My name is Alvaro Burgos, I'm 45 years old, and I am very proudly Mexican. My background is corporate – I worked for several industries and companies back in Mexico. Three years ago I moved to New York City to make my dream come true, which was starting a new family and starting a new company. One year ago I decided to pursue my career dream to start my own company, and I founded ABC&C. ABC&C is a boutique executive coaching company that focuses on helping people achieve their highest potential. It could either be getting the job of their dreams, starting their own new company, or really excel at what they are doing today in the executive and corporate world.
Tell us about your career journey.
My career journey is fascinating. I really love where I come from and what I've become through the years. Back in the 90’s I started working with my father, with my father's company really, and after a while I decided that that was not the path that I wanted to pursue. So I started afresh in a new company as a sales representative, and that's where I really realized that the corporate world was for me. So I built my way up. I worked for 3M, and then they invited me to join the marketing team in Mexico City.
So I moved from my city to Mexico, where I started to pursue my real career dream, leaving everything behind. I stayed at 3M for several years and then I built my way up from being a sales rep to marketing manager, having people working with me. And it was fascinating to start experiencing the important task to lead other people. After that, I moved to Pharma. I was invited at an American company to join their team and there – even though I was not going to have people working or reporting under me – I was going to be influencing a lot of people and that really caught my attention. And so my passion about working around people started to grow and grow.
After that, I moved to Roche, and that's where I had the opportunity to be responsible for a direct team both in sales and marketing. And that's where I discovered my passion of – not leading people, but really coaching and helping them to understand what they wanted to accomplish. And, of course, being aligned with what the company was asking for them. And it was in Roche where I had my first opportunity to be coached by a professional coach. And that experience really opened my eyes into the power of coaching. Really pursuing what you want to become in your life and not just letting your career lead you, but more driving your own success.
So it was in that coaching experience that I suddenly had an ‘A-ha moment’ and said, you know what, I have to take care of the things that I've always wanted to pursue. And what was that? Starting my own family. So I had a long-distance relationship with my husband for five years. He was living in New York and I was living in Mexico and that became my priority. I mean, I take my career very seriously, but I also take my personal life very seriously as well. So I quit my job in Mexico, left everything behind – my family, my culture, my friends, my house – and moved to New York. So it was here in New York that I decided to not only change my personal life, but also my professional life as well. It was only natural for me to, in coming from corporate, to go back to corporate. But then there was this moment that I said, ‘this is the time that I need to start something on my own.’ And that was really coaching.
So I decided to join NYU and be certified as an executive coach. When I joined NYU, it was not automatically my ‘A-ha moment’ to say okay I'm going to start my own company. I still had a little bit of resilience and said, ‘okay, I'm going to start looking for a job in corporate.’ But things started to happen when I started my job search, and people started to look at me and said, ‘Alvaro, I think I want you to be my coach.’
When I finished the coaching program at NYU, I had this big ‘A-ha moment’ that corporate was no longer a story for me. I needed to start my own entrepreneurial story, and that was around coaching. So I decided to leave my story of corporate behind, and founded ABC&C. And ABC&C is a small boutique coaching company that is focusing on helping other people to really become a better version of themselves.
What we do at ABC&C is, we challenge people. Doesn't matter where you come from, doesn't matter you want to go; but the real objective here is to challenge people and transform their lives through powerful conversations. So I believe that the power of conversation can really take an individual from where they are to where they want to go. And my job is to be their partner to get there. So my passion is to help individuals – men and women from different backgrounds – to really understand where they are at now, what are the challenges they are facing in their professional lives, and build up a vision and a plan to help them get there.
What are your top accomplishments?
My top accomplishments – I think they are from different aspects of my life. Because I don’t think that you can settle for accomplishing your professional career while you are not happy with your personal life.
So one of my biggest accomplishments in my life is building up a family. Coming from Mexico and growing up in the 80’s being gay, was a tough situation for me. Back in the day I always thought it was going to be really impossible for me to build a family, to have a family of my own. So after five years of a long-distance relationship – and a very loving relationship – I understood that it was possible for me. I just needed to make that decision.
Now that I live in New York, and I see that I’ve accomplished starting up a family, I can see that really anything is possible. So now I connect that accomplishment to my professional accomplishment today, which is building my own business. And they are totally connected, because without one, I could never have had the other one. This decision to pursue my dreams of having a family of my own opened so many options and so many possibilities for me of building up my own business and being an entrepreneur.
ABC&C has been such a wonderful journey and sense of achievement in my professional life. And as I said, without the one, I could not have accomplished the other. And this achievement in particular is not only connected with my professional achievement, but also helping others achieve their professional achievements as well. So for me, it’s a win-win situation. And even though I’m still early in my journey – it’s impossible to think it’s only been a year since I started this – all the possibilities that come in terms of what I can do in terms of what I can do to help others become what they want to become is just amazing.
