We had the good fortune of connecting with Erika Obando and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erika, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
One of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life is to follow my instinctual calling to work for a purpose. A lot of times, we get so caught up with having to work jobs that pay our bills that we forget we are dreamers, and creators of anything we want to be. When I joined the workforce, I too jumped into the hamster wheel of working to live the day to day so I can survive. But the day I made the decision of working on the legacy I can leave instead of working to build my resume, my entire life changed. The decision made and the days that followed weren’t easy but it has made all the difference in the world. I feel like my mission in life is coming to fruition as I help others through my living out my purpose.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been very fortunate throughout the years to be able to work in a lot of different professions learning skills that I have applied in several careers. If I had one take away from all of them is that you have to be able to adapt to the moment and allow different opportunities to challenge, prune and build you along the way. It somehow makes sense in the end.
Right out of high school, I started working for attorneys and worked my way up the ladder for over 17 years. But after a while, I realized it had become just a job so I changed gears and pursued my childhood aspirations of being an Interior Designer. At age 31 while working full time I went back to school and six years later, I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design. I enjoyed working as a designer for about five years where I specialized in 3D renderings but this still didn’t seem to feed the passion I was seeking. Eventually, I started doing public speaking and it was then that I felt like all the cards aligned so I can fulfill my purpose. I fell in love with helping others and giving them hope as I shared the journey of my story. I come from very tough beginnings and when I speak in public, I share the tools I used in my life to help me go from being a victim to being victorious. I focus my efforts on topics of women empowerment and youth enrichment and have dedicated my career to helping others find motivation in their circumstances.
The interesting part is that in working all the jobs I did, I was able to pick up many useful tools that help me with my purpose today. For example, working alongside attorneys all those years, taught me the art of writing and how to be strategic and intentional when communicating with words. Those same tools came in handy when I decided to author my first of many books, “Without a Voice – A Women’s Journey To Resiliency” and write my speech for my Tedx Talk, “When Breaking Points Lead to Empowerment”. When I pursued my career in Interior Design, that taught me how to rekindle with the inner artist I had forgotten about. I began painting artwork again as a way to find peace within and explore my creativity. And as I meet so many amazing people now, when I am on stages (or video calls) delivering a speech, I know that it all came to be because of all of the experiences I was fortunate to learn. One important lesson I took away throughout the many professions and careers is that life equals versatility. That as you plan your journey, you must allow for pivoting along the way because no matter how much you think you know where you will end up, life will be the one to guide you to your ultimate purpose.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Wow! Food is such a huge component to having a great Floridian experience… where do I start? The itinerary would definitely revolve around tasting the different flavors which make up South Florida. When it comes to food, one of my go to’s whenever I have friends visiting is LeTub in Hollywood. You can’t get any more unique than that. They are known for their incredibly over-sized delicious burgers however, I like to order their crab legs and french fries! THEY ARE DELICIOUS! Now for drinks, I Iove the view and ambiance of Shooters in Oakland Park. It’s luscious outdoor seating and friendly staff makes you want to spend hours relaxing by the water sipping away at your bottomless Bellinis! I love to surprise my visiting friends by taking them on a quick day trip over to the west coast so they can get the most spectacular sunset experience they’ll ever see! The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is one of the best oceanfront experiences you’ll have! From their spectacular bar views to their fire juggling performances on the beach… it makes you feel like you’re somewhere on an exotic island and you don’t want to leave. While on the west coast, Sanibel and Captiva Islands are a must stop for sure and swing by The Bubble Room for some desert before heading back east! As far as hangouts, just take your pick from the countless bars and restaurants in downtown Fort Lauderdale. You can never go wrong with any of the awesome places downtown has to offer. But I do have a unique hangout that I find so much fun… Glitch Bar. It’s like walking back into my younger days of great 80’s music, arcades and fun times. If you haven’t checked it out yet… it’s a must on your list! I promise!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Shoutout goes to so many countless friends and family who continously take the time to see me, mentor me, help me and love me as I chase one dream after another. I couldn’t do it without the love and support of all of them but in particular Cristian and Dwayne. Thank you for all that you do and for encouraging me to keep dreaming and helping others. I dedicate all that I accomplish to you!
Other: Book Launching Soon: “Without A Voice – A Women’s Journey To Resiliency” Available for speaking opportunities. Schedule through website