Drowning Your Fears


Do you remember being fearless when you were a kid; as if nothing could ever throw you off course of your dreams? You could climb trees like nothing, or eat anything that was in sight. When we were little, we all had our dreams and goals of being an astronaut, a rock star, or in my case owning my own restaurant. Unfortunately, fear killed those aspirations.

Fear is such a universal feeling for people like me. I have always had a fear of jumping into new things, whether it be a new relationship, trying a new restaurant, or even starting my own business. In my fearless days, I could care less about what people thought of my goals because they were MY goals! However, I let the opinions of others steer my perspective off-course.

It was the junior year of high school when I told my mother of my lifelong dream of owning my own high end, black and white attire restaurant. She immediately swats down my dream, all because she was scared of me not having a “stable” income. I let her fear control my heart and my future.

You see, the Merriam-Webster definition of an entrepreneur is, “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” You took a risk by starting your own business. You put all of your fears aside and pursued your passions. You decided to stop helping someone else build their dream and to start to build your own. I truly applaud you for that because I know how hard it is to put all the fears aside and start your dreams.

At the age of 17, I started my aquarium maintenance business. I pushed all the hate aside and just pursued one of my passions. I changed my environment by focusing on the typical college-bound, academic life to now focusing on my aspirations and passions. However, I may have gotten too fearless.

My lack of fear in the aquarium industry led me to become extremely fickle. I started cutting toxic corals without protective wear and reaching around ruthlessly in established aquariums until it came back and bite me back. Literally! See, in the aquarium hobby, there are too many things that can kill you. Whether it be ingesting the chemicals that you use to treat the water or the actual critters themselves. I woke up with my whole hand completely swollen and burning on fire, I immediately knew it was from the aquarium. I had a cut which got poisoned with deadly palytoxin from the corals.

In business, a lack of fear leads to making poor decisions, I mean after all, why should I be scared of a fish tank? But you see, fear is good! It leads you to take precautions! When we as entrepreneurs change our environment, we get scared, but we NEED to take action to alleviate those fears. So, I urge you to overcome your fears and pursue your passions!

Leandro Brandao


Leandro is a ‘Teenpreneur’ whose passion is saltwater aquariums; which have helped him through many tough times. Leandro started an aquarium cleaning service in San Diego called, Reefalicious, as well as co-founded a clothing brand for entrepreneurs called “Enspired.” Leandro pioneered the Young Entrepreneur Society (YES) Club at his school and is now a director at multiple schools. He helps fellow students like him who have the burning desire to start their own business and pursue their passions successfully. He aspires to be the person he wished he had when he was younger.