Gus Altuzarra

Like the best baseball players who also hail from Cuba, Gus slows the world’s haste down to his own comfortable tempo. He’s got that remarkable ability to transfigure any emotion cast upon him into laughter. He’s also the only guy I know who would bring a rolly suitcase on a backpacking road trip through the jungles and beaches of Costa Rica.

This laughter inducing extraordinaire lives a life of fun and thrills, but earns his keep in order to do so. Gus maintains balance and never allows the drudgery of work bleed into his relationships; he makes sure to pepper in light-hearted jokes whenever possible. You’ll find him working in a professional manner as often as you’ll see him busting up laughing while quoting a movie, such as:

Gus has an exceptional talent to lead and his dexterity to do so shines through in all aspects of his life. Warm and cordial people with wholesome values seem to gravitate to him and anchor their destinies to his own. He brought something called “Junto” to life in Los Angeles. Junto was a meeting that Benjamin Franklin used to hold with other community members to better themselves and their society. And like many other great leaders, Gus also diverged off the well-worn career path to create his own insurance services company, Aston Sharp.

In today’s world where everyone and their mother is creating a startup, or traveling, or joining a tech company, Gus turned a blind eye to the mainstream and continued chugging along to create his insurance company. I wondered why and asked him about it. He replied, “I wasn’t born to sell insurance. It’s not that I have a burning passion for insurance. Being my own boss in this industry allows me to live the lifestyle I want to live and pursue what I am passionate about. It gives me freedom.” Voila. The answer that so many college grads are looking for is rattling around Gus’s noggin. Pursuing your passion is fantastic, but it’s not the only way to live a gratifying life. Doing something that allows you to live the lifestyle you want is a less risky way to get the same passionate result out of life.

Now, Gus doesn’t know anything about pop culture. I’m talking zero knowledge whatsoever. I could compare him to Bruce Wayne or to Wayne Rooney or to Lil Wayne and he wouldn’t know the difference. But I actually admire the reason why he’s oblivious to these references. He puts his mind to one thing and excels at it. He places his intention to achieve the one thing in front of him and lets the noise of the world fade into the background.

Sometimes the ambition of this scuba diving, golfing, boating, bungee jumping, adventuring dude exceeds the limitations of the world. Like when he tried to fly to his homeland of Cuba from Aspen, after a week of skiing, on his birthday, in the middle of winter, but got snowed in and couldn’t catch a flight out. “But I force a smile, knowing my ambition far exceeded my talent” is the quote that comes to mind.

At the end of this week, Gus will again allow his ambition to run wild as he attempts one of the most rigorous physical challenges humanly possible – an Ironman – a 2.4-mile swim, followed by an 112-mile bike ride, capped off with a 26.2-mile run (a full marathon). Over the past year, I’ve watched him turn down parties and late nights at the bars in order to wake up at 5am the next morning to train for this event. If I were a betting man, my money would be on him to succeed like he’s done in some many other instances in his life.

…actually, I am a betting man, so please send all wagers to zohebdavar@gmail.com

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