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Pink Headphones: Data Safety Zone w/ Guillermo Benites

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

Welcome to this episode of the Dreamers Succeed podcast. I have the pleasure of sitting across the table from a dear friend for many, many years: Guillermo Benites. We’re excited here. Welcome, Guillermo!

Guillermo

Thank you for having me.

Berta

So Guillermo, we’re going to be talking a little bit about… we have a lot of listeners who are entrepreneurs or business owners or work in the corporate field. I know that so much of what you do is help them make sure that their security is in check. This is as far as data goes, which is such a big deal. I want to talk to you a little bit about that. I want to put you on the spot and talk a little bit about family. I know that’s at your core, as it is for me. I have the pleasure of knowing your family for many years. I’m blessed by that all the time.

Well talk about that and a few other things.

Guillermo

Absolutely – whatever you want to talk about. [I’m an] open book.

Berta

Tell me about the how and the why you got into this field. I know you’ve been in finance for so many years. How did you morph into this field which is so very important to organizations out there.

Guillermo

I enjoy computers. Since very early on, my youth was always involved with computers, video games…  it was just something that was my passion. When I went to university, I got a minor in computer science. I was always involved in technology in the workplace, whether it was with modernization or transforming (way before we were using the word transformation today).

Over my career, I’ve had the opportunity to evolve and look at how we can use technology to improve processes – help people perform and provide a better customer experience. I spent 25 years in banking running banks and running the operations. I had the opportunity during the last acquisition of the last bank I was at. I wanted to delve into the consulting side.

I dove right into a cybersecurity firm. I spent around two years in cyber-security, securing processes, and understanding. It’s critical. The footprint that we have and making sure that I had a chance to own a piece of a business and run a company. It’s very challenging and very rewarding.

It got to a point in life where I said, you know, I’ve tasted this and I want to go back into a not-fully-corporate world but enough of a company that is a corporation where I can add value. That’s where I was given this opportunity at UDT to come in and run the financial services. It was a great match. It was an opportunity to come in. We have a bunch of solutions, technology based, cybersecurity, professional services. We’re helping friends and colleagues in the industry to run a safe business.

That’s evolving even more now today with digital transformation. It’s not only securing it, but how do you improve the customer experience? Everything today is about customer journey, customer experience, instant gratification. It’s very rewarding. It’s constantly changing. You have to constantly stay at the top of new trends, new requirements, and that’s what lead me to this.

Berta

And it keeps you from getting bored which is good. You get your fix, your technology fix, and are able to apply all this finance background that you have, but from a different angle. So tell me, Guillermo, because I know that so many companies out there – there are so many threats – we hear about them on the news and we see what companies aren’t thinking of the vulnerabilities.

What would you say are the things that are very blatant that companies just aren’t paying attention to right now? Maybe because they don’t know any better.

Guillermo

Patching. That’s the core of everything. I think most people today may have a phone, an iPhone. Every time it comes out and says there’s a new update, you typically apply it and run it and in that comes security updates for it. They protect you. If you’re not maintaining them and you stay on an older version, you’re exposed. Things can come in. From an infrastructure perspective – big data – they run data centers and multiple servers and multiple computers. By not patching them and keeping them up to date, there are vulnerabilities that are weaknesses out there.

So that’s number one. The second one is backups. You have to ensure you have backups for your data. There’s no silver bullet. Everyone at some point is going to be affected in one way or another. That drive is going to get encrypted. There’s going to be some sort of incident that may lead to a breach and you have to be able to have good back ups to be able to restore.

Berta

So when there’s a breach – the first thing that pops into my mind, because it affected so many people and it was such a normal thing… everybody uses Equifax.

Guillermo

And Target and Home Depot.

Berta

Right! We just keep hearing about them. I think Equifax is the first one because, crap, they have all of our information. It’s just all the big ones. What happens, if you can walk me through it without spilling all the beans. Help us understand how that vulnerability gets breached and taken advantage of and then what you mentioned about the backups – if there’s a flowchart of what happens, how do we deal with those issues?

Guillermo

So those breaches usually occur traditionally in one of two ways. A physical breach, meaning somebody physically accessed the infrastructure, the data-center like we hear with the Home Depot or Target through the HVACs. Somebody physically went in and was able to get in and get access. Those are less common because they takes somebody physically going on site and doing it. It’s not impossible, but it takes a lot of time, planning… it still occurs.

