Latinos are Going Out Into the World and Flourishing

Find out how Jaime Sandoval -- Mexican-American, realtor and hard worker -- thrives

By Adriana Licerio
Published on LatinoLA: July 10, 2013

Latinos are Going Out Into the World and Flourishing

Originally published at A Mix of Words ÔÇô Una mezcla de palabras. Republished by permission.

"How is it that some people are faced with adversity and it makes them want to rise to the highest part of themselves, and other people, faced with the same adversity get knocked down? Is that nature or nurture?"

This is a question Oprah asks the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, in a recent article on the Justice's new book, "My Beloved World." Ms. Sotomayor then answers, "I think it's a combination of the two. There are people who really don't respond to competition, who viscerally recoil from it. And then there are people for whom it sets their spirits on fire." It is this exact statement that ignites my own spirit.

For a long time I've been astonished by people who have accomplished to reach higher levels in life--especially those within my Mexican-American culture. People who have struggled through difficulty yet have managed to build pleasant lives. I admire athletes, business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, and college graduates who have been able to achieve what others feel is impossible to achieve.

Justice Sotomayor believes the person who succeeds in life is someone with the combination of nature and nurture--in other words, in order for a person to achieve at anything, that person must have a natural desire to want to prosper. Additionally, the confidence and desire to accomplish a goal must also be cultivated every day.

In this first article, I introduce a young Mexican-American real estate agent Jaime Sandoval.

Born in the San Fernando Valley, but raised in both Mexico and the United States, Jaime experienced both countries first-hand. From childhood, Jaime Sandoval was innately energetic. He recalls being at his abuelito's home as a child, his abuelito yelling at him to stop playing in the leaves because they were going to clog the drains, but little Jaime chose not to listen--he rarely listened. And despite the yells, he had his own agenda that didn't include ending his playtime in the leaves. By nature, he is a true example of a person with a spirit on fire, and like Justice Sotomayor suggests, he nurtures that spirit every day to stay confident and at the top of his game.

Jaime Sandoval has been a sole-proprietor for the last 7 years, and from the moment he stepped into the field of real estate he began to climb the success ladder. Today, he is the number one sales agent at the company where he practices real estate, and is one of the top realtors in the San Fernando Valley. At only 31 years of age, Jaime and his beautiful wife Angie, live lives many people only dream of.

They've experienced extravagant trips to places like, Bora Bora, Africa, Greece, and most recently, Australia--their upcoming trip is Italy. His wife Angie is a graduate of Otis College of Art and Design, and does all of Jaime's graphic design for his business. She's an artist at heart, and is the good woman behind the good man.

We take a look at Jaime's story and find out what motivates this young San Fernando Valley native to perform at high levels and we also look at how he accomplishes to live his abundant lifestyle.

Weekday and Sunday mornings, Jim Sandoval, as he is better known today, (but still Jimmy to me) stands at a 4-foot wide prospecting station. The inner walls of his station are adorned with scripts--lines he uses on a consistent basis when making his sales calls. In the middle of the paperwork around him (schedules, to-do lists, hot leads, and inspirational messages) hangs a vision board aesthetically nicer than all the other vision boards in the entire office.

Displayed are pictures of his family including: his mam?í y pap?í, his brother, sister and of course his wife. Also richly displayed are the next set of goals Jimmy will reach. At the start of the day he eats a bowl of cereal as he prepares for his morning prospecting session. Beneath him is a floor cushion he stands on so his feet don't get too tired from standing for the next 4-5 hours. If you try to talk to Jimmy during his session, expect to feel ignored, as he won't allow distraction during his course of finding new business. Distractions, I learned, are one of Jimmy's greatest pet peeves, because they are deterrents in his path. That's not to say however, that he doesn't pay attention to life's curveballs, he simply chooses not to dwell. "I had a choice to choose my lifestyle" Jimmy emphasizes, and his choices have proven fruitful.

As a child Jimmy lived in Arleta, California. Unsurprisingly, like many of us Latinos, his family; mom, dad, brother and sister, shared a 3 bedroom home with his uncle, uncle's wife, and their child. With that many people living in such close quarters, naturally there were altercations.

