Coach Mikki and Friends

The Strength to Endure, a Story of Hope and Tenacity as a Hostage- Jose Pereira's story - S4E11

March 15, 2024 Coach Mikki Season 4 Episode 8
Coach Mikki and Friends
The Strength to Endure, a Story of Hope and Tenacity as a Hostage- Jose Pereira's story - S4E11
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Imagine enduring half a decade in captivity, with only your wits and resilience to keep you company in the depths of a Venezuelan dungeon as a hostage. On today's show, I sit down with Jose Pereira, who not only survived this ordeal but has transformed his harrowing tale into a beacon of hope for anyone grappling with their own trials. Through his story, which he has now passionately captured in a book, we learn the true meaning of human endurance and the incredible strength of hope.

You'll be gripped by the routines and emotional lifelines that sustained Jose—a sanctuary of reading and writing, the steadfast support from his family, and the camaraderie that blossomed despite dire circumstances. We journey with him from that fateful day of his abduction to the emotional reunion with his colleagues and the life-altering impact of a single phone call home. This conversation with Jose serves as a powerful reminder of our innate capacity to overcome even the most unimaginable challenges.

But Jose's experience extends beyond his own survival; it's a call to action for each of us to reflect on our inner strength. Join us as we explore the broader implications for families in crisis, the resilience showcased by Jose's wife in her relentless pursuit of his freedom, and the way their son provided support in a time of great need. As Coach Mikki, I'm honored to bring you this profound conversation, laying bare the transformative potential of hardship and the journey of using one’s own experiences to empower others.

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Speaker 1:

Hey, I'm Coach Mickey. I'm so glad that you've joined us and if this is your first time joining us, come on in and make yourself comfortable. For those of you that join us on a regular basis, I am so glad that you do. Thank you so much for always supporting all of our guests. I know they love hearing from you and I appreciate always your comments, your questions and your suggestions of guests to have on. And today, you know, as you always know, I'm always excited for every one of my guests, but today is a little bit more special. Not that everybody isn't special, but they are.

Speaker 1:

But today's story is going to not only touch your heart, but it's going to inspire you, empower you, and when I had an opportunity to reach out to this gentleman and have him share his story, it's just something that is just going to fill your heart. I'll tell you a little bit about him. He was held hostage back in 2017. Now he has taken his situation and he uses it to focus and be an advocate to support other hostage families and other people that maybe have gone through this similar type of nightmare. He is a speaker, he is inspiring, he is a wonderful person. I'm looking forward to having him share his story and have you identify with him and learn how to get over any obstacle that you can deal with. Thank you so much for joining me today. Jose Pereira, how are you?

Speaker 2:

Hello, hello, mickey, thank you for having me in your wonderful program.

Speaker 1:

Well, I'm going to let you jump right in and start with your story, because this is all about you and you have got such incredible information and insight, so I'm going to let you jump right in.

Speaker 2:

Basically, my story begins in November 2017. I went through this hostage situation during the was in November 2017. I was here in Houston working in the welding gas and I received a phone call and it became a hostage situation, unfortunately during five years. So I went through that situation during five years and well, that process went through a lot of things because we were kind of a political pawns of the situation that was happening in that moment here in the US and well, it really became to be a dramatic situation and we decided to overcome it and we decided to do what today we are, that we are a coach, a leadership and Brazilian coach, and I also begin to talk about this situation. So this is basically what I'm today doing and I'm a strong advocate for the hostage community here in the US too.

Speaker 1:

So, may, if can we back up? I want to start right from the beginning, because this is pretty I don't even know what word to put on it, because I can't even fathom the thought being taken as a hostage. So if we could back up a little bit to start from how the days transpired and what happened that day, and then we can kind of skip ahead for the other things.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, I was working in the oil and gas here in a company called Citgo Petrolin. I was the CEO of that company by that time and I received a phone call in the middle of a movie in a Saturday and they asked me to go to a meeting in Caracas. And when I went to that meeting it became to be a settlement. The meeting began to be a settlement because there were having some issues between that country, venezuela, and the US and they took us as a political pawn. We get caught in the crossfire between the geopolitics between the US and Venezuela.

Speaker 2:

It was a big deal, but that really was a big deal because we never thought that we could get caught in the middle of the situation and nobody never thinking in this. And that's why today I talk that anything in your life, any adversity in your life like that appears and nobody's prepared, nobody's never prepared. So when this situation happened, the first thing that we did was something wrong. We begin to deny it because you never think you can get really in a situation like this, but at some point you had to take the decision that how you decided to face these things. So that's why I always talk that you have to be focused in the situation and see how what really is happening.

