PAST PERFORMANCE DOES NOT DICTATE FUTURE POSSIBILITIES
Camilo Beltran admits he’s been fired from practically every job he’s had since he was 14 years old. That includes the time when he got axed from his job at a Tex-Mex restaurant. It happened right after a secret shopper visited; he says the boss never told him what he did wrong.
MAKE THAT DECISION
There was the time when he thought he could work as a bellman at a luxury resort, but expectations just didn't seem to match up well. Beltran went through two weeks of training and then got his uniform. That’s when he had a gut check. “At that moment, I didn’t feel it.” He said, “It wasn’t filling my cup”. So he quit. And that was the end of that job.
You may call it impulsive. But Beltran says, “I don’t see it as a negative or positive. I see it as a learning experience.” He views every job, however brief, as a lesson on, “teaching [him] how to make decisions." Those jobs also provided him a lesson on "taking actions, without looking back.” For any business owner, the ability to make decisions and take actions is critical.
STARTED BUSINESS: Sept. 26, 2012 (He knew the exact date)
LATINO CONNECTION: Born in Colombia
EDUCATION: Lynn University – Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (with a concentration in International Business)
DREAM JOB AS A KID: Pilot (He never became a pilot. Instead, he owns the company that flies people around the world)
BIGGEST GOAL YET: Start a family
LEAN ON BEING LATINO
Now, at the age of 34, the Colombian entrepreneur has been able to put those early lessons into action into what has turned out to be a much more stable job for him. He's founder and CEO of Vida Jets. It’s a jet charter company which he says has 6 employees and a network of 6,000 aircraft. The name of his company, which has the Spanish word in it, “vida”, means life. He encourages other aspiring entrepreneurs to showcase their Latin heritage. It’s worked for him. The intentional reference to his Latino roots in his company’s name has helped him win over South American clients. He says the name emphasizes the warmth in service that’s a staple of the Latino culture.
Still, Beltran says it was important to him to have his company based in the U.S., where he has lived since he was 14 years old. He says those same clients in South America and Europe like the image of an American company. He says it connotes seriousness. He also believes that working from the Boca Raton Airport gives him credibility.
Beltran says aspiring business owners can find their niche by remembering what they excelled at as kids. He still uses lessons from his childhood to guide his way of doing business.
Take, for example, his venture into the business world around the age of 10. That's when the budding entrepreneur in Bogotá, Colombia, bought candy to sell at school.
But Beltran admits he didn’t go around trying to sell to all of the kids. He strategized and found this one kid, the one who wanted to be the hero and give out candy to his classmates for free. Beltran sold his entire stock to that kid, day after day. That taught him that he could sell. More importantly, it taught him that he knew “how” to sell and how to sell strategically.
"PLAY IT EASY, BUT PLAY IT FORWARD"
A lesson on the soccer field also helped him figure things out back then – and now. His soccer coach taught him, “la facil”, or “the easy way”, when trying to score a goal. Basically, make the pass the easiest way possible. “Play it easy, but play it forward.”
SLOW DOWN, BUT DON’T STOP
Don’t call him lazy, though. The former candy entrepreneur has competed in Ironman Triathlons. That discipline and commitment to working hard at any goal he sets his mind to has earned him the nickname, “The General”, at the gym. And while Beltran says he’s flexible with clients, he says, in business, “We’re not stopping…” He says they may slow down to recuperate. But “…we don’t stop.”
And even when the sales prospects say no, he doesn’t stop strategizing. When Beltran tried to get the late fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta, to take a chance on him and use his company for flying, Beltran turned his expensive tastes into a selling tool. When he was told, “We like your price. We like your jet. But your brand is not known,” Beltran found the comeback.
He happened to be wearing an Oscar de la Renta blazer that day. He opened the jacket, snapped a photo, sent the pic and said, “I bet your other broker doesn’t wear Oscar de la Renta?” Of course, he didn't volunteer that it was a discounted Oscar de la Renta that he bought in Panama, but Beltran broke through and made the sale.
