Get to Know GROW’s New CEO, Milinda Ysasi

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? 

Scooping ice cream at the iconic Jersey Junction…I was 14 years old, my sister and other friends ended up working with me.
I learned the importance of customer service, selling and diffusing conflict with a smile.

What is your go-to productivity trick? 

I have learned over time that to be my best I need rest. We need to stop glorifying busy…I have tried to remove the word from my vocabulary, busy is not an emotion. When I rest and care for myself I can give my all and best to others. I also think having nice pens and stationary help me too!

 What is your work-from-home secret weapon? 

 Is there a contest, has to be the ring light my husband Rafael bought me, and 10 different shades of red lipstick, it instantly brightens my mood.

 Who has influenced you the most when it comes to how you approach your work

 I would say my friend Senita Lenear, she is a business owner and City Commissioner. She is always focused on the work and not the recognition, she takes her work seriously but is also always ready with a joke and laughter, she has such grace and poise about her and I try to emulate her style and substance when I do my work.

 How do you prefer to start and end your workday? 

 I am an early riser, I think from all my days working in plastics manufacturing. I like to drink tea, no coffee for me, spend time doing my makeup and listening to a podcast to stay up to date on current issues. My current favorite is In The Thick. I try to make a list of what is critical for the next day, I also like looking at the cute pictures of my niece Luna that my mom sends, she reminds me to smile!

What is a moment in your career so far that you are really proud of? 

When I was selected to be an Aspen Institute Job Quality fellow, to be surrounded by other leaders in the space of ensuring that our economy works for all was humbling and exciting.

 What is something people say you are great at? 

 I would say organizing and follow up. My friends like to make jokes about me and my etiquette about email responses.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? 

 “Not everyone is going to like you” I am a high I on the DISC profile and do feel that inherent need to be liked, over time I have learned that there is a likability trap (check out the book by Alicia Mendez). It should be about your work and overall goal, you have to have boundaries with relationships and not everyone is a friend but you should find ways to bridge conflict and differences.

What are we most likely to find you doing on the weekends? 

I definitely use the weekend to recharge, which can mean watching some 80’s tv shows like Head of the Class, seeing my family, and a bit of my city commission duties. My husband and I can often be found walking in our neighborhood or doing something to support our Latino and Latina networks.

 If you could change one thing about the world with the snap of your fingers, what would it be? 

 Create wealth in communities, eliminate barriers like student loans, childcare costs and the high cost of poverty.

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