Influencer Neyla Diaz: facilitator of excellence
Interview October 2019
Could you share with us some information of your family life?
My husband, Jason, and I have been together for 20 years, and we’ve been married for 12,5 years now. We don’t have children yet. I have 5 brothers and 2 sisters, but we didn’t all grow up together in the same household. Both of my parents are alive and are very supportive of who I have become. I am an animal lover and we have 7 dogs.
Could you share with us some of your educational background and past professional experiences as we know that you are an entrepreneur?
After completing primary school at Romer School, I attended Peter Stuyvesant College, now KAP (VWO) and after a sabbatical year, I went to study in Canada at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. My student years were characterized by the fact that I was unable to make choices in what I wanted to learn, so I was allowed as an exception to do high school exams in 10 instead of the regular 7 subject matters at that time and when I went to University, I did two majors. I have a BSc degree in Chemistry and one in Environmental Science. I also have two specializations, one in Toxicology and one in Ecological Management. When I returned to Curaçao, I worked for two years at EcoVision, an environmental consultancy firm in Curaçao, before starting full time at Farminpex.
Nowadays, I don’t do very much with Environmental Science in my professional life, but it has become a lifestyle and I live daily with consideration for the environment. Through the awareness created by studying these subject matters, this has become part of my personal frame of reference, which entails a special interest as a citizen in environmental issues.
When I went to study in Canada I was very consciously choosing my subject matters, as I always said I didn’t want to end up working in an office building, I wanted a job in the outdoors. The irony of life has it that I now work in office buildings, running a business, and visiting our customers in hospitals and laboratories, throughout the Caribbean, yet all indoors. I have come to accept it, though, because the outdoors is still out there anyway and I get to go there whenever I feel like it.
What was your favorite subject?
My favorite field of study has always been quantum photochemistry. It is about the study of the effects of light on atoms, molecules and other particles.
What is the opposite of “light”?
Well, I would say that the opposite of light is an inverse photon particle of light or to put it differently it would be light going in the opposite direction, as either a particle or a wave. It is unlikely that we would be able to perceive this phenomenon with the human eye, therefore we perceive it as darkness. Or perhaps the opposite of light is density, since there is evidence that what we consider to be the ‘vacuum’ or ‘darkness’ is actually the densest areas of space. Lately I have been pondering the nature of duality; whether duality really exists. I am exploring the notion that everything is not duality, but comes three’s. Why? I think it’s the natural evolution of things to evolve to create more space and dimension, so it would be natural for something lineair like duality to evolve into the next phase which would be something that encompasses space. The triangle is the smallest shape that encloses space. At some time the “why” of this will reveal itself. What fascinates me is not only the intellectual exercise to justify the existence of this phenomena, but also the answer to the question: “How can we use this new information to the benefit of the greater good?”
What kind of business are you exactly in and what is your company’s name?
The name of the company is Farminpex. We provide medical laboratory equipment, consumables, logistics and technical support to medical laboratories throughout the Greater Caribbean. We also provide laboratory equipment for use for food safety testing, veterinary testing, pharmaceutical testing and other non-human applications. My father started this company 36 years ago. It took some time for me to convince myself that I wanted to run the company. I have a technical education background, and a fellow student who was studying psychology during my university years labelled me as a person with traces of autism. It was a big challenge for me to get so far out of my comfort zone.
We have met before when I was present at the graduation of the EPP course of LMI and you explained how you have dealt with the challenges in your company. I was pleasantly surprised by your resilience. Can you expand a bit on this?
Resilience at all levels and in all aspects of an organization is key in guaranteeing the survival and long-term sustainability of a business. I am now deliberately working on the habits of thought to build resilience in our team. I firmly believe that for a business to be solid, the people working in the business need to be competent, productive, and inspired to come together in pursuit of a shared common goal. It is my role to make sure this happens, and it is something that, despite my human condition, I thoroughly enjoy doing. I can truly enjoy the successes of other people, without losing sight of the preservation of self, my autonomous me. Resilience is a trait that helps us to be successful under any circumstance.
You are also active in markets outside of Curaçao. Does this require an extra tool kit, as different markets have different characteristics?
