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Josh Leyva: American entrepreneur

Josh Leyva founder of Salud, Model, Influencer
Entrepreneur, Influencer, and Founder of Salud, Josh Leyva / Photo courtesy of Josh Leyva
This article was written by Benjamin Davison.

The American Dream is all about success. Regardless of the circumstances of our births, regardless of where we grew up or who raised us, Americans believe in the power of dreams. More to the point, we believe that hard work and persistence can bring our dreams from nebulous ideas that live in our heads to real-world successes. But in a world that seems to insist on having problems like income inequality and social injustice, can we still believe in the American Dream? Can someone still come from humble origins and become wildly successful, or are there just too many obstacles?

Josh Leyva’s story proves that the American Dream is still very much alive and well. Raised by a single mother who faced countless struggles, Leyva parlayed his charisma, work ethic, and solid upbringing into massive success. His YouTube channel has nearly 2 million subscribers. His Instagram account has more than 600,000 followers. His reach is better than that of many companies. Aerospace giant Boeing has a paltry 641,000 subscribers on YouTube; Publix, the Southeast’s favorite grocery chain, has only about a third as many Instagram followers as Leyva.

Clearly, Leyva’s influence is massive and growing. But he’s not done yet. Leyva has begun pivoting away from the world of viral videos and Instagram posts and towards a more traditional form of entrepreneurship, partnering with nutrition and wellness experts to create a brand of hydration products targeted to an underserved demographic. His success in this venture, like with his experiments in social media, seems assured. Who is Josh Leyva, and how did he become such a grand example of the American Dream?

Josh Leyva founder of Salud, Model, InfluencerEntrepreneur, Influencer, and Founder of Salud, Josh Leyva / Photo courtesy of Josh Leyva

Who is Josh Leyva?

It’s easy to caricature social media influencers as self-absorbed and out of touch, much like Schitt’s Creek’s Alexis Rose. But like any caricature, these portrayals are often unfair and reliant on outdated stereotypes. Leyva is no simple caricature. “I would say I’m a son, a brother, a friend, an entrepreneur, and an entertainment content creator, in that order,” he says. He doesn’t take himself too seriously: you’re not likely to find Leyva fussing at a barista, inflating his importance, or making mountains out of molehills. He cares about what other people think — any successful marketer has to — but he doesn’t define himself by the opinions of others. He’s not so consumed by the fear of what others think that he won’t take a chance on something new or different. “I highly care about what other people think about me, but I’m willing to take the risk and see what happens,” he explains.

That willingness to put himself out there and see what happens regardless of the risk is a trademark characteristic of successful entrepreneurs of all stripes. Accepting failure as a possibility — or even as an inevitability — helps one take a healthy attitude toward the very real risks of entrepreneurship. Accepting the possibility of failure helps one cultivate a positive mental attitude where failure is viewed, not as an undesirable end-point where dreams go to die, but rather as an opportunity to learn and grow. Accepting that failure is a plausible ending for your venture helps you develop a realistic mindset and prime yourself to learn and grow even in the face of doom.

“The way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.” – Miyamoto Musashi

Not that we’re implying that failure in a business venture is akin to death. Unless your business venture involves dealings with organized crime, failure in business is unlikely to lead to your death. Instead, failure is an opportunity to learn and grow, to reevaluate and consider lessons learned and try again. Leyva’s willingness to put himself out there and persist even in the face of possible failure is a trait that any aspiring influencer or entrepreneur should strive to develop.

But how did Leyva develop his upbeat attitude, his willingness to put himself out there? Where did these traits come from? Is it something he was born with, or can anyone develop these abilities?

Life lessons from Josh’s mother

Like many of us, Leyva was raised by his mom. His dad was never in the picture, and his mom took on the role of family leader in his absence. Despite a life full of personal struggles and tragedies, his mom persevered, carried on, and leaned into her role as the family matriarch. She was unfailingly supportive of her children from a young age. As a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, Leyva’s mother faced challenges that many of us can only imagine: language barriers, prejudices, cultural challenges, and more. And yet she continually maneuvered herself and her family into better situations, always maintained an upbeat attitude, always kept a positive spin for her kids.

