Episode #16- Narco Mindset Podcast - My youngest son, Estevan’s view on how to find your passion
My youngest son, Estevan’s view on how to find your passion
May 13, 2020
Host: Jorge Valdes Ph.D. - An Author, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and You Tuber
Co-Host: Estevan Valdes
In this episode, Dr. Valdes invites his youngest son Estevan to talk about his experience with online education and how he finally discovered his true passion. Estevan was a very gifted golfer, finishing eighth in the South Florida Junior Golf Tour, going on to the Minor League Golf Tour, becoming the highest money earner in the Training Division. Even though he loves golf, he realized that his true passion was and will always be film and film making.
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INTRO: Before we watched TV shows and movies on Narcos, and even before Pablo Escobar’s rise to fame, there was one man who was the ultimate Narco. He lived the Narco life of greed, money and power but found a way to reclaim his life, and use his astonishing experiences to empower others to live a life of hope, meaning and redemption. Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast where Dr. Jorge Valdes shares his journey through life before and after the Medellín Drug Cartel. From torture and multiple prison sentences to how he refocused his life onto a path of principles learned as a Narco. It’s time to share that raw truth with you, right here on the Narco Mindset podcast with your host, Dr. Jorge Valdes.
Jorge: Today on the Narco Mindset podcast: So, we always stress education above all. It is very, very important to get your children to do sports. Spent half of my life in prayer for my children. Use this opportunity to get closer as a family. I’ve gotten through a lot worse than this in my life, and like I said before, this too shall pass. I hope, I guess, that allowed the hatred and ugliness that America had become will go away with this virus. Instead of focusing on the horror that can happen to you, just believe that God is in control.
Welcome to the Narco Mindset podcast. My name is Jorge Valdes, and I am your host today. I’m here with my other son, Estevan Valdes. He’s the last of my boys that is staying at home. In the last podcast, I talked with my daughter and how she was faring through this coronavirus because she does go to a school. Estevan is different because Estevan has been doing online schooling for a very, very long time. I’m going to ask him about how he sees some of the positives of online school versus not going to a regular school, and I’ll just give a little background.
Estevan was an avid golfer. When we moved back from Mexico, we knew that he had to do a sport. As a young kid he used to be a great baseball player and then he didn’t want to do baseball anymore so he decided that he wanted to do triathlons. We did that in Cozumel for a while and then coming back to the United States, there was no triathlon team locally, so he decided he was going to play golf. He did really, really well. He finished his third year in the youth in the South Florida PGA ranked 8th in the tour, and then he went to play Minor League Tour. Won a lot of events and was the leading money-earner for the first 2-3 years until he decided he was not going to do golf anymore.
Before we begin to school, I think it’s something that is really important is for you to get your kids to find out what their passion is. My whole life was baseball growing up. I wanted to be a baseball player. My reason for being a baseball player besides that I loved it was that it was going to be my way out of poverty. Unfortunately, I had bad knees, so I ended up not playing baseball and then that’s when I went to work for the Federal Reserve Bank. As a Cuban father, every Cuban father wants their boys to play ball. My oldest son, Georgie, was really not very good at playing baseball. He didn’t like it all. My middle son didn’t like it very much either. So, then when Estevan started to play baseball, and like it a lot, and was really good, then I thought, hey, here’s my dream. But then he gave up on baseball, and at that time, I was real close friends with Julio Franco who was playing for the Braves.
Estevan grew up around all those great ball players. Gary Sheffield, Julio Franco, Vinny Castilla, Chipper Jones. I remember Julio telling me, “Listen, don’t push him. Don’t push him to any sport because if you push him, he’s going to hate it.” He gave up baseball and he never took it up again, and that was fine. He started playing golf. He was really, really good then all of a sudden, we moved out here, and then he realized that golf really was not his passion. To be a lead athlete, you have to be passionate. It has to be all that you eat, sleep, drink, and that just wasn’t it. So, Estevan, how was it that you discovered what was your real passion, and why was golf, that you were really good at, not your passion?
Estevan: Well, it’s weird because I still really love golf but it’s just that you have to be dedicated to it almost 24/7. Golf requires you to practice more time than any other sport just to maintain that level of excellence. A small factor of it is the way golf is evolving. You have to be able to hit it at least 300 yards, and if you don’t, you really don’t have a shot because a lot of golf courses are now increasing their length, so distance has become a big factor in a lot of pros winning. If you see a lot of them, like Rory and Dustin, all of them are hitting at least 310 yards.