Speaker 2:

So we really, when we knew that we were in the middle of a geopolitical thing because even it went even worse because the US ambassador was recalled after four months, so the situation began to be very serious for us, and at some point, because we were really at the beginning, isolated almost during one year, at the end we decided to survive because we really wanted to come back to our families. So we created I call it like a survivor plan, because after one year we were six guys, so I was myself with my five top executives. So I was the president and the five vice president, so we're literally the board of a company. So after one year they decided to pull us together because the pressure was being really serious and we created like a survivor plan, and let me tell you that's a very plan. Today is the basis of what is my coaching program. My coaching program I create based on that survivor plan.

Speaker 1:

Well, I mean the situation that you were in. Like you said, you're thrown into something that you weren't expecting and now you've got to be able to reframe your mind and take everything you have within you to be able to get you through that situation, and I'm assuming the accommodations weren't exactly friendly where you were at. You know to be able to deal with this, just like anything else that we deal with. You're going to put yourself in a situation that may not be exactly the perfect situation or plan, but what you went through is even more extreme.

Speaker 2:

Well, let me tell you for your audience to understand, we were placed in the worst dungeon, not only in Venezuela, I believe, it's one of the worst dungeons in all these communist regimes, because it's a military basement. We were in a like a three story basement down, three story down, totally locked almost one year without no communication. The first year I didn't have no communication. At some point I even lost the sense of the time because I had that light 34, seven turn on and I didn't have no watch. So I didn't know what they was. So you begin to lost a sense of time and nobody knew. Even if I was there, I didn't knew where my colleagues were because I didn't know if they were alive. So can you imagine after one year seeing the face of the people and then you hug, you cry and you get together. So it was really extreme the first year, a really, really extreme situation.

Speaker 1:

How long were they? You held hostage for?

Speaker 2:

Five years, five years, so five years.

Speaker 1:

You had to keep yourself mentally strong to get through all this, to get back to your family. And now I got to ask you how did the other four colleagues, how did they deal with this? Were they able to do the same thing you were doing, or did you have to have your moments?

Speaker 2:

I really feel very proud because I'm not talking about myself. I believe all of that did a great. By the way, in December I live in Houston and December 27. We received in December 23, I emailed, the surprise that because we were invited by the major of Houston to go to a meeting in December 27. And when we went there we saw all our colleagues there and the major gave up proclamation. We were proclaimed by the city of Houston for our courage, for moral courage, and they created a CIGCO six day. So now I have my own day here. So I saw my colleagues that day and I told them that I feel very proud because all of us did a very great, because one of the few things in the situation is we all were cheering the other, all were supporting each other Always, were always talking about positive things to maintain our mindset in that way. And we made it. We created this plan that we, in a daily basis, were doing things in a very comprehensive way and we do it during years and we came back in one piece.

Speaker 1:

Well, I mean you, you've definitely built a camaraderie in a brotherhood. I mean, going through anything like that is always going to pull you together. You know, not not only as colleagues but human beings. You know to be able to get through something so difficult and I know I'm putting on the spot here. But can you kind of because I want to lead up to why your program is so valuable because the situation that you've been through A lot of people say you know, you hear about all the time, oh, hostage. But I don't think people understand the caliber, the intensity of what it's like to be taken as a hostage. And I'm going to ask you, can you, is it possible? I mean, is it right to ask you? Could you walk us through what a day was like each and every day for you that you had to go Through that, keep your mind strong and what was happening?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, when we created our survivor plan, let me tell you we did. We did things in a very structured way. We begin in the morning with our breakfast. We were in a very tiny room, was on 100 square foot room. It was a closet. So we were with three bulk bed. So we created a plan that everybody could eat and we had a very tiny table with one chair. Everyone was sitting with the table in the chair. By the way, have the table one year after, because the first year I was eating the floor, ok, so so sitting in the chair in the table, eating with your piece, the other were in the bed.

Speaker 2:

So we did that first. Then we did exercise. We begin to do yoga. We begin to do meditation. We begin to do static running. We begin to do cardio, push up. We were doing like all the day on that.

Speaker 2:

We begin to read because by that time we were allowed to have books. We had two or three hours read session. I begin to write because I began to by that time, in the first year. After the first year, we were allowed to get food from our family. So our family. Can you imagine the logistic sending food from here to the US, to Venezuela. So my son had to move to Colombia and then he began to provide me the food from Colombia. He was a nightmare of logistic but they did it during years. So that food that I received every two, three days.

