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Mario Medina of drvn: “Take chances, be bold, and try new things”

Take chances, be bold, and try new things. Taking calculated risks where you know that your planning and hustle will mitigate that risk — which is why it is calculated. Doing this puts you squarely in a space where you never stop learning. Being in learning should not be constrained by your industry — learning a new language, taking […]

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Take chances, be bold, and try new things. Taking calculated risks where you know that your planning and hustle will mitigate that risk — which is why it is calculated. Doing this puts you squarely in a space where you never stop learning. Being in learning should not be constrained by your industry — learning a new language, taking an art class or ballroom dancing, whatever. Every new skill broadens perspective, which comes in handy when you need it most.

Give back every step of the way. Donate to charity, volunteer in your community, whatever calls you. But help others along your way, not just because everyone you help is where you once were. So find a way to help and get involved in the betterment of those around you in any way you can.


Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.

As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mario Medina who was born in the Dominican Republic and is a US citizen currently living in Miami, FL. He is a self-proclaimed introvert, renegade techie, and the CEO of drvn. In his previous career incarnations he founded several telecommunication companies — always with a desire to shake up the industry.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Well, I grew up in the Dominican Republic, the youngest of five. Overall I’d say I had a very happy childhood. I spent a lot of time outside and at the beach with everyone — it was pretty idyllic. My family and I were always very close and they were always my number one place for support. Interestingly enough, my whole family has strong entrepreneurial tendencies. Reflecting back now it is clear that being around them influenced me far more than I realized at the time. My early years helped set a strong foundation for my career and having a family of my own.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?

Actually, we moved here in my father’s pursuit of the American dream. My dad was the breadwinner, and he was offered a job in the United States. My dad and mom felt that the US was a better fit for us as a family, so we packed up and made the move. I was the only child living at home when we left the DR, and in retrospect I think that made it a bit easier for my dad to move to the States. Though obviously he had been thinking about it for a while, I think when my older siblings left home he saw that as an opportunity presenting itself.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?

I arrived in the States at Miami International Airport and my first impression of the US was Customs. The United States wasn’t at all like I envisioned, which was rooted in what I had seen at the cinema. I suppose it might be a bit surprising since we came to Miami (a very Latin city) first. We ended up moving a lot — from Florida to New York, to New Jersey, then Texas and then in high school back to Miami. With all the moving I never really felt like I fully adjusted or set down roots. It felt like every time I began to embrace my new environment, or it began to embrace me, we moved again and I had to start all over. With all the moving, it definitely took longer to become acclimated to American culture. Fortunately, I already spoke English when I got here, but even with that, I found some stark cultural differences everywhere we moved.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

My mom was really great at managing the moves. Wherever we were, she always made it feel like home. Since, in effect, I was an ‘only’ child — the one who came with my parents — and my father worked a lot, it was often just me and her. And we did everything together. I used to love when we’d go grocery shopping and we’d clip coupons or try to pick fruit that was in season so it would be fresh. And every time, whenever we got to the checkout counter she’d let me pick out one piece of candy. I always got the same thing — M&M’s. And they’re still my favorite. I was subjected to a lot of change in my formative years and if not for the consistency, and constancy, she provided I am not sure I would have managed it as well as I have.

So how are things going today?

Well, I am happy to report that I have not moved in more than twenty years. So that feels good. And I do really like MIami.

Now I have my own family, and to be frank, staying put is part of my American Dream. For me, owning a home and owning a business are integral to how I define success. Though I am always reaching out, making changes, taking new steps, being stable in one place is a big triumph. Being able to stay still has allowed me to invest more time into our business without being distracted by moving pieces (pun intended).

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Wow, that’s a loaded question! Firstly, when I started my business a decade ago, I wanted sustainability and environmental awareness to be part of our corporate culture. We began with a commitment to being paperless and now we’re getting involved in carbon offset programs that balance our global carbon footprint. “Being green” has always been more than just a fad to me and to my team, and I’m very proud of the changes and impact we’ve been able to have within our industry.

