Roberto Salazar recently left a successful career teaching technology overseas in international schools. After studying in Spain and returning to his native Ecuador, he has started his own company, Kikenyo, as a 3D graphic artist. I had the chance to talk with him about what it took to make such a change, what were some of his challenges as well as moments that have made him proud. Enjoy
Ignite Change (IC)–Your new life direction has a lot of changes: countries, careers, working to studying, self employed, etc. How did it all start? What was it that pushed you in this new direction?
I think the number one reason had to be boredom. Once you start waking up in the morning and your realize your day will be very similar to the previous one then you start questioning yourself, “Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life”
When I changed directions I was 33 years old, I enjoyed my teaching job, it wasn’t bad, kids were great, environment was professional but I guess I was simply bored of teaching computers to middle-schoolers. Same questions, similar situations, similar subjects, similar problems. Even though I was able to come up with creative projects and lessons they had to be aimed at teaching 14 years-olds so that limited the “crazy” things I had in my mind.
I changed careers because I was bored of what I was doing and I’ve always wanted to know more about computer graphics so i applied to a school in Valencia, Spain, got accepted and went to study computer graphics related to the 3D world.
IC–What initial fears did you have and how did you still manage to take action in the face of your apprehensions/fears?
That I was not smart enough or creative enough to become a 3D artist, and to tell you the truth I still am (even though I am doing great in my new business). I think creativity is a hard field to delve into, many people are very quick to criticize your work and in Spain I experienced this firsthand with the worst professor I’ve had in my life.
The class was labeled “creativity” and we had to come up with 3 different “creative projects”. Initially I was excited to work on it, and it was hard, but the professors destructive criticism towards my work (and others as well) was crushing. I was scared, disappointed, and asked myself “what have I gotten into now? I’m never gonna make it out in the real world if I cannot make it here in class”.
I soon came to realize that I had to continue, that there was no way back at this point. I didn’t care about creativity, I was more focused on learning the 3D software that I was passionate about so I pushed my horrible experience in the creativity class away from my brain. Eventually there was another creativity class and on this one I scored a 9.5/10 with a different professor.
I think what I want to say is that there will be lots of negative people when you make that career change, and negative people that want to drag you and your ideas down. This you must ignore and continue with the goal you have in mind.
IC–You spoke in the last question about how you faced fear and a sense of “I can’t do this”, but is there a time in the beginning (or anytime really) that you really felt, “wow, I can do this?”
I finished my studies in November 2011 and came back to Ecuador to look for something in the 3D world. I couldn’t find anything right away. I interviewed with a few companies but no one would call me back so I had to go into substitute teaching because I was completely broke.
Then in February this huge construction company called me in to interview and they offered me a temporary job creating 3D graphics for their engineering projects. I started and have not stopped.
They gave me an opportunity, and I did not waste it. I designed the excavation 3D model of the new Ecuadorian oil refinery. It was a competition between companies of who proposed the best solution to the government and we won meaning my 3D graphics were everywhere in the presentation. It was amazing because then I knew I could do this, I will do this and I am good at it. This was in June of 2012.
I was happy, but I had to keep going so I continued with the constructive sequence of the subway station for the new Quito Subway. This video has been the best I have ever created so far.
IC–You went from an employee to self employed. What’s been the biggest reward and challenge in this?
When I was employed at a school, I worked on a given schedule. It was 7 – 3 pm job but I still had to do planning outside normal work hours, but we had months off for summer and other holidays. Now I have to work whenever I need to complete a project.
For example, I was working yesterday, Sunday, until 4:30 pm in one of the offices of this construction company. Sometimes I stay until 3 a.m. rendering the final product and there are days where I an take the entire morning off. I like it, I get to choose when I work and then again, I love creating 3D worlds so I don’t really mind working on huge projects.
IC–What has changed in how you view the future in regards to your work, money and planning?
I think the most important thing where I have evolved is that I don’t have to do it all. Inside the classroom, you, the teacher, had to do everything. I had to teach, discipline students, write tests, grades, create projects, etc etc etc. And I started thinking about this in my new projects but they were so big that I soon realized I needed to hire other people to help me out. And I did. So now I have about 5 people working with me in these awesome projects, and its great. They are amazing artists and I get to bring them together working all in the same direction.
This short experience has given me a vision to where I want to take my company. I am currently building my own studio that will house many artists under my roof.
IC–Hindsight is 20/20 so looking back, is there something you would have done differently? What is one moment/decision/action that stands out that makes you really proud?
Back in November this huge construction company offered me a stable job (I had been working as a contractor). I declined the job and I at the moment I was scared about my decision because it would have been a great job BUT I am so glad I did it. Since then I have managed to get 2 other huge clients and I get to work in my studio here in my own house, I get to take naps in the afternoon and work in my PJs! Love it!
IC–Last question, if you had somebody come to you in a career that they wanted to change, but were afraid to move into action, what would you tell them?
Of course they have to go for the change BUT plan it. Look for a program that will help you achieve this goal, talk to them, and communicate consistently. Have enough money saved up to help you get there. Choose something you are passionate about, that you are proud of, and that will become part of you eventually. Do this and you will never look back again into your previous life.
I hope you enjoyed the interview. If you would like a FREE copy of my book (Creating your Personal Development: A guide to doing it everyday), it is available for the next 24 hours on Amazon without charge. Enjoy it and please leave a review.