From Mexico to Wisconsin, The Success Story of Miguel Leal, the Godfather of Mexican Cheese

Episode Transcription

Glenn Harper [00:00:00]:

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another edition of the Empowering Entrepreneurs podcast. I’m Glenn Harper.

Julie Smith [00:00:04]:

Julie Smith.

Glenn Harper [00:00:05]:

You’re looking awful Sprite this morning? What’s going on?

Julie Smith [00:00:07]:

I know. I’ve had a very productive morning.

Glenn Harper [00:00:09]:

How how did that happen?

Julie Smith [00:00:11]:

You gotta get up early, I guess.

Miguel Leal [00:00:12]:

I don’t know.

Glenn Harper [00:00:12]:

Early bird getting the worm. I like that. Well, we have got a really special guest today. We’re been I’ve been excited to to have this conversation for a long time, and, we’re looking forward to it. So I just like to do a little introduction. I’d like to introduce you to Miguel Leal a fellow entrepreneur who is the godfather of Mexican cheese. For all of us who think cheese should not only be a food group, but also be entitled to its own food pyramid This can be a great discussion. Once he conquered the cheese world, he decided to get into real estate and hit the food industry at the start of the food chain. Of course, this would mean becoming an organic farmer. to educate and help farmers capitalize on the demand for organic food. The organic production of our food can be profitable and sustainable if managed properly. They say you can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy. Hence, Miguel returning to his roots. When he’s not tending to his farm, he has a side gig of breeding and developing a dog that is related to the dogo Argentino to become a better hunting search and rescue and guard dog. Thanks, Miguel, for being on our show.

Miguel Leal [00:01:12]:

Thank you very much for inviting me in your show.

Julie Smith [00:01:14]:

It it was the cheese that got us. As soon as we knew you were the the godfather of the cheese, That’s pretty much my food group for lunch and dinner. So you’re in.

Miguel Leal [00:01:24]:

Oh, I I love cheese. I start I started creating my when I came to United States, I used to start getting the niche of the Mexican market and it wasn’t nobody that much that many people in here making cheese. And how you start having a new recipes and start pushing myself to to have the right recipes in United States, and it’s how I create the Mexican the Mexican cheese. Well and go ahead. I was

Glenn Harper [00:01:58]:

gonna say, well, let’s talk about cheese. There’s a little bit of gazillion types of cheese, especially Mexican cheeses. So I looked a little bit and How do you how did you choose, like, how do you pronounce a cochita cheese, not queso Fresco, queso and Gio, or queso, how How do you know which one and how did you invite the new one?

Julie Smith [00:02:13]:

By the way, it took him at least 2 days to look up pronunciations on all those cheese to try to get it correct.

Glenn Harper [00:02:20]:

So And I cannot speak English, little, in Spanish, so I’m doing the best I can. So I appreciate that.

Miguel Leal [00:02:26]:

The first one, you say the Cortita cheese. Cortita. Okay. Portita cheese. It’s a hard cheese. It’s a dry cheese. That one is used a topping cheese. And that’s the first cheese that I started to make it here in United States with the Amish people giving me the opportunity. That’s my first factory. And when I started when I started in Ohio. And the Amish gave me, they have most of it, the quality of the milk because they milk by hand, and they kinda, like, do more stuff like in Mexico, and the milk is more similar. United States got grade a milk. and grade a bean milk. In that one, the ham is used grade bean milk for made cotija cheese. And it really aged perfectly, and the milk was perfect. And it’s a pretty good, hard product. Looks like a parmesan cheese. That’s how we use it. Mexican people do for topping food.

Glenn Harper [00:03:21]:

Did you did you invent this cheese, or was it something you just to the recipe to what you wanted to make it look like.

Miguel Leal [00:03:28]:

I perfect the recipe because this cheese is original for Corteha. Kotija is a is a name of a town in the state of Michua Khan too. And that that cheese is original from that. from that area. And I tried to make it and duplicate it the most close I could here in the United States. with the amish milk, and it works perfectly.

Julie Smith [00:03:52]:

So we do have a lot of listeners in Ohio, obviously, because we’re from Ohio. So where exactly did this all start in Ohio? curious.

Miguel Leal [00:04:00]:

Yeah. This one started in Middlefield, Ohio.

Julie Smith [00:04:03]:

Okay.

Glenn Harper [00:04:04]:

How about that?

Miguel Leal [00:04:05]:

Small town. The only It was only buggies in Amish people. Tell you. Yeah.

