Irving Pedroza is the definition of resiliency. When faced with extreme adversity, he took life into his own hands and created the world that he wanted to see. Through deep healing and work, he has come out empathetic and kind – truly wanting others to succeed. With Irving, what you see is what you get. He has worked to be the same person both in and out of the courtroom and has litigated hundreds of cases in recovered millions for his injured clients. His unique experiences have set him on a mission to help people feel less broken.
Today, we discuss recovering from betrayal and lifting up others. He reveals how sharing trauma can heal both the storyteller and the listener. And how in the face of adversity – we get to decide who we become.
- Lift others up. Helping others will lift you up as well. Learn from one another and share in the success.
- Do what you love. And you will be good at it. Hard work and commitment become worthy investments on the path to greatness.
- Look inward. Once you become comfortable with the truth of your own story – look around. See that everyone is going through something. How can you help others going through similar troubles?
Maria Monroy, LawRank, and Irving Pedroza
Irving Pedroza (00:03):
I want you to do awesome so I can learn from you. So the more people that we surround ourselves with that are just crushing it, the more we can learn from them and make it our own. The person that I admired the most in life trying to kill me, that was devastating.
Maria Monroy (00:25):
I have to assume that at some point in time you were like, I have to deal with this sh**.
Irving Pedroza (00:29):
Once I became a lawyer I felt like, Look, now I got to get myself better.
Maria Monroy (00:38):
Because success lies in the balance of life and law, we’re here to help you tip the scales. We get personal about what it really takes to run a law firm, from marketing to manifestation. I’m Maria Monroy, co-founder and president of LawRank, a leading SEO agency for ambitious law firms.
Irving Pedroza has litigated hundreds of cases and recovered millions for his injured clients, but beyond the success and relentless fight, he’s a good human. He’s one who lifts others up and has built a successful practice in the process. We came together to discuss recovering from betrayal, lifting up everyone around you, how sharing trauma heals both the storyteller and the listener, helping people feel less broken, and how in the face of adversity who we choose to be, because it is a choice, can shape a better world. Irving has experienced extreme adversity and has incredible strength, this is where he gets it from.
Irving Pedroza (01:42):
I would be nothing without my mom, my mom’s encouragement, I think it was her, and I also have a younger sister, I always thought to myself I have to do it, I have to keep going, because number one, my mom’s pain and struggle, it’s almost one of those things where I wanted to make the pain worth it. And as far as my sister, I wanted her to have someone who she could look up to and be proud of. Yeah, I think those are two things that constantly were in my mind about why I had to keep going.
Maria Monroy (02:30):
From an early age or once you were an adult?
Irving Pedroza (02:34):
From a very young age. Of everything we were going through, I think I realized that it was going to have to be me, there was no one else that could do it, and there was no one else that would do it. It’s one of those things where fortunately I realized early on that I needed to, and unfortunately I had to.
Maria Monroy (03:00):
Can you share with us some of those struggles, and what your life was growing up? Because I’m a big believer that our childhood really shapes us.
Irving Pedroza (03:09):
In a way I always had the right people around me. But basically, I was born in Mexico, I know you were, I know born in Guerrero, Mexico, which is a very poor town, it has a lot of violence, unfortunately, not only the state, but also the part I’m from. I think we had a population of maybe 3000 people. But grew up super poor, had a bunch of domestic violence in my family, then we were brought here when I was six years old and same thing happened, we were again super poor. We were brought undocumented, unfortunately.
Maria Monroy (03:52):
So was I.
Irving Pedroza (03:53):
Oh, I’m sorry.
Maria Monroy (03:56):
And then you can’t go back, and it’s so traumatizing. At least for me it was so difficult to not be able to go back for a long time.
Irving Pedroza (04:04):
To be honest with you, I was in shock. Because I didn’t know how to speak English, and my mom, she didn’t know English. And when we came here my father was abusive, but we had nowhere to go, anywhere else to go. Like you said, we couldn’t go back, but even here we didn’t have very many options because we were poor and we were undocumented.
