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PR Expert Shares How He Helped A Company Sell For $1 Billion

Bruce Cardenas, a native of small town Highbridge New Jersey, has dedicated his life to serving others. He has a passion for entrepreneurship, but also a calling to help people, which he has pursued throughout his career.  As an expert in Brand & Relationship Building, Cardenas has occupied numerous positions, including those of USMC Veteran (United States Marine Corps), LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department), LASD Executive Protection & Security Consultant, and a member of the Board of Directors of Saleen Motor, to name a few.

Cardenas is driven by his desire to motivate individuals to reach their fullest potential. One of his most notable achievements was helping Quest Nutrition establish powerful connections, which resulted in a staggering $1 billion cash exit. He attributes his success to his genuine desire to help others grow and prove his value, which ultimately earned him an equity share in the company.

He reflects, “If you’re able to demonstrate your worth, you could see a significant return on your investment when you deliver. That’s exactly what happened to me during my time at Quest Nutrition. I had a sincere desire to contribute to their growth, and over time I proved my value. As a result, I was granted equity in the company and benefited greatly when it was sold for $1 billion in 2019.”

Throughout his multifaceted career, Cardenas has earned the trust of high-profile business leaders, celebrities, and even heads of state through his private security firm. Now, he is entering a new phase of his life by sharing his expertise through public speaking. He aims to teach others tactical solutions for building impactful relationships, while also inspiring them to persevere in the pursuit of their aspirations, no matter how challenging the journey may be.

How has your business grown to where it is today? 

Bruce Cardenas: Although I couldn’t always pinpoint the exact nature of my desire to assist others, I have always been dedicated to serving others. For instance, during my tenure as a cop, a close friend of mine had a small security business that required security over the weekend, and when I learned about it, I gladly offered to work it. I have always enjoyed safeguarding others, assisting them, and resolving issues. Later, when I thought about establishing my own company, I contemplated, “How do I go about this? How can I meet these celebrities?” Eventually, I decided to take the risk and be audacious by introducing myself. From there, my business expanded rapidly, and my clients ranged from Presidents and A-list celebrities to business tycoons.

What advice do you have for those just starting out their careers?

Bruce Cardenas: I joined Quest Nutrition without any qualifications in the science or nutrition field, making me the least qualified person on the team. However, I had the drive to contribute and asked, “What can I do to help build this brand?” Initially, I doubted my ability to go anywhere in the company without a degree. But by delivering substantial value, I eventually rose to become one of their top executives.

My advice would be to have faith in your own abilities and the value you bring to the table. You never know when or where those skills will come in handy.

How do you maintain this drive? 

Bruce Cardenas: It’s important to me that whatever I do brings value not only to myself, but also to the world, to consumers, and to everyone around me. Whether I am working in security, nutrition, providing business advice, public speaking, or coaching, I am always focused on changing people’s lives for the better. Sometimes, when I question whether I am the right person for the job, I remind myself to keep going and to remain confident in the unique gift that I have to offer others.

For me, that gift is providing valuable insights and advice on business strategy, PR, and relationship building. It’s truly amazing when the chairman of a company worth $100 million calls me for help.  The kid inside of me thinks, “They’re calling me?”

The reality is no matter how big or small we feel, our skills and expertise can make a significant impact on others.

What was the motivation behind building your businesses? 

Bruce Cardenas: My mother and brother were both alcoholics, and I also had two cousins who died from alcoholism. Growing up, it was a constant struggle for me. Although I never drink, I always felt like alcoholism was a demon that I couldn’t escape from. Everyone around me drank, and it played a different game in my mind. Being acutely aware of the struggles of those around me only pushed me further into pursuing things that brought me joy and fulfillment. I always encourage people to focus on building healthy habits in their lives.