The presence of a strong and positive family leader helped Leyva develop an ability to dream big. At age six, he announced to his family that one day, he was going to be the president. This goal, Leyva says, was not specifically about being the president: most six-year-olds don’t really understand who the president is or what they do. Rather, the goal of being president was a declaration of ambition. There’s no bigger job than being the president. To Leyva, saying he was going to be the president was more about dreaming big, expressing ambition, saying that he believed in himself and that he could do literally anything.

As time went on, Leyva’s goals changed. The timing of his life meant that he grew up in the early days of social media. When he began pursuing content creation in his early days, his mother didn’t fully understand what he was doing: like many parents who grew up without the internet, the idea of making a name for yourself online was completely alien to her. But true to her form, she remained supportive. “She said, if this is what makes you happy, if this is what you’re driven and called to do, then do it and go all in.” Not many entrepreneurs, especially social media and web entrepreneurs, can honestly say they’ve experienced that level of support from their family.

Josh Leyva founder of Salud, Model, Influencer
Entrepreneur, Influencer, and Founder of Salud, Josh Leyva / Photo courtesy of Josh Leyva

Keeping it real

Social media influencing and the internet more broadly can be surreal. Anyone who’s seen an influencer taking photos in the street, or watched someone painstakingly arrange the individual strands of their pasta to achieve the perfect #foodstagram shot, knows that the real world and the internet don’t always coincide. Despite making his name online, Leyva has managed to keep himself grounded firmly in reality. Humility and humanity are the name of his game, no matter how many shirtless photos he might post on Instagram. His sense of humility was instilled by his mother, who taught him to value other people regardless of their station. “My mom always said, never underestimate anybody. You can tell a lot about a person’s character by the way they treat somebody who can do nothing for them, whether that be a janitor or regular everyday people. I always made sure I lead with that when I talked with people, no matter how much my popularity grew with social media. That’s something I really valued and paid attention to.”

Indeed, as Leyva’s social media presence has blossomed and his business has grown, he’s maintained a focus on servant leadership. Servant leadership is an inversion of the traditional leadership model. Rather than the leader being the top of the pyramid with a collection of underlings to serve their needs, servant leaders possess a mindset that places service to others first. Instead of commanding their teams, they seek to serve them and help them grow. Instead of being authoritative, they show humility. Servant leaders strive to develop their teams in a way that will help them unlock their potential and their sense of purpose. This style of leadership is fruitful: companies who develop a culture of servant leadership see performance gains far above companies who maintain a traditional, authoritative leadership model.

Leyva applies servant leadership by asking himself, “How can I help the people around me?” Rather than employing a photographer just to shoot photos, Leyva wants his cameraman to be able to gain something useful from their relationship. His assistants and employees aren’t just there to perform a simple task or service for him: he wants to cultivate a meaningful relationship with them and help them grow and thrive in their roles.

Crucially, Leyva’s dedication to a servant philosophy also extends to his audience. While some influencers and entrepreneurs view their customers as elements of a larger transaction, Leyva views his fans and followers as human beings. “I want to make sure I do everything I can to let them know that they are understood and valued, and they’re deeply appreciated not just for being my fans, but for being alive and being a human.”

This is reflected in Leyva’s content. He strives to connect with his audience and develop a connection with them. His goal is not just to get likes or views, but to establish a connection over a shared interest, whether that’s explaining a specific kind of exercise or cultivating attention to personal fitness or style. While many on the web today turn to dark psychology to cultivate and maintain an audience, Leyva eschews this bland brand of evil in favor of authentic human connection. His warmth and sincerity are evident even when conveyed through bits and pixels, and that glimpse of real humanity amidst the superficial glitz of the internet is what has helped set his particular brand apart from the masses.

It wasn’t always like this

It might seem like Leyva was destined for success from the beginning. Between his charisma and his strong upbringing, it’s hard to imagine that things could have turned out any other way. But it wasn’t always like this. Leyva struggled for many years with terrible social anxiety. “I was eating lunch in the bathroom stalls by myself. I felt like I was awkward. I was scared to really put myself out there.”