Maria Monroy (04:28):
Same here. I think everybody, I mean, some people might assume that I come from money, but I don’t. So same exact story, and I had a level of domestic violence as well, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it. Probably not what you went through, but I think in Mexico, at least it was, and I think it still is to some extent, very much to hit children, it’s just part of the culture. Again, I think that there are different levels of that, I don’t think mine was super extreme, or anything like that, I think from what I’ve read about you, yours was much more extreme. But I do think part of it, and I’m not saying that this is okay, because it’s absolutely not okay, but it is cultural, and then you get here and your support system is gone, you’ve been stripped of that.
Irving Pedroza (05:21):
Right. No, you’re absolutely right, it is cultural, it unfortunately happens a lot more in Mexico and it’s accepted. So yeah, you’re right, you still have the same struggles, plus you add a few more. I remember we were still really poor, we were still going through violence, but now you add a different language, you add a lack of support system, you add basically culture shock. I remember the first meal I had, it was Burger King, I ended up throwing up.
Maria Monroy (05:54):
Irving Pedroza (05:57):
Yeah literally, my mom tells this story, I just didn’t want to eat any food because my first experience was Burger King and I threw up. So yeah, absolutely, you add all sorts of different obstacles to what you already grew up with. And then once we were here, I have an older brother who would encourage me to some degree. So me and him were adjusting okay, our age difference is maybe three years old, and he literally would encourage me to study, he would encourage me to do well, and he was basically, in a way, my protector, my guide. And I remember I knew how to do multiplication by seven, long division, I ended up doing algebra before I was eight, and it was all through him.
And I don’t know if you experienced this, but for him, not only was he smart, but he was also advanced in what they were learning because, I don’t know if it’s any longer the case, but back then I think Mexico, what you learn in Mexico is faster than what you learn here. And again, I don’t know if that’s the case anymore.
Maria Monroy (07:09):
Were you in a private school in Mexico?
Irving Pedroza (07:12):
Maria Monroy (07:13):
That’s so interesting. So I always thought, I had the same experience, I actually skipped third and fourth grade, not because of any, it was an age thing. So my school in Mexico held me back a year, we moved to the US, I had just started third grade, and my parents held me back a year, they just kept me home for a year, which was an awful, awful, awful year because I didn’t speak the language, and they would make me watch Ingles en Barreras which wasn’t doing anything at all. Which funny story, later I found out that my husband did a commercial for Ingles en Barreras, so I’m like, wow, I probably watched it at some point, that is so weird.
And I started fifth grade, because of that one year, and it was an age thing. I didn’t speak any English, Ingles en Barreras did not work, biggest scam in the world, but they would give me math problems and they were the easiest thing in the world. I was so advanced in math, it was absurd. And I assumed it was because it was a private school that I was in, but if you had the same experience, then that’s scary.
Irving Pedroza (08:20):
I think, if I’m not mistaken, they’re advanced one or two years in terms of what they taught.
Maria Monroy (08:25):
That’s scary to think though, that a third world country, which I’m in right now, by the way, is that much more advanced, especially at public school, which in Mexico public schools are supposed to be not very good, no offense or anything, it’s a known thing that they’re not there, and to think that they’re better than the public school system in the US, that’s scary.
Irving Pedroza (08:52):
Right. So yeah, me and him were adjusting, I remember his first year, he took every award possible, I took every award possible, and we didn’t even know English yet.
Maria Monroy (09:03):
Irving Pedroza (09:04):
And then second year started basically about the same, and then around the middle of our second year here, he was in fifth grade, I was in second, he just started to change, just drastically. The change was he was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, so that completely changed the person he was, the person he is, it changed his behavior, just completely different. He went from a person that would teach me things, he would literally cook for me at a young age, would show me, would encourage me constantly, even though we were going through struggles he would always encourage me and tell me, “We’re going to get over this through education, we’re going to survive this, don’t worry, we got this,” kind of thing, to a person where he was unrecognizable.
Even as we grew older, he would try to kill me a few times. One time he almost choked me to death, almost stabbed me a couple times, knocked me unconscious a couple other times, it was just all sorts of things, all sorts of issues that he went through. He even got lost at some point where we literally had a whole police search party looking for him. It changed dramatically, and I think that added to the all sorts of other problems we were going through.
