Puerto Rican native, moved to the Bronx (NY) before the age of 1 with my mother, a strong woman who barely spoke English and had a clear goal. As a single parent, she was not afraid to work hard and was determined to create a better life for us. New York City represented opportunities for a better quality of life.
I believe that my work ethic originates from observing my mother. For as long as I could remember, she would wake up at 5 a.m., 7 days a week every day, and work long days. She maintained her schedule until the day she retired. My mother instilled in me that education was very important so that I could live a better life – higher education was a non-negotiable. I needed to be the first one in my family to go to college and earn my degree. I decided that if I was going to college, I wanted to go to the most prestigious university that I knew. Against my college counselor’s advice, I applied and graduated from NYU (Class of ’97).
During my years as a college student, I had to figure out a way to pay for my education. I held multiple jobs in various fields at the simutaneously. I became an entrepreneur before I even knew what the definition was. I would take on greater financial risks, in order to live the life I wanted (often to the dismay of my mother).
I was an entrepreneur before the I knew what that word was, I would take on greater financial risks in order to live the life I wanted to, often to the dismay of my mother.
At 25 years young, I opened up my first “brick and mortar” business; a liquor store in the South Bronx. But I couldn’t stop there. Within the liquor store, I opened a cell phone retail store (literally in the liquor store). A few years later, the opportunity presented itself to me to buy into a bar lounge. I couldn’t say no to that.
In 2004, I took a meeting with the owner of a mortgage bank, who heard of me through one of his employees. This employee was a friend who spoke so highly of me that it peaked the owner’s curiosity. The owner was so determined to meet with me, that he showed up at my liquor store for this meeting. His intention was to invest in real estate within the Bronx and wanted my help identifying properties. We spoke about my compensation and I was in! We closed our first deal in 3 months. I was hooked!
He then asked me to become a loan officer at his bank - he saw the potential I had. This was a field that I had never considered. But I was drawn by the financial compensation that this industry offered. I had all three businesses going for 6 months (don’t ask me how).
I did a financial audit and saw that the finance and real estate numbers were superior to the other businesses. They required much less hours and the rate of return was much greater. I was in (again)! I liquidated my other two businesses and focused all of my attention to this new career. I then started to familiarize myself with all facets of the business. I continued to learn and expand my knowledge base to be able to understand every perspective on a transaction.
I went from top producing loan officer at the bank, to establishing my own commercial lending platform. Further evolving and adding a real estate brokerage division to my company – the first in New York City.
This path was unpaved, but the destination was clear. This is to illustrate that if what you want to do does not exist, you can create it. I have not reached my final destination yet, but I charge forward every day. Don’t complain about a lack of resources, be resourceful.