A Common Man that Achieves the Uncommon
1 – Ruben is a Four-time Winter Olympian
but he can’t Ski or Skate.
When he was 21 years old, while living in hot and humid Houston, TX, Ruben decided he wanted to compete in the Olympics.
He picked the brutally tough sport of luge thinking there would be a lot of quitters and he simply would not quit.
Four years and a few broken bones later, he was competing against the best in the world at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
Ruben now lives in Colorado, but he still can’t ski or skate. However, he is taking up snowboarding…
2 – Ruben Ran with the Bulls
in Pamplona, Spain.
Ever since reading about the famous bull run in Hemingway’s books, Ruben has been fascinated with everything about Pamplona.
Ruben’s technique for survival is to run FROM the bulls, not WITH the bulls.
Lessons from Pamplona
3 – Ruben Climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro,
the Highest Mountain in Africa.
Ruben believes in making your life an adventure.
In 2010, he and several of his friends flew to Africa and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. At 19,340 feet, Mt. Kili is a mile taller than any mountain in the Rockies.
The toughest part for Ruben was spending five nights in a tent with no shower.
Lessons from Kilimanjaro
4 – Ruben Carried the Olympic Torch
at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
The theme of the Salt Lake City Olympics was “Light the Fire Within.” It was all about inspiring people to pursue their dreams.
Ruben was selected to carry the Olympic Torch during the 2002 Salt Lake City Torch Run because of his inspiring Olympic story.
After listening to Ruben’s story, people are inspired to face their fears. People walk out of Ruben’s talk thinking, “If THAT guy could make it to the Olympics then we can do ANYTHING!”
5 – Ruben’s Story is in Jack Canfield’s Bestselling Book, “The Success Principles.”
When Jack Canfield heard about Ruben’s Olympic story, he used it to illustrate three of the success principles in his bestselling book: Principle# 4 – Believing (Your Dream) is Possible, Principle #13 – Taking Action, and Principle #63 – Start Now!…Just Do It!
“Ruben has a unique ability to motivate and challenge his audiences. His compelling story provokes us all to set and reach lofty goals!”
Jack Canfield – Author of “The Success Principles”
6 – Ruben has Traveled to over 50 Countries.
Ever since he was a child, Ruben always loved airports. Between his athletic career and his speaking career, he’s gotten to visit lots of them.
Ruben speaks fluent Spanish, some French, German, Italian and good Pig-Latin, so he makes friends wherever he goes. International audiences love Ruben’s presentations because he can relate to people from around the world.
Ruben’s client list reads like a Global Corporate Who’s Who. He’s spoken in Japan, France, Canada, Poland, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, South Africa, Spain, USA, Panama, Sweden, Tanzania, Vietnam, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Colombia.
7 – Ruben has Flown Aerobatics in a
World War II Airplane over the Pacific.
Ruben is a private pilot. After a speaking engagement in California, he got to fly a 1933 Stearman Biplane over the Pacific. In between loops and barrel rolls, he chased whales along the coast. Ruben says that since you only live once you’d better make your life an adventure everywhere you go.
8 – Ruben Jumped out of an Airplane
in South Africa.
On a long flight to South Africa for another speaking engagement, Ruben thought, “Skydiving in South Africa, that has a nice ring to it.”
After his presentation to a group of insurance salesmen, he jumped off a perfectly good plane and got to see South Africa in a unique way – from the top down.
9 – Ruben Rappelled down a 23 Story Hotel.
After speaking at a convention in Houston, Ruben climbed to the top of the hotel and rappelled down to a crowd of people below.
You never know what may happen when you bring Ruben to speak for you.
10 – Ruben Builds Libraries in Third-World Countries.
Books changed Ruben’s life.
Ruben uses part of the proceeds from the sale of his books to build libraries in Third-World countries. He’s built libraries in Vietnam, India, and South Africa.
Education is the best way to help people better themselves. Every time you buy one of Ruben’s books, you get inspired to pursue your dreams and you help people around the world create a better life.
11 – Ruben was Born in Argentina
and Raised in the US.
Ruben speaks fluent Spanish.
In fact, The Napoleon Hill Foundation hired Ruben to do the Spanish voice-over for the audio book version of “Think and Grow Rich.” Ruben’s also written the foreword to the Spanish version of the “Think and Grow Rich” book.
Although 95% Ruben delivers his presentations to English speaking audiences, a few times a year he speaks in Latin America or in Spain. You could say Ruben goes both ways… Spanish and English, that is!
Don't Leave Your People's Success to Chance
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Help your people live up to their full potential and excel at work.
Bring Ruben in to help your people experience a breakthrough.
You’re Hispanic? Where were you born?