Unhappy with the circumstances and with the job market down, ultimately Jimmy's father decided to move his family to Mexico. While still in the states however, Jimmy explains his father was an extremely hard worker; working two jobs in the restaurant business as a busboy. Jimmy recalls his father waking up in the early morning hours to leave to work and returning late at night every day. His father was also smart and saved his money. He saved enough to build a house in Mexico with a front dwelling he would use as a food market; a home business venture not uncommon there.

At nine years of age, Jimmy relocated with his family and began a new life in Jalisco, Mexico. He recalls helping his father with the store. From the start of the business, Jimmy says his father taught him the ropes showing him how to make a profit from sales. "He had me selling juices, sodas, chips, cookies. He showed me how to buy merchandise at a wholesale price and how to make a profit," Jimmy explains. It was as a child that Jimmy's fundamentals were instilled in him, those which he continues to use in his current business, he says, "At 12 years of age I already had a business mentality." While Jimmy learned the process of making money, his father also made sure to enroll Jimmy in a catholic school so he wouldn't lose the English language. And for six years Jimmy resided in Mexico manning his own station of merchandise, while acquiring a work ethic that would help him excel later in life.

In Mexico, Jimmy worked hard in his father's store. Under his father's direction, the family's lifestyle revolved around the family business. Although Jimmy now recognizes the value that came from those hard working years, at that time he was unhappy. His father went against the norm by opening the store on days and hours other stores were closed. The family's market was always open for business, from early morning hours into the late night, even during holidays and siestas. The working hours inevitably seeped into family life, where family dinners were interrupted by the constant need of keeping the business running.

"I remember my dad would stop a nice family dinner and yell at the family that it was time to work," he says.

Eventually, as Jimmy grew into adolescence he became dissatisfied with the way his father ran the business and the household. Being constantly under his father's orders, Jimmy grew tired, "I was a slave to whatever my dad wanted me to do," he confesses. And as most adolescents experience, he began to want his own things and his own way of life. He'd been admiring his cousins who frequently visited from the states, and explains, "They'd come with new shoes, new shirts, and I wanted it all, I wanted what they had, what was I doing in Mexico?" His desire for what seemed like a better life led him to want to move back to the U.S.

So, one day at 15 years of age, Jimmy made the bold decision to tell his dad he would be going back to the states when the cousins came down to visit--he would be going back with them. This created tension as his father disagreed and refused to leave the family business. His mother however, refused to allow her underage son to live alone in another country. But whether his family followed or not, Jimmy was set on leaving. In 1997 Jimmy left Mexico and moved back to the San Fernando Valley, of course his mam?í followed, bringing Jimmy's two younger siblings with her.

Back in the states, Jimmy, his mom, brother and sister, moved in with their cousins into a small home and started over. But quickly--like his father, Jimmy became unhappy with their living situation. Living on borrowed things and sleeping on old mattresses, it certainly wasn't the lifestyle he'd imagined. Consequently his craving for a better life grew even more. As his mother worked hard cleaning houses, his father also sent money from Mexico, but Jimmy also began to work.

In time, he and his mom, brother and sister moved into their own apartment. The following years Jimmy worked while still a high school student at Canoga Park High School. He worked different jobs and in those jobs he came to realize the extent of what was truly possible. He worked a newspaper route and then worked in a nursery and Johnny Rockets in Calabasas.

Jimmy took notice to the wealthy way of life that surrounded him. He saw the people with their nice cars, beautiful wives, and multimillion dollar properties. He wished to have the same, he says, "I wanted a car like that. I wanted a wife like that. Anything I was involved in, it gave me that burning desire to having a nice lifestyle". That burning desire is the platform by which Jim Sandoval catapults into life, it helps him overcome set-backs and challenges, and helps him get past the hardships that hold others back.

Getting past boundaries.

Coming back from Mexico to the states was not easy for Jimmy and his family. In school Jimmy was placed in the ESL program and he said he got picked on consistently for it. He fell into rough crowds at times, "I went to parties back then, where I saw people getting stabbed. It was a harsh environment," he explains. But although he was exposed to the mischief many low-income minorities grow-up in, he never lost sight of what he wanted to accomplish. "We all have choices. I could've chosen when I came back to the U.S. to have a lifestyle like those around me or be like those who were locked-up, relying on others," but he didn't.