The one that occurs the easiest is the one that happens through email. These are people that are looking for malicious intent. Government-sponsored. You hear a lot of the Eurasian cybercrimes. They’re constantly scanning. They’re scanning everything. They’re scanning ports, scanning networks, trying to find that open window. If they find the open window, they go in. It’s no different than the traditional thief in a neighborhood. They drive by a neighborhood and they see that your house has a gate – they go to the house next door. They see that there’s a camera, they go to the one next door. They’re looking for the one that doesn’t have those layers of protection – that don’t have the fence or the camera.

They’re looking for that open window because it’s an easy target. They’re constantly scanning to get in. A lot of it happens via email. You probably have received “Your package at FedEx” or your bank account saying, “We need you to update your credentials.” If you click on your link, that’s usually malicious. They’re asking you to put in your credentials and very quickly they’re able to use those to access your real account.  That’s how it works. So never click on those links.

Berta

I was going to ask because I got one the other day. Someone said that, “Your FedEx package is ready.” I was thinking I don’t have anything coming. If I do, they’ll leave a note on my door. What can we do? A lot of times, we’re careful about warning the kids, listen, don’t open anything that’s weird. When they’re at that age when they already have their email addresses. What can we do as a society? Then I want to ask you about that layer for the corporate.

What can we do as a society to really just be guarded with our information?

Guillermo

Awareness. Awareness is probably the most important one. Like you just said: don’t click on the links. Go to your normal page of your banking and follow that link and put your credentials. Never follow one of those links that says “Click here to update your password.”

Just be hyper-sensitive to all of that information. I think that most people are not that savvy. Most of the carriers today are trying to put more anti-spam that we don’t even see. They’re blocking traffic. They’re blocking the malicious threats that are out there. But stuff still gets through. Buy a firewall at home. Put on the firewall. Change the administrative password. In other words, that comes with a default password. You know: 12345. Change it. A lot of people leave those basic passwords that come for everything that we have today.

I mean, we’re changing. Our homes are changing. You’re getting smart homes. Today, we probably don’t realize it but you probably have over two-dozen items in your house, whether it’s smart TVs, smart appliances, smart phones. All of that is connected. If you didn’t change those passwords, those are potentially being scanned.

Berta

So then it would spread through everything in your home. What it ends up doing is that they sit there, scan your network, and find an opening. They’re looking for real traffic that you may have. Real communications. If you work from home, now you’re transacting business. If you’re accessing accounts on line, they’re looking at what you’re transferring so they have access to your account and your credit cards. It’s very critical. Segment your network. It’s very easy to do. Segment it into two. If you have kids, and they’re all online playing xbox. Have that on a separate network. Have your computer – the computer that you use to access your bank… don’t let it be the computer that Khloe is watching Netflix on. They’re clicking and clicking and they may leave malware on your computer.

Buy them an ipad, buy them a computer, let them do whatever they want there. Segment it. Keep it separate from the one that you’re using for your real business. (11:54)

Berta

I hadn’t even thought of that. They’re little things we can do but we’re just not aware. For me, it happens sometimes where I’ll click on something that I – I’m just in a rush and I didn’t even realize. I probably shouldn’t have clicked there. Imagine the kids.

Guillermo

You look at it and it’s one letter that’s off. You have to be very vigilant.

Berta

I know you said that the powers that be are doing a lot to put blocks and things that we don’t even – it doesn’t make it to us. What happens to people… let’s say we get these updates Norton anti-virus and we don’t update it. How important is that?

Guillermo

Critical. Those are the patches that they’re doing to fix the vulnerabilities to protect you. If you’re not updating them, you’re leaving yourself exposed.

Berta

To something new… a new threat like a virus. I have a friend who, in their company, they got this email saying that there was some threat that they’d been hacked or whatever and they have to pay them in bitcoin and it deleted all their stuff. It was crazy, crazy. Years of information that they had.

Guillermo

You have two choices at that point. Either you give in and pay – which every cyber professional tells you don’t pay, law enforcement tells you don’t pay – you go and you recover from backups. That’s why backups are critical. You have to make sure that those backups are good. What happens if you’re trying to recover a backup from last Saturday. Let’s say the virus was already there. Now you’re going to restore and it’s going to happen again.

Berta

So what do you guys come in and do when there’s a situation like that?

Guillermo

SO when it’s already occurred, what we end up doing is coming in and doing forensics. We come in and try to find the source of the virus. We reverse-engineer it to find out where it came from to be able to go after the attackers. We work closely with law enforcement.