So, that was a small factor, and I kind of really just started discovering that I had always loved movies, and I always acted in plays, and I was really good with public speaking. But I was always fascinated with the technical aspect in movies. I started just filming little bits like short videos around here and there on my phone and all that, and then I just started watching more movies, and then I started being more analytical in the technical aspect how like really fascinated me like the cinematography, the lighting, the way a scene is constructed. Then I just decided, you know, this really is my passion. I’ve loved this forever. It was weird that I discovered that until now.
Jorge: The interesting thing is for us as parents, you know, my wife and I, school is critical. I have a PhD. She has a graduate degree. For us, even when they play sports, we always knew that education, as a Hispanic family, was primary. So, we always stress education above all because we always felt that no matter what happened ... for example, I have a PhD. I was adjunct faculty at Wheaton College but I gave up my dream of teaching college to be a full-time dad to my kids that lived in Georgia. But there’s one thing that I tell my kids. No matter what happens in life, tomorrow, I can go back to teaching. On top of that, no one’s going to take that PhD away from me. We always stress that.
One of the things that we did with Estevan and Isabella when she wanted to be an equestrian was that they would do school online. They started with the University of Miami, had a great high school program, and they would do that. Now, interesting enough, two children, same home, same parents, Isabella has excelled at a brick and mortar school. When she was doing online schooling, she got behind in so many subjects where my wife realized she’s dying. Now, Estevan has always excelled at the online schooling because he’s very organized, so he organizes his classes. He organizes when he’s going to work, and if he had to go to a tournament or if he had to practice like he used to practice from 8:00 to 5:00 every day when he wasn’t playing tournaments six days a week, then it was no problem because he could do school at night. So, online school was always good.
It’s interesting that we always stressed education, so when he had a very hard golf schedule where literally he was competing in tournaments 2-3 times a week, he was practicing, you know, 8-9 hours a day when he wasn’t competing, then we decided he was going to do school, and we started with him doing two classes because already he was at college level, right? So, he started doing two classes then we moved to half a load.
It’s been three and a half, four years, and now, this year, he’ll graduate with associate. Then he’s going to go to University of Central Florida to pursue his film passion. For him, online really has not been a problem as many parents are facing today but it takes different kids. The sad part about it is that now we have no choice. You can’t go to school and you’ve got to do online learning, and that is just the way it is. How was online learning for you versus being at a school, Estevan, because you had a lot of friends in Cozumel then you came to the United States and you went straight to online school, had no friends but those friends of yours, when you played golf or when you went to [inaudible 00:08:02] for your biomechanics.
Estevan: Yes, the social aspect definitely took a hit at school but I picked it up more in golf, and I just really honed in on just really interacting with my friends there. I would always play. It was always a good way to get practice in and hang out with my friends at the same time. Online is really dependent on the kid. A lot of kids need that push and that drive from other kids in a classroom setting to have them excel, and some kids don’t require that. For me, really, I’m very organized already, so I really felt there was more flexibility in the time schedule in which I could do my school work, so it was a lot easier for me and less stress. I feel like I’ve been able to excel in that more than others. It’s hard for a lot of kids but for me, it’s not in this current situation that we are in because I’m already used to it.
Jorge: What advice do you have for the kids that also find themselves at home, and they had to do online and that’s the only choice they have? They have no other choice.
Estevan: A lot of it depends on how the school has constructed the way that the classes are made but just try to be as comfortable as you can in the setting that you're in because that really helps take away a lot of the stress. There’s a lot less stress in the whole aspect of online because you can move a little more at your own pace and just really try. For those that need other classmates to help push them and help them excel, you're going to have to try harder to do that yourself because obviously, those kids won’t be there but the hand we’re dealt at this point, so you just going to have to really excel by yourself, and really push yourself to be the best you can be.
Jorge: How do you look at this whole coronavirus, Estevan? How do you feel what’s going on? How people are reacting to it and how are you reacting to it? What is your feeling on it?
