Say Thank You! A Lesson in Gratitude from Emilio Estefan

Last month I took a trip to Miami for Hispanicize 2012. One part of the entire experience has stuck with me each day since I have been back. “Say thank you. It makes a difference.” -Emilio Estefan

Emilio Estefan was awarded the Latinovator Award and he generously shared from his heart what it took to become the success he and his family are today. When he spoke of his wife Gloria, you could hear the love and respect in his voice. Emilio has an amazing story of becoming the man of his family at such a young age in Cuba to succeeding in America as a Grammy Award winning producer and more. He was funny, moving and motivating.

Still the two statements I remember the most:

1. Say thank you.

2. Wake up early.

Two very basic statements especially coming from someone who has accomplished so much.

Emilio Estefan Interview at Hispanicize

Say Thank You. This one is not a problem for me. At times, I will go out of my way to express my gratitude. Not necessarily in a confetti and streamers kind of way but I make it a point to look the person in the eye when I say “thank you.” Even the small tasks that get done could be acknowledged especially if it has made your day/job/project easier.

People appreciate people who say thank you.

In the last few years, I’ve even learned how important it is to say thank you when someone offers you a compliment. Why do we try to dismiss the compliments anyway? Is this a cultural thing? As Latinos or women, or both? I mean, really, someone is saying something nice about you! It’s easy to say thanks too.


“Your last blog post was funny!”

“It just kinda came out that way.”


“Your last blog post was funny!”

“Thanks! I appreciate that!”

See, did that hurt? (Disclaimer: I am not fishing for compliments but do accept them happily.)

Gratitude Quote by Emilio Estefan

Get up early. Well, that one is a bit more challenging. We all know the saying “the early bird gets the taco” … or something like that … “pero, the night owl eats the leftover cheesecake!” I know there are advantages to waking up before sunrise. And one day (when I grow up) I will learn what they are. I have learned enough to know that when successful innovators/entrepreneurs/leaders offer advice, you listen. (So maybe I’ll grow up sooner than you think.)

Tell me, do you say ‘Thank You’? What about waking up early?

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

7 Responses

  1. mama2aidan says:

    Not a Latina by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ll answer anyway! 🙂 I was raised to be grateful for everything in life & my mother worked very hard to make sure I knew how to accept a compliment. Now that I’m the mom, I know just how hard she had to work because it’s a constant struggle with Aidan to get her to be grateful & to graciously accept compliments.

    As far as waking up before sunrise? In SA, I did during the week when I had to get Aidan off to school. But here in AZ, the sun rises at around 5am so it doesn’t work out. I’m not really much of a morning person anyway. I’m much more of a night owl.

    • Please answer any time!! I think it was becoming a mom that made me see how important it is to say ‘thanks’. Knowing you as a mom, Aidan will learn just how you learned from your mama. Thanks for stopping by Tara, fellow night owl!

  2. TejanaMade says:

    I am a night owl but I go through these phases of waking up early and going to bed late. My whole family wakes up kinda late maybe I should take advantage of the early thing. As far as saying Thank You, you know it is hard for me to accept a compliment. I always deflect it and make it seem like it was no big deal when it really is. I suppose it comes from older cousins teasing us when we had educational accomplishments. Who knows but I want to say Thank You more!

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