Obstacles Welcome: How to Turn Adversity into Advantage in Business and in Life

Overview

Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, shares the lessons learned in business and in life along the journey from Cuba to Corporate America.

Ralph de la Vega arrived in the United States from Cuba in 1962. He was alone. He was scared. He was 10. Separated from his parents by Cuban authorities just moments before they were to board a plane to Miami, de la Vega was baptized early—and abruptly—in the waters of adversity. It would be four long ...

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Obstacles Welcome: How to Turn Adversity into Advantage in Business and in Life

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Overview

Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, shares the lessons learned in business and in life along the journey from Cuba to Corporate America.

Ralph de la Vega arrived in the United States from Cuba in 1962. He was alone. He was scared. He was 10. Separated from his parents by Cuban authorities just moments before they were to board a plane to Miami, de la Vega was baptized early—and abruptly—in the waters of adversity. It would be four long years before his mother, father, and sister gained legal passage to America. But while the boy would never have chosen such circumstance, it's the man who can look back and say he would not have changed it.

In Obstacles Welcome, de la Vega recounts his journey as a young Cuban immigrant to president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, a subsidiary of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). A frontliner in the converging worlds of technology and communications, de la Vega takes readers behind the scenes of the Internet revolution, shares insights from the nation's top technology companies, and chronicles the incredible obstacles intrinsic to successfully merging the largest wireless operations in U.S. history—those of Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless.

Obstacles Welcome is an innovation manifesto for those committed to bigger thinking and greater results both professionally and personally. He clearly defines how to:

* Create a detailed action plan to boost success

* Identify and take calculated risks without fear

* Create a values-centric, decisive leadership style

* Transform vision into measurable results

* Recognize opportunities and overcome obstacles

* Communicate well and build alignment

* Unlearn thinking that hinders innovation

* Dream big and throw off mental limits once and for all

Opening a powerful cache of business strategy and in-the-trenches wisdom, de la Vega illustrates that within each obstacle we encounter, there's an opportunity that carries the potential to transform our thinking, our organizations, our communities, and our world.

PRAISE FOR OBSTACLES WELCOME

“. . . [T]hrough his compelling story, Ralph shows how to turn almost any challenge into the opportunity of a lifetime. This is great insight for any professional or any young person aspiring to learn how to overcome obstacles and accept new challenges.” — Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T, Inc.

“I recommend this book to those looking to improve their opportunities, as well as those providing leadership in this diverse society.” — Ambassador Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, former Mayor of Atlanta, former president of the National Council of Churches

“His journey is an inspirational story of leadership vision and the ability to achieve success in the face of enormous challenges and obstacles.” — Gerry Czarnecki, President, CEO & Managing Partner, O2Media

“This book is a must-read for anyone not afraid to make your dreams come true, regardless of where you are in your professional or personal life.” — Ernest Bromley, Chairman and CEO, Bromley Communications, LLC

“Without a doubt, this is one of the most inspiring books and one of the best business publications that I’ve read in my 40-plus years in the communications business.” — John Graham, Chairman, Fleishman-Hillard Inc.

“Ralph de la Vega tells an All-American story for our times.” — Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman, CityView; former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; former Mayor of San Antonio

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595552648
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, is responsible for all consumer marketing, sales, content and converged services, customer care and operations for wireless and wireline services. He also represents AT&T's entire wireless business.
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 12, 2010

    Priceless Leadership Advice From a Master!

    I experienced Ralph's leadership first hand and now you can too with his insights and gameplan on how to provide great leadership. Obstacles Welcome is a way of life for Ralph and his leadership team. It starts with the highest Reputation and Integrity and with someone who can clearly articulate the vision but then make it come to life with his real life experiences. Ralph talks about shaking hands with each employee before starting a town hall meeting and it is more than the hand shaking but his true desire to get to know his team. People know when someone is really interested in what they have to say, be it good or bad, and Ralph really wants to hear what are the Obstacles that have to be overcome. True inspirational leaders have the ability to set an aggressive plan with measurable results and then to select the right leaders to work as a cohesive team to "Make It Happen". Ralph also discusses that it takes sacrifice and operational planning to generate world class results along with a winning team! Nothing can stand in your way when everyone is working towards that Mission Possible-that is why Obstacles Welcome is a priceless book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2010

    Great Book!

