We had the good fortune of connecting with Steve Gallegos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steve, what principle do you value most?
“Life begins with a master’s degree in you.” This principle is most important to me because it reflects the essence of our duty on this planet. We are programmed since birth with information about who we are, what we are supposed to be and do, and where we are supposed to go. This programming comes from other people, parents, teachers, family members, friends, public officials, celebrities, the news media, and for everyone born after 2000 — the internet. In large part, this information shapes our beliefs, which in turn forms our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and each other. From time to time and quite often we are conflicted and feel discomfort and ill at ease with what we are feeling and thinking. Yet, we continue forward satisfying ourselves with conclusions like “that’s the way it’s always been,” or “that’s life,” or my least favorite phrase of all — “it is what it is,”
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I currently serve the world as an International Speaker, Trainer, and Author in the area of personal development and communications. How I got here is a wild and exciting story.
“Good-for-nothing.” It’s the name my parents had given me at an early age, and the more they called me by that name, the more and more good-for-nothing I became. The name-calling aside, the frequent violent beatings, and even my mother’s own attempts to take my life, had led me to believe that I was useless, unworthy, and unwanted.
I remember nearing high school graduation sitting anxiously in the classroom watching the hands on the clock near the 3:00 o’clock hour. Watching the clock is a normal schoolkid activity, however, I am pretty sure I was the only kid painfully dreading every forward movement of that clock. “Stop damn it, why won’t you stop!”
I did not want the school day to end. Not because I was enamored with learning, because I enjoyed my teachers, or even because I wanted to be with my friends. It is because I felt safe there. I lived for school because it meant I did not have to be at home. To me, the home was where I thought I would die.
One day, like many days, I arrived home from school and went to my room to find the plastic bag from the dry cleaners that I hid in my closet. I sat on the edge of my bed, wrapped the bag around my face and head, and held it tightly around my neck. I can still feel that moment when I began to lose consciousness and a voice saying “don’t do it, this is not the end of you.” As I frantically tore the bag away from my head and gasped for air, I broke down and cried. I couldn’t even commit suicide right.
As I cried alone in my room, alone in my despair I saw a book that my girlfriend had given to me. “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. I had skimmed its pages before and understood very little of it. But this time I flipped to a page where I read these seven words: “Change Your Thoughts and Change Your World.” Now, my 17-year-old mind did not know how to change my thoughts nor whether it was even possible. But I did know that I could change my world because I had run away from home several times in the past. So inspired by these 7 simple words, I took my life.
I took my life in a new direction, away from the influence of my parents and the negative environment I was in. I volunteered for the United States Marine Corps. Now, a surprise to many people is that while the Marines do focus on creating lean, mean, fighting machines, the academics play a vital role in determining who gets to wear the Marine uniform, and what assignments you will have while in uniform.
As luck would have it (I have since learned there is no such thing as luck), there were three other Hispanic recruits in my training class and Spanish was their first language. As a result, I noticed they were struggling to learn the required material. Because Spanish is also my first language, and being then fluent in English, I offered to help them learn the material. No one asked me to do it, no one suggested that I do it. It was just something I felt I needed to do.
So, at night after everyone had gone to sleep, the four of us went into the showers where we sat on the cold, damp, musty tile floors of the squad bay. We then pulled out our little “Red Monsters” (yeah, it sounds like this story is about to get freaky, but stay with me here). A “Red Monster” is a red vinyl-covered flipbook that we were required to carry with us during the entirety of basic training. These contained all the course material we were required to master to pass our exams. So, with red monsters in hand, I would translate that day’s material into Spanish, we would discuss it, and then discuss it in English until I was sure they understood the lesson. I had no prior experience as a tutor or as a teacher. These guys needed help, and I wanted to help them.
During one of our nightly sessions, the on-duty drill instructor got the urge to use the bathroom, and upon hearing the hushed foreign language coming from the showers, he descended upon us with all of the delicacy that you would expect from a Marine D.I. convinced that he was about to single-handedly capture an enemy stronghold. As he entered the room launching cuss words from the top of his lungs, the four of us jumped out of our skin and tried to blend in with the tiles on the shower floor. Surely the Sergeant thought he had caught us red-handed engaged in highly inappropriate behavior and he was expecting to have his way with us. However, upon catching my breath and placing my heart back inside my chest, I jumped up to explain what we were doing. He stared at us in disbelief for a few moments and said… “carry on.”
