Lorenzo Gomez III, author of The Cilantro Diaries.

The Cilantro Diaries is a delightful book about how Lorenzo Gomez III made his way first through H-E-B Grocery Store No. 5 in San Antonio and then on to Rackspace and Geekdom.

It’s a fun read and packed with good advice, particularly for people just starting out in their careers.

Gomez, the author of the Cilantro Diaries, business lessons from the most unlikely places, grew up on San Antonio’s Westside. Today, he serves as a director at Geekdom and the 80/20 Foundation, a philanthropic organization, and co-founder of Tech Bloc. He also serves as a board member, advisory board member and mentor for a variety of local and national tech and entrepreneurial organizations. He has also worked at two startups, Rackspace and CityView.

In this edition of the Ideas to Invoices Podcast, Gomez shares with us some of his “Popisms” or life lessons learned from his father that proved helpful in the workplace and in life. He also talks about San Antonio’s evolution from a tourist town to a technology center.

The book came about because Gomez worked in the produce department at H-E-B No. 5 and he also often told stories during his days at Rackspace that came to be known as the Cilantro stories.

One piece of advice Gomez tells people to do is to assemble their own personal board of directors. These are trusted confidants who want you to succeed.

“The further up I got in my career I realized that all the most successful people that I met had a personal board,” Gomez said.

People don’t have to do it themselves, Gomez said. The board consists of people who have your best interest at heart, he said.

“In your career you’re inevitably going to get to a decision point where you just don’t know what the next right decision is to make, and Google isn’t going to answer it for you and that’s when you need to go to these people on your board to get counsel,” he said.

Gomez also advises people not to speak hard truths to people whose boards they are not on.

In the book, Gomez also recounts several “Popisms” or pieces of advice from his father like “nothing good ever happens after midnight” or “You’ve got to dance with the one who brung ya.” Gomez believes strongly in loyalty and he thinks that concept is a strong one in San Antonio in particular.

Graham Weston, co-founder of Geekdom and Rackspace, is Gomez’s mentor. They shared a cubicle when Gomez was 21. Gomez advises people to look for mentors in their career paths that can unlock doors for them. They don’t have to be someone of Weston’s stature, they can be managers in a company that see potential in you.

“Who in your world can see the potential in you that even you don’t see,” Gomez said.

Gomez credits several female managers at Rackspace who changed his life and career trajectory. He’s also an advocate of diversity and inclusion in the technology workspace.

“The magic only happens when you have two radically different ideas that collide with one another,” he said. And that only happens with people from diverse backgrounds, he said.

Rackspace, founded in 1998, had such a profound impact on San Antonio and pretty much changed the face of the city from a tourist town to a tech town.

“Rackspace was one of the very first confidence boosters to the city,” Gomez said. “It really changed people’s perspectives that anyone can be in tech.”

In 2011, Geekdom also changed the face of San Antonio’s technology ecosystem downtown. It has spun out several companies and served as the catalyst for the city’s downtown tech center. Nick Longo and Weston founded Geekdom.

“Nick and Graham saw San Antonio’s potential,” Gomez said.

They created a place for a community to happen, Gomez said. Geekdom has transformed into the new way for cities to do economic development, he said. Geekdom’s companies together have created about 700 jobs, Gomez said.

For more, listen to the entire interview below where Gomez talks about the 80/20 Foundation, San Antonio’s changing skyline, Cast Tech High School and more.

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