Give Back – Friends, Family, Mentors

This is another item that I try my best to always remember. When I say give back I am not speaking about monetarily, I mean recognizing the people who have influenced you throughout your journey. The people who have supported you and believe in your crazy ideas when no one else did. The people who never gave up on you, even after your 1023rd idea! The people who lent you money to start something that they didn't even understand, yet just knew that it meant something because you said so.

For me, this is actually a long list. I must begin my honoring my mother Maria Soto. She has been there for me both financially and emotionally from day one. She has always supported my ideas, no matter how silly they were. She helped me finance myTripz early on, as well as many other projects. In fact, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be in the web 2.0 space today.

Another person who has made a huge impact on my life was a gentleman by the name of Peter Atwal. Peter was a technology entrepreneur, VC, and wonderful business mind who took me under his wing, while I was a young energetic college student. Peter, his son Alex, and I worked on a wireless Internet start up in the early days of WiFi. It was a phenomenal experience which really gave me a direction in my entrepreneurial life towards technology.

Lee Kitchen, or as we called him during my days studying abroad in Spain, Senor Cocina. Lee was a very special man who taught me so much about business and thinking out of the box. This funny thing is that he taught through real life stories. He inspired me to be great. Lee has a unique way of making you feel special. Lee was the BEST professor I have ever had and a wonderful friend.

Then there's Sid Bhatt, who I met on a plane heading back from a one of my father's business trips almost a decade ago. Sid was actually sitting in between my father and I and offered to move over. We somehow started chatting about technology and start ups, and then a few years later we founded together. Although Sid and I have had our ups and downs over the years, Sid taught me so much about business and working hard. Sid is dedicated to succeeding and frankly, I could have never done myTripz without him, period. He is a super sharp human being who learns quickly and is willing to take huge risks.

Brian Ross and The Southwestern Company Experience - What can I say about Mr. Brian Ross. Brian was the best sales manager I have ever come across. He understood how to conduct himself appropriately and with class at all times. I have never seen him slacking or disorganized. More importantly, Brian is REAL leader. He understands how to delegate by inspiring people to want to get things done and by showing them how the feeling of accomplishment is one of the most powerful energies in life. Lastly, Brian is a phenomenal public speaker; in fact I wish to be half the speak he is one day.

Julio Hernandez, my dear friend. Julio is an inspirational leader, who's always looking to help others and has been leading for as long as I have known him; which has been since middle school!

Jim "JP" Payne, a true friend and one of the most brilliant minds that I have ever met. JP has been a very influencial person in my life both as a friend and business partner. In fact, I have learned so much about the web space from him.

Last but not least, my father Jorge A Soto. My dad is an amazing man. In fact, he has always been an amazing father and person. And although he is not aware of it, he's a pretty dam good business man too. He owns consulting company that is engaged in providing companies with employee counseling and training services. He has been a great example of a hard worker and man of integrity.