Juan Guerra: “Going After Your Dreams Is Not Supposed To Be Easy.”

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Juan Guerra, founder of Skills of Life, on the journey of his personal development, why self-awareness is key to success for young entrepreneurs and you need to keep pushing yourself. Learn more:

Juan, describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I believe that it doesn’t matter where you come from, we all want the same thing in life and that is to be happy. So every day, I work very hard to have a positive impact on the lives of those around me.

What are you currently working on?Juan Guerra Startup Live

At the moment, I have 3 projects going on:

  1. Wrapping up my Masters in International Development at the University of Vienna,
  2. I’m Global Community Manager at Startup Live and the official moderator of their weekend events and,
  3. I’m developing my own project called Skills of Life, which focuses on supporting young professionals and new entrepreneurs in their journey to success by developing their self-leadership skills.

What led you to this and what struggles did you face during your journey?

I think that when you migrate to another country as I did back in 2003, you are pushed to reflect a lot about yourself, your situation and your struggle, as you try to adapt and integrate.

As I analyzed the different roles I had in my life (family, friends, work, university, girlfriend, etc), I realized that the only thing in common between all of them was me! I understood that it couldn’t be that everything around me sucked; instead, there had to be a problem with the way I saw things.

This understanding completely changed the way I approach life because it gave me the power to decide how I want to react to my environment.

Tell us a bit more. How did you discover people’s need for development?

As I began to develop a social life back when I was 13 or 14 years old, I would constantly ask myself, why did he say what he did? Why did she do what she did? In which situation do I need to be to do that? and so on. I love trying to understand how others think and feel.

As I moved to the USA in 2003 and I began to meet people from all over the world, I added the culture element into the mix and, boom! Best thing ever! Once there, I met people from all over the world and began to identify common patterns between them regardless of their background. Before I knew it, I was making my own experiments.

That’s when I realized that it didn’t matter where they were from, they all wanted the same thing in life and that was to be happy. And more surprisingly they all faced the same obstacle, themselves.

How did this discovery influence you and what could you learn from it?

As my passion for personal development grew, so did my skills and this not only has pushed me to look for constant growth but, it has also opened many doors for me.

Understanding how people think and feel is something I will never be able to fully achieve but, it has already influenced pretty much every aspect of my life. And today, it’s thanks to those skills that I’m in the process of building a life and a career around doing something that I’m truly passionate about.

Where do you think self-awareness comes in when people decide to start their own business? What other qualities / habits do enrepreneurs need?

Self-awareness is all about knowing what you want, what are you capable of and, how others see you. This means that it allows you to figure out your north, your goals and also improve your decision making.

It shapes your entrepreneurial mindset by helping you make the most out of the resources at hand, it gives you the self-confidence you need to stand behind your decisions and it gives you the emotional intelligence to continue piloting the ship when the going gets rough.

And last, it allows you to effectively connect with others by understanding their needs, their goals and the way they see you, which is crucial for leading teams and closing sales.

As for other qualities or habits, I would add: personal finance (learn to maximize your financial resources), self-management (instead of time management – learn to maximize your time) and whatever the opposite is from procrastination.

Did you ever feel like your expectations didn’t meet reality? If so, what was your solution?

So many times!! What I’ve decided is to keep a growth mindset and stop worrying about things that are either: out of my control, beyond my influence, or in the past.

This means that I take it as feedback and as a learning opportunity. No need to waste time and energy on something that is already in the past, instead, I focus on learning from it so it doesn’t happen again. No need to point fingers, instead learn and move on. Time is your biggest constraint when you go after your dreams!

What makes you continue this journey? Why do you keep sailing the rough entrepreneurial sea?

I believe going after your dreams is not supposed to be easy; otherwise, everybody would do it. And that is exactly what I remind myself all the time when things get dark.

So I keep on going because it’s fun, it’s exciting, and it takes me to places I never imagined and allows me to experience things some people just dream about and the best part is that is only the beginning. Plus in the end you only remember the good experiences, the bad ones just help you grow to the next level.

7 years from now: Where do you see yourself?

In a world where the only constant is change, it’s way too hard to say. With life throwing opportunities at me all the time, I really don’t know where I will be but, what I do know is with whom do I want to go with on this crazy journey 😉 She knows it too…

In 7 years, I don’t see myself in Vienna but, I do see me living a lifestyle that allows me to travel, spend time with my family and more importantly continue helping others follow their heart.

Do you have a “hero”? If so, who and why / why not?

I actually don’t have a hero, I don’t know why but, there isn’t anybody who I idolize or look up to. Instead, there are people who I appreciate for having developed certain skills or having accomplished particular achievements in areas I am interested such as public speaking for example.

I think that the reason for this is, that when you are striving for success, you don’t want to live somebody else’s story. Actually, you just don’t fit in anybody else’s story, so you don’t have another choice but, to build your own and for that, you can’t aspire to be like somebody else.

What advice would you give first time entrepreneurs?

Don’t get ahead of yourself. One thing at the time. Focus on the basics and be patient, you don’t need to worry about the skills you need for step 5 if you still didn’t achieve the other 4.

Keep in mind that in order to be successful you need to change many things around you and inside of you because otherwise, you would already be successful. So this will prove to be very challenging since it pushes you to change many aspects of your life. You keep your goals clear and do what you need to do to achieve them but, never forget “your success will be worth nothing if you don’t have anybody to celebrate it with.”

And more importantly, procrastination is the enemy! Push yourself to get rid of this nasty vice as fast as possible.

For more on Juan, check out his blog Skills of Life on leadership development for entrepreneurs.



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Featured Image Credit: Tom Roschanek

Startup Live Image Credit: Tamás Künsztler