One element of being a modern gladiator is in the process of changing oneself to become better. Jordan Alvarez, twenty-three, has turned his life around. He grew up in Tennessee where a lot of free time turned into an opportunity to get into trouble. By the time he was eighteen, Jordan made a command decision to quit the delinquent behavior and rise above it. The lost country boy turned himself into a leader as student body president at the University of Colorado, Denver and entrepreneur in five years. This is his story.
The lost country boy turned himself into a leader as student body president…
MG: Growing up in Tennessee, what happened when you were a teenager?
JA: I had a very eventful upbringing. I had six siblings, seven kids total. When I was a teenager, my mom and dad split up, and I don’t think we were really well coached through it. Everybody knew what was going on, but nobody said anything about it. I went to live with my dad who worked two jobs and was always gone so I had basically had zero supervision.
The amount of knowledge and life experiences I’ve gained from getting into trouble, that’s irreplaceable. It’s done and over with…I tend not to look at what caused it. I think it was some very practical things like lack of supervision and someone didn’t just smack me over the head and say, “Cut it out.” But, like I said, I tell my mom this all the time: I wouldn’t trade those experiences in for anything because it made me who I am and taught me a lot.
The amount of knowledge and life experiences I’ve gained from getting into trouble, that’s irreplaceable.
MG: You made the decision to change your ways when you were 18. Why?
JA: I recommitted my life to Christ as an 18-year-old in Galletin, TN. I changed my cell phone number, my friends, I sought out some counsel from the very best men I know to this day. I lived a life of working out, eating healthy, staying in shape. I moved to Denver and took all of that knowledge and guidance from my mentors and took it to the next level because to me, this is the big city. I had never lived in a metropolitan area. I hunted and fished my whole life. I was used to being out and away from people and now I’m in public transportation, people, hustle bustle life.
MG: Why keep it going, this change? Why not fall back?
JA: I did kinda pull back, I just stayed low. It’s not like I came out of my shell overnight. I’m still assimilating in a totally different world, but I remember it clicked one day when I was lifeguarding. It makes me feel not useful, and I don’t like that feeling. Lifeguards are essential people—like any emergency responder, we need them. But the majority of the time, I was stacking chairs and staring at water. I realized I needed to boost my resources in my mentoring. There was a quote—if you don’t like your current situation, then change your habits. So I evaluated my habits and decided I needed to read more, I needed to take school more seriously, and I need to start expanding my horizon all because I was moving beach furniture around a pool and swimming and working out. I thought there’s gotta be more than this and what I actually found was the more you dig, the more interested you get. I’m very interested in a lot of things and I tried to read and have conversations and listen to and watch things that will grow me in terms of knowledge and understanding. It took me awhile to get to that point. I don’t think I liked learning until probably sophomore or junior year of college, but that’s what kept it going. It was interesting and so easily accessible and you could go out there and read about so many different things.
I’m still assimilating in a totally different world.
MG: Why do you think so many others fail, or stay stagnant, when trying to change themselves?
JA: When I was leading student government, a former supervisor introduced me to StrengthQuest. You take this 140-something question test and it spits out your top five strengths. One of the topics under that umbrella is what they call barrier labels. We can call it prejudices, pre-conceived notions, we can call this anything and this is taking someone’s strengths from what you see, because seeing is reality, and flipping them and turning them into ammo. In my mind, this is absolutely false. People don’t advance themselves in life because they believe that prejudice about themselves. If I’m a very analytical person; people call me a pessimist and that I can never see the bright side of things. Well, no, I’m actually just problem solving, that’s just how it is. I think that’s one major thing. Every single person has talents and they can tap into those talents but whether you discover that or not, it’s a very dynamic and fluid situation.
Every single person has talents and they can tap into those talents.
MG: How did you connect with the Dietz Foundation?
JA: I was on my very last day lifeguarding at a pool in Highlands Ranch, and there was this guy starting his first day. People train for things like NSW (Naval Special Warfare) which I was, because I wanted to be a Navy Seal. This guy comes up to me and says, “Are you training for the Navy?” He introduced me to the Dietz Foundation since he was familiar with it through his neighbor, who is the treasurer. It was kinda weird since it was my last time swimming as an employee and it was his first day and he invited me out to the workouts and thought I might like to check it out, so I did and that’s how I got involved.
MG: You finish your degree in December. You have two entrepreneurial ventures in front of you. Where are you going to be in five years?
JA: I have a firm belief that you have to take care of number one before you can take care of others, and I absolutely want to take care of others. One thing a mentor has taught me is that you need to be blessed to the point that you can be a blessing to others. I don’t believe in God or any higher power taking over and generating income for me; that’s a fantasy. I’m going to go out there and work. I have a strong work ethic and I think I’m a little on the bright side so I think I can go out there and create income and in five years I would like to have a new car, some very practical things, new outfits, new electronics, but I would really like to retire my mom. If there was any way I could engage my mom’s dreams and interests and retire her out of an hourly position, I think that would be great. Not so much interested in real estate that quickly, but I would like to be a business owner or very affluent in whatever position I occupy.
MG: As a modern gladiator, how do you see yourself connecting with and helping others?
JA: If I can be a connector, if I can connect people, if I can make friends and contacts and we can get together and have intelligent conversation and connect the dots, I would like my community to recognize that in me and I would hope that others would strive to do the same and their communities would recognize it in them and elevate them to positions of authority because we need individuals who are honest, trustworthy, who are wise, and who aren’t out for selfish gain. So that’s the cherry on top. I highly respect men and women whose reputations speak for themselves. Their actions and their words are congruent. Their words and their recommendations from the community are congruent—this says they are phenomenal individuals and they can be trusted.