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The Carrera Brothers on Pursuing the American Dream
The American Dream. It’s a concept that resonates with most, and something many strive to achieve. And while we may define it differently, it boils down to two things — opportunity and freedom. For two brothers, one an American Family Insurance agency owner and another an employee, this was the recipe for success.
On screen: AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE, Insure carefully, dream fearlessly.
ALEX CARRERA: The person that really inspired me to pursue my dreams was my mother.
On screen: ALEX CARRERRA, American Family Insurance Agent, Arlington Heights, Illinois
ALEX CARRERA: She would always tell me if you put your mind to it, you could accomplish anything. She supported my dreams over and over. And then I was able to do that for my brother, and now I'm doing it for my sons. Originally, I came to this country when I was 2 and 1/2 years old. My parents both migrated here from Ecuador. And for fifth grade, at about the age of 10, my parents got divorced.
ALEX CARRERA: So, I had to return to Ecuador with my mom because my mom didn't really have any family here. My mom basically worked to support me going to military school. So early on, I decided that no matter what it took, I am going to become a pilot. When I was told that I could never fly a plane because of my eyesight, I was torn to pieces. What am I going to do? Where do I go from here? I thought to myself, you know I had the opportunity to go to United States.
ALEX CARRERA: My mom bought me a one-way plane ticket. She said, "Mijito here's $30, and I wish you the best of luck."
On screen: VICTOR CARRERA, American Family Insurance Agent, Sales District Leader, Illinois
VICTOR CARRERA: My brother have been here for a few years and had started his career with American Family Insurance and said, you know, I need some people and asked if I wanted to come and help him in his business.
ALEX CARRERA: My brother came to this country when he was about 16 or 17, and it was definitely a brother relationship. But shortly thereafter, when my mom passed, that changed. I felt responsible for him. I felt like I needed to be his father figure. It was a totally different outlook on the way that our relationship was.
SUSAN CARRERA: Alex is the most patient guy you will ever meet.
On screen: SUSAN CARRERA
SUSAN CARRERA: He's the best father. He will do anything for his kids. He'll do anything just about for anybody.
VICTOR CARRERA: He could have easily stayed behind back in Ecuador, but he wanted better for himself, he wanted a better future. That inspired me to go after my own dreams and say, you know what? If he can do it, so can I.
On screen: Insure carefully, dream fearlessly. AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE
When Alex Carerra and his younger brother Victor were just boys, their mother moved them from Chicago back to Ecuador after she separated from their father, posing some changes and challenges that weren’t always easy for them to overcome.
“My mom’s family was still in Ecuador, so Victor and I moved back there with her while our father and older brother stayed in Chicago,” says Alex. “Moving to an unfamiliar, third-world country was hard. School was tough, and we were very poor. We lived in a small, two-room apartment with mud walls and unfinished wood floors. We had no hot water, and shared an outdoor bathroom with five other families.”
While times were tough and the situation not ideal, their mother had only one goal — for her children to get a good education and have a successful career. So, she enrolled Alex in military school, which gave him the structure and ambition he needed. Early on in his schooling, Alex decided he wanted to become an Air Force pilot and support his mother financially, but a failed vision test forced him to shift paths.
“When I found out I would never be able to fly a plane, I had no choice but to pursue a different dream,” shares Alex. “I would go work in America to support my mom and Victor.”
And so, in August 1991, when Alex was just 16, his mother bought him a one-way ticket to Chicago and gave him her last $30. He moved in with his father and older brother, attended the local high school and worked two jobs. But when he realized school just wasn’t challenging him, he made the decision to drop out and work for a car rental company. There, he discovered his talent for sales and was quickly on the path to management. As time passed and his ambition grew, he jumped to another sales job and then on to getting his insurance license. And in 1997, he became an American Family agency owner.
In all the steps of his journey, his primary goal remained constant — to make enough money to support himself, his new wife, young child and his mother and Victor back in Ecuador. So he put in the time and dedication to make his business grow, eventually allowing him to take on more staff. This opened up an opportunity for Victor to come to the states.
“I didn’t want to leave my mom by herself,” shares Victor. “Fortunately our oldest brother moved back to Ecuador, and I was able to move to Chicago in 1998, at age 17, to live with and work for Alex while attending school.”
Without Alex taking the leap to move back to the U.S. as a teen, Victor would likely never have had the opportunity to create the life he wanted. And by taking advantage of that opportunity and putting in his own hard work, Victor opened his own American Family agency in 2006.
Today, Alex remains a dedicated agent, primarily serving the Hispanic community of the Chicago suburbs. And Victor has since been promoted to the sales district leader for Illinois. They’ve both found a way to make their dreams a reality.
“I credit our mother for giving us both a can-do mentality,” says Alex. “She always said, ‘if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,’ and I firmly believe that. She supported my dreams over and over, and that inspired me to do the same for my brother, and now my sons.”
Support for Your Dream
Ever dreamed of opening your own business or maybe even your own insurance agency? We can help with that! Learn how to start your agency career today. In fact, we're here to help support any of your dream pursuits! Check out our helpful resources and articles that'll help guide you along your journey.
Related Topics: Agent and Employee Stories , Empathy