Speaker 2:

When I returned the trash cans, I smuggled letters there. So I began to do that and I kept doing it during three years, smuggling letters. I smuggled almost 1,000 letters and that's the base of my book that's gonna be out in the end of this month. It's called From Hero to Villain the True Story of the Zidgo 6, because it became like my memoir. So we began to do that. We began to have fun, we began to play domino and we began to pray and read the Bible. So all these things doing it on a daily basis, we created like a routine. It was like a daily routine in a daily basis. We did that almost during four years and one day they opened the door and say that we were released because we came back through a prisoner swap and I'm at here.

Speaker 1:

Wow, that first year, though, being by yourself. How did you keep yourself strong, going through all of that? Because I can see being together with people that definitely changed your mindset. Having the ability to journal that absolutely helps your mindset. And then having the routine, because that's what we kind of thrive for anyway. But that first year is the most crucial and probably the most trying. So what was it like in regard? How did you keep yourself strong in that first year to be able to get through that?

Speaker 2:

You know, the first year unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to write because I was allowed to do it after one year, but my first letter because my letter was like in pieces of paper, you know I was writing what I was feeling. I was throwing all my memories. When I came back and I began to revisit that because, as I said, that became the basis of my book I began to revisit that, those first letter. The first letter I remember was reading December 30, 2018, one year after I was there, because I arrived November 2017 and my first letter was 13 months after December 30, 2018. That first letter, I was really talking about that first year and when I went through that and I reminded my memory went to that moment the first days were really, really terrible.

Speaker 2:

I was having even suicidal thoughts. I was thinking to take my life because I felt that I was gonna be left behind. But for some reason and I believe that they're part of miracle of God I began to think in my family. I began to think in my family and one day I said you know what, Jose, this is not gonna break you. You had to make this because you had people outside there that love you and they're waiting for you. And that made me change my mindset. So I began every day. I was all the day thinking, One year, every day, thinking because I didn't have no TV, no radio, no book, no left, nothing, nothing.

Speaker 2:

I was alone, thinking, and I began to think in my family and thinking in that moment that I went through them. I thinking in family trips and thinking in foods, thinking in things, and that kept me sane. And when I, as I said, when I saw my colleagues after one year, that of course was a game changer, Was a game changer because now we were together, but I survived that year I heard the voice of my wife after 10 months. The first time I heard her voice was a one minute call after 10 months. One day they opened the door and said Mr Pereira, you have one minute to talk. And when I got the phone, it was her voice and she heard my voice and said how are you? I said, well, I'm alive. And she told me well, we're fighting hard to bring you back. So that's the first time I learned that they were really fighting hard. And they did it my wife, two times to the White House and several times to the Congress, and she met with the old officials from the former government and the actual government several times. Several times. They did a lot. They even got together with another 20 families in May 2021.

Speaker 2:

They created a movement called the Bringer Family Home Campaign that today is one of the biggest movement here in the US and after I came, even I began to advocate strongly for the House to Community and I'm very proud to say that this Saturday was declared officially the Hostel and Run for the Day, and the flag that was created by all the family was raised in the White House in the Congress this last Saturday. So now it's official, official day declared by the US government Like a day, like there is a day for the prisoner of war and the missing in action. Now there is a day for the Hostel and the Run for the Day. That is a movement. It's a movement because my family became part of the movement, but there are a lot of people behind that movement. There are foundations, NGO congressmen, journalists.

Speaker 2:

It's a big movement that has been created because today this is something that the message has been amplified, because there are a lot of Americans hosting in the world that people doesn't know. There is a guy that has 12 years in China. There is a guy that has 12 years in Saudi Arabia. There is a guy that had seven years in Myanmar. There are guys that have X years in Afghanistan. There is journalists that's from Houston that has 12 years in Syria. There are a lot of people during that and the family is suffering during all this year because even some of them, they don't know if their families are alive or not. It's big. It's big and the people are not aware about that situation. I'm glad you brought that up.

