Known as the straight-shooting Cuban dynamo, Ana Quincoces is a successful businesswoman who is a partner at her law firm, in addition to being a celebrity chef and cookbook author. Voted Miami's “Hottest Chef" by Eater Magazine in 2011, Quincoces insists her greatest achievements in life are her two daughters, Kati, 20, and Beba, 19. Beginning September 13th, as one of the newest additions to The Real Housewives of Miami cast, (which airs Thursdays at 10 pm EST) Quincoces will clearly define success for women. Prior to her big debut though, she opened her schedule and spent an entire day being styled and photographed by STRATEGY, while conversing with editor, Mavian Arocha-Rowe, and being filmed by the Bravo crew—all at the same time.
For Ana Quincoces, whether an entrepreneur, a professional, or a corporate executive in a Fortune 500 company (or any company these days)—it requires careful, calculated branding, both to enter the arena and to stay in the game. And double that if you want to succeed at the very highest levels in your profession. Quincoces, for example, is beyond well known in Miami plus many Latin American countries, well connected, and well paid. Even she developed a full-scale self-branding campaign to secure her platform.
The truth is, smarts and hard work are not enough to ensure career success for anyone, which is why Quincoces tapped into the principles and strategies from the commercial world of brands to help propel her career success. Her self-branding ideas involve brand strategies and soft power. She has positioned herself differently from others and formulates tactics that have gotten her from A to B, all the way to Z.
You’re probably asking, what is soft power? I have followed her foot steps and her visual identity and by harnessing power words, sound bites, and verbal uniqueness, she built soft power, also known as visibility with a strong reputation. She chose the arenas of law and culinary. Partner at her law firm, in addition to being a celebrity chef, and cookbook author—she planned her story very well. One of the other areas that jump out when you study someone like Quincoces: She is aware of her own perceptions and other people’s perceptions. If people think you are on top of your game, you will be. If people think you’re a B player, you will be —until you change their perceptions. Success in business or life is based on perceptions—other people’s perceptions of who you are, how good you are, and even what you are worth.
Don’t confuse this with arrogance. Ana Quincoces is no egotistical businesswoman; instead, she loves who she is and is comfortable in her own skin. What’s that quote...you can’t love anyone until you love yourself? Indeed. Quincoces believes in her talents, her creativity, her power, her innate branding strategies, and tactics. Best of all, she lives out the cardinal rule of branding which is: “Be different.” She has developed an action plan to move the plot along— the plot of her career and life story. Defining a great self brand strategy is one thing. Making it a reality is another. Quincoces has found her many new big ideas, she has become relevant, and she becomes a little bit more famous [as each day passes]. She is an example of the word 'business' and is so dynamic; she is always ready for the next move and changing opportunity.
What about her family life? Ana Quincoces may not have the typical family scenario, but it works, and she says it works well. Her girls have an undeniably strong, though sometimes unorthodox, relationship with their mother and their father, Robert. Even though Quincoces and her girls no longer live under the same roof as Robert, they still maintain a strong family bond and continue to share family dinners together several times a week. And, if you ask STRATEGY, this is one home you surely want to be invited to dine in.
Q: Lawyer? Chef? And, now author?
A: Why not? For over two decades being a lawyer was my profession. I reaped tremendous benefits from that experience and it has been an important part of my evolution as a business professional. Cooking is my passion. When I am cooking or writing about food, I am not working. I am relishing in what I love the most. Making a living doing what you are truly passionate about is a privilege and I feel very lucky to be in this position.
Q: How does preparing a meal compare to your business life?
A: Preparing a meal requires the same high standards and commitment you would employ in any important business undertaking. You need to put forth your best effort and be willing to make adjustments at a moment’s notice for any unforeseen circumstance.
Q: Can you explain how you became an author; self-publishing versus mass book publishers?
A: I entered the world of self-publishing quite by accident. After I decided the little book Cuban Chicks Can Cook was something people might want to buy, I enlisted the help of a literary agent. He managed to get me a book deal if I adjusted my writing style. “Make it sexier,” he would say. “Talk about how you massage the pork and how that makes you feel.” Seriously? I don’t know if food porn exists, but if it does, my former literary agent is your man. Needless to say, we parted ways. In true Ana form, I decided I didn’t need anyone; that I could do it on my own—and so I did. Years later, the 'little book that could' still delights people with its catchy title, funny anecdotes, and simple recipes. After the attention and success of Cuban Chicks Can Cook, I was approached by Running Press to write Sabor: A Passion for Cuban Cuisine. Sabor is the big sister of Cuban Chicks. It is full of beautiful photography and maybe a few too many pictures of me.
Q: Tell me about the plans for a future product line; business deals with other books; cooking shows; personal business plan for the next three years?
A: I am working on a number of projects right now. I just finished wrapping on Season 2 of The Real Housewives of Miami for Bravo. It was quite the experience and I am anxious to see the final outcome. I am working on my food line “Skinny Latina” and plan to launch the first product called “Million Dollar Marinade” in the next couple of months. It is an all-purpose marinade for beef, chicken, pork, fish, and shellfish. It is Cooking for Dummies in a bottle. Pour, marinate, cook, and delight your palate. Simple and easy. I am working on a third cookbook called Skinny Latina, which fuses (fuses or debunks?) the myth that Latin food must be fattening to be delicious. It’s a compilation of all our favorite recipes, just slimmed down versions of them. I am also working on The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook to commemorate the Cuban food Mecca's 40th anniversary.
