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How to Turn Any Challenge into a Life-Changing Opportunity


On social media, there’s a graphic that’s been floating around for years about iconic people who weren’t always successful. Have you seen it? It’s called “famous failures” and shows nine legendary humans: Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and The Beatles. Beside each of their photos is a description of how they failed before reaching star status. It’s a reminder that even talented people fail at something.

That’s why you should embrace failure, and dream bigger in spite of it. At some point, you might be the first person in your network to turn a huge challenge into a life-changing opportunity.

In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, SUCCESS People Editor Tristian Ahumada chats with music executive Lex Borrero about going above and beyond to reach your goals. Borrero is the co-founder of Neon16, a record label and talent incubator for music artists. He is also the former executive vice president at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Records.

Borrero says identifying the opportunity in every situation is key. Here are the three ways he did that to become a Miami music legend.

Find the untapped potential in your industry.

When everyone is doing one thing, look in the opposite direction. What have dozens of companies and entrepreneurs missed when it comes to serving people? Which customers have they neglected and how can you fill in the gaps? 

“The growth of Neon16 happened because I identified this opportunity in the Latin market where there was no brand culturally representing what was happening,” Borrero says. “Everybody was focused on building the artist, touring—very close-minded…. Coming before that, working at Roc Nation and throughout the years, I saw these American brands identify what urban culture is and utilize that to monetize the culture. I understood that there was nothing like that in the Latin business.”

Breaking the mold isn’t easy, especially when you’re the first person to do it. To keep innovating, always…

  1. Aim to make an impact, not just money.
  2. Inspire others to embrace your unconventional ideas.
  3. Build a team of supporters that can help you be great (and vice versa).

Don’t be afraid to try new things.

By having a curious mind, you slowly open yourself to new opportunities. Think of the first time you learned to pitch an idea or or invest into your side hustle. Those things may have been scary, but you took the first steps. You got through it.


You likely gained your most cherished, marketable skills after facing those challenges. The same thing happened to Borrero. One day while recording in the studio, a wealthy woman walked in and shared her idea for a music business company. She didn’t know where to start, but Borrero was eager to help.

“I was maybe 24 years old and had never written a business plan,” Borrero says. “I’m a college dropout; I don’t have any formal education in business. But I had a real understanding of common sense and how to put things together…. [She] introduced me to a company called Abbot Downing, which is the operation arm for wealth management at Wells Fargo. I got to sit on this board and present an idea I had for this company, which I made up in a one-page business plan…. I left that board meeting with a $1 million investment.” 

Borrero did lots of Googling to create a solid business plan. The moral of the story? Be brave enough to step outside your comfort zone.

Remove the word ‘enough’ from your vocabulary.

Your thoughts are powerful. If you think positively about what you can gain from a situation, that helps you see new opportunities. But if you let negative thoughts take over, it’s the opposite effect. The road blocks in front of you seem to stretch for miles.

Painting the right picture in your mind is everything. Start by removing the word “enough” from your vocabulary. Train your mind to dream beyond what’s possible, and then never back down. For example, it isn’t “enough” to strive for three clients when you know you have the skills to get five. It isn’t “enough” to keep your side hustle small when you have the resources to grow it bigger.

“Push yourself to the edge of the mountain where it’s life or death, and where you might trip and fall, but you feel alive,” Borrero says. “That’s where you need to live as an entrepreneur. That’s where the juice is.”

Borrero only has one rule for his staff. No matter what the challenge is, no one can say, “This idea isn’t doable.” Because in reality, there’s a way to make it happen. Adopt that same mindset, and you’ll always see the life-changing opportunity within a challenge.

Lydia Sweatt is a freelance writer, bookworm, and bass guitar enthusiast. When she goes outside, a bicycle goes with her.


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