I was born on October 02, 1979 and raised in the city of San Fernando, California, a largely Latino community located in the San Fernando Valley. My family was not well off but we were not poor either. My father was trying to make it as a mason contractor and my mother was doing her best to keep us active in sports, church and school. My parents were married young, seventeen and nineteen. My mom was seventeen when she had my older brother and nineteen when she had my older sister. I came next five years later then finally my little sister.
Life was definitely challenging, however, I believe it was those challenging times that taught us all determination, hard work and the value of education. Nothing was ever given to my parents (they weren’t the type of people to look for handouts either). My parents, miraculously, found a way to put all four of us through private school. My dad would do concrete work for the school we attended in exchange for tuition (Where there’s a will there’s a way). Now, you should know these weren’t the prestigious private schools celeb children ruled. No, rather, small schools, mainly Latino, trying to keep the doors open themselves.
I was not a very good student. I was a daydreamer, doodler, artist, musician and b-ball player–to me, school was just a distraction from the things I loved. Still, I did okay. We didn’t have a lot of material things growing up, however, I was happy riding my bike with friends, playing Over the Line in the street with the neighborhood kids and pick up games at the park. Today, I believe material things just get in the way of true happiness. I truly believe that and I’m sure that belief comes from my upbringing.
A Late Bloomer
It wasn’t until I nearly got kicked out of college that I finally began thinking about the future. My father, now a general contractor had created a successful small business and the deal with my parents was, as long as I went to school, I could live at home and they would pay tuition. By the end of my fourth year, I was nowhere close to graduating and my parents cut the tuition life line. Looking back, that was one of the best things they could have done for me. Now paying my own tuition, I didn’t look at college as just a place to kill time and have a beer between classes. My mindset radically changed and a hunger began to grow in me. I knew I wanted to finish college so I looked to music to get me through. My mom started me on piano when I was five years old and I continued lessons through my senior year in high school. I was pretty good, too, however, not good enough to make it a profession. I auditioned and was accepted into the Music Industry program at my college. It was a program designed for musicians who wanted to get into the business side of the industry instead of performance. It was perfect for me and it was my first introduction to business classes. The next two years flew by and I was well on my way of making something of myself.
During the last semester of college, I had started an internship in Burbank at a company that sold American syndicated radio programs to other countries. After I graduated, they hired me to help update their website and to help out wherever I could. I quickly realized several things about my personality working at this company: 1) I didn’t like being managed 2) I didn’t like the idea of not being in control of how much money I made. The closest thing to satisfying my hunger was joining the sales department. It wasn’t much, but they gave me my own small territories, mainly in the Philippines and Eastern Europe. There wasn’t much money coming out of the Philippines and Romania, but it was a great learning experience and I was able to visit and get an understanding of other fascinating cultures at a young age (most notable was staying in Transylvania during Halloween and meeting my wife in Athens, Greece). It was a blessing.
I worked at the Burbank company for nearly three years. Over those three years my hunger and desire to learn more about business raged. I knew I wanted to have my own business and I wanted to be successful, be a self made man like my father. I then spent nearly two years working with my father. I learned the value of having a system and plan in place for every new project. My father would always tell me, “You need the right tools for the right job.” Feeling a need to increase my ability to sell, I took a commission only position selling pavered driveways. I was supplied very good training and learned how to be a better closer. However, many times, I experienced people who really couldn’t afford the product, buy the product because we also offered a line of credit. I would often find my self thinking, “don’t do it!” as they agreed to the sale. I didn’t stay very long at that company. My father helped my get hired with a client of his selling industrial trash compactors. I was 28 at the time, and it was right around the time the real estate bubble burst in 2007. Selling a $20k product was not easy at that time but I was determined not to fail. That’s when I turned to my brother-in-law for advice.
The “A-ha” Moment
My brother-in-law, Chad, was someone you had to get in line for because everyone wanted his advice. Recently married, I still didn’t know him very well nor felt like we had much in common. Our talks always felt a little awkward. What I did know is that in his 40s now, he’d been an entrepreneur from an early age. In his 20s he created a business that basically franchised the internet. That company bought other companies and got into the radio and website business. Once he sold that business, he partnered in another business which Google ended up buying. He then worked for Google for three years. Now, he was enjoying life and smoking cigars at his cigar shop in Orange County. Chad met with me and I told him the problems I was having getting leads. He gave me simple advice. He said, you can only cold call and walk door to door so much. You need a website, something that works for you 24/7. I didn’t know much about websites, marketing or search engines at that time. However, my wife worked at the website-radio company Chad sold, and they were able to create me a free website. The next week I went back to Chad and showed him my website. He was shocked. He then gave me some quick tips on how I should organize the website, and he gave me my first introduction to SEO. Chad is a serial buyer of expensive marketing and educational courses. He let me borrow a manual by Dan Theis called The Search Engine Marketing Kit. I took it home, consumed it, then made the changes to my website. A week later I showed Chad. He was again shocked and was now showing more interest in me. He advised buying a mailing list and getting postcards made. I did it. I was loving this marketing stuff. I felt in control and creative–it truly was exhilarating! About three weeks of acting on Chad’s advice was all it took for him to offer me a job. The deal was, I needed to take a serious pay cut, but in return he would mentor and teach me. Both my wife and I felt it was a no-brainer.
Since 2009 I have been knee deep (sometimes face deep) in SEO and digital marketing. I have done bad SEO, I have done clean SEO. I keyword stuffed, spun articles and created advanced blog networks. I learned html, css and worked across many platforms. I went to all the conferences, InfusionCon (email marketing), Perry Marshall (Adwords PPC), Joe Polish (I love marketing), Dan Theis and Leslie Rhode (content marketing and clean SEO), Jermaine Griggs (behavioral marketing) and more. I built my own websites to practice on. I’ve been responsible for the SEO success of hundreds of websites. My wife and I opened our first local business and we rocked it.
My local business and being a marketing professional are where I am now and plan to stay. As a marketing professional, I have my strengths and weaknesses. My current position at OTT is Director of SEO, Content and Email Marketing.
My plan for this blog is to share as much knowledge as I have to help other small business owners. I will share both success and failures and will do my best to answer any and all questions. Thank you for taking the time to read a little bit about me. Please tell me about you and your business. Leave a comment anywhere on the website and I’ll reply.