The Best of Me for the Best of You
By Mirela Sula
When we ask Bernado what he has been doing for most of his life, he answers “I am an ongoing project that was started 52 years ago. Project "Bernardo" continues today, and I'm more interested than ever in learning and developing”. Bernardo is fifty-two but it seems that he has the curiosity and energy of a 26-year-old!
He has been an entrepreneur for more than 32 years and a husband for nearly 30 years to his wife Julia. Bernardo became a parent 25 years ago and he is a father of three: He has two sons, Max and Lucci, and Gigi is his daughter. If we were to try and describe Bernardo in a few words, it would be, honest, loyal, very motivated and driven – and one who creates his own path and vision. He usually feels comfortable interviewing other people for his magazine, The Best You, but here he is sharing his story for Global Woman magazine in this exclusive interview.
You have created a global platform for self development – how did it start?
It started with a book, curiosity and having lost it all. The book was Change Your Life In 7 Days by Paul McKenna; the curiosity came from starting to ask myself, when I was thirty-something, "surely, there must be more to life than working in something that doesn’t have a true meaning?" I thought there had to be more to life than just working, so I set out to find out what my true meaning was. That brought me to NLP training and to Dr. Richard Bandler. Back then I was running a real estate company. Then, when I lost it all to a property crash in Spain when I was 40, I decided to start all over again. I did that by founding NLP Life Training and 5 years later The Best You.
You have achieved a lot of success but have also faced many challenges on your journey; How have they impacted on who you are today?
I personally think we are very lucky. A lot of people all over the world have real, life-long struggles. They have lived all their lives in places with no electricity, in poverty, with no running water, refrigeration or internet. They have poor health care and live hard lives, or they've been brought up in war zones. So, in the West, our challenges or what we think are challenges, really aren't so bad. My first real difficulty came when I was 15, when I lost my father. Since then I suppose I have convinced myself that life throws things at you, and it’s your choice how you deal with it and if you let it affect you or impact you negatively or not. My grandfather was still alive and he tried to step into my dad’s shoes. I can only imagine what it must be like to lose a son. Unfortunately, he passed away six months later. So, I suppose that from an early age I discovered that my family and I were on our own. My uncles and aunts carried on with their own lives and my mum was left alone to bring us up and work very hard to do so. I stepped up and tried in a very small way to fill my dad’s shoes.
My first real difficulty came when I was 15, when I lost my father. Since then I suppose I have convinced myself that life throws things at you, and it’s your choice how you deal with it and if you let it affect you or impact you negatively or not.
Over the years I have discovered that I have had to do that in different ways many times. So, what I know is that I am resilient, that I keep going. I understood and learned early on that change is good and also necessary, and I have never been scared of re-inventing or improving myself. I have had many very hard days, but I have always brushed myself off and started all over again.
What are the most important events in your life that have influenced your personality?
Apart from the death of my dad, and the responsibilities I took on those early years, I would say losing all my money twice was a wake up call to work smarter. The first time was at the age of 26. My son was six months old, and my wife was pregnant again, when there was a real estate crash. I had a moment when all my savings were in a box of Roses chocolates, and I literally used my last 100 pesetas. That was a wake-up call. There was a moment when I thought what that last coin meant. Basically from then on, I started working in Timeshare and eventually real estate and I built my wealth all over again. The second time I was 38. That was much more of a challenge as I had accumulated more wealth, several, cars and properties, I was living the life, and the second real estate crisis caught me completely unprepared. It meant a time for big decisions, starting all over again, moving to England, and starting something new, promoting seminars while I left my family in Spain.
How do you remember your childhood?
I had lovely and loving parents. I was born in London and lived here until I was nine. My parents were both immigrants, who worked as staff in the homes of very wealthy people. Because of that, we used to travel all over Europe: Austria in winter, Venice and Spain in the summer. Then my parents moved back to Spain. In Marbella, I had a very nice, easy-going time. I lived in a lovely villa where my parents worked, so I have always lived in great properties and surrounded by wealthy people. My parents paid for me to go to private schools – so yes, I was fortunate. I had lots of fun growing up and I enjoyed all the pleasures a place like Marbella had to offer.
How was your relationship with your parents?
