Andres Lara, inspiring others through a story of struggle and triumph


Photographs courtesy of Kati Maseman

Andres Lara, during his session at Brooken's Auditorium, as a part of ECCE Speaker Series. Lara is a motivational speaker.

Created by Kati Maseman

Fleeing from Cuba, arriving in America, not speaking English, alone and unsure of the future. This was the start of Andres Lara’s journey to becoming a motivational speaker and touring the United States as a successful businessman.

In a recent visit to UIS, Lara shared his story with students and staff, first at a meet and greet dinner, then during his session as part of the ECCE Speaker Series. His tale was one of success through struggle, hard work, motivation from others and a good sense of what he wanted.

“You cannot do it all yourself,” Lara said of accomplishing dreams and becoming successful. He shared stories of how others helped him. From professors telling him he needed to learn English if he wanted to accomplish his dreams; to the motivational speaker who told him; “where there is a will, there is a way,” words that put him on the path to becoming the speaker he is today; to the speech pathologists who helped him learn to speak English.

At the meet and greet dinner, as attendees enjoyed Hispanic style food and music, Lara shared some of his tips, for those who would be unable to attend his later session. He suggested books for money management, and encouraged the audience to find their dreams and work to accomplish them.

Both the dinner and the speaking session were highly interactive. Lara encouraged his audience to engage in dialogue concerning money, success and any other questions that might be facing them. He also asks for the audience to text a special number to receive his CDs and weekly motivational newsletter. During his speaking session, he often had the audience stand and do different activities to drive home a point or just to have fun.

His reasoning for this was that other motivational speakers inspire you while they are there, “but then what.” He explained that the level of motivation and excitement fades after the speaker leaves, and he didn’t want to be that way. With the CDs and newsletter, those in the audience could continue to interact with Lara, long after he left UIS.

During his session, Lara provided several acronyms to put the audience on the path to accomplishing goals. They included GOYA and A.S.S.

GOYA stands for Get Off Your Anatomy, & take action. This point was demonstrated, when he asked how many people wanted $20 and held up a bill, with nearly everyone raising his or her hands. Then he asked how many would use GOYA right then to make it happen.

He asked several times before an audience member caught on, and went up to the front of the room and took the money from him. The point of this was to show anyone can want something, but you have to get up and take action to make it happen.

His next acronym was A.S.S, which stands for Act on Small Steps. He explained that through small steps, someone could turn the impossible into the possible. With this Lara also explained that these steps help people to quit less and move forward more.

“Right before you quit, something mentally happens,” he said. People are conditioned, they get used to being knocked down. It is what happens after that that makes the difference. “Every time you get knocked down, you learn something, “ Lara said.

He explained how acting on small steps can push you forward. With audience help, Lara established that turning back hurts more than moving forward. Various audience members added that you deal with turning back for the rest of your life, and you know where you’ve been, so you know how painful that was. Lara filled in by adding regret. If you turn back you always have the “what if.”

Lara summarized by saying “the pain of moving forward is temporary. The pain of quitting is permanent.”

To go along with moving forward in small steps, Lara explained that people have to make a decision to move forward with or without others. By this he wanted to demonstrate that sometimes people hold you back, whether they mean to or not. For example, if a person is trying to accomplish a goal, but they have a friend who needs their help, they may keep trying to help that friend up instead of moving forward. Sometimes it can be a tough decision, but it can help to achieve goals.

Lara also pointed out that “life will not get easier unless you get smarter.” He tied this in to the adage “work smarter, not harder,” to drive home the point.

His last point of the night was Network= Net Worth. By this he was trying to explain that connections are a great way to get places. He gave the example of having a boring professor, and not trying to pay attention in class. But what happens if you show up to class, ask questions and learn from this professor; they may then in turn, provide you with a reference to land a job, or introduce you to a potential employer.

Through out the night, Lara used personal stories and easy to use steps to give the audience manageable ways to accomplish their goals and become successful. While some thought his message was mostly about money, Lara pointed out that these steps and tips can be applied to any kind of goal.

For a video from the event, visit