Glenn Harper [00:04:13]:

They they they keep it all tight in there. They own all the land. They do it a certain way, and they they just thrive in that environment. It’s great. And and, again, I think you’re right on that. The the the the the personal attention to live stock and attention to that detail with the human touch not industrialized really makes a difference, not only the animal, but also the how you get the product from a to b. So I think that’s probably a a big factor in in your cheese.

Miguel Leal [00:04:38]:

It is. It is. And Mexico is the most ethnic, the most, they have a, I would say, the industrial cheese already change the recipe, change the taste of it too much. It’s some some of them. They put the so far vegetable oils and mix it and twist the flavor of the of the really original cheese, and it’s how the industry just changed for more profit, but lose of it. the originality of the product.

Glenn Harper [00:05:10]:

I I would agree with that statement by saying, you know, when you try a food product, of what you’re used to that the store gives you from the big mega complex. Right? And then you try a homemade or homegrown one. It is night and day. And if I don’t know how you get the word out to people to give the ability to get that choice. Right? And I think that’s what your probably mission was at at at a bit there to to get a quality product back to make people understand this is really good stuff.

Miguel Leal [00:05:41]:

Exactly. because a lot of peoples, they try to just make a lot of more profit, and they kinda, like, lose the originality of the product. you know, they try to cheap it out, and they try to kinda, like, skip one corner to make a little bit more profit. And that’s how the products start changing flavors.

Glenn Harper [00:06:00]:

Do you use your farm back in Mexico? Is here in the states?

Miguel Leal [00:06:04]:

I’m in Mexico. I’m back and forth in both places.

Glenn Harper [00:06:08]:

because one of those things, you know, like, in the states, I don’t know what’s like in Mexico, but in the states, like, you you have to buy, like, round up beans by Monsanto. You can’t just go plan a different kind of bean. Like, they make you do it. Is that like out of Mexico? Can you get off the grid and just produce any type of, you know, vegetable that you want, or do you have to use the megaplex you know, genetically modified product.

Miguel Leal [00:06:29]:

No. It’s everything. It’s just the most natural on it. Awesome. And it is my farm is a small farm. is help the community because it’s so you eat healthy. People, they fried everything on it, and most of it they put a lot of of fertilizers that they don’t belong on it, things like that. It it really the more healthy you are and the more fresh food do you eat is much much healthy for your body. and then and vice how I try to pass it to everybody and try to do it.

Glenn Harper [00:07:04]:

And that’s why I think we both agree, Julia and I, that cheese definitely should be a food grip on its own. it’s really, really good. And I think it’s good for you even though they say it’s not, but I I love it. So one of the cool things we like to talk about is you know, the the journey of an entrepreneur, how one gets from a to b. And, obviously, I think you were said you were born in Mexico whereabouts.

Miguel Leal [00:07:24]:

Yeah. I did born in Mexico and is complicated. IRPTO.

Glenn Harper [00:07:34]:

Where’s that located near?

Miguel Leal [00:07:36]:

It’s right in the middle of the country. and it’s pretty far from the border, but I yeah.

Glenn Harper [00:07:45]:

So there you are. You’re you’re born born down go hanging out doing your thing. You got a bunch of brothers and sisters, and you guys like everybody else for the big family, everybody pitches in and you’re trying to make it work. And then all of a sudden, you have this opportunity, right, and you chose yes to come to the US. like, was an internship or a or what kind of thing was that?

Miguel Leal [00:08:06]:

Well, it put me, really, all of them, all my brothers, they came even we came from the same mother and the same father. I mean, nobody had the guts really to come and jump and and jump their new adventure to come to the United States. takes a lot of guts. Oh, boy. And and soon as for to do that, soon as you decided, you focus on where you wanna do. and I didn’t drink. I didn’t do anything. I used to be focused totally to get to achieve my goals.

Glenn Harper [00:08:38]:

How how old were you when you came into the US then?

Miguel Leal [00:08:41]:

Nineteen years old.

Glenn Harper [00:08:43]:

Nineteen. Okay.

Julie Smith [00:08:44]:

And what do you think the driving force behind you being so focused was.

Miguel Leal [00:08:50]:

Well, well, I didn’t wanna be born. for love. I did it for love because I promised to my girlfriend that I was going to make it, and I wanna make a family. and to have my to achieve my ideas to to realize my ideas and make a conqueror that makes the happens. and push me to take the adrenaline to go and jump my fears because they use scared for everything on it. when you don’t speak the language and you by yourself, and you don’t have any people to lean on and realize that that you by yourself, you make a mistake, you drink too much, as you get loose, if you party too much, you don’t have nobody. Then pretty soon, you don’t say hello, Bonnie. You don’t eat. That is what I’m making you change.