It was great with both. Unfortunately I did not get to know my dad well enough. They were both hard working. My dad was a maître d', so he had vast knowledge of good wines and good food. My mum is a chef, so I was brought up in that environment. I remember from a very young age, helping, shopping, drying dishes, washing cars. They met in England, and they brought us back to Spain. My mum is a force of nature, an amazing character that worked very hard to support us and educate us – especially after my dad died. She's old school Spanish from Sevilla!
You were born in the UK and then moved to Spain and then back again to London – how would you describe this transition?
I was lucky because when I left the UK I was fluent in English. It took me a bit of time to become fluent in Spanish but I then became completely bilingual. When I left Spain at the age of 40, even if I hadn't worked in the UK, I was lucky that I could speak the language and knew how to get around. It made me think about how difficult it was for our parents who came as immigrants to this country with no knowledge at all of English. It must have been so difficult. So for me, the most difficult thing was to leave my family in Spain for the first three years and to commute back and forth. To be honest I never thought in a million years I would have left Spain to work in England! But you do what you have to do! I miss Spain and I wish I spent more time at home – that’s my plan in the coming years.
How did you manage to keep the balance between family and your career?
Well, my wife has always been great at making a nest. We have moved many times, but home became home very quickly! I have always been very business-driven, In Spain life is different, there is more sunshine, more outdoor activities. It's true that I missed out on quite a few things – like when my boys were teenagers. I am sure it wasn't easy for them, but they are all great, independent and very hard-working. I am very proud of them, they are my real legacy to the world. When I work, I work very hard and long hours – but I do try to holiday or travel more and plan to do a lot more in the future. I really would like to dedicate my future years to learning and doing new things, and to speak around the world. To live life to the full!
What is the role of your wife Julia in your career?
She is my "Consigliori" – my advisor. I share all my ups and downs with her; especially the downs, unfortunately for her. We have had a few. She has always been a part of all my dreams, my visions, my successes and my failures. As they say, behind every man (great or not!) there is a strong woman.
You now lead very successful enterprises – what is the goal and the plans that you have for the future?
It’s exciting times at The Best You. We have many exciting things on the go. It started with NLP and launching NLP Life Training 10 years ago, then five years ago I launched The Best You Magazine. This year we promoted our first EXPO. It was the first personal development EXPO in Europe. We have our second one planned on the 4th and 5th March 2017, and we are very excited about it. We will have 8 seminar rooms, the main stage, more than 112 workshops, 140 exhibitors and we are hoping for more than 6000 visitors.
We have our second one planned on the 4th and 5th March 2017, and we are very excited about it. We will have 8 seminar rooms, the main stage, more than 112 workshops, 140 exhibitors and we are hoping for more than 6000 visitors.
During the evening of the EXPO on the 4th of March we will run our first Best You Gala and Awards dinner for the most inspiring professional developers and personal growth leaders. I think it's important to recognise people who've made a contribution to helping others, and to celebrate that. I'm sure it's going to be fantastic. For the last four years we have been recording our seminars and interviewing so many great people, and with all that content and the content of other partners, The Best You TV channel and E-Learning Platform will go live in the second quarter of 2017. So our plans are to get into the U.S. market and provide inspiring stories, events and products all over the world and in many languages.
What would be your message for all women entrepreneurs?
My message is we need you. The world needs you, Men have been in charge for far too long. Women bring something very unique to business. Of course, it's too corny to simply say "they are more empathetic, more caring, they are loyal" and so on. But my experience with women entrepreneurs is they often bring something different to the role. Perhaps it's a different perspective, a different way of looking at things. Perhaps it's a different experience of life from most of the men. I don't know, but whatever it is, when I am always pleased to meet a great woman entrepreneur and hear what she has to say. To encounter her drive and her passion is all part of the reward of working in business.
My personal belief is that thanks to the era we live in with technology at our disposal, we have not only the opportunity but also a duty – a social, personal, professional and global responsibility to make the world a better place. Getting more women into business, getting more people taking control of their lives is part of that – and then going beyond that to make others' lives better. So, working with women and seeing women empowered is all part of the industry I work in.
But, whether we are talking about men or women, I believe we all have to find our purpose, we have to find out what our mission in life is, what we want our legacy to be. Don't just live, really LIVE!