Illegal Immigrant To World-Renowned Entrepreneur

4 min read • Aug 13, 2013 • Mike Alder

Cesar Millan “The Dog Whisperer”

My family definitely loves dogs. We have had a dog since I can remember. The dog we have right now, Lucy, is a “labradoodle” (A black lab, poodle mix). When we first got Lucy my dad was obsessed with the TV show “The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan”. He even started doing Cesar’s famous “Tsch!” when trying to teach Lucy commands.

Recently I watched an interview with Cesar Millan where he tells his story of being an entrepreneur. He shared how he went from being an illegal immigrant in the United States, who couldn’t speak any English with a desire to change the world, to being the famous ‘dog whisperer.’  You could say he is a poster child for the American dream.

Here are six things I got from his story:

Happiness = Success

Cesar has been very successful with his business and his television shows. When asked what his definition of success is, he replied,  “…Success to me is that I’m happy doing what I’m doing even if I only make one dollar.” He believes that happiness is the true definition of success. It’s being able to do what you love and get by doing it.

Overcome challenges

Every business has challenges it has to overcome. Cesar talks about challenges as a great way to learn. He says, “…it’s the journey that is your teacher. In the journey you have the ups and downs. Everybody wants to have the ups to call it ‘success’ but being in the down position is a very successful moment because you get to reflect.” Learning from your challenges drives you forward to a better company.

Build your company from the ground up.

Cesar started his business with just walking dogs. He didn’t know all the aspects of running a business and understood he didn’t need to. He admits, “I don’t have a degree but I have the desire!”  You can always hire people who have a degree or knowledge of how to do something you don’t. Build the right team. He even twists the popular saying: “It takes a village to run a business.”


Cesar is all about energy with dogs. A couple of years ago, he almost lost everything financially because he trusted business partners who didn’t handle his business with his best interest in mind. After this tragedy he learned he needed to be in charge of his business, especially his hiring process. His philosophy is to hire people with the same “energy” as him. In other words, he doesn’t just hire someone who looks good on paper; they have to fit the company and culture he has built.

Establish your credibility

When Cesar first started his business he just walked dogs for $10. He jokes around that no one wanted him to walk his dogs because he was a Mexican that couldn’t speak any English. He would offer to walk people’s dogs for free. “[His] goal was to gain their trust and eventually their respect; and then the loyalty.” People still thought he was crazy asking, “What’s the catch?” The catch was once that you let him take care of your dog; you’d come back and be willing to pay him the next time. He claims that eighty percent of his clients are long-term loyal customers. That’s impressive!

Build an online informational hub

Cesar’s website is the second biggest content website for dogs and their owners. He has millions of people visit his website each month looking for ways to better there dog or their relationship with their dog. This is another great way to establish your credibility. Even though his website is dedicated to helping out dogs and their owners, it serves as a great place to sell his products. If your targeted customer base subscribes to your newsletter, reads your blogs, and watches your videos they will hopefully trust you—leading them to buy and use your product(s).

Cesar Millan has a great business. His success comes from focusing on training the person not just the dog. It obviously works because he has MANY loyal customers, a successful TV show, and is know around the world for what he does. Everything he does is because of these three simple things:





Mike Alder

Mike Alder is a University of Utah business marketing student and marketing specialist at Lendio. Passionate about entrepreneurship, small businesses, and inbound marketing. Mike shows his passion by sharing stories of successful entrepreneurs and companies with small business owners on the Lendio blog. He makes these big success stories easy-to-apply in simple and easy to read language for the everyday small business owner and entrepreneur.  

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