As a high school student Dave Ulloa couldn't picture the life he has now; it would have resembled a fantasy at best. Today, he's one half of a powerhouse duo—married to the love of his life, Yvette, both of them International Marketing Directors inspiring and empowering a team of thousands in countries around the world. Nevertheless, the unwavering determination he demonstrated back then—encouraged by a father who overcame incredible odds—gave a glimpse of what would come.
At 5 feet 8 inches tall, Dave, who was raised in inner-city New York and Los Angeles, wasn't considered a shoo-in for pro basketball. "But I practiced longer than anyone else in high school," he says, "and earned a basketball scholarship at California Lutheran University—I was the first in my family to graduate from college." Unbeknownst to Dave, scouts from an Australian pro basketball team were in the crowd at some of his college games. One day, he received a call from an agent, which led to a five-year pro contract and a move Down Under. The ability to redefine challenges as opportunities would be a recurring theme in Dave's life, and he was about to meet someone who shared that world view.
During a visit home to Burbank, California, Dave's sister suggested he meet her boss at the City of Burbank. Yvette, who hailed from Queens, was raised in Bolivia and later moved to the West Coast. "Within two months, we fell madly in love," Yvette says, "so Dave figured out a way to get out of his contract." They were married in 1999, settled in Los Angeles, and Yvette remained at the City of Burbank, where she'd invested 10 years, working her way up the corporate ladder. Dave, meanwhile, joined the Los Angeles Police Department.
"For the first four years I was in law enforcement, I loved it," Dave says. "But, as a police officer on the streets of Los Angeles, I saw the worst things that people would do to each other, and it began to affect me."
Both from Latino families (Dave's father is from Ecuador; Yvette was raised in Bolivia), Dave and Yvette had been taught by their parents "to get a good job with benefits," Yvette says. "But we were living the American nightmare. We worked constantly and I was averaging 60 hours a week, we were $70,000 in debt and we never saw each other."
The couple could no longer ignore their collective stress levels. It was time to take this challenge by the horns and make a change in their lives.
"The word 'problem' doesn't exist," Yvette says. "Challenges come into our lives to give us opportunities to grow and discover blessings. If you focus only on the problems, you'll get no answers."
By 2005, they were searching for solutions. "We were looking for something, but we didn't know what we were looking for," Dave says. Enter destiny: A friend, who was a WorldVentures Representative, called Dave and told him about the company's plans to launch in California and invited him to a pre-launch party in Dallas. Yvette had work commitments and couldn't attend, so Dave went solo.
"He called me from Dallas and told me, 'Babe, this is it. We're going to sell everything we have our home, our furniture and our cars and start WorldVentures right there in L.A.' The very first travel party in L.A. was at our house, and we were selling it, so we had no furniture—we had to rent chairs," Yvette says, laughing as she recalls the scene. "We had no materials—no testimonials, no DreamTrips, but we had no doubts. As they say, ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice."
There was no doubt that this couple could sell the dream—if not with printed marketing materials, then certainly with their enthusiasm. The Ulloas hit the Director level within six months, at which point Yvette retired from her job. Dave retired from the LAPD six months later.
When the couple made the leap to WorldVentures full time, their lives changed completely. "We wanted a career change. We were burnt out, overworked and underappreciated," Dave says. "What we ultimately got was so much more."
Accepting the Challenge
WorldVentures' first-ever DreamTrip, was a four-day, three-night cruise on Royal Caribbean, with stops in Coco Cay and the Bahamas. Before that first cruise, the extent of the couple's travels was the occasional road trip or quick trip to Las Vegas. Since then, WorldVentures has taken them all over the world. Among their favorite trips was a three-day VolunTour for the first documented international makeover of an orphanage in Cuenca, Ecuador, in 2011.
