Emmy de la Cruz

Human Resources Specialist

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

Hanging out with my friends in the playground. We danced the mayflower every year at P.S. 151. I was so excited because May is my birthday month and matching the energy of my classmates every time we jumped up and over each ribbon. Little did I know at the time, that was my first US history lesson. My mother was a Latin American history teacher in our homeland of Dominican Republic, where I was born. To this day, I still feel like a nerd when I go down the YouTube rabbit hole of movie style documentaries.

2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?


8 years-old when my parents split up and I had to quickly become a grown-up but I wasn’t ready back then. My mother swears I walked before I crawled at 9 months old and by 6 years old I was ahead of the class. With two first place math bees hanging on my shelf, my first grade teacher told my mother (who gave up her teaching job when we immigrated) that I need to slow down. That was the first time I started to feel like a second class second, but the professional term is “imposter syndrome” or is that a diagnosis that only exists in the US? Who knows, I was the one who helped my mother study for her citizenship test. Then 9/11 happened and I felt so scared. Can’t remember who was the one who picked me up in Bushwick, Brooklyn because everyone was covered in dust. All this time, people kept telling me (you must’ve been born *lucky*). No, I earned my stripes. At 25 that’s when I learned I was born to a star because it only takes a second to lose it all. No more concern about checking off all the right boxes when we were telling our history wrong.

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

Honesty, 100%. It has gotten me into trouble in the past, but with time I learned my history lesson. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. I second guessed myself too many times because english is my second language. This is my third chance to set the record straight, keep it positive or keep it moving is my lifetime motto. Only say good luck if we’re playing the lotto. We don’t say break a leg either, because everyone is invited to the party – it’s the Mayflower dance every month.

4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

Here are the three books that helped me get out of a rut when I was feeling down on my luck and simply *stuck*

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I read it on the subway on my way to my fashion job (that I hated at the time) because I wasn’t sure where to go. To this day, it’s a quick and easy read whenever I’m feeling lost. It’s a positive spiritual message that’s been recommended by many before me. When the shepherd leaves the desert, all the shepherd needs is their internal compass, faith in themselves, and faith in love (not war).

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

Don’t judge the book by the title, Lana Del Rey was recorded in an interview recommending this book for a similar sentiment I shared above. Hearing her express a similar feeling (after my experience) only helped validate. It was sitting on my bookshelf for a while because I thought it was a boring business textbook. It’s a great book to read when you need a shift of mindset because that’s where it all starts.

Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite by Paul Arden.

I picked up this handy dandy business lesson in a Barnes & Noble bookshop when I was obsessed with breaking into advertising (before Mad Men came on air). It’s a random choice for recruiting, but a gentle visual aid to help problem solve by coming up with simple and effective counter-intuitive solutions. (This is the part of the song when I give a shout out to Host Hung for allowing me to remix the narrative *pretty please*)

5. If you wrote a ‘user manual’ for how people should interact with you, what would be the most important point in the manual?

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Keep calm and carry on because we gotta get to the point, today.

6. If I were to go to people who don't think very highly of you, what do you think they would say about you?

Don’t know. Don’t care. Google people who have been called difficult in the past. Some of them were burned at the stake. Grateful we moved on from ancient history. Those were scary times to be alive, especially as a woman in disguise. (no I’m not Mulan but I played her role plenty of times for my family)

7. What is the number one thing you would recommend every person in the world to practice from now on in order to increase their happiness and wellbeing?

Positive self talk and quality time with people you admire, respect, and love. Now that the pandemic is over, also go outside and live a little. A little sunshine keeps you bright.

8. Have you always had the same political beliefs? If so, why do you think you have held them so long? If not, what event caused you to change your view?

Hung, I was interested in politics at a very young age. I had to be a diplomat navigating multiple cultures growing up in New York City. My experience hasn’t solidified until I started reading the paper. Don’t worry, I’m not running for president any time soon, I wasn’t born here.

