Mario Rodriguez is President & CEO of Forseti Protection Group, one of the nation’s leading security and risk management firms, with offices in Boston, Massachusetts and, Buffalo, New York.
Mario started in a law enforcement career, reaching the rank of Sergeant, and was responsible for personal mentoring and professionally developing over 300 officers. During this time, Mario worked for other security firms while off duty and it was through this experience, he learned the business from the ground up. Recognizing the need for innovation and a client-first approach, Mario transitioned from law enforcement to Forseti Protection Group in 2012. Today, Forseti Protection Group has service-driven employees serving customers that include hospitals, nonprofit groups, hotels, college campuses, retail, and manufacturing, among others. Recognized as a security and law enforcement expert, Mario is also an adjunct professor of criminal justice at a local college in Buffalo, New York. As a father of two young children, Mario is passionate about keeping the community safe and making an exponential impact in underserved communities.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Mario Rodriguez: I am the current President of a Minority-owned Security firm in Boston, Massachusetts and, Buffalo, New York. I am a father of two young children and an adjunct professor at a local college in Buffalo, New York. I transitioned from my previous career in the public sector to the private sector as an opportunity to help my community and make an exponential impact in areas I believed were being left behind. Far too many organizations were being taken advantage of by security firms, providing poor quality or inexperienced personnel. I felt it my duty to change the security landscape and truly help protect our schools, businesses and, community.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Mario Rodriguez: Entrepreneurs are both born and made. I believe they are made due to hunger/desperation. When you take a chance on opening your business or trying to determine if leaving your 9-5 is the right decision it is oftentimes out of hunger/desperation. These driving forces are what separates the successful ones from those who give in. We are also born with this mentality, it just takes certain circumstances for us to let it shine through.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Mario Rodriguez: Brash. Intentional. Decisive.
The majority of entrepreneurs are Type A people. Many do not mince words when it comes to takes or expectations. However, it is our ability to adapt and be tactful in our wording that allows us to properly lead our teams to win collectively.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Mario Rodriguez: Forseti Protection Group is a security risk management firm. In 2012 when we started, we focused on security camera installations, private investigations, and physical security. In 2016, we noticed a trend of government funding being spent on active shooter prevention and higher security measures. This foresight allowed us to pivot and begin offering security risk management services including training, assessments, and more to the public sector and close the security gap. From 2016 to – present date, we have added additional services including drone assessments and enhanced physical security training.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Mario Rodriguez: Two things: Risk and It’s all on you.
First, the risk is a common theme in the life of an entrepreneur. If you have the mentality of “what if I lose it all,” you will. That is a loser’s mentality. You will lose it all. Risk is the challenge you must embrace and challenge yourself to overcome. Second, everything is on you. That means you must continue to challenge yourself to become a better version of yourself to elevate and get to a new level all the time. If you do not invest time and energy in becoming a better you, meaning you do not read books, you do not attend seminars, you do not network. You will not become successful or be viewed as a leader by your team.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Mario Rodriguez: Yes, but Everyone does. The biggest assumption to make early on is you have to throw a ton at marketing and every client is amazing and necessary. Neither is true. Coming in with the “Yes we can do that” answer for every client, and trying to please all of them, makes your business fail. You need to be the focus, be in your niche, know your goals, plans, numbers and stay the course.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Mario Rodriguez: Bet on you.
You will be challenged every step of the way. Majority of the time you want to quit. Don’t quit. Bet on you and know you have what it takes to navigate the shark-infested water and come out on top.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Mario Rodriguez: Have a plan B. I had an aunt that called me and wanted to me apply for a banking job. 9-5, clean-shaven, corporate. It was her plan B for me.
I declined. Plan B is a setup for failure. Plan A is the only plan. Execute it.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Mario Rodriguez: The cost of operating a business has gone up because of Covid-19. Other factors impact that number as well, but covid-19 is a major factor. If you are coming in penny-pinching or do not have a clear itemized budget on what expense goes where, including staples for the stapler, ink for the printer, you will be hit with costs unforeseen and will go belly up.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Mario Rodriguez: Instagram has tricked everyone in to thinking entrepreneurship is all about traveling, time off, fancy cars. If all you do is party, who’s really getting things done in your business? Your name is on it. Your brand is on it. Everything is about reputation and if you are easily distracted by flashy things, guys like me will out work you everyday.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Mario Rodriguez: Stubborn. Relentless. Thoughtful. Leader.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Mario Rodriguez: You should be around people doing more than you are. If you want to have a million-dollar business, you need to be around $1million – $5 million dollar business people. You need to have discipline and habits that lead you to that success. Reading books that executives are reading is key. Guys like Patrick Bet David or Tai Lopez share their reading list. Use it and get value from everything you can.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Mario Rodriguez: Wow, great question. I would be a farmer. I would love the acres, outdoors, animals and nature.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Mario Rodriguez: Thomas Edison. His inventions have allowed people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or JP Morgan, and Henry Ford to be able to create many of the things we have come to rely on today. He has impacted the world more than we realize.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Mario Rodriguez for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Mario Rodriguez or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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