Home Social Impact Heroes Putting The United Back Into The United States: Marilyn Santiago of ‘Creative...

Putting The United Back Into The United States: Marilyn Santiago of ‘Creative Architectural Resin…

Putting The United Back Into The United States: Marilyn Santiago of ‘Creative Architectural Resin Products’ (CARP) On The 5 Things That Each Of Us Can Do To Help Unite Our Polarized Society

Smile as much as possible — Self explanatory! Smiles are like a magical dust that disarms us, puts us in a better mood and calms us in the middle of a storm. When we smile, a legitimate smile will show our peace and will make a big, big difference in people’s attitude. This goes to the person smiling as well as for those who see others smile… My nickname is Sunshine and I smile as much as possible. I laugh like crazy; I make fun of myself to make others laugh and I see the reaction in others. People (at least most people, hehe) love my energy and I make sure I leave people with a smile on their faces. It’s a great feeling. I may not be able to change peoples lives, but a smile to a stranger won’t hurt anybody and I’m sure it also has healing powers!

As part of our series about 5 Things That Each Of Us Can Do To Help Unite Our Polarized Society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marilyn Santiago aka ‘Sunshine’.

Marilyn has led a life filled with courage, creativity and a sense of never-ending optimism, having built a stellar career at the intersection of entrepreneurial spirit and service to community. After many successful years in the media and entertainment industry, Marilyn transitioned into something entirely new and an industry with very few women, let alone Latinas: Construction. Alongside her partner in life and business, Steven Russel, Marilyn moved to Fort Myers and launched Creative Architectural Resin Products, or CARP USA.

Soon after relocating from Miami Beach to Southwest Florida “Sunshine” (as they call her for her charisma, passion and good energy), realized that the composition of the residents of the area was not as diverse as her previous homes (Chicago and Miami Beach). As the loving, caring person that she is, Marilyn immediately started cultivating friendships with as many people as possible… Then the politics kicked in!

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I come from a big family that had a bit of everything. White, black and all colors in between. Rich uncles, poor cousins, sober aunts, others not so. As I grew up, little did I know that I was a spoiled brat. Don’t get me wrong, I was really cool, funny and smart. I had a charming personality (still have, hehe), but also I was a whiny little diva surrounded by people who loved me and gave me anything I wanted. I was raised in a Christian family, with strong morals and a lot of love for God… and thy neighbor.

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and very proud of it! Like the meme says: “My blood is a mosaic. It tastes like Taino yuca, pumps with Spanish passion and dances to the rhythm of African. I speak my own type of Spanish, stained with bright and bold streaks of English. I speak loudly, so you can hear my pride, in song because I am a celebration. I work hard for what I have, because nothing in my history has been handed down to me for free. My moves reflect my confidence, because where I come from, the best version of you is your true self. I love with passion … it’s the only way we’re taught how to. I am 100% Puerto Rican and I am 100% American.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My current career started as I was about to turn 50, when I felt the desire to reinvent myself. After more than 30 years in the media/entertainment industry, it was time for me to explore other opportunities and continue with my self-directed growth process. I did not want to become obsolete as evolution was gracefully guiding me. In front of my very eyes! I saw how younger, creative newcomers were rightfully taking over the industry and I didn’t want to be that “old lady” who did a lot for the industry, but not anymore. At that time, I felt no bitterness whatsoever, on the contrary, I felt so much love, pride and appreciation for the new blood that was coming to change the world! Still, I needed to do something new with my life, so I decided to reinvent myself and joined forces with my fiancée to open a manufacturing facility that serves the construction industry. Talk about a change! Talk about a challenge! That’s why in October of 2015, in Fort Myers, FL, we opened the doors to Creative Architectural Resin Products, CARP. At CARP, we design, manufacture and install architectural elements made out of strong, yet lightweight and easy to install resin. We produce faux wood panels, shutters, beams, brackets and other cool architectural elements. We are the happy medium between wood/stone and foam… (funny, how throughout my life, I always become the happy medium of something, or some people lol).

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

On a professional level, our company, CARP, is expanding its reach by targeting not only the usual customers, like builders, architects and developers, but also we will be reaching out to homeowners and associations. We experienced firsthand in Covid 2020 that as people were unable to travel, commute or move, their homes became their safe havens and our lines of products like shutters, beams, brackets, mantels, corbels, etc. could be used to enhance their home’s curb appeal therefore making them feel more comfortable while enjoying their home, and increasing its price, in case they wanted to sell. So basically, on a business level, I have been helping homeowners feel better while enjoying being at home.

