Música Maven: Leila Cobo

We full-on admit to being awestruck by this Latina goddess’s handle on life. When Colombian-born Leila Cobo started at Billboard 12 years ago, she wrote a weekly column, “Las Notas,” and programmed the Latin Music Conference & Awards. She now sits atop the weekly magazine’s food chain as executive editor and TV host for Latin Content & Programming. Her enormous success, though, was never won at the expense of her familia or her passions. Mother of two, Cobo now eagerly awaits publication of her second novela, The Second Time We Met. Here, she reveals what’s behind her amazing balancing act, imploring, “Do not ever get disheartened.”

Solidify goals and deadlines. “I constantly procrastinate, which is why concrete goals and deadlines are crucial. Working at a weekly that prints like clockwork, you have to turn stuff in, one way or another.”

Push your limits. Starting at Billboard, “nothing more was asked than what I was specifically hired to do,” says Cobo. Within months, she was proposing all kinds of Latino-themed stories. Soon, the magazine had a standalone section featuring Latin-themed coverage and charts.

Seek mentors. Cobo is quick to remember the women who nurtured her career and took time to further her development. “They helped me when I was only just starting. I had nothing to give back.”

Follow your heart. “Do what you love; that’s what my father always said, and that success would result,” says Cobo.

Chip away at challenges. Even Cobo is not without her struggles, but she uses them as ammunition to get things done. “My biggest eternal challenge is convincing the mainstream that Latin music, Latin culture and the Latin marketplace are not just important but are part of the mainstream.”

Own your time. “Nights and weekends are my sacred time to write. There can be no one around me.”

Family first. Cobo says that much of her career track revolved around her family’s needs. “I gave up plenty of opportunities because I didn’t want my family to suffer.”


Photo Credit: Claudia Calle

by Julie D. Andrews