Veronica Toscano pictured with the Paul Revere statue. A while back, my Cisco colleague and I were in Boston. I shared with him that I wanted to visit the Paul Rivera statue. He looked at me so confused and asked, “Who?!”

With confidence, I repeated, “I want to see the Paul Rivera’s statue!” He then looked at me awkwardly. He looked like he was doubting himself and said, “Do you mean Paul Revere?” Then, I died of laughter. I had turned Paul Revere into a LatinX/Spanish individual.

In Boston, I spoke with confidence, but that hasn’t always been the case. Due to English being my second language, I have often second-guessed myself before I speak in a meeting, give a presentation, send a chat, or email. Second-guessing myself causes a domino effect I’ve experienced over and over again. I lose my presence in the current situation because I am distracted by the conversation going on in my head. I begin to strategize and think about how I am going to say what I mean and ensure I am using the correct words, phrases, or pronunciations. The distraction in my head causes me to lose focus on what is being discussed. Then, someone else ends up saying what I wanted to say because I was too busy focusing on how to say it. And when this happens, I am disappointed in myself for the rest of the day.

It is mind-boggling, time-consuming, and an energy-sucker to go through all these emotions because I fear making a mistake. Finally, I decided “ya no más,” which is Spanish for “no more!” I was no longer going to second guess myself. I was going to start shooting my shot. And if I do make a mistake, I will take it as a learning opportunity.

And now, my “ya no más” and shoot your shot attitude has allowed me to reach new possibilities.

Veronica Toscano presenting at the 2022 Grace Hopper Conference. One of the most recent opportunities was giving my first public presentation on behalf of Cisco at the Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Florida! I presented to an audience of women in tech on building products with responsible AI and creatively tied it back to Beyoncé and 8-Mile. Was it a success? The audience laughed at my jokes, so I consider it a win! I even made sure to include a piece of my own advice, “Be empowered to use your voice and speak up at those meetings.”

Remember, nobody is perfect, except Beyoncé. ? If you mispronounce or use the incorrect word or phrase, it’s OK! Take it as a learning opportunity, and let it help you reach new possibilities. Don’t apologize, be yourself and own it!

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Veronica Toscano

Chief of Staff

Securty & Trust Office - Data Privacy