On a personal level, I was recently appointed as a new member of the Board of Trustees at Hodges University. A regional post-secondary institution in Southwest Florida. I was able to look at the demographics of the institution’s student body. We realized the fact that Latina single mothers are the largest group of registered students. Based on that, I became the only board member to sponsor a new group of successful professional Latinos in the area and became involved in a group we call “La Comunidad” (The Community). Among other things, we have the task of helping create the right courses and certificates that would specifically help our Hispanic residents who have been affected by COVID and need retraining. We are aware that the effects of the pandemic to our local economy still have not fully shown but will be specifically tragic for those who were on the front lines of the hospitality and tourism industries. This will disproportionately affect our Hispanic community the most, and as a federally designated Hispanic serving institution, Hodges is committed to provide training and education for these workers to transition to a new career path. I’m really excited about this!!!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I would have to say that if it were not for my brother Harold’s advice, I would have become a secretary instead of a marketer. Somehow, back in the 80’s when I was about to start college, I saw glamour in being a secretary. My brother, who knows me well one night yelled at me from his room and asked me to bring him a glass of water. Of course, I responded him to get up and get it himself. He then said he was helping me train to become a secretary, since bringing water, coffee, etc. was part of the job description. That opened my eyes and helped me realize that being a secretary maybe wasn’t such a good idea (lol). I remember he was watching a movie on tv called “The Looker”, a thriller about murder and advertising that caught my attention and fed my curiosity about the amount of things people will do to generate a sale. I

decided then to change my major to marketing. I fell in love with it and from that moment on, I saw everything as a marketable product! My love for marketing grew to the point that my best friend at that time, Carlos Miranda (rip) and I founded our school’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. We took the university by storm, producing major events, conferences, parties and receiving an incredible amount of national awards and recognitions. Marketing is in my everyday life. I couldn’t thank my brother and Carlos Miranda more for that.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Well since you ask, hehe, in 1989, after graduating from college, I became a rookie tropical radio station operations manager for four of Puerto Rico’s most established and respected radio stations. Up to that moment, I listened to nothing but rock music. To me, Led Zeppelin,

Santana, Rush, U2 were and still are my idols. At least, I felt confident about the names of the most prominent exponents of tropical music at that time, because my older cousin Guelito Chiquito, used to listen to Salsa. Fania All Stars, Ruben Blades, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo, etc. but if I had to recognize who was whom, recognize their hits, etc. I would have failed the test. I’m grateful that Guillo Droing, one of the most respected experts in the genre took me under his wing and taught me the history and everything else about tropical music. Some of the most special memories of my life I experienced with him in the station’s production studio, joined by mega starts like Don Tite Curet Alonso, Ruben Blades and Papo Lucas among others, where Guillo cued gigantic reel tapes and showed me some of the most memorable moments in tropical music. After a few of those lessons, I thought I knew it all and I became a bit cocky and thought I knew everything salsa hahaha. I remember vividly the day, a skinny, long curly haired, kind of geeky looking guy, dressed all in white, with round eye glasses like John Lennon, came to the studio to introduce himself to Guillo. His name, Marc Anthony… The little Einstein rose from within me and as if I was talking about the Theory of Relativity, I opened my big mouth and said, ohhh he’s not going to make it hahahaha. Of course, we all know he eventually became one of the biggest Latin stars… Since then, there’s not a time where I see, hear, watch, enjoy anything Marc Anthony related that I don’t want to kick myself for being so ridiculous hehehe.

From that experience, I did learn that no matter the position and clout you have in the music industry, it is indeed the talent and the taste of the audience that will dictate who will be a star and who will not. I’m glad I learned that lesson early in my professional career, because from that moment on, I committed to air on the stations I managed what the audience wanted to hear and never damage the quality of the on-air product. (I still think Marc Anthony doesn’t like me hehehe).

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Little Prince! I love that small, yet so meaningful book! The beautiful simplicity of this little masterpiece that although it was meant to be a children’s book, every adult should read it through its lifetime. Among many things, It teaches us that the most valuable things in life, like love and happiness, cannot be bought with money. That personality must be defined by the thought and heart and not by their physical possessions. It simply describes for us that all our actions have consequences and all the relationships we make need to be cultivated and cared for. The book is small in size, yet grand in its contents and message. Honorable mentions also go to “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Cohelo, “In The Meantime”, by Ianla Vanzant and most recently, “The Firestarter Sessions”, by Danielle Laporte…awesome books!