Maria Monroy (10:30):
That must have been incredibly difficult, the person that you trusted the most all of a sudden was betraying you. How do you get over that?
Irving Pedroza (10:38):
That’s a good question.
Maria Monroy (10:40):
But you post a lot of awesome things, and you know that the first time I met you I was like, “I am a fan,” and I agree with most of the things that you post, if not all, but I have to imagine that that felt like the biggest betrayal.
Irving Pedroza (10:55):
It did, because like you said, it was one of those things where I was already used to not, in a sense, not having a father figure. I was used to that, I had accepted it, I had move on, I was like, I don’t need him, who cares? But with him it was like damn, what now? What do I now? And in a sense that’s where I relied back on what I felt about my mom and my little sister. And even to this day, I can tell you is it an ongoing battle, but the one thing that always comes back to mind John Forbes Nash was a mathematician, I forget what war, but I think it was World War II, he came up with game theory, and he came up with game theory around the age of 24, or something like that, and then after that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
So he was schizophrenic from late 30s to maybe 60. Around the age of 60 he just stopped being schizophrenic. And they asked them, they’re like, “Why?” They gave him the Nobel Peace Prize after, for what he did back in his 20s, and they asked him, “How did you stop being schizophrenic?” And he says, “My brain just told me to stop it, it just told me that it was time, that I no longer needed that.” And so when I learned, I’m sure you’ve seen, or I’m sure you’ve heard of The Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect was made after this guy.
Maria Monroy (12:34):
I have not, what is the butter, or I don’t recall, what is it?
Irving Pedroza (12:37):
It’s a movie.
Maria Monroy (12:39):
Oh, yes, yes.
Irving Pedroza (12:41):
So basically when I learned about this guy, and this was not when I was growing up, I was probably in law school when I learned about it, or somewhere around there, but basically it finally articulated what would always happen in my mind, in my mind I always thought, what would happen if at some point my brother got better? What would happen if we were 60 something and he got better, and he were to look at me and ask me, “Irving, you had every opportunity I never had, you had every chance I never did, you had everything that was taken away from me, not by anyone, but by faith, what did you do with it? What did you do as a son, as a brother, as a professional, as a human?”
And my biggest fear in life is to not have anything to say, or to disappoint him, or to say, “Eh, I did okay.” Or to just be like, “I couldn’t do much after you were gone, or after you were diagnosed and you changed.” That would be the biggest fear in my life. I don’t fear anything else, that’s what I fear. And so in a way that has always motivated me, I’m like, I may not be good at something, but if I want it, I’m going to try my hardest to get better at it, because of that same feeling.
Maria Monroy (14:24):
Where’s your brother now?
Irving Pedroza (14:25):
He’s with my mom, yeah.
Maria Monroy (14:28):
Okay. I don’t know why I thought he had passed, the way you do the posts, you’re talking about you miss your old, the way he was before he became?
Irving Pedroza (14:38):
The way he was, exactly.
Maria Monroy (14:38):
Okay, I didn’t understand that got it.
Irving Pedroza (14:43):
Yeah, because it’s completely different. Like I told you, it was someone I would look up to, even to this day, I could tell you, you know how you can tell some people are really, really smart? Even to this day I could tell he is probably top five smartest person I’ve ever met. And obviously I’ve met a ton of smart people, and I know a ton of smart people, and he was by far, I would still bet that he would be very successful whatever he ended up choosing to do. But yeah, that’s the reason I think about what he used to be, versus what he is now. And don’t get me wrong, what he is now, he’s a stable person, he’s a good person, caring person, but within 30 seconds of you having a conversation with him you could tell that he’s not okay.
Maria Monroy (15:32):
And how old was he when he was diagnosed?
Irving Pedroza (15:34):
He was 12.
Maria Monroy (15:36):
Oh wow, he was little, and you were very little, so that must have been really, because as an adult it’s much easier to comprehend, okay, it’s not me, but how did you comprehend that at nine?
