To me, Life Reimagined is about never losing hope and dreams. As AARP's Life Reimagined ambassador, I want to inspire people to believe they have no limitations. If I influence just five people, that would be worth it — because each one will go on to touch other people's lives.
Everyone has his or her own definition of success. Your happiness might come from working less and having a little less money. When people come to me with a problem I help them analyze their situation, but in the end, their decision must come from their own gut feeling. Having a balance in life means knowing what makes you happy.
I buy fruit from a man with a little truck, and I asked how he got into his business. He told me he had been fired from his job, so he bought the truck, plays music to attract customers, and now sells mangoes and pineapples. Instead of being defeated, he tried something new.
At 15, I fulfilled the dream I had by coming to America. But life keeps changing. The music industry faced a big decline in revenue when songs could be downloaded on the Internet. Technology could have ruined my business, in a classic Life Reimagined "trigger event." I didn't want to fire people on my team, so we found new things to do, like making music for TV and films. Difficult times mean you have to be creative.
I always loved music, but never studied it when I was growing up. At 17, when I asked a music professor to teach me, he said I was too old. I went on to win 19 Grammys as a musician and producer, and every piece of music was by ear. My age wasn't an obstacle then and it's not an obstacle now. Age brings balance along with experience.
One of my role models is salsa singer Celia Cruz. I fought to sign her to the Sony label, when everyone said she was too old. And in the last 10 years of her life — she died at 74 — she had six No. 1 songs, the best in her career.
When I'm not sure what to do next, I go to my family to talk things through; they've always been my cheerleaders. Positive people help you make things happen. And I ask questions of everybody I work with, including the intern in my studio. There are so many new things to learn, every day.
So often, life forces reinvention on us. After Gloria's bus accident in 1990, the only thing I cared about was helping my wife walk again. When we were past the worst, I wrote the song Coming Out of the Dark. One line says everything, I think: "Starting again is part of the plan."
Emilio Estefan is a music mogul, a restaurateur, a father, a husband and a philanthropist. As Life Reimagined ambassador for AARP, Emilio will share his expertise on a variety of subjects, including his passion for living, mentoring, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and much more.
Also of Interest
- Life Reimagined provides tools to tackle various stages in life
- 16 songs everyone over 50 should own
- Join AARP in the fight to end hunger
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