Glenn Harper [00:09:45]:

So, yeah, I think you said you you’re nineteen, so you have an opportunity to come to, come to Wisconsin, I think, right, and to work in a factory.

Miguel Leal [00:09:54]:

Yes. I did. I was we came I was working in Mexico too in a cheese factory and it was exchange of technology that too, the whole combined things why it’s supposed to come here to United States to teach, how to make Mexican cheese, and I supposed to learn how to make the American cheese. and I was supposed to change the technology, but everything happens and I stay here. I show them and how to make the cheese, but they decided the factory that I was working on it, they decided to make feta cheese. they changed the route. And I learned how to make all kinds of cheese, and I, and I go back to Mexico and start making some American cheese. There.

Glenn Harper [00:10:41]:

Did you how many years did you work in the factory in Mexico to gain your experience before you then came to Wisconsin.

Miguel Leal [00:10:51]:

Oh, as soon as I was I start from high school. but I don’t know what happened. I got something, nature, probably immediately understand. most of it, all the equipment pretty easy. and all the magnesium to understand everything in the cheese business and was very happy for me, but I, I only have 1 year in Mexico learning, and my experience start when I came to United States and I start when I really start learning how to make, meat cheese, really.

Glenn Harper [00:11:26]:

So it’s it’s interesting about that is is you still at that point didn’t know that you were gonna be an entrepreneur. You just knew that you had opportunities to learn more, meet new people, do different things, So you kept saying yes. Correct?

Miguel Leal [00:11:39]:

It’s correct. And I was one thing that I was doing is when I couldn’t speak, really life, give me the opportunity to understand what is patience to have. That way, you can catch the opportunities that you have. That means why, like, give you the opportunities too. You can grab it. It means you don’t take it and you don’t see it. is because probably you have too many girlfriends or drinking too much, party too much, or get excited and get out of focus. to get your votes.

Glenn Harper [00:12:14]:

You know, it’s funny you said something that is is a it just again, I look at weird stuff, but, like, the fact that you said you had to be patient. And for whatever reason, when you don’t speak a language and people don’t speak your language, they talk louder and more intense And you still don’t understand it, but it gets it escalates the conversation where where people are like, woah. But you were able to tone that down and just like, alright. I’ll figure this out. And How did you navigate? How long did it take you where you could say effectively communicate to not only help the people that you’re supposed to help, but be able to glean what people are trying to teach you at the same time. Did that take 6 months, a year, 10 years? How long did it take you feel like Alright. Now I can finally do this communication barrier.

Miguel Leal [00:13:00]:

Really, I do have a a disability problems too. to learn because I cannot read pretty good and really the experience of life, the university of life, that is that is why it took me experience to to start learning and pay attention and be correct myself all the time. and I didn’t wanna waste it. I didn’t wanna waste my time. I’m doing something that even scared me to put my life in rescue. I have too many things that I didn’t have any people behind me. My parents was gone. I have

Glenn Harper [00:13:38]:

4 3

Miguel Leal [00:13:40]:

years. Nobody talked to me. Nobody called me. Nobody said anything. Not so matter what, but it’s is complicated in that part when you don’t have support. You need to have very good concentration in yourself. and you have to be very aggressive in the opportunities of life that I give it to you. You have to really take it and that is how the patient it is. because pretty soon happens to a lot of people there. Soon as they start making a little bit of money, the first thing they buy is is able to buy the nice cars and get in debt, and and you have another one you wanna show up with your girlfriend, etcetera, etcetera. and I need to be focused to save money and to think your goals. Yeah. And you’re — Yeah.

Glenn Harper [00:14:26]:

That’s the American dream. Make some money. You can buy some toys. that’s what we do. And we’re good. We leverage ourselves to the health to do those types of things. You know, it’s — But

Miguel Leal [00:14:34]:

at the right time.

Glenn Harper [00:14:35]:

That’s right. It’s it’s the patient. Use your passive income to buy those things. It’s it’s funny. The, you know, entrepreneurs get from a to b. Sometimes they gotta go through they go through the formal schooling, and sometimes they go through the street smart. Right? They gotta figure it out in the real life. And I think that’s the route you took, right, where you just have to figure it out. You didn’t do the formal education thing because it was applicable what you’re trying to accomplish. that a fair statement?

Miguel Leal [00:14:59]:

Yes. It’s a fair statement.

Glenn Harper [00:15:01]:

Yeah. So our listeners, it doesn’t matter how you get there. you just gotta believe in yourself and you gotta take the chance, take the risk, and and go for it and stay incredibly focused. Is that what you get out of that, Julie, so far?

Julie Smith [00:15:13]:

Yeah. I loved his You know, you have to be aggressive with the opportunities you’re given.

