USF St. Petersburg held a special conversation with multi-billionaire Miguel “Mike” Fernandez on Friday morning at the USC.
Fernandez was promoting his new book Humbled by the Journey: Life Lessons For My Family… And Yours.
The event was hosted by USFSP student organizations such as Delta Sigma Pi, with Sen. Jack Latvala and former Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence giving the introductory speeches. There were around 300 guests in attendance, including students, professors and entrepreneurs. The first 250 guests received a free copy of the book, with a book signing afterwards.
Fernandez, who was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, addressed the audience with charismatic energy as he discussed his childhood, high school experiences and early business ventures. He emphasized his failures in life, from bad business investments to wrecking his first car within a week.
“I use my past failings to motivate me to make a better future plan",” he said in his speech. “If you have no failures … or have it easy, then what is the point? Life is about taking risks and learning to manage risks.”
He talked briefly about his book, which covers his 32-day, 508-mile pilgrimage in 2013 from France to Spain. He said that the purpose was to raise money for the Miami Children Hospital and the Miami-Dade Early Childhood Initiative Foundation. The book parallels that journey with his life journey, from a poor child in Cuba to a wealthy businessman in the U.S.
Sen. Latvala and Lawrence discussed their admiration for Mr. Fernandez in their introductory speeches.
“He is an extraordinary student of people",” Lawrence said. “He had 23 successful businesses. Yet, he would still talk more about his failings more than what he learned from his successes.”
“It’s great to hear a successful business story like this.” said sophomore Emily Harris, who is also chair coordinator for professional banks in Delta Sigma Pi. “His persistence even in times of strains and stresses I can’t even imagine, and how he just kept going is quite amazing.”
He also talked about how he deals with customer service, making good business deals and the necessary steps to achieve those goals. “The execution of the details every day will make a difference",” was one piece of advice.
Other highlights were his experiences with celebrities such as “Magic” Johnson and James Earl Jones, whom he has made deals with to promote his business.
Fernandez has previously taken three pilgrimages and plans to retrace his steps in May.