We also help you recover, put you in a situation where you are protected, find that good backup to restore your data from and get you back up and running operationally.

Berta

So there is a light at the end of the tunnel as far as these hackers that are doing this. There is recourse for… probably not anything you can recover…

Guillermo

There’s really no recourse. They’re sitting on the other side of the world. You can’t go get them. Typically, unless it’s huge, they’ll take action and help you but they just don’t have the man-power. These people are just segmenting for large financial gain. They’re doing it for two reasons: disruption… if they could physically hack the US government and bring down the federal reserve, the payment systems… That disruption it would bring to our world economy; it would be huge.

Or financial gain; can they actual have a substantial amount of money transferred? Those are the two things: disruption and financial gain.

Berta

Wow that’s frickin’ crazy.

Guillermo

It’s scary, and there’s a lack of resources in the industry. There’s not enough… there’s more demand than there are professionals today. The universities are working closely on creating programs and training. There’s just not enough resources to fill the demand.

Berta

Now what happens… let’s talk about the prevention side. I’m sure you come in and you look for these vulnerabilities in an organization. How preventable is it if you take the right measures. A lot of it sounds like it’s easy to prevent. We’re just not taking the steps. Or maybe we’re not educated.

Guillermo

SO it’s a little bit of a combination of both things. There are things you can do that sound easy. Other things are a little more complex. Let’s put it in perspective. It’s a house. If you have a house that’s ten windows and two doors, you can pretty much secure it. Let’s say you have one hundred doors and one hundred windows. It takes a lot more time to find that crack, find that opening. By the time you go around, somebody could have come in through one of the doors, now they left the door open.

You have to put in processes and governance to be able to make sure that you have the right procedures in place to be vigilant. You have to be testing. You have to basically create good processes and awareness and constantly be scanning to make sure nothing got left open. If it is [open], close it and continue through. Continue to add patches. You try to segment, right. You try to break off so that in the event that something occurs, it doesn’t spread throughout the entire network. That you can contain it to a certain part. You do that both physically by segmenting so they don’t’ have access to the other – creating access control. That means that people who work on the network, you give them access to things that are only critical to their day to day jobs. You don’t give them access to everything.

If someone is in accounting, you give them access to the accounting systems. If somebody is in sales, on the sales side, they don’t have access to the core where the accounting numbers are. You don’t give them numbers to finance.  You segment out like you would do with the responsibilities in an organization chart.

Berta

That makes a lot of sense. So I’m curious these organizations like the FBI, Home Depot, Target, Equifax or whatever… do they have any responsibility to have those preventative parameters in place as far as looking out for the consumer is concerned… legally?

Guillermo

So there are more regulations being put out that are creating responsibilities. Typically it involves them being able to provide some sort of restitution. That restitution is being able to give you access to credit bureaus to be able to protect. It’s very minimal. To get into a lawsuit – to physically go after them would be very difficult and time-consuming. Most people don’t have the time.

I think they’re all taking actions to really protect data. And with every big known breach, more people take action. That’s why you’re having these issues like New York, the GDPR, the new California laws with privacy. They’re coming out and forcing how much information they collect and how they store it.

Part of it is on us, the consumers, too. We have to go in and say, “Hey, Berta, I don’t want you to store my information, I don’t want you to share it.” A lot of times we don’t read the fine print. We just click and accept everything. They say they’re sharing – sharing with the companies, sharing with subsidiaries. Sometimes those subsidiaries are sold to somebody else and your data is floating through.

Berta

And it’s just we don’t know.

Guillermo

And think about how many things we have today online. You probably have multiple bank accounts – probably two or three. You probably have a couple of credit cards. But let’s go beyond that. You may have an account at Publix if you’re shopping at Publix. How much information are you giving? Are you buying pet food from a PetSmart or maybe chewy online. Do you have an Amazon, a Netflix?

How many places are you putting your information out there? It’s a lot. Another critical thing that I forgot to tell you is: don’t use your same password at all these places. Go to a long phrase. The culture is changing. It’s recommended today to use a long phrase. I enjoy going with my family to Tennessee. Put capital and lowercases. It’s a long phrase, something that you’ll know. But don’t put that same password at your bank, at home depot. Use unique ones at each one. If something happens at Home Depot, your bank account is safe. If something happens at Publix, your bank account is safe. If Amazon is breached, it doesn’t affect you.