Glenn Harper [00:15:18]:

Mhmm.

Julie Smith [00:15:18]:

You gotta lean into that fear of, you know, what if and just see what happens.

Glenn Harper [00:15:25]:

So so here you are, you’re you’re in Wisconsin, building some cheese, learning some things, teaching some things, and then you’re saying, you know what? I think I can build a better cheese. And how long did you work for a factory for that company before you’re like, the heck with this, I wanna do it my own way.

Miguel Leal [00:15:44]:

Well, as soon as I the the light give me the opportunity in that time, to win the win a contest with the Amish people. And that was my first factory that I built. I had because they didn’t believe in the electricity, and that put me in the, in a better spot because all the cheese factories runs with electricity. And well, they code sign, and I start buying the equipment and all that kind of they put a lot of help for me. and they build the factory to our standards there, that I was looking for. And that was my first, really, home run, win the test, win the it was in the newspaper, the Amish people, they was looking for a cheese maker. That was the cheese contest. And I compete with 5 different people in the United States. And here he goes. The admins choose me. And, Guillermo, that was the first phone run that I did.

Glenn Harper [00:16:40]:

Okay. So you said, look, I’m just tinkering, like, your home brewery guy. Just tweaking with your, whatever you put in the the bacterias and the cultures and whatever. And you’re like, I’m gonna build my cheese and you’re gonna enter this contest. So you enter the contest. You win it. And They, the Amish, then partner with you to help you build a factory with no electricity.

Miguel Leal [00:17:01]:

Well, they put electricity, but they cannot touch it because it’s their beliefs.

Glenn Harper [00:17:06]:

Were they hardcore Amish, or were they menonites, or were they do you know which one they were? If no luck —

Miguel Leal [00:17:12]:

German army.

Glenn Harper [00:17:13]:

Okay. So they, right, they can’t touch it all. So then they’re like, we’ll build this thing for you. You guys and you they can work in Correct? Did they work in their factory with you? They just couldn’t touch the electric stuff.

Miguel Leal [00:17:24]:

Yep. They cannot own it, and they get the opportunity.

Glenn Harper [00:17:28]:

So this is even funnier. So here we go. We’re gonna go compete with Mega Corp and build cheese, and we’re gonna do with the Amish with no electricity and put even more restrictions on how we do it. But this guy, he’s like, I got it. We can make this work. So that’s that’s amazing.

Miguel Leal [00:17:43]:

He’s like, never give up with your idea.

Glenn Harper [00:17:47]:

No. I mean, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Alright. So now we’re making this cheese now, and we got a great market for this. And then you just you built did you intend to I think at some point, you exited the business, but I think at some point, you’re building this cheese and you’re trying to span and grow and grow and you’re kinda like doing business. And then at some point, you probably transition from you building the cheese and doing everything a to z to, like, I’m gonna now build a company, and the company’s gonna do this. And I’m just kinda like supervising it. How long did it take you from actually building it yourself to transitioning to having a company kinda run without you?

Miguel Leal [00:18:27]:

Well, the company, it didn’t run without me. And it’s why the I did me and my my ex wife, we kinda, like, divided the work. I put all the trust in her. That way she can help me in the in the account and the bank and all the paperwork and all that. And for me, I have to run-in the factory, run-in the recipes completely good. That doesn’t move, doesn’t change. They’re always the same. and pick up the sales and pick up the organize all the shipments and all that stuff. That was for me quite a bit. of working on it. And how is how we, we do it. We split the responsibilities. Can we help you check quite a bit?

Glenn Harper [00:19:19]:

How many employees did you have at the time when you end up exiting the company? How many people working for

Miguel Leal [00:19:24]:

you?

Glenn Harper [00:19:26]:

400. Oh my.

Julie Smith [00:19:29]:

And you are still in the day to day when you when you left the company?

Miguel Leal [00:19:34]:

Well, and then always in in the cheese factory, most of it. In the sales part, when I start pushing the sales, then I start getting training people for sale, to help me sell. And and my most of it, my strongest it was in the factory and the cheese plant.

Julie Smith [00:19:49]:

And can we still get this cheese today?

Miguel Leal [00:19:53]:

Yes. Wow.

Glenn Harper [00:19:55]:

So is is the, the cheese recipe secret? Is that, like, locked up? Like, the coke Cola recipe or the KFC recipe? Do you have this locked in somewhere, or did you retain that and sell the operations and lease it back? You don’t have to answer. I was just curious you sell lock stock and barrel? Cause I think it said somewhere that you still consult with them and still are involved a little bit. do you did you retain those recipes or do you you get rid of that as well.

