Angel Quintana, CEO and Founder of Holistic Fashionista, was chosen as the peer interview candidate for her insights on a case study on applied hermeneutics and organizational development. The purpose of speaking with Quintana was to obtain her feedback as a successful business owner and change agent on solving organizational problems through applied hermeneutics. Holistic Fashionista is a lifestyle media company based in Los Angeles. Quintana’s background as an entrepreneur, digital marketing specialist, SEO expert, fashion designer, and executive coach, establishes her as a highly qualified professional with expertise on leadership. Her particular insights on leadership are derived from her individual work as an executive coach for small to mid-size business owners or executives. Quintana is regularly sought out for her specialized skills in brand development in the form of a “Signature System” program she offers called “Luxury Brand Doyenne”. This program is designed to help clients establish traction in their chosen niche market -fast.
Quintana’s diverse experience working with a diverse client base from various industries also positions her as a kind of translator or interpreter of language. As each industry or profession often has its own “lingo” and other characterizing linguistics, such as terms of reference unique to them. Quintana’s capacity to apply for facility with language effectively also made her the ideal peer interview candidate for this assignment. Given her background and current position as head of Holistic Fashionista, Quintana is able to provide very piercing insight on the role and function of language in influencing brand perception by its target audience. Furthermore, Quintana’s track record for increasing conversion rates of marketing efforts into sales revenue is empirical evidence of her ability to use “rhetorical strategies” aka marketing messages to construct a specific reality. In this case, the reality of increased profits for her clients.
The goal of the project was to apply hermeneutics to address the organizational challenges faced in the Case Study about the donor services department of a non-governmental organization (NGO) or agency in South America. This agency is involved in development work and employs a team of translators in the donor services department. Among the department staff, a number of inefficiencies and dysfunctional behavior among work teams were identified. These problem areas were: perceived absence of leadership, cultural/religious/socio-economic differences that were divisive, lack of consistent and adequate supervision of translators, factions or cliques within the workforce, lack of standard practices and procedures on how employees are to carry out their duties. Teamwork has been replaced by social power struggles and an undermining of the authority of the departmental supervisor. The impact of these organizational problems was decreased productivity and inefficient workload management. Hermeneutics is the art of interpretation. Applying hermeneutics as a strategy for developing and implementing an organizational development intervention, is about utilizing language to design solutions to the problems identified within the agency.
Upon speaking with Quintana, I explained hermeneutics and how it can be applied to solve organizational problems, such as those faced in the Case Study. This exercise was helpful in framing hermeneutics in a business context. Furthermore, the two main interventions developed for the Case Study were leadership development and work design. The purpose of these strategies was to change the interpretive space of the agency by empowering leaders to be influential enough to cause this change. Furthermore, effective leadership can be cultivated through rhetorical strategies in their communications. Here is applied hermeneutics in action.
Quintana’s perspective on the potency of language and leadership is that the core of messaging has the most impact if the authority of the person is unquestionable. In that respect, Quintana explained how she created a business based on relationship building that generated 12 separate and steady revenue streams. Furthermore, her membership-based business model is a robust community of over 1500 individual or corporate members. Quintana then elaborated how she too, used rhetorical strategies, in her marketing efforts to attract and retain these clients by understanding their language. In essence, Quintana was able to navigate between different industries to build the Holistic Fashionista community of partners by establishing her in-depth knowledge as a marketing expert and her leadership in her own right. Such is the power of words to influence, is how Quintana puts it.
Another interesting aspect of Quintana’s ability to apply language to build her community is how she uses her own terms to bring the collective together. For example, the word “Lola” is the name of a song by the Kinks. To Quintana, she uses the word “Lola” to communicate to her audience and clients, about an archetype of a woman entrepreneur who is a rebel revenue generator. Ss much so has she established the meaning of “Lola” that the term is frequently used in business calls when Quintana challenges her clients to “be a Lola”. Lola is not the only archetype with a meaning within Holistic Fashionista, there is also Bahar and Willow.