    Great book for leaders who are looking to hear from an experienced leader on overcoming adversity. De la Vega has seen many adverse situations in his career and turned them to his advantage. He recounts of the obstacles faced during hurricanes in South Florida, political unrest and diverse markets in South America, and the enormous task of overseeing the integration of Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless on a short deadline.. De la Vega takes the reader on a tour of his life and the obstacles he faced all along the way. Yet at each point he is sure to illustrate the practical nature of the character and leadership principles that guided him along the way.

    I appreciated Ralph de la Vega's writing style. When reading Obstacles Welcome I couldn't help but come away feeling as thought I had been personally mentored by the man who wrote the book. I got a glimpse into the challenges he faced early on in childhood that ultimately prepared him for the business world. Though he shared deeply insightful and personal stories, he was careful to cultivate a leadership lesson out of each one. The brief summary entitled "take away messages" at the end of each chapter were of a great benefit to me personally. While the principles taught by de la Vega were not new leadership principles, they were taught in the very practical setting of real life.

    This is one of the most practical books on leadership and adversity that I have ever read. Obstacles Welcome is an excellent resource.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great for Groups

    When I began reading Ralph de la Vega's Obstacles Welcome it was on the recommendation of a friend, so I did not understand the nature of what I was stepping into. What I found was not a biography, as I had expected, but a book well suited for current and future leaders or motivating management teams. De la Vega shares his life experiences from childhood and early career to illustrate leadership principles, advise and motivate readers in their private lives and careers. Though put out by a Christian publisher it is not written for a Christian audience and is good for any group needing a source material for a workshop or an individual attempting to learn or hone his leadership skills. For the average reader who is not in a leadership or management position, it is still a motivational, inspirational read, though I do not recommend it for the purely recreational reader, as that is not the intent of the book. All in all, a well written book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2010

    Obstacles Welcome: Ralph de la Vega:

    Obstacles, challenges, trials, everyone has them. But how do we deal with them? This could well be the question you are faced with. When reading this book you will find how you can face challenges in practically an situation and find ways to overcome them and learn from them in order to become a better person. Whether business or personal, Ralph de la Vega explorers how obstacles he faced, both in business and personal life and shows through anecdote how to face those obstacles and become a better leader and person. Starting with his journey to the United States as a young boy to his current position of President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, de la Vega shows how the obstacles he faced helped him become the leader that he is.
    As an educator and a married man, I am placed into the position of leader on a daily basis. Reading through de la Vega's book had me constantly thinking how well I could implement his suggestions and ideas into my personal and professional life. I found it greatly interesting learning not only how to be a better leader, but also in learning about some of the details of the workings of a cellular company. Although the word religion is rarely used; honor, integrity, leadership, credibility, and perseverance and faith in the most demanding of challenges are but a few examples of how the ideas in the book fit solidly into the Christian perspective. I found it an awesome experience to read and learn about leadership, and how dealing with challenges gives you the insight and education you need in order to become a better leader and to climb higher in the leadership ranks.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Review of Obstacles Welcome by Ralph de la Vega

    Obstacles Welcome by Ralph de la Vega is an inspiring and motivational book about how a young refugee came to the United States alone from Cuba. He came to Miami and was taken in by a young married couple, Arnaldo and Ada Baez. Ralph did not see his parents until he had been in Miami for 4 years. He decided as a young boy that being negative was not going to be an option for him. He learned at a young age how to overcome adversity and be successful in his life.

    The message in this story is how we can overcome most any obstacles that enter our lives. Obstacles can be opportunities for us to grow in our professional and private lives. Basicly if we want to be successful we need to learn new ways and unlearn things that are creating obstacles in our lives. I think the phrase "think outside of the box" works well for all of us and a good leader has to have a vision and be able to get his people to own that vision so they all can be successful.

    I have read a few motivational books and I found that this one was very easy to read and understandable in what Ralph was trying to get across. Communication, enpowerment, maximizing the potential of people around you as a leader is a way for any company and staff to be successful. A leader has to be able to "talk the talk and walk the walk" and take obstacles and turn them into opportunities for improvement.

    I liked the graphics that are scattered in the book. These pictures showed the message that Ralph was trying to get across to the reader and the summing up at the end of each chapter as takeaway messages from that chapter. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to make a difference in their personal and professional lives.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2010

    Yes Obstacles are welcome!