How has your background influenced your success?
My background has definitely influenced who I am today. You know, as a kid growing up having all and then losing it all – from one day to another – has marked my way. When I moved from my small town to Mexico and then moving from Mexico to New York, starting afresh; having everything and then having to start again has made me realize that anything is possible when you have a dream and you want to accomplish it.
Who are the people who have influenced you?
The person that most inspires me and influences me is my mother. So my mother has an amazing story about resilience and positive attitude. It only made sense to me to take her learnings and apply it to my own life. So back in the 80’s we had an accident as a family and we moved from having this wonderful dream life as a family to start all over again. My father was impaired for the rest of his life and my mother had to become the leader of the family. So my learnings were, ‘okay, if you want to be successful in your life, you have to take success in your own hands.’ So that thought has accompanied me throughout my life, from when I moved from my own hometown to Mexico City and now from Mexico City to New York. It's up to me to make the best out of any opportunity that comes along. I believe that this experience in New York has been amazing – no tragedy whatsoever. But it's always the positive attitude and the resilience that is helping me realize that it's only up to me to be successful and help others be successful in their story.
Tell us a time when your background has posed a challenge.
One of my biggest challenges living in America is my background of being a Mexican, of being an immigrant. So people sometimes ask me how could I be able to help them achieve their dreams or their projects if I’m not an American. How can I understand them based on where I come from?
And what I always tell them is, ‘regardless of where we come from, we live in a country, especially in a city, where diversity is one of the most important, valuable assets that we can encounter.’ So we have to be open to hearing other perspectives from other backgrounds to really understand where you want to go. We have to be open and understand that we can learn from anyone, as long as they have something for you to learn from.
How have the P.O.L.I.N.G.® principles influenced your life?
In terms of my personal and professional journeys, I have leveraged all the P.O.L.I.N.G.® principles. ‘P’ in ‘priorities’, which it was very clear to me that I needed to pursue what was most important for me in my life. ‘O’ in ‘others’ – you know, if coaching is not about helping others, I don't know what it is. And ‘L’ for ‘leading’. I have been living my own life and I've been challenging other people to really lead their own lives as well. ‘I’ for ‘inspiring’ because people have connected with my story and it motivates them to really pursue their own dreams. ‘N’ for ‘networking’ because for me, networking has been pivotal in my success and pursuing my own dream in New York. You know, I came here three years ago with without knowing anyone and today without networking I wouldn't be where I am. Without networking, I will not be able to achieve my dream. What I've learned is that people are the most valuable resource to grow. So that takes me to ‘G’ which is ‘growth’ and not only my personal growth but the growth of other people. So what are we without growth? I think that's the most important part and the most valuable element or principle of the P.O.L.I.N.G.®. - growth. It's what I really pursue and what I want others to achieve.
What kind of career advice would you give to your younger self?
So the advice I want to give to my younger self is, first and foremost, enjoy your life. Have fun. But if you want to have fun, you also need to know where you want to go. So set a vision. Set your goals. Enjoy the journey, which is very short, by the way. All of a sudden you realize you’re 45. And don’t forget you’re not alone. There’s a community around you, there’s people that love you, and then can help you become that dream come true.
Please share your thoughts about the iD community.
I think that Inspiring Diversity has a lot to bring to the table. We live in a community that every time it's more connected – and it's really about network. So we help each other in bringing ways of connecting and helping and really inspiring others; that is the gasoline that will help us get through more and more people and really help each other in building a community that support each other and help each other to achieve whatever we need to achieve. We come from different parts and places, but as long as we help each other and hold each other close, we're going to achieve so many things.
What is your call to action?
The call to action would be to help the leaders out there to really understand the importance of being inclusive, and building a community of different backgrounds. There’s a lot of richness in understanding what different people can bring to the table in building a team and building a community.
On LGBTQ Pride Month
It’s LGBT Pride Month and I think for me, it’s a perfect moment to connect with the community and to share how proud we must feel of everything we have accomplished as a community. Maybe not me just as an individual but all people throughout the world who need to say that it’s time for us to have the same rights as anybody else in the world. We are members of a community and we need to fight for our rights. So I think that this month, it’s a great opportunity for us to just come together and celebrate. We’re good at it. So let’s do it and let’s honor that and let’s keep fighting for our rights.
So in my own story, the evolution of gay rights has been pivotal to accomplish what I’ve accomplished. Without those gay rights, I wouldn’t be able to live in New York, I wouldn’t be able to get married. And really feel like the authentic self that I am. Being gay is just another part of my very rich life. But with all the efforts that we have come to accomplish, it just makes it easier for us to lead a perfect and normal life.