Miguel Leal [00:20:20]:

Oh, I did. Sigma Alimentos bought me, and I sold the recipes. I sold equipment and everything. The

Glenn Harper [00:20:28]:

— Fox, not compared. — the same thing.

Miguel Leal [00:20:30]:

Put a 9. I went to work with them for a while, and they have a cheese factories all over the world. and they gave me their responsibility for that. And I was excited.

Glenn Harper [00:20:42]:

So it was kinda probably neat to be an original, you know, work for a company then build your own. and sell it and work for the company that bought your company to ensure their success. And that obviously helps with payouts and all those things were nice. do you still tinker in the cheese making business? Do you still tinker with some recipes? And is that something you’d build and sell them again, or is that something you just keep in your own back pocket?

Miguel Leal [00:21:05]:

No. I I’m working out, with the University of Wisconsin that we wanna develop to try to standardize it the recipe of Mexican Cheats. That way, I mean, as I’m doing, I will do some experiments and some different techniques to put really science behind the Mexican cheese to develop, the more flavors on it. because now they’re doing the market goes so big, and they’re doing changing with vegetable oils. and it started, like, at the big factory, start changing the flavors on it. And that is what I stand up my hand and say, that’s not the way to go. And I have to gather support with the university to help me out to put a a standard, and that’s what we’re going for.

Julie Smith [00:21:53]:

So do they still use your recipe, or have they changed it?

Miguel Leal [00:21:58]:

They did some they did some changes. Big people, they want some fast money. more money and more money. That’s how it goes for it.

Glenn Harper [00:22:06]:

Well, once your non compete goes down, you’ll build another factory. That’d be great. We’ll do Pennsylvania Amish this time and do it. Make it work. Do you, so I I’m a big, cheese curds fan as well, and I love Wisconsin cheese curds fried with whatever. And I just had some the other night. And my question is on this Mexican cheese that you make, is there a, again, because I know nothing about how you make this cheese. Is there a is there cheese curd component before it gets pressed into cheese that you can eat these curds as well. Do they taste the similar, or is that not the case for this type of cheese?

Miguel Leal [00:22:37]:

the Mexican cheese have 2 different, I can divide it in 2 different ways. It’s melting cheese. and cheese that doesn’t melt. like, the take the cheese that you’re talking is vanilla cheese. You can cube it. You can fry it. you can do a lot of things on it. You can put anything. It takes it doesn’t melt, and it takes take the flavor of the food that you mix it with. It tastes real good too. It give you a little tiny bite of, dairy. product. The cotija cheese, those kind of cheese are more like parmesan are kind of like a hard cheese.

Glenn Harper [00:23:15]:

one that’s up.

Miguel Leal [00:23:16]:

It won’t have a very strong flavor.

Glenn Harper [00:23:19]:

Man, I need some cheese right now.

Julie Smith [00:23:21]:

I’m real hungry now. I’m I’m envisioning when I’m

Glenn Harper [00:23:24]:

gonna eat lunch. Oh, goodness. Now, you know, on, you know, the we like the the entrepreneurs that listen to this is, you know, it’s, again, it’s like, how does one get started? What are the challenges they face? And, again, it’s really hard to beat, you know, language. You don’t speak the language. You you have to use, you know, Amish to help you do this thing. You can’t do the shortcut. You gotta stay diligently on this thing. So it’s a great journey there. At what time, at what point, why did you decide to exit the company versus to continue stay owning the company. A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with that. Like, do I keep milking this thing and make it an annuity and just put the people in and I’m just kind of involved, or you know what? I wanna exit and do something totally different. how did you come to that decision?

Julie Smith [00:24:10]:

No pun intended with the milking it.

Glenn Harper [00:24:11]:

Yes. Yes.

Miguel Leal [00:24:13]:

Well, I physical. And and my in that time, physical takes a lot of capacity, takes a lot of out of you. and I I was kind of like a running low, you know. I mean, I started getting my view was started getting blittery, and I couldn’t see that well. And, well, I build all that in I I really wanna enjoy it too, you know, because I didn’t wanna die in that position because it’s so much I I was feeling so much responsibility then I start getting bigger and bigger and bigger and start many more families on it, then my limit to work is, it’s pretty strong. and push me by limits so much, then my help is start getting a little bit wild, and I understood it better. So and work in this low pace, but efficient too.

Glenn Harper [00:25:10]:

So, basically, the health said, look, your body’s telling you you can’t do this. It’s not sustainable. Did you feel like yes. Did you feel like, you know, a lot of com a lot of factories, they’ll give some, like, allowance that lets the employees, like, you can take a pound of cheese a day or unleaded cheese while you’re working. Did you guys have anything like that? because I I would eat a lot of cheese if I worked in a cheese.