Irving Pedroza (15:50):
Right. Trust me, it was one of those things where it was almost by necessity, because at some point my mom was too busy with my little sister, my schizophrenic brother, her own struggles with my father being poor AF, to where it’s like, what else am my? First of all, no one’s paying attention to me.
Maria Monroy (16:16):
But so many people, oh I don’t want to say so many people, I guess I don’t know that. I think a lot of people would’ve turned to drugs or alcohol or crime, and you didn’t. I mean, you literally are the American dream.
Irving Pedroza (16:34):
I think in a way it’s because I grew up surrounded by it.
Maria Monroy (16:40):
By the American dream?
Irving Pedroza (16:42):
No, sorry. Well, thank you for that. No, I meant by drugs, alcohol, gangs, I grew up in that environment around. I could tell you I had no friends that ended up in jail, my own father ended up in jail, for that matter. I know friends that sold drugs, did drugs, drank from an early age. And for me, it was almost the opposite. It was like, I see it so much, I don’t want to be a part of it. And again, this is where I go back to me completely thanking my mother, because I think she gave me enough love early on to where I knew she would always be there for me, but also she, almost by default she gave me freedom to create my own ideas, create my own thoughts.
So I never really went into the drug scene, never got into gangs because I was like, number one, what I told you about my brother, number two, my mom does care about me, even though all these struggles are going on, I don’t need any of this. And in my head, I always kept in mind what my brother would tell me, “The only way we can overcome this is through education.” And so I knew, trust me, I went off the rail a little bit in high school, I probably slept through every class, my classmates still make fun of me for that, or my friends at the time, and I stopped caring for a long time. I didn’t really care what I did.
But I never got so bad that it would destroy my ability to go to college, or my ability to go to law school. I was falling asleep in every class, but thankfully every class was advanced placement classes, so they were still rating higher than the regular classes. I remember I played poker in my calculus class, but I was in calculus. At some point the professors, or the teachers, they’ll just give me a C just because I am there, and I knew stuff like that, and I took advantage of it, and I never got off the rails enough to where it jeopardized me going to college. And I knew that, somehow I knew that.
Maria Monroy (19:07):
And what made you decide to go to law school?
Irving Pedroza (19:10):
Always feeling helpless, always in a way of everything, what I’ve told you, domestic violence, poverty, undocumented. My father ended up in jail, at some point my brother ended up in jail. I always felt like I could never do anything, I always felt like no matter what I know, no matter what I think, I can’t do anything about it. And I always tell this to people, and it’s funny, but I don’t know if you ever watched The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Maria Monroy (19:40):
Irving Pedroza (19:41):
Okay, remember Uncle Phil? Uncle Phil was a lawyer that always wanted to protect his family and cared about his family, and it was a combination. So I always thought to myself as what is something, I’m telling you.
Maria Monroy (19:56):
So Fresh Prince, that was the motivation?
Irving Pedroza (19:59):
It was part of it, for sure.
Maria Monroy (20:01):
That’s amazing, I love it. Because back then, I feel like there was nothing to do, compared to my kids have so many options, and back then you just weren’t exposed, there was no internet, so the exposure was minimal. How old are you?
Irving Pedroza (20:20):
Maria Monroy (20:22):
Okay, yeah, so definitely minimal exposure, a couple TV shows, and Ingles en Barreras.
Irving Pedroza (20:33):
Well, I watched a bunch of Cantunquas, and stuff like that.
Maria Monroy (20:34):
Oh yeah, El Chavo del Ocho?
Irving Pedroza (20:34):
El Chavo del Ocho.
Maria Monroy (20:34):
Yeah, me too.
Irving Pedroza (20:34):
Yeah, all that stuff. But yeah, it was like I’m going through all these things, and you’re right, there’s one or two TV shows, one of them Fresh Prince, and it made sense to me, it’s like, what can I do that I won’t have a helpless feeling anymore, that if my family ever needs help, I’m there. And in a sense lawyering made sense, so that’s why I decided to go to law school.
Maria Monroy (21:07):
And let’s talk about your career, you made partner at a firm when all odds were against you in general. So can you tell us a little bit about that?
