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Allow me to introduce you to a genius entrepreneur.  My friend and fellow EO member, Jesus Santoyo, is a transplant to Hawaii who created the Just Tacos chain and recently launched Grand Leyenda tequila.  I’ll be honest here.  My previous tequila shooting experiences never ended well and tequila wasn’t my standard choice.  On a visit to Las Vegas, Jesus and his team took the time at the Foundation Room to show a group of EO Las Vegas members how to properly drink tequila and I’ve been hooked ever since.  His infinite knowledge on the history of tequila, how to properly grown organic plants, and how to enjoy this flavorful drink without shooting it like a sorority girl earned my entrepreneurial respect in an instant.  Today I bring you Jesus’ guest blog about his journey to bring Grand Leyenda to the world.  Cheers Jesus!  

The legends, folklore and traditions that have defined the cultural status of Tequila throughout the Mexican culture have created a product that is cherished and celebrated amongst Mexican people. As the national drink of Mexico, Tequila is embraced by Mexican families, but slowly its magical qualities and seductive flavors are tempting people from all corners of the world to honor and revel in a drink that has a 400-year old history.  Consumers now have the opportunity to enjoy a sophisticated brand of Tequila thanks to Jesus Santoyo, owner of Grand Leyenda Cantina, newest creation: Santoyo Grand Leyenda Ultra-Premium Organic Tequila. 

Jesus’ story begins quite conventionally. Raised in a South San Diego, California Hispanic household 
where tequila played a large role in his cultural and familial experiences, he sampled the silky goodness 
of Tequila on his tongue at the young age of 12. While this may sound shocking, tasting tequila at such 
a young age is a rite of passage and a time-honored family tradition of many Mexican families. Jesus’ 
parents, as first generation immigrants, wanted their children to embrace the possibilities of life in 
America, but never lose their cultural identity. Little did Jesus or his parents, Maria T. Santoyo and Jose 
de Jesus Santoyo, realize that this traditional rite of passage would eventually lead to the creation of the 
first Ultra-Premium Organic Tequila.  But, wait – we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s travel back to the beginning; before Jesus left his home in search of authentic Mexican recipes and Tequila.

Growing up Jesus and his family did not have much money. His father worked long, physically taxing 
hours in the construction industry. Although the work was grueling and unforgiving, Jesus’ father 
would not relent. He was determined to work as hard as necessary to provide for his children so they 
could acquire a college education and use their minds, not their hands, to achieve a better life. He 
accomplished this mission. After college, Jesus applied his education and his father’s tireless work ethic to create a unique style of restaurant, Just Tacos Mexican Grill which opened in 2005. Just Tacos began as nothing more than a simple take-out restaurant. However, Jesus, like his father, had bigger dreams.  He longed to create a fast food franchise specializing in selling just tacos similar to what “In-N-Out” did for burgers. 

The success of the first Just Tacos Mexican Grill location in the business district of downtown Honolulu 
only fueled his expansion dreams. However, there were some obstacles that made this difficult. Hawaii 
is a beautiful island, yet due to its small size it proved difficult for Jesus to find the prime real estate 
property between 500- 800 square feet.  These properties were already being leased to national chains 
like Subway, Starbucks or Jamba Juice. Jesus knew it was senseless to try to compete against these 
national chains and it was illogical to consider a larger space for a take-out restaurant. In order to keep 
his expansion dream alive, Jesus combine the two things he passion for in order to justify a larger space: 
authentic Mexican food and Tequila. 

Once Jesus realized what he must do he went forth with his plans, creating a full-service, sit-down Mexican Cantina that not only served authentic Mexican food, but offered over 350 types of Tequilas. 
Jesus Santoyo now operates the largest Mexican Restaurant chain in the State of Hawaii.
Some may wonder why Jesus could not simply be satisfied with his restaurant chain’s success. Why not 
revel in success? Why create the Santoyo Grand Leyenda Ultra-Premium Organic Tequila brand? In a 
way, you can actually blame relaxation. Let us explain.