Fast forward several weeks to the final exams, I scored the highest grade in the class, and my tutoree’s (is that even a word?), each scored in the top 10. For my part, I was named the Platoon Honor Graduate (the equivalent of valedictorian), promoted to the rank of Private First Class, and awarded the coveted Dress Blue Uniform for which the U.S. Marines are recognized worldwide. I was not the strongest, I was not the fastest, nor was I the most intelligent. I was simply the one who chose to serve others…first.
Note: It would be many years later before I discovered that the world-renown sales coach and business leader Zig Ziglar had coined the phrase “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
As a result of the newly found confidence, and identity that I acquired through my Marine Corps basic training, I came to realize that everything my parents had led me to believe about myself was wrong. I was actually good at many things. Since my days as a Marine, I have served as a Law Enforcement Officer, Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, Singer-Songwriter/ Recording Artist, Commercial Photographer, Internet startup founder, and now in my season as an International Speaker, Trainer, and award-winning author, I am on a mission to elevate the lives of others so that we may all contribute to society at a higher level.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, goodness, Denver and its surrounding area are filled with what I term “beauty and splendor,” and as a photographer, I know many beautiful locations to take visitors. Where exactly I would take someone depends though on what they like. Strange though it may seem, not everyone is interested in long winding road trips through the mountains. But, if I got to choose the itinerary I would pack the car with snacks and water, and we would make an early exit first stop would be 303 Coffee in Centennial. This is a locally owned craft coffee shop that makes for a wonderful start to the day.
Then, we would travel on the 470 West to Morrison, a super tiny village with shops and restaurants, that leads straight to the Redrocks Amphitheater. We would park and hike up to the theatre from which my guests can see not only the exquisite and colorful rock formations but what appears to be the rest of the world! After the hike, we would travel to Evergreen, another super fun mountain community with its own lake, shopping, and dining attractions. There is a great place for lunch at Maya’s Mexican Restaurant or Campfire which serves stone-fired pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and the like.
From there we would travel up to Mt. Evans on what is promised to be the highest elevation roadway in the entire country that leads to the summit at 14,000+ feet. This truly is a breathtaking view of the top of the world from where you can see heaven and beyond!
Finally, we would carefully descend the mountain and I would take my guests to Angelo’s Taverna in Littleton, CO for an amazing Italian dinner and wines from the adjacent Carboy Winery.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Everyone that I have ever encountered on my journey has played a part in my personal and professional development. Some good, some not so good, some for a short period, and others for a period not short enough.
I am writing a book “They All Cheered), which explores a vision I had and the idea that what if…at the end of our journey on this planet, we are standing on a large stage looking out at a crowd of faces. And we soon realize these are the faces of every person that we have ever encountered in this life. They are giving us a standing ovation. They are all wildly cheering, applauding, whistling, shouting, dancing, and celebrating. These are people that loved us, that encouraged and supported us, and they are side-by-side with the people that hurt us, embarrassed us, took advantage of us, and who treated us badly. For it is through all of these people collectively, that we learned about ourselves, our desires, our strengths, our weaknesses. It is through all of these people that we re-connected with our true selves and accomplished what we truly set out to accomplish.
I believe, that our growth and development as humans, as parents, as lovers, as professionals, as laborers, is guided by our interactions with each other. In other words, we become who we become by experiencing ourselves through others.
For example, if we encounter someone who makes us feel good about ourselves, we may want to model the same behavior in our dealings with others. And the reverse is also true. If as a young child you grow up in an environment filled with rage, anger, hate, abuse, and violence all the while you hear your father say “but I love you,” just as he throws your mother through the front window of the home, your experience of love and belief about what love is and how its to be displayed will develop accordingly.
So, in answer to this question, there are numerous people who deserve credit and recognition in my story, though not all because they treated me right, supported, or encouraged me. However, among those who personally or through their own example have been instrumental in shaping my life and career through positive modeling and influence, I give thanks to Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Marianne Williamson, Dennis Waitley, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Neale Donald Walsch, and Howard Falco, among many others.