All posts by Miguel De la Torre

I am a husband and a father first and most of all. I am proud of my 4 kids and when I work I am a Food and Beverage Industry executive, focusing on the Hispanic consumer, have been doing that for over 20 years now. I got my Business degree at UT El Paso, got my MBA at Rice University in Houston and will finish my Masters in Analytics (MSA) in Villanova in 2016. I love Golf and suck at it. I like to see people laugh and I like to laugh as well. I love to read and enjoy spending time with my family as nothing else.

Busiest Unemployed Guy I know

Before I started the company in September, I received a call from a good business friend, we will call him Dave, (because that is his name) and one day laughing he told me that I was the busiest unemployed guy he knew.  I was already working on ideas of what to do, and I was helping a couple of people with ideas, no charge.

Dave, in his infinite wisdom, was correct.  At that time, I was still unemployed and had not really decided what I was going to do and I was constantly busy.  That is what happens when you are used to being a self-starter.  My wife would go crazy on me because I would wake up at 5 or 540 and start figuring out how I was going to spend my day at home and supposedly without doing anything.  I failed miserably at being unemployed.  Can’t stand still!

Anyway, I was thinking about that today because this week was one of those weeks that I was real busy, applied myself and then finished most of what I had pending in really good time. But then it happened, now what do I do?  This is where being an over-thinker and can’t stand still really helps.  I started thinking about a particular project I was developing and I can see that the results are not going to be as expected, so I thought out of the box, applied myself and started acting on impulse and instinct and lord and behold, a problem, became an opportunity and the opportunity became a great solution.  I am looking very much forward to this new business we just got.

You have to think on your feet and be always ready to pounce on opportunity.  You have to believe that your instinct is correct.  You can’t force deals, it called in statistics over-fitting.  You mess with a model too much and it becomes too perfect, and then it does not work.  Deals are like that too, if you tinker with them too much and try to make it work, it is destined to fail.  If a deal is difficult, then work at it, but don’t over fit it. When you recognize that is time to let loose of your anchors and sail again into uncharted waters, but with the business impulse pushing you and the personal instinct pulling you, you will be able to come out dry after going thru a waterfall.

Believe in yourself and believe in your experience.  And as Dave told me keep busy even if you are not getting paid, because eventually you will get handsomely rewarded

Keep calm and stay humble

Getting busy….

Well it had to happen eventually.  We are getting busy, so busy I forgot to write this blog.  To talk a little business, we have secured our first contracts and are working on developing them.  It is an exciting time and time is short.  I have Friday’s off as you know, but it is getting to the point where I need to work some hours so I can finish.  Decisions, decisions, decision….

If you think about it, I have said that the four-day work week is what I want for me and whoever works with us. Our goal is that in five years we work 180 days and rest 180 days.  When things get busy, you start trying to figure out how the heck do I do this without failing our Principals and actually working on Fridays?

Well, very honestly I think I  will tell you.  For one, my week has to be more productive.  Less time has to be spent in things that are not productive or in things that someone else could do.  Second, I need to make sure things continue to be well-organized and defined as they have been in the last 7 weeks since I started the company. It has been very well-disciplined but now it needs to be extremely well-disciplined, that way time is sufficient.  My afternoons have been a bit long. I was usually out by 4:30pm, now I am out at 6:30pm.  Not really a big deal, as I am still able to walk my little one to school and have a good breakfast at home with my family.  I do not go out to lunch, as I pack one and eat in a rest area in my office building.  And, third and last, I have to make sure that my day is fun. If it is fun 8-10 hours goes by quickly, if it is not, then it is 8-10 hours.

So far it has been a blast and I am happy to tell you that I am making progress. No life lesson today, just a simple business update for those who know me. I will probably get you another one like this in about 7 weeks, and then we will see if we really are getting busy….

Stay calm and keep humble!

The 7-minute abs workout?

So, picture your business and your tools and assets. You have knowledge and a whole bunch of contacts. This is what years of experience give you. The way to do it is to use your contact network in order for you to provide the services or goods that your clients require.  Your customer needs X product; you have a couple of sources of where to get it.  You contact the source, you work out an arrangement good for all and you make fees.  Your customer needs advice on Y issue; you provide them services based on your experience and vendor contacts and you get another fee.  The secret I guess is to keep renewing your contact base and make sure it is well guarded.  Your clients and your vendors meet; you are out of a job.

Well, I kind of hate that model.  Although it is a logical and used everyday by mostly everyone doing this type of work. I don’t get why I have to hide one from the other.  The intelligent and practical, as well as experienced business persons will tell you:  because those are your contact and they have value, because if your customer talks to them directly then you have no value, because if I know them, why would I need you.