We all have our own addictions, and for me, I channeled my energy into working hard and building businesses. That way, I didn’t have the time or inclination to head down the same path as my family. I’ve had my own financial struggles in the past, including filing for bankruptcy when my security company grew faster than I knew how to manage. I didn’t have enough money to meet payroll, and it was a huge blow to my ego. However, that experience taught me a valuable lesson in growth. I’ve spoken to billionaires who were once homeless, so I know that these struggles don’t have the power to break your future.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

Bruce Cardenas: I am excited for the next two decades of my life, as I look forward to embarking on new and exciting endeavors with individuals and making a positive impact on everyone I meet. I am often asked about my end goal, but for me, if I can leave this world knowing that I made a difference, then I will be content.

One of the things that brings me immense joy is helping people. I firmly believe that the only limits that exist are the ones we impose on ourselves, and it gives me great satisfaction to help people break free from those limitations.

There are countless opportunities available to us beyond the confines of a typical nine-to-five job. I’m passionate about coaching others who aspire to be more than average in life. I refuse to settle for mediocrity and strive to empower others to do the same.

What is your greatest passion? 

Bruce Cardenas: Making connections is something I genuinely enjoy, and I always try to do it with a pure heart. I know that some people make connections with ulterior motives, but for me, it’s about recognizing the potential in others and helping them reach their goals. When I introduce two people and something great comes out of it, it’s an amazing feeling to know I played a part in that.

What was life like growing up?  

Bruce Cardenas: I grew up in a small town named Highbridge, located in New Jersey. As a child, I thought that was the entire world, and even today, the population remains around 2,500 people. We were raised in a middle-class family, and my father, a hardworking union guy, started his own business. I believe I inherited my entrepreneurial spirit from him.

During my time in New Jersey, I looked up to a local police chief, and I aspired to be a cop. When I reached high school, I asked him, “What do I need to do to join the force?” His response was, “Bruce, join the Marine Corps first––and when you get out, I’ll hire you.” That was all the motivation I required. I immediately convinced my best friend and said, “We’re going to the Marine Corps.” It wasn’t until I joined the Marine Corps that I realized how vast the world was and how many incredible things there were to discover. Nevertheless, I never forgot what the police chief had said; I always knew that I was going to become a cop.

What brought you to the position of success you are in now? 

Bruce Cardenas: My drive for entrepreneurship was instilled in me by my father, who was also an entrepreneur. I always aimed for more, and didn’t want to settle for being average. Despite having a decent salary as a cop, I constantly thought about how I could bring more value to the world and provide service. This led me to research and eventually commit to the idea of starting my own security and protection businesses.

One pivotal moment for me was when I met the creator of Quest Nutrition, Shannon Pena, at the gym. She shared some of her protein bars with me and it gave me an idea. Although I knew nothing about the business, I decided to help them gain more brand exposure for free for nine months by promoting their product to my clients from my security company.

I leveraged my relationships with high-profile clients, including celebrities, influencers, and top entrepreneurs, by offering to send them products. I’d simply say, “Hey, by the way, I’m going to send you some product from this company I’m helping.”  They were very receptive to the offer and were happy to try the products. Nine months in, the founder of Quest Nutrition—Ron Pena—said, “You’re either a spy for another nutrition company, or you’re just a nice person.” 

It turned out that he was a nice person, and Quest Nutrition began compensating me for my efforts. Although I continued to work my day job, Quest Nutrition was so impressed with the value I brought to their company that they felt they should compensate me more. However, for me, the fact that they acknowledged the significant value I brought did not lessen my determination to prove myself. The moment they started paying me, I thought, “Wow, I really need to prove myself now.”

I acquired this ethical dedication from my father and it has guided me throughout my career. My advice to people starting out in their careers is to consider offering to do an unpaid internship or trial period in a big company they aspire to work for. By doing this, you can prove your value and show that you’re dedicated to helping the company grow. In my case, I offered to help Quest Nutrition for free, and over time, I demonstrated my value to them. As a result, I was granted an equity share which allowed me to benefit from their cash exit of $1 Billion dollars in 2019. It’s important to remember that if you can prove your value, you will eventually be compensated for it, and it may even exceed your expectations.

Interview by LA STYLE Magazine

Presented by lastyleleaders.com

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