Irving Pedroza (21:17):
I love what I do, no matter where and why, I would still keep doing it. And I always think to myself, if you love what you do, you’re going to be good at it no matter what. Because it takes time to be good, it takes commitment, and it takes a whole lot of hard work. I mean, I’m sure that, so it’s one of those-
Maria Monroy (21:42):
Yes, yes. But I agree, you have to love what you do. I mean, I’m so grateful, and I think you talk about gratitude, I think that a lot of people really miss the boat on that one. Just being grateful for, even if you want change, you have to be grateful for where you are today.
Irving Pedroza (22:02):
Right, no, absolutely. I’ve been one of the luckiest, one of the most blessed, whatever way you want to look at it, persons I know, just because I always had the right people around in my path, that either motivated me or inspired me or showed me the right way to go about something. So I’m super grateful, I’m super grateful for the people around me, and the people that I’ve learned from. And even now, I always tell people, “I want you to do awesome so I can learn from you.” So the more people that we surround ourselves with that are just crushing it, the more we can learn from them and make it our own.
Maria Monroy (22:48):
Oh, absolutely. I always think it’s funny when people are jealous, I think it’s important to sit with that for a second and it almost manipulate it, because jealousy is actually a good thing, because it’s showing you what you want, and it’s showing you that somebody’s accomplishing it, and that it can be done. And I think it’s also super important to surround ourselves with successful people. They say that we are the average of the top five people we hang out with.
Irving Pedroza (23:18):
It’s hard not to get into it, it’s hard not to want to do good things, or better things, or improve yourself if, like you said, you’re constantly around it. And that’s why even as far as my Instagram stories, I want to focus on that, I don’t want to focus on other things. First of all, I wouldn’t even be able to focus on other things, whenever people tell me what’s on TV I’m like, “I don’t know, I don’t watch TV.” I think you told me that too, I wouldn’t even know what to talk about.
Maria Monroy (23:46):
I do, but I have rules that I don’t watch TV during the week. I break them sometimes, but I don’t… Well right now it’s a shitshow with my kids, but typically we don’t let them watch TV during the week. And a few years ago my oldest came into the room and he was like, “Why do you get to watch TV?” It was bedtime and he was like, “Why are you watching TV?” And I was like, okay, I’m a total hypocrite. And I stopped and I realized that my sleep got better, I was in a better mood the next day, and I just don’t think it’s healthy, and I can go weeks without watching it, and I’m very selective about what I watch. Not the content per se, like I watch Handmaid’s Tale, which is probably the worst thing you can watch, but I am picky, it has to be amazing for me to watch it.
Irving Pedroza (24:34):
I do acknowledge that it’s easier when you’re single and without kids.
Maria Monroy (24:41):
So in your bio you say that you’ve dedicated your life to helping people feel less broken. Can you tell me about that?
Irving Pedroza (24:50):
It took a while to get to a point where I was comfortable sharing just about myself, and about my self growth. But once I got there I started realizing that everyone goes through their own hell. You can’t measure what you go through with someone else. To you, whatever you’re going through, it’s hell. So I realized that by speaking with other people, for example, with PowerMentor I started doing speaking presentations. I also at some point became a professor and I was teaching masters students, and in my head I thought masters students, most of them have it together.
Maria Monroy (25:31):
Nobody has it together. That’s a secret, nobody.
Irving Pedroza (25:34):
And so, exactly, what I realized is by sharing some of my own stories, people would come up to me and say, “Just listening to you helped me a lot.” So it became one of those things where the more people tell me that it’s helped them, the more I want to do it to continue to help people. I remember recently, actually, I got invited to an admitted students for USD Law School.
Maria Monroy (26:03):
My husband went there.
Irving Pedroza (26:04):
Oh, that’s awesome. I didn’t know that.
Maria Monroy (26:06):
Yeah, and then he transferred to UCLA, but he went there, and all of my best friends went to USD for undergrad.
Irving Pedroza (26:13):
And you didn’t.
Maria Monroy (26:15):
I didn’t go to college.
Irving Pedroza (26:16):
I didn’t know that.
Maria Monroy (26:17):
Yeah, yeah, no. I don’t think anybody knows that, I did not. A lot of people think I went to, well, people in San Diego, everyone thinks I went to USD, because I went to every single USD party.