On a family trip to Mexico in 2012, Jesus was reunited with his cousin, Attorney Enrique Hurtado de 
Mendoza which he had not seen in nearly 10 years. During this family reunion, he and his cousin shared 
and reflected about their professional careers; their goals and their obstacles. It was then that Enrique 
asked, “Why don’t you make your own tequila?” He mentioned to Jesus that one of his clients which 
owned a distillery was producing Organic Tequila and recently experienced some financial hardships. 
The choice was obvious. Jesus immediately said, “Get me a meeting with the owners. I want to buy it.” 
The rest is history . . . 

In Spanish, Grand Leyenda means “grand, legend.” These two words describe the man who instilled the 
values and work ethics that have driven Jesus to be the man he is today. Jesus describes his father as 
something bigger than life… a grand man, a family man, a man of all men. The Santoyo Grand Leyenda 
Tequila not only is unique and tastes exceptional, but its flavors reflect the true family tradition and 
labor of love that Tequila should represent. For this reason, Jesus has honored his father with this brand, 
dedicating it to the man who worked effortlessly while encouraging and inspiring not only him but 
his twin brother Jose Santoyo and older sister Aleyda Santoyo to follow their dreams and fulfill their 
ambitions no matter the obstacles.   Santoyo Grand Leyenda Ultra-Premium Organic Tequila brand is unique and authentic like Jesus’ father. Through this tequila, Jesus dreams of leaving a footprint while paying tribute to a legendary man, his father Jose De Jesus Santoyo and their shared proud heritage.  Salud!

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Mason Mueller teased me for being a witch because of my black hair in kindergarten. I swear to you, if I saw him in a bar to this day, I’d probably throw a drink on that guy. Mason was the first bully I ever experienced. I’d come home crying to my mother, who would tell me how pretty my black hair was, but Mason was one mean kindergartner. People can be cruel.

We all love a come back story, but in order to have a come back we have to hit rock bottom and when you’re at the bottom, there is inevitably some people out there who feel the need to grind your rock bottom into your face, as if you were unaware how miserable it already felt. Listen up world: I don’t think Lindsay Lohan needs a reminder that she is a case study in poor decision making.

The Mean Girls came from being the victim of some brutal cyber bullies when Fabulous Furballs fell apart. Some were people I’d never even met, but others were people I considered family. Our daughters godfather and godmother turned on us without hesitation. I hear a few still follow me and maybe some will read this blog. Thank you. Without you, I wouldn’t have learned the important lesson that I needed to be more selective about who I let into my world, especially those I let get close to my beloved girls.

So in the midst of that dramatic, emotional time I knew I needed to remember what it felt like to be on the receiving end of some very mean girls. Hence the name. I’m one mean girl about business these days, but I am entirely nice otherwise. Next time you see someone hitting rock bottom, maybe try quieting your inner mean girl and instead think something positive for them. Say a little prayer- they probably need it.


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PictureKat and I ready to take on the world

Allow me to introduce you to my best friend.  Her name is Katharina Hueggenberg and she popped into my very first Fabulous Furballs dog boutique a few years ago.  Initially, she wanted to franchise in Phoenix, Arizona because she was sick of the Canadian cold weather.  Eventually, she settled on opening my first franchise in an upscale suburb of Edmonton, Alberta that wasn’t quite as sunny as Arizona.  Kat is a long time boxer breeder, breeding and showing beautiful boxers throughout Canada and the United States.  In many ways, we couldn’t be more different: she likes boxers, I’m a die hard tiny dog lover; she comes from a German family that likes stout beer and hearty food, I come from an Asian-Hawaiian family that appreciates sake and sushi; she sees the details and headaches with executing big ideas, I see the big idea without worrying how the details will happen.  Like all good friendships, our friendship has seen once in a lifetime good times and we have been through difficult times when we wanted to kill each other.  The one thing that was always consistent was our commitment to one another.  I could hate her, but I would always hate the person doing her wrong more.  