Yes, it requires a high level of adaptability and a high degree of persistence because working in different markets means living in different in multiple realities. When you work in different markets, you multiply the challenges, and also the opportunities. You need to be highly autonomous and should be free of judgement, you cannot be judgmental. You don’t need to have an opinion on everything that happens, and you don’t need to bother too much with why things are the way they are. It is as it is, and communicating with people based on the mindset of improving whatever their current condition is in a way that is meaningful for them will let you get the most out of any situation. It is easier said than done! This is why we work hard on ourselves to be excellent; I work hard and consistently on improving my skills and habits of thoughts, and I demand the same of my team. I frequently run a virus scan check on my thoughts, to discover any limiting beliefs that may keep me from reaching my goals. I require commitment from my team, and I want them to have personal goals.
This quote of Jim Rohn comes to mind as we are discussing this: “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job”, because the moment you improve as a person, your job will automatically improve. I have trained in Neuro Linguistic Programming and I am following Effective Personal Leadership, I firmly believe in organic leadership and I am patient yet systematic in regard to growth, because I know that you can’t dig into the sand every day to look at how the roots of a seed you planted are doing, it takes its time. You cannot pull on a blade of grass with the hope that it will grow faster. I also allow people to make mistakes as we discover our path and organize our growth. I often tell my team they have the permission to make as many mistakes as they wish, as long as they make every mistake only once, reflect and adopt the learnings from these mistakes.
Where this come from?
I am allergic to mediocracy. I pursue excellence, which is not the same as pursuing perfection.
What is the difference in your view between pursuing excellence and pursuing perfection?
It is similar to the difference between stubbornness and having an iron will. Stubbornness is an unwavering belief or conviction that is ranked higher than a desired result, while an iron will or excellence is an unwavering desire to obtain a specific result. A desire to achieve a goal allows you to consider alternatives and adapt to that which really works and let go of that which doesn’t work, including beliefs and convictions. Stubbornness is, to hold on to your convictions and beliefs, to regard them as absolute truth above all.
Where do you want to be 5 years from now with the business?
In 5 years, we will have doubled the businesses.
How many people are employed by your company?
Locally we are employing 23 people and internationally 2 directly employed and if you would add other related organizations to ours, we should add another 6 employees.
And when do you consider that you have been successful, let us say 5 years from now?
We have doubled our business, and the business is achieving long-term sustainability. We will have achieved this by being an organization with an amazing team that deserves our customer’s business. By having excellent people and deploying sound business practices focused on long-term sustainability, we will have created an environment where success is inevitable.
How do you know you are successful?
Because of our sustained excellence. We consider long term business very important, we don’t necessarily want to be the best; we want to be the first choice of our clients. This is the intention that we are manifesting. I believe one should not allow oneself to get away with mediocracy and we stimulate people to try things out and fail gloriously and try again but…learn the lesson. This is what we think of the future, this is our greatest skill. The world is going to change so fast that we need to be resilient and have the ability to adapt to the changes. Resilience and adaptability are going to be the key skills of the future.
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
My BIG WHY manifested itself to me about 3 years ago when I woke up at 3 am, and I was assaulted at gun point by 4 armed gunmen looking for cash and other valuables in the bedroom of my house. My dogs had been drugged, and my husband was at work. He was called for an emergency, so I was home alone. I tried to maintain control of the situation and let as much time as possible pass by as the gunman were asking me where our safe was, which we didn’t have, and money, which I also didn’t have. I miraculously survived this armed assault, and I heard them talk about desperately needing money, as one said he had just gotten out of jail and had a wife and kids to feed. I started wondering what level of desperation and lack of vision for the future these young men had to have that would bring them to act like they did. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice, if we lived in a community where people did not reach that level of desperation and were able to live a life and develop into a completely autonomous person, capable of manifesting their complete balanced self? As they were purely in a survival mode concerned only with survival, their motives were very primitive, instead of living in a creative mode and using the creativity that they must also have had, to express themselves, communicate and create in a constructive way with the rest of the world. If one part of a person’s expression of the force of strife, creativity or language is missing, that person will develop a hostility towards life.