The VolunTour was inspired in part by tragedy: Dave's father, Galo, was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2010. Orphaned as a young child in Ecuador, Galo remained out of the orphanage, instead scraping together a meager life carrying tourists' luggage and sleeping on a succession of boats. He would later start his own shoe-shine business and worked an average of two to three jobs at once throughout his life. "Not always because he had to," Dave says, "but because he liked hard work. He taught me that the formula for success is 'D plus B plus A equals S.' In other words, desire plus belief plus action equals success. He told me, 'I'll always believe in you.' He was my hero." After Galo's passing, the couple, joined by generous volunteers—including a team of 40 WorldVentures Representatives—funded and built La Esperanza (meaning Hope), an orphanage that Dave says carries on his father's legacy. "We finally reached a place where we could pay it forward. WorldVentures gave me the time and the financial freedom to take the biggest challenge I ever faced and turn it into an opportunity to help children." At one point, La Esperanza orphanage had as many as three homes, with 65 children, many of whom have since been adopted or returned to their families after being deemed safe. The couple helped La Esperanza become self-sustainable and maintains an ongoing commitment to the region.
Even as the Ulloas enjoy the obvious signs of success, this personable and genuine couple remains proud of their blue-collar roots. Indeed, those beginnings instilled the work ethic and values on which they built their WorldVentures business, on faith from the ground up.
"We show people they can succeed regardless of their background,” Yvette says. “We've been able to create a whole new level of attraction to WorldVentures for those who didn't think success was possible.
"Life is about turning your greatest challenge into your greatest gift," she continues. "If you embrace those challenges, when the dust settles, you'll break through to the next level and come out stronger."
A Healthy Outlook
Yvette's outlook quite possibly saved her life. Three years ago, doctors discovered a malignant and aggressive tumor in her jaw. The prognosis was grim: Her doctor recommended removing half of the bottom of her jaw and an invasive reconstruction procedure that could have had a profound impact on her life. At that point, she was well into her WorldVentures journey. "We no longer had to make decisions based on time or money," she says. So Dave encouraged her to take a breather from her business, do as much research as possible and meet as many doctors and experts as she could. "I was able to go find answers. I took off on a huge, soul-searching trip. I read more than 50 books, had blood tests taken before and after I ate to learn the effects that food had on my health. I found a holistic doctor who performed some European treatments I never would have been able to have if not for my WorldVentures business. Thanks to those treatments, the tumor stopped growing. I've never been healthier than I am today. If I was still in my government job, I would have died—I wouldn't have had the time or the money to find the answers I needed to regain my health."
The couple took the knowledge Yvette had acquired during those three years ("We earned a Ph.D. in results," Yvette says) and jettisoned it into a series of health and fitness trips for WorldVentures, which they say remain among their favorite trips. "We wanted to inspire and empower others to take control of their health," Yvette says. These four-day trips include light workouts, followed by seminars on healthy habits and lifestyle changes that promote general wellness, energy maintenance and longevity over quick fixes. The Ulloas make it a point to avoid "foods with bar codes, along with red meat, refined sugars and flours," Yvette says. "We focus on fruits, vegetables, plenty of water and include plenty of alkalinity to help eliminate toxins." The couple is proud to share that the 28 participants of their first health and fitness trip lost a collective 360 pounds over a 90-day period. Their second trip attracted 60 participants from throughout the world. "The best part of this life is that we no longer live in a world of stress where fight or flight was the only answer," Dave says. "Our health is better than it's ever been."
"We want to create a health and fitness revolution within WorldVentures," Yvette says, "and help others realize that you don't have to sacrifice your health for wealth." As a couple, Dave and Yvette have their sights set on reaching Triple International Marketing Director, and their team goal is to develop 100 International Marketing Directors. "We have a lot of team members getting close to that level, and we're going to help them get there," she adds.
When it comes to health and wellness, the Ulloas aren't just preaching fitness and better nutrition (they say diets don't work—"They have the word 'die' in the word," Yvette says emphatically). They're also sharing their own tried-and-true tips for better relationships—of which they've learned the hard way. Before WorldVentures helped them achieve financial freedom and gave them the gift of time, "we were on the verge of separation and bankruptcy," Yvette says. "We want people to have the kind of relationship we have—we show them how to have amazing and passionate marriages." Among their pointers: "Trash the name 'date night,'" Yvette advises. "People get caught up in their routines, and date nights become a rut." Instead, the couple suggests an "adventure night."