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The problem with my friendship with Kat is that she has ruined me for working with and being friends with my employees.  Things went so well and always ended sunny side up with Kat that I ignored the experiences, lessons, and innumerable indications that I had to stay “friendly, not friends” with my employees.  There I was, knowing better, but ignoring it because I am so damn friendly.  It was inevitable that it would blow up in my face.  Of course it would.  Right after Kat moved back to Canada, I hired a project manager that quickly became my right hand, moving right into Kat’s role in my world.  Unfortunately, not everyone has the maturity and life experience to handle balancing a close friendship with the difficult decisions a CEO has to make.  It finally came to a head when a close friend said to me, “It’s clear that you have to choose.  Is it more important to run the company or be someone’s friend?”  As difficult as it was, I had to make that choice and learn from my own experience.  These lessons suck.  It’s been one of the most difficult days I can recall in a long time, but the good news is that the one person who has always had my back through thick and thin was the first person to be right there for me.  Not that you’ll listen, but my advice is to stay “friendly not friends” and yes, that means you will have to choose if your business or friendship is more important.  

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My friend Lindsay in Seattle gave me the best compliment recently, ‘you’re one of those people who make you feel like you can do anything.’ I think I will be beaming for the next year thanks to that one compliment.

When we hold ourselves back from what we could be, it holds everyone around us back. By living my best life, going boldly from one challenge to the next, and taking risks in my life, it has encouraged others.  Yes, I have had my ugly cry moments when it all fell apart, but I fought through it and came back bigger and better than ever. I surrounded myself with the people who always believed I could do it. They had faith in me when I did not. They carried me through those difficult times and I couldn’t be who I am today without them.

I don’t wake up in the morning and ask myself what I can do for me. I don’t even wake up thinking about myself. My entire driver to get out of bed in the morning is to serve others. To help other people achieve their dreams, to use my God given skills to the best of my ability, and to make other people feel better about who they are and what they can achieve. I challenge you to ask yourself ‘how did you make someone feel today?’

I spent the last week at the EO Global Leadership Conference in Panama City, Panama with 750 fellow EO leaders learning how to be a better leader among leaders.  The conference was great, the training was first class, and 99% of the people were spectacularly awesome.  Just like with any large group of wildly successful, confident CEOs,there is bound to be that 1% who are first class assholes. Yes, I said it. I could say humility challenged, but that doesn’t quite cover the level of asshole I’m talking about.  And this blog, my friends, is written to help the 1% find their inner human. Here are some simple tips to help you reconnect with the rest of humanity:

1. Apparently you missed the lesson ‘treat others how you want to be treated.’ It’s ok that your mama didn’t raise you right- oh yes I just called your mama out because you thought it was ok to shit on the waitresses, helpful staff putting on the event, and anyone you saw as less than you.  Here’s the deal: you didn’t realize that our chapter administrator actually is my director of project management and the chances our team will ever work with you are slim to none my friend. If you’re too fucking important to treat the people who are behind the scenes running the world, refilling your drink and cleaning the bathroom, you use, well, I don’t have time for you.

2. Try a smile. It’s the muscles in the corners of your face by your mouth that haven’t been used in years. Glaring at everyone in the room like you’re doctor evil only works in movies and, dude, even then, there is a reason the good guys win in movies.

3. The world just might not revolve around you. Seriously. You’re gob smacked. I knew it was that no one ever let you in on the secret! There’s hope for you yet my fellow leader. The sooner you can accept this fact, the sooner you can start to be patient in traffic, nice when there is a mechanical delay for your flight (delay over crashing has always seemed preferable to me), and the sooner you can stop wallowing in your self importance and focus on asking ‘how are you and how can I help you?’ To the people around you.

Personally, I appreciate the assholes because they make me look so warm and friendly.  However, I sincerely think no one told you these simple life lessons. Oh- and if you aren’t sure if you’re the asshole,  ask someone who will tell you the truth. Hey, call me. I’m happy to be your anti asshole mentor and save the people around you from you. Best wishes reforming your inner asshole.

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With my two girls

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I am an entrepreneurial mommy.  During the creation and fast growth of my first venture I was pregnant 18 of the first 24 months with my two girls.  Being pregnant was never a disability for me, having children was never an added burden, and our girls have always been active participants in our entrepreneurial life style.  Just this past week they were t shirt models at the Downtown Podcast and when you ask both of them what they want to be when they grow up, they look at you like you’re crazy not to know and say “CEO, duh”.  Bella is 5 and Mia is almost 4, but I have no doubt they will run their own companies some day. 