Miguel Leal [00:25:34]:

I’m more

Julie Smith [00:25:35]:

I’m more Glenn’s applying to go work in the cheese factory after we’re done.

Glenn Harper [00:25:39]:

I probably would. I

Miguel Leal [00:25:41]:

yeah. We did. We cheese in in our house. I I teach my kids to to start cooking different recipes, and we did a lot of new stuff on it just to to do that. This I love it. Did love cheese.

Glenn Harper [00:25:55]:

So, you know, when you exit, you know, one of our questions we’d like to ask is, you know, the end game as an entrepreneur. So you kinda god. I’ve you you built a thing. You did the whole thing with the cheese thing, and you’re like, okay. I’m I’m it’s a little bit too much. I can’t enjoy my quality of life. So I’m gonna exit the business. But you didn’t stop because most entrepreneurs don’t have an end game. Right? They don’t just stop. You’re doing something else. So you’re working with the University of Wisconsin to develop consistency in the cheese. You’re you’re breeding some dogs. You’re doing some organic farming. are there any other businesses that you’re doing? Instead of just doing one, you’re doing, like, least three that I know of so far. How how many more do you have in the pipeline?

Miguel Leal [00:26:34]:

That’s it. I got with those. I gotta make all those happen. And it’s what gotta take. I cannot take too many bites and everything. I gotta concentrate it. and and and finish it while I start. I don’t like to change ideas and finish and create more stuff. I like to finish one of them, and I like to do it.

Julie Smith [00:26:58]:

Do you think you’ll ever start another company? maybe making a different kind of cheese or getting back to your original recipe of cheese?

Miguel Leal [00:27:08]:

Yeah. I think we it’s gonna happen. is for me, we’re working with university. It put me in in a new step for me because it’s a new goal and a chief that I have the standard of identity and product. That is a tough to do. And for me, it’s more excited than I never wanna quit, really. If I quit, I’m dead already.

Glenn Harper [00:27:34]:

it concurred.

Julie Smith [00:27:35]:

Spoken like a true entrepreneur.

Glenn Harper [00:27:37]:

I mean, what are you gonna do with your life? You’re work used to work in 27 hours a day, and all of a sudden, you stop. That that sounds horrible. did you end up getting dual citizenship or or how did you manage that so you could travel back and forth freely and do your thing?

Miguel Leal [00:27:51]:

Yeah. No. I’m American in Mexican citizens.

Glenn Harper [00:27:54]:

k. Perfect. That makes you the

Miguel Leal [00:27:56]:

least. I can No problem for that.

Julie Smith [00:28:01]:

How did you end up in Chicago?

Miguel Leal [00:28:04]:

After my divorce. And I started getting everything ready, and I I I moved to Chicago, That was a big part of it. It’s why I took a little break because at that part of it, after we build a factory, so big, and a company is so nice, and my and my dissolution was too bad. I had to make a break. It took me like a 6 or 7 years for me to breathe again, you know, and start to feel good because I put all my trust and everything in her. and I realized it that I took me forever to catch up. You know? start it.

Glenn Harper [00:28:46]:

You know, that’s how it starts. You you gotta trust and empower the people around you, and either it works out well or it doesn’t. But the sooner you do that, the sooner you know, and sometimes you don’t know till it’s late too late, but guess what? You’ll always rise to the top and figure it out as an entrepreneur because there’s always somebody ready to stick it to you. And you just try to defend as much as possible, but you still gotta keep going. Right?

Miguel Leal [00:29:09]:

Like, you have to. You definitely you never give up. and most of it, you have to prove yourself that, really, your ideas work for you doesn’t work for somebody else because I put all my heart in all my efforts to my ex wife, the it’s not a good idea for that. You need to have your own independent you cannot give too much. You lose your concentration to achieve your goals. That’s what happened to me.

Glenn Harper [00:29:37]:

Well, you live and learn. And you know what? You hope it never happens to you again, but you never know. Probably we will because guys are like that. We’ll do whatever. So it’s all it’s all it’s all good. how, you know, on a on a side note, you know, the entrepreneurial journey, you’re always got your your iron in another fire and doing whatever. Which of these things that you’re doing gives you the most excitement? Sounds like the research at Wisconsin is probably the best that’s giving you the most excitement, but the the the dog thing has got me really intrigued because that’s, you know, that takes a long time to get it to build a new breed that does what you want. And, of course, you know, he was a farmer myself or grew up as 1 or kind of 1. I I love that kind of stuff. So which one relaxes you and which one gives you the energy?