9. What is that thing which is OK to ask you about, but which other people are wary to do so?

My belief: You can ask anything you want if it’s framed politely and with genuine curiosity. I am a retired detective after all. Special shout-out to Mr. Avery at Brooklyn Tech who told me I would never make it as an undercover agent. Well I’m a free agent now baby. Call me double oh eight. All people want to feel is seen and heard, not interrogated, and especially not dismissed. School’s out for summer, winter, fall, and spring. My dress code is the same every season.

10. What’s the last image on your camera roll? Care to explain?

Yes, my grandfather whose picture I didn’t see until yesterday. He married my grandmother who we lost to breast cancer recently. I almost felt like quitting during the process. Then I talked to Hung, and I got back up.

11. What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?

The best purchase? Any and every plane ticket because the experience taught me something new every time.

12. What is your most prized possession? What’s the story behind it?

My bed! Corny, but I’m sitting on it while I’m typing this. My moon is in taurus, I love working from a big comfy couch. It makes me feel at home. (editor’s note to ensure to confirm that SHE is not crazy, she is *gifted*…Big Comfy Couch is the show our grandmother would play for us when we would visit. Now I have a green velvet couch in my studio in her honor. Two friends helped put together before brunch. Wish I knew the name of the brand, I got it off Amazon)

13. What’s your favourite meal? Can you say why?

Anything that’s warm, homemade, and authentic. If I had to choose one, it would be siesta antes la fiesta. Some cities call it brunch but Baxter you know I don’t speak Spanish.

14 .What would be the perfect gift that someone could buy you right now?

A hug! It has no price.

15. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

 Having an honest and open conversation with industry legends. Oh wait, we’re doing it right now Hung!

16. If you were to survive the zombie apocalypse, what role would you play in the new society that would follow?

Oh god no, I would be the first one to go.

17. If you could witness one moment in history which one would it be and why?

The dance party after every riot, that’s when the most fun happens.

18. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn the lesson the hard way?

The time I nearly DROWN at the beach while being uninsured in the united states of america because we were short staffed after the PANDEMIC. Not to be too dramatic, I’m just feeling a little upset because I nearly died during on the beach after my workplace sabbatical. So stupid, and then my grandmother died so I lost all my fucks to give. Is it a sin? Nope, it’s the truth. HR would respond to this feedback as “a bitter pill to swallow”. It’s in the past now, I’m only 5% bitter.

19. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?

Someone with an opinion. If they’re good at spotting problems then I can work with them on finding solutions. Quick and simple. All we have to meet each other halfway. My accountant gave me that advice while setting up shop. The day my grandmother died is the day I committed to being my own boss. She was the last one standing and the first one who set up shop.

20. What is the optimal number of people in a team, with you in it? What roles are those people playing?

Five, max. Look at all the bands.

21. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?

Can we please stop hiring Chief Diversity Officers? We want to be so progressive yet police everything (reiterating a comment I saw on Twitter). Because believe me, they’ll make you the martyr if you die trying to make everyone happy. It is mission impossible and it is not worth your life. Because even when you’re having a “bad” day at the office, there are people who love you at home. Sometimes you have to pack your bags and go. Tomorrow is another day but the present is the only gift you will ever have, and that is priceless (in any market).

22. What is your biggest professional regret? What do you think might have happened otherwise?

None, now please excuse me while I get up and get ready for yoga class Hung, before I lose my mind. (What love to hear what the audience is playing today to keep their spirits high) or should we say positive since that’s a more PC term?

23. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

What does the HR team listen to when they’re feeling overwhelmed and underthanked?

24. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Omg I jumped the gun!

Please patch the torch to… Jessica Pelaez (but I would die if you scored Steven Bartlett on your show) Jess because she’s my mentee and so proud of how quickly she learned the ropes. We had brunch on Sunday and it really cheered me up.

Thank you to Emmy de la Cruz for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Emmy on LinkedIn.

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