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

I wish I had a more powerful, significant quote to share, but in reality, this one has been the one that has resonated the most throughout my life… “The less I know, the better”. This specific “know” does not relate to wisdom, nor knowledge; for I want as much as possible of those. This “know” relates to gossip or things that me knowing about will not change the outcome. Sometimes friends or family members have come to me to gossip or tell stories and I have found myself begging them to stop talking and asking, “Do I really need to hear this? The fact that you tell me about this, will it change the outcome?” This simple, yet explicit quote I can proudly say that the fact that I often use it, has helped me to stop from getting involved in irrelevant drama that takes space and time in my brain. That I don’t need! Sorry.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To me, personally, the term leadership has a more profound meaning. Leadership is the individual set of tools needed to empower others to accomplish something, to become better. I will not elaborate on the different tools of leadership, because that alone is a major subject. But, for the purpose of this article, let’s clarify that every person has its own set of tools. I proudly consider myself a great leader. Why? Because I see leadership not just about getting others to get the job done at work or helping someone get through a situation. To me it’s bigger, it’s more about guiding others to see their potential, encouraging them to believe in themselves and to use their courage and confidence to take their lives to the next level.

I am currently part of a few fab mastermind classes I joined this past year. (commercial break: If after this pandemic, you don’t come out with a few books read, a new business concept, or more knowledge about something, maybe time was not your problem, it was discipline) … In one of those mastermind sessions, we are reading and discussing a recently published book called “Unleashed, the unapologetic leaders guide to empowering everything about you”. The book is talking about how to make your employees better, but I am using it as a tool to empower everybody around me. In other words, if you knew me personally, you would understand the fact that my nickname is “Sunshine” and I really consider myself a walking “Hallmark Card’’. So I normally walk through life making sure that every person I have any type of contact with, feels better about themselves, empowered, motivated and happy about something. I don’t think that’s part of the definition of a corporate leader, but I’m happy with making people feel better about themselves and believing in themselves! So basically, to me, leadership is guiding others with love through the path of becoming better!!! And I love it!

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The polarization in our country has become so extreme that families have been torn apart. Erstwhile close friends have not spoken to each other because of strong partisan differences. This is likely a huge topic, but briefly, can you share your view on how this evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

Since I turned 18, I have always voted. First, it was like proudly continuing with a family tradition. In my first election, I voted for the party my family favored. Soon I realized that some of their candidates were not good at all and I created in my mind an ideal team of elected officials, based on their qualities and platforms. It was then, that at an early age I became an independent voter. For that, I educated myself about the candidates; what they stood for and their interests in the community. I then voted for the candidates I felt would do a better job, whose platforms were aligned (or close) to my perspective. Sadly, the results were not always the desired ones, but I knew I was doing the right thing!

Fast forward to the 2016 elections…

In the past 5 years or so, people became more vocal (and visual) in showing their true colors towards subjects that previously they kept to themselves. Nowadays, with the strong presence of social media, people are more explicit not only expressing how they feel about a subject, but also, sharing what to their understanding they believe is 100% legit information (which we already know may not be 100% accurate). Somehow in the midst of memes, posts, likes and threads, respect was thrown in the backseat and the online confrontation began.

A new kind of hate was born in front of all of us and we didn’t see it, until it was too obvious. People became mean because they were not in front of the people they were talking to. Hate was spread from the comfort of their homes or places of work, not face to face, which made hate unfiltered and more offensive. At that moment, people started feeling that if others were not in sync with their own point of view, they were the enemy. On a personal note, as I wrote this, I realized that I became part of the problem. I thought that if others disagreed with my views, they were dumb or something like that… I lost a lot of hours of sleep because of this. However, I feel that since I am independent, I, at that moment, in my perennial efforts of sharing love, I felt a responsibility to become more objective, to educate myself as much as possible to try to see why others feel different about the same situation. (I also prayed that more people would do the same. I still do). Still, I personally disconnected with friends not because of their position but their bullying about it. I consider myself a survivor of bullying and that’s something I don’t digest very well. Social media, what at its inception was considered a medium to connect and engage with those special to us, became a platform to often offend, insult, instigate, hurt, make matters worse and misinform. With that said, I started to “Unfollow”, but not “Unlove”.

