From the Fields of Ontario to the Executive Suite of a Fortune 500 Company: #Motivation #Hustle

Richard Montañez grew up in Ontario, California supporting his family by picking grapes at local vineyards. His childhood memories are made up of communal meals shared with seven other families, all just trying to make a living in the US. When he got older, his goal was to get a job at the town’s factory and provide stability for his family. In 1976 he started work at the Frito-Lay plant in Southern California as a janitor. But his professional career did not stop there.

When his boss turned to all company employees and gave them an opportunity to pitch a new product, Richard knew that it was his moment to step up! Although clueless about marketing or product pitches, Montañez and his wife went all in and prepared a presentation that including hand-designed Flamin’ Hot product bags and Cheetos samplings. His long-time Cheetos experiments  paid off BIG TIME! His Mexican childhood favorite ‘Mexican corn’ flavors were finally making it to mainstream!

The product was a revolutionary HIT! So much so, that today Richard is Vice President of multicultural sales and community promotions across PepsiCo’s North American divisions (Frito-Lays parent company). His work continues to influence other Latino products and promotions, including Taco Bell and KFC products.

Montañez is a great example of how courage overcomes fear! YES, a janitor can influence a company beyond their Title duties; YES, a person from humble beginnings can create a multi-billion dollar product! Do not let fear block your greatness. And remember, when you make it- do not forget to look back and teach others how they too can make it too!

“Latinos who have made it like myself have a responsibility to open doors to younger generations and teach them that they can do it. I do it because I can and I know what it is like to be hungry.” – Richard Montañez