There comes a time in a man's life when conquests no longer offer the same fulfillment that they once did. Such a man sets his sights on a target, takes aim, then strikes, and he's on to the next challenge. The hunt becomes second nature. But where's the sense of purpose, the sense of connection to a greater cause?
That's the question Julio Acosta Jr., 28, has been pondering over the past year, since achieving the rank of International Marketing Director. His organization is vast and he has all the trappings that go along with it. Yet it's just not enough, not by a longshot.
"This year I'm trying to give back as much as I can," he shares. "I want to do something on another level, something that will outlive me. I want to build a legacy, and I want to start in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. "In the gritty East New York borough where Julio grew up, drugs were abundant but jobs were scarce. Rappers were revered; the police despised. And crime stats soared higher than graduation rates. It was the type of area buzzing with kids though fathers were conspicuously absent.
Though he's over a thousand miles removed from his old stomping grounds as a current resident of Coral Springs, Florida, Julio plans to travel back home this holiday season to spread some goodwill to those who need it most. He and his team will give turkeys to Brooklyn families at Thanksgiving and Foot Locker gift certificates to students at his old middle school for Christmas. Julio says he's focusing on middle schoolers because he remembers what it was like to be an impressionable pre-teen, simultaneously seeking self-identity and social acceptance. Memories of middle school come flooding back when he reflects on his days at JHS 302 Rafael Cordero, where 80 percent of the student body lives at or below the poverty level. Many of his closest team members attended school there, too, so they can identify.
"I want to see those kids at IS 302 first, because junior high is when you start to develop a sense of who you are and where you want to go," he explains. "You get influenced the most at that period. The guys who were making money when I was a kid there were the drug dealers. I want to show those kids that there's another way."
For Julio that alternate path was paved with hard work and perseverance, which helped him sidestep the snares of urban streets. He remained anchored by the love and support of his loving single mother and three younger siblings. That familial foundation set him up to succeed by giving him the core values of commitment and self-sufficiency. So when the WorldVentures opportunity came along three years ago, he already had the raw materials to make it work.
"As a former New York City hotel manager, I understood the demand in the travel industry. I also understood the value of our DreamTrips product, and so here we are," he says.
Today, Julio pays homage to his WV mentors—Johnny Wimbrey, Ed Blunt, Jefferson Santos, Matt Morris, Wayne Nugent, Mike Azcue and Eddie Head. To this young man who grew up without a strong role model, like so many of his peers, they were the first to model true leadership and strength. Now their grateful prodigy is paying it forward.
Carefully Placed Footprints
"I've got a lot of young guys who follow me and I have to always remember that people don't do what you say, they do what you do," he shares. "Many people follow rappers, musicians and people who can't offer them anything. Here I offer people the facts, not opinions, that they can make it in network marketing with WorldVentures. I pass down the lessons that were passed down to me. I want to show people the new American dream. I want to prove to every kid out there who was raised like me that hard work beats talent no matter what."
His organization largely comprises young, upwardly mobile men and women who are hungry for financial freedom and personal fulfillment. And as Julio so often tells them, "When you're hungry, you eat." But you have to be a skilled hunter. Most, if not all, of his team mates were recruited using the I.P.E.T.R principle (Invite, Present, Enroll, Train and Retain) which Julio deploys as his primary growth strategy. And it has proven effective.
"That's always been the deal and I teach that to my guys. I live in Florida now and I'm doing the same thing," he says. "We're pretty high speed. We've stayed on track with a 'now' mentality. If anything has changed, we've matured as people, because a lot of us were young when we started. The past 12 months have been a period of reflection. We now have new RMDs and MDs. One of my guys, Alex, went Director. Jay Payso, my best friend, recently went NMD. He, like the others, truly deserves it."
In turn, Jay credits Julio with plucking him out of obscurity and setting him on course to fulfill his potential.
The two men became acquainted through mutual friends and followers on Facebook and Instagram. Even before they met, Jay was intrigued by Julio's online presence and felt a kinship with him given similarities in their backstory. So when the two men were finally introduced, their communication was effortless and their rapport instant.
"I felt like he was put in my life at the right time," Jay said of Julio in my interview with him last year. "I can't lie and say I was praying, but I was hoping for something to change. I was working at FedEx and working as a professional boxer. There's nothing wrong with FedEx, but I never saw myself working for anybody. Push came to shove and I ended up being around the wrong kind of people. I was partying a lot, in the clubs like crazy. It may have seemed that I was making money, but I knew that it was falling apart. I ended up getting into fast money."
