Sharing Insight into the Latinx Community with Gonzalo Mejia

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October is part of National Hispanic Heritage Month! Gonzalo and I are excited today to have this conversation that needs to be discussed, but not everybody knows how to talk about it. On this podcast, we talk about a lot of things real-estate-centric and I'm so excited about what has come out in the last few years of having conversations about different people groups in America. Today we're going to talk with Gonzalo about the group that we refer to as Latinx. There are different terms and we'll dig into what they mean with Gonzalo.

[1:04] Monica presents the topic.

[6:04] Gonzalo explains neither Hispanic nor Latino is a race. It is a culture and ethnicity, not a race.

[7:02] Hispanic is a term used by the government. Hispanic is somebody who descends from a country or culture where Spanish is the main language.

[8:53] What matters is how the person identifies, as Latinx, or Hispanic. People often identify as Latinx. People talk about Latin culture, not Hispanic culture.

[10:31] It is important never to label somebody else; let them label themselves.

[11:05] Latinx is new. The intention of Latinx is to make it non-gender-specific.

[16:23] National origin can be a tricky topic for Hispanics. It is a point of pride. Never assume where somebody is from.

[20:12] Also, national origin is a protected class, so be very careful asking people where they are from.

[22:11] Highlight things that you have in common instead of things you don't have in common. Always consider how the receiver of the question would feel about the question. "Tell me more" is a neutral question.

[26:21] Whether a person is first-generation or has been here for generations makes a difference to them. It's important not to make assumptions about people based on their appearance.

[28:28] A mistake real estate agents make is asking the client if they would like an agent who speaks Spanish. That is the customer's choice to request, not the agent's choice.

[32:00] An agent who is having communication issues with a customer should look for a remedy.

[33:15] The most important part is understanding the customer's needs. Language isn't the top priority. The decision-making should be similar to any other customer call. Gonzalo explains a non-discriminatory approach.

[35:16] There have been conversations going on about race in the United States for several years. Race is an unspoken important element in our culture and our lives.

[41:17] In most Latin American countries, home ownership is not as accessible as it is here in the States.

[42:44] Many people come to the States and don't realize the opportunities they have for homeownership. Education about opportunities is important. In the U.S., you have to borrow money first before you qualify for a mortgage, which will take education in the Latinx communities.

[44:12] Gonzalo talks of high-context and low-context cultures. In the U.S., we tend to be very transactional, especially around real estate transactions. In Latin culture, people like to be friends and want to feel connected.

[45:35] Communication is important. In conversation, they don't go into business right away. Friendly small talk comes first. A Latinx customer may feel mistreated by a U.S. agent's directness.

[48:22]  We are all humans and we all care about our customers. Be sure that you show that care.

[50:48] Gonzalo has made greater connections with his customers. He feels he had become more sensitive to the customer's cultural needs.

[51:32] Throughout Gonzalo's career, he has had customers around the world. He likes going and meeting customers in other countries and it's such a good experience.

[53:54] Multi-generational housing is common in Latin culture. It has to do with access to homeownership.

[58:29] It is important to remember the diversity of the Latinx community. There are different cultures in each country.

[1:00:50] Monica invites you to expand and start getting to know your Latinx neighbors.

[1:02:01] Gonzalo recommends biographies in general for learning about people from different cultures.

[1:03:34] Monica thanks Gonzalo for sharing and being such a needed voice in our industry. Monica invites you to look at additional resources to continue this important conversation.


"We are in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month and we at NAR are thrilled to share this conversation with you." — Monica

"What's going on at the border is such a small part of this conversation and it's dominating the conversation." — Gonzalo

"Neither Hispanic nor Latino is a race, meaning that Hispanics or Latinos come in all shapes and colors. Many people tell me, 'Oh, you look Latino,' when really Latinos look so different [from each other]." — Monica

"We don't say, 'I'm a Hispanic,' we say, 'I'm a Latino.' … We talk about the Latin culture. We don't talk about the Hispanic culture." — Gonzalo

"Sometimes that's a challenge when you deal with people from a culture that you are not familiar with. You tend to say or ask questions that you didn't think through if it was right or not." — Gonzalo

"Don't ask a question if you don't really care about it." — Gonzalo

"When I go to another country and people laugh at me, I laugh with them. I try not to take myself too seriously. I'd rather throw it out there and try and have them laugh. I'm OK with that." — Monica

"The Hispanic/Latino community is so large, that doesn't mean everybody has to get along and they're all the same." — Gonzalo

"In most Latin American countries, home ownership is not as accessible like it is here in the States." — Gonzalo

"In America, sometimes, it's even the opposite. It's like, 'Oh, don't do business with your friends, then you're going to deteriorate your friendship relationship." — Monica

"Even though I grew up in the South, I continually have to remind myself and train myself just to slow down." — Monica

"A lot of my … U.S. customers have created greater connections with me because I have treated them with that kind of extra care that I showed to my international customers that they felt like I offered something different that other agents weren't offering." — Gonzalo

"The future is customer care and customer service because if a computer can do it, a computer will. So be a better human." — Monica

"The diversity … is so important. [There are] different cultures, even inside each one of our countries. … We are not all the same in any way, shape, or form. We come from so many different places. The geography … is also very diverse. Never make assumptions!" — Gonzalo

"As the world becomes more computerized, we need to keep our focus on being exceptional humans. Take one of these NAR Diversity classes to expand your understanding of people who are different from you. … We can all use a bit more understanding and compassion." — Monica

About Gonzalo Mejia

Gonzalo Mejia is an 18-year veteran of the real estate industry. He has been an agent, broker associate, managing broker, and now team leader of the Dream Home Team in Jacksonville, FL where they are one of the top producing teams in their market. One of their specialties is global business, and they work with customers from all over the world.

Gonzalo has a background in financial controlling and used to work for multinational companies in the USA and South America.

With over 25 years of experience as a leader, instructor, and speaker, Gonzalo is a licensed real estate instructor in Florida and an approved instructor for REBAC, RRC, REBI, and Florida REALTORS®. He has been a featured speaker at several national and international events.