Berta

My son used to laugh at me because my first Facebook password when I first opened it was Facebook one. I didn’t want to have to remember another password

Guillermo

You would be surprised at how many people have Facebook one. People use February1, February2020. Those are what we call crackable passwords. Hackers are out there putting code that run through these algorithms to try to crack weak passwords.

Berta

It’s so funny. My ex son-in-law was military originally and he was into the cyber security. He would freak out when he would see me type out the same simple password for everything with a 1. He would lose it. His passwords were like xyz17! Weird, long… like NASA stuff. Crazy. I was like, how the hell do you remember that? You eventually remember. But I realized that when you’re aware of the potential vulnerabilities, you’re much more careful with it. Some of us are just riding on the wave of naivety and we just don’t know.

Guillermo

In the workplace or even at home, maybe your write the password and put it on a post-it note. You may think, “Who comes to my house?” Maybe the fumigator, the exterminator, the maid comes through, maybe you have a repairman that comes for an appliance. If the computer is visible in a place, they could be looking at your passwords.


Berta

It’s all those things that we just don’t see.

Guillermo

People don’t think about it.

Berta

I appreciate you mentioning that. ON the corporate side, other than regulatory changes that are going to become more stringent in order to do that… I remember when I had the title company, the data and the privacy was a big deal. I always learned to operate in every business from a place of respect. Ethical respect for the consumer. Everything is locked, everything is where it needs to be. Stuff doesn’t get it. We have a privacy policy. Nobody is going to call me and ask me for information.

All those parameters that were in place… they may have been regulatory within the industry. It just wasn’t a general regulatory thing. So do you think that there are enough ethical parameters in place where even if the regulatory agencies have not gotten there with the consumer protection that ethically organizations should be looking at ways to protect their consumers – their employees? I know one of the big ones was an HR breach. Everybody got – I think it just happened. I don’t remember where I was.

One of the big furniture stores here says, “You know so and so, they got their information and they got mine too. They realized then that it was an HR breach. Physical, like you said. Somebody from within, maybe disgruntled or whatever. And I’m wondering if there’s enough of an ethical pressure on corporations to really be a stand for their consumer’s privacy.

Guillermo

So let’s break that down into parts. Any regulated industry – if you’re a fortune company; if you’ve got public records – you are mandated. For me it’s easy. Most of my customers in the financial services vertical are all regulated. They have good regulations, good policies and procedures. At this point they’ve already adapted a lot of that to really have consumer protection. Not only that: they’ve taken it internally. They’re protected their internal data, their employee data, and their processes. They do a lot of training and awareness. It’s part of the mandate.

I think that, overall, companies today – you still have a lot of mom and pops – that the controls are not there. The benefit is that they’re smaller. They’re not on that big radar where they’re trying to breach those companies. Let’s face it – if they breach them they might only get 100 or 1000 customer base. If you look at the big cases, they’re going after the Home Depots with hundreds of thousands or millions of records. The Sony [case] was millions of records. There’s a lot more emphasis in that. Remember what I told you: It’s either disruption or monetary gain. How much monetary gain can they get from going after that small company. However, there could be nexuses where that smaller company can be a bridge to a larger company.

Overall, I think there’s a lot of awareness I think that today, companies are starting to do more from an ethical perspective to make sure that privacy is maintained. I still think that today… as the digitalization happens, there’s less things that need to be kept. Let’s go back to credit card processing. You used to have to pass it and then they had the carbon and they had the little inscription and you had the credit card.

Then you had payments where you were writing down information to take a payment in your business to be able to charge your customer. Today those are happening electronically. You’re either giving them a square, you’re passing the credit card. Now you’re not storing that paper that you have to get rid of because it’s all happening electronically and those transmission are all encrypted. There’s a lot of improvements in that part of it. If you’re leveraging some of those things then you’re already kind of protecting your consumers… you’re protecting your clients.

Berta

I remember having to shred every time the credit card slip would go through we would throw it in the shredder to make sure that nobody else saw it.

Guillermo

A lot of people didn’t have shredders or they were breaking them and you could put that paper back together. And if you remember, the first shredders were regular shredders that shredded long. There were cases where people were able to rebuild and paste it. Those why those cross-cut… it’s confetti now. If you can put that back together…

Berta

You deserve it.

Guillermo

Absolutely.