When he shared this with Julio, he got a wakeup call that still resonates today. "He said, 'If boxing doesn't go right for you, are you going to hustle forever or are you going to work forever?'"
The answer for Jay was neither. Now he's a testament to the power of mentorship. "It's important to have someone set the example, someone you can identify with and emulate," Julio explains. "I found that in Carlos Rogers. He was one of the younger guys, so I was really watching him on social media. Then we finally met. I'm nowhere near his organizational size, but any time I call him, he always picks up the phone. I try to take that forward."
In Cultural Context
Together, Jay and Julio are inspiring droves of entrepreneurial hopefuls, many of whom share the commonality of Hispanic heritage. As the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States with collective annual spending power in excess of $1 trillion*, Hispanics represent significant untapped potential for network marketers. And though he has not made an organized effort to target the market, by virtue of his cultural affiliation, Julio recognizes that he is an example for fellow Hispanics to follow.
"I'll be honest, I've never had an emphasis on color and ethnicity," he concedes. "All I really look for are people who want more. I do have a couple of people in my organization who are tapping into the Hispanic population in Florida. As for me, being a native New Yorker, I'm probably the most Americanized Hispanic person you'll meet. I'm trying to touch everyone."
Nonetheless he says the Hispanic market is fertile ground, and leveraging its influence would be akin to "opening a new country within this country" which could prove lucrative for WorldVentures as a whole. "There's a huge opportunity," he adds, "and the fact that WorldVentures recently opened up in Puerto Rico could open many doors in Spanish-speaking communities worldwide."
Regardless of the audience, however, the core message is the same.
"I talk about integrity," he says. "The primary goal is to become financially free, and the other goal is to become legendary by giving back."
Keeping It Real
One of the most important things Julio provides is a healthy dose of reality on the rigors of being in business. Though the rewards are plentiful for those who put in the work, it's not all Bimmers and big homes. He's brutally candid about his own experiences—good, bad and indifferent—and the prospect of betrayal is fundamental in the lesson.
"I tell them, 'You'll get people who not only don't believe you, but who try to sabotage you. If you have a goal in life, goalies pop up.' You expect it from the haters, but the real deal is it sometimes comes from people closest to you, including people you look up to, close friends and even family. If it came from strangers, it would be easier to avoid them."
He adds that if he could change anything about his experience, he would "learn to be emotionally disconnected faster from people who would try to steal my dream."Meanwhile he's pushing on. His goal is to become the "No. 1 income earner in WorldVentures and to have the biggest team that creates the most success stories." More specifically, he aims to be triple IMD by the end of 2015 and Valerie is striving to hit IMD within the same time frame. She's building momentum toward that end with recent expansions in West Palm Beach and parts of Pennsylvania.
"WorldVentures is like an endpoint on a GPS tracking system. The destination (financial freedom) is there, but along the way you're going to hit some traffic, have delays, even experience acts of God. But you'll get there."
Once again he cautions not to be deterred by doubters and detractors, because their presence is affirmation of your relevance. His advice is to remember and reward those who've stood with you through thick and thin. And no matter how high you rise, maintain connection with your roots.
"I was in Boston recently for a Super Saturday, so I shot down to New York, which is about a five-hour drive. I rented a Lamborghini for the weekend. We never saw things like that in my youth. I went through my old hood, not to brag, but to remind myself that no matter who tried to stop me, I was able to achieve. I talked to a bunch of my old buddies including Eddie (he used to take me to school every morning though he didn't have to) and Manny, we used to call him Machado. He's like a big brother to me. Though they didn't get involved in the business, they didn't try to sabotage me or talk trash about me. When I head that way for my mission this fall, I've got some surprises for those guys, too."
Back in March, shortly after he hit IMD, Julio and Valerie gave an inspirational acceptance speech before a packed house. An emotional Valerie shared that she'd known Julio since he was 16 years old and, in that time, he has transformed into the leader, mentor and man he was destined to be. She spoke of learning to dream again and inspiring others to do the same.
In retrospect, Julio concludes: "Dreams do come true, but you have to go after them because they won't come after you. I remember the life before WorldVentures, so I don't get caught up in any hype. My biggest challenge was getting out of my own way and personal development was the key. My biggest accomplishment is being able to live my life, raise my kids, and spend time with my wife with peace of mind, knowing I worked for it and I deserve it."