When he was 20 years old, Reinier Moquete decided he had enough.
He was determined to do something with his life. He was looking for an opportunity but had yet to discover his ‘why.’
Like so many of the entrepreneurs I speak with on The Channel CEO, Reinier developed resilience to difficult situations at an early age.
But I what I find especially inspiring about Reinier’s entrepreneurial journey is how he found his ‘why’ and how it guides him today as the CEO of CyberWarrior.com.
If you missed my talk with Reinier, you’ll definitely want to watch the full discussion here (or just click the image below!):
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Throughout his career, Reiner has understood he was willing to work hard in pursuit of success:
“One of the things that’s important to realize is that it’s really up to us to decide what we want for ourselves or for our families,” he said. “And I mentioned the family piece because, you know, from the culture that I come from, family is key; family is everything. And so, when you’re thinking about: why are you going to work hard? You’re doing it not just for yourself, but you’re doing it for everybody around you. Because you know if you make it, they’re gonna make it.”
It was this discovery of his ‘why’ that helped him keep going when motivation might otherwise start to fail him.
Reinier grew up between New York and Dominican Republic. His mother was determined both to give her family a new start in the U.S. while also maintaining their Dominican roots.
As a result, Reinier traveled between both countries frequently and went through more than a dozen schools by the time he graduated high school.
“It was just this immigrant story of someone who’s trying to create opportunity for her family,” Reinier said.
But, after living most of his high-school years as a self-proclaimed “troublemaker,” he reckoned with himself and set out to change his life and the world around him.
At 20 years old and with only $200 in his pocket, two backpacks, and one suitcase of belongings, he moved from his neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City to Dorchester in Boston, Massachusetts.
“In my high school years, I was mostly in New York,” Reinier said, “and I grew up in a very, very rough neighborhood. Lots of craziness happening that you’d expect within underserved communities. And so that forced you to get pretty hard, pretty quick in order for you to just kind of survive.”
When he moved to Dorchester, Reinier said the environment wasn’t drastically different, but he was ready to be different:
“When I moved to Dorchester, it was a fairly hectic environment as well,” he said. “But I think that what was different was me. I just wanted to do something different with my life, and I just put my head down and focused.”
Within a few months he was working at a small telecom company, where he quickly earned a name for himself.
He started out in customer service, was promoted to being a technical support representative, then was promoted to supervisor of the technical support group.
“I moved here at 20. By the time I was 23, I had 45 people working for me,” he said.
Oh, and did I forget to mention? The 12-hour days Reinier worked came on top of his college class schedule.
“I used to work 60-70 hours a week and I used to go to school full-time,” he said. “I used to go to school Monday through Thursday, 6 PM to 9 PM and Saturdays 9 [AM] to 1 [PM]. And I did that for four years.”
That’s a lot of work. Like, a lot.
Keeping his ‘why’ close to his chest seems to be something that helped Reinier stay focused and has continued to drive his efforts.
When he graduated from Bunker Hill Community College, Reinier received a full scholarship to go to grad school at Northeastern University.
But he didn’t take it.
“I felt embarrassed to ask anyone what the different programs were,” Reinier said, noting an example of not understanding the difference between the electrical engineering and computer science programs. “And although I had a full boat, I didn’t understand the curriculum. I didn’t understand the career options that I had.”
Today, Reinier uses this as his ‘why’ to ensure that other aspiring entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs of color, have access to information and resources to better understand the opportunities in front of them.
Speaking about his decision to turn down his full ride to Northeastern, he said: “It was not having guidance. And so that’s the reason why I do all the give back work that I do because, if I would have had the right mentorship, I would have been a lot further in my career.”
As a true entrepreneur does, Reinier also recognized a need to solve challenges he was seeing in the IT space. He originally started his company CyberWarrior.com as a project designed to help clients succeed with cloud computing.
However, with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Reinier’s vision for the business had to change dramatically and overnight.
Just before the pandemic came to a head, CyberWarrior.com was in the exciting position of partnering with the University of Massachusetts for on-campus cybersecurity training.
“One week we’re on-site touring dorms, getting ready for a big initiative that we’re going to do together,” Reinier said, “and then two weeks later the school shut down because of the pandemic, and so that totally wiped off the business model that we had been preparing for.”
It wasn’t easy, but Reinier knew he couldn’t wallow in the sudden change of events.
“I just didn’t have a choice but to pivot, but to reimagine what we were doing, and it was what it was,” he said. “Because, you know, I have three children and they needed to eat. So what am I gonna do? And so, you know, we simply had to pull ourselves by the bootstraps and wipe off the blood and tears and say ‘Okay, that is what it is. How are we gonna move forward?’”
In response to the pandemic, CyberWarrior.com built their cybersecurity training platform online, instead of in-person.
Thanks to this move, CyberWarrior.com is now able to train cybersecurity professionals online in both Spanish and English (with Portuguese offerings coming soon), enabling more companies to solve their cybersecurity talent shortage and giving more professionals opportunities for employment.
“It’s a brand-new educational platform that we had zero intention of building,” Reinier said. “And yet, that is now key to our growth strategy.”
Throughout his CEO journey, Reinier’s ‘why’ has stayed consistent: to help others.
And he seems to have pulled tremendous motivation from understanding why he’s building the company he’s building.
“You know, I’m an immigrant,” he said. “I understand there’s a lot of folks, not only in the U.S. but across the world, that need access to training and want to better their families. We want to make that to be as accessible as possible.”
If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, especially in the current economy, take a step back and really consider your ‘why.’ It just might give you the extra motivation you need.
Of course, there were plenty of hiccups along the way for Reinier as there are for all of us. If you haven’t yet, watch my full interview with Reinier above to get even more insights from our talk.
And, if you’re a channel CEO, let me know if you want to be interviewed next!
Let’s do this.
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