It’s difficult to deny that favorable circumstances can contribute significantly to personal success. Those born into affluence or with certain natural abilities clearly have an advantage over those who are not. However, an individual’s circumstances, regardless of how challenging they may be, can always be overcome.
“A strong work ethic has always been central to my value system,” Mike says. “I believe you can overcome a lot with effort, whether it is limited experience, a lack of opportunities, or simply a rough situation you may find yourself in. How hard you work is the main input you always have control over. Taking advantage of that and working hard can empower you to overcome and succeed despite your circumstances.”
Mike explains that his work ethic was inspired by his parents, Cuban immigrants who worked very hard to establish a life for themselves in their new home.
“I was inspired by my parents and seeing how hard work paid off for them in their lives,” Mike says. “They came to the US with nothing and worked hard over decades to give me and my brothers a better life. Success came to them through grit and resilience, rather than just sitting back and hoping something lucky would happen to them. Through working hard for decades, they brought their family up from nothing, despite not even knowing the language or having any support system, to having an amazing family, good jobs, and even a pension to retire on.”
Mike’s work ethic played a big role in the success he has achieved with Branch, a mobile tech startup whose products are used by companies like Uber, Spotify, and Airbnb, to name just a few. Since launching in 2014, Branch has grown to become a nine-figure revenue company that has raised $600 million in investments and achieved a multi-billion dollar valuation.
The success that Branch has achieved can also be attributed to Mike’s understanding that hard work pays even bigger dividends when it is focused on the right activities.
“It is important to focus your efforts on high-value activities,” Michael explains. “Someone working 100 hours at low-value work with poor leverage won’t get as far as someone working 20 hours at high-value, high-leverage activities. The most effective approach is to combine working hard with working smart on the highest leverage things you can do.. If you do that, you are going to blow everyone else out of the water.”
Mike’s track record as a business leader speaks clearly to the type of success one can have when applying his approach. He scaled Branch from 0 to 450 employees in six years, all while maintaining a great workplace culture and strong internal operations. Prior to launching Branch, Mike worked on a mobile app that was featured in Best New Apps on both the Apple App Store and Android Play Store. The process of overcoming challenges related to scaling that app led him and his co-founders to develop the technology and systems that now serve Branch’s clients.
Those who would follow Mike down an entrepreneurial path should be aware that, even with hard work, they will face challenging times. Mike, for example, spent three months couch surfing during a period when he did not have a place of his own to stay.
“I borrowed a friend’s car for three months when I didn’t have any money or a place to live,” Mike recalls. “I would crash for a week on a friend’s couch, then move to another the next week. There were a couple of nights when I had to stay in the car. I even spent one night at the school library.”
While the circumstances were not ideal, he says they were far from hopeless as he was surrounded by a group of friends who supported him. Additionally, he knew he was consistently giving all he had to make his vision a reality.
“There’s no shortcut to success,” Mike says. “Discipline is an essential quality for those who want to succeed. You need to be consistent day after day and week after week and month after month, and you need to be patient — don’t expect immediate results. Trust that the hard work you do today will result in success, regardless of your circumstances.”