    "Obstacles Welcome"
    I enjoyed how Ralph de la Vega personally overcame obstacles to achieve success despite adversity, throughout his life.
    In his book, "Obstacles Welcome" he demonstrates that being in the right place at the right time is meaningless..it is what you do with being there that counts! It is what you believe, and how you lead, that holds merit.
    I enjoyed his personal account of coming to the USA as a Cuban immigrant, and his rise to President and CEO of ATT Mobility and Consumer Markets.
    This is not a self help book, nor is it a "how to achieve your corporate objectives" management book.
    It is blend of personal victory over struggle, team work and tenacity.
    I liked how he treated his employees and how he instilled a sense of responsibility and commitment among his workers and managers.
    His weakness became his biggest strengths in acvieving goals and overcoming obstacles.
    It reminded me of when Susan Boyle, the unknown singer, voice of an angel, walked on stage of Britain's Got Talent for the first time.
    No one thought she had it in her!
    de La Vega's account is heartwarming.
    His genuineness towards his work inspires others to do well, and to do it with class and ethics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great book on successfully overcoming obstacles!

    I just finished reading Obstacles Welcome by Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility. From his beginnings as a 10-year-old Cuban immigrant separated from his family to the phenomenal launch of the I-Phone, he shares the beliefs and actions that led to his success:

    * As a young boy alone in Miami, he decided that "negative thoughts were not productive" and determined not to be a victim.
    * He had faith that "hard work was going to pay off."
    * He made "sacrifices in the present for the sake of a better future."
    * To succeed you need "a clear vision of the future, a solid plan, an energized team, and great execution."
    * Believe in yourself.
    * Dream big.
    * Successful people "focus and prioritize. . . they concentrate on four or five key imperatives that need to be performed well, consistently over time."
    * "Never accept the verdict of others that [you] cannot do something."

    But my favorite message from the book is what he calls the Four Pillars of Success:

    1. Plan for success. "Hope is not a strategy."
    2. Take calculated risks.
    3. Recognize opportunities. "The most important opportunities are problems waiting to be solved."
    4. Embrace and overcome obstacles.

    I highly recommend Obstacles Welcome to anyone committed to living the successful life!

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    Whoever thought that life is easy, obliviously has heard Ralph De La Vega's story. He came over to the US from Cuba in the early sixties, all alone. He was ten years old and separated from his parents. This same man went on to become the president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.

    Ralph wants to share his secrets to success with anyone willing to pick up his book. If you are interested in dramatically changing your life, you are going to have to work for it. This book can guide you on that journey.

    In this easy to read, easy to understand book, Ralph shares his story in the hopes that he will encourage people to overcome whatever obstacles they face and change their life for the better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    Obstacles Welcome, How to turn adversity into Advantage in Business and in Life by Ralph de la Vega

    Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, shares the lessons learned in business and in life along the journey from Cuba to Corporate America.

    In Obstacles Welcome, de la Vega recounts his journey as a young Cuban immigrant to president and Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. De la Vega takes readers behind the scenes of the Internet revolution and chronicles the incredible obstacles intrinsic to successfully merging the largest wireless operations in U.S. history-those of Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless. As a consumer, the look at the intricacies of this type of business is a bonus to the general leadership and Business lessons throughout the book. The author shows his leadership style by recounting examples of him visiting the 'front line' and getting first hand knowledge.

    This book was well written and formatted for easy reading. I liked the shorter paragraphs and major points at the end of each chapter. It is full of real life situations (obstacles) in his everyday corporate life and strategies to tackle them. I enjoyed reading this book as we are in the middle of our top leadership shuffling at General Motors and it is always interesting to read the perspective of a CEO. He covers the leadership topic and all it's requirements throughout the book. His involvement with Junior Achievement & the Boy Scouts are example of giving back. I would have to liked see more stories from his young life as an immigrant.

    This Blog/Review is a result of being a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program : http://brb.thomasnelson.com/

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Obstacles Welcome by Ralph de la Vega

    I'm writing this review based on the following two statements:

    1. This is the most motivating and impactful book that I read in 2009.

    2. If you lead, or plan to lead, ANY type of successful organization, you NEED to read this book and reflect on your leadership styles while doing so.

    OK, here we go. As I began this book I was thinking that this was the story of some egocentric business man who was going to brag about his successes. I was wrong. I had to put my view of this writing in perspective, the perspective that this man has shown amazingly consistent success as a leader of people and he simply wanted to share his leadership insight with us.

