were stationed on a 1-year assignment in Shanghai, China to build a warehouse with modern Japanese and American technology to support the expanding Chinese retail operations of our Fortune 500 office supplies company. I learned a number of great lessons from Mike over the year in China, many that I still lean on today. My favorite four are below: If the answer to your question will not change your plan, don’t ask the question. Mike had a method of removing inefficiencies in everything he touched. This resonated with me and I quickly learned how to produce more in less time. At the beginning of our year working together, I would ask him myriad questions about processes or for his feedback on vendors I worked with. If he judged the question as valuable, he’d provide detailed answers. However, on some questions he would respond with a question back, “Eric, what are you going to do with the information I give you? How will it change your plan?” After a while, I truly understood that if I am not going to do anything with the requested information, then I should NOT ask the question. Your Job as an Employee is to make your Boss’s Life Easier Mike explained to me very succinctly one day that the job of an employee is simply to make their boss’s life easier. When I thought about my job in those simple terms, it made my actions very clear. Whenever I thought about sending him an email I thought, “Am I making my boss’s life easier?” Or, was I simply presenting my boss with a problem for them to solve without offering a solution of my own. This helped me exponentially in the way I communicate with my clients, vendors, employees, etc. Polite at ALL Times. Now, in some ways my boss was a strict leader, but I can truly say he was also one of the most courteous people I have ever met. He taught me the importance of always being polite. Mike told me that regardless of how you feel, you always greet somebody politely and formally in an email. I once sent an email expressing my disappointment in one of our employees to how they had responded to a situation. I started the email by simply saying, “Samuel – You did not adequately…” Upon review from Mike, he instructed me to never start an email that way, even when frustrated, you always offer a courteous greeting, rewriting it to “Hello Samuel. I would like to provide you feedback on this incident…’ would suffice. I adapted my communication style immediately and to this day you won’t get an email from me that does not start with “Hello X…” Always Add Value: The fourth and greatest lesson that Mike taught me was that in any situation, I should always add value, even if just a small amount. He explained to me that employees find problems, leaders find solutions. His point was that there was a better alternative instead of telling him (or any future boss I might have) what the issues were and leaving it for my boss to resolve. His advice was that I should always include my suggested recommendation with the problem in order for my boss to either; accept my solution, reject it, or (most likely) build off of my proposal to get to the optimal resolution. Overall, I am truly indebted to my previous boss Mike and for what he taught me.
What should our readers know about your business?
At the age of 18, I was a troubled kid having been arrested half a dozen times for crimes that led me to spend a summer in juvenile detention. That winter, I visited Peru for the first time and got to know my extended family there. I realized as I met my 3 cousins (a lawyer, a doctor, and a psychologist) that I was squandering my own opportunities having been born in a much wealthier country, the U.S. I resolved to work harder from then on in order to take full advantage of the benefits I was born with. Today, I am a Phoenix area business owner in the Marketing/Technology Industry. Since 2010, I have led Nativa Multicultural Communications by focusing on the needs of our clients in order to deliver the best long-term solutions. In 2014 I co-founded OYE Business Intelligence which is a platform that segments and monitors real-time online multicultural conversations allowing clients to make educated business decisions and develop culturally relevant communications with hard-to-reach audiences and ethnic groups across the U.S. I also opened a shared office space, Coworking on 15th Ave in 2014 and teach business statistics at Phoenix College as well. I credit my years working across continents for Staples, Inc. as the guiding path to my project management ability. To stay on top of the newest trends in technology and multicultural marketing, I participate in online conversations, research best practices and industry trends, and discuss the newest wrinkles in marketing, advertising, and digital strategies.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would recommend to him/her the following: 1. Best hike – South Mountain Summit trail (less people, beautiful, and under 2 hours) 2. Best meal – Lolos or Cornish Pasties (both downtown) 3. On the Water – Tempe Town Lake – (rent a kayak/paddle boat from there cheap( 4. Arcade Games – Bonus Round (free games and great drinks) 5. Lost Leaf – Best bar and 365 days of live music 6. Churchills – Best cigar bar 7. Bike Ride – Ride Central Ave from downtown all the way to South Mountain (bonus points if you go to the top!)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes, my previous boss Mike O’Brien – I am truly indebted to him for the life and business lessons he taught me.
Nominate someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.