I was born in Argentina. My dad was a chemical engineer for Exxon and we moved to the states when I was six years old. I was an oil-brat. We lived in Queens, NY for a couple of years, then Houston, then Venezuela, then back to Houston. I lived in Houston for about 30 years. I love the people in Houston but I never liked the heat and humidity so in 2010 we moved to Colorado Springs.
I love the Springs – four seasons, beautiful hiking trails at the base of the Rockies, and it’s a lot smaller than Houston so there’s not nearly the traffic.
But it’s growing, so who knows? We might have to move to Wyoming or Montana some day…
Where did you go to school?
I went to Houston Baptist University. My parents wanted me to be a doctor and I was a pre-med student but being a doctor wasn’t in my heart and it showed in my grades.
I jokingly say that I’m saving lives by NOT being a doctor because you don’t want me operating on you.
What was your favorite subject and why?
I was always intrigued by what makes people succeed in life. What makes them accomplish great things.
When I was 12, my dad encouraged me to read biographies. He said that if I read about the lives of great people, I would figure out what worked and what didn’t work in life because success leaves clues. He said that the answers were in the books.
I still love reading biographies, personal development and leadership books because they help me become better so that I can create a better future.
What did you learn from reading biographies?
I learned that successful people are perseverant. They understand that everything is hard in the beginning, so they stay in the game long enough to learn some skills, and they use those skills to reach their goals.
After reading many biographies I made a decision that I would never quit. By high school, my nickname was bulldog, because I had become so tenacious. The decision to never quit has served me well over the years.
Here’s a tip to help you keep on keeping on.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
“Full effort equals full victory.”
In other words, learn to base your self worth on the quality of the effort you are putting in, not on your daily results, because true success takes a long time to achieve. If you do this, you’ll have the strength to power through the days when you feel like quitting.
Who inspires you?
I get inspired by people who overcome great odds to reach their goals and dreams. People like Helen Keller, Mother Theresa, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela.
Those people take my excuses away and inspire me to work harder.
Who inspired you to become an Olympian?
When I was 10 years old I was watching the Olympics on TV for the first time and I knew that I wanted to become an Olympian, but it was a pipe-dream because I’m not a great athlete. I have a lot of heart but no body to go with it. I was always the last kid picked to play sports in school.
Since I didn’t believe it was possible, I didn’t do anything.
Eleven years later, when I was 21, I was watching the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics on TV and I saw tiny Scott Hamilton win the Gold Medal in figure skating.
Scott Hamilton inspired me. I said to myself, “If that little guy can win, I can at least play. I’ll be in the next Olympics. It’s a done deal. I just have to find a sport.”
Why did you want to become an Olympian?
When I saw the Olympics for the first time I realized that the Olympians were a group of people that were willing to commit to their dream for years and years with no guarantees of success.
I admired that attitude so much that I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. It was never about the medals for me. I just wanted to be one of those guys.
Why did you pick the sport of luge?
Even though I lived in hot and humid Houston, I knew that I needed to pick a sport that fit my strengths.
My strength wasn’t athleticism, I was just an OK athlete. My strength was perseverance. I was bulldog.
So I decided to pick a sport that was so tough, a sport with so many broken bones, that there would be a lot of quitters. Only I wouldn’t quit. That’s how I picked the luge.
I went to Lake Placid, and four years and a few broken bones later I was competing in the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
Why did you become a professional speaker?
I used to sell copiers in downtown Houston. A couple of months before the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, a fifth grade kid from my neighborhood asked me if I would be his “show and tell” project when I came back from the Olympics.
Unbeknownst to me, the Principal turned “show and tell” into an assembly. When I saw all those kids I thought I was going to die. I told them my story and gave them some pointers on how they could realize their dreams.
Afterwards, the Principal said I had a gift and that I needed to speak professionally. I had always wanted to have my own business and I thought, “If I can sell a copier, I can sell a Ruben.” I quit my job three days later (which I don’t recommend) and I started speaking full time.
It all started with an elementary school student. From the mouth of babes…
What’s your favorite thing about being a speaker?
I get to share some of the success principles I learned on the way to the Olympics and through my story, I become the audience’s Scott Hamilton.
My story takes their excuses away and I become a voice in their minds cheering them on when they feel like giving up. It’s like I’m sprinkling Pixie-dust on them.
People walk out of my talks thinking, “If that guy could make it to the Olympics, I can do anything!”
When I get an email from someone who heard me speak, got inspired and went on to reach their goal I feel like I just won a Gold Medal because I realize that I created a ripple effect of success.
What are some of your favorite books?