    Once I grasped that, it was on!! People can sit and think or write about leadership all day long, and never convey a single piece of useful information. I'm sure you have read some of those people's writings. Maybe it was mine! In any event, Ralph de la Vega puts real life leadership lessons on paper, and he did it brilliantly.


    I don't know about you but if I'm going to read a book about leadership, I don't want 250 pages of principles and theories. I want lessons learned from real life. That's what you're going to read about in Obstacles Welcome, how to turn adversity to advantage in business and life.

    I write these reviews as a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program: http://brb.thomasnelson.com/

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2009

    Obstacles Welcome

    This book tells the story of Ralph de la Vega as a Cuban immigrant. He came into this country when he was 10 years old completely alone. He lived with strangers for 4 years before the rest of his family joined him in the United States. De la Vega went on to get an education and become successful in the AT&T corporation.

    I thought this book was awesome. It had some very good, practical success principles to follow that apply in any area of life. One of the principles that stuck with me the most is that of vision. Developing a vision and a plan to achieve it. There was also a lot of good information about leadership and how to inspire the people around you. I liked the book because de la Vega does not just give you some ideas that should work in theory. He tells you these success principles, and then gives you the real-life example of how he implemented it in his career and how it helped him to get to where he is.

    I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those looking to move up in the corporate world. As I mentioned already, it gives solid principles to follow that are practical and easily applicable to just about any situation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A very hopeful story for a very needed time- Obstacles Welcome

    Seems to me that we need another more timely message about the greatness that is the USA. We need a rags to riches story after all the terrible things we hear about America from Universities who want to teach about only the oppressive America, the main stream media that looks down on the majority of Americans and from all of Obama's apologies throughout his travels.

    This story of Ralph de la Vega is just that story. It is the promise that others see when they see the USA. It is about the hope held out to those stuck in countries crippled by socialism or communism. It is what makes America great. A 10 year old boy coming alone after the communist takeover of Cuba and working his way up to be the President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. What a timely message this book brings. Do you know anyone who needs hope this Christmas? This is that book. Check it out!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    check it out if you want a lecture-type book

    Having read Jack Welch's Jack Straight From the Gut, I had high expectations for this book. After all, they were (Ralph de la Vega still holds the position today) both CEOs of very successful companies.

    But I was in for a little disappointment. It was probably because of the writing style. The book is very inspiring if you have prepared yourself for a lecture-type reading. As I was reading the book, I felt like I was being lectured about the things that I should be doing and the attitude I should be employing for myself if I want to be as successful as the author. In fact, at the end of every chapter there are Takeaway Points or Takeaway Messages noted down by the author for added clarity. It gives an added impression that this is a textbook for life and career success.

    On the brighter side, Mr. Ralph de la Vega is an authority on what he is talking about. The greatest obstacle which defined his personality and his attitude was his separation from his parents at the age of 10 brought about by necessity just to get away from Cuba. He was eventually reunited with his family but he was lucky to have been under the care of kind fellow immigrants while he was growing up and waiting for his family. This kindness has made a great impact on him.

    What struck me among the messages he wanted to impart was the Pyramid of Principles that he formed. It might just be commonsense knowledge but I guess, we need to be reminded about this from time to time. Integrity and credibility are the two base principles that a leader should possess. It must be heard, seen and felt from the leader otherwise to quote from the book "even the smallest of failures in integrity cause cracks in the moral foundation of the organization".

    The messages are actually inspiring. and positive.

    But the writing style is just not for me.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Inspiring biography of hard-working Cuban immigrant who lived the American dream

    When Ralph de la Vega was 10 years old, his parents sent him from Cuba to the US. They planned to follow him a few days later, once their travel documents were in order. Ralph arrived in Miami without money, without his family, unable to speak English and unfamiliar with the culture. A young couple, Cuban émigrés and acquaintances of the de la Vegas, took Ralph in, thinking it would be only a few days until his parents arrived. It took four years. Ralph had to take a job after school to help his parents when they, too, arrived with nothing. Ralph worked hard, moved ahead and went to college. Hired by Southern Bell, he advanced. Today, he is CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. In his inspirational life story, de la Vega draws valuable lessons you can use to attain your own goals. getAbstract warmly recommends de la Vega's book. He is a great role model for those who aspire to reach personal and professional ambitions. However, once past his personal saga, de la Vega tends to write his solid business advice in the form of ordinary bromides and lists - "four pillars of success," "six pivotal points" - that do not do full justice to his gripping tale. He writes, "If all this sounds obvious." Regrettably, some of it does, but he still tells an exceptionally moving story.