Leyva’s familiarity with the sensation of being left out or not fitting in has become one of the very things that drives him. It’s deeply fulfilling, Leyva says, when he hears back from members of his audience who have been touched in some way by what he has done. Whether someone has decided to embark on a new fitness journey, try a new sense of style, or make healthier food choices, Leyva finds fulfillment in knowing that he has inspired someone or changed their outlook on a given topic. More importantly, Leyva enjoys connecting with his fans because he understands the value of human connection — and the consequences of not having it. “When I was growing up, I didn’t feel listened to or appreciated by anyone except my mom.” The hurt he feels from his father, who abandoned the family before Leyva was even born, has carried through into his adult life. But where it once caused him pain, it now drives him to connect. Leyva knows that his experience isn’t unique: plenty of people in the world are hurting and seeking that sense of human-to-human connection. Being intimately familiar with the real pain that loneliness and disaffection can cause, Leyva wants to shield others from that very real and very unpleasant feeling. While many, some would say most, modern influencers live for the dopamine rush of getting a new follower, Leyva’s motivation is rooted instead in a desire to help people find a sense of authentic human connection that is often missing in today’s world.

On top of his drive to connect, Leyva genuinely wants to help his audience. His objective is to use his platform to help inspire people to become the best version of themselves. His desire to connect with other people and help his followers actualize their best selves ties back into his sense of servant leadership. His mission is not just to obtain internet points or some artificial sense of popularity, but rather to help people feel good about themselves and build up their own confidence. His acute familiarity with the pain of social anxiety, the feeling of not fitting in or of being rejected by others, helps drive him to create content that will help others improve their own self-image.

Josh Leyva founder of Salud, Model, Influencer
Entrepreneur, Influencer, and Founder of Salud, Josh Leyva / Photo courtesy of Josh Leyva

Early influence

Leyva’s transformation from socially anxious high-school student to social media influencer and entrepreneur didn’t happen overnight. Like so many modern success stories, Leyva’s origins can be traced back to YouTube. More than a decade ago, Leyva stumbled across the YouTube channel of Eric Ochoa, known as SUPEReeeGO. Ochoa’s channel is targeted to a Hispanic audience, with a lot of jokes and references that are specifically intended to resonate with people of Mexican heritage. When Leyva found Ochoa’s videos, he was completely entranced. “I connected with him because he’s very similar to me. He’s Hispanic. There’re so many parallels to our personalities and our sense of humor. So, I became a massive fan of his.”

Ochoa’s videos at the time were somewhat amateur in terms of production value and processing, but that sense of being real and authentic helped drive a sense of connection. Ochoa’s work wasn’t highly-polished, overproduced, or professionally written to appeal to a specific audience: they were just funny videos shot by a real guy who had similar life experiences as Leyva. “They were super low budget and looked like they were shot with a potato, but they were just raw and real,” says Leyva.

The experience of finding someone online with whom he resonated was deeply meaningful for Leyva. When he found Ochoa’s channel, Leyva was struggling with loneliness, shyness, and difficulty in connecting with others. Finding someone whose content spoke to him helped Leyva begin to come out of his shell.

As the fates would have it, it turned out that Ochoa lived within about 15 miles of Leyva. Ochoa’s videos featured a real-life cast of his friends and family, many of whom would take on recurring roles. One of Leyva’s favorites was a character known as Sleepy Mom, who appeared in several videos as Ochoa’s best friend’s mom — on whom Ochoa’s character had a major crush. One day, while out at a shopping mall in town, Leyva stumbled across Sleepy Mom in person. As soon as he recognized her, Leyva decided that he wanted to approach her and express his fandom and appreciation for her work. But as he approached her, he began having doubts and anxieties about talking to her, worrying that he might seem weird. As he was approaching her, the two locked eyes — but the moment passed and they did not connect. Sleepy Mom left the mall and went into a restaurant called Lazy Dogs.