Jimmy's father eventually relocated to the U.S. to unite with his family, and the familia worked hard towards a more fulfilled life here in the states. His father has always liked nice things and a comfortable lifestyle--Jimmy explains, so between him, his father, and his equally hard-working mother, the family was able to stand strong. Soon, after a "showcar" Jimmy owned got stolen, he cashed in a settlement that prompted him to take advantage of the unexpected money to "get out of the hood". He and his family decided to purchase a foreclosed home, and fix it up themselves. At the close of their transaction he realized how much profit the investors had made.

The family eventually added square footage to the dwelling and when the real estate market was as its highest, they considered the possibility of selling the home to make a profit of their own. Jimmy contacted a local real estate agent and soon came to know the value of a Realtor. Using the math skills developed at an early age, it didn't take long for him to calculate the possibility of income in being a Real Estate Agent.

Building a Successful Career--Having the Vision.

In the beginning, when Jimmy decided to become a Realtor, he was told by many people not to do it. He was told the business was an unstable one and he would fail because he didn't know anything about sales. The only person who offered encouragement was none other than Jimmy's own father. He offered him financial help for starting the business but Jimmy declined. However, Jimmy did ask his father if he could borrow a car, because Jimmy would be selling his own to get the money to start the business. After a few interviews at different real estate offices, he joined the dynamic team at Park Regency Realty in Granada Hills, CA. The company offered motivational meetings that only fueled his innate desire to accomplish financial success.

"I know that anything I put my mind to I'm going to get it. Kinda like 'The Secret', if you envision it you'll get it. I kinda knew I was going to be a top-producing agent."

He describes he and another agent would daydream about how they would soon be top agents being interviewed at one of Park Regency's top producer meetings. Sure enough a couple of years later, it happened.


"Everybody has a choice, I didn't have more than my friends had, in fact I was at a disadvantage because I had to start all over again," Jimmy emphasizes. Perhaps it was the early work training Jimmy received or maybe it's his insatiable craving for the good life (something tells me it's both) that Jimmy works harder than any person I've met. Having the privilege of witnessing this gentleman do his thing every day, I saw what it really was to walk the talk.

Jimmy's energy is over the top he sees life from a "yes" lens and will challenge anyone who says "no" to him if he believes it is possible--no matter what it is. Surprisingly or maybe unsurprisingly--like his father, Jimmy starts his days early and ends late, he works when other people aren't so he gets the winning advantage when there is less competition. We're talking 10-14 hour days, especially before he leaves on vacation.

"If I slow down I will not get what I want. I know my potential and I deserve to have my potential manifested," he says.

Over the last few years Jimmy included the Mike Ferry system into his business; a sales training and coaching company designed for real estate agents. He incorporates the system into his daily work and says it's integral to his success. He works off a set schedule that includes mostly prospecting and appointments, and says, "It doesn't matter if I wake up late or feel sick I still know I have to get to the phones at 8am because I know that opportunity is there, if I call at 9am or 10am that opportunity is gone. I also have to make sure I know where and when to channel my energy. If I come into the office fired up at 12:00pm that's just not going to work".

Jimmy goes through what everyone goes through; there are days he wishes to stay in bed and days when life's complexities pull hard. A few years back his mother was diagnosed with cancer, though it was a difficult time, la familia pulled together to be there and make decisions as a family. Jimmy says he was involved with the brainstorming, the continuous follow-up doctor calls--but through it all he kept working in his business. The situation, even though it was an extremely difficult one, did not slow him down. Thankfully his mother beat the disease and life as it does, went on. I asked him if his work schedule affects his marriage life at all. Does Angie ever get fed-up with the long hours? "She does, of course she does, and we've had several conversations about the lifestyle. At first it was hard for her, but as the pay-off shows, Angie is less fearful. I discuss everything with her, ultimately we respect each other and she accepts what I do."

The Valuable Things in Life.

