Mr. Romero

Ivan’s Why

There has probably been someone in your life—a coach, grandparent, teacher, aunt, or spiritual mentor—who’s made a difference for you. It may have been when you were young (it generally is) Or it may have been recently. It may have been a positive experience, or it may have been very negative. Either way, it is your “why” for what you are passionate about.

I’ve certainly had people who have made a significant difference in my life. One of those people was my freshman high school teacher, Mr. Romero, at Gladstone High School in southern California. Mr. Romero taught history, and that class was the one that selected the student council representative for the freshmen. I had run for student council numerous times in junior high school and was soundly defeated each time. The elections weren’t even remotely close. In fact, I came in dead last every time. Each election was a humiliating experience that left an indelible impression on me. So, by the time high school rolled around, I had no intention of running for student council again. Ever!

Welcome to Gladstone High School

The first week of freshman history class, our teacher, Mr. Romero, asked all the students, “Because we pick the freshman student council representative from this year’s history class, are there any volunteers for the position? Who would like to do it?” Nobody volunteered. Finally one of the prettiest, most popular girls in the class said, “Oh, Mr. Romero, you know, I would do it, but I’m just so busy! I don’t have the time to do something like that.”

Mr. Romero replied, “That’s OK, you don’t have to do it. But if no one’s interested in volunteering, as the teacher, I get to pick. Are you OK with that?”

The students came back with cheers: “Yeah, yeah, yeah—you go ahead and pick!” So the teacher looked around the class, paused his gaze at me, and, looking me straight in the eyes, he said, “Ivan, I’ll bet you would love to do this, wouldn’t you?”

I replied, “Well, um, well, yeah, I kind of would, Mr. Romero.” My momentary elation was immediately squashed when the entire class, almost in unison, moaned, “Oh, no. Not Ivan!” Even the too-busy popular girl stood up and said, “No, no, Mr. Romero. You know what—I’m actually not that busy. If you’re going to pick Ivan, I can do it after all!” Of course, while she was saying all this, I was thinking, Hello. You all see me sitting here, right?” But I couldn’t actually open my mouth to speak. I just sat there, quiet and embarrassed, holding my breath. Have you ever had a moment like this? When you felt so small you just wanted to slip underneath the carpet? That was how I felt at that moment.

It’s important to put this experience in context. Today, I’m an author, speaker, and fairly successful businessman with franchises on every populated continent of the world. But remember, this was happening to me as a young thirteen-year-old boy. I lacked confidence, I felt like I didn’t fit in at all, and I couldn’t get a chance to prove myself at something I really wanted to do. Just imagine, for a moment, how humiliating this was for me. I didn’t have the advantage of peeking into the future to know where I would end up. I have to tell you, it was a raw, exposed moment.

Somehow, Mr. Romero understood that, and he gave the ever-popular girl a withering look and said, “No, you had your chance to volunteer, and you didn’t take it. So I’m empowered to pick a representative, and I pick Ivan. He’s the student representative! Now, open your books and turn to chapter two.”

Student Council

Despite the grumbles rolling through the classroom, Mr. Romero’s decision was final. I was the Student Council Representative. My teacher believed that I could do a good job. I took a deep breath in and knew I would work hard—really hard—to prove him right. When the year-end Student Council elections came around for the following year, I decided to do something I had vowed to never do again: I ran for Student Council. That same class who loudly protested my appointment voted me in for another year, by a landslide! As a matter of fact, I won every election in high school after that—Student Council, Activities Director, Student Body President—every single one. It all started with Mr. Romero seeing something in me that I had not been able to see in myself. His giving me that chance allowed me to prove myself. This infused confidence in me, and that made a huge difference in my life. I gained leadership skills and learned responsibility by being involved in those school projects that I had to take from the beginning to the end. Mr. Romero positively influenced my life by giving me the opportunity to succeed. He didn’t do the hard work for me, but he opened the door for me. He gave me a chance to excel, to succeed, and to show what I was capable of doing.