I am very extreme in my belief in a person’s personal responsibility and the authority a person has to autonomously decide what to do with his or her life. Basically, everything is within the scope of your personal responsibility. My BIG WHY has become to Build Healthy Communities. On the level of the individual, I want to facilitate that people can manifest their complete and autonomous Self.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
Definitely re-experiencing my existence with and through my body again, as I lost this sense of self and connection with my body after experiencing sexual abuse at the age of 17 at the hands of a sports director. For many years after the incidence, I experienced my life only as consciousness, ignorant of my physical body. With the help of some great people I met on my life’s path, including a physician who believed in energy and alternative therapies, I underwent a so-called REM therapy and regression therapy. That made it possible for me to release this trauma and start a process of acceptance of my body again.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
I am an NLP practitioner and I have a very strong sense of authenticity. If it doesn’t feel ok, then it is not. It is not easy, but by striving to be authentic to myself, related to my purpose of life, I solve dilemma’s. If it’s a really tough dilemma, I sometimes do this exercise to figure out the optimal choice for myself. If I had three choices, I would put three chairs in my room and sit on chair A representing point of view A and then sit on chair B representing point of view B etc…I make deliberate contact with the positive intention behind the point of view and evaluate how it feels and how I could compromise, if compromising is possible. So that works for me. If it is an unanswered question I have, rather than a dilemma, I will go for a long hike in nature, that will do wonders.
How about your intuition do you use it and how do you apply it in what situations?
I definitely use my intuition. I even promote it to be used at our office. We have a number of colleagues who have this ability; for example,they would tell me that they were thinking about a customer or they had a dream about a customer and the customer calls. We make it safe to talk about intuition and to use it in our organization. The next step is to direct it towards achieving synchronicity.
How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
I read a lot and I watch a lot of educational video’s, recorded speeches, lectures and interviews on YouTube, like Impact Theory and Evan Carmichael. There are so many gurus, and I have a sound doses of skepticism when watching these videos, because I believe that you should always define your own truth. I am involved in “continuous lifelong education” and my preferred method of learning is in a classroom, because I have a preference for a more auditory and interactive learning style. When you are in a class, you are allowed to ask a thousand questions, right? In this lifetime there is so much you can learn, that is why it is important to learn from others that have lived before us and stand on their shoulders, instead of self discovering things only based on my own experience. I recently developed a new business card, it symbolizes that as an entrepreneur and investor, I build from what was before my lifetime, then add on it with what I can contribute in my lifetime and pay it forward to the future. We are part of a continuum.
What are your strengths?
I have this unique ability to connect dots in abstract ways and see the connections, that maybe can be unconventional and at a very high abstract level. I genuinely wish well for others and I want to contribute to others, not financially per se, also with words of encouragement, and belief in a person’s potential even at times when they don’t even believe in their own capabilities. There is one important boundary, and that is the preservation of myself.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
I am passionate about synchronized swimming. It has been proven, that this sport that requires the ability to be upside down, in an unnatural medium like water, with a mastery of spatial coordination without touching others, muscle strength and mastery of movements creates more neural connections in the brain than any other sport in the world. After my own career as a synchronized swimmer, I started coaching. I coached for about 12 years in Curaçao and Canada, until my work and travel schedule made it difficult to keep up with the discipline and consistency of practice necessary to develop competitive athletes. In a next phase of my life, I would like to return to synchronized swimming.
If you as Neyla would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
Well, it depends on the context. I would say: “My name is Neyla, it is a pleasure to meet you”, and I would start asking questions. I have this tendency to ask more questions than to speak about myself.
How would you describe Neyla in one word or one sentence?
I am a facilitator of excellence, greatness, autonomy, achievement, discovery and I have a tendency to live in the future. This has its downsides, as I tend to lose track of the present and the now. What I have learned by following the EPP and EPL courses is to plan the activities to get to that future, which helps me to become more objective towards the “here and now” and also to become “realistic”. When you don’t fear hard work, it is easy to believe everything is possible. I used to believe that I am limitless and that not even the sky is the limit. Well now I think, that everything is still possible, but perhaps not always in the time frame you might have considered originally. So rather than compromise on what is possible, I negotiate the time frame in which it will become possible.
Where did you get this mindset from?
This mindset of thinking everything is possible is the greatest gift I got from my parents. Both have lifetimes of achievements and are in that sense great role models to me.
Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
In life, it is my mother and my father, both of them in their own, unique ways. Growing up, my mother was at home for us and frequently interacted with us. She made it possible for us to be exposed to all sorts of experiences, like the outings to the Zoo or museums, Scouting, Music and Sports. When I made the national synchronized swimming team, the practices intensified and I chose to drop the other activities and remain involved in sports. Later I also made the national badminton team and I played volleyball. I grew up being exposed to different kinds of triggers and experiences. I now want my children and basically every child on this planet, to experience the same kind of varied experiences, as it helps to develop our brains to the max.
My father inspired me, because he had the courage and insight to capture opportunities that presented to him and build on these opportunities. He doesn’t talk a lot, he is a man of few words, and he always thinks a lot of steps ahead. He is an excellent strategist. Both my parents believed in intuition and had incredible foresight. In my professional habits of thought, I draw a lot of inspiration from the late Jim Rohn and if I could go back in time, I would look him up, to meet him. And finally, two people who continue to inspire my business attitudes are Arthur Rosaria of ActionCoach Dutch Caribbean and Brad Sugars, founder of ActionCoach International.
What is a personal trait that you have that you need to work on to improve it?
I want to enhance my ability to switch quickly and adapt better to the communication style of the person I am communicating with. The better I can adapt to the other, the smoother our conversations and the more pleasant the interaction. I have a tendency to be a little impatient at times, because I want to move quickly and solve things rapidly, and I end up taking shortcuts in my communication.
What are some of the challenges, lessons learned, that you have encountered in your life when you ultimately discovered your talents and strenghts? What was a defining moment in your life?
Well those were two moments, as I mentioned before, when I was 17 years old and when I was 32 years ( 3 years ago). They shaped me to a large part into the person I am today.
Where do you want to be 15 to 20 years from now with your career as a business owner?
In my vision of Building Healthy Communities by facilitating for individuals the manifestation of their complete and autonomous Self, I will have created at least 150 jobs or positions of employment in whatever companies that I own. I would have set up multiple small to medium-sized companies and these job positions would be in different companies doing different things, possibly even on different islands. I would have created opportunities for creative expression in all the types of arts like kinesthetic arts, visual arts, auditory arts and any other future forms of art, including synchronized swimming.
Furthermore, I will have created opportunities for language development (including math as a language). I believe humans interact through the manifestation of “Self”. For example, my boundaries are fluid; I can manifest in different ways to interact with my environment. We as people are the stories that we tell, see the text of the poem in Spanish representing this idea. That is why I think language is important. If you don’t have an adequate vocabulary, you are handicapped in your communications with the collective. As a collective, we are not yet fully developed and competent to communicate clearly without the use of language, like through the mind. So we have to be able to express ourselves in a clear enough language, even if it is numbers; you have to be able to communicate deliberately.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now, celebration on your birthday?
I would want them to say, that I was able to accelerate their learning which enabled them to achieve greatness faster compared to if they hadn’t met me.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
I believe there are still countless opportunities left beyond the edge of my imagination, all I have to do is stretch my imagination and the opportunities will reveal themselves. This holds true not only for me, but for all of us in Curaçao.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you for the work you are doing. Your work helps get all of us closer to the critical mass necessary to achieve collective change for the better.
One of the 250 Community Influencers
Neyla Diaz, is the director of Farminpex, a company that sells and offers maintenance of medical and nonmedical laboratory equipment. Neyla is a very low-profile entrepreneur, who works internationally. Her company is offering employee positions to 23 employees locally and 8 internationally. As she is committed to lifelong learning, she not only has the ambition to expand her business and venture in other types of businesses in the future, but she is also dedicated to enable our youth to become their best versions. A role model in terms of resilience and adaptability, she considers these two traits the most important ones in the 21st century, when so much will transform at the same time in all areas of our life. Her belief in her own abilities, makes her dream and create beyond the limits of her far-reaching imagination, which is rarely seen and her commitment to enable youth to develop in all areas of their life to become constructive, balanced citizens indicates that we will hear a lot more from Neyla in the future. She will not limit her talents, knowledge and skills to only expanding her businesses. Neyla ’s focus, her commitment to excellence and her drive to enable our youth to become their best versions definitely makes her, as a representative of the business sector, one of the 250 Influencers in our society.