5 Things I’m Thankful For

Turn back a few years to when I was self-employed, I remember sitting in a coffee shop on a day like today before a major holiday weekend thinking that while everyone was looking forward to leaving work early to be with their loved ones I didn’t have the same luxury.

While being an entrepreneur in a rebuilding economy, and knowing that business was typically slow during the holiday months, I wasn’t able to splurge on lavish holiday gifts although I was still thankful.

Thankful for being able to make a positive impact on the lives of others by helping them find employment, thankful for relationships and most importantly thankful for having an entrepreneurial spirit with a will to succeed even the toughest of times.

Over the last couple of days I’ve seen many “Here’s what I’m thankful for” blogs so I’ve taken the time to write one of my own.

5 Things I’m Thankful For:

  1. My Job

Let’s face it, while at some point or another we all complain about something that’s job related, it’s what pays the bills in addition to providing a lifestyle, vacations and material possessions.

While I humbly reflect on a dark period of my life and career, between 2008 — 2011, during which time I didn’t work for an employer due to the recession, I’m grateful every year since that I have a full-time, steady job.

Something that many people don’t know, I spent most of 2013 looking for a new job. At this time last year, I didn’t know where I’d be career wise in a year from then but I was bracing my wife for a possible move which most likely would take us out of Jacksonville, FL which I had called home for 8 years. Thanks to a mentor, and introduction, I landed a new role earlier this year for a new employer in a new state and haven’t looked back since.

2. A Supportive Family

Leaving behind the state of Florida, where I was born and have lived nearly my entire life with the exception of a couple years, for St. Louis, Missouri isn’t exactly an apples to apples move. Most difficult was convincing my wife that moving away from friends and family for a better career opportunity (my career) was best for our immediate family — albeit selfish on my part.

At first, I moved and lived alone in a 500 square foot studio apartment between February to August. During this time, I tried to balance a new job, flying back and forth every other weekend to see my kids and attend school, which I had to eventually withdraw from. We’ve since purchased a new home in St. Louis and getting settled in.

I’m very lucky to still be married.

3. Social Network

If it weren’t for all of the sweat equity I put into social media during the recession only God knows where I’d be today. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for social media. The technology continues to amaze me at how we’re all interconnected via 1 to 2 degrees of separation.

Since getting on LinkedIn in 2008 and Twitter and Facebook on 2009, I’ve spent countless hours online leveraging the platforms to not only build my personal brand and that of my former start-up but also connect and engage with thousands of people — some which I consider very close friends today.

You know that show “Who Want’s to be a Millionaire”? Where you can phone a friend, meaning 1 person. In good/bad times, reaching out to my social network for help has been like phoning 1,000’s of friends.

Earlier this year I started an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the publication of my debut book (“My Unemployed Life”) and needless to say it was my social network, through contributions and social shares, which helped me fund my project.

4. Great Wisdom and Advice

I wish that I knew at 19, when I started my career in banking at Citi, what I know today at 31. So many lessons, so many fails, so many hard falls, I wouldn’t change a single thing except I would’ve sought to seek advice versus thinking that I knew more than what I actually did.

Two of the greatest challenges facing Millennials, myself included, are patience and the ability to listen. I’d like to think that the older I become the wiser I get too. The reality is, at this stage of my life, I value what people a lot smarter, older, wiser and wealthier than me have to say.

I’m like a sponge that soaks up as much wisdom as I can from mentors who are CEO’s, CMO’s, VPs so if I can learn half of what they know it will help me today versus tomorrow.

One of the best pieces of advice I received this year was from a CEO: “Be yourself”.

His words, “Once you stop trying to be who you think other’s want you to be and you just be yourself people will respect you…”

5. New Opportunities in 2014

Throughout 2013, I sought change in my life and career. I wasn’t happy with where I stood in my career so I did what most people should do — I took action.

When you’re turned down for 3 jobs that you know you’re more than qualified for, and overlooked within your own organization as a Player, a light switch goes on. So, I made a list of goals and stuck to it. I still have the list on my iPhone, there’s only 3 items on it.

One of them was to speak at 12 events/conferences in 2014. There’s only so much that social media can do in terms of relationship building and networking, likewise there’s only so much inspiration to be found within the confines of a corporate office. For a while I’ve silently said to myself, when admiring people lie Gary Vaynerchuk and Ted Rubin, “that’s who I want to be when I grow up” — well, at 31 I’m not getting any younger so the time is now. Year to date I’ve spoken at 16 conferences.

“Life, and career, is a constant evolution but I can honestly say that I’m thankful for each and every person who’s had a hand in my success — I couldn’t do it on my own.”

#RealTalk

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

~ Carlos

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