Estevan: When I got pneumonia, and I was in intensive care for a week, it was a really bad cold that mixed with another virus and then it exploded into pneumonia. My lungs have never really recuperated from that. I almost died but because of triathlon and my natural athletic ability, I was able to push through. I was healthy enough to where I could get through that but it really hasn’t settled in the fact that if I get the coronavirus, I’ll have a very high risk of dying from it, and it’s quite shocking when you realize that. I’ve been trying to be careful in my interactions. I always carry a bottle of hand sanitizer. Limit the amount of times that you touch your face and just try to avoid group settings, and just try to be as hygienic as possible.
Jorge: Yeah. Let me give a little background. What happened was, back in 2014, it was at the other summer, and Estevan had just come back from summer camp. For five years, he and his sister went to Culver Military Academy. Like you said, at that time, he was part of a program that we started in Mexico to get kids off drugs, and he was in tremendous shape. He would swim an hour and a half, two hours a day then he would go track for a couple of hours, so he was in tremendous physical shape. That’s something to think about as we’re looking at the obesity rate and the diabetic rate among our youth today, it’s horrendous, and among the American population as a whole. Without a doubt, that will have an impact on what happens to the people that end up getting the virus.
Lo and behold, so we are in Cozumel and that Friday, he said to me, “Dad, I don’t want to run today. I don’t feel really good.” The funny thing, he was just walking around and you thought he had absolutely no symptoms, no nothing, just himself, just tired. I thought he just had to get back and get used to it from the summer. Well, that night, his fever spiked up to 102, so immediately, I took him to the emergency room, and we’re living in Cozumel, Mexico. They gave him a shot and sent him home. When we got home, his fever went down quite a bit and he still had a very low fever, 99, 100 but on Saturday evening, he starts getting a cough. His fever was on and off, not spiking again to 103 but starting getting this cough. On Sunday, the cough got worse. On Monday, we took him to the doctor, and the doctor put him on a nebulizer.
The cough started to get a little bit better but at night, he was starting to get really, really bad. Again, he was walking around just like every normal kid like he did every day of his life. Tuesday, we go back to the doctor, and the doctor said, “Let me go ahead and order some x-rays.” On Wednesday, we took him to get x-rays. The cough had not gone away. When we took him to get x-rays, we couldn’t find someone to read the x-ray but Isabella with her camera, took a picture of it and sent it to a doctor. On Thursday, we went to a doctor’s office and I said, “Doc, here’s the deal. What do you think?” He said, “Well, I think he needs to go to the hospital.” The way she said it really didn’t make me that sure. I said, “Why?” She said, “Well, so that he can be monitored.” Well, we were living in Mexico. You can hire a doctor for $50 a day and a nurse for $25 to come to your house. I said, “I’ll just hire a doctor and a nurse to come to the house and take care of him and monitor him.” She said, “Fine.” But I saw her stutter, and I mean, just a little, slight stutter. I looked her in the eye and said, “Doc, tell me the truth. If it was your child, what would you do?” She said, “Well, I would put him in a hospital.” I said, “Me too, in the US.”
I had a chauffeur at that time. I told him to take her to the airport, and I went and got the passports and got money out of the house, and she flew. She got to the United States I think at about 7 o’clock. He was on the respirator on intensive care. Two kids his same age had died in that same floor that week. Later on talking to the doctor, I said, “Doctor, I’ve got six kids. What happened? What happens?” He said, “Look, the best way that I can describe pneumonia is pneumonia is a very badly managed cold.” What happened, he had two viruses get together, and it could have killed him. The reason it did not kill him was because he was in tremendous physical shape, and he was able to live on that one lung until the antibiotics that they gave him and the medicine that they gave him ... but even just like that, he stayed with the respirator for 2, 3 days, scared the living daylights out of me. Then, of course, they said that he’d never be the same.
Now, once you suffer that, there is damage that you suffer to your lungs. But a lesson from there and it’s a lesson for our listeners is we have a generation that sits and watches TV or play video games or deals a lot with social media in their computer. We do very little of physical activity. My wife and I are just adamant about it. We’re like military. No, you’ve got to do sports. She played soccer, I played baseball. We always made our children do a sport, and it ended up saving his life. We don’t get all the statistics of the people that are dying from this virus. I would like to see how many have immune deficiency. How many are compromised. How many are suffering from other illnesses. How many of them are diabetic because diabetes, listen, you don’t have to be obese. There’s people that are diabetic that are not seriously obese, and we have a population ... I read years back that in the next 15 years or 5, 10 years from now, the diabetic rate in America and the death from diabetes is going to be astronomical. We need to look at that.