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  • Posted June 16, 2010

    Success is Learnable

    Ralph De La Vega has captured in one place the specific and practical techniques that he has used to become one of our country's most successful people both professionally and personally. This is a roadmap to excellence that lies within. De La Vega pulls back the curtain to reveal that the apparent wizardry of Americas's most successful people is really a collection of clearly explainable and learnable techniques. If you want to increase your success in life, you should read this book.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Textbook for Success

    I'm something of a geek(or so I'm told by family and friends), so getting insight into the leadership principles of Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, was very appealing.

    The core principle is that the obstacles and challenges in our lives are the things that define us and develop us. Ralph de la Vega presents a couple of structures that he uses to guide the reader through this principle. First, there are his "6 pivotal point", the key events in his life. Then, the "Pillars of Success", his framework for achievement.

    The flow of the books weaves the stories of these 'pivotal points' with the 'pillars of success' to show the reader how to accept challenges, respond to them, and come out of them better, smarter... more successful. To assist the reader, the author ends each chapter with "Takeaway Points", summarizing the key lessons addressed.De la Vega's approach is, to a large degree, textbook-like. In addition to these chapter summaries, he uses a number of diagrams to explain key concepts including his Pillars of Success, the Learning Cycle, his Pyramid of Principles, and others.

    I would recommend this book to people trying to develop their ability to lead in a challenging business world. It encourages the reader to base their leadership on sound moral principles, and a positive attitude toward the opportunities offered by obstacles.


    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    How to Turn Adversity into Advantage in Business and in Life By Ralph de la Vega

    I picked this book as the first of my free books from Thomas Nelson Publishers through BookSneeze.com to review because the title intrigued me. Instead, I was pretty much bored out of my mind and have had such a hard time finishing this book. Don't get me wrong. The major life lessons parallel to the hardships a 10-year old immigrant boy from Cuba who reached the unimaginable unattainable heights of his American dream is truly inspiring. Standard and easy to grasp point by point steps are given in order to ensure that the reader can go through his/her own journey and emerge victorious if he/she chooses to do so. Dream big, if at all. I think it depends on the reader though if they would want to not only be inspired but take the steps needed in order to attain their dreams. Then, and only then, would I recommend the book to another.

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  • Posted February 28, 2010

    OBSTACLES WELCOME by Ralph de la Vega.

    Obstacles Welcome describes de life of a 10 year old Cuban immigrant, from his arrival to the United States through his development and further progression becoming the President and CEO of AT&T Mobility.

    Through his life story, de la Vega gives lessons and advice on leadership. From this book you will learn the basic principles for personal and professional success and how goal setting, vision and determination will guide you through hard times of challenges to take you where you really want to be. De la Vega's life doesn't lack a good amount of hard times and challenges, probably more than most of us will have in our ordinary lives. However, early in his life he learns to embrace obstacles and use them as opportunities that will help him reach his goal. Early in the book, de la Vega shows one his best kept secrets to which he attributes his success in business; you will have to many challenges and obstacles in life and THERE is where the real opportunities that will change your life is, use them and learn from them.

    I found Obstacles Welcome a really motivational and inspirational read from someone who "walked the walk" and can now talk about it.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Obstacles Welcome by Ralph de la Vega, 2009

    Obstacles Welcome is the story of Ralph de la Vega's rags to riches progression to becoming the President and CEO of AT & T Mobility. My expectation was a roller coaster story of personal development and growth but instead turned into business theory book intertwined with elements of Ralph's journey.

    Now don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the theory and it is clearly effective in practice. Personally though I found that I didn't connect with the story and what should have been a compelling biography read more like a group of case studies from a university text book.

    This is a pity as one cannot deny that Ralph is clearly a dynamic leader and gifted businessman. Obstacles Welcome is not the book for me however I recommend it to all those entrepreneurs out there interested in business development and growth.

    You can find out a little bit more about Ralph on the site created for this book: http://www.obstacleswelcome.com

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    Krista's Review

    I don't usually read a lot of books like this one. While it's not really my "cup of tea", it was well written and I think people with different interests than mine would like it.

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