Q: What do you hope to achieve via The Real Housewives of Miami?
A: RHOM will provide me with a unique and very effective platform to promote my brand. I would also like to shed some positive light on Latin women and demonstrate that we can, in fact, have it all—even if we do encounter some roadblocks along the way.
Q: Ambition for yourself or leave a legacy?
A: Both. I used to believe that it was one or the other. As I have gotten older, I have learned to give myself permission to enjoy my own successes and victories, however small. If I am fulfilled and happy, I am a better mother and will, as a result, leave a stronger legacy for my daughters.
Q: What do you want for your daughters?
A: Happiness and fulfillment. Sounds simple, but they are truly the most difficult things to achieve.
Q: How do you play the role of a woman, mother, daughter, plus businesswoman?
A: It is a well-choreographed dance. Each step must be deliberate and calculated. It is really the only way to wear all those hats effectively. But be weary of seeking, or worse, expecting perfection; each of these roles comes with its own set of challenges. Do the best you can, and most importantly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing better than you think!
Q: Did your childhood/parent’s direction guide you to be the strong businesswoman you are or did your own experiences direct your path?
A: In the words of Lady Gaga, I’m pretty sure I was “born this way.” I credit my parents for supporting me in all my endeavors and encouraging me to get an education. But I was a very tenacious and ambitious child for whom the word “no” was never really an option. I’m pretty sure I was not a joy to raise.
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: Food, travel, reading, and badminton. Okay, maybe not badminton. I was hoping to come up with a less cliché answer (she says laughing).
Q: Women in general and especially moms are very good at multitasking; however, we do get tired and overwhelmed. How do you prevent, or better yet, how do you not blow a fuse when you are beyond an overwhelming point?
A: The truth is, I have blown more fuses than I care to count. These days I try to focus on one project at a time. More often than not, my exhaustion comes more from thinking about everything I have to do rather than from actually doing it. I also try to find the time to exercise—the release of endorphins really helps me maintain my mental equanimity. When all else fails, a glass of Pinot Noir and a hot bath generally does the trick.
Q: What advice can you give others who want to push until something happens but allow their emotions to get in the way?
A: There is not a greater roadblock to success than fear. Some people call it “being conservative.” That’s a crock, don’t kid yourself! Society banks on fearful people clearing the path for the fearless ones to attain their goals and dreams. Oh, and here’s the biggest secret of all: You don’t really have to be fearless, you just have to pretend to be. Don’t over analyze things. Know that what you truly want is there for the taking, and remember that the “what ifs” of life tend to haunt people forever. At the risk of sounding like a Nike ad, “Just Do It.”
Q: If you could sing like a pro, what song would you like to perform?
A: I would love to sing “I Hope You Dance” to my girls (though they would be mortified). The lyrics embody everything I want to say to them.
Q: What movie/TV show character from the 80s or 90s would you like to play if you could?
A: Joyce Davenport, the D.A. from Hill Street Blues. When I was in high school, I was certain I was her!
Q: What is on your nightstand?
A: Reading glasses; Andy Cohen’s book, Most Talkative; my most recent manuscript; a file of reading materials torn out from various publications (that I rarely get to); almond scented body lotion du jour (always searching for the perfect one); and Kielhs lip balm.
Q: Where is your favorite place to eat?
A: My most enjoyable meals are at home with family and friends. When I’m in Miami, Joe’s Stone Crab is probably my favorite (between October and May). When I travel, I rarely eat at the same place twice because I love to read about new places and try them out myself. I will make exceptions though. A recent trip to San Sebastian left me reeling after one of the most insane meals of my life at Arzak; and another trip to Big Sur left me breathlessly anticipating another visit to Sierra Mar at The Post Ranch Inn.
Q: Were you bullied as a kid? What would you do if your daughters were bullied?
A: Fortunately, no. If my daughters were ever bullied, the culprit could expect a visit from “Revenge Mom on Steroids.” She is cold and ruthless. I am not kidding.
Q: If you were given a chance, would you enter Big Sister?
A: I think Big Brother/Big Sister is a wonderful organization. I am currently starting my own charitable organization to empower disadvantaged girls through cooking.
Q: What is your favorite daily wear attire?
A: Yoga pants and flip flops. I call them my happy clothes.
Q: Husband or shoes?
A: Chocolate, preferably dark.
Q: Who, according to you, is the best dressed man/woman in Hollywood and within the world of business?
A: I love Carolina Hererra’s style. She is a designer and very astute businesswoman who carries herself with impeccable elegance. I love the crisp white shirts she pairs with just about everything. I also adore Sofia Vergara. I often joke I have a girl crush on her. She is my version of a triple threat: beautiful, funny, and smart. I like that she understands her body. I like that she is not a stick figure and embraces her curves in a sexy, but not over the top way. She always hits the mark on the red carpet.
Q: What do you wish people would ask you about more?
A: Probably my new food line; I am so excited about this new project and I am learning so much as I go along.