Friday Fail: Paulo Hutson Solórzano on Navigating Expertise and Failing Up

Paulo Hutson Solórzano on Navigating Expertise and Failing Up

In this season 3 Friday Fails episode of Back of the Napkin, Paulo Hutson Solórzano, owner of A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, discusses the importance of focusing on what you do best, embracing your ninja power and identifying what is more appropriate to bring to the beach – a towel or toilet paper. Read more.

Dusty Weis:

Greetings innovators and welcome to Back of the Napkin, where we explore big journeys in the world of small business, with the personalities who make it happen. And welcome back to another one of these bonus segments that we like to call Friday Fails. I'm Dusty Weis.

 

Karen Stoychoff:

And I'm Karen Stoychoff.

 

Dusty:

And we're back talking with Paulo Hutson Solórzano from A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

 

Karen:

Dusty, I found what Paulo had to say about culturalized communications quite intriguing. What hit you most about his comments on the topic?

 

Dusty:

You know, as he got into the topic of how, in Chattanooga, they were working to increase the vaccination rate against COVID-19 among Spanish speaking populations there, it really just drove home for me how privileged I am to speak the language and live in a country where every piece of media is aimed at me. I think it was Homer Simpson who once declared proudly, "I am a white male between the ages of 35 and 55. Everybody cares what I think."

 

But before we get to today's Friday fail, let's get reacquainted with Paulo and a little thing that we like to call the Fast Five. That's five quick questions to learn more about our small business owner guests. Let's get started.

 

Karen:

Paulo, what is your favorite way to eat plantains?

 

Paulo:

Oh, I would say tajadas. Tajadas are, I like to munch when I'm thinking or brainstorming. And so tajadas are like plantain chips. You kind of just slice them really thin and fry them up and they're good and crunchy with some good salt on it. And then you can shred some cabbage over it that's been soaked in this vinegar and tomatoes and queso fresco.

 

Dusty:

Karen, we're doing it again. We're talking about food at lunchtime and it's killing me.

 

Karen:

Always.

 

Dusty:

Paulo, what is the biggest challenge moving back and forth from the United States to rural Central America?

 

Paulo:

Honestly, just the convenience of going to a Target or Walmart. Let's just say a normal shopping trip I would go to get some pick up some groceries, and maybe get some hairspray or some deodorant or go pick up some dog food all in one place. But these different items are in all different stores and sometimes there's electricity and sometimes there's not. I think adapting to a different lifestyle in a matter of a flight, it keeps it exciting.

 

Karen:

What is your favorite tourist attraction in Nicaragua?

 

Paulo:

Hands down, volcano boarding. You go on the side of a volcano, you get what looks like a snowboard and you just slide down all these rocks. And the sights that you see from up top of a volcano is just unbelievable. If you're ever in Nicaragua check out Volcano Masaya, and they have a great volcano boarding experience there.

 

Dusty:

Dang, and I thought I was an adrenaline junkie.

 

Karen:

I was going to say that I'm not sure about that one.

 

Dusty:

All right. DEI: diversity, equity, and inclusion. Why is paying attention to that important for a small business owner, Paulo?

 

Paulo:

Because it shows that you care, and it shows that you see that there's an opportunity to really celebrate different cultures and different nationalities and ethnicities. It just shows that you care and that you're present.

 

Karen:

This is a tough one, Paulo.

 

Paulo:

All right.

 

Karen:

See Rock City or Ruby Falls?

 

Paulo:

I'm all about the taverns. Coming from Nicaragua, waterfalls and whatnot, so I'll take the Ruby Falls. It's a beautiful site, especially around this time of year with the trees. And at night they do these fun Halloween type experiences. And so definitely I'll have to go Ruby Falls, even though Rock City is beautiful.

 

Dusty:

Definitely feel like we're getting our share of tourism advice here from Paulo today, but we're talking with Paulo Hutson Solórzano from A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And Paulo, when last we spoke, you mentioned that your mentor shared so much of herself and her experience in the business world, that it saved you from making mistakes in your own business. What advice did you find most valuable from her?

 

Paulo:

Most valuable and something that we kind of couldn't agree on initially was that I wanted to take on the world and accept any kind of project that came in my way. And she was more making recommendations to kind of focus on what you're good at, focus on particular things that are going to slowly build up your portfolio to what you want your company to do. And I'm over here trying to build little websites and do all these different projects. And so by her helping me navigate, really focusing and strategizing on where I wanted to take the company in the next three to five years really saved me a lot of time, which is money. And not doing smaller projects that really weren't going to be of value to the company.

 

Karen:

You said that you didn't navigate your expertise well in the beginning. What did you mean by that? And how did you overcome that perceived failing?

 

Paulo:

Yeah, I think it's just being proud of you, and what makes you, you. A lot of times, I remember I would change my name to of Paul and just keep Paul Hutson and to not make anyone uncomfortable. But then I learned, well, my name is Paulo Hutson Solórzano and that's what makes me, me. And so just recognizing the things that I know that I'm good at, that's my contribution to this world and this Earth. And so if you have something that makes you unique, that's your secret sauce. That's your ninja power.

