From almost College Dropout to Outstanding MBA Student

Have you ever felt like life, or God, is being too hard on you?

Maybe you look around and see everyone having a great time and enjoying themselves while you are struggling… and you ask yourself why? Is it worth it?

Why put in the hard work? Why go the extra mile if nobody is paying attention?

Sometimes you might even feel insignificant and that your actions don’t matter. It is exactly at that point you must keep going, it is exactly at that point when it matters the most.

What I am about to share is not about me, it’s about you. It’s about proving you and your efforts matter.

This is something that I thought about sharing after “making it”. Yet, the only time we have available is NOW, and now is when it matters the most for you.

The goal of this article is to help you answer three questions. These are the questions that scare most people, and that fear is what prevents them from taking their careers, and lives, to the next level. Fear is a good sign because it means we are pushing our limits and we must lean into that fear.

These are the questions we will answer together:

  • Can you make it happen?

  • Do you have what it takes to make it happen?

  • Are you willing to do what it takes to make it happen?

Thanks to being at the place Where Awesome Happens I have been able to transform my life. Thanks to great staff, faculty, and students, Bauer has created an ecosystem of excellence. What I am today is in large part a product of that ecosystem.

Usually, I wasn’t in good terms with the educational institutions that I have been part of. During my middle school and high school years my mom was always called (at least 1 time per semester) and asked to go to school and give an explanation for something that I had done.

Most of the time because of some prank or thing I did instead of focusing on my academics. Then in college, I took way longer than the average to graduate.

I kept dropping out of school to pursue business ventures (and many other things that would make great articles) and I didn’t put much effort into my academics. I created a reputation thanks to having high scores on my finals, but only because I needed a close to perfect score on those tests to barely pass the course.

This story is about my journey from almost dropping out of college to graduating with the MBA Outstanding Student Award. 

Yet, this story is not about me; it’s about how you can embrace the current struggles you are facing and use them as fuel to fire up your career.

This story is about all the help I have received to be where I am today, and you should start looking for, asking for, and giving help too.

Here we go!


Can You Make It Happen?


This is the easiest question to answer, and the easiest to identify where people make mistakes.

YES! Of course, you can make it happen.

You must believe in yourself because if you don’t then no one else will.

Since I was a little kid I have been very determined, or we can call it stubborn too. Some might say intense or obsessed.

Yet, this might be a struggle for you. Then what you must do is surround yourself with doers and dreamers. This combination will create the right environment for you to start believing in yourself and start taking action (More on this topic here).

It is no accident I started hanging around with people like Matt. It wasn’t because when I met him I went through a checklist and said: “Oh you are successful, smart, driven, and purposeful, and for these reasons, I must hang around you because people say that you have to hang around people like these to be successful”.

As much as I pride myself in being analytical and rational, these relationships didn’t start or evolve because of an analytical or rational reason. Totally the opposite, it was because of how they felt.

Matt speaks the same language of purpose and meaning. He shows up no matter what. He is a great listener, doer, and valuable human being. He has reasons, not excuses.

This is not just my opinion, everyone that knows him will agree with these statements.

But the most important thing, which I learned with time, is that he is purposeful in everything he does. He has struggled in many ways which is why we connect so deeply and the reason why we share so much.

Matt, while working with a non-profit in Haiti, was part of a team which routinely found young children of less than a couple of months abandoned. He dedicated many years of his life to prevent this from happening in Haiti. He has also struggled with many other things that you might hear about some day.

Matt graduated last year as the MBA Outstanding Student from Bauer, he also has an MA degree in Anthropology with a 4.0 GPA and is the founder of Elisha Consulting. I truly believe that a big part of becoming the MBA Outstanding Student was by osmosis because of all the time that I spent with Matt and the advice he gives me. 

It is no coincidence that most of what Matt and I have in common is that we faced many obstacles and were able to overcome these thanks to having a clear and strong purpose.

These struggles lead to the answer to the second question.


Do You Have What It Takes to Make It Happen?


The answer to this question is simple, but not easy.

All you need to do is start a fire, and place it as close to your butt as you can. I guarantee that this will get you moving!

Let’s go a bit deeper into the meaning of starting that fire.