Irving Pedroza (26:26):
Maria Monroy (26:26):
But yeah, no, I didn’t finish college.
Irving Pedroza (26:32):
Well, I didn’t even go to USD, but they invite me to all their events, especially the law school. So there was an admitted law students reception, and one of the newly admitted students came up to me and said, “Irving, you spoke at an event years ago and you inspired me to go to law school based on hearing your story, and basically you showed me that I could do it, that I was putting a bunch of excuses in my head, and after hearing you speak I realized I need to make those reasons, not excuses,” and things like that, they motivate me, they inspire me, and as much as maybe I inspired him to actually get into law school, apply and do all those things, just listening to stories like that, that encourages me and tells me, look, I’m not out to left field, that what I am saying is helping others, and that’s why I continue to do it.
And I do that just on a regular basis as to who I am, but also when you think about it as a lawyer, we help people who are in unfortunate situations and we helped them get better.
Maria Monroy (27:46):
Yeah, one of the reasons I love following you on social is because I don’t think people post about this stuff enough in the legal space. I remember when it wasn’t even cool to read a self-help book, it was considered just not cool. Now I think in general it’s accepted and self-advancement is a thing. But I think in the legal space, it’s just these things are not talked about enough. And we all know that lawyers don’t have the best habits, and there’s a lot of alcoholism, and just a lot of things, and it’s a very stressful environment. So I think it’s really refreshing, and I think it’s very brave of you, to do what most people are not doing, and what most people are not posting about.
Irving Pedroza (28:35):
I’m asking my clients to be brutally honest with ourselves, with me, about themselves, about what they’re going through, it’s like, why am I not doing the same? In a way I think about it as I pride myself in being the same person in all aspects of my life, I’m the same person as a lawyer, I am the same person as a son, I’m the same person in no matter what capacity you meet me, so why am I going to hide who I am? And it don’t get me wrong, it took a while, it took a while to get there. Part of it, I do it for others, but part of it I do it for me. The more I talk-
Maria Monroy (29:10):
And you should.
Irving Pedroza (29:10):
Maria Monroy (29:10):
You should do it for you.
Irving Pedroza (29:11):
Right, the more I talk about it, the more I learn, the more I’m comfortable with it, the more I’m free to say it. For the longest time in high school, I can tell you even my closest friends didn’t even know I had a brother, because as a high school kid I was ashamed to say, “Yeah, my brother beats me up. Yeah, my brother’s schizophrenic, Yeah, he ended up in jail.” I was terrified of that, I was terrified to be judged, or I was terrified to be called whatever names. So it does take a while, and it does take a lot of acceptance, and it’s one of those things like now here I am.
Maria Monroy (30:00):
My mindset coach says that life is always working for you, even when you think it isn’t. And I would argue that, and I don’t know if you agree with this, but all of the adversity that you faced, it made you who you are today, and it’s, in a way, motivated you to get here.
Irving Pedroza (30:18):
No, absolutely. I think it’s key, I think for everyone, it teaches us things. Every adversity that we encounter, you either let it defeat you or you learn from it.
Maria Monroy (30:32):
Absolutely. Sometimes I worry that my kids don’t have enough adversity, which is why I took them to a third world country.
Irving Pedroza (30:40):
Is that the reason?
Maria Monroy (30:41):
No, no, it’s not, that’s a joke. But I do worry about it because I didn’t grow up with money, I didn’t go anywhere. I literally went from Guadalajara to San Diego, and the next time I got on a plane was to go right back to Guadalajara. I mean, I grew up in a household that was somewhat toxic, and sometimes I worry, I’m like, they don’t have any adversity. But like you said, I think everybody has their own struggles, it’s your perception of things, I’m sure they’ll learn from, I don’t know, whatever it is the world throws at them.
Irving Pedroza (31:17):
I think you’re right though, even though you didn’t move to Mexico for that reason, I think seeing other people less fortunate gives us a different sense. Even now, I could tell you what I try to do, and I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been able to, but I try to go to Tijuana orphanages. I could go to an orphanage anywhere else, but Tijuana is a whole different world.