Speaker 1:

I'm glad that you actually said something about this because, honestly, I had no idea. I mean, you hear about it. You hear about people being taken as hostages and either they're, like you said, a prisoner swap or they're returned, or, if it's on a big political level. But, like you said, if there's people out there that are being held hostages based on, you know, like you said, journalism or you know, in your case it was through a company. It wasn't even anything that was due to political. You weren't even part of that, it was. You were part of a SIGGA, which is a gas company. So I mean, that's yeah. I don't think people understand that, because I was going to ask you. You have such a movement and your program is to help other people and I wanted to ask you it's like this sounds like this is a lot bigger than we're aware of in regards to people and families that are dealing with hostage situations.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, and the message has been amplified because the situation that now is happening in the Middle East had put more you know pressed in the media and the people, because there are now a lot of American hostages in that situation in the Middle East, but this is not only their case, this is even a longer. But the good thing is that this is something that is now is very well known. It's called the hostage diplomacy that the government the former government and the actual government both really have been committed to bring people back and this has become like a national security thing today in the government Now has this law that it's like an umbrella that protects the hostage, because one of the things is, when you get in this situation and the government declared you as officially hostage and roughly the same, now you're protected by the US government. Your family is protected and there is a lot of initiative that can be done. For example, a prisoner swap is a big deal that they had to do and that's what we're doing To do, and a presidential pardon to release a bad guy to get swapped For you. It's a big deal. It's a big deal, but. But now they're more. They're more Exposure, because there are congressmen, they are journalists. There are several journalists. They are very, very open talking about this today. So the situation today is much better than when it happened to me, because when, when, when this Situation happened to me, unfortunately, we were kind of guinea pigs of the situation.

Speaker 2:

Now. Now there's a movement, now there are a lot of foundation working in this area, but there's still more thing to do, because this, this can become really, really like a national security issue, because how many Americans can be traveling abroad in the year during a Family visit, or you're in a vacation, or you're in a seminar? Normal people because that this is called the hospital diplomacy normal people like me or Most of the guys nobody are politicians. You get the heart of this because it's the passport. So what they do is they take you and they, they lever you, they ask for concessions, and this is something that, unfortunately, all these countries are applying like a copy paste. It's like a business model. You know, they, they, all of them apply the same technique. So all these countries China, russia, iran, venezuela, cuba, myanmar and it can't see the all these countries they apply is the same technique. When, when you talk with the families, even the situations are different because you're in different countries, different culture, but that in essence, is the same technique, so that that that is one of the things that today I'm really talking about this in a matter to raise awareness, and my coaching program goes more to Businessmen.

Speaker 2:

I tackle more than businessmen because I discovered, because I come from from from the oil and gas, I did a lot of leadership positions so I said, okay, jose, you have your leadership skills. And now you went to the hostage situation. There is a survivor situation and I combine it both because leadership and resilience are so connected, and that's what I today in my coaching program. I decided to craft this. I went through and try to put it to help. Business owners sometimes are hostage in their situations. They become hostage in their situation you know you, you have a business, but you don't know how to handle it or yours to having a struggles in your business, so you become a hostage in your situation. That Literally, is the same when you apply the technique, literally are the same.

Speaker 1:

I I Love the fact that you took something so difficult and so straining and and take it and put Spin on it to make it a positive and to help others get through it.

Speaker 1:

And I'm looking at this and I'm listening to you and, well, first of all, thinking about the situation you were in and how difficult that was, and and trying to wrap my head around it is is is almost impossible Because you can't. You know, you've lived through something that probably, I'd say, 99% of the people can't fathom unless they're putting that situation. However, the fact that you've taken that and said you could still be a hostage within your own life, whether it's through your business or what you're going through, really does have a lot of similarities, and and to take that mindset and turn it around and and do something else with it that can empower you is so strong, so strong. So so tell me, how do you, how do some of these similarities actually Uh, correlate when you talk to people about, based on the situation you were in, coming into a business situation or even a life Life situation?

Speaker 1:

Some people get stuck in their own lives and they don't know what to do and they, they're like that. You're right, you, actually you. You nailed it with the words you are a hostage in your either your own life or your own business. You know, I mean you're right. There is really no other words to put on that and that's pretty powerful.

Speaker 2:

For example, one of the biggest problems that any business has is the communication. Communication is key because people doesn't know how to communicate and sometimes that create these. You know the atmosphere in the business. We learned during our situation that we needed to be communicated. We needed to create those bonds. We needed to be.