I grew up with great, intentional parents and I’ve done my best to carry that same intention through to how we are raising our girls.  Here are three things kick ass moms tell their kids:

1. DREAM BIG AND WORK HARD.  Every day I see parents doing the work for their kids, which robs them of the opportunity to see how hard work can pay off.  We don’t buy our kids toys- they buy it themselves with stars from their chore charts.  Each morning they have the opportunity to earn stars for behaving, getting themselves ready, and contributing to our household.  Bella loves singing, rapping, and performing for anyone who will listen, so we encourage her to keep at it (even when she is squawking at maximum volume at the pool).  I want her to dream big about those stadiums and what that would feel like, but I want her to know that she has to work hard to get there.  Don’t short change your kids by stealing their work ethic.

2. NO.  I have a friend that doesn’t dare tell her child no for a variety of reasons (it will hurt her feelings, the world is a cruel place, the list goes on), but in my opinion the real reason is because she doesn’t want to be the bad guy.  I’d rather teach my girls with love that hearing “no” is a part of life than have someone like Simon Cowell teach it to them later in life.  Children need to hear “no”, they need to understand disappointment, and they need to understand how the world works.  When my girls had tantrums during their terrible 2’s, I would look them straight in the eye and ask them to “choose a more effective negotiation strategy, as this one was ineffective.”  My friends and family can vouch that my two girls are some of the best negotiators you’ve ever met thanks to that technique.

3. I ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR YOU.  Multi-tasking is the biggest lie on the planet when it comes to children.  Take 5 minutes away to give them one on one attention and you can buy yourself 4 hours to work on that important work project.  Try to multi task it for 4 hours and you’re screwed.  You won’t get 2 hours of work done and your child feels like you only gave them a fraction of the attention they deserved.  Make time for your children and tell them you will always have time for them.  

Happy Mothers Day to all of you moms, grandmas, aunties, and care takers out there!  Thank you for all you do and keep being kick ass with those little people.  

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Mia and I love our pool time

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Always having Bella’s back when she’s performing and making people laugh

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Beautiful co-working space, internet that downloads lightning fast, and custom furniture so stunning it’s patented.  I first heard about the InNEVation center from my friends over at Ticketcake, who are some of my talented neighbors at the Ogden in the heart of downtown Las Vegas.  Team Ticketcake has offices at the center and told me about this magical place that I had to check out.  My team went for a tour the week before I did since I was out sick and told me about touring the Switch super nap, where security guys with guns followed you around throughout the tour.  Then, they drove across the street to discover this magical co working space that must cost a fortune to be a part of.  Only no!  
It was $150/month for a co-working membership.  Between the guys with guns protecting the fantasy fast internet and the space that was too good to be true, I figured my team was pulling one over on me.  However, when I finally did the tour myself a week later, it was all true and it was even better than they could have described in words.  It was love at first sight.  

Why do I love you InNEVation center?  Allow me to share:

1. Your comfy, curvy spaces that celebrate innovation and entrepreneurs in Nevada.  I can slide into a funky chair to write blogs for hours, sit with my team to collaborate around a work table, or pop over to see my new friends at Originate in their fancy offices.  I can host Joe Garner from hit documentary Craigslist Joe to share his experience with the local Entrepreneurs Organization chapter and our friends in the beautiful stage two area- complete with free live streaming for 9,000 global EO members to enjoy.  Yes InNEVation I love your sexy curves.  

2. You’re just so tasty and affordable.  The well equipped kitchen offers free Keurig coffee and saves me at least $150 a month in Starbucks trips.  I’ve actually become quite the little Keurig barista.  Allow me to share my recipe: the Cinnamon Bun coffee mixed with 1/5 Cinnamon Vanilla creamer.  I call it the InNEVation Cinnamon Delight and it tastes like a cinnamon bun.  

3. What the Ethington?!  And dang that Lexi is awesome.  The management at the InNEVation center isn’t good.  It isn’t even great.  It is awesome.  Richard Ethington and Lexi Glaser are constantly doing whatever they can to make introductions, help you grow your business, and go above and beyond to deliver awesome customer service that leaves you wondering what took you so long to sign up.  Did I mention that they are ridiculously happy all the time?  Oh just you wait- once you sign up, you will be, too.  

