Former janitor Richard Montañez once explained the little voice in his head. "It's bilingual," he said, "because it speaks to [me] in a language that [I] understand." That voice constantly reminded him of one fact: "You were never created to fit in. You were created to stand out." It was with that mentality that he — while working as a janitor — scored a meeting with a Fortune-500 CEO, along with one shot at a huge payday.
The son of a Mexican immigrant family, Montañez was a hard worker from an early age. He lived in the L.A. farming community of Guasti during the 1960s, where he picked grapes with all fourteen members of his family (including his grandfather). Although his childhood was tough, Montañez was determined to find success.
On the Other Side
The huge Montañez family had very little money, and away from their work on the farm, they lived together in a tight, cinderblock house situated within a migrant labor camp. Life became more complicated for Montañez when he dropped out of fourth grade.
Montañez's drive to succeed was strong, and he took any jobs that gave him money. In 1976, he was given a chance for full-time work as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant. Accepting the offer, however, was a difficulty in itself. He struggled with filling out the application due to his limited skills in reading and writing.
Back at home, his wife helped him fill out the appropriate paperwork, and before Richard Montañez knew it, he was part of the Frito-Lay team. Though he earned just $4 an hour with benefits, this job would eventually lead to the opportunity of a lifetime.