Photo: Courtesy Ish Verduzco
Photo: Courtesy Ish Verduzco

Ish Verduzco on debut book, his journey, and the power of self-development

Verduzco’s self-development book not only helps others. His journey to publication was the hardest thing he’s ever done.


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Ish Verduzco hated reading before he discovered self-betterment books. Verduzco would even go as far as to say he hated writing before How Successful People Get Ish Done: A 7-step Framework to Achieve Your Goals.

But Verduzco didn’t just get up one day and decide he was going to write a book. His experiences that shaped him are what brought him to a point where he felt an urge to share all that he has learned, not just to readers in general, but Latino readers like him who previously found the idea of reading self-development foreign.

On the come up

Born and raised in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, Ishmael Verduzco el Tercero was always surrounded by his family, and his mother’s drive to give him a better life.

“Growing up, I wouldn't say that we were poor, but we definitely weren’t middle class and we didn’t have nice things,” he said.

Verduzco said that like a typical Latino family, he had familial love and care, “and that’s how we kind of made it by.” By the time Verduzco reached high school, his family had already moved 12 times, in the constant pursuit of bettering their lives.

“My mom basically basically tried to find different opportunities over the years because she wanted to get out of the hood. And even though we didn’t have that much money growing up, she knew that me staying there was not going to be in the long term,” he said.

Verduzco carried his mother’s drive into high school and college, where he was extremely active in sports, school outreach and activities.

He attended the University of California, Merced, an up-and-coming university, and the state’s newest addition to the UC-system. Verduzco was an active member of his school's events and even led the school’s Multicultural Student Council.

Everything was looking up, until college came to an end, and the job searching started.

The Turnaround

“When I graduated, that’s when it was extremely difficult for me,” Verduszco said. “I graduated as the kid at college that did everything, and expected to graduate and have a job right away lined up.”

Verduzco said he applied to over 250 jobs during his senior year at UC Merced, but he didn’t hear back from a single one. He moved back home, got a job at a gym. 

He now works for SNAP Inc., but it wasn’t a fast-track to success.

Coming out of a relatively new university, to Verduzco, working at a hot tech company was far-fetched. It was a goal, but it was on the horizon. 

Regardless, Verduzco still threw his shots. 

Luckily through a connection he made At UC Merced who worked at Linkedin, Verduzco lined up an interview through sheer networking and not taking no for an answer.

“Who did I think I was, thinking I could get this job,” he said.“For a 21-year-old to say, ‘Yo, put me on the phone with the manager,’ people don’t say that.”

He drove all night to make the interview, only to be informed the job had been filled by someone with a master’s in the field. 

But he was offered a second interview.

Verduzco bombed it, but showed so much enthusiasm and determination that Linkedin opened a contracting role for him. 

Verduzco made it into tech, but said he quickly noticed the racial discrepancies in representation in his field. He used positive “self talk” outlined in his book – years before even writing it.

“Every single industry has people that are underrepresented, and you need to use that ‘self talk’ to tell yourself you’re worthy, you can do this, people invested in you… you’re good,you got this.

The Inspiration

“I was never a reader or writer growing up,” Verduzco said.

He described a disconnect stemming from his English and Spanish-speaking background, and how books and reading never appealed to him before.

But one day, Verduzco opened up his first self-development book: Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow.

“I was like, holy crap! I can learn about stuff that I like... There’s no tests, there's no quizzes,” he said. “After that it was a wrap.”

From that point forward, there was no stopping Verduzco, who started reading book after book, documentary after documentary, studying successful people and how they came to be the influential people they are today. 

However, he soon identified a problem in his pursuit for self-growth. All the books he was reading, all the success stories – the majority featured or were written by white men.

That’s where his book comes in.

“You have to understand yourself,” Verduzco said, realizing the reason for the disconnect.

“Why don't’ my cousins, and why don’t my friends from high school read in self-development?’” he asked himself. 

Verduzo believed he had found the key to expanding the self, to what he needs to do, so why, he wondered, aren’t others with his same background doing the same thing?

“It’s because the people who are writing them don’t reflect who they are. They can’t relate to them,” Verduzco said. 

So Verduzco wrote a book. 

“I’m relatable. I’m Latino. I didn’t grow up with the nicest neighborhoods. The things that I do in my daily life are much more relatable to the people I know,” he said.

“The most rewarding thing”

One of the coolest things, Verduzco described, has been seeing people who don’t normally pick up a book and read express how they’re excited to learn.

“That was the goal. To help people get excited to read,” he said.

How many Latinos are reading self help books? Of course a lot of white writers write great books, but Verduzco says the people these books appeal to are already going to be ten steps ahead compared to Latinos.

Just by sharing his story and his experience to help in some way, Verduzco said made  the eight months of writing and publishing worth it. 

“Once they turn that first page,” he said, “then it’s a wrap.”


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