 

Dusty:

I like that a lot, the ninja power Paulo. And certainly working in the cross cultural world, and particularly working in translation, I imagine that you have a few of those experiences where maybe something gets lost in translation. After all, effective translation is about more than just changing a word from one language to another, it's about knowing the meaning of the word. So have you ever had an experience in that vein?

 

Paulo:

Absolutely. And that's something that we always share with other people, the importance of really knowing your audience and really knowing your target audience and ensuring that. Spanish is so diverse in itself, whether you're from the Caribbean side or Central America or South America. I have several examples where I don't know if I could share on here where words have just different meanings. And something that's maybe a little bit more appropriate would be toilet paper. You know, you can say toilet paper in English, and everyone knows what that means. And there was one example where we were translating something for the Caribbean side and the word we were wanting to translate the word towel. And this is very beginning phases where we may not have done the most appropriate amount of research and the way we translated towel was toilet paper. So on billboards, make sure you grab a towel for the beach, but instead grab your toilet paper for the beach, so.

 

Dusty:

And that takes on an entirely different meaning in that context. But I've found myself in a similar situation before when translating to Spanish. I worked in Miami for a while and was relaying a story from my time in Miami about food. And I was trying to remember the name of a Cuban dish and it had something to, it was just pig. I remembered it was just pig. And so I was fumbling for that word for pig. And the word that I was looking for was Lechón. But the word that I settled on was cochino, which as I'm sure you know, has a completely different meaning as far as pigs go.

 

Karen:

We were talking about strengths and understanding expertise. How important is it as a small business owner to celebrate what your strengths are and acknowledge those things that simply aren't in your DNA as a business, and really stay true to who you are.

 

Paulo:

Yeah. I think if you celebrate your successes, that's what we're here to do, right? It's important to celebrate and to recognize your own greatness and your successes. And then when you may have done something that didn't think you were an expert at, well that's growth. Once we tell ourselves that we don't have any more growth or we're not continuing to develop, that's when we mess up. We're all under development. And so it's important to recognize that and celebrate when you cross another line and you add another feather in your cap.

 

Dusty:

You know, as a strategic communicator, Paulo, I have a frequent problem where I'm over-analyzing how everybody else is communicating. And I would imagine that you do this a little bit too. So, what do you see as some of the common mistakes that small business owners are making around you as it pertains to communications?

 

Paulo:

I think a lot of times we get worried about, let's take social media for instance, where you're just posting whatever. You're posting a lot of things to get your website, or your social media busy-looking, but it's all about the value in your content. And less is more. If you have a post that's really valuable, that can benefit an audience as well as bring leads to your own website or to your own company, that a lot more effective than just posting things. And I've seen a lot of small businesses where we want to be part of the table, we want to be part the exciting social media feed. Make sure you know what you're posting, you're being intentional about it instead of just being busy.

 

Karen:

What's the importance of narrowing your focus and perfecting what you have before moving on to the next phase of your business?

 

Paulo:

You know what you're bringing to the table. You bring confidence and you bring trust to your services, to your brand. And when you're able to really focus and really perfect, practice makes perfect, right? And so when you're practicing what you're an expert at, the audience begins to trust you and you the subject matter expert. So, anything that you post on your social media, folks are going to know that that's legitimate, that it's true, it's of value.

 

Paulo:

And so, when you're fishing for things, some things can get lost and people don't really know who you are and what you're bringing. And so when you're able to really narrow down your focus and be imperfect and practice and practice it, then you're able to pass that on to someone else and move on to something else if you get bored with that. As a small business owner, you have that flexibility to navigate and take your business where you want, but it's important, one to narrow your focus, because that's what you're good at, that's your, that's your footprint on this earth and just share that around.

 

Dusty:

Well, and it's certainly good advice. And it's been brought to us all day here by someone who clearly has practice feeling comfortable in his own skin. So, Paulo Hutson Solórzano from A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, Tennessee, thank you so much for sharing your ninja powers with us. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Back of the Napkin.

 

Karen:

If you appreciate hearing stories from small business owners from across the country, please take a moment to share your favorite Back of the Napkin episodes on social media and subscribe to Back of the Napkin wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also rate and review us on Apple Podcasts.

 

Dusty:

Back of the Napkin is brought to you by SurePayroll. From easy online payroll to four 401k support in award-winning customer service, SurePayroll has been serving the payroll and business needs of small businesses for more than 20 years. Thanks, of course, to my co-host and our executive producer, Karen Stoychoff.

 

Karen:

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Dusty:

Where we provide branded podcast production services for businesses, our editor and producer is Larry Kilgore III. So thanks for tuning in to Back of the Napkin. I'm Dusty Weis.

 

Karen:

And I'm Karen Stoychoff.