Speaker 2:

If somebody, for some reason, was going down, be you know, cheering the others, and if you had we're having any argument and any dispute, any argument Tackling media and move on. These things, when you Escapalated, you put in your business, are exactly the same, because the people don't don't know how to communicate with their peers, how to communicate with their colleagues. How could to communicate with their employees? Sometimes, when you're in a Management position, you're a CEO of a company, you create like a shield and you and you isolate and then you, you don't communicate with the people. This is something that today Is one of the things I I teach. I also talk about how you need to be empathic with your employees. It's so important because one of the things that I discovered during my situation that we all are simple human beings. You know when, when, when I was there, at some point, we were put in In a place because we were transferred to two dungeons. We were in this military dungeon and then we went to another dungeon. I stayed with all the political prisoners military and civil that are that country, like 400 people, and I met politicians, generals, human right advocates, a journalist, philosophers, a lot of high-profile people, and you know what? All of us were Comrades, there, in the same situation. I was living a life trying to survive together, and at some point, even I met their family. So then, people because you are only people when you take all the suits and all the titles, you are not simple human being. So this is something that I discovered how you can meet and get with the people being only people. This is something that any manager or any CEO has to understand.

Speaker 2:

So what I have been doing is all those survival things that I went through. That for me, I said that I had like a five-year retreat. It was like a five-year retreat. So so at some point, I decided to convert my retreat in something that I can really use to help others. And, believe me, when I tell the people because sometimes you get that the argument no, I cannot do it, you can do it because I'm here, I did it. If I did it, you can do it. So this, for me, has been powerful, putting that message out. And not only that, I decided to begin to speak, and my speech is based on this how you can overcome things in the life and and and and and. My final take away always is that anything in your life, you can survive it, but you need to have a proper mindset and do it yeah, now see, I, when I think about this, is like my idea of a five-year sabbatical is not in a dungeon in Venezuela.

Speaker 1:

However, there is a lot of, there's a lot of empowerment with that, because sometimes we, when you, when you strip everything away and and you take away all the other things that are obstacles or what's going through or what's happening, and you bring it down to the basics of what you can do, which is really within yourself and and that's that's where the empowerment lies, so I can see how that that works, and then for you to be able to go out that and help people to understand that going through what you went through, and in that situation, I mean nobody can look at you and go, well, I can't. It's like what? Are you there yet?

Speaker 1:

because you took such something and I'm learning a lot too because it tells you doesn't matter what situation is, how bad it is, as long as you've got the faith, the hope, the strength, the will, the courage to be able and the mindset to make those changes, then anything is possible and and that is so, so exciting, it really is. And what a gift you are, I mean really to go through something so difficult and then turn it around and go. Well, let me help you out here. Let me, let me tell you how to get through this, based on the situation, and taking that situation and using it as an empowerment tool.

Speaker 2:

I mean, jose, I, just I there's no words to describe what you're doing and and the gifts that you're offering to people, based on your situation yeah, because if you put everything together and I tell always the person that you're going to any situation in their life or in their business that what, when, when, when you begin to think in your situation, the first thing that you, you get focused in what you're going on, because sometimes the people lose the focus and then they can see the problem bigger than that there really is or or or.

Speaker 2:

You have the solution in front of you and I'm looking at, or maybe you don't have the solution, but now you are aware about where you're sitting in, so you get focused. You you need to have that proper mindset to you know, to change the way you look things and get connected to the people that that support you in your business. You you have your employees in your, in your in life. You have your family, you loved ones, okay, and and take care of your physical, mental health so important because sometimes, when you're going through any situation, you abandon yourself. You abandon yourself and connect to your spirituality, connect to the spirituality. Today I discovered that one of the key things in any situation in your life is connected to whoever you believe. Get that connection, because there is where you're gonna unleash that what I said that and breakable spirit that everybody has inside to make any situation in your life so sometimes that people do things, that that you look back and say, wow, how I did this, because you have that you, you can do it.

Speaker 2:

So if you have a, if you are a business owner, if you are CEO somebody that's hearing this and in having a struggle, thinking all these things, and if, for some reason, you fail, continue, bounce back and move on. See the fails as opportunities, because this is another thing that sometimes we, if we some reason, we have a fail. Who doesn't have a fail in their life? Everybody fails at some time in their life, so sometimes if you took those fails like, like an opportunity to grow, you will see the things difference, or this is something that today, mickey, really, really I discovered during all my process and this is something that for me. I went through that I'm a life testament, that that is that way. So nobody's gonna tell me about this because I went through it, okay.

Speaker 1:

I think there's also a lesson here to learn that you know some of the things that we think are really big are really not that big, if they're not their minor compared to what it could be. And to dwell on something that is so minuscule, you know, and knowing that you've got it within you and the power to change it, is something that I think we need to realize also. And then you, and as you go, like you said, you keep going through and see something on a grander scale. And then, knowing that you've got that ability to make those changes, you know, I always tell my kids, you know, when we've had losses and you know we've lost games, I said there's just the losses. I said there's winning and learning. You learn from it.

