Ismael Cala, president of Cala Enterprises and founder of the Ismael Cala Foundation, which works to develop leadership skills in disadvantaged youth, is one of more than 25 happiness experts scheduled to speak at the World Happiness Summit in Miami, March 17–19.
The social entrepreneur and former host of his own show on CNN en Español will join Live Happy Co-Founder and CEO Deborah K. Heisz and Live Happy columnist and positive psychology expert Michelle Gielan for a special panel at the Summit on March 19.
LIVE HAPPY: What is your definition of happiness?
ISMAEL CALA: Happiness is created by each of us in our everyday work to achieve excellence. Of course it has nothing to do with having more things but in striving to achieve our desires. We can even be happy when we do not succeed because we have learned the lessons that will help us succeed on another occasion. Our well-being is in our capacity to love, to dream and to reach beyond our fears and comfort zones.
LH: The World Happiness Summit has a special Latin American flair, with your Ismael Cala Foundation and CNN en Español as partners. What can the rest of the world learn about happiness from the Latino culture?
IC: I read recently that many of the happiest countries are in Latin America. I’m not surprised. Latin America has faced great challenges for decades. These challenges require a kind of constructive leadership that can be found among Latinos. We are people who have managed to find light in dark situations. My education and childhood have taught me to find happiness in small things, in my family and in the achievements of everyday life. And to continue working every day for my dreams. I believe that a positive mindset is an intrinsic capacity in all of us that we must bring to its full potential.
LH: Your organization and foundation help youth develop leadership skills to find and fulfill their true purpose. What do you mean when you advise others to “lead from the soul”?
IC: True leadership emerges from the path to abundance, a mindset that is born within each one of us. Leading from the soul is conveying the values and pillars with which you build your life to guide others toward success. Such leaders embrace gratitude as their life philosophy and find abundance in everything around them.
LH: What are three ways to bring out the best in others you live or work with?
- IC:1: Practice emotional intelligence. A leader needs to understand his colleagues’ emotions, strengths and values to be able to get the best from the team. With empathy, the leader puts himself in others’ shoes and understands their reactions. The empathic leader listens and responds.
- 2: Turn obstacles into opportunities. Failures and mistakes are often seen as obstacles, when in reality they are great teachers and can open doors to new opportunities. Keeping an open mind in challenging times can help you gain new experiences that bring you closer to your purpose.
- 3: Learn to collaborate. Leadership is contrary to individualism and ego. A diversity of opinions and knowledge enriches decisions. A strong leader looks at strategies and solutions from different perspectives and invites participation. The first step is to accept your limits and be aware that you do not have to know everything.
LH: Why is a gathering like the World Happiness Summit important?
IC: Happiness is the balance between personal satisfaction, calm and inner peace. This is what I feel when I do what I love, which is to advise others on following the path of well-being and excellence. Thanks to the Ismael Cala Foundation, I have been able to help young people who do not have access to education. A life of service brings me joy. In a society where people look more and more to their own interests, it is necessary to convey this message to a broad audience.
LH: Tell us more about your foundation. How do you reach children who don’t have access to education?
IC: Ismael Cala Foundation collaborates with other foundations and institutions to develop programs for vulnerable children and young people. Our goal is to develop their potential, to make them aware that their capacity has no limits. We teach them that with effort and the right tools, they can achieve their goals. Right now we promote programs of emotional leadership, vocational guidance and education in Latin America and the Caribbean.
LH: What are you most looking forward to about the World Happiness Summit?
IC: My main objective is to inspire people to live to their full potential. I hope to convey how each one of us can become a leader who inspires those around them to be happy, love themselves and seek continued growth in their lives.
For more on the World Happiness Summit, go to Happinesssummit.world.
Donna Stokes is the Executive Editor of Live Happy magazine.