Everyone in México is an Entrepreneur!
Part of my daily routine has become to cut up some fruit and have my abuelos eat a snack in between meals. Today I cut up a mango and added a dash of chile. This sparked a story from my abuela. She started telling me how back when they had their store she would sell mangos with chile, and all kinds of other fruit, especially naranjas con chile. With their tiendita being near a school, all the kids would come when school let out and buy some fruit as a snack. Her and my abuelo would go to the local town to buy their stock of fruit to have for the week.
As a child when we would come to México, we would love to be in my abuelas house because we had what seemed like an unlimited supply of candies, soda, and chips. I still remember where she had my favorite lollipops, and the drawer she kept the change. My cousins and I would always take turns playing cashier and give each other change for the candies we bought with our pesos. I asked my abuela how long had it been since they closed down their tiendita. It happened once my abuela started having health problems, she began to realize that keeping the store would not be the best idea. She would have trouble giving back correct change and even giving the right items people were asking for. There was even a kid who would mess around with her, either taking items or poking holes in the bread and ruining the items she could sell. My abuela caught him and told him that she didn’t care if it was just 5 pesos worth, he was going to respect her and her store and she gave him the opportunity to pay for it or she was going to take him to talk to his dad and tell him what he had been up to. So he paid up, mad props to my abuela for handling this kid.
My abuelos got along with all the people they bought their merchandise from and with all of their customers. This was apparent just yesterday when I had gone to the main town with my grandpa to go grocery shopping. We walked through the square and everyone started greeting my abuelo- “Buenos dias Cheque”, “Como esta Cheque”, “Que le damos Cheque”, “No le vendo una paleta Cheque”. I asked my dad and he said “Papa Cheque era muy famoso en sus dias por su tienda”, he was a legend back in the day. Walking through that town square made me feel like I was hanging out with the popular kid in school, I was so happy to be his granddaughter. In his prime, my abuelo was a store owner, he raised livestock, and he planted and harvested his land. He was in the business of providing what was necessary in the town in order to provide for his family.
He and my abuela were so well liked that all of the merchandisers would sell to my abuelo at a discounted price. He had such good relationships that even if he didn’t have all the money to pay for all of the merchandise they would give him the flexibility to pay the next time. Apperantly this made one store owner in town envious. My abuela said that one time the other store owner asked for the invoice for their merchandise since theirs was “lost” and they needed the list to see what items to order for their store. In reality, they just asked so they could see what prices they were charging my abuelos so they could go and complain to the merchandiser about the discount they were getting.
All in all, with the stories I’ve herd from my abuelos and seeing first-hand how much respect and reverence people in the pueblo and the neighboring towns have for them I can see how successful they were in their days. For them it was important to have great relationships with everyone they worked with, and they saw the benefit of that with the loyalty of their customers and merchants. Not only that but they had respect for their store and their work and they demanded it from those who tried to take advantage. I see those same qualities in my dad, and also in his way of raising us. There’s a certain respect he commands just in his being, but he is also the most reasonable and calm person that I know. I’d like to think that my siblings and I have gained some of those qualities ourselves, and I can see how that gets passed down from generation to generation.
This made me recognize that my entrepreneurial mindset did not come from what I thought was the opportunity to grow up in America and strive for the American Dream, but rather from generational lessons of business that were unknowingly passed down to me but I was dissociated from them because of my "assimilation" to America. Business is nothing more than providing a product or service to someone and doing it so well that people become loyal customers or partners. What I had forgotten was that the best teachers are those who have done it before us, that is where my first lessons were learned.
Given that I was raised in two countries that I always considered to be opposites from each other made me disassociate the lessons learned from the motherland as applicable in America. I never thought to apply those lessons of business on the other side. For the most part I held those customs as part of my personal and family life. But what was I thinking? Just because México is a poor country, doesn’t mean that those core business lessons don’t apply. My abuelo never did have just one single job, he had several, and it wasn’t much of a job but rather a business, he worked for himself and for his family. To a certain extent so does my dad, he has his regular job but he also has his side hustle. As a matter of fact, most of the people in the rancho work for themselves. For the last several years I have been striving to find that one single job that would satisfy all that I wanted, to now only realize that in that mindset I was never going to get where I wanted to go. Not only do I acknowledge those lessons I had long forgotten, but I can apply them with confidence knowing that it has been passed down to me from the previous generations. If need be, I can work for someone, but more importantly I have everything that I need to work for myself. The stories my abuelos share have made me aware of that.