The Hispanic American Dream

Hispanic Executive turns the tables on TV host Daniel Ortiz to get his insight into how Latinos achieve the American Dream today

Daniel Ortiz was an investment officer before he realized his calling. He left corporate America to pursue his passion of mentoring entrepreneurs and telling their stories on his television show American Dream - Latin Souls.

What defines the contemporary Hispanic American Dream?

In many ways, the Hispanic American Dream is no different from the traditional American Dream: owning a beautiful home, having a successful career, or being in business for yourself. The main distinction for Hispanics is that the dream is not just about the individual; it’s about family.

Why is the Hispanic American Dream unique?

For Hispanics, achieving the American Dream is meaningless if we lose our Latin soul in the process. Americans, in general, place a high value on “rugged individualism” and “achievement and success,” which are often given priority over family. The core values of Hispanics are, what I like to refer to as, the three f’s: faith, family, and frijoles­­­­­­­—meaning our culture. For Hispanics, our dreams, and our very identity, involve our family.

What was your personal American Dream, and how did you go about pursuing it?

I achieved my American Dream at a relatively young age but, as I later realized, lost my Latin soul in the process. I climbed the proverbial ladder of success only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall. In the pursuit of success, I ignored my core values and lost sight of my life purpose. I am an entrepreneur at heart, and one of my core values is freedom. The irony is that the more successful I became (i.e., the more clients I served), the less freedom I had.

When I realized I had a purpose in life and a gift to share with the world that did not include working for a corporation, I took a leap of faith. I quit my job, sold my house, gave away most of my earthly possessions, and bought a one-way ticket to Spain. That one decision, to follow my bliss, changed my life.

Now, I am living my American Dream while enriching my Latin soul. As an author, executive producer, and host of American Dream – Latin Souls, I not only have the financial freedom to do as I choose, I also have the time to work on projects I find inspiring with engaging and talented people.  Although my hours are long, it’s not work to me. It is a labor of love.

Having interviewed many successful Hispanics, what are some of the best methods for achieving their dreams?

Anyone can live the American Dream, but not everyone is willing to do what it takes. First, you have to be willing to look inside and discover your core values. Core values are the essence of who you are and what you find meaningful—like beauty, justice, or family—when all your needs are met. Second, you must discover your purpose in life. And finally, you must embark on your personal “hero’s journey.” Too many people play it safe, follow society’s rules and expectations, and although they might be outwardly “successful,” lead quiet lives of desperation never having answered their calling.

What advice would you give to Hispanics who want to achieve their dreams but may not be, or want to be, entrepreneurs?

I believe everyone was born for a purpose and, of course, not everyone was born to be an entrepreneur. My advice is the same for everyone: stop chasing success and start living your life’s purpose! Follow your bliss, take a leap of faith, and answer your calling. Share your unique gift with the world, and most importantly, face your greatest fears.

Why is it important to tell the stories of successful Latinos on your program?

Stories are the most effective way to inspire progress and change. The stories found in the Bible, like David and Goliath and the parables of Jesus, inspire us today after thousands of years because we see an aspect of ourselves in those heroes. When Hispanic viewers see prominent figures who share a similar background, values, and face similar challenges, they are inspired to believe they can achieve their American Dream, too.