And the reason I really like going there is just because kids there, you can take them gifts, you can take them clothes, but more than anything what they value the most is you spending an hour or two with them, and to them it’s magical. To you it’s just an hour or two, but to them, you see it in their eyes, you see it in the way they hug you, the way they talk to you, and it’s super inspiring, and at the same time it brings you back to a feeling of holy shit, I am blessed, I am having an okay life, I have nothing to complain about. There’s people that are having it way worse.
Maria Monroy (32:28):
Irving Pedroza (32:29):
Just like we don’t get to choose our parents, they never even got to choose our parents, and even to this day they’re struggling. And that’s something that I’ve tried to do, and I try to do as much as I can, to go back and be like, look, they’re still suffering. Just because I’m not there anymore, that doesn’t mean it stopped existing, even where I’m from, even in Escondido, I still do a lot of presentations in Escondido, even though I’m no longer there, I know they’re still suffering. There’s still people in the streets, there’s still people fighting domestic violence, there’s still people fighting mental health issues.
Maria Monroy (33:12):
What advice would you have for those people?
Irving Pedroza (33:16):
I think it depends, I think it depends on where they are in their life, number one, but number two, it also depends on what struggle, because everyone, and even me if I think back on it, every little struggle created a different reaction from me, and in order to heal, every little struggle created something different. So for example, the most painful thing for me was my brother trying to kill me. And at some point it was very painful physically, I remember I ended up in the hospital unconscious, I think I woke up three days later, or something crazy like that. And I remember how it started, basically we were watching TV, I caught his attention, because we lived in an apartment, and it was a small apartment, and he was putting music volume really high, to where I know the neighbors would be angry.
And so basically he just stops, turns around, I was sitting on a sofa, turns it around, kicks me, kicks my head, and then gets on top of me and just starts pounding my head. I think I was 17 and he was 20 at the time. And I remember the only ones home at that time was my little sister, who was 12 at the time, she comes out of her room and basically says, “Do you want me to call the cops?” I said, “No.” Because in my head, even though I was getting pounded, in my head all I could think of was if she calls the cops, that’s it, they’re taking us away. I’m underage, my sister’s underage, my brother’s schizophrenic. Fortunately I think she ended up calling cops, sure enough, my sister was taken away by the government, and I ended up in the hospital, woke up three days later.
Maria Monroy (35:11):
Wait, and she was put into the foster system?
Irving Pedroza (35:14):
Maria Monroy (35:15):
For how long?
Irving Pedroza (35:16):
I don’t remember exactly at the time, I just remember my mom had to prove that my brother was somewhere else, that’s how they finally gave back my sister. I remember graduating from high school was very painful because I got to see my sister maybe for half an hour. I just do remember it was anywhere between six months and maybe a year.
Maria Monroy (35:38):
That must have been so difficult.
Irving Pedroza (35:40):
Maria Monroy (35:40):
Especially on your mom.
Irving Pedroza (35:42):
Yeah, I could tell you, for me, the physical pain, it goes away. The physical pain, I’ve endured it, I’ve had way worse, but the emotional pain of my brother, my hero, the person that I admired the most in life trying to kill me, that was devastating. It took a long time to, I don’t even want to say accept it, but control it. So if someone was to ask me, “How do you overcome pain?” I’m like, “I don’t know, you just hold onto something you care about the most and you battle through it.” Again, in my head I’m like, okay, so if it’s not my brother it’s my little sister, so I got to show her that everything’s okay. The reason I brought up that story is as I’m reliving the memories, the only thing that I could think of in my head is I want to smile for my sister. I don’t want her to freak out, I don’t want her to think that I’m in trouble, that we’re in danger. We were, I was, but-
Maria Monroy (36:58):
I know, yeah, you definitely were, yes.
Irving Pedroza (37:00):
But I didn’t want her to think that, because I know what pain is, and I know that if I can do anything to have her avoid any pain, I’m going to do so. At least that’s what was going through my head at the time, whether right, wrong, or whatnot.