Did you ever play the original Super Mario Bros? The one that was out with the first Nintendo?

If so, you might remember about a level where the screen moved. Usually, you would be able to go at your own pace through each level.

Yet, in these levels/worlds that the screen moves you had to go fast. You always had to be moving or you would lose.

Starting a fire and placing it close to your butt will create that same effect for you. It will make you move forward!

I was lucky because that fire was started for me, I just had to add more fuel to it. I am from Venezuela and the situation that my country has been in, for the past 15+ years, makes me move forward. Lately, it’s been getting worse and worse.

Also, my mother had all her life savings at Stanford Bank and it was gone the moment the bank went into bankruptcy. If the situation in Venezuela continues to get worse, she might have to leave that country with just a couple of bags or maybe nothing.

She is the reason I now work as hard as I do. I owe it to her, and her hard work,  to live up to my full potential.

Therefore, for me, there are no excuses just reasons to keep moving forward.

In the book “The Obstacle is the Way”, Ryan Holiday talks about the same principle when talking about men and women who are high-achievers: “Like oxygen to a fire, obstacles became fuel for the blaze that was their ambition.”

Now I ask you, what are the obstacles you can turn into fuel for your fire? How can you transform excuses into reasons?

A big one, for international students, is the visa requirement myth. Yes, it is true that the visa is required to work, the myth part is that it is not such a big obstacle as most people think.

Yes, you must be better and more impressive than the candidate that doesn’t require a visa. So, what? Do the work, it will make you better and will raise your standards.

Whatever life throws at you can be used as fuel:

“You don’t have enough years of experience…” Throw it in the fire!

“You have too many years of experience…” Throw it in the fire!

“You are a woman and you would do better in other industries…” Throw it in the fire!

“You have an accent…” Throw… It… In… the… Fire!

This doesn’t mean to just dismiss these statements. “Throwing it in the fire” means to use that as energy, as motivation, to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals and prove those statements wrong!

Just look at history: Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Amelia Earhart, Muhammad Ali, they all had to face big obstacles and failures. The list goes on and on.


Embrace those obstacles and be grateful that they give you the opportunity to create and maintain that fire.  

Part of surviving the fire is surrounding yourself with people that support you. People that give you positive energy, insights, advice and that will advocate for you.

People that add to your fire.

The thing about fire is that when you are close to it, for long periods of time, you will get burnt.

So, what do we do about that?


Are You Willing to Do What It Takes to Make It Happen?


The first thing is to make a clear distinction between what it means to feel the heat and what it means to get burnt.

Because in this distinction lies what separates the failures that create success and failures that lead nowhere.

What most people do when they get burnt, or even by just feeling the heat, is give up. This is a failure that leads nowhere.

Therefore, we have to learn how to rest but not quit. Also, it must be the adequate amount of rest.

Just like in the gym there is a set amount of time that you should rest in between sets. And the resting time will vary depending on the goal (lose weight, build muscle, etc.). It is the same when applying it to your career and life.

Too much rest and you won’t see results. Too little rest and you might get injured.

This is when having a strong and clear purpose will be valuable. Because it will let you push as hard as you can. It will let you rest only when you really need it, only when you are getting burnt.

Let’s be clear about what “getting burnt” means:

Getting burnt is when your ego starts speaking and telling you “this is not what I signed up for” or “I should be doing higher level work”.

Getting burnt is when you think you said yes to too many commitments and this stress starts giving you weird neck pain. 

Getting burnt is when you haven’t been at home before the sunset in a couple of weeks or haven’t had dinner with your family in a while.

Getting burnt is when you start crying for no reason when watching a sentimental video.

Getting burnt is a sign you are stepping outside of your comfort zone, which is good, but you have to learn to rest when it is too much.

Learn to rest, but never quit!


Now What?


Find your answers to those three questions:

  • Can you make it happen?

  • Do you have what it takes to make it happen?

  • Are you willing to do what it takes to make it happen?

Believe in yourself, create a fire and keep it close to your butt, and learn how to rest when you get burnt. That is all you need to make failure just another step in the journey of success.

The most important question is the following one:

Will you make it happen?