Mauricio Mejia – Smoke and Mirrors



Bio: Mauricio Mejia: Entrepreneur – Author – Speaker – Mentor – Investor – Philanthropist

Mauricio is a restaurant owner, real estate mogul, creator of jobs, investor, speaker

In a former life, Mauricio was a nightlife Promoter and owner of a successful Ultra Lounge in Silicon Valley; however, Mauricio has always been a trailblazer while creating his own success. His career started in the nightlife industry weaving its way into the real estate business – selling, purchasing and building both homes and commercial buildings.

In the process, he co-founded a construction company, CALPACIFIC Contractors, while simultaneously, maintaining his highly successful staffing company, California Labor Force; which has 6 offices throughout California and employs over 1000 employees on any given day.

His creativity and drive led him to production of cultural events such as the César Chávez Annual Scholarship Breakfast and the Latino Leadership Alliance Annual Dinner Gala in the Silicon Valley.  He sits on the boards of Cesar Chavez Family Vision and the PAL Board.  He has always maintained the importance of giving back to his community, increasing his contributions as his achievements grow.

His next book, Still Standing, is coming soon



Alan Olsen: Today’s guest is Mauricio. Mejia, welcome to today’s show.

Mauricio Mejia: Thank you, Alan, I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me as your guest today.

Alan Olsen: So Mauricio, so you’ve done a lot in life have a very unique story. And that’s why we have you here today. And if we could start off by you telling the guests your background, the path in life of how did you get to where you are today?

Mauricio Mejia: Well, how much time do I have? Um, you know, I gotta say, first I started, I have come from my immigrant parents, both of my parents are from El Salvador immigrated, or came over to the United States, obviously, seeking a better life. And I ended up growing up with my mom being a single mom with a younger sister, born in San Francisco, raised in Los Angeles, and I always tell people, I was educated here in Silicon Valley, and I got the best of all worlds all in one. So started very young. You know, my mom was a hard worker. And she wanted a better life for both my sister and I, and got the opportunity to experience that hardship at a very young a young life. So I know that I think that those were the things that triggered my entrepreneur, entrepreneurial spirit kind of woke me up, I knew that life was more than growing up in the streets of Los Angeles, and, you know, being surrounded by gangs and drugs, and all the bad things of what an urban city like that had to offer at the time, or at least the area that we lived in, we had to make with what we would what we had. So I knew that at a young age, I just say I wanted more, and I wanted to be able to contribute to to the household. So I started my entrepreneurial journey at 15 started my first business, washing cars around the neighborhood. Just. I just figured that that would be the way to at least be able to contribute so that my mom, I didn’t have to put too much pressure on my mom to provide for me so. So I started around the neighborhood, walking around looking for trucks and or bigger cars that I could charge more money to wash their vehicles and I started my gimmick, then

Alan Olsen: You know that that path of self reliance often is inspired by some of the Hard Knocks of life in trials that we have. So you you started to what I’ll call a mobile carwash business, you were the cars parked waiting for the red light, or the green light? Or what how did you get the customers to you,

Mauricio Mejia: You know, I walked around my neighborhood, and the neighborhood that I lived in, there was a big cars, there was a lot of trucks around the neighborhood. So I would go to the neighbors and I would, I would knock on their door and find out who the owner of the vehicle was. And I would tell him, you know, hey, I’m trying to raise money I’m getting, I have a deal. I’m willing to wash your car. And if you like it, great, you can pay me if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay me. So that was kind of like, you know, some young 15 year old kid walking around the neighborhood. And I think people actually probably saw that saw that that drive in me. And they just couldn’t say no. So I charge 20 bucks to wash a, a truck. And I did such a great job, cause I spent my time on it. You know, I was I wanted to make it worth, what $20 would be in my mind worth it. So, and I got smart. And I started to figure out if I did, how many of these can I do a day in order to you know, make X amount of dollars. And that’s I worked it backwards. So that’s how I started at least my first, my first venture.

Alan Olsen: Now you went from there to a second company and you know, you finally gained some employees. Is that right?

Mauricio Mejia: Well, so my my my my next venture that I’ve ventured off into was I got into street marketing or street promotions for the nightclub industry in Southern California. And I started and really that’s where my background. My true background is as entertainment. I did it for 25 years, I did top nightclubs and concerts in California started in Los Angeles. And then I moved to the Bay Area. And I dominated the industry here. I moved to San Francisco first and then I ended up in San Jose because I got accepted at San Jose State. So I decided that I wanted to move to San Jose and I got into the nightclub business until 2008. Now, backtrack a little bit. I mean, at 19 it was 1996 when I got accepted to San Jose State, I was 18-19 at the time, by the age of 25. Being in the in the entertainment industry I had already made my first million and by 28 I was already in the four to $5 million range. So I got into that and then 2008 came. And in 2008, was the was the first time I’ve ever experienced in my life a major downfall of an economy. Even though I experienced 2000, I was still young. So it wasn’t, it wasn’t a big impact on my life. I was still going to college, but 2008 really turned my world upside down. And that’s where I went from living in a beautiful loft and having all the beautiful toys to pretty much homeless on the streets, trying to figure out what my next steps were going to be. To get out of that. So it felt like I was repeating life all over are my childhood all over again.