Miguel Leal [00:30:22]:

That’s a good question, but, I mean, most of it, all the projects that I choose on it, I tried the every one of them to develop my idea to work. And in in my idea of work, and he’s and he’s doing something good, That’s what it makes me feel my adrenaline to keep going, pushing. Get some benefit with hurting nobody and and to create a new thing signing. like my dog. I just look at it, and Mexico have 3 kind of dogs, chihuahua dogs, a wolf dog, and, dog with no hair. I don’t like that. I really don’t know why I talk to my own. I know it takes 20 years, but so what time I got?

Glenn Harper [00:31:05]:

What else are you gonna do? Right? There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, I saw some pictures of these dogs. They’re they’re they’re pretty impressive. I mean, when you’re hunting, Puma’s and, yeah, it’s it’s that’s that’s the deal.

Miguel Leal [00:31:18]:

Like, the deal that the personality of the dog is what I want to trick me so much because they are so loyal. And so so focused in in his and what they wanna hunt, that they don’t even have a feeling they don’t even care. I mean, they get blind. Forget the what they wanna do.

Glenn Harper [00:31:37]:

Have you ever gone hunting with one of these dogs just for fun? Was it awesome?

Miguel Leal [00:31:42]:

Oh, that’s awesome. Did you

Glenn Harper [00:31:44]:

do horseback and follow behind, or how do you do that? Oh, man. You’re speaking my language.

Julie Smith [00:31:51]:

Pretty I’m pretty sure Glenn’s coming to your new cheese factory to work. He’s also gonna come help you hunting.

Miguel Leal [00:31:57]:

Yes. Yes. Yeah. They oh, man.

Glenn Harper [00:32:02]:

That sounds like a a hoot. So, you know, Julie always has a big question about some, you know, whatever the super thing might be. And and she loves asking this one. So go ahead.

Julie Smith [00:32:12]:

So what do you think your superpower is? I think you’ve alluded to it quite a bit, but I How would you define it?

Miguel Leal [00:32:19]:

My power?

Julie Smith [00:32:20]:

Your superpower. So if we put a cape on you, what would your superpower be?

Miguel Leal [00:32:26]:

honesty, devotion, dedication, all those. Those are powerful things.

Glenn Harper [00:32:37]:

Probably staying true to who you are, I think, is a big one as well. Right? You didn’t get corrupted. Yeah. You didn’t get corrupted by the big corporate machine.

Miguel Leal [00:32:45]:

Yeah. More than this, though.

Julie Smith [00:32:49]:

So And I have one more question, even though you or I might have more, but, you know, there we’ve defined that there’s no end game for you. But what is your next move? Obviously, you’re working with the University of Wisconsin. You’ve got the dog thing. You’ve got the farm thing going. And I know you may say that’s enough, but I know there’s something else rattling up there that’s maybe hasn’t quite come to fruition, but it’s in there. What is you what’s your to move.

Glenn Harper [00:33:17]:

We’ll keep it a secret.

Miguel Leal [00:33:20]:

My next move is to learn really to be happy. to leave the moment and to leave the the day by day because I don’t wanna have my head thinking in the future. I already learned from the past. and this takes me forever to focus and concentrate it in the present. That is my next achievement that I try to put on it. Enjoy it more life like anything has happened.

Glenn Harper [00:33:47]:

And would you and, again, it’s It’s funny. When you’re entrepreneur, you’re so all in, you know, 27 hours a day nonstop just getting pummeled, you know, Everybody needs something that they look forward to that takes them out of that moment, even for just a little bit to relax, you know, What is that thing for you? I mean, at the time, obviously, you didn’t do anything like that because you were in the in the Schnusal, but now you know, is it do you go to relax on the farm? Is it to relax going on a hunt? is it to watch a football game or soccer game? What is it that you do to actually relax and kinda just get away from it just for a moment.

Miguel Leal [00:34:24]:

Sure. I did shoot in a sporting place association, and I was doing pretty good. And I miss it. Sometimes that that is the time to relax me in my fire. I should place there and relax me, put me in another emotion part.

Glenn Harper [00:34:45]:

Are you an over under guy, or are you a semi auto, or how do you —

Miguel Leal [00:34:49]:

Over under.

Glenn Harper [00:34:49]:

Okay. Gotcha. You like the kick. Alright. You know, it’s it is interesting that, you know, some people say that this if you’re not out hustling, you’re getting behind. and other people say that when you can stop and pause and regroup your thoughts, you’re gonna come back stronger. After going through what you’ve gone through, Do you feel like if you would have put a little more downtime to recharge, you think you would have had a different result with the cheese operations, or there was just no opportunity for that?