Well, I think that is precisely why I don’t like it, even if everyone does it. I feel that my value should not be defined by what companies I know or what people I have in my little black book (for those millennials who do not understand this term, refer to Contacts in your iPhone, and then think of it as a printed version with a black cover on both sides).  If the only thing that I have is a list of contacts and people who I know, and that is feeding me and my family, then I better start planning something else.  These models are outdated, and so are the professionals who use it.  Technology has made it possible for you to connect or search anyone on your own practically.  All you need is a Linkedin account and a good Google session.

It’s like in “Something about Mary”, when the hitchhiker gets in the car with Ted and tells him about the 8-minute abs workout and how he will revolutionize the industry by introducing the, wait for it, 7-minute abs workout!  And if you are not satisfied we will send you the extra minute for free!!! Then Ted tells him, right but what if someone comes out with a 6-minute abs workout? The guy could not see it…. no man it’s the 7-minute ab not 6, who works out in 6 minutes, 7 is the number man!  Someone will always beat you on price or someone will find a way to undercut you.  Unless your offering is not based on something as simple as contacts or prices.

I think that we should have companies meet our clients everyday, I think that if you are so worried about them sidestepping you, it is because you are not confident in any extra value you bring to the operation, and if that is the case, well my friend, you deserve to be jumped.  If you provide your manufacturers a strategic approach, professional behavior and solid customers, fight for them and for their pricing, you might become an important ally for them, and more business will come your way.  If you are the guy that is clinging on to contacts, dude, you are or will be done in the short-term, I am sorry to say.

So be transparent and let everyone know who is involved.  I particularly want to know who is going to sidestep me as quickly as possible,  People who do this, will usually do it ASAP.  For me it is the best thing in the world.  It releases you from any moral obligations and it basically helps you by removing these people from your business and your life, and you can’t be luckier than that. I  invite all the ones who believe they can take advantage of me to do so, because at the end, they will do me a great favor.  And I choose to let you take your business somewhere else, that is why I provide an easy out for you….

No man, it’s the 7 minutes, not 6!!!!

Keep calm and stay humble

And then there was progress…

It eventually has to happen. That call or email you get that lets you know the deal has been closed. So I got that call this week, actually two. And three more pending as I see it. It is very rewarding to have this happen to you.

I believe that the natural progression of things will bring excitement and then some disappointment. Some deals won’t go as planned and some will surprise us. But no matter what happens, we can’t lose sight of staying grounded and humble.

I also made the very worthy decision, along with my wife and business partner, to give 33% of our shares to two new partners. They need it more than we do, if not economically, more emotionally. These are hard workers who deserve better, and if you remember what I have said these last few weeks, you can’t preach if you don’t teach. So I am acting out and throwing a bold challenge to all the complainers out there, you don’t like where you are at, put your money where your mouth is and go make a difference in someone else’s life, not yours. That will display your true intentions when you complain. You are either a hypocrite, because when you have the chance you don’t act or you are a person of principle, because you act when you don’t have to. Which one are you? I am a man of principle and I am proud to say I now have honest and hardworking partners who will share with me whatever we make of this business, and I did not charge them 1 cent for their share……

I say this humbly again not to brag but to encourage you to do the same and help those that deserve your help and I promise you, things will then really make progress.

Keep calm and stay humble

The Deal

I am not embarrassed to say that my new venture has produced exactly $0 to date, and I am actually pretty proud of that!  I do not need to check myself into a mental institution, but you have to think it twice though….

As an executive working for other companies, I was always patient when making a deal.  Deals take time and usually change from beginning to end. Not by design, but because a lot of things change that you can’t control.  Competition, weather, a bad business relationship, whatever.  As I stated a few weeks ago, when you are working for a company, your responsibility is to get the company the best deal possible always.  This is where the executive makes a difference, either you fight for everything and leave nothing on the table, or you give away everything and get a lousy deal, or somewhere in the middle.  The usual technique is the first one and that is how you get the reputation of being a jerk.  I had that for many years.

It was until I realized that many vendors can actually help you more if you are not such a jerk, and you do not have to leave much on the table as well, this way your commitment to you employer is untouched.  It is about working together and for a cliched win-win.  The results are better relationships, more help when actually is needed and certainly more respect when it comes to coming to the table again.

