OP Almaraz, CEO of Allied Restoration
Mold Remediation, Fire Damage and Water Damage Restoration Company
I grew up on government cheese and food stamps. Even though we lived not too far from Hollywood, it was a far cry from the land of dreams. My father, Inocencio, was an auto mechanic and a stern man. His life was one of hard labor, and he didn’t expect any of his kids to rise above their circumstances.
One day, my father and I were changing the starter on our `66 Chevy Nova. A friend of mine came walking down the street, dribbling a basketball. The look on my dad’s face said, “Don’t even think about it,” but I pleaded to be able to go play with my friend. When I returned, my father was livid. “O.P.,” he said, “who is going to fix your car when you get older if you can’t do it yourself?” My response, which seemed logical enough to me, was that I would take it to the dealership. This sent my father into a fit of laughter so loud and energetic that you would have thought that I had just told the funniest joke he had ever heard. The thought that I would one day have enough money to pay $25 per hour for car service was high comedy to my father. This was the first (but not the last) time someone would laugh at my dreams.
Needless to say, I was absolutely crushed by his response. I went up to my room, and I sulked. I was mad that we were poor, I was mad that I couldn’t have what I wanted, and I was mad at the world. Just then, my mother, Julieta, came into the room to console me. She said, “Mijo, don’t worry. You can do more with your life. We serve a mighty God.” I have never forgotten those words of encouragement.
Not long after that, my mother was interviewing for a job at a real estate brokerage. The woman interviewing her showed up to our house in a brand-new Mercedes-Benz. I decided then that I would begin working toward what she had, and her car became a symbolic target in my mind. I began taking classes as soon as I could and tried to focus relentlessly on my goal. Even after this experience, I ran into all sorts of hurdles along the way. I encountered plenty of others who doubted me and laughed at my dreams or told me that I was too ambitious. Others discouraged me by telling me about people who owned buildings, describing the experience as a nightmare. I even failed my real estate exam twice. Still, I persisted.
The path toward our dreams is rarely a straight line, and you have to be prepared for some bumps along the way. No one wants to experience pain, suffering, or embarrassment. Occasionally, however, these emotions become the inspiration for setting long-term goals that end up changing our lives. When I think back to that sense of anger I had as I sat in my room, and the sense of hope my mother was able to provide, I know that those feelings helped push me toward the incredible journey I am on today.