Miguel Leal [00:35:24]:

Oh, I think so. Life put me in the position. The is it directed me for my best of me. I think so. And and now I I am my best health. I am I have a lot of experience, and My destiny is probably they wanna have a good recipe or cheese. Yes. Because I am in the best time with me in thinking and like, prepare me for these moments. But, really, I never expected that I was university. I was going to be in the university. and I put in a new recipe thoroughly complete like that people have to follow-up. That way, it doesn’t people doesn’t cheat. I mean, that’s for me. It’s it’s a leave my name way on top of it.

Glenn Harper [00:36:12]:

You know, it’s the the legacy, I think, is important to you. Correct? It’s not really about the money.

Miguel Leal [00:36:18]:

I know when I’m dead, all the money that I have is doesn’t take it. I cannot take it with me. I know how to leave it here. I have to learn how to leave it here to leave my name longer.

Glenn Harper [00:36:30]:

Nice. It’s it’s, again, you You go from where you had to sneak in and sleep on the floor on some cardboard to work in the factory to figure things out. And next thing you know, you got four hundred people working toward a common goal. I mean, that’s just an awesome. so that this is a obscure question, but are do you feel safer in Chicago or in Mexico? with the with the way things go these days, or do you not even care your you don’t worry about that?

Miguel Leal [00:36:58]:

I really I’m very lucky person. material things doesn’t bother me too much. And I I I’m not looking for nothing that I use. lucky. I don’t get trouble. I use going this place. I go to Mexico. I don’t mess with nobody. and follow-up. And that’s it.

Glenn Harper [00:37:20]:

Do your thing. Well, it sounds like it’s working very well. Got anything else to you? I think we went through a whole lineage. This is a a great story and, really, really appreciate you being on the show. If Would you, do you want any plugs for anything that you our listeners might want to go look you up and maybe get engaged on the things that you’re doing these days?

Miguel Leal [00:37:41]:

Yeah. I mean, they can follow me on Instagram, and the cheese guy, the cheese guy, Success. Sorry. And it’s an Instagram. And in the gist of the House build, that come is my website.

Julie Smith [00:37:57]:

And so will you contact us when you’re ready to start your new cheese business? because I I wanna I wanna revisit that with you.

Glenn Harper [00:38:04]:

I wanna be a taster.

Miguel Leal [00:38:06]:

Yeah. Let’s go for the make a good round. I show you. Awesome.

Glenn Harper [00:38:11]:

I’m big on the quality control, but I like doctor and the recipe. I I’m I’m more of a cook than a baker. I like to, like, mix it up, but in your line of work, it really has to be precise because there is a lot of chemical reactions going on. Right? You have to do certain way, a certain time, a certain amounts. Right? It’s not just throwing it into a pot. So I might not be a good cheese maker, but I’m a good cheese eater.

Julie Smith [00:38:30]:

Yeah. We’ll make sure it’s safe.

Glenn Harper [00:38:32]:

Awesome. Well, really appreciate you being on the show and, wish you the best in your future endeavors. And, thanks again.

Julie Smith [00:38:39]:

Yes. Thank you. What a great story.

Glenn Harper [00:38:41]:

Awesome, Julie. Well, that I’m I’m gonna get me some cheese for for lunch for sure. and again, all you all our listeners empowering entrepreneurs podcast. I appreciate you spending some time with us today and, looking forward to the next time. This is Glenn Harper.

Julie Smith [00:38:54]:

Julie Smith.

Glenn Harper [00:38:54]:

We’ll see you all later.

Episode Show Notes

We have the privilege of hearing from a remarkable guest, Miguel Leal, who is known as the “godfather of Mexican cheese.” Miguel has not only conquered the cheese world but has also found success in real estate and the food industry. He has ventured into organic farming, aiming to educate and support farmers in capitalizing on the growing demand for organic food. But that’s not all – Miguel has even developed his own breed of dogs for hunting, search and rescue, and guarding. We are honored to have him join us on the show today.

During our conversation, Miguel shares his inspiring journey, from humble beginnings in the cheese industry to building a thriving business that could function without his full involvement. We discuss the importance of support, concentration, and seizing opportunities while also being cautious about spending recklessly and getting into debt. We also delve into the decision-making process of exiting a business venture and exploring other opportunities as entrepreneurs.

Not only does Miguel share his personal experiences, but we also explore the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, including language barriers and knowing when to move on from one venture to the next. We also touch upon the speaker’s own involvement with the University of Wisconsin, where they are working on consistency in cheese and breeding dogs, as well as organic farming. With so many exciting endeavors, we can’t help but wonder how many more projects the speaker has in the pipeline.

His book, The House That Cheese Built.

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