This I Believe

Mike - Miami, Florida
Entered on August 1, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“You can’t do music; you need a million-dollar studio to do that. It’s just too complicated and it’s not for you.” I’ve heard many statements like this over and over again throughout my life and the past five years that I’ve been involved within the Music Business. Today however I stand tall and proud with my own business where I can design, record, and make my dreams real.

At only twenty-five years of age I’m a man who’s had a lot of adversity his life; since I was a teen I’ve struggled to fit in and do what’s right. The path that I’ve walked has been littered with sharp stones of negativity, depression, hate, and even death. I have learned much throughout the years that I’ve spent doing all the wrong things. I can still remember the day that I decided to change my life forever: it was seven in the morning and I was driving to jail to go pickup my possessions from a recent arrest. I remember standing in line with the dregs of society – rejects and losers who have no goals – as I patiently waited to get my belongings back. There I stood, a young college student from a decent home, wasting away with the same filth that got me locked up in the first place. I drove home two hours later and remember whispering to myself in the rearview mirror, “This can never happen again. I need to change.” Over the next three years I cut off all of the bad influences in my life (including people), I graduated as the top student within the Music Business program at Miami Dade College, and I finally had a chance to run my own business with a great team of employees.

Patience and humility have helped me to grow tremendously. I can still remember setting up my first studio at a friend’s garage, then moving to an office, and finally building my own setup at the house. My team and I spent many late nights in a damp garage designing for music clients. We didn’t make much money at the time and usually spent every dollar we had on equipment or supplies. Wendy’s was common for dinner and I was still wearing clothes that were several years old. Over time our finances and our lab grew. It was fascinating to be a young entrepreneur. It felt so good to get paid and see each client walk out with a smile on his face. The more that I dedicated to my goals meant the more that I learned to sell product and sell myself. Most of the skills that I’ve learned on the street and in business have prepared me for college. I had already experienced first-hand what the teachers attempted to teach. There is nothing else outside of personal experience that better serves to prepare a mind for this world.

My own experience has come at a great cost. I’ve had to ruin many personal relations with friends and girlfriends just to have time for myself. I have had to spend many weekends at home where I could work and learn in my own privacy. These sacrifices may not seem like much for some people, but it means the world to me given that I do not have the luxury of friends or quality time. I have lived and will continue to live the prime of my life without many pleasures but with the hope of one day becoming someone important to the world.

For anyone who regularly faces adversity in the pursuit of a better life, I salute them. For those who sit on their rears and expect others to work and provide for them, I don’t respect them. For those who have talent to make a difference and choose not to, I scorn them. There are few people that have the courage, the endurance, or the dream to succeed. Your faith in your dreams will forever be tested, but what makes you grow strong lies in how you handle a thorny situation. If a man like my father – raised in the “favelas” or the slums of Brazil where AIDS and guns dominate – was able to put himself through college so that he could live a better life three-thousand miles north in America, then you too can accomplish anything you put your mind to. My motivation is best crystallized in a song I once wrote. The introductory verse states, “In the face of fear, never fear no man … no one holds my hand … I alone will stand … this is my life to live, my life to give, and my chance to shine so now I’m going in.” Game Face, written, recorded, and produced by Mike Pina.