An interview with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program alumna Yari Rivas, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Alterna Communications.
First things first – tell us briefly who you are and what you do.
I am Yari Rivas, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Alterna Communications, a Digital Marketing and Strategic Communication firm based in Puerto Rico.
Since I was in college, I dreamt of creating an alternative communications agency committed to creating a positive impact. I co-founded Alterna in 2009 with my partner Angel after we got married and started visualizing the future of communications by providing effective, innovative, and accessible integrated strategic communications services, with excellent results for our clients.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, I was a journalist and a producer for 15 years and earned a master’s degree in Mass Communications from Florida International University. I believe in the power of storytelling and have participated in the Fundación Gabriel García Márquez para el Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano seminars. Also, I am part of a Vital Voices Global Partnership network, a non-profit founded on the simple idea that nations and communities cannot move forward without women's voices in leadership.
In December 2021, I graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Since then, I have continued thriving and am committed to the growth of Alterna.
How have you stayed motivated in the face of the uncertainty and challenges resulting from Covid-19 and the economic fallout?
My resilient character has helped me during pandemic to stay optimistic. And that vision has guided me to get the support I needed to create new opportunities as a business owner. One of the greatest motivations was to connect with other business owners and mentors through the 10KSB Program and local networks in Puerto Rico.
How do you hold yourself accountable to meet your personal or business goals?
Allowing myself to get out of my comfort zone and taking little or big actions to check the items from the growth plan I completed last December. One of my biggest "ajá" moments was just a few months later when I completed the growth plan. When I looked back, I realized we already did the main items and explored beyond it. Now, I can see the challenges we want to overcome and the innovations we want to pursue to continue growing.
For example, I’ve been more vocal lately and am overcoming the fear of being in the spotlight. For some time now, I have made others bright and shine through Alterna’s digital marketing and strategic communication initiatives. Now, I am setting aside time to highlight our story of resiliency and business innovations.
How do you nurture and grow your relationships while running a business?
I restarted my yoga practice. I take advantage of the time zone and do virtual sessions with an instructor in India first thing during the day. It nurtures me, helps to create awareness, and creates a balance for my other roles as mother of two beautiful girls, spouse, and friend.
What does the word empathy mean to you and how is it beneficial in a negotiation?
Empathy means connection, and this is crucial to negotiating.
With all of the distractions in our daily lives, how do you stay present and engaged?
I have a toddler and a beautiful 5-year-old daughter that inspire me to be present and dedicate quality time. Also a lot of planning and execution.
What would you recommend to anyone trying to start his/her own business?
I would say to focus on your business plan, mission, and vision and start building from that. Then get a project management app that best fits you and take action.
What has been your biggest learning from the pandemic?
To be kind and true to me. That has led me to be living my purpose.
Finish this sentence: The one thing I can’t live without is: my family.
What is a piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
Breathe, everything is going to be alright.
An anonymous quote from a cup of coffee I once saw: “Live fully, laugh constantly and love with all your heart”
For more information on Alterna Communications, visit AlternaCommunications.com.
editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.