He went from being a farmer to an international entrepreneur with 20,000 employees, more than 800 branches in Mexico and the United States. For him, changes are a challenge to overcome.
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Editor’s Note: This note was originally published in 2016.
When I saw Arnoldo de La Rocha, the creator of the El Pollo Feliz chain, take the stage to share his lecture The Mexican Dream during the Inspiring Leadership Forum organized by Smart Speakers , I could see a tall man with a kind, peaceful face , of iron character, firm voice but above all humble.
You never imagine that this international entrepreneur emerged from one of the most remote parts of the country: the heart of the Sierra Tarahumara in Chihuahua. In his childhood he wore cowhide sandals and patched trousers. He is the oldest of 12 siblings and today he is a true example for every Mexican.
Coming from a country family. In his community some principles of nomadic life are still practiced, such as bartering: they exchange corn for beans, horses for cows with young. He met automobiles at the age of 11 and attended school for the first time at that age, with many economic deficiencies, but with a great teaching of values from his parents and love of work.
“I never knew I was poor until I met the rich, we lived happily,” he says.
Arnoldo remembers his first footwear. They were blue boots, with a short tube. When he measured them, he realized that they were not his size, but if he said so, they would be given to another of his brothers. That’s why, when her parents asked her if she had any left, without hesitation, she swore yes. “And in my land the one who swears something is to death” Otherwise he could not attend his uncle’s wedding, because at that time he who did not wear shoes did not enter the party.
The challenges appeared when he was 17 years old when he finished elementary school and decided to leave his place of origin to arrive in the city of Chihuahua with the idea of working hard as in the field. He says that he had “his hard drive formatted to work as a farmer.” This is how he begins working as a doorman, bricklayer, watchman, among others. Shortly after, out of need and hunger, with a group of friends and $ 18,000 pesos, in 1975 he began to sell roast chicken with a marinade recipe made by his family. He opens a small restaurant becoming a success in the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa.
Thus in 1980 his business grew in such a way that El Pollo Feliz was born; By the nineties, it succeeded in getting Mexican families to recognize its brand, reaching a total of 167 cities in the country. In 2000 it reached more than 800 branches throughout the Mexican territory and in 2001 it crossed the border, settling in Tucson, Arizona.
Before all this, de La Rocha was a dreamer who thought of being a state commander, horseman or rancher. Now he works from his trenches to achieve a change in the country through his testimony. It promotes the fight for the land with the absolute conviction that the most direct way to make a better Mexico is by training better Mexicans. That is why the founder of Pollo Feliz has the following recommendations to be a better entrepreneur, committed to the country:
- Leading your people with love and communication: “Change is born from the interest to communicate better. Dialogue effectively is decisive in the business world ”, affirms the businessman.
- Believe in what you do: “If you really want what you do, you will end up doing what you want. For me, selling chickens is a bridge to get to the forums and share what I have experienced ”.
- Have an open mind to learn from each person : “Transformation begins in our way of thinking. Giving every word and action credibility is the hardest part. You have to be congruent between what you say and what you do ”.
- Exercising temperance because it generates wealth: on the other hand, wealth destroys temperance. “This old saying from the Middle Ages teaches us that your company has a responsibility to society so that it exists for many years. So the founders must seek to coincide with the children to preserve the company ”.
- Be convinced that it can be done !: “There is no better place for Mexicans to live than their own country. If you think that in Mexico it is possible, so it will be. If you think otherwise, it is not achieved. But it is more interesting to think that everything is possible ”.
“This leads us to hope, because everything is moved by faith and love. We are going to be purposeful and take actions that will make a difference! ”.
This is how the chicken businessman closes his talks, who dares to dream of a different Mexico.