I often tell people that El Paso is a city unlike any other. There is nothing to compare us to. The people, the food, the sunsets. Even the way we do business is different than the rest of the world. We are unique in a million different ways.
One of the things that’s different about El Paso, as I said, is business. What works in Austin, NYC, Chicago, or even Smallville, USA, is not going to work here. (Well, that’s my opinion at least.)
“In El Paso,” said Gilbert, “the way things are done is not the standard. It’s a standard we made ourselves. What is standard is what they do in Hollywood. How they do national spots, that’s a standard.”
Gilbert continued, “I think we try to bring that here.”
Gilbert Jorgenson and Dr. Benjamin Leyva are the partners behind Leo Marketing. Both bring a wide range of skills to bear, having worked the gamut of television in the case of Gilbert, and creating his own marketing in the case of Benjamin.
What makes them special? What makes them worth writing about? Let me tell you.
“I had an opportunity, so did Ben,” says Gilbert. “It’s not often that young extraneous partner up to do something great.”
Gilbert goes on to say that a lot of people when they open their business, become complacent. They tend to think that they are an island unto themselves, excluding all else. They become overly comfortable in what they are doing, and that it.
The sad part is, I know what Ben is talking about. When I opened my first business, I thought what I had, the customer base I had was enough. I didn’t need anyone else. The problem was, most of them moved away, and by the time I realized I needed to reach out to the community for new customers, it was already too late.
“When Ben came along,” Gilbert told me, “I instantly saw his vision. That he thinks big.”
Like Gilbert, Ben is not satisfied with mediocrity. Both have had businesses in the past. Both have a shared vision to change the El Paso paradigm.
Leo Marketing is suffering growing pains, with it’s ever expanding client base – Wing Daddy’s, BRAVO Chevrolet, Bell Sucre, and more – they are poised to take El Paso by storm.
“People don’t talk like that in El Paso,” says Gilbert, of Ben’s vision. “Most people talk about what they could have done, would have done, can do, or may do in the future one day.”
“We are about to do something very big,” says Benjamin. “We are out to change the game in marketing. We are going to change it, and it’s going to be impressive.”
Both Benjamin and Gilbert exemplify certain values. Hard work, commitment, drive. Both can and will take your vision and bring it to life. As I said, they want to see each of their clients succeed. That is a rare thing indeed.
“We have a specific strategy, but it’s a little bit of secret sauce,” is how Benjamin, all smiles, responded when I asked him how they planned to change the game. What is that secret sauce?
“It all starts with getting people to work together, and get them to realize their potential,” says Gilbert. “I think that too often people get complacent,” continues Gilbert. “We have as a community; myself included have at times. We need to snap out of that. We are a big city, and we need to start acting like it.”
They have a point. Anything and everything they have in Hollywood, the cameras, lights, lenses, they can be found right here in El Paso. I’m always surprised by the number of filmmakers we have here, the number of professional photographers we have here.
We hold on to a way of thinking from the 80’s – El Paso is a big city with a small-town feel – and that is what works against us often.
“We can do high-level stuff here,” said Gilbert. “I think there is a stigma about El Paso, that we are a poor border town. That we are a bunch of cow ranchers, poor. It’s not true. There is a lot of talent here.”
Gilbert mentioned that sometimes, whether we like it or not, El Paso is pulled kicking and screaming into progress, into the future. I know I don’t like the idea of moving out of my rut either, but we do need to move forward, collectively. If we want better restaurants, better stores, better event venues, we need to grow up a bit.
“We need to set an example of what can be done,” said Gilbert. “There’s every excuse as to why it can’t happen here. We’re too poor; we’re too dumb-“
“There’s a lot of stereotypes,” said Benjamin.
“I’m tired of hearing that,” says Gilbert, “I really am.”
“There are a lot of positive things people say about El Paso,” says Benjamin. “I think people that live here love the city, people who have been here, love El Paso. There’s a lot of love. Sometimes someone can say something negative, and it resonates a little more than all that love. What we want to do is tell that loving story just a little bit more.”
There is a lot of negativity of late. I’ve been told that I’ll never get anywhere with my writing or the documentaries I am making with survivors of the Holocaust. It’s hard. I’ve been told it will never happen, can’t motivate people to support my vision. El Paso is hard on its children, and I mentioned this fact to Gilbert and Benjamin.
“If you are from El Paso, you can be held accountable in many ways,” Benjamin began. “Your aunt, your uncle, your mom will get on you if you didn’t do a good job. That’s unique. That doesn’t happen in other cities.”
Benjamin went on to say that people in El Paso tend to have higher standards than most places. They mentioned community. We are a community driven city. If one person makes it, we all do. That’s where those standards come from. That’s why it’s hard to make it in El Paso. Everyone wants you to be your best, to shine brighter than anyone else.
“If you do well,” says Benjamin, “the whole community backs you. The community expects you to do well. They have high expectations. If you don’t do well, then the opposite happens.”
“El Paso is unique in a sense that it’s not known for embracing young entrepreneurs,” says Gilbert.
Boy isn’t that the truth. When I started my first business, a million years ago when I was just seventeen, no one was there. In fact, all I heard was that I was too young to do anything.
We should not look at that age. “In big cities,” says Gilbert, “they embrace that. In El Paso, youth is not seen as an asset.”
“I want to talk about the possibilities of El Paso. That’s the story I want to tell,” says Benjamin. “The possibilities of being born here, what you can do, what you can accomplish, the lack of limits. If you truly believe that, no matter what age you are, you can achieve whatever’s in your heart, your mind.”
“Don’t fear what you don’t want,” says Gilbert, sharing a quote from Leo Cancellare, his principal from Cathedral High.
Both Gilbert and Benjamin strike me as a pair that won’t show fear in the face of what they want. It is easy to see how this pair will inspire you, cause you to grow, and share your story, your vision with the world.
“Never give up on your dreams,” says Benjamin. “Don’t let other peoples opinions of you define you.”
“Be the best,” says Gilbert.
At the beginning of this article, I had two questions: What makes them special? What makes them worth writing about? Let me give you my answer.
Gilbert and Benjamin are not satisfied with the status quo that has defined El Paso over the past few decades. They can see the potential of the city, and every individual they encounter. They know for a fact that El Paso and every one of us here can shine. And they are ready to make that happen.
We are going to be hearing about them a lot. Not just locally, no. It won’t be long before we see them in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times Business section. Mark my words.