Leyva almost gave up, but he decided he had to shoot his shot. He scoured Lazy Dogs, but much to his dismay, Sleepy Mom had disappeared. Disappointed, Leyva returned home. On the drive, he realized that he could try another approach. He sent Sleepy Mom a message on Facebook, explaining that he had seen her but he was too shy to say hello, and that he really appreciated her work and thought she was great. Much to his surprise, she wrote back: she remembered him from the mall, and the two began to talk and connect. Her birthday happened to be around the time they connected, and Leyva managed to escalate their conversation into dinner and a real friendship.

Eventually, Leyva was brought into Ochoa’s circle. Sleepy Mom introduced the two, and Ochoa took a liking to Leyva, recognizing his warmth and his sense of humor. Ochoa encouraged Leyva to begin producing YouTube videos, showing him the ropes of video production, scripting, directing, and editing. Much to Leyva’s surprise, he found a passion for making videos. “Once I started, I was hooked, obsessed. I was like, man, this feels so good,” Leyva explains. At the time, he had been in the traditional workforce for a few years in various jobs. Like most traditional workers, he found modern work unfulfilling and joyless. The contrast between laboring for someone else and producing content on his own couldn’t have been more stark. After producing his very first YouTube video, Leyva says, he recognized a new feeling: “I was born to do this. I just felt full of joy and passion. I felt like I found purpose. I developed this eagerness to want to create, and to challenge myself to see how far I could take it with content creating.”

Josh Leyva founder of Salud, Model, Influencer
Entrepreneur, Influencer, and Founder of Salud, Josh Leyva / Photo courtesy of Josh Leyva

A teacher’s influence

While Ochoa was probably the most significant influence in Leyva’s choice to become a content creator, there was one other person who affected his decision to enter the entertainment industry. In his senior year of high school, Leyva’s guidance counselor told him he needed an extra class. Short on ideas, the counselor decided that Leyva would be a good fit for the school’s theater company. Anybody who has been to public high school in the United States will know that joining the school theater troupe is usually not a good way to build clout among your peers, and Leyva certainly knew that such a move would require extraordinary social courage — something which, at that tender age, he was lacking.

Fortunately for Leyva, he was gifted with two strokes of luck. First, he had a latent talent for entertaining that was hidden beneath layers of teenage insecurity and general social anxiety. Second, his theater teacher was not just phoning it in but was actually dedicated to her work. She spent time with him, encouraging him to act and affirming his abilities. “She really built my confidence, and I think she was a huge part of why I got into entertainment,” Leyva explains. “There’s all this pressure that you have to be great at it or know what you’re doing or you have to go all out, but sometimes you just have to show up and give yourself a chance. You have to be there and be present and not give up on yourself so quickly.”

Many high school students in Leyva’s situation might have opted for a different path. They might have skipped class, half-assed it, or demanded to be put into a different space. But Leyva showed up, engaged with his teacher, and made an effort. Leyva’s epiphany that the key to success is largely built on showing up is something that has long been discussed in entrepreneurial circles. You might have a great idea for a new product or service, but if you fail to show up and actualize your idea, it’s not even destined for the junk heap of history — it’s destined for oblivion, dead before it even sees the light of day. Showing up, being present, and making at least some kind of effort is literally the foundation of any successful entrepreneurial venture. Most of us don’t enjoy the luxury of having a dedicated and passionate teacher or mentor to guide us on our way, but even if we’re out in the wilderness without a guide, we can at least put ourselves out there and show up.

Finding a sense of purpose

As Leyva’s success has blossomed, his priorities have shifted. While YouTube launched him into success, he eventually found that platform less useful for helping others. “I was creating three to six videos a week, like nonstop. I started slowly going down to three videos a week, two videos a week, one a week. And I kind of realized that I was just posting to post, doing it because it was like my job. The joy and the passion weren’t there. I had a shift in my focus, I had to figure out, what’s the point of all this? What was the purpose behind it?”

Purpose is a nebulous concept. How does one find purpose in their work and life? It’s easy to mock influencers and social media stars who seek purpose, because society tends to view entertainers as less real than the rest of us. It’s easy to heap scorn on an Instagrammer for having no real purpose. But does the average corporate job have any real or meaningful purpose? Is sitting in a fabric box doing Excel spreadsheets compatible with your individual sense of purpose? Is sacrificing your time and energy in the name of making money for the shareholders of some faceless company an adequate expression of one’s purpose as a human being? Leyva’s struggle with purpose is no less valid or real because he is an influencer — any aspiring entrepreneur or professional should stop and think about their purpose. Beyond making a few bucks, what’s the purpose to what you’re doing?