So the deal making process does not change in effect when you are an entrepreneur. The slight and minimal exception is that when you wait for a deal, and take your time and play the mind games (which we all think we are very smart at playing) you are still getting a paycheck.  Not bad, huh.  When you are an entrepreneur, you are not, so what do you do, you hurry up the deal and settle for everything they offer (and you are glad they did)  That is the worst thing you can do for your company and for yourself.  Strategically speaking, it means you did not plan and foresee rejection as well as you thought, and that probably you are not financially ready to start your own business.  If you settle for anything that comes along, your business changes and so will your enjoyment of it.

I will not settle for anything, I will negotiate what I need, and if do not like it, I will not make a deal. I would rather leave a bad deal on the table than lose respect for myself or get myself into an unwanted situation.  I might run out of money and savings, but you can’t compromise your value and your future because you did not plan well or can’t take a strong and definitive NO. It’s on you if you do! So think about it well, before you decide and take the jump into the business owner abyss, and mostly remember that it takes discipline and confidence to close the deal.

Keep calm and stay humble, talk to you next week.

Life goes on

As I talk to many friends and business associates whom I have worked with over the years I find one thing in common: they all are glad to hear from me. I find that great, it means a lot of people appreciate me. But, and very respectfully to all my colleagues and not complaining, but with purpose of being a realist, we hang up and life goes on. We reply an email, and life goes on. Its natural, its correct and its business. I do the same thing probably.

I say this not because I am implying that friends do not help, but i say this because friends can’t help. They have problems and activities of their own. You do not want to overburden friends because you made a tough decision, that is all on you! Some people do not help because they can’t and the person either gets offended or doubts friendship. Do not confuse friendship and loyalty with the power or willingness to get you out of a jam you created. I certainly don’t and do not expect, in a good way for people to do so.

As a friend, YOUR obligation is to understand them, you are the one calling or emailing them! You are the entrepreneur, you are the one who is broke, or soon to be, not them. So friends, when I call you and tell you about my new venture, don’t worry or feel pressured to say yes, true friends should understand that you can’t help and I do, and that is just fine, because next time I see you I will say thanks for listening and catch up as friends should. And so, life goes on…….

The Secret to my new stress with Michael J. Fox.

As I have already begun with the actual business, I had to rent an office and have all those nice expenses to begin with. Any good administrator will tell you that you have to make more than what you spend.

I remember the movie in the 1980s called the Secret of my Success. It started Michael J Fox as a small town College graduate going to the big city and getting a job in his uncle’s company. There is the scene there where he is arguing with senior executives and his love interest about making the company successful as they are going thru hard times because a competitor is making a bid for a hostile takeover. She believes that they need to cut costs immediately and he tells everybody that they need to spend more money. I guess this is a classic case of management by cost-cutting vs. management by expansion. In the movie, he is told that they can not do it.

Well, I kind of agree with Michael J Fox’s character. When you are looking to grow, a stable or a startup, you have to invest. You can work from your home, use your cell phone and use your existing utilities. I think that this is similar to the cost-cutting approach. Or, you can do what I did (People tell me I’m not all there BTW) and go out and rent office space, get into contracts and increase your expenses without having any revenue. I would say this is similar to what Michael J Fox was doing. Now I must warn you, I do not take business nor academic advice from trendy Hollywood films, with the exception of the “Back to School” classic, but in my point of view, you need to force yourself to make hard decisions so that you are committed fully (not to a mental facility) to a project.

By working from home, you always have the low expenses base and the option to go do something else, by signing contracts you willingly take that option away. Risk tolerance must be high, as well as confidence, planning capacity and let’s be truthful luck as well. Do not be afraid to go into a compromise if you are fully secure in your abilities. There will be hard moments, like right now that I am starting at zero, but you know what, I could not ask for more, because I have the opportunity to do what I believe in and to help others. Let’s see what happens when the bills start coming in…..

Stay humble my friends

Week 3 – The Calls

A great lesson I learned quite a few years ago was that you should never make life decisions based on more money. As a young and too brash mid-20ish person I did just that. I sold out. It wasn’t bad, I doubled my salary and I moved to an exciting city. But….i forgot my values and my principles. Not going to bore you with a long story of morality but as soon as I got there, the very first day of work, I knew I had messed up in a big way.

True story, but one of my old bosses called me the first week on Friday and he said,

“Miguel, today is Friday and I am sure that by now you know you made a mistake, which you obviously will never accept but I have to tell you, your job is right here waiting for you and we will pay for the move, consider this a life lesson.”

As a good and decent young executive I told him the truth,

“of course not, I am extremely happy here”

To which his reply was

“sure you are, but I will call you in a few weeks and will offer you this again”

Like clockwork and about the same time he called me in 2 weeks and told me

“I bet you are still pretty happy, the offer is on the table and we need you”

I told him that i was just fine, even though I was miserable. Pride, you guessed it

“I will call you again in a month and hopefully you will accept your mistake”

So once again and like a clock (I think he set an alarm to be honest) he calls me again on the day and at the time

“ok young man, this will be the last time I call you, I can’t help you after today”

So I gave up and told him, So and So, I am fine where I am at, hung up and banged my head on the wall for several minutes.

