Today’s interview is with the lovely founder of Hayo Magazine, Joanna Riquett. They were kind enough to do a piece with our CEO about his multicultural experience. You can check out the story here. Today we talk to Joanna about everything from her travels all over the world and her thoughts on the impact that multicultural individuals can have in the world.
UYD: Can you tell us about your background?
Joanna Riquett: I was born, raised and educated in Colombia. Spanish is my first language and my family still lives there. I moved to Argentina when I was 22 to study a Masters in Content Management, and then stayed because I found a job and a great group of friends. In between I spent two months in New Zealand. I wanted to be the furthest I could be from Spanish speaking countries so I could learn proper English. It was a fun experience. Then, after almost 4 years in Argentina I decided it was time for me to move on and ended up in Los Angeles where my boyfriend, now husband, had just moved. I lived there for a year and then we both moved to Vancouver a year ago.
UYD: Wow so you’ve travelled, lived and worked in several countries. Can you tell us what you’ve learned from your time overseas?
JR: Time gives you back what you have seeded. Doesn’t matter where we are, keeping a positive energy and a good attitude towards life and people only gives back good things.
UYD: How do you usually identify yourself then?
JR: A native Colombian grown citizen of the world. I know it sounds cheesy, but I do feel like the world is my playground and I’d like to explore it as much as I can.
UYD: Haha not cheesy at all. I love it. Talk to me more about your Colombian experience.
JR: Colombia is a great place to be born in. My cultural background has helped me keep on my toes and analyze situations with a different, and sometimes more complex, perspective. It’s far more complicated for us to do some things, like living or studying abroad or spontaneous traveling, because we are required to ask for visas and submit book-length paperwork before stepping into another country, but inevitably you learn humility and perseverance. We don’t have things as easy as other people do, we have to fight for it, work hard to get anywhere and I think this toughens anyone’s way of seeing life.
UYD: I hear you on that. It sounds like it definitely helped you with your career though. Speaking of which, what advice would you give someone looking to get in your line of work?
JR: I studied communications and journalism. I did a Masters in Content Management and for several years I worked with startups and apps thinking that was what I wanted to do, until I realized content was, and has always been, my thing. I created Hayo Magazine because I felt a need for travel content that was both inspirational and useful for travelers.
It is not an easy career. You have to constantly ask yourself what makes you different, why are you doing it and how can you stand out, but it’s so beautiful and comforting when someone comes to you to say you have inspired them. Few things in my life produce that satisfaction, but, man, it’s hard. If you want to do it, you need to have a though spirit and a network to support you.
UYD: Ain’t that the truth?! I definitely concur with you on that! So how do you find the balance between work/travel?
JR: I have to travel because it’s my work! Haha. My idea of travel writing was never backpacking for 6 months and then returning to a ‘regular’ life to save money to travel again. I like to travel as much as I like being home with my husband and my dog. Having my own publication allows me to work while traveling and, at the same time, to connect with other people in the world that want to share their stories.
UYD: Love it. Can you expand on your vision for Hayo Magazine?
JR: I had been writing about travels from a very personal perspective in my first blog in Spanish since 2009. I noticed my own needs when researching information before a trip. I wanted to have practical, yet inspiring information of the places I had never visited before. I wanted to know where to take great photos, where to have an amazing meal or to have the best cocktails, but I couldn’t find those answers other than in Yelp or TripAdvisor. I created Hayo Magazine to talk about the real deal. I want my friends and readers to experience a city with the recommendations that a good friend would give to them. Hayo is about finding people with great stories to talk about their cities. It’s not me saying what to do, it’s the locals portraying the city that they love.
UYD: Since we are talking about travel here, what is one way in which you connect with people when you travel?
JR: I wrote this piece about networking while traveling, which is pretty much what I do. I always start with my friends and then everything else comes together.
UYD: Transitioning here to your personal life. How have resolved that feeling of home?
JR: The always-savvy “Talking Heads” say: “Home is where I want to be”, and my husband and I always say: “Home is where my dog is”, so as long as my heart is there, home is anywhere.
UYD: The mission statement of this platform is “use your difference to make a difference” and that is something we try to live by everyday. What is one way you use your difference to make a difference?
JR: With Hayo Magazine, which is a media outlet, I try to respect and show the positive side of the places that are usually marginalized by other media. I’m from a country that has always been related with war and drugs, so I personally understand how awful it feels when people can only associate your country with that. This is how I try to make a difference, using my publication to showcase the bright side of the story.
UYD: Yes! There’s always a positive side to different cultures and I love that you show that. Can you talk about a time when you overcame a challenge by accepting who you are and embracing your global identity?
JR: I felt very different when I first moved to North America. I have an accent, I don’t always understand phrases or jokes, and I don’t have the same cultural background, so it was intimidating at first. I realized then that I could use all these things that made me different to my advantage and I stopped being afraid of introducing myself or starting conversations with strangers. I have overcome many challenges in my life that have brought me here and not everyone is lucky enough to say the same, so keeping that in mind has helped me embrace my difference and ignore malicious comments.
UYD: Sage words Joanna! What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
JR: Pay attention to your English class! Well, that and never dismiss a dream, learn to be more patient and recognize when it’s time to shut your mouth (advice that I’m still taking).
UYD: Haha! I think we all are. How do you see multicultural individuals making an impact in the world?
JR: Multicultural individuals are actually the ones that can make a difference. Being multicultural is learning about others, what makes us different and what makes us equal, what will help us work together as one global community. It’s knowing where you stand compared to the others and recognizing what bridges can be built to facilitate said impact. That’s why traveling matters.
UYD: You are so right about that Joanna so we are almost done here so let’s get some rapid fire questions in. Which country has the best food?
JR: Japan and Thailand
JR: Ah, I have to say Colombia, of course. I miss my folk music so much!
UYD: friendliest people?
JR: Thailand, Canada and Colombia.
UYD: Well there we go! Thank you so much for your time and everyone please check out the great things Joanna is doing at Hayo magazine.
JR: Thank you for interviewing me. This was fun!