Alan Olsen: You know, what a, what a lesson learned, going from success, and then going all the way back down to the bottom again. Were you discouraged?

Mauricio Mejia: At first I was, I didn’t know what I didn’t know how to process because all I knew was success on my way up. So from 15 I didn’t I couldn’t differentiate failure, or bumps in the road. I mean, there was disappointments that I had in my, in my coming up. But as when I hit 25, and I cut my first multimillion dollar deal. And then at at 28 being in the in the multimillion, you know, multi millions income. I didn’t know what I didn’t know what that felt like. And when 2008 came, I really got to experience that I was doing real estate during the day. And then my nightclub nights, I would always tell people I’m like Bruce Wayne during the day and Batman at night. So for me, it was I didn’t have any any references. So when 2008 came, it was really more of a, what do I do? And and I’ve never felt what it was to lose what I had. So I don’t know about discouragement. I think I just felt lost in my thoughts.

Alan Olsen: And you wrote a book along the way. Yes, smoke and mirrors.

Mauricio Mejia: Yeah. So that that was what as I started going through the 2008, 2009, and 10, I really started to think about, you know, what was happening on in my life. And then in 12, 13, and 14 is when I got my next break, and I was able to, through friends and people that I knew I was able to launch my company, California labor force at the time, which is a staffing company, and the first year, you know, I’m going from 2010 to 2004 journalists a 2012 to 2014 you know, from couchsurfing, and living out of my car and living out of a box. I knew that in my mind, I knew how to make it, I knew that I wasn’t a quitter, either. And I knew that I was destined for bigger things in my life. So I launched a company California Labor Force with a partner and went from you know, $40 in my gas tank to 4 million my first year in business and then by 2019 we had grown that company to $100 million company

Alan Olsen: You know and the interesting thing about this Mauricio is that there you were living in a car and rather than step out and go make sandwiches or flip burgers or somebody else you’re like hey, I’m going to go do another company and I’m going to do it well living in the back of my my car which I find incredible and I find that’s a real entrepreneurial spirit going going through this what when I look at the having interviewed many people over the years, adversity comes what, where did you pull your foundation from? you know, what, what anchored you in life to say I can do this, I can I can create this next step this next company

Mauricio Mejia: You know, I I know that from growing up with nothing that thing about I know that that was my foundation because I know what it was like to have nothing and I know that I had to take myself back to early growth in my life of what it was what what did I what was my mindset during that time? What is it that I was doing what was I listening to who was listening to who were my mentors. So I really just went back to the I scribe peeled all the layers that I had accumulated over the years of success. And what I what I truly found was it success was just was covering up a lot of was just creating layers and layers over over me and I started to lose myself. Meaning I got I got drowned in my own success. And when I lost it all it was and you have no nothing to fall back on. You have to peel back to the core. And that’s really what I did was I peeled back to my core all the layers and all the you know just from being the rock star superstar being the most important person in the room, at least in my mind, I had to really get down to the core and really get back to some basics. And I realized that I always tell people that was the pre 2008 Mauricio. And then there’s the post 2008, Mauricio. the pre 2008 Mauricio, was very consumed in themselves. Very ego very, very arrogant. Because again, I only knew success, I only knew what that tasted like, I never, I never got to taste what humble pie was like until 2008 came. And really was it was not because I didn’t want to learn, it’s just because of the environment that I was in. So once I came down to that environment, I had to really start thinking about, alright, what what happens from this point moving forward? And what I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore It was what impact can I have on others? And what can I contribute back to whether it’s my family, whether it’s my community, whether it’s my the industry, it just had to be something different. So when I started the new company with my partner, I realized that I started to help a lot of people getting into the workforce, community, you know, and I, I used all my talents and skills that I’d had in the, in the entertainment industry, which I call it smoking mirrors, because that’s what we created in the entertainment industry, we create that illusion, so that when you come in and, and have a good time, it’s a very short period of time that you’re having a good time, because then when you go home, or the next day, you realize that reality sinks in and, and really, if it was just a moment in life that you were living, so it’s kind of like going to Vegas, you know, you go to Vegas, and it’s this this glamorous perception, but when you come back from Vegas, you’re like, whoa, it’s a it was just a fantasy.

Alan Olsen: So there’s a there’s a mantra that you adopted. Decide, commit, and execute, where did you pull that from?