Maria Monroy (37:19):
How did you start the healing process? I have to assume that at some point in time you were like, I have to deal with this shit, and what was the first step that you took? Or was there someone that helped you? How did you start that?
Irving Pedroza (37:34):
I kid you not, after I became a lawyer, I think that’s when the healing really started. And what I mean by that is for a lot of people becoming a lawyer is a goal, I’m going to become a lawyer. To me it wasn’t a goal, it was a destination. It wasn’t an option, it was something I had to do. So once I became a lawyer I felt like, look, I’m finally in a playing field with everyone else. If I’m finally in a playing field, now I got to get myself better. And I remember, as you know I read a lot, and I remember one of the books that helped me the most is The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, and I think the very first page in that book literally says, “Life is difficult, once you accept that you can move on.” And so that literally hit me hard, I was like, okay, I got to accept life is difficult.
Maria Monroy (38:31):
You closed the book, you’re like, all right.
Irving Pedroza (38:33):
No, right, absolutely.
Maria Monroy (38:33):
Let me just sit with this for an hour or two.
Irving Pedroza (38:36):
Because it’s true, if you think about it, for everyone, everyone’s is different, but once you accept it you can stop blaming others, you can stop trying to figure out why you, why you?
Maria Monroy (38:50):
Do you still think life is difficult?
Irving Pedroza (38:53):
Absolutely, life will always be difficult.
Maria Monroy (38:55):
I don’t think life is difficult, and my mindset coach would try to get you to change that, because he would say that as long as you think life is difficult, life will continue to be difficult, and it is something you learned from childhood, because life was difficult.
Irving Pedroza (39:10):
I need your mindset coach then.
Maria Monroy (39:13):
Yeah, I’m going to have him come on the podcast soon, so yeah. But I think my childhood was difficult, I definitely do not think that life is difficult anymore. I love life.
Irving Pedroza (39:26):
I love life too, I think in a way life isn’t as difficult as it used to be, but life will always be difficult, and the reason I think about it like this is what happens if tomorrow some adversity happens, knocking on wood, I would never-
Maria Monroy (39:42):
Don’t worry about that yet, right now life is-
Irving Pedroza (39:48):
Life is good, life is always good, but in a way I’m not worried, trust me, the last thing I worry about is what hasn’t happened, at least I’ve learned that. The way I think about it is look, I think life in general is difficult, I don’t think my life right now is difficult. It has it’s stressors, I’m a big believer you create your own reality, so I try not to-
Maria Monroy (40:12):
Which is why I’m telling you not to think that life is difficult.
Irving Pedroza (40:17):
Well, I generally, I just say that. But yeah, you’re right, I don’t think about what could go wrong, I just think about everything that could go right, and the more positive on my mind is, the more positive stuff happens, I do agree with that.
Maria Monroy (40:33):
I think you and I agree on a lot of things, that you, I think, have much more time to implement, and I don’t implement as much as I’d like.
Irving Pedroza (40:42):
I think that’s probably the lack of kids part.
Maria Monroy (40:48):
Yes, I agree, definitely. Now what do you wish you had learned in law school?
Irving Pedroza (40:54):
Everything. I think the business side of it, the business side of it, and the networking part of it, that is crucial. You can know the law, but if you don’t know the business side of it, the networking part of it. Even dealing with people, you could have gotten the best grades in law school and if you don’t know how to deal with people, you’re done, you’re not a good lawyer, no matter what law you do.
Maria Monroy (41:24):
Sharing your own story helps others know that they are not alone. Irving knows that everyone is going through something, and it is better when we go through it together. I loved his insight about showing up authentically when he said,
Irving Pedroza (41:36):
Why am I going to hide who I am? I took a while to get there, part of it, I do it for others, part of it, I do it for me. It does take a lot of acceptance, but now it’s one of those things like, now here I am.
Maria Monroy (41:54):
If this conversation moved you, please share it with someone you want to see succeed, and subscribe so you never miss an episode. Catch us next week on Tip the Scales with me, Maria Monroy, president and co-founder of LawRank. Hear how the best in the business, broke out of limiting beliefs, overcame adversity, and built a thriving, purpose driven business in the process.