Berta

Thank you for that information. I think a lot of people need to be careful. We need to be aware as consumers and aware as business-owners that even if it’s not mandated, regulatory, or legally, we need to have that ethical antenna up on how we’re protecting our consumers. So I want to talk about some fun stuff! I want to talk about your babies and grandbaby and your new grandbaby on the way.

We had a little conversation pre signing onto the podcast about the importance of that balance and I know you’re extremely ethical in your work and in your business but you’re also extremely hard-working when it comes to family time and vacation time and just doing it perfectly. I’ve known Alina since we were thirteen, fourteen years old. That’s a long-ass time ago, people. But I love her. I love her. Alina is Guillermo’s wife. She’s just one of the dearest people in my heart.

You guys are doing it right.

Guillermo

We try!

Berta

But tell me what it takes. You’re both busy. You’re both professionals and have been entrepreneurs and just are building great businesses and great careers but you’ve managed to get the whole family thing and the priorities right.

Guillermo

Well family has been first always. We’ve always made it a point to make sure that everything we’re doing was to be able to provide for the family; to be able to give back; to be there for the family. Alina is the rock. She really is. Early on in our careers, she took on a lot of the heavy lifting at home so I could take on the heavy lifting at work to allow for where we’re at today.

The reality is that everything is about the kids. For me, being able to provide, be there for my kids, watching them grow, be a part of their lives, has always been what makes it whole. I was very fortunate at different stages of my life and different stages of my career that, as my kids got older and those final years of high school. The window is very, very little and it goes by really fast. If today, I was to put in perspective and go back and say, “Oh, I’d like to do this again or had done this differently.” It’s too late; they’re already gone. My oldest – Karina – already gave us one grandson. Now has another baby on the way. Due sometime in the middle of the summer.

You can’t go back and say, “Oh I wish I would have done this.” My son… they’re 8 years apart. He’s in his senior year at college. Those times are gone. We still spend time. He’s avid into sports. We’re very passionate about following sports. We drive up to UCF. We go up to UCF every football game; home game. He works for the team. We get there early, we have lunch, we enjoy. He goes off to work, we tailgate.

Then we go see the game and then at night we get to spend time. It’s a small window, you know? In a matter of time, he’s going to be off to follow his career wherever that is. It could be on the other side of the world. It could be on the other side of the nation. It could be right here in our own back yard, but probably it’s going to be less likely because there’s not a lot of opportunities. You have to enjoy it. And as we get into the next stage – and I think you can attest to this. With our grandchildren, we start enjoying them at a different level. You start coming back and saying, “Okay, what are the things I can do different. We still mentor them and still guide them.  You’re going to still raise them, but it’s not our core responsibility. We get to enjoy a little bit more.

Berta

We get to spoil them and give them back.

Guillermo

Give them all the sugar and then, “Here… yours. Have fun!” But you know, it’s been the core. We still try to take vacations together. It’s getting bigger. You have the son-in-law, the girlfriend, the grandchildren now. But as long as we can, we have health and we will continue to do as much of that as possible.

Berta

We were talking about the importance of the path that your own parents and Alina’s parents have set as a stage for what family means. I think it becomes traditional and then we try to do it the way they did it but on steroids a little bit. And then we pray our kids are doing it the way we did it. Not the same way, but just so that the tradition continues of the importance of keeping the family together.

Guillermo

You’re 100%. For me it’s a little easier, right? I’m an only child. I don’t have siblings. So for me, wanting to instill that in my kids to be able to instill the relationship of my sister-in-law who’s almost my sister. That value of keeping the family, keeping the nieces. It’s very cherished. You know… on my mother’s side, I had a very large family. Still today, we’re diverse. I have family in Venezuela. I have family in California, I have family that’s here. On my father’s side it was more minimal. It’s now even less. I have two cousins and then an uncle that are left in Argentina.

So that core of trying to maintain to instill has always been critical of making sure that – you know the importance of it. We’re here for a very short period of time. If you’re lucky, you’ll be like Michael Douglas – 103. If we look in perspective, we’ve already passed half of that. We’ve already surpass fifty percent. If you take the average lifespan, we are probably in our 2/3rds, so we don’t have a lot of runway left. You need to enjoy it and you need to make the most of it.

So, you know… forgive, forget, laugh, enjoy. It’s not worth it. I think a lot of people hold on to grudges way too long. I tend to just make the best of every day. Go to sleep satisfied that you got the most because you never know if this is your last day. Unfortunately there are accidents that occur that are tragedies, you know? Don’t leave anything behind.

