5 Life and Leadership Principles I Learned from My Grandmother.

Updated: Mar 10




Yesterday was International Women's Day, which made me think of the women in my family who have influenced me. However, there is nobody that influenced me more than my maternal grandmother Blanca Oliva Valderrama de Manzano. I was fortunate enough to spend the first ten years of my life with her, her final years.


My grandmother left the comfort of her home in her youth to become a rural teacher in Colombia. She loved teaching. She married my grandfather, who was up an coming politician but still decided to continue working, an unconventional choice back in the day. When my grandfather was forced to flee the country, my grandmother was left to raise seven children on her own, working full time in the 50's and 60's. She never stopped teaching. She also became an avid real estate entrepreneur who owned several properties by the end of her life. She was caring, generous with those in need, action-oriented, and practical.

I learned the following life and leadership principles from her that I now like to share with you.

"Stop overthinking and do it, or else you will lose."

("El que piensa mucho pierde")

Opportunities in life come and go. We ought to stop overthinking and take action, even if it's a small one. Or else we might lose on living the life of our dreams or that next job opportunity. So let me ask you, what are you overthinking right now?

"Do it today, not tomorrow."

("No dejes para mañana lo que puedes hacer hoy")

Sometimes we tend to procrastinate. It can be as menial as sending a LinkedIn connection, picking up those weights, or a bit more challenging, such as launching that blog or website. Asking yourself: What action can I do today to get me closer to my ideal vision of self?

It can give you the push to get that done.

"If you do not risk an egg, you will not get a chick."

("El que no arriesga un huevo no saca un pollo")

We need to take calculated risks to get to a better point in our lives. That is a fact. Taking a calculated risk could look like: starting a job search in the middle of a pandemic, taking the

next recruiter's call, moving to another place, or asking for a challenging stretch assignment at work. Is there a calculated risk that you can take that will accelerate your career?

"Always be learning, and you will advance in life."

("El que estudia progresa")

As an educator, my grandmother valued formal education. She believed in the value of universities and other higher ed. But she also always made the point to help you see the

lesson in life experiences (good and bad.) This growth mindset continues to help me to this day. Instead of beating myself up when I make a mistake, I would ask, what is the lesson here? What can I learn? What is the upside here? I have found no room for negativity with this reframe, and instead, I find curiosity and grace.

"Be generous, give, and you shall receive."

("El que da, recibe")

My grandmother always was in giving mode. She was a giver. She will give her love, time, wisdom. She loved to give to others in any way she could. She always had extra food for those in need and always said, "Where one person eats, two or twenty can eat too!"


Give, without expecting anything in return, and the universe shall see that you'll receive that same energy in kind.

This principle strongly lives in me and it's part of the reason I decided to embrace coaching. I'm making it my mission to help Women and BIPOC professionals breakthrough their next-level roles in their careers with my exclusive program "Elevate and Own Your Voice" methodology.

Moreover, for the rest of the month, I will be donating 40 hours of my time for pro-bono coaching for women negatively impacted by the pandemic. If you know of anyone who could benefit from this offer, please send them this link here.


To close off this article here, I invite you to embrace principles or life lessons, you learned from the women in your family, and if you still have the chance, please do make sure to say thank you.

Gracias Abuela Blanca.

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