Lorenzo Gomez III is a local guru in the tech industry who believes the mission of any entrepreneur is to create a business that heals a pain in the world. He first learned this while working at Rackspace and Geekdom with an unexpected but beautiful mantra: We need to harvest people’s stories and share them with one another. Understanding his journey – beginning with a few flunked classes in public school to managing at Rackspace to founding and opening his own companies – is understanding how a single person’s story can inspire others in the San Antonio community to create a bright future for our city.
Gomez, who is currently the chairman of Geekdom, CEO and co-founder of Geekdom Media, co-founder of the 80/20 Foundation, and author of Cilantro Diaries: Business Lessons From the Most Unlikely Places, did not begin his life thinking that one day he could found a company or write a book. He actually had a rocky start in education that brought with it low self-esteem. This all changed with a fortuitous transfer from his program at Brackenridge High School to Health Careers High School.
At Health Careers, his world view began to morph. He found himself surrounded by ambitious students that he wanted to befriend because they were inspirational. Students were nice to him, teachers took the time to talk to him. That’s where people first started to see his true potential.
“It’s about hope,” Gomez said in an interview with The Bank of San Antonio. “That’s where I really started having hope.” Hope was an essential ingredient for Gomez’s shift in his self-perception, so it seems appropriate that hope became a centerpiece of his philosophy on entrepreneurship.
Many businesses, when trying to grow and market themselves, tend to focus on their quantitative accolades, the data like financial growth or fundraising numbers that exhibits their success. Gomez believes otherwise. “I think that the No. 1 way to share your mission and get people excited is through storytelling,” he said.
Stories are what people can relate to. People will forget data quickly, but a story about how your company changed people’s lives, that can make an impact. That’s what sticks with people. To Gomez, “…it’s stories that give people hope. It’s stories that inspire people into action. And it’s really a story that can articulate what you’re doing in the world.”
So what story is Lorenzo Gomez enacting with Geekdom? He says it is being part of something greater than himself, by helping to build the city of San Antonio. He learned this idea from his mentor, Graham Weston, with whom he helped run the philanthropic organization the 80/20 Foundation. Graham told Gomez, “We are contributing to building a city. Very few people get to contribute to building a city in their lifetime.”
Gomez realizes now that his work in the tech industry is also a part of this idea, because everything he’s adding to the San Antonio tech industry will outlive him. “It was so inspiring, because all of a sudden it wasn’t about me, and it wasn’t about Graham. It’s about the people and the stories that we are harvesting down there, and I think that that’s all so very special,” Gomez said.
Along the way, he realized he was accomplishing his efforts to build San Antonio by giving San Antonians the most desired thing in the world – a good job. In a book Gomez cites in his interview with The Bank of San Antonio called Coming Job Wars, the author, Jim Clifton, discusses a Gallup poll that surveyed 100,000 people all across the world every several years asking them what they really want.
“The No. 1 thing that people say, all over the world, all backgrounds, all races, poor, medium, middle class, rich, they all say they want a good job,” Gomez said. “That was really game-changing for me, this notion that when one of the entrepreneurs at Geekdom hires their first employee, we are doing the greatest social good there is in humanity.”
Gomez’s belief in building San Antonio is inspiring, and this mission is more than just creating jobs in San Antonio, it is creating jobs made for San Antonians.
He explains that Codeup and the Open Cloud Academy make him proud of what the tech industry is doing for San Antonio because they are building the tech scene for the workers already here. Companies like this are taking the world of tech and designing it for this city and its already-existing working population. The central question Gomez asks is, “Who is the population already here,” and this applies not only to employees but to customers, too. The problems Geekdom is working on are not for some remote, nameless customers, “We’re solving for the average citizen and the person next door to us.”
To Gomez, there is nothing more powerful than a story, and he believes his story can inspire young San Antonians to imagine themselves taking a different career path rather than a traditional one. Lorenzo Gomez did not go to college. He did not come from a rich family. Gomez did not come from a family of entrepreneurs. Yet he accomplished all that he has. These are the kinds of stories we need to be sharing in our community if we want to continue harvesting San Antonio’s true potential.
“I think that this is the new currency that we trade in our city,” Gomez said. “We are trying to tell new stories, so that the next generation can really have hope and believe that they can be the next entrepreneur, which they can be.”
With the progress and inspiration that entrepreneurial leaders like Lorenzo Gomez are creating in our city, it’s hard to imagine any story about the future of San Antonio besides one that is full of hope. Learn more about Lorenzo’s story here.