Yes You Can! 7 Strategies to Empower, Evolve, and Transform Your Life: Part 1

Yes You Can! Part 1-Values

August 30, 2016   |     West Now Home

By Linda Garza Kalaf

The content herein is that of the author and does not reflect the position or opinion of Western International University (West). This article is shared with the West community through our collaboration with Prospanica (previously known as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs), Phoenix Chapter.

Read more of our 7-part series:



Part 1 - Growing Up in Our Family Business: 
Building Your Foundation on Values

Highlight: This article includes the activities Values Exploration and Values Selectivity, which will help you identify your top values that will assist you in making all of your life decisions. You will learn how to build your foundation by being true to your values, no matter if you are making a personal or professional decision.

My story begins…

I was blessed to have a strong family upbringing, with two dominant figures and role models, Mom and Dad. As young children, my siblings and I were taught the importance of family—La Familia, and culture—La Cultura. Growing up in Lincoln Park, Michigan, there weren’t too many Latinos in the area, but my Dad was a visionary and pioneer in the Mexican food industry. His dream was to build a tortilla factory, and that was in 1959 before Mexican food was popular or well known.

I grew up in a large family consisting of my parents, three sisters and one brother. When I was 4 years old, my parents opened La Azteca Food Products and started manufacturing corn tortillas. Being a strong family unit, we all counted, packaged, sealed, boxed and even helped deliver tortillas to local businesses in the Detroit area. 

Growing up in the family business provided many opportunities to witness first-hand the entrepreneurial spirit of my Dad and his determination to succeed; along with Mom’s independence, strength and courage. With Mom by his side, and the family working hard, praying and playing together, this was indeed a formula for success!

Fortunate to be bicultural in a diverse community without many Latinos, it was my job to educate my neighborhood about Mexican food. So in elementary school during show and tell, I’d talk about how to make a tortilla. Then immediately after school, the children in my class all came over and lined up at the side door of my home. I warmed up corn tortillas, spread butter in the middle, rolled them up and my sister would help pass them out to everyone in line. In Spanish class, I’d explain how to make a taco and took fresh home-made tacos to class.

Along this journey, the values I learned include: community, courage, dedication, determination, education, enthusiasm, faith in God, hard work, independence, passion, tenacity, La Familia and La Cultura. What made me realize the importance of values was understanding how much I truly loved and missed my Dad once he passed—our patriarch and head of La Familia was gone. It was important for me to memorialize La Familia Garza’s story.

La Familia and La Cultura: Two very important values learned at a young age which remain important to this day. My sisters and I are fortunate to care for our Mom—our rock, our foundation! Our matriarch lives, and we are encouraged that we will also live healthy and fulfilling lives. 

In addition, Mom and Dad taught us their philosophies of life, including:

  • If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
  • Number one takes care of number one, and by the way, YOU are number one!
  • Cada cabeza es un mundo: Each head is a different world.
  • Life is a gift.

Life is a gift all right—so how are you living yours? May I suggest starting out with being true to your values? Identifying and remaining true to your values will help you stay on the path to becoming your authentic self.

ActivitiesValues Exploration and Values Selectivity

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Look for Part 2 — Careers: Exploring Opportunities and Opening Doors with Optimism — to post next month. Watch our West Facebook page, or visit for our latest posts.

Linda Garza Kalaf, MAOM, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, GPHR, is a Human Resources professional with over 30-years of experience in the airline and ground transportation industries and is a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional and Global Professional in Human Resources. She has a steadfast belief in supporting the community and has served on local, state and national boards related to diversity & inclusion, education, leadership and mentoring, including the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) (now known as Prospanica). She was one of the NSHMBA Phoenix Chapter’s founding members and chapter president, and went on to serve as the national vice chair. She was inducted into the NSHMBA Executive Circle in 1998 for continuous service on the local and national levels. Her mission is to help others with their personal and professional development in order to reach their full potential.

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