It’s very, very important to get your children to do sports, and as Estevan said, he was in great physical shape so he was able to live by God’s grace. Of course, we believe in the power of God. I spent half of my life in prayer for my children. As we go through this virus, it is a very difficult time. But for us as a family, we get to play Monopoly, get to play ball games. When I came from Cuba, I said before, we didn’t have a TV for a year and a half, didn’t have a car for two years, didn’t have a radio, nothing. The first luxury we bought in America like three months after we were here was a Monopoly board. We would spend every night playing Monopoly, and it was amazing. We loved it. We were close as a family, and I look back, it was probably some of the happiest times in my life. Much happier than when I was making millions flying all over the world like I controlled the world.
You know, that’s a little suggestion for parents. Let’s use this opportunity to get closer as a family. Tell your kids that online learning is just another tool, and who knows, I think that the way things are going, in the future, I always say that we’re going to gear more towards online training because for us it is a great tool the last year in Cozumel and the year that we were in the United States because we were able to travel. We could go anywhere in the world. As long as they had an hour, an hour and a half of internet, they can get their school done, and they’d not hold us back. Anyways, Estevan, any last words that you’d want to tell our listeners before we go?
Estevan: For the record, we don’t play Monopoly, we lose to dad in Monopoly. Thank you for letting me be on the podcast. Hope to be back again. Everybody, stay safe out there. Listen to what the government has to tell you. Just practice safe hygiene. Stay safe and God bless you.
Jorge: Estevan, one last question before we go. why are you not afraid? I told our listeners fear not, love more, and I just want you to hear it from my own children why they're not afraid even when he should be more afraid than anybody else because God forbid he catches it, he has a worse chance of making it than the average person. Why are you not afraid during a time like this?
Estevan: Because I believe that I’ve taken every precaution necessary to be as hygienic as possible, and I trust that everything is going to work out. I really feel like we’ve done everything necessary where I stay safe. I don’t know, a part of it is just my personality. It really hasn’t settled in that I am at higher risk than most people with this virus, so that’s kind of a small portion of it.
Jorge: You’re not afraid because, you know, like I said, sometimes I turn off the news. Once they’ve told me everything I need to do, which is fine, I don’t want to hear it. We don’t talk here about the people that die. We talk about victory in our home. We talk about what is positive. We talk about doing everything you humanly possibly can to do what is correct. If the experts tell you to have social separation, have social separation. If they tell you to wash your hands every time you come into the house, wash your hands. If they tell you to wash all your clothes when you come from the outside, wash all your clothes. If they tell you don’t take risk, don’t take risk. We will get through this. Trust me. I’ve gone through a lot worse than this in my life, and like I said before, this too shall pass. Fear not. Enjoy family. Instead of focusing on the horror that can happen to you, just believe that God is in control, and at the end of the day, just be a believer.
When it’s our turn to go, there’s not much we can do about it. Let’s just make sure we don’t expedite that turn. That we do the best that we can and that we get some good out of it. I think a lot of good will come out of this. A lot of good will come out of this. We’re going to be more socially responsible. We’re going to be more conscious that our fate is interlinked with each other’s. I hope ideas that allow the hatred and ugliness that America had become will go away with this virus, that we’re going to be more loving and that we’re going to respect others. It’s okay to be a Republican or a Democrat but first, before we are any of that, we are Americans, you know. For me, before any of that, before even I am an American, I’m a child of God.
Thank you so much for listening today to the Narco Mindset podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and if you have, go to our webpage at jorgevaldesphd.com. Sign up for our community, and we’ll send you a PDF of my latest book, Narco Mindset: Freedom Edition. Again, thank you so much, be safe, God bless you, and we’ll see you again next time on the Narco Mindset podcast.
OUTRO: We’ve come to the conclusion of this episode of the Narco Mindset podcast but your path towards hope, meaning and redemption continues. For more information and resources to help you on your path towards finding a life built on integrity, honor and truth, head to jorgevaldesphd.com, and join our community. We appreciate you joining us for this episode, and look forward to helping you find your turning point right here on the Narco Mindset podcast.