Mauricio Mejia: So I, when I really get back to that I when I really dug and look back to that mantra was I, I realized that this is something that I was doing from a child, as a child, I made a decision, I committed to my decision. And I knew that I had to execute on that now, that that was something that I acquired at a young age listening to. I don’t want to call them what motivational speaker was Tony Robbins, who used to promote where there’s a will there’s a way and I was a kid listening to that. And and what I what I learned from him was that in order to keep moving forward, you have to learn, you have to learn internally, you have to make a decision. You have to commit to your decision. And then you have to execute meaning you have to take action, because you can decide commit but with no action. There’s there’s no results. So really, that’s what it was when I had to pick myself up from the ground and say, okay, hey, I need to take it to the next level. I need to forget about the path and I need to move forward. So I repeated that mantra, I made a decision. And I committed to my decision. And then I executed.

Alan Olsen: You know I love the I love your story, how you went from you know, rags to riches through just hard work and perseverance. And then you wrote a couple books along the way first smoke and mirrors. Next book was what?

Mauricio Mejia: Decide, Commit, Execute. So the first one that I wrote, took me two years to write my book. It was very therapeutic for me. The the original edition of the book was very raw. So and it was, because that was me pouring out. And when I got to the final parts of of the when I was ready to publish back in 2020, I, I had already started to scrub it because I know that once I put this on once they got out there it was there’s no way of taking it back. And I also wanted to leave some for the imagination because I was thinking again, bigger, I was thinking not only are we going to make a book, but eventually I’d like to do a docu series or a movie or something about it because I got there’s a lot of experiences that I got to go through during that era that 25 years of being in the entertainment industry. So that was the smoking mirrors is more about me and my personal life of growing up and as a child and then getting into the nightlife industry. And then my second book, which was right, was I was smoking mirrors took me two years. The Decide, Commit, Execute should be one weekend. At that time, I was already doing speaking engagements with a gentleman by the name of Stedman. Stedman Graham. And we started back in 2019 started doing speaking engagements and started I got to be exposed to his team. And the lady that helped me write Decide, Commit, Execute was Christin Andrus. and Christin Andrus had worked with Stedman and wrote some of his top sellers. So she founded everything I was sharing with a great story. And one weekend, we sat down. And basically we wrote the book in one weekend. And pretty much 2020 was supposed to be my, my launch of my speaking careers and all these great things. And, you know, lo and behold, COVID-19 kicked in and froze the world.

Alan Olsen: So that you’re currently working on a new book now that says Still Standing Beyond Smoke and Mirrors,

Mauricio Mejia: Right. So as an, and I’m still working on content that’s currently happening right now, because the world is continuing to change. And, you know, I picked myself up and realize that a lot of the things that have happened in 2020. 2020, we were supposed to go public on one of our companies. And that was supposed to be our Silicon Valley unicorn. We, I’m a co founder of a company called Latin Life. And we handled all the promotions and marketing for all the major concerts across the United States, focusing on the Latino community. And we have a an AI technology that knows how to target that demographic that market. And we had filed all of our SEC forms in early January, February, we were going to be ready for a July IPO. And, obviously, March came and, and it just it froze us all up. And then, unfortunately, are one of our partners that was working on our funding. Dave Martinez out of 360 Labs passes away in October of 2020. So that, that unicorn dream just kind of like went in the air. And you know, everything happens for a reason. So I felt that you know, all the different things that were happening in life. Also, you know, the breakup of my partnership in 2019, after we had hit $100 million, a lot of turbulence happening in life. And almost I felt like history repeating itself or life just repeating itself. But now I was a lot older and a lot wiser. Because I had experienced something like this back in 28, in 2008. So what I did was I cut the learning curve shorter and and I and I peeled away a lot quicker, so that I can rebound. And so it’s all content that I’m going to be putting in still standing. And that’s why the title of the book is Still Standing Beyond Smoking Mirrors. So it’s the sequel to Smoking Mirrors.

Alan Olsen: I love it. I love it. Well, Mauricio, it’s been a pleasure having you with us here today person wanting to find your books at Amazon, or are they listed on Amazon.

Mauricio Mejia: Yeah, both of them are listed on Amazon. They’re both on there. And if anyone wants to personally reach out, they can reach out through you and you can reach out to me I’d be more than happy to send them a signed copy of it and, and just share my story. I mean, for me, it’s for me honestly, Alan is not about making the money on the books. It’s about sharing my story with others and hopefully becoming an inspiration and, and and motivation for them to to say hey, if someone like Mauricio could do it, they could do it as well. You know?

Alan Olsen: Well, Mauricio you have a very inspiring story of life and. And let’s get the word out there so that others that are struggling we you know, we have many people out there that COVID has given their trials in life and and I think you need to go on the roadshow we need to hear more from you about how just pick yourself up and be on Smoking Mirrors yet still be standing right.

Mauricio Mejia: Absolutely. Thank you. I appreciate that. Thank you for your time today this evening.

Alan Olsen: Thank you. I’ve been visiting here today with Mauricio Mejia and for more information we’ll have a link below that will take you to the books and and where you can find more on Mauricio.




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