The question of purpose is intangible, and for that reason, many modern professionals and organizations eschew any meaningful talk of purpose beyond perhaps a vague mission statement. However, purpose is critical. Anthony Burrow, a human development researcher at Cornell, says that purpose is essential if one wishes to develop and grow into a well-rounded person. A purpose differs from a goal in that it is less about achieving a specific objective and more about intention. Human beings with a sense of purpose tend to have longer and less sickly lives than those who are adrift and devoid of purpose. Purpose gives people a “sense of psychological homeostasis” that helps them maintain stability even in the face of uncomfortable or difficult circumstances. In other words, purpose helps people develop resiliency.

Purpose is equally important for businesses. Researchers at Harvard found that companies with a deep sense of purpose, who use that sense of purpose to drive their decision-making and their strategic choices, tend to be stronger performers. Purposeful companies are more innovative and tend to be better community partners. A business with a purpose beyond simply achieving profit for shareholders is likely to succeed more in the long-term than one with a myopic focus on money.

You may think that purposeful work and the work of a social media influencer are incongruous. There are many negative stereotypes about influencers, and it’s likely that most people would say that the purpose of your average influencer is little more than bumping their follower count and making a few more bucks. While some influencers may meet the stereotype of the vacuous, phone-wielding Instagram junkie, Leyva actually finds a deep sense of purpose and meaning in his work on social media.  “I’m always trying to create validation and acceptance,” Leyva says. At first, his platforms were mostly used for traditional purposes: Leyva is a skilled entertainer who can make people laugh and generate attention and views. But as his star rose, his follower counts climbing into the millions on YouTube and the hundreds of thousands on Instagram, Leyva found that he could leverage his success into providing validation and acceptance for the people around him. Leyva has always believed in engaging with his audience, whether that means responding to DMs or talking with people in the real world. Having the power of influence is another tool in his toolbox for helping others.

“Just being able to help other people that were trying to go in the same lane as me, bringing in a team around me and being able to lead and have a voice, helped fill that sense of purpose for me. It was less about trying to prove myself and more about serving and helping and using my platform for good.”  Leyva views content creation not just as a way to get attention or generate clout, but as a way to help the people in his milieu grow and advance, whether that’s giving tips to an aspiring influencer or helping his team grow professionally. The purpose, it seems, is less in the act of content creation and more in the ability to use his platforms to spread good and help people empower themselves.

Josh Leyva founder of Salud, Model, Influencer
Entrepreneur, Influencer, and Founder of Salud, Josh Leyva / Photo courtesy of Josh Leyva


As Leyva has pivoted away from YouTube and toward Instagram, he has rediscovered a sense of authenticity. “I felt like I always kind of had this character that I was portraying on social media, even when I was doing real-life videos. If I would do a video with my friend or something, I was still playing myself. It wasn’t genuine. So really trying to be more authentic and show more of my realness on social media is something I’m really striving for.”

Leyva’s yearning for authenticity ties back in to his sense of purpose. His yearning for a more authentic way to engage with the world reflects his knack for entrepreneurship. In a virtual world, people hunger for authenticity. We all know that brands are bullshitting us with their faux-concern for our problems while they actively lobby for the ability to do harm in the name of profit. Corporate inauthenticity and evil is all around us, whether companies are committing wage theft or causing environmental damages or profiteering from public water supplies. Modern people are aware that companies lie for their own benefit, and are becoming especially savvy in the digital space, where companies try to hide behind funny twitter accounts and other attempts at digital authenticity.

In this environment of falsehood, people crave real, authentic connections with real, authentic human beings. People want to see other people who are passionate about what they’re doing, who are in business not just to hustle a quick buck but for a deeper sense of purpose. Leyva’s determination to drive his business forward with authenticity is not just a business-savvy response to the increasingly surreal world that we live in, but a desire to be himself and to help others find validation and acceptance for who they are.