Co working kicks ass, as many of my friends in major metropolitan cities have discovered, but I’ve been to spaces in San Fran, NYC, and none ring my bell quite the way that the InNEVation center does.  They literally take the “no” out of innovation and keep saying yes to entrepreneurs.  Yes, InNEVation, I love you!  Love, Me

As most of you know, I am an enthusiastic member of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO).  OK, enthusiastic is under selling it.  I’m that crazy cheerleader you meet and can’t decide if she’s legitimately this passionate or just temporarily insane.  My enthusiasm comes from having grown my business to award winning heights and then having it crumble to dust while being carried by my supportive EO Edmonton forum mates, who got me through some of my most difficult days.  When you understand the power of the organization and what it can do for your personal and professional growth, it secures a certain sense of loyalty that is rare in professional organizations these days.  

Last August I transferred from the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada chapter to the Las Vegas, Nevada chapter when I relocated back to the United States after five years in Canada.  Instantly, I threw myself into the local EO chapter and did my damndest to give back to the organization that had gotten me through my own entrepreneurial struggles.  In less than sixty days, I went from being the forum chair to the learning chair and then onto chairing a large regional event that was being held for the first time called “Grand Learning.”  Did I mention that I’m not an event planner?  Allow me to share the lessons I have learned:

1. Book amazing speakers that represent diverse interests and backgrounds.  We had Zappos CEO Tony Hseih, Unmarketing guru Scott Stratten, and former shark on Shark Tank Kevin Harrington.  All three were a dream to work with and worked with us when it seemed that our AV team at the venue ran into all kinds of challenges.  Tony shared his Zappos growth and new downtown revitalization project, inspiring the audience to focus on growing their sense of community.  Scott had me laughing so hard at his common sense approach to marketing that my mascara ran down my face.  Kevin brought a level of experience that inspired me to grow my own public profile and reach for the stars.  

2. The world is not falling apart.  Our Zappos and Downtown Project tours turned out to be a logistical nightmare.  Members stranded in downtown, bus drivers refusing to do what we had instructed, the chaos was crushing.  It was the event equivalent to having 200 members get food poisoning and there was one point where I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide.  Stay calm, handle each problem as it comes, and do what all entrepreneurs do best: problem solve.  

3. Never forget what is really important.  My assistant, Jacob was so exhausted and depleted by the end of that first day that he could barely stand up.  His mojo was gone and he was on empty.  People matter.  

With Sherman from EO Idaho, Brad from EO Las Vegas, and David from EO Los Angeles.
I got to hang out with former shark from Shark Tank Kevin Harrington- the man is brilliant!
Remind me to tell you about the time that the internet didn’t work for 40min and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was late starting.  He was a cool cucumber and so easy to work with!  
There is no event, no detail, no minor upset that matters more than the people you care about.  Sending Jacob home to get a full 12 hours of sleep before the main event was the best thing I did the entire weekend because he came back at it Saturday and knocked it out of the park.  

4. No one will like everything you do.  We got mini Ipads as speaker gifts and Microsoft was a sponsor.  Funny, right?  It is now, but when it was first pointed out, I felt like an utter moron for not realizing it until it was too late.  Congratulations Krista!  You got the speakers a gift that directly competes with the one sponsor you have.  Embrace it, apologize to Microsoft, and promise to buy more Microsoft merchandise than you, your grand children, and your great grand children will ever need.  

5. Take a risk.  One of my favorite people on the internet is Unmarketing guru Scott Stratten.  I am a raving fan, but he had never spoken to Entrepreneurs Organization groups before.  He was a risk, but one that I am thrilled we took because everyone raved about how inspiring and funny he was.  Now everyone is fired up to have him come speak to their local EO chapter because he was that awesome.

At the end of the day, our event got a 3.5 out of 5 rating based on the surveys.  Better than average, but not excellent.  It’s an honest assessment and I wish I could go back and fix all the misadventures that went wrong, but then what would I have learned?  Success is a horrible teacher and I’m thankful that I stepped up, did my best to lead my peers, and learned as much as I did.  When given the option to lead amongst your peers, say yes.  Dive in.