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20 Questions - Posted May 27, 2016 noon
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Photo by Shannon Richardson

20 Questions with Maribel Sotelo, Director of Kids Cafe, High Plains Food Bank

What is the best advice you received when you were beginning your career? Always be kind to everyone you meet. You never know who will be your next boss or client.

How do you use social media to grow your network? Every day, I attempt to make a meaningful connection with at least one person via social media. If it's someone or something I am interested in learning more about, I begin with a share or retweet of their content. That typically opens the lines of communication and I can begin building a network from there.

How do you maintain balance? I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful support system at home and High Plains Food Bank. It is important to me to surround myself with positive people that encourage and empower me.

What has been your wisest investment? Investing in and serving people. Helping others achieve their goals and dreams is the greatest investment we can make as human beings.

How has your past work experience shaped you into a leader? It has offered me a perspective I can now utilize to groom others into leadership positions of their own. Those experiences have made me recognize that serving others is what makes a leader.

What is the best part about your job? Ensuring we provide nutritious meals to students during the week. We serve meals with hope that one day we will end childhood hunger.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and private life? My mom has always been my mentor and life compass. I look to her for support and guidance. In my professional life, I have been surrounded by strong women in leadership positions. They give me a safe space to grow as a professional and provide me with tools to help me succeed. I owe my place in this world to all of these fierce women.

Which living person do you most admire and why? The staff at High Plains Food Bank. The commitment and synergy they have when interacting internally and externally is admirable. They move mountains to ensure only the best experience with our clients and the public. This organization has a true commitment to ending hunger in the Texas Panhandle, and I am so proud to be part of that energy.

Which over-used word or phrase makes you cringe? Filler words – um, uh, er, ah, like, OK, right, and you know – bother me the most.

What is your business philosophy? I make every attempt to ensure that the Kids Cafe staff has a voice when we make departmental decisions. I try to show our team how grateful I am for their work and how important they are to me. I have learned a wonderful business philosophy that is simple: I implement continuous improvement through small changes within the department. Those small, good adjustments create forward movement and thinking.

Which quality do you most value in an employee? I think flexibility and humility are great values. Working in a nonprofit, and particularly at High Plains Food Bank, lends itself to non-traditional work schedules. The majority of the staff holds more than one role or function throughout the day.

What personality trait has most helped you succeed? I learned a long time ago to be compassionate.

Who is your favorite author? I love to read. It is always a treat to read Paulo Coelho.

What did you learn from your best boss? One of my best bosses mentored me and gave me grace when I made serious mistakes. She expected excellence from me and taught me how to achieve it. Your worst? When people respect you and your position, you don’t need to scare or intimidate them into respecting you.

How can Amarillo improve its business environment? I believe doing good for others is always good business. When more businesses adopt community responsibility programs that encourage employees to give back by helping others, it will strengthen the community and business environment as a whole.

Most important tech tool: my iPhone.

Best time management tool: Outlook Calendar.

I can’t live without my: family.

My favorite thing about Amarillo is: how centrally located it is.

Most unusual job or task: I am the backup box truck delivery driver for the Kids Cafe delivery team.

-- the AM Team

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