Junior Achievement organization and first Cuban-born CEO set Jesús Grana on the road to marketing
While I didn’t grow rich and definitely nowhere near the 1 percent, I have always felt as one of the most blessed, if not the most blessed individual in the world. Very early in my teen years (around age 15 years during my sophomore year in high school) I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to go into business and even more specifically, marketing. Mind you, not advertising, not media but what even back then I knew was real marketing – managing a brand and every P there was to manage (I believe then and now that there are only four no matter what others say).
Two variables (one organizational and one human) were critical in reaching this early decision. Junior Achievement of Puerto Rico was the organizational one. For three years I met weekly with other fellow high school students to plan, manufacture, market and sell a product. This organization and the great corporate mentors I met helped shape my interest in a business career.
The human variable was Robert Goizueta. As I was getting ready to go into college, he became one of the first, if not the first, Cuban-born CEO of a major global corporation and, as far as I know, the only one to head one of the top brands in the world. (Bacardi doesn’t count; although, I am sure that we can discuss it over a couple of “Cuba Libres.”)
Teaching the World to Smile
Like me, he was born in Havana, a fact that not only gave me pride but also confirmed to me that, like him, I could achieve anything I wanted. Besides, I also wanted to teach the world to smile at that point.