Episode 6: Andy Pantoja, Consultant

28 year old Andy Pantoja lives in Manhattan in New York City and works as a Consultant at CFGI, which is a unique and highly specialized financial consulting firm that is strategically positioned to help companies through a range of routine and complex business scenarios.

We get into some pretty deep stuff in this episode as we navigate through Andy’s story including embracing his Mexican-American heritage in the workforce (and in life), what it was like growing up in a high risk area for youth, switching majors during college, using your ultimate goal to help drive your smaller decisions and trusting your decisions once you make them, finding the benefits of any work situation you may find yourself in, what drove him to quit his job as at a big 4 accounting firm to stock shelves at Trader Joe’s, and really the benefits of constantly working for a better life every day.

Conversations with Andy always get deep, and this was no exception. I am excited it was recorded and others are able to hear the passion and authenticity behind his voice. Andy is a straight shooter and wears his heart on his sleeve. If you listen to only 5 minutes of this conversation, it should be minutes 47-52. Here he talks about his decision to make a major change in his life and his career when he knew he needed it. It is real and heartfelt reflection and advice.


CFGI is the consulting firm where Andy currently works.

Salinas, CA was a tough place to grow up. Andy gives all the credit to his parents for putting him in the best position possible to get into a good school and pursue his career outside of Salinas.

-Andy always romanticized becoming a doctor. It was difficult for him to switch his major to business and cope with “giving up” on his childhood dream. Really, it was the right thing to do and he would do it all over again. Here is a short article about why “giving up on your dream” can be the right thing to do. It just has negative connotations tied to it. Changing your path is a case by case basis and should be evaluated as such. 


“Never look for the birds of this year in the nests of the last.” -Miguel de Cervantes

-By nature, Andy is a very competitive person (I can attest to that!). Listen to how he leveraged this friendly competition with his brothers to get into the school he wanted.

-Financing University was not a breeze. Andy utilized scholarships, grants, loans and part time work. It wasn’t easy, but he took lessons from each source. He especially benefited from the loans by paying them off and building his credit at an early age (not to mention gaining an understanding of the loan process and growing up fast). Forbes gives 10 ways to help pay for college in this article.

-As a Mexican-American, Andy has a unique background. He learned to embrace this background, and eventually to leverage it into opportunities in the workforce. I really enjoy listening to his approach to this as he knew he was unique and chose not to be defined by his background. Instead, he embraces it, allows it to boost his confidence, and plays to his strengths. We all have unique backgrounds. Don’t fight it, don’t hide it. Rather, embrace it and see what doors it can open for you.

-Andy had a goal to get to New York City. It was not easy getting a job there living 3,000 miles away. He and James Fish (episode 2) helped push each other to get there. Andy had a purpose behind his decisions (taking another accounting job) of achieving his larger goals (living in NYC). Even though he was in survival mode at work for 7 months once he got there, the point was he was there and could move on from his job, which he did.

-Andy quit his job at a Big 4 accounting firm to work at Trader Joe’s!! What a tough decision. I won’t write about it because you NEED TO LISTEN to him talk about this decision process and how it panned out. Check out 47-52 minutes in for this story and the lessons he learned. You cant miss this!!!

-There was a period where Andy was interviewing around the city and beyond and nothing was happening. He talks about the need for persistence in the job hunt. This article is a quick read about being persistent vs. being a pest to companies in the job hunt.

-Andy’s favorite slice of pizza in NYC is the Artichoke Slice from Artichoke Basilles Pizza. I can’t wait to try one of these!

-Travelling for work can get old fast. Andy shares the positives he finds in it such as taking the alone time for reflection, racking up air miles on your personal credit card that the company is paying off, and the benefit of travelling and getting to know new cities.

-The journey we call life that Andy has been on is an intriguing story in itself. What makes it awesome is Andy’s perspective. He respects others and learns from his experiences. He mentions how you should want something in life, that you should always be driving forward for a better life. Constant improvement is key. Listen to Andy’s story and let me know what you think!

-Andy’s Linkedin profile can be found here. ENJOY THE SHOW!

Nick’s Nifty Notes

Having this conversation with Andy then listening to it a few times while editing made me realize what a powerful personality Andy has. He works on clarifying his values, goals, and whom he spends his time with. Once he has a clear picture and knows what he thinks, he sticks with it and wears his heart on his sleeve. I love this about Andy and it inspires me to constantly evaluate my surroundings, seek improvement, and get after it. Take a step back and look at your surroundings. Are your friends there to justify your own behaviors or are they there because you care about each other and you push each other to be better? Are you taking the easy way out with your schedule or are you striving to improve yourself by pushing past your comfort zone? Only you can answer these questions. Once you come to terms with the answers, go out there and make the necessary changes. Thanks for the time, inspiration, and reflection Andy!

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