Speaker 1:

What did you take from this? What can you do differently so we can fix whatever happened that gave us the result, that gave us what we got, and and it's the same thing like what you're saying it's like okay, so it didn't work, it didn't happen. Maybe it went a different direction than you thought it was gonna go. So what? Sometimes you find the best things on the weirdest detours, you know, but it's the mindset that you've got to got to have and for what you went through. You know, in your situation not knowing, not having any idea, having just yourself to depend on and your own mindset to get you through you had everything you needed, like you said, just survive. And I think people forget that. They forget that you really have everything you need to in any situation to get you through it. It's just reminding and remembering, and that's what you bring to the table with your, with your program, and what you do and who you are is to remind people everything you needs with inside you and that's so true.

Speaker 2:

I'm for training, in my case one of my colleagues, because we were six guys that we became the single six that is the name that the press put us as. But then the president never mentioned there was a seven guy. It was a seven guy that he didn't make it. He passed one year after. He was so depressed, he was alone and and today I think about that situation that maybe he, if maybe he, has been moved with us. The situation could have been different, but he didn't make it. He didn't make it. So you have that. That's two stories.

Speaker 2:

Six guys that decided to survive, begin to be in the worst moment, decided to make it, and we made it because I saw all of them in December and everybody's okay there, everybody's moving in their life. Some of them, for some reason, decided to go silent. I am well, I understand that they, they wanted to, you know, have their private life. Some of them, like me, decided to talk. There is another of my colleague that also is doing it and but but everybody's okay, everybody's okay. So because we, we had this support system with their families and we decided to move on with them. But sometimes people doesn't do it. So if this is a very personal choice, the way you decided to do, to recommend anything in your life. If you decided to drag down and and get depressed, well, that's your choice.

Speaker 1:

You, you have the tools in front of you and did you ever ask the other guys when you got together after that first year? Did you ever ask them what? What did they do?

Speaker 2:

did the same thing you did to get them through, because I'm assuming all of you were alone is one of you were alone for the first year no, no, let me tell you that at the beginning was really difficult because some of our colleagues were really in a very bad situation, but but when we begin to help them and coach them and and, and you know, and get together, immediately they came back and and at the end we were all all of us was really, I can tell you, mickey, everybody that was in there without they, were surprised how we were handling our situation. We were strong. Not only that one year before I came, because the negotiation to get us released begin to get more serious, and they, they, the US government appointed a guy that he's an ambassador so he visit. One year before I came back, he did our the first face to face meeting to to negotiate our release and him, he met with us like two hours. He had a meeting without like two hours.

Speaker 2:

I remember when he, when he came back from that meeting, he told us that he was surprised how he, how strong he saw us. He said hey guys, I have been negotiating with other releases and all all over the world and I see people breaking. I broke and I said people down, I see you guys as strong, we were really strong. We were really strong. The six, not only me, the six. So. So I'm proud. I'm proud how we made.

Speaker 1:

You know I'm looking at your situation. The first thing that's going through my head is, I think, something like you said, because of your faith and, I think, our higher power and whatever you want to put on it, but I do believe. I truly believe, that sometimes God puts you in situations to be able to bring it out as a tool, to be able to be that voice and give. And again, it's really hard to wrap my head around what it would even be like to be taken as a hostage, but I keep going back to you have taken something so difficult and you have used it as a tool, not only to express how you got through it, but to share that insight and information to so many other people, and I can't even imagine how many lives you're changing because of taking this situation and then telling other people you can get through this. It's.

Speaker 1:

You know you can get through different things in your life. You know, no matter what it is, and just using the same tools that you did, I'm like I said I don't worry, I can give you as your gift. I mean, you really are a gift to be able to offer this, and I know you said you work with a lot of other families. These families that you're dealing with now are these people that have been returned as hostages? Are they still being held as hostages, or both? Are they still yes?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, let me. Let me tell you that in some giving I was invited to do an interview with ABC because that day that there was being a prisoner swab in the middle list and they call me to, you know, to give my impression and my my my first thing that came to my mind is that when, when you're in the situation all the family is in is in a nightmare, it's like putting a bomb in the middle. So so that day was Thanksgiving, so was a prisoner swap during Thanksgiving. So can you imagine that that I have not talked with those families, but I can tell you that I will remember that moment forever, that then then there was really another, another group of hostage, in December 23, the day before Christmas and the end.