Back then, It didn’t help that there was a new political candidate, a candidate that many idolized, a candidate they all wanted to be. “The American Dream”. A celebrity they wanted what he had, a white “successful”, non-traditional candidate that gave a voice, a loud voice to a large group of people who (after eight years disgusted by having a black president), felt that equality was indeed hurting them and their opportunities. A candidate that was able to get away with the things he said, (grab the things he grabbed, mocked the disabled he mocked, fooled the students he fooled) but gave them permission to be vocal about how they really felt. But we needed to understand, it is a first amendment issue. Sometimes it’s not easy to hear others exercise their right to express their opinion, especially if it’s different from ours. It was then when I realized that for my own benefit, I had to respect others’ opinions, even if I disagreed with them, even if I didn’t understand why they would take a stand like that, because obviously they were not educated enough on the subject and/or their lives were different from mine. I’m telling you, I really have become a better person through all this, but it hasn’t been easy… and the process indeed has been a painful one… I remember Sunday school at church, where I was taught, love God and thy neighbor etc. etc. etc. uffff. I now was praying like “God please bless this jerk and let him not say or do anything stupid “. I smile now, but back then, that was another story.

After the results of the 2016 elections, the first thing I did was to say the first of many, many prayers for the new president and those in power. As the objective person that I am and as a small business owner, I gave the new administration the benefit of the doubt. Hey, it’s my nation, of course I will always root for my team. That’s something that no matter who’s in power, the love for my beautiful, awesome USA will never change.

Then I saw with my own eyes the crowd at the inauguration. Then I read on Twitter about the magnitude of the crowd. Then I saw on tv the press secretary boasting about the record breaking crowds and I was like hellooo! It was then when I realized that the fear I had was about to become a reality (which Kellyanne Conway eventually confirmed) We were about to embark in a 4 or 8 years ride of “Alternate Facts “ ufffffff. It was at that time that I sadly remembered a saying that my grandma used to say when I was a kid back in my beautiful Puerto Rico; “No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver” (there’s no worse blind man than that one who refuses to see “. Oh the one liners we learn from those wise elders from our childhood! More will come later! I should write a book about them!

I have no pretensions about bridging the divide between politicians, or between partisan media outlets. But I’d love to discuss the divide that is occurring between families, co workers, and friends. Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your experience about how family or friends have become a bit alienated because of the partisan atmosphere?

I have shared moments with friends that cannot find it easy to understand the dehumanization of such human issues like police brutality or racism. I live in a county where the vast majority of the population is old, white and republican. A big number of them are financially stable, own their homes, boats, RV’s, etc. Their kids are college graduates with jobs and well off as well. I know a lot of them, and I couldn’t be happier for all of them! With all said, for them, their reality is different from others in need of a paycheck, food, health and other basic needs. Their social media news feed’s lack of empathy was very disturbing. It was heartbreaking to see how one group did not see the unbalance in the cases of police brutality against minorities and how they perceived a completely different reality. Why does BLM have to answer for looters, but the NRA doesn’t answer for school shootings? I have friends, including myself that got really depressed at seeing all the hate, all the insults and all the bullying. I at once felt like it was not even worth keeping trying to make this world better, when such important decisions like leaving the country outside of the Paris Climate Agreement or allowing the pipeline keep going. At the same time, I know and love a ton of people that shared the views with the past administration and many, many times, I questioned myself, how could they believe him? Can’t they see the inspirational stories about DREAMers? Then reality hit me. I was torn between friends with different perspectives. I know I must love everybody like myself, but Gosh it keeps getting harder and harder. Then this meme drove by my Facebook feed: “Agree to disagree is reserved for things like coffee or tea. Not racism, homophobia, sexism. Not basic common decency. If I unfriend you during this, it IS personal. We do not have a difference in opinion, we have a difference in morality” … some deep thoughts can be extracted from social media.

In your opinion, what can be done to bridge the divide that has occurred in families? Can you please share a story or example?

We all (including myself) need to take a chill pill, hehe. I have many stories, but most of them ended up like this, going back to one of the most basic steps of positive communication: We will make this world better by avoiding conversations about politics or religion! Showing love above anything and if they insist in talking politics, give them a hug and tell them YOU are my favorite democrat/republican and that’s never going to change. And change the subject to something so silly, they have no other choice but to laugh! I personally don’t use my social media platforms to talk about politics. Period. I use my platforms to empower, bring laughter, share love and do business. Everybody should do the same. Now here’s some good advice: when you see a post that triggers a lot of anger, write a very nasty reply and then delete it! It works wonders!