Nowadays, the former candy seller is still selling. This time, though, sales volume for his jet charter company is in the millions of dollars. And about his consistently short stints at jobs? Let’s just say, if Beltran ever needs to freshen up his resume, it looks like he can put this “gig” down as going on nearly 9 years and counting.
THE TIP JAR...(tips passed out courtesy of Camilo Beltran)
STARTING OUT: Exploit every marketing channel x 10. In other words, do your regular activities x 10. And don’t forget the basics. Go out and meet new people (old-school, face-to-face networking works).
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): Be laser-focused on what has been the tried-and-true for you. Zero in on the one thing that’s been working for you, and concentrate 80% of your efforts there.
Focus 20% of your efforts on exploring new areas. In Beltran’s case, it would be AI - artificial intelligence.
STARTING OVER: You don’t have the luxury of time and experience. This is NOT the time to get your feet wet. You need to “swim, eat, breathe” whatever it is you want to do to quickly become the expert.
For example, going into the aviation industry, go from the macro to the micro to figure out your market:
-U.S. market and % of commercial flights
-Look at the Southeast region and private aviation
-Narrow focus to South Florida market and turbo props
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: I’ll never let my ego get in the way again. It took me away from my path of focusing on customer service.
BEST ADVICE FROM “LA CASA”:
Beltran refers to a famous quote his mom loved to repeat to him as he left the house: “Despacio, que voy de prisa.”
VERY LOOSE TRANSLATION: Slow down because I know you’re in a rush.
BELTRAN’S PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Go slowly, precisely because you need to make sure you’re aware of what’s going on.
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
Need to train your new or existing employees on skills to keep your company competitive? Career Source Central Florida has grants available (that means they're free to you) to help you with that. The form is short and straightforward. Take a look:
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
If you have that entrepreneurial spirit, you likely operate at full-throttle much of the time. This means you may have a hard time allowing yourself down-time (confession time: I'm definitely guilty of this). That's why I thought the "Boundaries Make Your Dream Work!" webinar sounded really useful. According to the National Entrepreneur Center, this FREE virtual class will teach you four critical steps to help you work in your "life plan" - and not just your "business plan" - into your daily goals.
National Entrepreneurship Center & SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) event
Camilo Beltran says people always remind him of the value of meditation. But he says exercise is his meditation. Find what gives "you" mental space.
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS ISSUE: I can’t say I really expected to be featuring someone for my newsletter who admitted to a streak of getting fired. But the reality is, that's frequently part of the process of finding out you need to go out on your own. Some people just aren’t cut out to work for others. And that's perfectly fine. My dad, an architect & author, is one of those people. He admits that working for others wasn’t for him, either (Case in point: My dad tells the story of how he liked to display his drawings on the walls of a company where he worked a long time ago. One day, a co-worker told him to take down the drawings. As you might have guessed, that didn’t go over so well. My dad had a few “words” with the guy. It’s safe to say, that co-worker never bothered him again. And my dad’s drawings continued to adorn the walls at that company. Soon after, my dad decided to go full-time with his business - and he never looked back.
Another interesting side note on this story: I knew I had to ask Camilo Beltran about his name (It caught my attention because, while doing my research, I noticed there was a notorious cartel with his last name). Beltran says, whenever he does business in Mexico, people frequently ask him about his last name. He says he’s had to assure them, he’s NOT from “that” family. Again, I can understand. People frequently make incorrect assumptions when I tell them I’m from Bolivia. And speaking of names that get your attention, my brother-in-law has quite a bit of experience with that. He has an interesting name, too. It’s Jerry Springer. Really. And, no, he’s NOT “that” Jerry Springer, either.
The point is, we all need to scratch beyond the surface and leave behind snap judgments, assumptions and stereotypes. Curious? Ask questions. Learn about others. I want to learn more about our Latino leaders and business owners. Hope you do, too.
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