For Leyva, part of this involves leaning into his Hispanic heritage. “I know that about 90% of my audience is Hispanic. It’s something I appreciate, and I value that a lot and I really try to lean into that and speak directly to them.”

With that in mind, Leyva is finding new ways to add value to his audience’s lives. When he was growing up, Leyva often consumed agua fresca, a Hispanic beverage made with fruit, lime juice, and a lot of sugar. Agua fresca, Leyva notes, is often paired with the less-healthful side of Mexican cuisine: tacos, burritos, and other delicious yet unhealthy foods. As a health-conscious person, Leyva wanted to find a way to help people like him enjoy a more healthful lifestyle without compromising on traditional flavors or the enjoyment of a meal. While the health market is fairly saturated with products, Leyva points out that the health-food and health-supplement market is not really branded or marketed toward the Hispanic population. Leyva seized the opportunity to fill this massive hole in the market. He partnered with an experienced product developer, initially planning to make a pre-workout supplement targeted at Hispanic people. However, the market for fitness supplements is fairly saturated, and while Leyva is a healthy guy, he is not a fitness-oriented influencer. The perfect mix for Leyva — a healthy guy who takes his followers along on his everyday life — was a hydration supplement. “Once I started educating myself on hydration and its benefits, how it helps with your immunity and stuff like that, I was like, this just makes so much sense.”

The end result was Salud, a hydration and immunity supplement that mixes classic agua fresca flavors like hibiscus, mango, cucumber lime, and even horchata with electrolytes and immune-boosting supplements like elderberry. While hydration and immune health are not always considered “sexy” products, the fact is that good hydration and strong immune health are critical elements of maintaining one’s health, and without our health we have nothing.

Know your weaknesses

Josh Leyva is a classic American success story. The child of an immigrant, he grew up enmeshed in two cultures. Despite early challenges and insecurities, Leyva evolved from a young man whose social shyness left him eating lunch alone in a bathroom stall to a successful YouTuber and Instagram influencer who has his own line of nutritional supplements.

But what about Leyva’s weaknesses? After all, part of human development and success is learning to know yourself, the good and the bad. A careful analysis of our strengths and weaknesses can help us succeed: when we know what will play to our strong side and what might end up sending us down in flames, we know how to manage ourselves to optimize our chances for success.

Like so many entrepreneurs, Leyva has a weakness for perfection. Before launching a post, a reel, or a video, he feels the need to ensure that everything is perfect. While this drive for perfection does often lead to high-quality content, it can sometime cause friction with others on the team. Others may not share his sense of concern over minor details that don’t necessarily impact the final message, storyline, or product, but Leyva sometimes struggles to let go of the minor details. Sometimes, he’ll create a piece of content but fail to release it because the minor details become overwhelming. While he, like so many of us, is learning to let go, the struggle with perfectionism is real and pernicious.

Another relatable struggle that Leyva faces is that he cares too much about what other people think — a natural partner of perfectionism, his deep concern for the opinions of others can sometimes cause real-life struggles. “I think that kind of goes against being a leader, because you’ve got to go against the grain, you’ve got to trust yourself.” One of Leyva’s past girlfriends once belittled him for being a YouTuber, asking him, “Do you think I want to tell my family that my boyfriend is a YouTuber?” That kind of cutting remark, especially from someone like a romantic partner, can cause lasting psychological damage.

Leyva’s final weakness is highly relatable – a fear of failure. An example is his YouTube channel. “I’m afraid to tell people that I’m afraid to go back. I’m scared to listen to the criticism, read the comments. And I know there’s going to be a lot of love going back into it, but I know there’s going to be people saying things like ‘this guy fell off, this guy’s done,’ and it’s crazy because they don’t realize there are so many other great things happening in my life.” On the other hand, Leyva says, he realizes that time will fly, and that the future could look very different if he was to continue uploading and working — but that fear of failure is crippling, and real, and above all, relatable.

Josh Leyva founder of Salud, Model, Influencer
Entrepreneur, Influencer, and Founder of Salud, Josh Leyva / Photo courtesy of Josh Leyva

Advice for success

Leyva has self-awareness about his own particular weaknesses, but he didn’t get where he is today by fixating on them. His success has come, in many ways, from pivoting away from his weaknesses and choosing instead to engage with the world in a positive way. This is the first key to Leyva’s success: it flows from putting yourself out there.

