Luis Ortega on overcoming adversity and becoming a leader

luis ortega on the beyond the surface podcast

Luis Ortega is well known across different school districts in Washington State for his leadership work with students. He’s a social entrepreneur, an advocate for education equity, and a TEDx speaker. In this episode, we talk about overcoming adversity, leadership, entrepreneurship, how to land a TEDx talk, the power of possibility, and more.

Episode Bookmarks:

- When the teacher is the bully (7:30)
- On becoming a leader (18:11)
- Turning his passion into a full-time business (23:43)
- How to land a TEDx talk (29:53)
- Process for developing first TEDx talk (33:08)
- How "possibility" became an important word in Luis's life (36:08)
- How Luis holds himself accountable to do his best (37:55)

Listen Here:

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Fun Facts About Luis

  • Luis was one of the front-line fighters that helped pass HB1079: a Washington State legislation that enabled in-state tuition for undocumented students.

  • It took Luis six months to learn English after moving from Mexico to the USA.

  • Before giving his first TEDx talk, Luis practiced the talk 50 times.

  • Luis's top daily habits include drinking water, yoga, writing and expressing gratitude to someone.

  • is one of Luis's latest projects: an e-commerce solution that aims to close the language gap between English speaking buyers and Spanish speaking sellers—and vice versa.

Luis Ortega running a leadership workshop at Chief Kanim Middle School.

Luis Ortega running a leadership workshop at Chief Kanim Middle School.

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Recommended Resources

Episode Exercise

Luis is a big proponent of practicing gratitude. So for this episode's exercise, write three thank-you cards to your best friends and tell them why they mean so much to you. Send them old school via snail mail. 

Other than that, what was your favorite part of this episode or biggest takeaway? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.