Berta

You mentioned Kobe before we started. I’ll never forget my sister-in-law passed young. She was 56 when she passed. She was born ill with diabetes and outlived her expectancy, but it was funny because she travelled all the time. She would go to Europe three or four times a year. My mother-in-law would say, “Don’t spend so much money travelling.” She said, “Listen, I don’t know if next year I’m going to have legs to travel.”

When we were getting ready to build this house, I remember I was super excited and I would go and if Macy’s was having a sale I would buy a comforter set that I fell in love with and I would put it away. She would come to the old house and she would say, “Hey, didn’t you just buy a new comforter, where is it?” And I would say, “I put it away for when we move.”

She said, “Listen, when you move, tell your husband to buy another one.” That’s her brother. “Right now, use it. What if you don’t get to use it?” So when she passed; it was sudden and it was devastating for the family and for Jorge and the kids. I knew that she lived every day as if it was her last. She enjoyed every minute. I really learned a lot from her because I feel like she did everything she wanted to do because she just didn’t know. I think that’s the benefit of people that may be ill.

I have a good friend who was diagnosed with cancer and they did treatments and now we sat down for lunch a few months ago. He said, “I’m terminal. I said, “Yeah, but with your attitude you’re going to be terminal until you’re 99 years old.” Because, you know, we’re all born terminal. Nobody is leaving here alive. It just depends on the spin that we give on it to choose, because you have to be intentional and deliberate, about really living every day to the best of your ability.

Guillermo

And when you leave you don’t take any of those possessions with you. Look at Kobe. Eight luxury cars in his garage. You can’t take any of that. I agree with you wholeheartedly. You need to try to do the best you can every day. You know, if you bought something because you like it, enjoy it. Why put it away for, “Oh, for next year.” We never know. Why would you go out and buy something you want to eat and say, “Oh, I’m going to save it for next week.” Cook it that night, put the steak on the grill. I’d like to say that I’m pursuing a bucket-list. But it’s not a bucket-list. It changes. It’s constantly changing. If things come up and there’s a country that we want to go to, we just say, “Okay, next year let’s go visit that country.” We kinda just make that our target.

I think if you put a predetermined list, what happens when you fulfill it? You kind of have to leave that empty to keep putting stuff that you want to do, keep you motivated, keep you encouraged to do things. At the same time, don’t hold back. I mean, if it’s within your means, do it. Do it – like you just said, don’t have regrets.

Berta

I don’t want to have to regret anything. I love that we get invited into these amazing family trips that you guys do through Facebook and through social media but it really is what you’re saying. You have to say, okay, this is where we want to go, this is what we’re going to do. Then you do everything to move in the direction of it. I believe, like you, we’re not going to be able to take anything with us. But we get to leave the world a little better than it was when we got here. I think the best way that we do that is with our children. I want to talk about your amazing kiddos for just two minutes. Alejandro and Karina are amazing. So tell me: what are the biggest lessons or what is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned from your kids?

Guillermo

The biggest lessons… that’s a tough one! I guess let’s start with Karina. She’s very true to herself. She takes after her mother. She’s adamant about getting things done. Brilliant mind. I think that – and I constantly tell her – that she sets the bar too low for herself. She could really accomplish whatever she sets herself to do. She said she wanted to become a teacher, she went and got her teaching degree, got involved with a school. All of a sudden she makes teacher of the year her first year.  

That’s like, wow! She really goes all out in what she does. She was invited to lead the English department (literature). She headed up the program they have literary night. They have a school affair and she said, “Hey mom and dad, why don’t you come visit so you can see what we did.” Alina and I show up after work. We’re standing there on the side. The principal thinks that we’re from the school district because I’m in a suit. My wife is dressed up. Everybody’s looking saying, “The district is here evaluating us.” All of the sudden, we get a kick later because they realize that we’re Karina’s parents.

Later, you get to meet them. At the baby shower, they were there. So they were like, “Oh, the guy from the district!” Really watching what they’ve done and grow. The way that they’re engrained in trying to motivate and educate is phenomenal. I pushed her. I asked her why she wants to be a teacher. She says because she wants to make a difference. That’s why she’s in the classroom. I tell her, why do you want to be in the classroom? Why don’t you want to be the principal? Imagine instead of thirty students imagine the impact of 300 or 3,000?