The Man I Am Today

Years later, I knew this was an important experience in my life, but I never realized how seminal it truly was to the man that I would become. It wasn’t until a few years ago at an Asentiv seminar that I came to realize that my entire life’s work was in fact, a reflection of what Mr. Romero did for me as a young man. We were all studying our Emotionally Charged Connections (ECCs) to understand why we do what we do,

Every book I’ve written or business I’ve started has been an attempt to give other people an opportunity to succeed, to excel, and to accomplish what they want to accomplish in life. I can’t “make” someone successful. Only they can do that. I can, however, provide the system, the process, and the opportunity for them to achieve their dreams. I have been continuously reliving what Mr. Romero did for me, and I never even knew it—until I looked deeply into my “why.”

Your “why” is the most important thing you can figure out right now. It is the reason you do the things you are passionate about. If you don’t know that, you can never come full circle to completely fulfill your dreams.

16 thoughts on “Ivan’s Why

  1. Love this story. We never know the impact of what we do for another. Who knew Mr. Romero would impact the world of business and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people through you!

  2. Great to know read and know your ECC Dr Ivan. Yes its very true “life is never the same again” to all who have been put through the ECC session. Knowing one’s why is very powerful and a life changing experience.

    1. I tried to find him. I even hired a P.I. We couldn’t locate him. I dedicated one my books to him.

  3. I believe the majority of people have experienced the same thing, sometimes later in life. When I first began my candidacy for Executive Recruiter in the Platinum Miami Beach Chapter, it was overwhelming. My hands would sweat, i would stutter, awaiting the 25 second opportunity to give my commercial (we were 72 members at the time), my early commercials were terrible.
    I went on to become Member of the Year in 2008 and held multiple leadership roles including a 3 term Educational Coordinate Role and twice yearly Educational Coordinator Trainer. ALL – Because of BNI. BNI was my Mr. Romero along with other great leaders inside of my chapter and Jeff Stay that encouraged me to keep Going, and GROWING. Thanks Ivan.

  4. I had a mentor similar to Mr. Romero when I started my career. Without recognizing the full impact then, I continued to absorb as much as I could during the short time I would work with him. Years later, and to this day – I continue to locate him to share the impact he made on my life. I believe we were both blessed by these two individuals. The best gift we can give others, is to be that person to someone who appears to be the underdog, or wants to do great things – but doesn’t have the confidence or skills…yet! Thanks for sharing, Dr. Misner…brings back some great memories!

  5. Thank you for sharing and being so generous and genuine. We’ve meet twice in person, one time in Tampa Florida, 2nd time in Naples Florida. your positive vibe is incredible. You have given to me what Mr. Romero did for you. For this I’m so grateful.

    You’re an inspiration as well as epic road model.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Ivan.


    Chino Restrepo

  6. Dr. Ivan,
    Very inspiring story. I had an English teacher in my St Aloysius School, Mr Desmond De Souza, who also was head of Sports Activities. He reminds me of Mr. Romero, as he gave me an opportunity to be Captain of my Cricket and Football team, which helped me in developing leadership qualities right from high school days.
    Thank you for sharing this life changing episode of yours.

  7. Thank-you for sharing this story. It is such an inspiring story and makes me realise that we daily have the chance to inspire and build the people up around us.

  8. I have always tended to associate the ‘why’ with the Y chromosome without which our human body wouldn’t form (sperms are produced from Y chromosome-bearing males of the human species). Consequently, I find it difficult to accept that you have arrived at the real ‘why’ behind your professional works. The ‘why’ from the story related to Mr.Romero is a good ‘why’ but perhaps, nay most likely, there is a deeper story from whence commenced the ‘why’ that has you be the Founder of BNi and related derivatives before and after inception of The Network that eventually became BNi, I dare say. The real ‘why’ would be within the fabric of the existential story that is you and probably related also to Mrs.Elizabeth Misner since an organisation of this proportion cannot take shape the way it has without a complementary partner. Yet, the original story is with you whose blueprint finds complement with Mrs.Elizabeth Misner’s existential blueprint story with or without absolute consonance because what BNi could accomplish would probably be greater when that original ‘why’ surfaces. Dr. William Garner Sutherland, who found BCST and whose writings have been captured in the book – Contributions Of Thought, alludes to the idea of digging potatoes. He says dont stop digging potatoes. When you think you have dug out the deepest potato, another one peeks out at the unexpected moment kinda like saying, ‘did you miss me?’ Its for the Johnny Walker that the path appears as a reward for keeping on the ‘do the right thing by one’s SoulSatisfaction’ ennobling pathway, you see?

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