What Drives You: Don

Shared Drive always challenges their team members to think outside the box and be different. To be forward thinkers. When our leaders challenged our team to write about what we love or what drives us, I initially thought, “Really?  I have to do this?”.  Being that I don’t consider myself to be a good writer, I snickered at the thought and went on about my day.  I kept thinking to myself, “why take on this challenge when no one is even going to read it?”

They asked the question – what do you love?  Most people would say – family, friends, etc.  As I expected – that answer isn’t good enough.  It’s a superficial answer that everyone gives.  However, that does not discount that family and friends could really be what people love.  I started to really dig deep and really think about what it is that drives me. Growing up, I was more of an extrovert.  Now that I’m older, I find myself to be more of an introvert.  I’m not as outgoing as I used to be.  Most of my family or friends would describe me to be quiet with a laid-back personality.  I’m not a loud talker; contrary to the rest of my family.  On one of our weekly team huddles, each team member had to share something about themselves that no one else knew.  I shared my love for shoes – Nike, Jordan’s, Adidas and Yeezys. Sharing or opening up about myself doesn’t come easy.  It’s uncomfortable for me.  

I grew up with a big extended family.  My mom was one of six children. So was my dad.  I have a twin brother and an older sister, but we have tons of cousins that are more like siblings.  My immediate family: me, my mom, dad, twin brother, and older sister, my aunt and uncle and their daughter, and other aunt and her daughter lived in a two-bedroom apartment in the Philippines before we migrated to the U.S.  Yes, you counted right – ten people living in a two-bedroom apartment.  In 1988 we all migrated to the U.S. where we moved into my grandparents two-bedroom duplex. We lived in that duplex until my parents saved enough money to purchase their first home in 1995.  Thinking back to those memories, we never went without.  We always had food on the table, all the kids slept on the floor in our living room and it was the best memories having my siblings and cousins around all the time.  We didn’t know any different.

Both my parents are hard workers.  They did the grind.  It never crossed our minds to think that we were poor or struggling.  There just was not enough money for anything extra like family vacations, or going out to eat weekly, or having the latest and greatest outfits or shoes that we would see other kids with.  We got one pair of shoes for the entire year; maybe two if we were lucky.  It was nice having a twin because we could share our clothes and shoes. So, even though it seemed like we had very little, in our minds, we didn’t.  We always felt fulfilled.  Now as adults, we’ve realized that our parents were living paycheck to paycheck and just barely getting by.

My siblings and I started working at a young age.  We realized that if we wanted something we had to work for it.  We had to earn the money to buy it.  In our minds, we were taking some the burden off of our parent’s by becoming more financially independent for the things that we wanted/needed.  I remember the first time I saved up enough to buy my first pair of Jordan’s.  It felt amazing.  The sense of accomplishment and pride that I felt was overwhelming because I didn’t have to rely on anyone to buy it for me. Buying shoes also taught me how to be business-minded. It allowed me to be a young entrepreneur.  I saw the demand for limited edition sneakers and how followers would wait in line for hours at the chance to purchase a pair.  I started leveraging my ability to purchase 2-3 pairs of shoes just to resell them. I would usually sell the 2nd and third pair anywhere from $50-$200 more than retail.  It allowed me to make my money back with a profit and earning my own pair for free. 

So, what drives me?  It’s not the shoes.  It’s the value of hard work.  I’m driven to want to be better every day.  To provide for my own family now.  I’m married to my beautiful wife Archelle and we have two sons: CJ and Miles.  I want to give them a life that allows them to be who they want to be and have the means to do it.  It drives me to wake up every day and be a little bit better for them.  Better than who I was yesterday.  I’ve learned that if you want something, you must work hard to get it.  That anything is achievable if you are doing the work to achieve that goal. 

The amazing thing about working for Shared Drive is that they foster an environment of accountability and innovation.  We’re provided the support we need daily and everyone has an equal voice.  There are no egos (which is shocking with all the award-winners we have on our team). The willingness of every team member to help one another is unmatched.  My time in with the US Navy is the only thing that comes every remotely close.  Passion is evident in our daily lives.  We all love what we do.  Do you?

Written By

Don Paolo Estrella

Shared Drive | OSC