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That was my grandma's bar on the westside of San Antonio. There, between singing oldies and slinging coldies, I learned nothing is more important than hard work. Except, maybe the Mambo No. 5.

I started bartending when I was six. First clearing empties and wiping tables, then practicing suggestive selling techniques to increase revenue and fill the register. Before long I was “The Little Bartender,” making tips as a reward for working harder than a first grader is expected to. (Yeah. I bought a LOT of Bomb Pops.)

That hard work has come a long way. It wasn’t enough for this scrawny 145-pound Mexican to make the NBA, but it earned me a full ride to the University of Texas at Austin. Then, that same hard work and determination got me accepted into the Texas Creative Portfolio Sequence.

Well, that and a shitty barber. It’s a long story.

In the Texas Creative Sequence, I learned that creativity is problem solving, details are paramount, and how to "keep pushing." Not just in advertising, but in life—whether I'm playing basketball, writing songs, or searching for hand me downs in thrift stores.

Speaking of thrift stores, here are my two cents:

Life is lived in moments. And when they come, you’ve got to embrace them. Fully. Deadlines be damned! Even if means making a fool of yourself. That’s why I never miss the chance to scream out, "A little bit of Monica in my life! A little bit of Erica by my side!"

The things I learned in that smoky bar have served me well. Just as I used to dig deep into the ice to pull the coldest beers, now I dig deep to find honest insights and write the hell out of lines . From GSD&M, to Digitas, to Grey. From grocery stores to Sasquatches to pure-electric vehicles.

And still, I keep pushing.

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