However, just as important as the environment is the community of leaders we’ve been fortunate to cultivate at Moveo. We had to start small, attracting raw talent that was willing to take a chance on us. We’ve been able to help steer them and steward their evolution into managers and leaders of their own teams in the company. I see how much they’ve grown over time and I can see the successes which lie ahead for them. In my view, our investment in leadership and training will yield exponential returns. The skills our team has acquired reaches far beyond just what we do at Moveo.

You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?

You know, my own experience immigrating to the US was really tame, especially in comparison to some of the things that have happened to other people like me. This is unsettling. If I could choose a few immigration principles we as a country should be following, I would eliminate unjustified detention — especially for children — focus on family unity, and protect against domestic violence. As a father of three, I could not bear to think of my children being held, in horrific conditions, alone in another country, and in times like these. I think safety is a human right, and that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all those who are within its borders.

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

Hmmm well, a lot of things come to mind. But the first is definitely to be patient. I know instant gratification is king, and waiting seems an eternity. But a commitment to process (ultimately to delayed gratification) is more often than not where real satisfaction lies. Over time, investment in yourself and in your ventures produce manifold returns. It pays off and it is really just that simple.

Second (but only barely) always be honest with yourself. Assess your strengths and weaknesses. You have to be willing to own what you don’t know and own when you need help with what you don’t know. Start by knowing where your long term value lies, know what you bring to the table now, and then find team members that compliment you, who are smarter than you, and who you know will be honest with you. No successful business is a party of one.

Third. Consistency in effort is key. It does not do well to sit around and wait for great things to happen. You have to be the captain of your own fate and stay chugging along on the path you set — even if you must chug slowly. You must have the willingness to keep pace with, or outwork your team members and your competitors, everyday. With your new found patience, it is easier to know that as you steadily chip away at things, you’ll reveal the greatness and success that lies underneath.

Fourth. Take chances, be bold, and try new things. Taking calculated risks where you know that your planning and hustle will mitigate that risk — which is why it is calculated. Doing this puts you squarely in a space where you never stop learning. Being in learning should not be constrained by your industry — learning a new language, taking an art class or ballroom dancing, whatever. Every new skill broadens perspective, which comes in handy when you need it most.

Give back every step of the way. Donate to charity, volunteer in your community, whatever calls you. But help others along your way, not just because everyone you help is where you once were. So find a way to help and get involved in the betterment of those around you in any way you can.

We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?

When I first got here, it was still very much about that “ladder” of success, and there were a lot of roadblocks to ‘get there’, especially as it related to your ‘background’. Today I see people from all backgrounds, of any sex, and with a wide range of experiences that are invited to join in, to collaborate, and to succeed. I think a lot of this inclusivity shift comes from social media, simply because there are platforms which are blind to the participants but where their voices and uniqueness can be heard. It isn’t just about the C-level anymore, it’s about people of all levels.

The post baby-boom generations are aware of the power in their uniqueness and they are leveraging that in the marketplace. The newer generations of millennials and Gen Zers, (and expect the generations that are coming after the Alphas and I guess the Gen C’s?), are more self-activated then the Baby Boomers and even my generation the Gen Xers. There’s more a sense of ‘collective individuality’ and less a sense of the individual and the herd. They intuit that success is multi-pathed and it is more about skipping, falling and dancing to success than it is about “climbing the ladder”. This is where I think our best innovation comes from. It’s rooted in the power, not the fear, of being different.

Lastly, American business leaders are recognizing that they can no longer sit on the sidelines and must engage in the policies that are shaping our country. I don’t want to point fingers, nor do I think this is necessarily as political as some think, but we’ve all seen in these last years what has happened to business leaders who have not looked out for their customers best interests. Many others have served as examples to lead for the better, by working in a public private tandem.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Without a doubt, Mark Cuban. And he doesn’t even need to take me to a Mavs game. He’s not afraid to go against the herd and trust his instincts. I’m from the Dominican Republic, so going with your gut instinct, or what’s in your heart, is part of my culture, and how we conduct business. So I definitely connect with him in that sense. Knowing that business is business, he continually picks himself and inspires others to do the same. Obviously he recognizes a good idea when he hears one — irrespective of source. I believe that he sees, as I know I do, that diversity is the lifeblood of business.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

You can check out my company’s website at drvn.com or follow me on LinkedIn!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


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