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” – Dale Carnegie
“The Power of Positive Thinking” – Norman Vincent Peale
“The Magic of Thinking Big” – David Schwartz
“The Success Principles” – Jack Canfield
“Create Your Own Future” – Brian Tracy
What’s your favorite podcast?
“How I Built This” is my favorite one right now. Guy Raz interviews people who started businesses that have become iconic. The interviews focus on the years of struggle.
Listening to those stories reminds me that success might be simple but it’s not easy. You have to be willing to fight for your dream. You have what it takes but it’s going to take everything you’ve got.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”
– General George Patton
“If you are going through hell … keep going!”
– Winston Churchill
What’s your favorite TV show?
Blue Bloods, specially the part where the Reagans are sitting at the Sunday dinner table discussing what’s going on in their lives. They talk about things like character, and doing the right thing even when you’d rather take the easy way out.
I also like watching Food Network’s show Chopped. I enjoy cooking and I’m always amazed by the contestants’ creativity.
I guess I just like shows that involve food…
What’s your favorite movie?
I love inspirational movies because they fuel my spirit and make me stronger. Some of my favorites are: Miracle, Rudy, Invincible, Rocky and The Right Stuff.
What’s your favorite type of music?
I listen to different types of music at different times.
When I’m working, I listen to classical or instrumental because if someone is singing in English or Spanish, I get distracted by the lyrics. I also like listening to Bollywood Indian music while working because it’s upbeat and I can’t understand the lyrics so I don’t get distracted.
I like watching videos of Queen and Tina Turner because they were so incredible on stage. Tina and Freddie owned their audiences. I also like Johnny Cash a lot. Especially when driving long distances. I also enjoy Euro-pop like Eiffel 65 and Italian dance music. I guess I picked that up when luging in Europe.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Being originally from Argentina, I love grilled beef.
The dining hall in the Salt Lake City Olympic Village had a case filled with steaks. You could pick any steak and the chef would grill it for you. The first 10 days I was there I had steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thirty consecutive steak meals.
On the eleventh day I decided to try something different to mix it up. But after that meal I ended up going back to the steaks.
I enjoy grilling Argentine style, burning oak wood to make embers and using the embers to cook. This picture is of some short ribs, Italian sausage, and chicken I grilled for some friends. You always have to have homemade chimichurri!
When you were a kid, what was your favorite thing to do with your family?
I loved going on road trips with my family. Getting in a car together and driving to a new destination was an exciting adventure for me that got me to enjoy all kinds of travel.
Between my athletic career and my speaking, I’ve gotten to visit over 50 countries.
Many speakers complain about all the travel in this business but I love it. I’m grateful to get to travel around the world because travel is still an adventure for me.
What’s your favorite board game?
Ticket to Ride by far.
It doesn’t take too long, it’s basically a race so there’s tension, and it’s easy to teach to new players.
What do you like to do at home with your family?
I like playing board games, backgammon, card games and ping pong with my kids. We have a basket filled with about 100 ping pong balls so we can make the most of our play and practice time.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
After 30 years in Houston going from one AC to another to escape the heat, now that I live in Colorado, I like working in the yard.
We live on seven acres so there’s always something to do – pruning trees, mowing the back acres with the tractor, seeding, mending fences, etc.
Mowing the lawn is one of the few things you can do that gives you immediate gratification. You work for a couple of hours, then you can sit back, have an iced tea and feel good about the difference you made.
What the best advice you have ever received?
A couple of months after I started my speaking business a mentor of mine told me: “Don’t try to be perfect. Perfectionists never get anything done. Just throw mud on the wall. Some of it will stick. We can clean up the mess later.”
Here’s another good one.
Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. That’s what successful people do because they understand that whatever you focus on will get bigger in your life.
What’s the secret of your success?
If you have to cross a mine field, it makes sense to follow someone who’s already crossed it.
No matter what I want to accomplish, I find someone who’s already done what I want to do and ask them for help. I pick their brain. I humble myself to their leadership. Then I work my tail off and refuse to quit.
Many people won’t seek out a mentor because they think they’ll be imposing. As long as you’re willing to apply what your mentor teaches you and you’re willing to work hard and refuse to quit – as long as you are serious about achieving your goal and not simply an eternal learner, you won’t be wasting their time.
Here’s why. You know how you always hear people say things like, “He’s successful but he’s empty inside” or “She’s successful, but she’s not happy, she’s always looking for something else”?
You know why that is? It’s because success isn’t the Gold Medal. Success is the Silver Medal. The Gold medal is significance. Significance means you made a difference. The way to achieve significance is to help others reach their goals. It makes you feel good inside because you created a ripple effect of success. You made a difference.
As your mentor shows you how to get the Silver Medal, you’re helping your mentor get the Gold Medal.