Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur“ we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Nestor Villalobose.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Nestor Villalobose: My father was a big inspiration for me. Ever since I was a kid, I remember him waking up early, working all day then still coming home with the energy to raise two (hyperactive) children. I was six or seven when he took me to visit one of his factories. It was a large contract manufacturer that assembled apparel items for some of the big brands including Dockers, Banana Republic, and Gap. After I was given a factory tour and learned how jeans were made from start to finish, I was fascinated. I begged my father to allow me to work at the factory that summer which he did. When other kids my age were at summer camps I was in the factory learning about operations and human resources. I knew that one day I wanted to own my own factory.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Nestor Villalobose: To build trust, credibility, and authority in your industry there are two things you need to do. The first is to give back to the community. The second is to build an audience. I have always enjoyed teaching, so becoming an adjunct professor at Florida International University was my method of achieving both. If that’s not an option, entrepreneurs should consider volunteering at a local business-networking organization. This could be the regional chamber of commerce, Mastermind group, Rotary Club, or any other relevant networking group. By volunteering, you are putting yourself in a position of authority which helps to establish yourself as a leader among your peers.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Nestor Villalobose: With today’s global economy, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to stand out from the crowd. As such, they need to focus on growing their social currency. Many folks use social media to achieve followers, likes or comments. However, smart business leaders are using these tools to educate, inspire and motivate others. Since people trust and prefer to interact with people and not brands, it gives the business leader a leg up on the competition.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Nestor Villalobose: Funny enough, the day I made my first million dollars caught me by total surprise. For weeks, I had been working on a major deal with a new client. Getting the deal done required a significant amount of logistical prep work and negotiating. After one especially grueling phone conversation, we finally got the green light from the client. I was still exhausted from the negotiation process to realize what that ultimately meant for me financially. It wasn’t until later that evening that the funds hit my business account that I remember calmly informing my fiancé (now wife) that we had just made a million dollars. It truly didn’t even register with me until she asked me to repeat what I had just said. When I did so, I vividly remember a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. Whoever said money can’t buy you happiness lied.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Nestor Villalobose: One of my previous startups failed in a very spectacular fashion. A number of years ago, I had raised over $1.3 million in investor capital for a food-related business. In just 3 short years, the entire business imploded. I ended up declaring personal bankruptcy since my own finances were so intertwined with that of the startup. It was my biggest failure by far and many, many people found out about it. I thought there was no coming back from that and even considered going back to the corporate world with my tail between my legs.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Nestor Villalobose: Luckily, the truth is that my idea of failure was much harsher than what it really was. I found incredible support from my family, friends, and even the very investors who had lost money in the endeavor. Once I realized that they were rooting for me to succeed and (and not just the business), I was able to dig myself out of the emotional grave I had put myself in. It’s through their support that I had the opportunity to find and fund my next endeavor which turned out to be very profitable for all those involved.
What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Nestor Villalobose: I define resilience as the act of dealing with an unpleasant situation and not letting it bring you down. The most important character trait for resilient people is mindfulness There are many non-productive ways to distract oneself from unpleasant situations. These can include drugs (both legal and illegal), overeating, TV, and video games. They are non-productive since they don’t actually help to solve the problem. By being mindful or being in the moment without judgment or distraction, one can heal quicker and move on with a new perspective.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Nestor Villalobose: As a kid, I was a late bloomer and used to get picked on constantly by the other boys. One memorable beating I received left me with a nasty black eye. Most parents would try to get involved either by contacting the school or reaching out to the other parents. Mine was a little different and suggested that I join a gym. After going every day for a year, I gained a solid understanding of weight training as well as mixed martial arts. Once the other boys realized that I was not going to be an easy target, they decided to leave me alone. I really appreciate that my parents gave me the opportunity to solve my own problems instead of getting involved.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!