We're not talking skydiving here, though it's certainly within the scope of adventure nights. Simple is great. The key, she says, is keeping your itinerary mum from your spouse. "The element of surprise and uncertainty is so romantic," she says. "It's all about treating your husband or wife at a level 20—make them feel important." Although her personal favorite was a picnic from Dave, "we've had some pretty crazy ones," including the time Dave, knowing his wife loved gelato, flew her to Rome for a day for some dessert.
"Living rich to me is being a success in all areas of life, not just financially but also spiritually, and in our health and relationships," Dave says.
As their WorldVentures team continues to grow and climb the ranks, the Ulloas encourage them to "stay hungry," Dave says. "Although this isn't about us, we're hungry to see others get to this level. We know where we came from, and by sharing our story, we want to inspire our team."
Which of their team members has inspired them most? Dave tells the story of Kirk Budd. Over a period of four years, Budd came to training sessions, but despite his regular attendance, his paycheck wasn't getting larger. "But success is attracted to the person you become," Dave says. Perhaps that explains why one day, a fortunate meeting changed Kirk's life. Kirk lives in New York, and through a series of synchronicities, he met Gina, a New York paramedic who introduced him to Mitch. Mitch introduced him to his young cousin, George Perez, a resident of New York City's Washington Heights, a rough inner-city neighborhood where public housing is the norm, and where the drug trade has claimed the lives of more than a few young people. George caught the spark and ran with his new business, telling all of his friends and family in the area. Before long, an unstoppable team was born, represented primarily by 18- to 25-year-olds. "This group came from nothing, and in less than a year, they've achieved incredible success," Dave says. "They just want to do the right thing, and they're setting an amazing example for other young people. Kirk is raising giants right there in Washington Heights."
"Our favorite part of WorldVentures is being able to contribute beyond ourselves," Yvette adds. "This isn't just about us; it's about helping our team members experience and taste all of these new adventures."
Fresh off a 10-day trip to Italy, the couple is constantly traveling and reaping the benefits of a WorldVentures life. "We've gotten to know the WorldVentures leadership on a personal level through these trips," Dave says. Among their favorite excursions was a two-week adventure and safari in Africa, where cheetahs and elephants were close enough to touch. "We've checked so many items off our bucket list," Dave says. "To be able to do VolunTours and help others—that's our biggest achievement," he says. "I have three primary beliefs: in this company to change the world; in the viability of the direct sales industry and the positive difference it can make in people's lives; and in ourselves, to achieve results and share this opportunity with as many people as possible."
What would the Ulloas say to those just starting their WorldVentures journey? Study up (through the training offered by the company) and show up (to all of the events). "The lifestyle you read about and see with WorldVentures is possible," Dave says. "Just stay plugged into the system, the travel parties, the fellowship. If you don't stay plugged in, you forget why you started."
"The sense of community in WorldVentures is really unmatched," Yvette says. "It's beautiful, tight-knit and inclusive. Everyone's a rock star. We treat our team members like they're the most important people, because they are.
"I think my least favorite parts of the business have been watching other people struggle, and wanting other people's success more than they want it," he says. "I've learned to embrace even the least favorite part. I've trained myself to not see the struggle as being a negative thing. All of these least favorite parts are part of the struggle that build the character that changes and shapes us into the leaders we want to become. We don't have anyone who is functioning at the highest level at WV who is not working with the least favorite parts daily. But they've learned to look at it as part of the price to get the prize."
"It doesn't matter where you come from; what matters is where you're going," she says. "If you bless and release your past, you'll open the doors to your future. Too many are stuck in their stories. If you avoid confronting the challenges in your life, you avoid the lessons those challenges bring—and those lessons are gifts. With WorldVentures, I learned to get myself out of the way and break through to a level I didn't know was possible."
Through their daily example, driven so much by those early days and later struggles, the couple hope to continue inspiring people from all walks of life to ask, "Why not me?" and take a leap of faith. Desire plus belief plus action equals success: His father's words remain in Dave's heart to this day.
"We've all heard the expression that many are called, but few are chosen," Dave says. "Instead, I think the reality is that all of us are called, but few choose."