Speaker 2:

This family, I know them, I know that I have talked with most of them, and one of the guys that was released, I I always I'm in contact with him because he wants to begin to talk also. So he asked me to kind of, you know, give me some advice, and I was telling him that that in this moment he has a gift he was gifted by God. He isn't powered with that gift because now he can be another voice, because he want to go to the Congress and begin to talk about this. I said hey, my friend, you had that gift. Use it, because for some reason, this today, I believe that this became a gift, a gift to share with others and and and give them that can really help others.

Speaker 2:

And that's the way today I look at, because I, I, I, I rediscover God during that situation and the first thing I did when I came back was going to my church. I'm very, very connected to my church. I do church service and and and my pastor. Every time he talked about the situation. He talks about the plan of God that there's like a master plan for your life and and for some reason, you had to go through situation in your life and those roadblocks at the end become to be a gift, because that's what you can show to the other how to do things. So so I was telling this guy some days ago my friend, you had today a gift, use it. Use that gift.

Speaker 1:

And from you know I'm listening to you and I'm hearing everything you're saying. The first thing that's going through my head is sometimes the most precious gifts are wrapped in sandpaper because it's so difficult. I mean, really that's, that's what you have to look at. You have to go through these situations that happen in your life and go All right, yes, so this was traumatic and it was difficult and, and it happened and it's, but it's your experience. And then you decide what do you want to do with it? What do you want to do with it? Because that's how I've always seen it. It's like you can have all these things happen, but you can either let it, you know, hold you down like an anchor, or you can take it and just grow from it and blossom from it and then let everybody else be able to to experience and get and help others with it. And that's what I'm seeing in you is you've taken this difficult, the gift and sandpaper, and you're going out and you're you're helping other people get through this and other people that are dealing with this the families, you know, looking at the other end of this spectrum, I mean so the family's not.

Speaker 1:

No, I can't even imagine what your wife went through. You know, not even able to know if you were alive, she could talk to you and every day, doing everything in her power, getting up and going to Congress and going to Washington and fighting on your behalf to get you back and knowing that I think it's that that out of control feeling. But you still can be in control by your actions and her taking that those actions and still saying, hey, failure is not an option for me. I'm going to go to Washington, I'm going to go to Congress and I'm going to get you back with ever fiber of my being to get you. So how? I'm going to ask you so what was it like for your wife? I mean, how, how did what kept her strong in all of this?

Speaker 2:

Well, my wife, first she's my hero.

Speaker 2:

She's somebody talking about being resilient. She's super resilient. I'm going to write her book. I'm encouraging to write her book and encourage her to begin to speak, to speak also, she's more fluent in Spanish than in English. But even we did the other day in Audi room because today I do Audi rooms in LinkedIn and I have a newsletter too and I didn't have the room the other day I invited her to talk. I said come on, go talk.

Speaker 2:

We did an interview in July 4th. There is a mural that was created here in Houston with the faces of some of it. So we unveiled that mural and that day I was interviewed by Telemundo, you know the Spanish TV. We did an interview with Telemundo and I gave her the talk and she began to talk. I can tell you that Jorgale was crying in her story, because this is the other side of the coin, the story of the families. So I really encourage her to do it because she can be a voice of the families and not only the family of a hostage situation. The family is going through anything in their life Because when you're going through anything in your life, your family suffers even worse than you because they cannot control the situation. They are there, but they cannot control the situation. Nobody talks about the suffering of the family, so that's why, I'm encouraged her to do it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, she did. She did something that for me it was totally extraordinary I'm going to share here. Before I came here to the US, we are Venezuelan born and I lived in Venezuela several years. I began my career in the oil and gas in Venezuela. She was also working in the oil and gas and her father also was, so all our family were oil workers.

Speaker 2:

So my father-in-law he was a big fan of the roast parade of Pasadena, but he always saw it in TV. Every year we did like this was like a routine. Every January 1st we were in the TV looking the roast parade. When I came here to the US, we never could go because I was always busy, never, never could go, never. Well, I learned the data. I landed in US soil in October 1st when we were released. When she went to the hangar and we were hugging, the first thing she told me is I got the tickets for the Pasadena Roast Parade. You know what I learned? That she kept buying the tickets during the five years. Every year she bought the tickets, waiting me to come back. During five years she bought the tickets and then the fifth year we went in January 2, we were in the Pasadena Roast Parade, so we went live in January 1st 2nd 2023 last year. So that's her, so that talks about her.

