Like Father, Like Son
As an entrepreneur, business is in your blood. In many ways, the ability to turn a concept into a company is hardwired into your genetic makeup. This entrepreneurial DNA can do more than just build businesses, though— it can bridge generations. In this special spotlight, longtime entrepreneur and EO Querétaro member, Mauricio Lopez, and his son, Mauricio Lopez Zorrilla, share how the entrepreneurial spirit has bonded them in business and beyond.
On growing up in an entrepreneurial family:
ML: “You always hear about how the entrepreneurial gene can be passed down from one generation to the next, and in our case, that’s absolutely true. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather owned and operated a successful dry-cleaning business, and my father started his own law firm. Growing up, surrounded by that entrepreneurial energy, I was inspired to follow in their footsteps and make a mark of my own. My family was a great example of what it was like to be entrepreneurial and what it took to be successful in business. Seeing firsthand the value entrepreneurship provides and the discipline it creates, I knew I wanted to share that with my own family one day.
“Entrepreneurship has a powerful way of bringing people together. In my family, it’s become a common thread that has united us over the years. We’ve always been close, but sharing a passion for business has helped us get closer. For the past nine years, my wife has been running a kindergarten; my son, Mauricio, started Cuffs, a custom-made dress shirt business, three years ago; and my other son, Patricio, who is still in school, is pursuing a t-shirt design business with the help of his older brother. As an entrepreneur—and especially as a father—I want to instill the values I share with my father and grandfather, while giving my sons the support they need to pursue their own dreams.”
MLZ: “Having been born into a home full of entrepreneurs, much like my father, I have always been surrounded and mesmerized by the entrepreneurial spirit. In many ways, this has motivated me to dream big. My father is a tremendous role model. He has been a businessman since he was a teenager and has owned several different companies over the years— from a restaurant-supply business and convenience store to real estate and technology companies. He has a lot to offer when it comes to business, and he is always eager to help me out as I navigate my own entrepreneurial journey. Best of all, he gives me the freedom to make my own decisions and learn from my mistakes, much like his father did for him and his father before that.”
On the awakening of the entrepreneurial spirit:
ML: “I never thought having a son with an entrepreneurial spirit would be so rewarding, difficult and not to mention a little scary. It all started when Mauricio was in fifth grade. Around that time, I became a partner in a corner store that sold soda and junk food. Mauricio had gotten into trouble at school, so I sent him to work in the store as a punishment. To my surprise, he loved it … and learned a few things about business along the way. He went from working two days a week to spending most of his weekends in the store. If I had any doubts about my son’s enthusiasm for business, a call from the school principal assured me the entrepreneurial spirit had kicked in.
“As it turns out, Mauricio was operating his own business during recess, where he sold junk food at half the price the school store was selling them. To meet the demands of his growing customer base, he set up a before-school ordering system. The principal, suffice it to say, wasn’t pleased with the competition. He demanded Mauricio stop what he was doing. Suddenly, I found myself faced with a dilemma: Do I cut my son’s entrepreneurial wings, even as I was pursuing a career with that same spirited drive, or do I let him continue to thrive? I couldn’t stop him. I would never kill his entrepreneurial energy, so instead I told him to be careful. The next time I got a call from the school, he would have to stop.”
MLZ: “I remember coming home from school that day, and I was afraid of what my parents would say. I was afraid they were going to punish me and tell me what I was doing was wrong. But they did the opposite. They supported me. If my father had told me to stop, to no longer pursue my passion for the business, I don’t know that I would have ever become an entrepreneur. His thoughtful reaction and his support from the beginning was a turning point for me. It was the first step on my path to becoming an entrepreneur. It defined me, and most of all, it taught me that my family would always be behind me, no matter what I wanted to do with my life.”
ML: “As it turned out, we wound up moving soon after that phone call, but by that time the entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well in my son. Mauricio shifted from selling junk food to organizing bike races for profit, until he turned 18, the legal age in Mexico to start a business. As his birthday present, he asked me to invest in a dress shirt company he was thinking about creating. He explained that all of the shirts he and his friends wore to clubs were too expensive, so he wanted to start his own brand; one that would leverage local resources and encourage people to contribute to the Querétaro economy by buying within the region. At that point, I knew my son would make it as an entrepreneur. I gladly became his first investor.”