How about the workplace, what can be done to bridge the partisan divide that has fractured relationships there? Can you please share a story or example?

Sometimes There was some small animosity between employees. At work, we did not allow talking about politics. Plus, my factory has just a few employees. Of them, the democrats didn’t care, but the Trumpists, although not vocal, usually wore maga hats and shirts etc. They were posting about how they were going to win the election, later on, how it was stolen from them, etc. They still wear their hats. The others, just laugh at them.

I think one of the causes of our divide comes from the fact that many of us see a political affiliation as the primary way to self identify. But of course there are many other ways to self identify. What do you think can be done to address this?

I know that the pandemic and quarantine did not help at all in all these issues. People had more time to surf the Internet and experienced emotional drainage due to the reciprocal blaming. Several things: Stop making politics a priority. Search for the good in things, go back to your pre-quarantine self. Bring back to your life the things that made your heart beat harder. Compromise. Listen without prejudice, think without blaming, but with an open heart. Find consensus… and more importantly, always respect.

Much ink has been spilled about how social media companies and partisan media companies continue to make money off creating a split in our society. Sadly the cat is out of the bag and at least in the near term there is no turning back. Social media and partisan media have a vested interest in maintaining the divide, but as individuals none of us benefit by continuing this conflict. What can we do moving forward to not let social media divide us?

I don’t think they do it on purpose. Here are some problems they are facing. Starting by every story has many angles. They publish the angles that are either more convenient or more sellable. They are not the ones sharing the content. It is the people (or the trolls or hackers). However, they are responsible for what is published. To make matters worse, the pandemic gave extra screen time to those in quarantine to get to their own conclusions, based on what their minds feed off. Of course, everybody thinks they’re right. Everybody thinks that those who disagree are wrong and a large amount of them, feel the need to express their point. The moment it is not well received, the online bullying starts… this is a really tough situation and honestly, I don’t know how this can be fixed. Too many ramifications and in the end, it’s up to us to control our engagement…

What can we do moving forward to not let partisan media pundits divide us?

The ideal scenario would be to not take social media posts too personal. To pay no attention to those who come to divide and then make better use of our time. Reduce the social media exposure. Read books, not websites, educate ourselves and those around you and finally please acknowledge that nothing pundits say on any side, is 100% true.

Sadly we have reached a fevered pitch where it seems that the greatest existential catastrophe that can happen to our country is that “the other side” seizes power. We tend to lose sight of the fact that as a society and as a planet we face more immediate dangers. What can we do to lower the ante a bit and not make every small election cycle a battle for the “very existence of our country”?

For this, I blame the politicians. Both sides and their hyperbolically ridiculous attempts to scare us. The way they express themselves is shameful. They teach us that the effects of the other side will be catastrophic. I’m so angry at all of them. We need to censor politicians and hold them accountable for their exaggerations.

Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

  1. Smile as much as possible — Self explanatory! Smiles are like a magical dust that disarms us, puts us in a better mood and calms us in the middle of a storm. When we smile, a legitimate smile will show our peace and will make a big, big difference in people’s attitude. This goes to the person smiling as well as for those who see others smile… My nickname is Sunshine and I smile as much as possible. I laugh like crazy; I make fun of myself to make others laugh and I see the reaction in others. People (at least most people, hehe) love my energy and I make sure I leave people with a smile on their faces. It’s a great feeling. I may not be able to change peoples lives, but a smile to a stranger won’t hurt anybody and I’m sure it also has healing powers!
  2. Practice empathy — we don’t know exactly what goes through the minds of those around us. We all have our own story. This year proved to be extremely rough. So let’s be nice, let’s not judge, let’s keep an open heart and mind. A few years ago, I met a racist man (One important thing I realized is that like many, many people, he did not know he was racist). This man was racist towards Blacks and Puerto Ricans. We became friends. I introduced him to a lot of my black friends and also, to friends and family from Puerto Rico. I am from Puerto Rico. He eventually told me his story about why he felt the way he felt about blacks and Puerto Ricans. When he was a kid, his family was the only white family in a predominantly black and Puerto Rican neighborhood. Things were rough for them. He was abused, hunted and bullied all his life there. That was the root of his resentment. He basically assumed all blacks and Puerto Ricans are the same. He learned he was wrong and changed his perspective.
  3. When engaging in conversations, don’t go biased thinking you’re smarter than the other, we need to learn how to talk with an open heart. Let’s be real, when we engage in conversations with others we know that share different opinions than ours, we tend to look down on them. We look at the person and it passes through our heads that if they feel the way they feel about a specific issue per platform, etc. that they must have limited intellectual capabilities. (Admit it lol, we all have thought that way occasionally and guess what? Others have thought the same way about us as well!). We must stop thinking that way if we really want to engage in meaningful communication with others. If we don’t do this, we will block the possibility of getting some understanding, and that’s a no-no.
  4. Know when to stop. (Or better yet, don’t start). If you keep talking, you may end up bullying or being bullied. I have seen online with tears in my eyes the way friends have destroyed each other’s relationships over the most stupid subjects. The worst is that even if you try to mend those relationships, admit it, things will never be the same. Stop before hurting, please. I have regretted on several instances the things I have posted as replies to some friend’s platforms. I finally realized that it is their page, not mine, so I stopped and like I said previously, if you feel the urge to write something incredibly hurtful, write it! Then delete it! (I learned that in college, when I still thought I would become a secretary…lol) It’s called, cool it off! Humanity needs not also the vaccine for Covid-19, but also a major chill pill.
  5. Understand that chances are that you may not change others’ positions. So stop trying to change their minds. (A dear, really dear friend of mine posted a few Days before the elections a meme that had then candidate Joe Biden hugging a lady from the back and a message that said something kind of nasty, I don’t remember what was it, but it did triggered me. So I replied to her thread: “I hope he doesn’t grab her by the …” (I didn’t say the word, but it was self explanatory lol. I found it hilarious! My girlfriend did laugh at it, so my work was done yay! Not so fast, her unknown to me fanatic started trolling me with subjects that had nothing to do with the Biden meme and I was like, what are you talking about? Who are you? Who gave you a candle in this burial (another grandmas phrase: Quien te dio vela en este entierro?”). I ended up deleting my message and apologizing to my girlfriend, whom I love very much and from that moment on, I stopped bugging into other’s posts. We must remember, one thing is to make a point about something that you are passionate about, the other is try and try and keep trying to prove your point is right and the person’s point wrong. One thing we learned during the past year was that people were very strong about their political position. Let this serve as a ground rule of mutual respect. So the moral of this is: UNFOLLOW, NOT UNLOVE!!!

Simply put, is there anything else we can do to ‘just be nicer to each other’?

Practice kindness. As much as possible. Listen with respect, without prejudice. Be tactful. Don’t dissect in parts the conversations to find what to refute, but try to understand the whole thing. Whether we agree or not, there are reasons for every thought.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

I really want to say yes, still I find it very difficult to say, but as an optimist, I feel in my heart that love will conquer this silly, yet painful battle. In the end, this is a very personal matter. All we can do collectively is being nice to each other, one smile at a time. Take baby steps and hope that the rocks in the path don’t deviate us from the common good.

If you could tell young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our society, like you, what would you tell them? To set up an example.

I would talk to them about the power of one thought, one action. One thought can change lives. A thought put into action can generate a trigger effect that can transcend for years to come. The world is full of people with ideas that need to be put into action. I have indeed engaged on multiple occasions with the youth. My good half Steven and I have a strong connection with them. We take that very seriously, because as most people know, it is easier for the youth to listen to anybody other than their parents. We have seen that our words resonate with them. Their parents sometimes have told us that they tried telling them the same thing we did, but they didn’t listen to them… yet they agree with us on everything!

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Well as a matter of fact, it would be an honor to meet Arianna Huffington! I love her story and she is a major inspiration to me and a lot of people I love. The subject of the conversation would be “Ideas”. Ideas to get Latinas on Fortune 500 Boards, also ideas to bring to us, the little people to make this world better. Ideas to empower women, to help the powerless and how to make the world better, one idea at a time.

How can our readers follow you online?

IG: @themarilynsantiago @wearecarp Sunshineatyourservice@gmail.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/santiagomarilyn/

Thank you so much!!!!!!

Putting The United Back Into The United States: Marilyn Santiago of ‘Creative Architectural Resin… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.