“I would say, try anything and everything,” Leyva says. When he was in high school, back in his theater class, he was very self-contained, shy, afraid to put himself out there. But with coaching and encouragement from his teacher, he found his knack for entertaining. If he had hidden away from his discomfort, let his anxieties and his worry take the wheel, Josh Leyva might not be the man he is today: he could be holed up, hiding from the world, instead of being the successful influencer we know and love.

Leyva’s second piece of advice for success may seem especially challenging in today’s world of cascading bad news and endless access to doom-scrolling, especially if you skew a little pessimistic. Leyva recommends a steady diet of positivity. “There’s so much negativity in the world with social media, people just talking shit or whatever. But finding good things around you, whether it’s listening to motivational videos or asking people for good books that they recommend that can really add value to their life and start changing the way they think is going to aid massively.” While this may sound cliche, there is strong evidence that your mental state is deeply affected by your internal narrative, which is in turn fed by your information diet. Sure, it’s important to engage with the world and the realities we face. Climate change, social injustices, ongoing health crises, political instability, and the other ongoing crises that define life in the 2020’s are not going to go away, and they are going to affect our lives, and so we must engage with them. It’s critical, however, to balance your information diet with positivity. Feed yourself things that spark your joy. Find things that set you up for happy thoughts. Spend some time looking at pictures of kittens, reading something motivational, or simply reflecting with gratitude on the blessings in your life. “I take like ten minutes to sit and be quiet, be grateful, have gratitude and read something that adds value and sets me up so much nicer for my day.”

Finally, Leyva recommends developing an understanding that failure is very much an option — and then finding the courage to carry on anyway. The world-famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, “Courage means you’re afraid, but you do it anyway.” Developing that sense of courage, being willing to engage with something even though failure is a possibility, is critical for success. Whether you’re starting a wine bar, a blog, a YouTube channel, or a trucking company, there’s a real possibility of failure. But you have to do it anyway! Bad things might happen, you might fail, but if you never develop the courage to at least try, your failure is guaranteed. No business fails harder than one that never launches. Building a sense of courage is essential for success — if Leyva had never taken the leap and begun putting videos out there, he would likely be an unknown figure today, and he certainly would not be the topic of our discussion.

Focus on what matters most

If you’re reading this, you are a person who strives for success. Josh Leyva is an aspirational model for anybody who craves success in entrepreneurship. His story, rising from an ordinary life to become a highly successful entrepreneur and influencer, is one we can all admire. His lessons, that we have to put ourselves out there, stay positive, and build our sense of courage, apply no matter what kind of ventures we’re trying to launch. But Leyva’s most important piece of advice isn’t about how to make better content or optimize your business model: it’s about how to balance your life.

Success isn’t just material. It’s about how we feel about ourselves, how we live our life, whether the way we live matches our own internal values. In the end, Leyva says, the key to being personally fulfilled is to make sure you make time for the people around you who really matter. Producing content or hustling new clients is important for any entrepreneur, any businessperson, but if you’re doing that at the expense of the people who really matter, can you truly say you’re successful? Making that contact call is critical, but it’s critical to be at the dinner table with the ones you love. Because while business partners, customers, and investors come and go, your family is forever.

One of the biggest lessons we can learn from Leyva is that the people who really matter in life don’t care about your success: they will love you unconditionally, whether your YouTube channel has three subscribers or two million. Your loved ones should push you and challenge you to be your best, but they’ll be there for you if you fail. They’ll still value you and accept you whether your business is making millions or about to go under. Those connections, the connections with the people we love, are the single most important thing for any entrepreneur to nourish, because they’re the ones that matter most. If you want to find success and fulfillment, Leyva says, you should focus on being with those people and nurturing those essential relationships. “I love life, I love living. I love being around people who also love life. Making time to be around those people is the top of the list…I will prioritize life before anything else. Building relationships and connections is what makes me feel the most fulfilled.” 


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