Live Out Loud
September 18, 2017
"I just want you to be a good person."
That's all that Juan V. Lopez's father wanted from his son: Simply for him, as well as his four siblings, to become good people and to pass that goodness on to others.
At 28, Lopez has been working hard to fulfill that wish — by helping others do the same.
Lopez is a digital marketer, a motivational speaker and a business consultant who is chief executive officer of his eponymous non-profit, JuanVLopez.com.
“I feel like our whole thing within our family had to happen in order for us to end up at the place all of us are now, in regard to our relationships with one another.”Juan Lopezexecutive officer, JuanVLopez.com
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He works with Zephyr-Cove-based financial coaching firm Live Out Loud, founded and run by bestselling finance author Loral Langemeier.
He is his family's first college graduate, having earned his bachelor's degree in journalism and Spanish, and his master's degree in business administration, at the University of Nevada, Reno.
He delivered a motivational speech based on his life at the 2015 TEDxUniversityofNevada event and has made other appearances as a public speaker.
All the while dealing with a physical drawback that many might think would make his career impossible.
"All my life, I've had a stutter," Lopez said.
Lopez's speech frequently shuts down as his mouth refuses to shape his words, a problem that has plagued him since his birth and childhood in Milwaukee.
His presence in Nevada was the result of another hardship in his life: His parents, who came to the United States from Zacatecas, Mexico — working on California farms before moving to be with relatives in Wisconsin — divorced when he was nine.
"It was a shattering thing — my mom left the family," Lopez said.
With five children to care for by himself, Lopez's father moved the family to Las Vegas, where he got a hotel-casino maintenance job.
"It's something I didn't really understand as a child, but having to balance being the only source of income and going through a divorce with someone you had immigrated here with, someone you had five children with, it's kind of mind-blowing," Lopez said.
But the experience had the positive result of bringing the five Lopez children and their father into a close, tightly-knit family bond.
"I feel like our whole thing within our family had to happen in order for us to end up at the place all of us are now, in regard to our relationships with one another," Lopez said.
Better still, the family struggle and his own struggle with stuttering gave Lopez practical insights that have helped his work.
"I take experiences that I've been through, and I share them with people," he said, "because I know, yeah, I went through some hardships, but there are other people out there who also are experiencing hardships now, who have a divorce, or parents who are abusive, or who are on drugs, or in jail."
He also knows that the path to success has unforeseen bends.
His stutter led him to hone his writing abilities through the end of high school, when he decided to put them to use by entering the UNR Reynolds School of Journalism.
Lopez's strong undergraduate journalism career included internships at such large publications like ESPN and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, as well as serving as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, the Nevada Sagebrush.
He also was online media and public relations manager for the UNR chapter of his fraternity, the Latino-focused Nu Alpha Kappa (in which he now serves as its national alumni association's director of planning and marketing).
When Lopez graduated in 2012, reporting jobs were being cut across the nation, including the region around UNR, leaving a dearth of job opportunities.
Just to get work, he decided to apply to be a receptionist at Saint Mary's Center for Health and Fitness. However, when the center's administration learned of Lopez's experience, they offered him a starting job in the marketing department.
Within a year, Lopez had become the center's marketing coordinator and its social media expert.
To improve his business abilities, he went back to UNR for his MBA, joining Live Out Loud the same year and entering a speaking contest that led to his taking the TEDxUniversityofNevada stage.
"It was a surreal thing: There were about 600 people in the audience, and I gave a message on the idea that I have an immovable aspect about me – this thing I've been battling all my life," Lopez said.
Since receiving his master's last year, Lopez has kept on harnessing the lessons of his own life to help others, advising on and designing online marketing campaigns and posting motivational videos to his website and YouTube (his TEDx talk still gets positive responses, he said).
"Most of the empowerment speaking I do is about having self-perseverance, about understanding the process of life, the process of work, the process of how we evolve in life," he said.