Speaker 1:

I love it. I'm going to have to have your wife on. I would love to have your wife on as my guest because I'd love to hear her side of the story on getting through this. And you've got children right. You have children.

Speaker 2:

My children have grown up. As I said, my other son, john, he is also an oil worker, because we are kind of a family of oil workers all over. So he was working in Aruba in a refinery in Aruba when the situation happened. And the situation in Venezuela was really terrible Because in 2018, I believe it was one of the worst work ever and all the sanctions that were imposed in the country. The people were starving. It's a big deal because today the diaspora was the Venezuelans all over the world.

Speaker 2:

Here in the US, millions of people come here. So we were in that situation that we were starving, there was no food in the country and we were starving. I lost 100 pounds. So at some point, all the pressure that was in the press and the UN there was a lot of pressure to get us released and they allowed us to bring us food. So my son had to travel and he moved to Colombia and from Colombia he began to provide food to me to Venezuela during four years. So did you imagine? All the logistics was a big deal and that was all my family doing things to get me back. I love your family.

Speaker 1:

I love what they went through and the extremes that they did just to get you back. I mean, you're right, that is unconditional love. I mean for your son to move to Colombia just so we can get food to you. It says a lot about him too.

Speaker 2:

It was the only way. If he didn't do it, I will not be here. I would not be here.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Well, I have loved hearing your story and I have loved being able to connect with you and I am so grateful that you've taken the time to be able to come on and share this. But, as everybody knows, the information will be down in the links but also be embedded into the podcast. But how can people reach out to you? Because I know you're going to get an abundance of people reaching out to you as a keynote speaker and they want to hear your story. Plus, you've got your book and I'll definitely want to have you back on once your book is launched so we can go ahead and get that out there for you. So how can people reach you, jose?

Speaker 2:

Well, I have the speaker, the coaching link tree. There's a link tree called. It is Jose slash I, angel slash Pereira. That's my link tree. You can find there and today I belong to two speaking bureau. There's those link there. They can book me there or my coaching is there. I do one on one. Basically I have sessions that can be one session or can be a one month session, two months session, three months session. So I had the program. I tailor, made it depending on the needs of the person and they can book me, of course, a free complimentary call that I have my calendar there.

Speaker 2:

I'm very active, too, in LinkedIn. You can find me in LinkedIn that I do a weekly newsletter where I talk about building, refining and leadership and I do out your rooms also in LinkedIn, and I have my webpage that is called Jose connectcom. So you can find me or my link in my webpage or LinkedIn and all the social media too. I have my YouTube channel where I post things related to the social media. I'm going to leave all those link there and basically what I do today, miki, is that anybody has any event or anything in their company. They believe that I can inspire their people. I have walked the walk and talk the talk, so I can really help them with my experience.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I agree, I agree. I think you are the perfect fit really in any, as you know, any avenue of your life, whether it be business or personal. I'm going to give you the last 15 seconds to share whatever you'd like to share, to leave with us and to wrap this up.

Speaker 2:

Well, my book, as I said, is going to be out maybe at the end of this month. I'm going to be promoting, I'm going to do a book tour. My book is basically my story by what I call my legacy, because this is my legacy, and I have, as I said, my coaching program where I help business owners how they can untap their breakable spirit, and I do my speaking and you can go to my social medias and book me.

Speaker 1:

And what's one thing you can leave with our circle of friends that can give them a little bit of inspiration before you.

Speaker 2:

In the life. You can overcome anything, anything. Anything is your very personal choice, the way you decided to face it, but you have that inner force to do it Anybody.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for being with us today. I am looking forward to your book and I'm looking forward to connecting with you again. Thank you so much for being with us.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, megan. Thank you, thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

All right, thank you, you guys. I appreciate you. Please, please, please, reach out to Jose Pereira. I'm going to put all the links down below. They'll also be embedded in the podcast. I highly recommend that you reach out to him, whether it be for your business or something personal, and what I took away from this today is that you can overcome anything, no matter what the situation is, no matter what's going on. You've got the power within you and the right mindset to be able to get through it, no matter how difficult that situation may be. Please remember, the most courageous thing you can do is be yourself. Until I see you on the next podcast, take care of you, we'll see you.

Speaker 2:

Bye.

Surviving Five Years as a Hostage
Survivor's Journey From Hostage to Author
Hostage Situation Awareness and Resilience
Empowerment Through Mindset and Resilience
Finding Strength in Adversity
Unconditional Love and Resilience