I have started my tour. I am traveling all across Portugal talking to entrepreneurs and reporting the most inspirational stories I can find. I will leave Portugal at the end of January 2014.
I think that to be an entrepreneur is all about attitude. From one day to another I become more and more convinced about that… be an entrepreneur is about a lifestyle, not just business stuff.
I had a talk with Ricardo Teixeira, a super-man and a mega-entrepreneur with an incredible story.
Name: Ricardo Teixeira
Favorite Quote: “I really believe in luck because the more I work, the luckier I get!”
Ricardo loves extreme sports, he is one of those people that was born with the entrepreneurs gene. When he was 5 years old and wanted to have new toys or marbles he convinced his mom to buy items for her shop that he could sell to his friends (she had a little clothes shop in Alverca – a remote place close to Lisbon)… Then he took those items to school and sold them to his friends (with a margin, of course). With that margin he bought the marbles and toys he wanted. At the age of 12 (!!!) he convinced his mother to let him open a skateshop inside the clothes shop. He called and talked to representatives of big brands and he became the representative of his region where besides the shop he also sold things door-to-door. He told me in a funny tone “I’ve been lucrative for my parents since I was 12 years old”.
He has had many years of business ideas and haggling, a lot of sport and a life lived to its limits. Ricardo is an extremely pro-active person but was always a little disinterested in school and as he put it, “I just wanted to have enough money to pay for my hobbies – surfing, biking and skateboarding”.
Everyone was afraid that something bad might happen someday on his adventures but the truth is that, on a nice day on regular outing at the beach, he was playing with a friend on the water and a bad dive changed his life. At the age of 17 years old he fractured 2 vertebrae and became a quadriplegic.
Everything changed… He was used to physical activities, making money selling products door-to-door and he was preparing to get his driver’s license.
…but everything had changed in a minute…
This new situation presented many problems and huge obstacles ahead… it was time to start everything from scratch.
So what did Ricardo do? He made a decision to take control!
He said “Either I fight and became a better person or I will be a wreck all my life depending on others…that will never happen!”. After listening to the doctors saying that he was not going to be able to drive, and with his family telling him not to do this and that, Ricardo closed his ears to everyone and all the noise. He insisted in getting a medical authorization and after 2 years he finally got the authorization to drive and one month later he had his driver license. He built his own adaptations on the car for his handicap so that he could drive. To date he never had an accident!
Before the accident he was thinking of becoming a bike mechanic or a surfboard shaper. After that fateful day he started looking to his future in other ways with a different set of eyes. He found himself dedicating more time to his friends, family and to school – he even became one of the best students in school.
But what about his businesses?
Since it was difficult for him to move, and he was living in an era where internet was something distant and expensive, he decided to start reading economic newspapers about buying/selling stocks. From the TV teletext that he had at home he was getting updates about rates every 2 hours and then by fax he was sending transactions requests. He start making some money, start asking for literature from people that worked in the stock market. He start getting some experience and knowledge on the subject and start making more and more money. So much that his parents asked him to get into this business.
When he was 19 years old he started an internet company with 100 dollars and simultaneously got a job at Microsoft. His internet company starts growing and in his home he had several employees that were paid with the money he made on Microsoft.
Incredible that we are talking about a quadriplegic person that at the age of 22 was working at a multinational company during the day and at night working on his company where he employed 20 people!!!
Two years later he left Microsoft, brought his team to Lisbon and in the following years he had more ideas, projects, a few launches with top CEO´s, bought and sold companies… today he employs 60 people in several places around the world in several companies.
Ricardo really is a very special person. He says that his biggest virtue is to find solutions – “Every time something happens to me I have to find a solution”. He overcame obstacles and because of that he is a very self-confident person that works 14 hours a day (and he does it with pleasure!), sleeps 5 hours, spends 2 hours with his family and dedicates the rest of the time to his hobbies – nowadays remote-controlled drones. He takes risks, innovates, and makes it happen every day.
Listening to his story I had ask him these questions:
1. In what way did your physical disability changed your life?
“The accident saved my life! It woke me up to a fulfilling life… I´m sure that if it wasn´t the accident I would never get as far as I am and where I´m going to go”.
2. What makes you happy?
“T do business. I love to create, innovate, and make it happen. I want to work until I am 80 years old!”
He says that “To be an entrepreneur and a businessman it is not just going to fancy restaurants, having good cars and having people working for us. To be an entrepreneur is to take your work home, be the last one getting paid and find ways to solve problems. When we became entrepreneurs, we have the work on our heads 24 hours a day… and if we don’t, we won’t go far!”.
He ended our conversation as I was taking a picture to remember the moment, saying “take a full body picture. I want everyone to see my wheelchair. My physical disability is not an excuse for anything!”
I have to confess that this conversation with Ricardo was extremely and deeply inspiring, refreshing and it is a conversation that definitely left its mark on me. It allowed me to look to my problems, obstacles and questions in another perspective…
Could it be that the size of our obstacles and problems are not so big as we think they are? When we want to do something, are we REALLY prepared to achieve that goal? Do we REALLY want to achieve it? Is there a possibility that goodwill, positive thinking, and attitude are the key elements in all processes of our lives?
I leave these questions to you… these are questions that each one of us must answer!
I want to thank Ricardo and send a very big hug. You gave me a life lesson with your story and will. You´re a role model for me. Thank you so much!