Marcos Orozco has been busy. He’s a celebrated public speaker, a best-selling author and a public face for the Gentepreneur Movement – an organization that focuses on leadership as well as personal and business development for the Latino community.
He’s also a dedicated father and family man, and is working on a new book called “Leadership Habits.”
I sat down with him recently for an interview, and we touched on almost his entire life to date – from his arrival in the U.S. from Nicaragua, his experience with gang violence and the hard burn he did over the last few years to make himself a household name in the self-publishing game. Here’s what I learned about hustling.
What Problem Do You Want to Solve?
Marcos’s career hasn’t played out exactly the way he expected, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He says it was always his dream to write and publish a book of his own, but some soul-searching revealed a hard truth: “I don’t consider myself a writer – at all,” he says.
He didn’t want to be a brick-and-mortar store owner, either. After dabbling with both writing and sole proprietorship, Marcos decided he wanted to solve a different kind of problem – and maintain his close family ties while he did it.
As a result, Book Launch Academy was born. It’s dedicated to speakers, humanitarians, activists and others who want to publish their first book while they help other people throughout the world. Marcos is meeting a very real and very specific need: Self-published authors frequently don’t know where to start, since the process can be truly overwhelming. That’s why Marcos is doing what he does.
He’s meeting a need in his own life, as well. Marcos gets to be the hands-on father he wants to be while sharing his own experiences with his clients.
What Marcos describes here is a fresh take on a theme we often encounter in discussions with entrepreneurs: A willingness to shift focus. Marcos’s story is universally useful for the rest of us, and it goes something like this: On my way to somewhere, in particular, I became something different.
Balancing Life and Work
Marcos grew up in uncomfortable proximity to gang violence near Compton and Los Angeles, and it may have been these constant – and sometimes heartbreakingly personal – brushes with death that lit a fire under him and drove him toward success. He told me he even had a location, and a song picked out for his funeral after he died.
Although hardship and strife were all around him, Marcos discovered another hugely important lesson: Life must come first.
Marcos describes himself as a lifestyle entrepreneur – that is, someone who designs their business around their life, rather than the other way around. Remember: Marcos decided he wanted to spend more time with his son, so he found a way to make it happen.
To do that, he arrived at a few key realizations:
- Focus only on what you’re good at. This isn’t new advice, but Marcos says it with singular conviction. If you’re spinning your wheels trying to discover or develop new talents, step back for a moment and reconsider what you’re doing. Marcos decided to focus exclusively on developing his innate talents and learned to let everything else go.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Marcos also had some choice words for those who tell us to fear failure or play it safe when we’re young. We don’t just decide to walk one day, he says: We get up, we fall down a bunch, but eventually we make it. We fail all the time, and that failure is part of success. You can’t have one without the other, so don’t be so hard on yourself.
- Truly love yourself. This was one of the biggest points Marcos wanted to make. He told me that our self-worth directly correlates to how much money we earn in the marketplace. All too often, we decide we’re not worthy of achieving success, and so we end up sabotaging ourselves, sometimes without even knowing it. Self-worth = net-worth.
Before you accuse him of placing money on a pedestal, Marcos was quick to point out that money alone is neither an indication of, nor a road to, success. The relationship is much more correlational than causal.
He said: “At one point, I was making half a million dollars every year, but I wasn’t totally happy.” So he shifted his priorities, and suddenly everything was clear.
In other words, Marcos agrees: Money can’t buy happiness. What it can do is serve as an accidental side effect if you happen upon your calling in life. If you love what you do, the money will take care of itself.
I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better takeaway than that. A lot of the most verbose business leaders talk like they’ve put the cart before the horse like they’d decided on the specific tax bracket they’d like to inhabit, and have rebuilt their life around that goal. Keith Springer is another voice reminding us that the market is fickle and that playing it safe might not be enough: You have to make your own luck.
In short, Marcos and people like him encourage us to think a little simpler: To focus on doing what you love to do. Everything else will follow.
For Marcos, that meant sharing his expertise with an underrepresented demographic in America. He says 81 percent of people want to write a book, but only 1 percent ever do. So in finding his calling in life, Marcos also gets a chance to help that silent majority find theirs, as well. That’s what we call a win-win.