"Work hard to make money--to buy experiences," is the motto Jimmy has been taught by his coach. He works very hard, saves his money, takes extravagant trips, buys fun toys, but overall Jimmy's love of his wife and family is what keeps him con los pies firmemente plantados. His wish in life is to make sure people know he cared.

"My job is to make my wife happy. I start with who I live with--the person I love. My real job is my responsibility as a husband to make sure my wife's always happy, then it's my needs. My immediate family, they're also very important to me, I make sure I can help out with whatever they need."

The trips Jimmy and his wife have gone on have opened new perspectives. The opportunity to experience parts of the world and nature's treasures reward Jimmy with a beauty and peace he and his wife are able to receive because of their hard-work--experiences they'll treasure forever. Jimmy is not one to boast, he remains humble because he doesn't forget the hard path to success--the times in the small town in Mexico, the tienda, and his loading work at the nursery. He keeps his Mexican roots close, in fact as he prospects he listens to a playlist that includes Ram??n Ayala and Man?í ... now that's some motivational music!

I had to ask Jimmy, though, what the great experiences he's gone through have been like, what he's gained from them, and he says, "You know, it's crazy, being away from everything with my wife. This last trip to Australia we went on a helicopter ride. It had no doors--no seatbelts; this was so Angie could get better pictures. It was such an adrenaline rush. And we stopped at a place called White Haven Beach, the sand is so thin and so white, like flour," as he said this, his eyes open wider and a peaceful smile overcomes his expression. The satisfaction the trips have brought him is easily recognized.

He reflects on his hard work and explains, "Having the time off to go to those beautiful places--to be able to see them from a helicopter's point of view is absolutely priceless. I don't care about disappointments in business or minor set-backs I experience in my profession or in life, the hard work is worth it for what I get to do." His perspective, it seems, is part of what allows him to create his lifestyle. For this young sole-proprietor, a glass of water is always half-full I dare you to challenge him on that.

Future Plans.

Although he and his wife live well, and there is a high importance on family, for Jimmy there is always room for improvement. "Overall, I'm not happy with the balance in my life, though I have no regrets, I just know this is what I have to do right now," he explains. As he continues to cultivate his values in life and business, Jimmy confesses he's still working on how he handles it all, "Right now I'm mostly there for my family financially. I'd like to get my business to a point where I could take more time off to spend with them, maybe take my whole family on vacation. I really don't want to regret the time I spend away. You know I always said, 'I'm not going to grow up to be like my dad, working hard without a social life', but look at me, here I am," and work hard he does.

He definitely earns the business and therefore earns the abundant life he experiences, however, in the future Jimmy sees he and his wife having children. When that happens he says he doesn't want to miss his children's upbringing. He knows he and his wife will be hands-on parents and it will be a 50/50 responsibility, and his time away at work will have to be adjusted.

In the meantime however, he'd like to see himself taking weekends off and spending quality time with his family at least once a month. The overall vision though, is always geared in a positive direction. He trudges through life with confidence, always knowing that no matter what the circumstances are, he has the ability within him to push forward. Just recently he added a health and fitness program to his daily schedule to make sure he takes care of his body as well. At his young age, his life plans are far from reached. He wants more, he wants to see more, and he continues his move forward.

For Jimmy, it's all a matter of choices and outlook. He learned early from his father the lessons that now function as his main principles. He says he gets everything from him, and utilizing those skills he learned early on, are what keep him as active as he is. He is thankful for what he's learned, "People from the rancho know how to work, so when we come here to the U.S. that's what we do," Jimmy explains.

He describes it as a blessing, the opportunity to have been exposed to both countries; to the poverty as well as the rich life. He has seen both sides of the coin, and knows which side of the coin he likes his to land on. He hopes his story will help other Latinos in their quest to success. The road as it is said, is not an easy one, especially for people who grow up with less advantages than others. The point is, it's possible.

We Latinos grow up in the gap of two cultures, and it is those who learn to embrace the gap and its opportunities, that also learn to make a life for themselves that's worth living. Like Jimmy, we work hard, but to play hard we have to be smart. Save our money, keep pushing forward, keep a positive perspective, and truly actualize our own potential.

Visit my blog for more inspirational Latina/o stories!

About Adriana Licerio:
Twitter: @AdrianaLicerio
Author's website

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