Honestly this was the greatest decision I have ever made…. You thought I was going to say that it was a mistake, right. Well, it was not. The new company where I was working at was awful and treated its people miserably. I used to joke years after and told people I got my Master’s in Anti Human Resources while I was there, but…..

The truth of it is that making mistakes along the way and for the wrong reasons is a costly matter, especially if you do not learn from them. I went for the money because I believed that was my priority. But if I had not done that, I would not have struggled the next couple of years and would not have learned all the other things I learned or met the people I met.

You can not and should not be sorry for the mistakes you have made, that is a harsh reality, you just have to live with them. As I venture in this new company, I live with my decisions and pray to God I do not get calls from anybody this time, well, it might teach me something if I do get it…….

Keep calm and stay humble!

Week 2

Well, it’s Week 2, and I have been thinking long and hard about what we will discuss today, and I will share  with  you about something that I really believe is necessary for any entrepreneur: A 53 point steps to success plan!.  Nah, that is just too boring, let’s talk about something more real…..fear.

This blog’s purpose is simple: we want to share with you the why’s of our decision to become independent business owners.  Nothing wrong with working for a company, in fact, more than likely we will have people working with us soon, hopefully, as the business requires it. No, the challenge is HOW do we make a difference in our lives, our partners (employees) lives and our community.  We mentioned in the last post about our desire to have our partners and us as well work only 4 days a week and get to a point after 5 years of all of us working at 183 days and not working 182 days (we luck out on the leap year!)

We are convinced that business will be hard and not too pleasing at the outset.  I have received so many well wishes that it is comforting to see how many honest and well-intentioned people I know, but I do not kid myself, this is not easy and the road gets very steep especially at the initiation of any venture such as this.  There will be a lot of no’s when you are used to hearing a lot of yes, there will be a lot of penny-pinching dollar spending dilemmas and clichés and there will be, certainly a lot of people who do not want to carry us as we begin.  It is completely understandable and we have to be ready mentally, right?.  The problem is that theory works really good on paper and not as easy in practice. Rejection, Expenses and Interests add up quickly against your self-confidence and your budget, so what to do…..

I have come to the conclusion that we need to be prepared to just say, screw it, I don’t care and nothing happened.  I am beginning to understand that a short-term memory is not such a bad thing and that the thick skin developed in over 20 years of business, goes away as soon as your financial backing is gone.  You feel secure because you have huge pockets behind you and your check is safe, but when you are on your own, it is not that simple, right…?

So, what to do….? Cry, scream, laugh, ignore, hate, love…..  I think that the answer is one that I have always used in my life, Time is a good friend!  If we let things come and play out, without forcing them, we might be a little bit better prepared to deal with them.  As an entrepreneur you need to hurry up though, but as a smart business person, you have to let things play its course, if you hurry them up too much, you miss the timing and the natural evolution of projects.  So the main lesson today is “Patience Grasshopper, Patience.”

Keep calm and stay humble.  See you next time…


Here we go…..

Well, today I turn 43-years-old. Mid life for sure. I am at the beginning of what promises to be a great adventure. I am nervous to say the least. I have left a highly paying job for some reasons, mostly I was bored. Had been doing the same thing for over 20 years. Don’t get me wrong I love it, but we all want more. As it pertains to me, I want the satisfaction of saying I was a workaholic working for others and now I am a well balanced individual working for myself. I have become an entrepreneur and I am not bored anymore.

I want to create a company where me and my partners will work 4 days a week only. Have not decided on 9 to 10 hours to be truthful. The goal is for all to be balanced, so….. the goal is for all to work 183 days and rest 182 days after 5 years and from there we shall achieve balance.

I will probably not make much money, and that is fine, i can live with that, but I will be proud to hopefully be a better father, a better husband and for sure a better person. I want my partners to come to work with a smile and leave with a bigger smile.

I am an idealist, have always been so, not perfect by any means but always willing to help and do the right thing. Join me in this new journey, let’s see where it will take us. I will write this blog once a week on Thursday’s and tell you how my balancing act is going. Your comments will be very much appreciated.

Share this blog with others who you would think might want to cheer us on or discourage us. All viewpoints are valid, just no profanity or other type of slurs, I beg your indulgence on this, so let’s keep it clean.

Let’s be humble and say goodbye.