MLZ: “I’ve always thought the best way to learn about something is to do it. Starting out, the worst thing that could happen was that I would have to ask my father for lunch money (and that happened a lot). As I got into a rhythm, my father taught me that you have to keep practicing and moving forward. He hadn’t always been profitable, but even so, he never gave up. Not only was my dad my first investor, but in many ways he has been my compass. Inheriting his entrepreneurial spirit has given me the chance of a lifetime: I get to pursue a business in an industry I love, while giving back to a city that represents everything we stand for. That’s amazing.”
On strengthening the father/son bond through entrepreneurship:
ML: “In many ways, entrepreneurship has helped us become closer as father and son. I’m constantly reminded of just how much we have in common. When I was Mauricio’s age, I was starting my first business while attending school at Tecnológico de Monterrey. I partnered with a classmate and created a concept business that involved selling supplies to local restaurants. What started out as a school project turned into a viable business with my classmate-turned-business partner, and before I knew it, my entrepreneurial journey had begun. Like with Mauricio, I learned the ins and outs of the business by immersing myself in the industry. And like him, I leaned on my family for support.
“Mauricio and I have always been close, but sharing an entrepreneurial spirit has given us even more opportunities to learn and grow together. We’re always talking, reading the same business books and leveraging our strengths to help each other out. Where I bring decades of experience to the table, Mauricio has an in-depth knowledge of what young people are looking for and the technology they use. Mauricio is my teacher in that capacity. He’s also a tremendous salesperson, just like his younger brother. He’s shown me that you don’t have to operate a traditional sales model to achieve success; that you can do things like sell shirts out of the trunk of a car to hit your sales goal.”
MLZ: “I have always looked up to my father, but following in his footsteps definitely helped us become closer. In fact, the entrepreneurial spirit has helped my entire family become more united, as my brother explores his own entrepreneurial ambitions and my mother continues to make a mark in the community through her kindergarten. We have so much to talk about, and we are always sharing ideas. It’s amazing that the four of us get to help each other become better entrepreneurs and leaders. Thanks to entrepreneurship, we’ve learned more about each other than we ever would have.”
On the importance of sharing the EO experience:
MLZ: “My father joined EO in 2008, and every time he talks about the value of the organization, he has a goofy smile on his face. He attributes a lot of his success to the organization and is always sharing his experiences with us. The more I learned about the value of EO, the more I told myself I would be the youngest entrepreneur in his chapter one day. Since then, I have participated in EO GSEA, attended countless chapter events and become friends with local members. I even started a junior Forum with the son of a local member so we can benefit from the successful EO model. My dream is to learn alongside my father in EO Querétaro one day, and I’m almost there.”
ML: “Ever since I told Mauricio about EO, he has wanted to be a part of the global community. He gets a lot out of the chapter events he attends with me and is spreading the word about EO to other young entrepreneurs in the region. Personally, EO has played a big role in my success as an entrepreneur. I’ve especially enjoyed learning from different cultures, embracing new perspectives and serving in leadership positions. In many ways, EO is another family I’m thankful to belong to, and I can’t wait to share the experience of membership with Mauricio. I know one day he will be a member right alongside me, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
On the far-reaching impact of entrepreneurship on families:
ML: “Watching Mauricio follow in my footsteps has been very rewarding, and it reminds me just how powerful entrepreneurship can be. We always talk about how entrepreneurship can impact industries, communities and economies, but it can also make a lasting mark on families. It can bring loved ones closer together, teach important lessons and serve as a foundation for building a family united by core values. I’ve witnessed that in my own family and now my sons are witnessing it. One day, if they choose, they’ll pass on the entrepreneurial gene to their kids and continue the cycle. Either way, I’m thankful to be by their side as we explore business and life together.”
Mauricio Lopez is an EO member leader and the founder and CEO of Conferex, an audio web-conferencing fi rm. To learn more about he and his son’s journey, contact Mauricio at [email protected].