Michael Brito (@britopian) is a household name in social media circles. But what you may not know is that this former US marine turned two-time social media and content book author and speaker came from very humble (and challenging) beginnings.
Michael was raised by a young, single mother in San Jose who was on welfare for the first 5 years of his life. “I remember my mom getting ready for an interview and she hardly had any gas in her car. She had to walk to the gas station across the street with 60 cents from my piggy bank to buy gas. I went to the interview with her and waited in the car. She promised that she would pay me back. Thankfully, she got the job and has been working as an engineer ever since.”
Michael’s mom worked two jobs tirelessly to provide for him. As a latchkey kid, it was easy for him to give into peer pressure and get off track. In his teenage years, he got mixed up with people that were not making the right decisions for themselves and had some run-ins with the law. He was placed in a boys’ ranch at the age of 17 where he met a former army official. This person saw leadership qualities in him, which inspired Michael to do something productive with his life. The military soon became the way for him to put his life back on track. Upon leaving the boys’ ranch, he enrolled in adult education to finish high school and joined the military in 1993. He spent the next 4 years in active service as a marine and another 4 years in the reserve, while getting his bachelors and masters degrees in business.
Why am I sharing all this? I met Michael several years ago when I was working at Cisco. I have always thought of him as someone with a lot of C.A.S.H, a playful combination of initials I strung together that have nothing to do with dollar bills. In my definition, C.A.S.H. stands for compassion, authenticity, service to others and humility; all values I believe great leaders possess. I see these in Michael, too, and was curious to find out about the experiences that guided him towards a life based on these fundamental human qualities, both at home and at work.Fill your life with C.A.S.H.: compassion, authenticity, service to others and humility. Click To Tweet
Here are 6 ways to fill your life with C.A.S.H.:
1. Accept accountability
“A big shift in my thinking happened when I joined the marines. They taught me to hold myself accountable for my actions. Up until that point, I was placing blame on everyone and everything else in my life and it never occurred to me that I had the power to change things. I learned to believe that my past didn’t determine my future. The action I was about to take the very next moment did, and I needed to take responsibility for that action,” says Michael.
2. Challenge yourself
When you challenge yourself, you grow. Growth helps you gain a different perspective. Michael challenged himself in a big way when he signed up to become a marine. “I wanted to test myself by choosing the marines. I knew if I could get through that experience, I could get through anything.” (On a related note, I tip my hat off to anyone who chooses military life regardless of the branch they land in).
3. Prioritize your well-being
“What matters is where you’re going, not what happened in the past. And to do so, you have to take care of yourself – physically, mentally and emotionally.” Despite his busy schedule and traveling, he makes time to exercise 4-5 times a week, and surrounds himself with positive people and thinking. He has a strong support system in his mom and family, for which he’s over-the-moon thankful.
4. Exercise empathy
“Empathy is critical to me not only in my personal life but also in my professional life. I put myself in other people’s shoes so I can see the situation from their eyes. That helps me uncover viewpoints I may not have seen before.”
5. Be real
“Be yourself and be happy with it. If you don’t like something about your life, find ways to change it”, advises Michael. Know who you are and are not, and don’t be afraid of it.
6. Give and lead genuinely
“The best way to lead is to serve others without expecting anything in return. I roll up my sleeves to help my team when they’re stressed and there’s no other way out. The return on helping people is much greater than on not serving others. I have my team’s back 24/7 and although I don’t expect the same back, they naturally have mine, too. In a business setting, if marketers give without expecting anything back from their customers, they’ll find that the return will be much higher. When the emotions are genuine, the relationship becomes stronger and so is the outcome. This is also true for my relationship with my young daughters.”
“Serving others is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time because you need to find the right balance between serving and “me” time. “, adds Michael.
Thank you, Michael, for sharing your story so candidly, owning up to your past and changing your path. Social and content marketing would be very different had you not done so. Blog on!
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