And just watching them be able to mature to that level. When she had Gavin, that maternal click just kicked in and she’s phenomenal. You see that mother nature just comes out. I can only say it from watching her but I’m sure you went through that being a mother and having fabulous children yourself.

With my son, he’s still young. He’s still evolving. I think that probably the lesson that I’ve learned from him is his ability to want to fly. What do I mean by that? Different situations – different reasons. You know… when I was in college my grandmother was ill so I stayed close to home. I went to Miami-Dade. I went to FIU. Later in life I went and got my MBA at Nova. I was always here.

He, on the other hand, was ready to fly. He’s not that far, he’s at UCF. It could have been somewhere else, but he was like, at 21, ready to live on his own. Even though dad maintains it, he lives on his own. I think it’s one of the best decisions he’s made. He’s flying at a much faster pace. He’s expanding to, you know, new heights more accelerated than where I was at that age. He’s more mature. Just last week, we had our national sales conference up in Orlando. Every year he looks forward to it because he says, “Oh, you’re coming. I’ll go meet you.”

He’s of age, so he comes over and goes to the bar, hangs out with us, has a beer or two. And just watching him over the last two years, the maturity level… having conversations with colleagues of mine and holding a conversation for a sustained period of time is very rewarding. To be able to see and say, wow!

Those are some of the lessons, you know? He’s really focused on – he wants to coach football. So he’s focused 100% on that. He’s going to interviews, going to conferences nationwide and trying to learn from some of the best out there. He’s really just looking for what opportunity is going to be there when he graduates.

Berta

I love it. I love seeing them become who they are meant to be. I’m going to go back to Karina for just one second. Karina was tutoring Rebecca, my little cousin. Little did we know. We found out on a cruise. We were all on a cruise together and Rebecca was like, hey! This is my tutor!

I’ll share a story with you because Rebecca, who’s like my baby. Nine cousins got married in 1987 and we all started having kids together. Lucy and Fern did not have Rebecca until a month before their 20th anniversary. All our kids are in college and away, especially my kids who flew the coop. They couldn’t wait to get out of here.

Guillermo

Was that because of you or because of Jorge (laughter)

Berta

That was because of me! I’m pretty sure if you ask them, it’s because of me. But here comes Rebecca, this baby, and I’m like, “Hey! She’s mine. I’m sorry but she’s mine.” So she’s 12 now and we’re very close. But Rebecca… I’ll never forget the story that she shared. Karina is a math genius, right? She started tutoring her in math because Rebecca was really struggling. One day, they hadn’t made a breakthrough and Rebecca was getting frustrated. For some reason, she started crying. Rebecca was in third grade at the time or fourth grade. Karina said, “I want you to go back into your room and I want you to come out here as a third grader.” Rebecca shared that story with me and it blew me away.

You want to know something? Rebecca is now a straight-A student in math and she’s in seventh grade. The seeds that Karina planted in that girl’s confidence are going to be with her forever. Forever!

And I share that story. I should send her copywriting residual income. I share that story all of the time. It’s the power of belief. I think what makes Karina very special – especially that you shared her passion for wanting to make a difference – is that she has that innate, ingrown belief in people and she’s not afraid to tell them.

I’m telling you because I am the recipient of that I play with Rebecca all the time and that story still – four years later – is something that reset how Rebecca sees herself. That was one little comment of her trying to get her to just center and focus. I don’t think I’ve even ever shared that story with Karina. I have to really maybe I’ll blog about it and brag about her a little bit and send it to her.

Guillermo

Come over for an afternoon. That way you get to meet Gavin before he turns a year old. He’s going to be a year in two months.

Berta

I love when I see so much love around these babies.

Guillermo

And I think a lot of that has to do with her. The way that she reads to him, the way that she teaches him. He should – you know with two parents as teachers – he should be a straight-A student, right? Hopefully it’ll continue.

Berta

Just that support. When the kids know that there’s so much love and support around them, they can’t help but flourish. I think that’s evident in your kids. I’m sure it’s evident in you and Alina and the way that you were brought up. It’s just a beautiful thing all around. I’m so happy that you came.

So okay ready?

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:

Guillermo

Best piece of advice has been stay true to yourself, be humble, and give it your all. Always be honest. I think that everybody is connected – seven degrees of connectivity. You never know how the world could turn around. I treat everybody the way that I want to be treated. But best piece of advice: my dad always said, “Work hard, be honest, give it your all, it’s not about you it’s about the entire team.” That’s why I try to instill every day in my life.

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